Showing posts with label SleuthSayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SleuthSayers. Show all posts

14 July 2015

Farewell My Lovelies


By David Dean

For those of you who have been with SleuthSayers for a while you've seen this before: I tender my resignation, it's accepted rather too quickly, everybody has a round of high-fives.  Then, before you've had time to clear away the empties and dump the ash trays, I'm back; cardboard suitcase in hand.  Well, not this time--this time it's farewell, my lovelies. 

Sometimes you just know when it's time for a graceful exit, and this is that time for me.  My years with SleuthSayers have been a great learning experience and I've enjoyed every minute of them.  The staff at HQ, Leigh, Velma, and Rob have been terrific and whenever I needed technical assistance it was forthcoming without additional charge.  In fact, during my time amongst the cast and crew of SleuthSayers I've come to consider them (you all) as friends.  Virtual friends in most cases, though it has been my pleasure to meet a number of our contributors in the flesh, but still friends, or at least fellow travelers.  After all, some of history's great relationships have been those of pen pals, and so it feels to me here.

When I look back over my contributions I find they fall into but a few categories--a reflection of my limitations, I'm afraid: Police procedure, New Jersey, Native American history, Catholicism, a smattering of historical murder investigations, and a bit now and then on writing.  In any event, you've had the benefit of my wit and wisdom on these subjects and I pray that no one was irreparably harmed by the exposure.  If you feel you may have been, Velma entertains all such complaints and will be happy to hear yours.  I understand that she takes such calls strictly between the hours of 11:39 and 11:41 AM on alternate Tuesdays of 31 day months.

For my part, I will be spending all this new free time waiting outside my local watering hole.  There's a sign in the window that reads, "Free Whiskey Tomorrow!"  Everyday I return, but the barkeep just points at the sign and shakes his head.  You can see why I have to prioritize--sooner, or later, tomorrow will come!  And I intend to be there with an empty wallet and a full glass.

            

           

17 September 2014

Three Years Later...


Three years ago this web site and blog went live with John Floyd’s column “Plots and Plans”. Readers who have been with SleuthSayers from the beginning know it was spearheaded by former members of Criminal Brief, an influential web log devoted to mystery short fiction. CB, as it was affectionately known, had run its course. In 4½ years, it had covered a broad range of topics and insight in the realm of crime-writing. In the same month that Criminal Brief closed shop, September 2011, Leigh, Rob, John, and Deborah - as well as Janice Law, who had just joined CB seven months earlier - launched SleuthSayers. And what a great three years it has been.

Today we celebrate the third anniversary by bringing back all of the regular weekly columnists from Criminal Brief to provide brief updates of what they've done and where they've been during these three years. Let me say I’m glad to be back among old friends once again. So now I welcome to the stage Deborah, John, Melodie, Janice, Rob, Leigh, and Angela. It also seems fitting - we couldn't have it any other way - that Criminal Brief founder James Lincoln Warren will have the final word.

Thank you. And Happy SleuthSayers Anniversary!
— Steve Steinbock


Deborah Elliott-Upton
Deborah Elliott-Upton.  Criminal Brief arrived at a pivotal time of my life. I had finished teaching a series of writer’s workshops and longed for a new challenge. A weekly blog fit perfectly. I enjoyed the camaraderie of my fellow CB writers, some were new acquaintances, amid some I’d known for a while.  This allowed enough familiarity to be comfortable, enough new to make me strive to do my best. I think we learned from each other as much as we shared our knowledge and experiences with the readership.

My favorite columns to write for Criminal Brief during the four years were one on Nick Carter (great time researching that one!) and two that complimented the other: “Good Bad Guys” and “Bad Good Guys.” Of course, I have fond memories of my very first experience with CB with “Take a Seat” – my entrance to the blogging arena.

When James decided Criminal Brief should end, many of us immediately signed on as SleuthSayers. We met some new writers as columnists and also reached many new readers, too. Personally, I was most grateful for those that traveled with us from old to new blogs.

Taking a sabbatical from SleuthSayers, I went back to school, majoring in psychology. After all these years, I am still curious about what makes people tick and why they do or say or act like they do. These differences make life much more interesting. I plan to never stop learning and I can’t stop writing; both are addictions. I am so happy to be among people who feel as I do.

John Floyd
John M. Floyd.  There’s nothing special going on in my world, which is exactly the way I like it. I still teach fiction-writing classes in the Continuing Education department of a local college, I still carry out my wife’s every order (well, almost every order), and I still read or watch all the mystery/suspense books and movies I can get into my hands or my Netflix queue. In the summers I mow our yard once a week whether it needs it or not, and in the winters I spend a lot of time wishing we lived even further south. Since retiring, most of my traveling has been to visit our children or my mother, or to attend the occasional (but not often enough) Bouchercon.

On the writing/publishing front, I have two novels currently out with an agent who (bless his soul) remains excited and encouraging about them both, but--as always--most of my time is spent writing short stories. Over the past year I've been fortunate enough to place stories at AHMM, The Strand, Woman's World, and The Saturday Evening Post, and unfortunate enough to add a lot of entries to my stunningly long list of rejections. At the moment I have new stories upcoming at both AHMM and EQMM, and my fifth book will be released next month. This one is another collection of shorts, appropriately titled Fifty Mysteries.

