21 September 2013

A motley crew—and proud of it!

by Elizabeth Zelvin

SleuthSayers celebrated its second anniversary this week, and we were all asked to write something appropriate to the occasion. The topic that popped into my mind and wouldn’t go away was what a fascinating and diverse bunch of people my blog brothers and blog sisters are.

Elizabeth, Dale, David, RT
I had already been blogging weekly for five years on a group blog when Leigh Lundin, at the suggestion of editor Janet Hutchings of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, invited me to join the roster of “crime writers and crime fighters” that was rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the popular Criminal Brief blog. My blog sisters over at Poe’s Deadly Daughters are not exactly all of a kind as people or as mystery writers. However, we are all women, all novelists, and all write within a certain range of mystery fiction along the spectrum from cozy to traditional to medieval noir. Our readers, too, as far as we can tell, fall mainly in the category of mystery-reading women of a certain age.

So for me, part of the appeal of SleuthSayers was that it offered collegiality with short story writers, law enforcement and military professionals, and guys. I’d have been even more eager to sign up if I’d known that, like me, several of my new blog buddies were musicians, singers, and songwriters. And it’s not just that the profiles of my fellow bloggers were different from those of my fellow Deadly Daughters and most of the other bloggers I knew. I had no idea how widely the subject matter of the posts themselves would range and how different the whole flavor of SleuthSayers would be from anything I’d read before.

One of the topics I found the most mindblowing and unexpected was Dixon Hill on explosives and how to use them. Dix swears the information he posted is not detailed enough to make your own minefield in your least favorite neighbor’s backyard. But he said enough to make me nervous. Very few folks in my usual circles can say, as Dix did, “Now, I’ve fired all sorts of weapons,” and list a paragraph’s worth from sniper rifles to machine guns (“I can dance with one of these pretty well”) to light anti-tank weapons (“not reloadable, whatever you saw in that Dirty Harry movie”)—and follow it up with “I’ve used them in the desert, the jungle, the African bush, …the ocean, on the beach after swimming…in rain, snow and ice storms, and probably in more places than I care to remember!”

Now, I’ve been in a lot of these places, including the desert—Timbuctoo, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited—and the African bush, when I spent two years in the Peace Corps in Côte d’Ivoire. And I’ve just spent the summer riding the waves on an ocean beach in the Hamptons. But no weapons were involved. There was a period in my youth when I had a certain number of friends who owned copies of The Anarchist Cookbook. But as far as I know, none of them ever tried any of the recipes. It was more a harmless kind of showing off, like getting a tattoo today.

The colleague whose posts probably come the closest to what I’m used to are those by my Saturday blog buddy (we alternate), brilliant and prolific short story writer John Floyd. John’s the only one of the gang I knew before joining SleuthSayers. I had a story in an anthology he edited for Wolfmont Press. He’s a crackerjack editor with a keen ear for language and an eye for what makes a story work. And I’m not just saying that because he accepted “Death Will Trim Your Tree” for The Gift of Murder without changing so much as a comma. (Not that that isn’t one of the reasons I love him, along with his delicious Southern drawl and what a true gentleman he is.) We both post about writing, among other things. We both love movies, but we barely have a favorite in common. (Okay, John, Blazing Saddles and In Bruges are probably on my long list, and I bet you enjoyed Seven Psychopaths, as I did.)

I could go on about every one of my fellow SleuthSayers, but (unlike some of y’all) I like to keep my posts below 800 words. Reading and being one of them/you/us is a helluva ride, and I’m in for another year!


  1. And a limit of 800 words? Dixon and I barely get warmed up.

    Elizabeth, we're fortunate to have you with us.

  2. Leigh, don't you think it's about time you started calling me Liz? Everybody else does. :)

  3. We're looking forward to your work!

  4. Miz Zelvin, be sure to read my blog for Sept.2 re women carrying/shootin' weapons. Thelma Straw in Manhattan www.crimewriters.blogspot.com

  5. Liz, what a sweetie you are. Thanks for the (too) kind words. We're lucky to have you in the group.

    Yes, I loved Seven Psychopaths. I thought I was the only one who did . . .

  6. Liz, you know I love puns, and I really want to thank you for that great one ... that you found my explosives posts "mindblowing"! LOL

    Love being in SleuthSayers, but I sometimes worry that I'm like that guy jumping in the air and unexpectedly yanking that woman's arm, in the photo I posted yesterday. Nice to know I didn't worry you too much and that my "wild streak" is appreciated.


  7. Liz, nice photo of the Usual Suspects. We enjoyed meeting all you fellow bloggers in Manhattan for the AHMM/EQMM cocktail reception.


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