Showing posts with label anniversary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anniversary. Show all posts

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.

29 September 2013

So Soon?


by Louis Willis
Happy Second 

Anni-verthMONTH
When I started this article, I didn’t know whether to wish us “birthday” or “anniversary.” Dixon’s post on September 20 solved my dilemma, only I changed his word a little since my post wouldn’t be on the 17th. Thanks Dixon. It seems like it was only a few months ago that we celebrated our first anni-vertmonth. 

This, our second means it’s 

So, where is the PARTA?


With the many outstanding and enjoyable articles, we had a good second year. I’m looking forward to an even better third year and maybe a party.

20 September 2013

Happy Anni-Verthday!


SleuthSayers has hit the end of Year Two, and, over the past couple of weeks, there's been a lot of talk about our blog’s second birthday.

While, at times, our blog may seem to be a sort of online coffee house—Surely I'm not the only one to hit my morning caffeine (and in my case nicotine) when perusing SS after firing-up my computer at the start of each day!—today I'd like to look a bit more deeply into our blog than that.



Birthday or WHAT?

One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that some of us refer to the occasion as a Birthday, while others call it an Anniversary. For my part, I think we need a cake that looks more like this one, at this year’s annual office party.

To my way of thinking, birthdays are about individuals (excepting twins, triplets, etc., of course). And, while there’s an individual entity here: the blog, itself. It seems to me that this entity is the creation of several writers working in concert. Thus, though the blog may be an individual—of and in itself—that entity is also the interwoven, or perhaps “patchwork,” composite of many individuals working together.





And it seems to me that, when individuals come together, collaborating in intimate, or semi-intimate ways—as the writers who produce SleuthSayers have done for the past two years—the thing I’d like to celebrate may be less the birthday of that entity we call the blog, and rather more the anniversary of the writers’ creative collaboration.

Thus, the birthday wish at the top of my blog probably should be replaced with something more akin to this. Or, another illustration referring to an anniversary of writers who came together to breath life into our new digital entity: SleuthSayers.




Of Digital Offspring DNA







Perhaps the photo of the champagne flutes, flowers and cupcake aren’t what you envision when thinking of an anniversary. Perhaps some of our number think of an anniversary in terms like this:



While, for others, the term calls up a vision similar to this one... 












This one...




Or, this one. 
I sometimes think we're more like this.
Notice how the crazy guy seems to be jerking her arm?
That's a bit different than pulling her leg IMHO.















The more disturbed among us may even envision a scene similar to this one
(Which rather scares the willies out of me, with it's "decapitatedness" to be frank!)








It may certainly be argued, we are far more than “a pair” or “a couple”, so why not an anniversary photo similar to this one?

Perhaps this is what we should envision.  They just seem so mysterious to me --
Clothes retro, but shiny clean . . . as they stand where they don't seem to belong.






























How about a photo similar to each, all, or none of these?

My resounding answer is: YES! 

All these, and many more, may be the way that writers and readers who contribute to our digital offspring individually conceive of the word “anniversary.” Which, I believe, is one of the greatest strengths of our collaborative effort. 

After all, a diversified gene pool is a critically important asset for any healthy brainchild. And, at SleuthSayers, our collective phsycho-verbo-experiential gene pool is delightfully vast and varied.

But … Kids Aren’t Clones 

As a parent, one thing I’ve learned is that children not only seem to be born their own individual personalities, but also that these sometimes rather alien personality traits often challenge good parents to extend themselves in previously unexplored directions.

Part of our blog entity’s character is that it encourages those who have—before this time—probably concentrated on primarily, or even only, the written word, to expand into other means of self-expression through the use of photographs, sound files, digital film clips, and other media not normally available for access through books or magazines.

Our blog: We are it, and it is us.
Thus, through our brainchild blog, we accomplish interdependent interaction.

While we transform the blog through the results of each writer and contributing-reader bringing his/her own baggage to work on it, the blog creates an impact on each of us through the exercise of its own transmogrifying digital DNA.

As the blog is transformed, it transforms us—its writers and readers. We are not the same people we would be, without the blog.

And, thus, I am confronted by the idea that—though I began this blog on a birthday note, then changed that note to one of an anniversary celebration—the final idea has (it’s just my luck!) come around full-circle. We find the blog writers and readers are an inherent component of the blog entity, just as the blog’s entity has become (and continues to magnify in proportion) its writers and readers.