Melodie Johnson Howe
Melodie Johnson Howe.  I miss blogging and my blogging buds. But I have been busy, busy. My new Diana Poole novel, City of Mirrors, has been received with raves and I have a contract for the second in the series. I’m writing away and pop my head up to go to Bouchercon, and speaking engagements. City of Mirrors has come out in the UK in e-book, so you Brits out there take a look at it.

I’m looking forward to the Bewitched Fanfare later this month. They will be showing ‘Generation Zap’, the episode I starred in. I will be interviewed afterwards. Who knew there was a Bewitched Fanfare?! It’s in L.A. at the Sportsmen’s Lodge. This should be fun. My long ago acting career is alive!

We have a new puppy called Satchmo in honor of Louis Armstrong. The attendant at the vet thought Satchmo was named after an action hero. I told her he was. Which reminds me of a black standard poodle we had called Madame Bovary. And people kept calling her Ovary. But I digress.

We have a great granddaughter, Addison, who just turned one. Beyond adorable. Bones and I will be married for 50 years in March. What’s in a number? Many years of living, adjusting, talking, laughing, arguing, passion, and always love and respect.

I must leave now to get my roots blonded. I find it’s good for the soul and creativity.

Janice Law Trecker
Janice Law.  Since Criminal Brief shut down, I spent a year writing bi-weekly blogs for Sleuthsayers and discovered that I do not have an endless supply of clever ideas and interesting activities. The SS gang has been kind about allowing me an occasional space.

I have published the three volumes of my trilogy featuring Francis Bacon, painter, as the detective, which is not as impressive as it might sound given that I sent The Fires of London to my then agent in 2006 and did not find a publisher until Otto Penzler accepted it for mysteriouspress.com in 2011. Because I had ignored the hint that the publishing world was uninterested in both me and Francis, I already had the second novel, Prisoner of the Riviera, written by this time. The publishing mills grind exceedingly slowly in my case.

I have also published a volume of short stories – don’t ask me how long Blood in the Water looked for a publisher – and thanks to a suggestion by Rob Lopresti, there have been numerous outings for Madame Selina and her assistant, Nip, in AHMM. I think it is about time Nip acquired a legitimate trade or profession and Madame retired to Newport or Saratoga.

Lately, I have been trying to market some novels close to my heart but apparently not to the demands of the market. As a result, I’m spending a lot of time painting, with quite happy results.

Robert Lopresti
Robert Lopresti.  What have I done in the last three years? Gotten much more than three years older, I think. Sold ten stories, more or less. Won two awards.

The future looks exciting. My first collection of short stories will be self-published quite soon. A new novel will be out next year. (Can't tell you about it yet, but I wrote a lot about it in the first year of SleuthSayers.) And, speaking of blogs, I have a new one starting next year. No, I won't be leaving SS, but I hope a lot of you will enjoy it. Read all about it here on January 7. In fact, I hope all you good folks will keep reading what we turn out here. You make it all worthwhile.

Leigh Lundin
Leigh Lundin.  In comparison with my colleagues, I submit very little but work a lot. I know, I know; I actually have to send things in!

The problem with ADD is that too many things interest me. Not long ago, I helped edit math textbooks and wrote a few chapters for one. More recently I’ve been editing novels of new authors who’ve turned their backs on the self-pub short-cuts and want to present at a professional level.

A couple of stories are wending their way to editors’ desks and I’ve been working on a couple of novel-length projects. Well, one's a novel and one isn't, but more on that later.

In the meantime, SleuthSayers keeps me occupied, albeit with considerable help from my cohorts, especially Rob. And did I mention I spent the better part of a year in South Africa? And would love to again?

Steve Steinbock
Steve Steinbock.  For a fuller disclosure of what I've been up to since the days of Criminal Brief, take a look at my recent guest post here on Sleuthsayers. The short version: Last year I attended a large number of mystery conventions and events - Bouchercon, Bloody Words, The Edgars, and Malice Domestic - as well as, on a lark, a Dark Shadows gathering in Tarrytown, New York. I continue to write my regular Jury Box colum in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

On the personal side, my youngest child just began his senior year of high school. After he graduates, I plan to relocate to Washington State, just a few hours from Sleuthsayer and former Criminal Briefer Robert Lopresti. I spent most of this past summer in the desert region of Eastern Washington as well as in Seattle. I also took my son on a college exploratory trip to California, where we were able to catch up with old friends James Lincoln Warren, Melodie Johnson Howe, and Murder She Wrote and Columbo creator William Link.

Angela Zeman
Angela Zeman.  Hello! It’s been forever since I’ve checked in on SleuthSayers, thanks, Leigh for the invitation. When browsing your blogs, I detected that nobody here has been idle. (Elementary, heh heh.)

Life is good. I'm still attached to the amazing Barry Zeman, who Leigh thinks would make an ideal Mickey Spillane.

Since appearing in the Mystery Writers of America anthology, The Prosecution Rests, I've continued to write and developed a high-end web site. Most of you know that for several years, disk/back issues have disrupted my writing and my life. But tah-dah, it’s over. Well, I’ve had to stop leaping tall buildings. But I’m content with short hops. So, friends, to all directly concerned with my production (you know who you are) whatever I promised you… it’s going to arrive late. But I’m on it, no worries.

Oh yes, I'm 30,000 words into a thriller with a touch of horror. I'm so excited to be writing again!

