Short Mystery Fiction Society. No cost and you will get daily emails on subjects related to guess-what. More importantly, if you sign up by December 31 you are eligible to vote for the Derringer Award. And if you wish you can get propose two stories which will then be considered by the Derringer judges in selecting nominees.
2. Not just a good idea. I don't think I have mentioned Garrow's Law on this blog. It is a terrific TV show from Britain and apparently you can watch it for free on YouTube. William Garrow was a genuine barrister in the eighteenth century and the shows are based on his cases (and sometimes even on the actual court transcripts). Garrow was one of those wild-eye radicals, pushing for concepts like "innocent until proven guilty. I get annoyed when the shows spend more time on Garrow's personal life, but they are all worth watching.
3. Not while you are eating. Gwen Pearson is a forensic entomologist, which means she studies insects to solve crimes. If you aren't squeamish you can read about her job in a fascinating post called When crime scene evidence crawls away.
4. Let your little light shine. Lantern is an utterly cool free site and I have already used it to research a short story. It consists of almost a million pages from books and magazines about the entertainment industry (ads included!). It is co-produced by the Media History Digital Library and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Communication Arts.
• Many mentions of Mark Twain. The earliest I found is from 1903 in which he solemnly agrees to give his skull to science. If he is still using it when the note comes due, he assures the reporter, he will pay rent.
• 2700 references to Sherlock Holmes, starting with William Gillette on stage.
• In 1931, we are informed that "ELLERY QUEEN, whose detective-mystery novels are all the vogue, is the pen-name of one of the industry's ad men…"
• And here is a photo of Bebe Daniels showing off the clothes she wore in her starring role in THE MALTESE FALCON. (1931)
5. Arkansas Unraveller. And if you didn't read it last month, here is a handy legal tip: When you are on the phone to a hit man, do not accidentally butt-dial your potential victim.
Jolly, safe Christmas and New Year's to all!