Birthdays may seem to be reserved for individuals, while anniversaries may be more applicable to joint ventures.

However, at SleuthSayers:  Contributors (joint venture participants) and offspring (the birthday individual) evidently continue to meld into one. Thus it would seem that Birthday and Anniversary needs come to be conjoined in the phrase:

  
Happy Anni-Verthday!

To my fellow SleuthSayers:
Readers, Writers and Digital Tikes
ONE in ALL   &   ALL in ONE!

P.S.  This is a photo of Velma after last year's office party.
I found her near the exit, and -- after taking the photo-- got Leigh to pour her into a cab.
See you in two weeks!
--Dixon 





14 September 2013

Two Years and Counting



It's hard to believe that September 17 will be SleuthSayers' second birthday. What's even harder to believe is that I've been able to come up with something to say every alternate Saturday for those two years. (Notice that I didn't use the phrase "something meaningful to say.") Not surprisingly, my greatest thrill in participating in this blog project has not been the writing of my columns but the reading of my blogmates's columns every day. I never fail to learn something about mysteries, writing, or life in general.

My fond memories of the SleuthSayers experience will always be linked to my fond memories of its predecessor, Criminal Brief. For four years I wrote the Saturday column there, which we called "Mississippi Mud"--a reference, probably, to both my location and the clarity of my writing. I remember that when James Lincoln Warren invited me in 2007 to jump aboard the CB train, I was delighted and honored to be one of the seven bloggers on the team (I still can't figure out how I was allowed to join such a stellar group), but I was also scared to death. I was a short-story writer, not a blogger/columnist. How in the world could somebody--anybody--come up with something to write about a specific subject (short mystery fiction, in this case) once a week, every week? 

The answer, of course, is that all of us occasionally ventured away from the clearly-marked trail and dabbled in other topics, although they usually did relate in some vague way to mysteries or writing. The same goes for SleuthSayers. We're mostly crime fiction writers here, but now and then we take our notepads and canteens and wander off into the weeds to cover other subjects. I'm particularly fond of movies, and especially suspense movies (watching them and writing about them), so most of my off-the-rez columns have been cinematic. Hopefully our sideline discussions, which I try to keep to a minimum, are either interesting or entertaining or instructive. And the variety does helps keep us sane (or less insane).

I also had to learn not to worry about blundering into an area of crime writing that someone else might have already written about. Ronald Tobias once said there are only twenty "master plots" in fiction, and the challenge is to approach them in different ways. That's also true with regard to blogs/essays. No topic, even if it was covered the previous week or month, is off-limits as long as it's presented in a new light. Another quote: According to Mark Twain, Adam was the only person who, when he said something, could be certain that no one had ever said it before.

To us writers, a big advantage of a project like SleuthSayers is that it's more than just an opportunity for us to voice our thoughts. Because of the "comments" capability of Blogger, we can also see the immediate responses of our readers and colleagues. I've often enjoyed the exchange of comments as much as I enjoyed the columns themselves--whether I was the writer or the reader. And I've learned a lot from the comments my pieces have received. This blog has been fortunate to have a fair number of followers, and--as at Criminal Brief--some have been truly loyal. I value their views and opinions. No small part of all this is that I've also received a number of recommendations to read novels and stories and to see movies that I probably wouldn't even have known about otherwise.

The main thing, though, is that it's just a pleasure to be in the company of others every day who share a love of writing and reading crime fiction. I've always believed that the reading public is attracted to mystery/suspense stories and novels because of two things: (1) conflict is always there in abundance--it's a built-in part of the genre--and (2) they give us a chance to see justice triumph, whereas in real life the bad guys (and good guys) sometimes don't get what they deserve. And for writers, I think the puzzle that's almost always at the center of mystery fiction is the reason we do it. As in no other genre, things must eventually tie together and make sense, and the placement of those puzzle pieces is not only challenging but fun.

What I'm saying is, I love this blog and its mission, and--God help me--I even like putting together these biweekly rants. Matter of fact, I'm headed out of town today to yet another booksigning, and I plan to use the driving time to try to come up with something for my column on September 28. (Maybe even something meaningful, this time.)