James Lincoln Warren
James Lincoln Warren.  By 2006, I had tried at least twice (two-and-a-half times, if you count my short-lived Diction City Police Department attempt) to establish a presence on the internet as an author with his own blog. Can you say crash and burn? Running a personal web log takes a hell of a lot of work and a monstrous amount of discipline—that, or a pathological graphomania, and I’m a slow writer. Frankly, it isn’t possible to keep such a website completely current, and since new posts were generally erratic, it was also hard to keep it fresh. A blog really needs to be updated every day.

Several of my novelist friends had solved the necessary-update-every-day problem by joining rotating blogs, i.e., they shared the same blog, but each author posted on a regular schedule once a week. So I thought, why not a rotating blog for short story writers?

I pitched the idea to Rob Lopresti, who was enthusiastic, and after both of us had worked in putting together a regular list of contributors, Criminal Brief was launched on May 7, 2007. It was a resounding success.

The “Mystery Short Story Web Log Project” lasted for four and a half years. It was a very different website from SleuthSayers in a couple of ways. First, it had an extremely specific goal, to wit, promoting the crime short story, although other peripherally related topics were tolerated. Secondly, I was the editor and ultimate authority regarding what could be posted. (This latter condition caused some friction now and again.)

But toward the end, its content had gotten so broad that it was no longer even remotely sticking to the topic. Since it had pretty much become a non-paying full-time job for me, this made me unhappy. I was working very hard on something I did not really have a passion for.

Was CB still relevant to its primary purpose? The answer was clearly no. But then I realized that CB had actually accomplished its purpose. I wasn’t willing to let what had been so lovingly been crafted turn into just another author blog, not that I have any objection to such blogs, but the reason Rob and I had founded CB in the first place was because we wanted something unique. Regretfully, I decided to shut it down. That pretty much made everybody unhappy.

So I suggested to the others that if they wanted to continue to write posts, that they establish a new blog among themselves with a broader mandate. The indefatigable Leigh Lundin picked up the gauntlet, and three of the seven authors from CB joined him, which I thought was absolutely grand, and the SleuthSayers shortly thereafter began to pronounce their auguries. Look at them now!

SleuthSayers is a much bigger project than CB ever was. From the short story acorn has grown a mighty oak of crime fiction contributors. Here’s Criminal Brief’s swan song. That will tell you what I think we achieved, and explain my pride in the project. One thing at the time I didn’t suspect was what would happen to that acorn, though—I only left it on the ground. The SleuthSayers themselves are the ones who nurtured, pruned, and watered it into what it is now, and they’re the ones who should be justifiably proud of their accomplishments.

18 September 2013

What Was I Saying?


by Robert Lopresti

As you know, this blog's birthday was yesterday, two days before my birthday, which is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Aaar!   So, all these festive occasions having put me in a reflective mood, I have been consdiering what all of us have been talking about here.

And it seems to me that each of us has his or her own themes.  I see emphases on: true crimes current, true crimes historic, professional experience (as cops, soldiers, spies, psychologists, etc.), childhood memories, current family news, book reviews, favorite books, authors, or films, and of course writing techniques.

In any given week any one of us might write about any of those subjects, and do, but we each seem to have favorites.  I suspected I knew what mine was but I tested it out by tossing all my columns for the past two years into tagcrowd, which pulls out the fifty most commonly used words.  (Incidentally, I also use Tagcrowd on any piece I am about to send to an editor.  It helps me spot words I have overused.) 

-->
created at TagCrowd.com



Which supports my theory: my main theme is the writing life.  I have been blogging here, mostly, about how it feels to get an idea, grind out a rough draft, edit, submit, get rejected, etc.  Here are a few examples, describing different parts of the process:

Restless Brain Syndrome
Backtalk
The Rising Island Method
RSI
Picking More Black Orchids 

My conclusion is that I use this space as a sort of writing diary and you good readers are my excuse for keeping it up.  I hope you don't mind.

And I hope that you will put up with me and my fellow bloggers for a long time.  Because they - and you - are good company.

17 September 2013

SleuthSayers' Second Anniversary! Part 2


by Terence Faherty

Happy Second Anniversary to all SleuthSayers contributors, past and present!  And to regular readers who have stuck with the blog throughout its run, thank you! 


This week, I'm continuing the "Best of SleuthSayers" list that Dale Andrews began last week.  As Dale said, this list is very subjective and constrained by space limitations.  I wasn't able to hold to our original conception of five articles a month, but I usually limited myself to eight. I think the list reflects both a breadth of subject matter and the depth of the SleuthSayers bench.  I hope Dale's list and mine will encourage readers new to the blog to browse our "back issues."

If I jumbled anyone's title or misspelled a name, I apologize.  Those of you who use a middle initial may find that it comes and goes (as they seem to do on the blog).   I'd also like to thank Dale for his leadership on this project.  He's a good man to follow on a desperate enterprise.  He doesn't daunt easily.


SleuthSayers -- The Second Year


September 2012 - Part Two

Notes from the Penitentiary – September 2012 -- Eve Fisher's offbeat and insightful notes.

Five Red Herrings III -- Robert Lopresti on truth stranger than fiction.

A Bouchercon Mystery -- Dale C. Andrews draws us in.
 

Adventures in South Africa -- Leigh Lundin reports from South Africa.

Playing Detective -- Deborah Elliott-Upton offers a paean to hardboiled men and women.


