by Robert Lopresti
1. Critiquing a Grand Master. If you are a fan of the late great Donald E. Westlake you owe it to yourself to take a look at The Westlake Review. The blog's owner, one fredfitch, explains that his mission is simple: "Reviewing every book Donald Westlake ever wrote. Because I can."
I don't know the author's real name; Fred Fitch was the luckless hero of God Save The Mark. If you have read the Dortmunder chronicles and the Parker saga, you need this site.
2. E-book Mindfulness. I'm guessing that most of you buy e-books from time to time. But how do you do that? Here are a couple of hings to think about.
If Kobo doesn't have the book - not all publishers play nice - I buy a Kindle edition. But I don't go directly to Amazon to do so. There are others out there who have deals with Amazon, you see.
Kevin R. Tipple is an excellent book reviewer who also aggregates a lot of news about our field at his website Kevin's Corner. His family has accumulated some horrific medical expenses for reasons you can find on his page. So I go to his site and click on the Amazon button there. When I buy a book he gets a sliver of the dough. It doesn't raise my price and I would rather he get it than the company one bookseller I know calls SPECTRE.
Before I found out about Kevin's case I used to buy my Amazon books through the Wolfe Pack page. This is the official organization for Rex Stout fans and I was happy to put a few cents in their coffers when I bought an e-book.
I'm not suggesting you should make the same choices as me, but I do suggest you think about your e-book choices. And let me know what you think in the comments.
3. To make you wonder. I have mentioned Wondermark before. It is probably my favorite webcomic, a steam-punk-friendly combination of Victorian book art with modern problems. Here is one of David Malki!'s (yes, he includes the exclamation point in his name) recent comics that seems relevant to our website's subject:
And here and here are two more.
4. I'm from the government and I am here to help you. I may have mentioned a few hundred times that I am a government information librarian. One of my colleagues, Daniel Cornwall, has created a guide to government information specifically for all the writers out there.
Here are a few random samples of the questions he offers to answer for you:
+ What are guidelines for reports of possible criminal activity involving foreign intelligence sources?
+ What are the symptoms of inhalation anthrax?
+ What are some of the relationship complications of pretending to be dead?
+ How can I find a name so rare, that it was only given to five or so babies in 1980?
Get your facts straight so readers like me don't whine at you!
The First Two Pages. Each week a different writer steps in to explain what he or she was trying to accomplish in the very beginning of a book or short story. I am delighted that this week it is me, talking about my new novel GREENFELLAS. Thanks for the opportunity, B.K.!
19 August 2015
07 January 2015
First of all, happy new year to you and all. I hope you have gotten over your hangovers and filled up on black-eyed peas.
Now that that is out of the way, I am happy to announce that I have started a new blog.
No, I am not deserting SleuthSayers; you are all stuck with me for the unforeseeable future. But I have added a new blog to my quiver, and what a terrible metaphor that makes.
The name is Today in MYSTERY HISTORY, and that pretty much tells you what it's about. Tune in every day for a peek at something that happened on that date in our field. And that, by the way, is what the illustrations on this page are for; each representing something that has appeared on my blog since it started on January first.
* Movie releases
* Statue unveilings
* Songs hitting Number One
* Plot events in novels
And many more. This, by the way, is where you can participate. Feel free to contact me with suggestions for events you would like to see commemorated. I have 358 more days to fill, and that's just this year.
I hope you enjoy it.
05 April 2012
I am always curious about the why of things thathappen especially in the criminal world. Whether it is fictional or straight from the headlines, I want to know why someone commits a crime -- especially one that takes another's life, or in some cases even their own.
Online blogs and social media tags are often ignored though the warnings are clear in retrospect. Nicole Simpson told others that one day her husband would kill her and because he was O. J. Simpson, he would get away with it.
A few people leave diaries or prepared-for-the-worst-case-scenario suicide notes behind. They are desperate please left as a clear-marked trail if only someone would look for the clues.
To a trial defense lawyer, these admissions are another hurdle to jump in attempt to snare a release for their client charged with murder. We would think such admissions would be a clear path to a conviction, but that isn't always what happens either.
Tabloids can rake in a ton of sales with headlines and articles that may be true, may be half-truths and may be completely fabricated. A national broadcast channel was caught editing the 911 call made by Zimmerman, distorting what he actually said. What is the truth? Maybe we'll find out the why on this case, but maybe we won't ever find the complete truth.
We may never know the truth about Casey Anthony. Her daughter will still be dead.
Determining why human beings sometimes don't act quite humanely is a puzzle.
Criminal activity isn't anything new. Cain murdered his brother, Abel for a reason as old as time itself: jealousy. In fact, the Bible is more than peppered with crimes, it is well-seasoned with how man isn't always just. Many of those reasons are still filling our prisons today. Why can't we all just get along?
When we ask why a crime takes place, we are interested also in finding the guilty party and having him pay for what he's done. We may not be involved in law enforcement nor the judicial system, but we may all take a turn at the jury box. Sharing space with eleven of our peers, we represent the public at large and want to know more than the who and how. We want to know the why of the criminal activity.
Read a good mystery -- one that ties up the story all nice and pretty by the book's end. Know that the bad guys are locked away. Know they paid for their crimes. Know they are just pretend characters. The real world is sometimes scary.
Sometimes we may not want to really know all the why's. Curiosity killed the cat, you know.