Until then, I'd like to sincerely thank our readers and my fellow Sayers of Sleuth for all the things you've taught me over these past two years. I've had a wonderful time. 

Happy birthday/anniversary to all of us.

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!

17 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Baby!


by Fran Rizer

Today is SleuthSayers's first birthday– beginning the second year of life. Most of us view our creations somewhat as our infants, and to the writers, SleuthSayers is another of our children. Let's personify our professional association and take a look at our baby, SS.

Developmental milestones are accomplishments most children achieve by a certain age. During the first year, babies learn to focus, reach out, explore, and learn about the things and people around them. They also develop social and emotional attachments while physical milestones include sitting up, crawling, pulling up, and walking.

SS has definitely experienced a year of reaching out, exploring, and learning about people, including each other and our readers. Among other things, SS has explored writing methods and habits (along with writers' block), mystery books and films, locations, and exciting experiences including police and legal procedures. SS has taken a look at explosives, crimes and criminals, and amusing word-plays as well as delving into plot-driven vs. character-driven and genre vs. literary. Professional, social, and emotional attachments have formed. Physically, this baby has sat up, crawled, pulled up, and is walking.

According to Wikipedia, a September 17th birthday makes our childe a Virgo. I must confess I was hoping SS was a Libra. How cool it would have been for the astrological sign to be scales--as in scales of justice. Alas, we're stuck with Virgo, the only female symbol of the Zodiac, sometimes represented as a potentially creative girl, sometimes as a somewhat older woman, rather pedantic and spinsterish. What are the supposed characteristics of Virgos, whether male, female, or of a non-specific gender like our baby is?


Virgos are supposed to have considerable charm and dignity. "They are intellectually inquiring, methodical and logical, studious and teachable. They combine mental ingenuity with the abiliity to produce a clear analysis of the most complicated matters." After all, what is solving mysteries? Clearly, it involves analyzing complicated matters. These descriptors came from Astrology-Online, and I agree that SS has these traits.  (I left out the negative ones listed for Virgos because, as parents, we like to think of our children in positive terms.)

No time to go into all the other forms of Astrology, but as a great lover of moo goo gai pan, I'd be remiss not to mention our child's Chinese astrological associations. Once again, reality is not what I would have chosen. Don't you think SleuthSayers should be a tiger or a dragon? Not so. Yin. Metal. Rabbit. The only thing I can think of about our babe being a rabbit is that perhaps sometimes as the calendar gets away from us and we prepare our postings at the last minute, we have to be quick like bunnies. (You didn't think I was going elsewhere with that, did you?)

Numerologically, "SleuthSayers" adds up to the double digit 12, which reduces to 3. Though the playful articles on numerology in magazines stress the reduced number, a quick check of dreamtime.com/numerology reveals that serious numerologists consider both the double digit and reduced numbers.

Three is considered male, charming, outgoing, self-expressive, extroverted, active, energetic, and proud. The vibration of 12 is similar to the vibration of 3 raised to a higher level and with a little more idealism thrown in. Note that Virgo being represented by a female and 3 being male doesn't designate gender of the baby, but of the characteristics. SS exhibits all the good traits, but the comment I most appreciate is, "Gets along well with others." We love that comment when it appears on our kids' report cards--"Plays well with others"-- don't we?

If we were reading Cosmopolitan, we could look to see what other astrological signs are best suited to our Virgo baby, but that's really not necessary. After all, this babe isn't sitting on a bar stool in the eighties hoping someone of a compatible sign will offer to buy a drink.  We all know that SS is attractive to and attracted by writers, readers, and solvers of mysteries.

Checking out the pages of Woman's World, which is becoming almost as familiar to us as AHMM and EQMM and is being bought by more and more of my male friends to analyze John's stories to learn why WW keeps sending them polite rejections, I  find horoscopes. Do we really need to read magazines to learn SleuthSayers's future?  No way!

We're confident SS will continue to grow, expand, learn and develop friendships next year. Our baby sits, crawls, and walks. I predict that the coming year will be one in which SS runs and dances!


16 September 2012

SleuthSayers First Anniversary!


by Leigh Lundin and my fellow SleuthSayers

Tomorrow SleuthSayers will be one year old!

Our first year has been wonderful to us, our cadre of crime-writers and crime-fighters. A few of us have been together 51/2 years, although it's not longevity that makes a SleuthSayer, but camaraderie and a penchant for damn good writing.