 October

A Non-iconic Writer -- Louis Willis remembers Shell Scott and Richard S. Prather fondly.

The Gifted Child -- John M. Floyd writes a great fan letter.

Things That Go Bump in the Night -- Dale Andrews stories for ghost story season. 

The Shrink is in . . . Cyberspace -- Elizabeth Zelvin's fascinating day job.

The Dadaist Enigma of Claire DeWitt -- Dixon Hill offers a unique take on an author's "mistakes." 

Mariel -- David Dean introduces one fascinating muse.

Developing the Series -- R.T. Lawton's great advice on keeping your friends close and your editors closer.

You Say Sensation, I Say Mystery -- Eve Fisher discusses the prehistory of the genre.  

Great Sentences -- Jan Grape's good writing on good writing.
                                             

 November

Ghost and the Machine -- Dixon Hill contrasts ghost stories and mysteries.

"The Unicorn in the Garden," or God Bless You, Mr. Thurber -- Eve Fisher remembers two comic geniuses:  Thurber and Benchley.

Sometimes It's Magic -- Robert Lopresti reveals the true thing that keeps a writer going.

Distractions -- Deborah Elliott-Upton battles our common enemy.

Alan Furst:  The World at Night -- David Edgerley Gates makes the case for Alan Furst.

The Great and Billowing Sea -- David Dean on great sea stories and a jaw bone.

Known Only to God -- Fran Rizer offers thoughts on Veterans Day for every day.

Not Being Preachy -- Elizabeth Zelvin on characters who carry the burden of an author's themes.


 December

Literary Mystery -- Leigh Lundin examines a Hemmingway mystery.

We're No Angles -- Eve Fisher on a minor Christmas classic.

Maze of Bones -- Dixon Hill spreads contagious enthusiasm about a series for young readers.

I Never Saw a Strange Red Cow -- Robert Lopresti's fascinating fragments of lost stories.

Cold War Berlin:  A Whiter Shade of Pale -- David Edgerley Gates evokes lost times and places.

The Dark Valley of Unpublished Stories -- David Dean describes a trip to a place where all writers have strayed.

Old Dogs and New Tricks -- John M. Floyd on old pros changing things up.

Tradecraft:  Surveillance 101 -- R.T. Lawton provides information every crime writer should know.


January 2013

The Art of Detection -- Dale C. Andrews' review of a new book on Ellery Queen sparks thoughts on a writer's immortality.

Chekhov Wrote Crime Stories? -- Louis Willis offers a new way of looking at a master of the short story.  

Rosemary &Thyme -- David Edgerley Gates celebrates a guilty pleasure.

Location, Location, Location -- David Dean's thoughts on location and the trap of writing from experience.

Doubt -- Janice Law explores the value of doubt in the mystery.

The Last Five Minutes -- Eve Fisher's last words on last words.

Professional Tips - John Lutz -- Leigh Lundin meets a favorite writer and discusses his writing tips.

The Silence of the Animals -- Dixon Hill tells a great story.

A New Project for the New Year -- Fran Rizer announces a very early Christmas present.


February

Bruce Lockhart:  Memoirs of British Agent -- David Edgerley Gates delivers another great history lecture.

Ripped from the Headlines -- Jan Grape shares more stranger-than-fiction truth.

I Was Just Wondering -- Louis A. Willis on the toughest job a "fictioneer" faces.

An Anniversary -- Elizabeth Zelvin provides great pictures, word pictures and real ones, on her parents' wedding anniversary.

I Owe It All to Rilke -- Brian Thornton devotes his SleuthSayers debut to the networking challenge.

Readers Choice -- David Dean places his literary future in the hands of his readers.

And the Beat Goes On -- John M. Floyd on Robert B. Parker's second coming.

Gone South (with Travis McGee) -- Dale C. Andrews on John D. MacDonald's return to print.

And Where is THAT? -- Fran Rizer discusses some fabulous real estate.


March

Stalker -- Dale C. Andrews on extreme fandom.

SleuthSayers, SleuthSayers -- Robert Lopresti shows off his poetry chops.

Setting as Character -- Brian Thornton discusses the importance of setting in the mystery.

Doyle When He Nodded -- Terence Faherty's debut explores Sir Arthur's fascinating lapses.

Framed -- John M. Floyd on a favorite story structure.

The IDES Are Coming -- R.T. Lawton lets the ides have it.

The Dean of SleuthSayers -- Leigh Lundin on David Dean and his new book.

No Goodbyes -- David Dean's last regularly scheduled post, for now.


April

I Found My Thrill -- Fran Rizer explores the thriller.

Creating Deception -- John Floyd gives tips on building a solid short story collection.

The After Story -- R.T. Lawton on continuing a story beyond the climax.

Gratuitous Violence -- Dale C. Andrews thoughts on violence that interrupts the story.

Reading to Learn -- Jan Grape shares writing lessons she learned by reading.

A True Story of Crooks and Spies -- Dixon Hill reviews a true tale of wartime intrigue.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Want Something -- Robert Lopresti reveals the secret to creating great characters.

The Current Crop of Clich├ęs -- Elizabeth Zelvin considers the continuing devolution of the language.


May

Memorial Day 2013 -- Jan Grape on Memorial Days present and past.

He Wasn’t The Best But He Was Good Enough -- Louis A. Willis on an almost-master, Carroll John Daly.

