Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Clever Cleaver Mirror

O.K., maybe not what you want to look into every day unless you're a serial killer or butcher --or both.

Hat Tip: Toxel.com

Monday, August 29, 2011

"L" is for Littlefield: Sophie Littlefield

Continuing the crime fiction author alphabet meme, today I welcome award winning mystery author Sophie Littlefield.   "L" is for Littlefield. I'm just amazed at the variety and skill of her writing. Sophie Littlefield will be on my panel at Bouchercon in St. Louis in September. Be sure and attend. Today she shares her writing wisdom on how to keep a series going.

Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri. She writes the post-apocalyptic AFTERTIME series for Harlequin Luna. She also writes paranormal fiction for young adults. Her first novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, won an Anthony Award for Best First Novel and an RT Book Award for Best First Mystery. It was also shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, and Macavity Awards, and it was named to lists of the year’s best mystery debuts by the Chicago Sun-Times and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Sophie lives in Northern California.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Make a comment below about  your experiences with series-either as a writer or fan-- to win a copy of Sophie Littlefield's Bad Day for Scandal. Be sure and give your email address (can be cryptic: john at  gmail dot com)



Having recently turned in the edits on the fourth Stella Hardesty novel (tentatively titled A BAD DAY FOR MERCY) my thoughts turned to what sort of adventures my girl might encounter next.

It’s not a subject to take lightly. Building a sustainable series, one that satisfies and entertains readers well past the first blush of acquaintance, is a delicate dance. A challenge unsuitable for beginners or tentative sorts.

Most of us, beginning our first series, are ill-equipped for the challenge. We fail to augment our cast of characters, lay the groundwork for future developments, or set up conflicts strong enough to sustain the burden of a dozen more books. But that’s not the end of the world, because it’s in the cagey catch-up in later books that we get really creative. If we created fertile story worlds from the start, we would be less inclined to invent the startling, surprising, even shocking twists that keep readers interested.

Still, making book five as compelling as the first is a challenge not to be underestimated. Here are some tips for keeping a series fresh from the start.

1. In the first book, introduce a complex, richly-layered protagonist. Choose actions that reveal character. Set up an intriguing cast of secondary characters, and don’t stint on the quirky and engaging. Introduce the protagonist’s “ordinary world” but lay the groundwork for internal conflict substantial enough to resolve over time

2. In the second book, round out the cast. Upset the relationship apple cart – find a way to wreak havoc on whatever stability the protagonist has had in her professional, family, and romantic life.

3. In the third book, consider what readers are saying (usually you won’t have a chance to do this earlier, given the publishing lag of a year or two before publication.) Do more of what works, less of what readers found off-putting. Get creative with the central story problem – at this point the readers are ready to explore! Introduce a secondary romantic interest, if you haven’t already done so.

4. In subsequent books, stay fresh by putting effort into the central story problem. Take your protagonist on the road – a fresh setting injects new interest. Introduce a person from the past (secret lover, baby, avenger) or event from the past (military heroism or shame, romantic entanglement, inheritance, scrape with the law) that will challenge your protagonist, who is now familiar to your reader. Consider a timely subject matter, something from the news or innovations in science if these are appropriate to your genre.

5. ….and finally, never forget the Contract With The Reader. I’m a big believer in this imaginary but powerful obligation – you must never breech the trust of the reader that your character will behave in character. You don’t get to decide that he or she was “really” different from what you created; by now she has taken on a life of her own and you must honor that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cartoon of the Day: PBS for Cats

So yesterday I went to a new to me flea market on Treasure Island and picked up a small Oriental rug--a 6 x 7 Baktiari garden pattern. It's not in mint condition, but then it's over 50 years old.  It's imperfect which is perfect for me, since I want it for a specific place that gets a lot of traffic. For the very low price I paid, it can take lots of wear without any worries. Then today, while clearing up some long buried papers near my desk, I found this wonderful cartoon that used to hang on my refrigerator! Still makes me laugh!  No mystery here!