We're pleased to count among our colleagues a police chief, a DEA Special Agent, a military explosives expert, a Washington lawyer and insider, and a crime scholar. We also feature cosy novelists, historical authors, and popular pasticheurs. While we embrace all genres of crime-writing, we probably have more short-fiction specialists thanks to our Criminal Brief days. With further ado, hear from my colleagues about the past year and the next.

Dale Andrews: Choosing a favorite mystery from the past year would be difficult– too many contenders. But my favorite mystery-related event is easily identifiable– the pre-Edgar Award cocktail party hosted by EQMM/AHMM that I attended in New York last April. I don’t make it to every one of these gatherings– the train ride from DC to NYC and back is a bit dear. But where else, in two short hours, does a mystery writer get the opportunity to visit such fascinating and revered comrades in arms? This year I chatted first with the sponsors of the event, Janet Hutchings and Linda Landrigan. Then I headed across the room to visit Frederic Dannay’s son Richard and his wife Gloria. We discussed Blood Relations, the recent collection of the letters of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee edited by Joseph Goodrich, and then shifted smoothly to Jeffrey Mark’s planned new biography of Dannay and Lee. After that it was great to re-connect with my SleuthSayers’ partner David Dean, who was an honored guest, an Edgar nominee for his short story Tomorrow’s Dead. While David and I held down the fort for SleuthSayers, our predecessor blog, Criminal Brief, was even better represented with James Lincoln Warren, Steven Steinbock and Melodie Johnson Howe all in attendance. The opportunity to visit with these folks and others during the party was easily worth the cost of those train tickets. But in many ways the best was yet to come. When the party ended I found myself in a fascinating three-way conversation on mysteries and Ellery Queen in particular on the walk back to Penn Station with Joe Goodrich, editor of the afore-mentioned Blood Relations, and my old friend Francis (Mike) Nevins, preeminent Ellery Queen scholar and the author of another upcoming retrospective of Dannay and Lee. As the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world” says concerning the two party system, as between the two it is the after party that you really want to attend! Dale Andrews
David Dean David Dean: It has been an interesting year for me. Not only did I retire from police work last November, but after a mandatory visit to its corporate HQ (location undisclosed as per contractual agreement), I also signed on with SleuthSayers. It's a great gig, and with the checks that keep rolling in, I've made several additions to my collection of vintage British roadsters. No less exciting, my story, "Tomorrow's Dead," July 2011 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, was nominated for an Edgar. An obscure Brit took home the actual prize, perhaps in retaliation for my buying up all their good roadsters. My horror novel, "The Thirteenth Child" will be released Oct. 5th by Genius Book Publishing--as the name of the company suggests, they only publish works of genius, so please ignore any snarky reviews that may be forthcoming. Mostly, I continue to scribble away, trying to fashion something that people might read.
Deborah Elliott-Upton: Although I have been a writing instructor, I enjoy being on the opposite side of the desk, too. My life's goal is to never stop learning. A new piece of knowledge is like quality chocolate: delicious, appetizing and leaves one with a taste for more. Despite my other obligations, I decided to return to college. This summer, I took two courses: philosophy and psychology. Both proved interesting, both as a student and as a writer. Both of my instructors were writing books; one a nonfiction text, the other fiction. In classroom discussions, the fiction writer and I realized we had much in common and following the end of classes, we became fast friends. I have enjoyed introducing her to my other writer friends and we have attended a writer's workshop together. What is more fun than sharing your time with people of like interests? The nonfiction writer/instructor asked if I'd be interested in editing his book, so that may still come to pass, after I finishing editing my pastor's book. The great mystery in life is how to get everything finished, but as in writing any project, it will be done step-by-step by putting one foot in front of another. Deborah Elliott-Upton
Eve Fisher Eve Fisher: 2012 saw two notable things for me: (1) I started contributing to Sleuthsayers as a blogger and (2) I discovered a whole new fan base in China, where my works are being translated by a mystery man in Shanghai who loves Laskin, SD! I’m not getting paid for it – but he shared the web site with me. The most interesting crime-related event of 2012 was at our local prison, where I volunteer and found that I had one former student as an inmate and another as a prison guard. Both of them were happy to see me.