The Bank Robbery  -- R.T. Lawton describes a bank robbery that never was.

Random Observations -- Eve Fisher's thoughts on travelling away from oneself.

The Double Dippers -- Terence Faherty revels in big screen minutiae.

Losing the Edge -- John M. Floyd examines the burnout phenomenon.

The Beachcomber -- David Edgerley Gates recreates a memorable interview.

Some Thoughts on "Cosplay" Fiction -- Brian Thornton coins a term for anachronistic characters in historical fiction.


June

Dumbing Down: Self-fulfilling Prophecies about the Loss of Culture -- Elizabeth Zelvin's title describes it and her essay nails it.

Some Thoughts on the Importance of Plot, Character and Conflict in Fiction -- Brian Thornton minces no words in his discussion of the interaction of plot and character.

Stay Creative  - Jan Grape passes on some good advice from Holiday Inn.

Adolescent Sexist Swill? --  Fran Rizer pulls a Tom Sawyer on her friends with the help of Richard S. Prather.

Jesse James and Meramec Caverns: Another Route 66 Story -- Dale C. Andrews considers the line between history and legend.

The Haunted Wood -- David Edgerley Gates sets another record straight.

The Death of Laura Foster -- John Edward Fletcher tracks a North Carolina legend.

Beginners -- Janice Law on the art of learning a craft.


July

Show Don't Tell -- Dale Andrews on the difference between paper and flesh and blood.

Voice? -- Fran Rizer talks about good writing's most elusive quality:  voice. 


The Detroit PI -- Louis Willis on Loren Estleman's Amos Walker.

Who's on First -- Terence Faherty addresses the challenges of the PI point of view:  first person.

Hiaasen on the Cake -- John Floyd's tribute to Carl Hiaasen.

Two Writers, One Set-up -- Robert Lopresti on Jack Ritchie and the starting gun.

The Crazy Crawl -- Dixon Hill on yet another technological innovation that makes life less intelligible.

Pam, Prism, and Poindexter -- Leigh Lundin hits a nerve with the subject of domestic spying.


August

Marketing 101 -- John M. Floyd reveals his marketing secrets in this very popular post.

You Can't Make It Up -- Eve Fisher opens her file of newspaper clippings.

The Hardy Boys Mystery -- Dale C. Andrews rediscovers a lost first love.

Going to Great (or Short) Lengths -- Janice Law on the lengths to which authors will go.

Lessons Learned -- Jan Grape discusses putting your writing on automatic pilot.

Fatherlands -- David Edgerley Gates on alternate histories.

Wherefore Art -- Toe Hallock on the fascination of words.

Some General Thoughts on Character -- Brian Thornton tracks down an elusive (definition of) character.

Anybody Down Range? -- R.T. Lawton helps mystery writers handle firearms.


September

Regrets, I've Had a Few.... -- Brian Thornton on the secret character ingredient:  regret.

Suddenly, I Got a Buzz --
Robert Lopresti on words that need watching.

 Criminal Book Covers --
Leigh Lundin on book covers that should be covered.

13 September 2013

Happy Boid-Day


by R.T. Lawton



Somehow, I envision two broad shouldered, heavy-set guys in dark pin-striped suits standing in front of a birthday cake which is resting on a highly polished wood bar in a classy speak easy. I see candles on top of that frosted, multi-layered cake. The candles spell out two words.

The guy in the grey pin-stripe suit and matching fedora has a five o'clock shadow that has probably been there since noon. As he leans forward to light the candles, his suit coat opens far enough to divulge a glimpse of a shoulder holster containing a blue-steel Colt .45 automatic. He also keeps a tommy gun in a violin case somewhere close by.

Then the other guy in the blue pin-stripe beckons us all closer and raises his arms. I don't know what the rest of you are going to do, but I'm going to sing. And I'm going to do it loudly. He drops his hands like a philharmonic orchestra director and leads us in song with his gravelly voice and East Coast accent.
Happy Boid-Day to you
Happy Boid-Day to you
Happy Boid-Day dear Sleuth Sayers
You're now age two.

They both blow out the candles. Then one pulls a switchblade. My nerves twitch and my feet want to run, but it turns out he's only going to cut the cake. I gratefully accept my piece. There's no way I'm going to mess with either of them two guys, cuz they know what they're doing. And, I'll be doubly careful not to get crosswise with their beautiful secretary Velma.

There can be some mean streets out there in this thing of ours if a person isn't careful, so yes sirrie, boss, I'm writing as fast as I can. One more year of crime, criminals and everything that goes with it. Nothing personal, it's just good business.

Have a good one.

12 September 2013

Happy Birthday!


by Eve Fisher

So SleuthSayers is 2 years old this week!  I just went to a birthday party for my god-child's daughter, so I'm all up on 2 year olds.  This means SleuthSayers should be walking, talking, rebellious, curious, determined, and eating all the cake it can get its little hands on before doing something unmentionable behind the playhouse.  Sounds appropriate to me.


I have been contributing here for a year and a half, and I feel (1) grateful to be a part of it; (2) right at home with the rest of the crazies - you know who you are - and (3) amazed at how fast time flies, especially when you're talking crime. And what a crowd we have!

Both David Edgerley Gates and Leigh Lundin are always good for scaring the crap out of me about privacy and security, on-line and off.  (Although deep down I don't believe there is any such thing as privacy other than what's between my ears.  But more on that another time.)