Brings back memories of cats long gone.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hand Grenade Dresser

Love this Hand Grenade Dresser (bureau) from Los Carpinteros. Good place to keep your weapons?

Hat Tip: Toxel.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

A&E picks up Longmire

WOOT! (now a word in the OED)

According to TV/LINE A&E has given a 10-episode, first season order to Longmire, an hour-long Western-themed drama starring Matrix actor Robert Taylor as the show’s titular charismatic, dry-witted Wyoming sheriff. Katee Sackhoff will play Vic, one of his deputies.

The series, based on the Walt Longmire Mystery series by Craig Johnson, also stars Cassidy Freeman (Smallville) as Longmire’s daughter, Lou Diamond Phillips (Numb3rs) as his best friend, and Bailey Chase (Saving Grace) as another deputy.

Can't wait for the series? Get reading. There are 7 books in the series. Craig Johnson was recently in Berkeley for a Literary Salon with Mystery Readers NorCal.  

Photo: Craig Johnson & Me--I'm the one wearing Craig's Stetson :-)

Hat Tip: Omnimystery News

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hilary Davidson: Guest Post & Book Giveaway

Hilary Davidson is a new star on the crime fiction horizon. Her second mystery, The Next One to Fall, will be out from Forge in 2012. Her first novel, The Damage Done, has been nominated for several awards, including the Macavity, the award from Mystery Readers International. This post isn't exactly part of the crime author alphabet meme since we're past D, but you can never have too many Ds. So here's D is for Davidson. Enjoy!

Win a copy of The Damage Done. Make a comment about sense of place in mysteries. Winner will be announced 8/30.  Be sure and include your email address. Can be cryptic. ex: john at comcast dot net.

Hilary Davidson

When I was growing up, there were two things I dreamed of doing: writing and traveling. I imagined myself journeying from continent to continent on one action-packed adventure after another and penning stories about it all. My overall ambition was to be some fearsome hybrid of Agatha Christie and Indiana Jones.

The amazing thing is that I found a day job that let me fulfill both of these dreams. For the past thirteen years, I’ve been a travel journalist. I’ve been lucky, but I’ve also discovered that the job is less glamorous than I foresaw, especially because all of my 17 Frommer’s guidebooks have been about my hometown, Toronto, or my adopted hometown, New York. On the other hand, getting to know your own city by envisioning how it would appear to a first-time visitor can make you fall in love with the place all over again.

People have asked me if being a travel writer helped me give my debut novel, The Damage Done, a stronger sense of place. My answer is yes… and no. The New York in my travel pieces and the New York in the novel are not exactly the same city. That’s not because I invented the places in The Damage Done. I chose to write about real locations, and every corner, from the Jan Hus Church to Rosa Mexicano restaurant, and from the Pitt Street police station to the methadone clinic in Cooper Square, is real. (One exception is a glass-walled luxury hotel built on the site of a church destroyed in an arson. I hope that the U.S. Post Office workers in Lower Manhattan don’t mind that I appropriated their site!)

When you write about a place, you bend and twist it to suit your purpose; you exaggerate certain characteristics and minimize others. Your story is just as much about the people you’re writing it for as it is about the place you’re writing about. With travel pieces, that usually means wealthy travelers who like fine dining and shopping, families with young children, and business travelers. You write about the things that will interest them. When writing travel pieces about New York, I’ve rarely managed to include the Gothic elements I love. (My walking tour of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery — which ran in a Frommer’s guide — may be my greatest success on this front). In The Damage Done, New York’s Gothic side dominates. Much of the book is set on the Lower East Side, which is an ongoing battleground between old and new, preservationists and property developers, longtime residents and club kids. It’s a powerful contrast between the New York that once was and what it wants to be.

That tension exists in my main character, Lily Moore, as well. She’s a woman who has survived a traumatic family life and reinvented herself as a sophisticated journalist. But as she comes back to the city she abandoned — and especially as she searches for her missing sister — parts of her past resurface. The more she tries to push them back, the more they trip her up.