John Floyd: Of all the mystery/crime-related books and stories I've read this past year, my favorite is probably a novel by Steve Hamilton, called Die a Stranger– the ninth book in the Alex McKnight series, set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I've enjoyed all the McKnight mysteries, as well as Steve's two stand-alones (Night Work and The Lock Artist)– but in my opinion Die a Stranger is distinctive in that it has one of the best, most logical endings I've read in a long time. It's the kind of seamless wrap-up that makes readers gasp with delight and makes fellow writers wish they could do half as well. Personal-favorite event: I was fortunate enough to place short stories in three back-to-back issues of The Strand Magazine: the Oct. 2011-Jan. 2012 issue, the Feb.-May 2012 issue, and the (current) June-Sept. 2012 issue. I'm not sure if my stories were good or if The Strand had three slower-than-usual submission periods, but I prefer to believe the stories earned their keep. John Floyd
David Gates David Edgerley Gates: My earliest influence as a storyteller was Kipling, and then the duck stories from Carl Barks– if you don't know, I'll happily explain. My best read of last year was Alan Furst, Spies Of The Balkans, and this year, his new book, Mission to Paris (I almost said, Night Train to Paris. evocative of Eric Ambler, one of Furst's big influences). My favorite crime event was local, a stripper hired to discredit a mayoral candidate here in New Mexico: I wrote a story about it, "Heavy Breathing." I found some new writers, or new to me, and not necessarily generic, Orhan Pamiuk (his book about Istanbul), Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union), and some old faves, Harlan Coben and Laura Lippman don't phone it in.
Jan Grape: One year ago, Sleuthsayers began. Strangely enough, my cats and I'd just moved from a 375ft2 RV into a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house. I'd barely settled with my furry felines, Nick and Nora, when we were joined by an Alien from the Planet Nashville in the Tennessee constellation– the youngest son of my daughter, Karla. Now I know exactly why she offered to buy this house for me. (Ha.) She thought I wouldn’t figure out her master plan. (Haha) Alien Cason and I managed to survive 8 months together and just before the men in the white coats with the straight jackets came for me, Cason and his female companion unit, Justine, who'd lived with us two months, headed back to his home planet. They’re doing well, both working and have their own apartment. I do miss the alien and not only on nights when it’s time to take out the garbage. Although my writing suffered from alien activities and ear/sinus infections punctuated by a Grape family reunion in NJ, I co-edited an American Crime Writers League anthology, Murder Here, Murder There, including my short story “The Confession”, inspired by a song by a friend, Thomas Michael Riley. I’m working to get my books on Nook and Kindle, and I hope to return to Broken Blue Badge, 3rd in the Zoe Barrow, Austin Policewoman series. Happy Birthday! Jan Grape
Dixon Hill Dixon Hill: This year has been rough for my “writing department,” due to extended family concerns. However, I’ve thankfully had time to read—quite a bit of it spent, unfortunately, in doctors’ offices and hospitals. The four top new writers I’ve run across include our own Fran Rizer and her wonderful Callie Parrish Mystery Series. What’s not to love when the protagonist wears an inflatable bra and her best friend is a phone sex operator? Well, actually, there’s a lot more to her stories, but I don’t want to give anything away—they’re great from stem to (ahem) stern! Then, there was Pistol Poets by Victor Gischler. Though it had a few technical flaws concerning weaponry and tactics, imho — I couldn’t help enjoying it. I’m now seeking time to enjoy a couple of his other titles: Gun Monkeys (Hey! Who wouldn’t wanna read a book named Gun Monkeys??) and Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. I also recently read Jake Hinkson’s Hell on Church Street, a veritable fire-ball of murder that burned to the last page faster than Time Fuse and reminded me of some of the best of Jim Thompson’s work. Last, but far from least, I discovered Marcus Sakey’s excellent The Blade Itself and Good People, as well as a fantastic short story of his. Finally—here’s a toast: To next year being easier on everyone’s “writing department”!
Janice Law: It’s always nice to find a good new mystery, and this year so far, I’ve found two, neither from long time favorites. The Fear Index by Robert Harris is not only well plotted and timely, but works interesting changes on a favorite plot line. A sort of financial thriller, science fiction mashup it not only works very well but anticipated the recent runaway computer trading on Wall Street. Second is Mission to Paris by Alan Furst, whose well reviewed previous novels never clicked with me. This one is highly appealing with its movie star lead who, surprise, eventually falls for an age appropriate woman. Brisk and more realistic than usual this one could give nostalgia a good name. Janice Law