Fran Rizer's article on "Adolescent Sexist Swill" sent me racing down memory lane to the ASS I have read and strangely loved, but then all of Fran's articles trigger me.  Her amazing life story deserves a book of its own.

And speaking of backstory - I look forward to each and every one of R. T. Lawton's many tales from his undercover days. Keep them coming! 

Elizabeth Zelvin understands intimately life with and around and infused with addiction; it's so nice to know that someone else lived a dysfunctional life! 

Rob Lopresti - well, besides his wonderful articles here (my favorite is probably "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern want something"), go over and check out his Facebook page.  Some of the best zingers in the house...

John Floyd is the go-to guy for verse around here, that's for sure.  Remember his "Candy is Dandy"?

Terence Flaherty's "The Wordsworth Trap" really got me thinking about the self - past, present, future - and the endless tinkering we do.




Brian Thornton and I share a special bond - an endless on-line infatuation with a certain British agent (the name is Elliot, Charles Elliot).  Let's put it this way, when I found out that Our Man Elliot was related to Robert Louis Stevenson, Brian was the first one I e-mailed.


Louis Willis' "Surrounded by Bigfoots" brought back all sorts of Southern memories, not to mention legends of the foggy Appalachian mountains...

Dale Andrews (whose grasp of mysteries - movies and novels - is amazing and entertaining), Dixon Hill (my favorite - "To Weave a Tangled Web"), Jan Grape (who seems to understand every problem that I encounter in writing, but with more solutions), Janice Law (what a great book "Fires of London" is - get it now!), you have all entertained and informed me.  If I have left anyone out - what can I say?  We have a stellar crew here.  Period. 

Meanwhile, I'm off to the pen this weekend, where hopefully I will come up with more material for another blog.  Again, Happy Birthday and thanks for all the criminally cozy, murderously funny, grimly hilarious entries over the last two years!  And more to come!

10 September 2013

SleuthSayers' Second Anniversary! Part 1


by Dale C. Andrews


                                    When I was one 
                                     I had just begun. 
                                     When I was two 
                                     I was nearly new . . . 

                                          Now We Are Six 
                                          A. A. Milne 

       Next week, on Tuesday September 17, SleuthSayers celebrates its second anniversary. Since that date falls on a Tuesday Terence Faherty and I (who share that day on a bi-weekly basis) were asked to kick off the festivities. We pondered how best to do this, and ultimately decided to let SleuthSayers speak for itself. (Err, ourselves!)  So this week and next week you are getting our nominees for memorable articles of years one (today) and two (next week). 

       When Terry and I decided on this approach it was our goal, going in, to identify three to five articles for each month of each year, articles that when viewed in the context of each twelve month period would show what SleuthSayers is all about. Terry is still working on the next installment, but I have to say at the beginning of mine that, as is evident below, I failed. There are too many great articles out there to whittle a year into 60 or fewer entries. In fact, there is a good argument that each of us should have just thrown up our hands and said “hey, gang, go back and read, or re-read, them all.” 

       The list set forth below is therefore both too long and too short. I've had recurring worries as to the articles not included, and all I can say is that my list (and, I suspect, Terry’s next week) is highly subjective. Ultimately I tried to identify articles that were timeless -- that will always bring out a smile or a nod of agreement from the reader.  If I missed a favorite, well tell me -- that's what the Comments feature is for.

       So, herewith, SleuthSayers, the First Year: September 17, 2011 through September 16, 2012. And, as a result of the wonders of our blogger program, together with a good dose of tedious rote work on my part, all of the titles set forth below have click-able links that will get you back to the underlying article.  So discover, re-discover, and have fun.

SleuthSayers -- The First Year


SEPTEMBER 2011 

Plots and Plans -- John Floyd starts the ball rolling with the first posting on Sleuthsayers.  

Should classic novels be re-written for modern tastes? What happens when we start down that slippery slope. Dale Andrews looked at this in Rewrites

Desperately Seeking Detectives --Writing characters with real-life flaws? Janice Law took a look at this, with particular emphasis on Alice LaPlante’s excellent Turn of Mind, a story narrated by a character descending into Alzheimer.  

OCTOBER 

The Crime of Capital Punishment -- Leigh Lundin spins the history of gallows, “old sparky,” and capital punishment generally over the years. 

Different Strokes -- John Floyd (who has more published stories than many of us have read) gives pointers for writing and submitting mystery stories. 

Speaking of Lists and Series -- Fran Rizer expounds on the best mystery stories of all times, and some other matters! 

Do Writers Write to Trends? Should they? -- Elizabeth Zelvin offers advice concerning whether trends should be followed or ignored by budding authors. 

The Death of the Detective -- Janice Law discusses authors’ decisions to kill off their detective. And what do you do when later you change your mind? 

My Uncle the Bootlegger -- Louis Willis’ colorful recollections of growing up in the hills and hollows of the east Tennessee back-country.  

NOVEMBER 

Ideas Are Us -- At a loss concerning how to start a project? Jan Grape tells how she finds ideas for books and stories. 

Digitally Yours -- Neil Schofield take a tongue-in-cheek look at how computers worm their way into each of our lives.  

When the Grammar Cops Comma Calling -- John Floyd takes a look at the trouble we can get into when we drop a comma in the wrong place. As the title suggests, be ready for some humor in this one. 