Writing travel stories has often allowed me to enter places that seem to belong to alternate universes, from exorbitantly priced hotel suites to unique, solitary places such as Easter Island. Writing about New York through Lily’s eyes was like entering an alternate world as well, one in which the physical boundaries are familiar but the emotional landscape is completely different. Traveling with her is fascinating, wherever she takes me (my second mystery featuring Lily, The Next One to Fall, is set in Peru and will be published by Forge on February 14th, 2012). Seeing the world as she does lets me live a second life. Now I get to follow her as she travels from place to place and gets into trouble along the way. It’s the closest thing to my childhood dream I ever could have imagined.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Berkeley Mystery Readers Group: Fall 2011

The Berkeley Tuesday Night Mystery Reading Group

For those who want to read along with our group, feel free to send comments by the appropriate day. The group meets on Tuesday nights at a private home in Berkeley, CA

September 6:  The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

September 13:  No meeting

September 20:  The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

September 27:  Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson

October 4:  Sister by Rosamund Lupton

October 1:  The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson

October 18:  The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

October 25:  The Scent of Rain by Nancy Pickard

November 1:  Captured by Neil Cross

November 8:  The Dogs of Rome by Conor Fitzgerald

November 15:  Damage Control by Denise Hamilton

November 22:  The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ngaio Marsh Award 2011

Blood Men by Paul Cleave won the 2011 Ngaio Marsh Award. The award was presented at the"Setting the Stage for Murder" event in Christchurch yesterday, as part of The Press Christchurch Writers Festival. Seven judges from New Zealand and across the world chose Cleave's novel above three other finalists including Neil Cross, Paddy Richardson and Alix Bosco.

The judges praised Blood Men, which was set in Christchurch, as a "gruesomely gripping story told in clean, sharp prose, with authentically laconic dialogue and flashes of dark humour". Cleave said it was the first time in six years of being published that he felt like he was being taken seriously in New Zealand. Cleave has sold 600,000 books in 19 countries, but only a tiny fraction of those sales were in New Zealand.

I really enjoyed being a judge for the Ngaio Marsh Award, particularly for being introduced to so many great new to me writers. I want to thank Craig Sisterson for all he does for Kiwi Crime and for including me in the judging.

On another Kiwi note in relationship to the Ngaio Marsh Awards, Alix Bosco's (author of shortlisted Slaughter Falls), true identiy was revealed in the Sunday Star-Times last week. Acclaimed playwright, TV screenwriter, and former Junior All Black Greg McGee 'came out' as Alix Bosco in a large feature in the Star-Times.  Read the article HERE.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Revolver Ice Cube Tray

Freeze! Revolver Ice Tray. Available at Urban Outfitters. $12.00

Hat Tip: Ruth Jordan, Mrs Crimespree!

Ideal Bookshelf: Customized for You

Want to have a personal painting or print of your favorite bookshelf? What books would you include? Your own? Want to see what other bookshelves might contain?  I love the Ideal Bookshelf Project!

Jane Mount paints people's ideal bookshelves: your favorite books, books that changed your life, books that made you who you are. 


"Picking your ideal books is not an easy task (try it!). I think of this project as an intimate form of portraiture; a way to illustrate who the subject is on the inside instead of out.

I love that a book is something created very personally and then mass-produced in order to affect many other people very personally. I paint them to turn them back into something very personal and intimate. In the age of the Kindle (which I also love, btw), it's very satisfying.

You can see the options for having your books painted or buy prints of other sets here. If you see a bookshelf you love but don't see prints of it available in my shop, please just ask about it! Also, here are my suggestions on framing.

The Ideal Bookshelf book will be published by Little, Brown. I'm working on it now with Thessaly La Force of The Paris Review.

I illustrate and design other things, too; you can see them here."

Contact Jane HERE

For A Look at Different Bookshelves, go here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CWA Dagger Nominees

Shortlists for the 2011 Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards announced. Winners will be announced October 7 at The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards at the Grosvenor House, and televised the following Tuesday, October 11th, on ITV3, along with the Film and TV Daggers.