R.T. Lawton R.T. Lawton: This last year has been a time of re-reading old favorites, making new writing friends and getting a story into the MWA anthology. Some of my old favorite reads are the Chester Himes paperback novels featuring his Harlem Detectives, Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones. I found those in a used book store in Washington, D.C. during 1971 when I had free time from BNDD Basic Agent Class #15 and wanted something to read other than training manuals. Three of his novels were later made into movies. As for the new writing friends, that’s those blogging at SleuthSayers, plus readers who chime in from time to time. Some of you I hope to meet at the annual EQMM/AHMM cocktail reception in NYC this coming April, and the rest of you at one of the future Bouchercons or Left Coast Crime Conferences. And lastly, after three attempts at the MWA anthology, I finally made it into the one for 2013.
Rob Lopresti: I debated displaying some false modesty but hell, you guys know me by now. My favorite mystery-related experience of the year was being on the cover of Alfred Hitchcock's. It's an honor and I felt honored (still do). I suspect one reason my story made the cover is that it was easy to find a file picture (as opposed to a commissioned artwork) that would work with my story. Not that I'm complaining; the picture worked fine. This reminds me: the thing that thrilled me most about my first published story was the fact that it was illustrated. After all, for all I know the editor could have purchased it without even looking at it, but damn it, the artist had actually read it. Rob Lopresti
Leigh Lundin Leigh Lundin: As I write this, I'm housesitting in a beautiful cliffside home on the Indian Ocean where whales and dolphins frolic in the waters below and the sound of the surf helps me write… 9th grade math textbooks in this case. It's been a great year launching SleuthSayers with the help of my colleagues and board members, which is where much of my creative energy's gone. During the Royal Show here (like a state fair), I chatted with a world-renown police rescuer Jack Haskins. Who knows– you might read about him on SleuthSayers! For some reason, authors names don't stick until I connect with them, and during the past year I now have a dozen more friends and colleagues. EQMM and AHMM are delivered every month to my door here in South Africa, so now when I see the author list you can hear me say, "So that's who that author is!" Here's to the next year…
Fran Rizer: The past year was traumatic for me and I escaped into reading. There were many exciting and intriguing mysteries by the big dogs, but the book that I enjoyed the most and read over and over is a collection of short stories that equal any I’ve ever taught on the college level— Blood in the Water by Janice Law. These pieces and the ones by other SleuthSayers that I read in AHMM, EQMM, and Woman’s World inspired more interest in writing short stories. Three of my recently written shorts were chosen to be included in the SC Screams Anthology. My thriller was published under a pen name that I’ll soon share, and the fifth Callie Parrish mystery, Mother Hubbard Has A Corpse in The Cupboard, will be released the first of 2013. Like several other SleuthSayers, I write music, too, and am proud as a peacock that Gene Holdway’s new CD, Train Whistle, includes six of my original songs. Fran Rizer
Louis Willis Louis Willis: For me, a reader and reviewer, the past 12 months reading articles of SleuthSayer members has been instructive. I've learned how writers of fiction think when creating a story. I’ve felt the agony they go through while writing; the anxiety they suffer after submitting it to an editor and waiting for a reply; the disappointment they feel when the rejection slip arrives. I've also felt the ecstasy they feel when the story is accepted and the excitement when it is published. When I receive my copies of the AHMM and EQMM, I search the contents for stories by SleuthSayer members. It has been fun. I look for to the next 12 months of delightful and insightful articles.
Liz Zelvin: SleuthSayers has given me some enjoyable new blogging experiences--sharing the virtual stage with crime fighters as well as crime writers and with blog brothers as well as blog sisters. It's been a good year for me in terms of creative projects too, with a couple of long-awaited publications: Death Will Extend Your Vacation, the third novel in my series featuring recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, and "Shifting Is for the Goyim," my paranormal whodunit e-novella on Untreed Reads, as well as the release of my CD of original songs, Outrageous Older Woman, a dream thirty years or two years in the making, depending on whether you start counting at the point of writing the songs or recording the album. Elizabeth Zelvin