Twin Peaks -- Leigh Lundin turns back the way-back machine for one more look at one of the strangest mystery shows ever to grace network television. 

My Name is Fran and . . .  -- Fran Rizer offers up a primer on one of the things she does best -- writing cozies. 

Wellerness -- What is a wellerism? Generally it’s a cliche applied with humorous effect. Want some funny examples and a discussion of the origin of the word? Check out Leigh Lundin’s column. 

Flying Without a Parachute -- R.T. Lawton takes us inside one of his police investigations. And tells a neat story while he is at it. 

Metaphor Hunting -- Louis Willis celebrates Thanksgiving and at the same time offers some of his favorite literary metaphors -- some from fellow SleuthSayers. 

When We Were Very Young -- Why do we write? When and how did we take that first step that sent us down this road? David Dean ruminates on all of the above.  

Digging Up Old Crimes -- Attending the fourteenth annual Biblical Archaeology Fest in San Francisco Rob Lopresti discusses mysteries covered in presentations on archaeology and early Judaism. 

DECEMBER 

How Can a Martian Wax VentuVenusian? -- Dixon Hill offers up an insightful and at times humorous look at the differences between male and female audiences. 

Editorial Crimes -- Liz Zelvin gives us a fine discussion on finding the right voice for fictional characters.  

Mr. Swann Toasts Mr. Wolfe -- Guest columnist (and sort of the grandfather of SleuthSayers) James Lincoln Warren gives us the written remarks he delivered when his novella Inner Fire was awarded the 2011 Black Orchid Novella Award. 

Do You See What I See? -- Jan Grape uses the holiday season as a catalyst for a discussion on getting dialog right. 

At the End of Your Trope -- Rob Lopresti presents a great discussion of tropes. What are tropes? As Rob points out they are “a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.” 

to e or not to e -- R.T. Lawton discusses taking the leap into e-publishing. 

What’s in a Word? -- Fran Rizer takes the first of several SleuthSayer looks at how the English language grows.  

Crime Family -- David Dean shows us that sometimes our criminal antagonists are fashioned on someone, well, . . . close to home.  

Hugo and Shakespeare -- Leigh Lundin recounts the struggles we all face at times trying to make a story work.  

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol -- Dale Andrews' holiday essay on one of the favorite yuletide novels of all time. 

My Thoughts on the Big Lie -- Santa Claus -- Louis Willis’ title says it all. 

JANUARY 2012

Janus -- New Year reflections by Jan Grape. 

Nothing But the Best -- Rob Lopresti offers his annual list of the previous year’s best mystery stories. 

The Brazilian Connection -- The only SleuthSayers guest article by the great (and sadly, now late) Leighton Gage. A must read. 

Profiled -- Deborah Elliott-Upton discusses profiling -- real life and fiction. 

No, No, I Really Am . . .  -- Undercover stories from R.T. Lawton, who has been there and done that.  

Tricky Diction -- John Floyd’s hilarious piece on “saying it right.” 

Red Rum -- Fran Rizer gives us a two-for. First, her reflections on real-life South Carolina murderers, and second Evelyn Baker’s chilling account of “The Good Twins.” 

Character Flaws -- Jan Grape talks about how to make fictional character real. 

FEBRUARY 

RSI -- A SleuthSayers classic by Rob Lopresti. No spoiler here -- just go and read it! 

Computers? They're not my Type -- Guest columnist Herschel Corzine grouses humorously about being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future. Err, present! 

Mind Control -- David Dean looks at mind control and, in the process, re-examines Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation army. 

Waging Love in Ink -- Dixon Hill’s salute to Valentine’s Day.  

Before Stalking had a Name -- Liz Zelvin's personal (and chilling) account of stalking.  

Beginnings -- Janice Law talks about how to get the first paragraph right.  

No Name Blog -- Jan Rizer on the curse of all mystery writers -- rejection.  

Daturas -- An article discussing a beautiful flower that is also a dangerous narcotic and poison. The mystery to the author, Dale Andrews, is how this article, which garnered only a few comments, became the most widely read in the history of SleuthSayers 

MARCH 

Lawyers and Writers, Oh My! -- Deborah Elliott-Upton’s send-up of lawyers generally and lawyer authors particularly. 

The Sixth Sense -- R. T. Lawton discusses where those premonitions may be coming from. 

A Familiar Face -- John Floyd provides a road-map for spotting all those cameos by Alfred Hitchcock. 

APRIL 

Florida’s Right to Kill Law -- A serious piece by Leigh Lundin, and one of a series, exploring real life crime in Florida. This provides early insight into the Travon Martin case and Florida’s “Stand your Ground” statute. 

Young at Heart (and Death) -- Fran Rizer looks at fairy tales over the years.  

Evil Under the Sun (Part One and Two) -- David Dean’s riveting account of a murder and subsequent investigation in the Bahamas. In two parts.  

Easter Eggs -- the Sequel -- Dale Andrews explores the recurring, obscure and perplexing references to Easter that occur throughout the works of Ellery Queen. 

Close, but no Springroll -- Neil Schofield's personal account of how things sometimes get lost in translation when mysteries cross the Pacific. 

Outrageous Older Woman: Getting the Music Out There -- Liz Zelvin shows that she sports more than just a literary hat. 

Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite -- Jan Grape warns us to do exactly what the title orders.  

Paraprosdokia -- Dale Andrews' humorous collection of those sayings that, like many mysteries, sport a surprise ending.  

The Court Reporter’s Tale -- Forget about television depictions. Eve Fisher shows us the criminal justice system from the inside. 

No, Thank You -- R.T. Lawton discusses drug use among police officers and why it is a rare occurrence.  

Deja Vu All Over Again -- John Floyd’s discussion of commonplace redundancies in the English language.  

My Two Cents Worth -- Louis Wills discusses the ever-present debate concerning the literary worth of genre versus literary fiction. 

MAY 

Tough Broads -- Deborah Elliott-Upton’s advice on writing strong female characters.  

Cowboy Days -- R.T. Lawton re-visits the rodeo experiences of his childhood.  

Dream On -- John Floyd addresses the glory and the tedium of book signing events.  

Crime and PUNishment -- Leigh Lundin continues a spate of literary humor that infected us all that spring.  

Worst of the First -- The groans continue with Fran Rizer’s collection of the worst introductory passages ever written. 

A Word about Crime -- Turning the tables, Rob Lopresti offers a collection of some of his favorite quotes from crime fiction. 

Silence is Golden -- Dixon Hill addresses various audible intrusions that are just going to happen. So don’t pretend that they won’t in your stories. 

Hell’s Bellows -- Dale Andrews proves that lawyers have long memories when he finally serves up a response to Deborah’s March column on lawyer authors.  

It’s Alive! -- David Dean recounts the travails, obstacles and joys encountered in writing his first novel, The Thirteenth Child.  

Notes from the Penitentiary -- Eve Fisher gives us a look at what it is like, everyday, inside. 

Trifling through “Trifles” -- Deborah Elliott-Upton addresses the early lack of meaningful women characters in detective stories, and the fight to overcome the "trifles" characterization.  

JUNE 

How do you Write a Crime Novel?  -- Jan Grape collects the best advice from some who have done it. 

The Asparagus Bed -- Nearly a full year of essays and -- finally -- a real story!  A gem by Eve Fisher. 

It’s a Long Story -- John Floyd discusses the novella -- one of the most difficult types of story to market. 

Professional Tips -- Ray Bradbury -- Leigh Lundin offers a collection of story telling tips from the master. 

Do Books Change over Time or Is it Me? -- Liz Zelvin explores a recurring theme on SleuthSayers -- returning to the books of our youth. 

ABC -- Idle thoughts on Auden, Bradbury and Christie by Neil Schofield. 

Summertime and the Heat is Killing Me -- That’s what heat will do to you, as Deborah Elliott-Upton explains. 

Guys Read -- Among kids it’s easier to find girl readers. Dixon Hill discusses motivating boys to become lifelong readers and a project aimed at accomplishing that.  

The Unmaking of Books -- As always, an entertaining glimpse inside the thought process of Rob Lopresti.  

Selling Short -- Looking for a market for your short story? An invaluable guide by John Lloyd, who has sold hundreds. 

AKA -- Fran Rizer discusses early women writers who decided to publish under male pseudonyms. 

JULY 

The Writing Life -- Janice Law gives us a two-bladed essay on Latin words that stick to the English language like glue and trying to fathom why some stories work for the writer but not for the reader. Or at least not for the reader writing those rejection letters! 

E-Volution -- Dale Andrews’ essay on Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Guttenberg. 

Forty Whacks -- Yep, David Dean tells us all about Lizzie Borden.  

Summer Love -- Rob Lopresti begins writing a novel and falls in love.  

Brain Exercises -- Jan Grape explains how writers can hone their craft by paying attention to what works of other writers. 

AUGUST 

Two Golden Threads -- Rob Lopresti’s loving memorial to John Mortimer. 

Sovereign Citizens -- Strange characters? Sometimes they are all around us. Ask Eve Fischer. 

Me and the Mini Mystery -- R.T. Lawton offers tips on how to tackle the mini market..  

John Buchan: The Power House -- David Edgerton Gates’ first SleuthSayers article tells us all about the author of The Thirty Nine Steps and one of his best books -- The Power House

A Woman’s World Survivors’ Guide -- John Floyd’s hornbook on what Woman’s World looks for in a mini-mystery.  

She Said What? -- Fran Rizer’s tribute to Helen Gurley Brown.  

The Name is Familiar -- Rob Lopresti looks at eponyms -- people whose names became words.  

What Do You Do? -- Jan Grape talks about tackling writers’ block.  

Ellery Queen’s Backstory -- Well, it’s complicated, as Dale Andrews explains. 

My Favorite Characters -- Eve Fisher discusses how she finds inspiration for characters all around her. 

Copyedited by Tekno Books -- R.T. Lawton explains how it wasn't all fun after his short story was accepted for inclusion in the latest MWA anthology. 

SEPTEMBER 

The Fires of London -- Janice Law discusses her newest novel on the day before publication. 

A “Feyn” Idea -- Dixon Hill’s intriguing article on famed physicist Richard Feynman. 

Locke and Leather -- Leigh Lundin explores some of the darker sides of self-publishing. 

The Washed and the Unwashed -- John Floyd takes another look at differences between literature and genre fiction. 

       And that is it for year one!  Next week Terry will post his take on the highlights of SleuthSayers -- Year Two!