CWA Gold Dagger ("Best Novel"):

Tom Franklin for Crooked Letter (Macmillan)
Steve Hamilton for The Lock Artist (Orion)
A. D. Miller for Snowdrops (Atlantic Books)
Denise Mina for The End of the Wasp Season (Orion)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award ("Best Thriller"):
Michael Gruber for The Good Son (Atlantic Books)
Steve Hamilton for The Lock Artist (Orion)
Craig Smith for Cold Rain (Myrmidon)
S. J. Watson for Before I Go To Sleep (Doubleday).

CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger ("Best First Novel"):
Conor Fitzgerald for The Dogs of Rome (Bloomsbury)
Sam Hawken for The Dead Women of Juarez (Serpent's Tail)
Danny Miller for Kiss Me Quick (Robinson),
S. J. Watson for Before I Go To Sleep (Doubleday)

Nominees for the 2011 TV and Film Daggers:
The Film Dagger:
True Grit (Paramount Pictures)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Momentum Pictures)
Brighton Rock (Optimum Releasing)
Source Code (Optimum Releasing)

The TV Dagger:
Case Histories (Ruby Films, BBC One)
Luther (BBC One)
The Shadow Line (Company Pictures, BBC Two)
Zen (Left Bank Pictures, BBC One)
Vera (ITV Studios, ITV1)

The International TV Dagger:
The Killing† (Arrow Films, BBC4)-original Danish version of the series, not US AMC version
Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sky Atlantic)
Castle (ABC Studios, Alibi)
Dexter (Showtime Networks, FX Channel)
Spiral (Son Et Lumiere, BBC 4)

Best Actress Dagger:
Sofie Gråbøl for The Killing (Arrow Films, BBC4)
Brenda Blethyn for Vera (ITV Studios, ITV1)
Maxine Peake for Silk (BBC One)
Olivia Williams for Case Sensitive (Hat Trick Productions, ITV1)
Sue Johnston for Waking the Dead (BBC One)
Kelly Reilly for Above Suspicion (La Plante Productions, ITV1)

Best Actor Dagger:
Idris Elba for Luther (BBC One)
Lars Mikkelsen for The Killing (Arrow Films, BBC4)
Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sky Atlantic)
Jason Isaacs for Case Histories (Ruby Films, BBC One)
Rufus Sewell for Zen (Left Bank Pictures, BBC One)

Best Supporting Actor Dagger:
Rafe Spall for The Shadow Line (Company Pictures, BBC Two)
Bjarne Henriksen for The Killing (Arrow Films, BBC 4)
Søren Malling for The Killing (Arrow Films, BBC 4)
John Lithgow for Dexter (Showtime Networks, FX Channel)
Aidan Gillen for Thorne (Stagereel/Cité Amérique, Sky One)

Best Supporting Actress Dagger:
Ann Eleonora Jørgensen for The Killing (Arrow Films, BBC 4)
Kelly Macdonald for Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sky Atlantic)
Ruth Wilson for Luther (BBC One)
Amanda Abbington for Case Histories (Ruby Films, BBC One)
Tara Fitzgerald for Waking the Dead (BBC One)

Hat Tip: Omnimystery News & The Rap Sheet

Shamus Award Nominees 2011

The Private Eye Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2011 Shamus Awards. Winners will be announced in St. Louis at a private Private Eye Writers of America banquet.

Best Hardcover P.I. Novel:

No Mercy, by Lori Armstrong (Touchstone)
The First Rule, by Robert Crais (Putnam)
Voyeur, by Daniel Judson (Minotaur)If the Dead Rise Not, by Philip Kerr (Putnam)
Naked Moon, by Domenic Stansberry (Minotaur)

Best First P.I. Novel:
In Search of Mercy, by Michael Ayoob (Minotaur)
One Man’s Paradise, by Douglas Corleone (Minotaur)
Rogue Island, by Bruce DeSilva (Forge)
Random Violence, by Jassy MacKenzie (Soho)
City of Dragons, by Kelli Stanley (Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel:
Hostage Zero, by John Gilstrap (Kensington)
Nightshade, by Tom Henighan (Dundurn Press)
Mister X, by John Lutz (Pinnacle)
The Panic Zone, by Rick Mofina (Mira)
Asia Hand, by Christopher G. Moore (Grove/Atlantic)
The Little Death, by P.J. Parrish (Pocket Star)

Best P.I. Short Story:
“The God of Right and Wrong,” by Steven Gore (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February 2010)
“The Lamb Was Sure to Go,” by Gar Anthony Haywood (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, November 2010)
“The Girl in the Golden Gown,” by Robert S. Levinson (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2010)
“Phelan’s First Case.” by Lisa Sandlin (Lone Star Noir, edited by Bobby Byrd and Johnny Byrd; Akashic Books)
“A Long Time Dead,” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (The Strand Magazine, June-Sept. 2010)

Hat Tip: Bill Crider

Arsenal Artisan Soaps

Black Stallion Handgun Soap blows away dirt and grime! Soap shaped like guns. Comes in its own hardshell gun case. Soap is 7 5/8 x 1 1/8 x 5"h. Set weighs 1 lb., 8 ozs. A worthy addition to your bath arsenal.

Hand made from start to finish. Cast from an actual demilled WWII steel body Grenade. The grenade was cast in a 2 part silicone mold so it holds all of the detail of the original

Hat Tip: Toxel.com

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

K is for Keily: Tracy Keily

Continuing the Mystery Author Alphabet Meme today, I welcome Tracy Kiely.

Tracy Kiely is the author of the Jane Austen inspired mystery series and her latest installment, MURDER MOST PERSUASIVE, launches August 30th. Tracy grew up reading Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, and watching Hitchcock movies. She fell in love with Austen’s wit, Christie’s clever plots, and Hitchcock’s recurrent theme of “the average man caught in extraordinary circumstances.”

Book Give-Away: Comment below on why you'd like to read the series for a chance to win Murder at Longbourn, the first in the Jane Austen series. Judy Dee won a copy of Murder at Longbourn. Congratulations!

Strangers on a Page

As a writer, you want your characters to be real, believable, and timeless. (You also want to make buckets of money, reduce those kids who were mean to you in grade school to tears, and become Oprah’s new besty.) But, aside from that, you want readers to believe your characters.

One of my all-time favorite authors, Jane Austen, consistently nailed this. Not only did she create timeless characters who are beloved by millions, such as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, but she created others who are just as reviled, such as the snobbish Lady Catherine, the pompous Mr. Collins, and the hypocritical Mrs. Norris.

In fact, some of her characters became so real to me, that it inspired my own mystery writing series. I began to wonder how the characters in Pride and Prejudice might fit into a mystery. What, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? What if Charlotte snapped one day and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? For each of my mysteries, I revisit the characters traits and themes found in a specific Austen novel, and give it a humorous, modern day twist (Oprah, if you are listening, call me. I’m free most afternoons).

Which brings me (finally) to my point.

Writers (well, the successful ones, anyway) often get asked, “Where do you get your character ideas?” Some have witty responses (“mail order catalogs”), others claim that their characters “talk to them,” (and just between you and me, watch out for these folks; they are a little off), while still more will loftily cite extensive “research.”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret; they are all lying.
Writers get the bulk of their ideas from their families. (And based on some of Jane Austen’s private letters, I believe this was true for her as well.)

Furthermore, much of this inspiration is generated during the holidays.

I realized this the other day when I was organizing some papers (i.e., procrastinating), and I came across this quote:

“A mystery must have tension, secrets, and characters that inspire strong feelings – particularly murderous feelings.”

And I thought – hello! – change out “A mystery” for “The holidays” and the observation becomes even more apt. I mean, think about it – we are rapidly heading into that time of year when facial tics become a part of our daily existence and why? Because of our families! After all, it is usually our nearest and dearest who drive us to the emotional extremes that keep psychiatrists’ businesses booming. Their weird quirks, their prejudices, their emotional manipulations, hell, in some cases just the way they breathe can send you over the edge and into a spastic fit of facial tics and orchestrated teeth grinding.

For instance, let’s skip down memory land to the Thanksgiving I was ten. My mother had worn herself out prepping her usual fare; a massive turkey, two kinds of stuffing, yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, and, of course, a pumpkin pie for dessert. That morning my grandfather insisted on taking us all out to a late brunch. As he made his third trip to the buffet, my mother laughingly said, “Now, don’t eat too much! Remember to save room for Thanksgiving dinner.”

With a dismissive flick of his wrist, my grandfather grunted, “Freeze it.”

Then there were the relatives who not only showed up to Christmas dinner thirty-five minutes late, but too full to eat. The reason? They decided to hit a McDonald’s when they were a mere fifteen minutes from the house.

Now while these instances didn’t result in murderous feelings (although my mom looked pretty miffed), they certainly inspired strong feelings.

As writers, we are told to “write what you know,” and it’s good advice. By carefully observing those around you, you can create some really solid characters. Characters that make you feel, make you care, and in some cases, characters that make you giggle with glee when they finally get what’s coming to them.

Using real people as inspiration can not only strengthen our writing, but it can be the perfect tonic to what ails us (or rather, who ails us). Our facial tics and grinding teeth can be cured without costly botox injections or uncomfortable mouth guards. We can simply write that annoying relative into a highly satisfying and therapeutically healing murder mystery. However, as with most remedies, there is an element of risk. Some relatives are just so over the top, that were we to write about them, they would instantly recognize themselves, and we’d get busted. And then sued.

But, when you, as a writer, are handed a relative who is just so breathtakingly awful, it is criminal not to use them! So, how do we work around this moral dilemma? Well, after a lot of thought (I am soo procrastinating today), I think I have the solution.

I propose we create a network for writers to share/swap outrageous relatives.

Remember Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, where the two men traded murders? Well, instead of trading murders, we trade annoying relative stories. And let’s not limit ourselves; co-workers, bosses, ex-loves are all eligible. It’s a win-win situation. We get to vent and use great material! Should my McDonald’s stopping relative read about her actions in YOUR book, well, that’s nothing to do with me! And should your Aunt Josephine who lets her dogs eat out of her mouth read about a character eerily similar to her in MY book, well, it must be some kind of coincidence, right? Right!

I only wish Jane Austen were still alive. I have a feeling she would have a lot of relatives to trade.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Edible Books

Hungry Happenings  has a great recipe for creating edible books with fruit leather and honey-scented white modeling chocolate–"the perfect treat for your book party."
For my chocolate readers: Note, If you haven't made modeling chocolate before or haven't melted chocolate, you should read Hungry Happenings' chocolate making tutorial. All brands of white chocolate or white candy melts have varying amounts of cocoa butter or oil, so the recipe is just a guide. You may need to add more or possibly less honey. She used Peters White Caps which are similar to Merckens Super White Coatings or Wilton White Candy Melts. 

Photo: Hungry Happenings

Thanks to Jen Forbus and BV Lawson

Russell Armstrong, husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, found dead

Plot for your next mystery? Truth is stranger than fiction..

From Examiner.com:

Fans of Bravo TV's Real Housewives of Beverly Hills were stunned by the news of the apparent suicide of reality television personality, Russell Armstrong. Did the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and the Bravo Network contribute to his death?
Russell Armstrong, 47, the estranged husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills personality Taylor Armstrong, was found dead this morning in his Mulholland Drive home. The Bravo Network television personality was found fully clothed. News outlets are reporting that he committed suicide by hanging himself. Police found no drugs, alcohol and no suicide note.

The Armstrong marriage had been troubled for some time. In the first season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the problems in their marriage were placed under a microscope and magnified for the whole world to dissect, including an over-the-top $60K birthday party for their then 5 year old daughter.

Continue reading on Examiner.com  http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-buffalo/russell-armstrong-husband-of-real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-star-found-dead#ixzz1VDsJ2dBi

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Book Dress

The Book  Dress for Readers:

Saw this on Little Augury Blog.  I don't care for the styling of this dress, but I love the fabric. If you wear this dress, you'll always have something to read, albeit only titles, but so many of them. There's a lot of book fabric out there, but I haven't seen this fabric before.

Dress by Zero and Maria Cornejo

I do like this "Book" dress for little ones. From Denmark. What a great reading tool: 

Then there are the Dresses Made of Books.  Many are made from phone books because the paper  lends itself to design and easy handling. However, the following dress is made completely of Little Golden Books. It seems more like a Project Runway Challenge:

Little Golden Books Dress

Saturday, August 13, 2011

J is for Jaffarian: Sue Ann Jaffarian

Continuing the Mystery Author Alphabet Meme, today I welcome Sue Ann Jaffarian.
Sue Ann Jaffarian is the author of three mystery series: The Odelia Grey series, the Ghost of Granny Apples series, and the Madison Rose Vampire Mystery series. In addition to mysteries, she also writes general fiction and short stories, recently launching a Holiday’s From Hell short story series for e-readers. Visit her at www.sueannjaffarian or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Book giveaway. Comment below for a chance to win. Tell us which series intrigues you most, and you might win the first book in that series from Sue Ann Jaffarian. 

8/17: WINNERS: JANET A & PENNY T. Sue Ann will be in touch with you shortly!


Like Cerberus, the terrifying hound who guards the gates to the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology, I need three heads – one for each of my three mystery series. So far I’ve managed to keep them all straight, but as the different series grow in number of books, I fear without three heads, I’ll never manage.

Then again, maybe I don’t need three heads. Maybe what I need is five or six heads, each with their own independent brain. There would be one for each mystery series, one for my Holidays From Hell short story series and one for all the future writing projects gurgling around in my brain. Let’s see, that makes five. Nope. I’ll need six. I’ll need one head to handle my paralegal day job and personal life. They will have to pair up because six is the top number of heads I’m willing to shampoo and blow dry on a regular basis.

OMG! Six heads means six monthly cut and color jobs. It means six sets of teeth requiring dental care. Six sets of glasses. Six faces that need plucking, washing and make-up application and removal. Hold on a moment while I do the math … okay, based on the cost of up-keep and maintenance, I’m going back to one head and liking it.

I won’t kid anyone, writing three different series is quite a challenge, but it is doable. If you’re thinking of trying it, here are a couple of tips:

Make each series different in style, character and genre or sub-genre. For example, write one in first person and the other in third. Mix up the types of protagonists, their backgrounds and personalities. If one is a police procedural, make the other a paranormal or amateur sleuth. Keeping each series different also keeps you, the writer, better engaged mentally as the clock ticks by and one deadline merges into another.

Make a schedule and stick to it. We’ve all heard this as a tip to successful writing, but when writing different series, it’s not just a daily schedule, it becomes a monthly or even seasonal schedule. Remember, life happens and if you’re on schedule to begin with, the less likely an illness or emergency will throw you too far off track.

Kirkus once said of me, “Like Stuart Kaminsky, Jaffarian juggles her franchises deftly, giving each a unique voice and appeal.”

Hah! If they only knew the truth. I’m really juggling various shades of insanity – tossing power saws along with knives and Tasers. The reality is, the above information aside, the series write themselves. I’m just the medium.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"I" is for Ison: Graham Ison

Continuing the Mystery Author Alphabet Meme today, I welcome Graham Ison.

Graham Ison was in the regular army before joining the Metropolitan Police. During his career in Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, he was involved in several famous espionage cases and spent four years at 10 Downing Street as protection officer to the prime minister. He later guarded crowned heads and US presidents during their visits to Britain, and served as second-in-command of the Diplomatic Protection Group, the unit that guards London’s embassies. A member of the Society of Authors and an occasional obituarist for The Daily Telegraph, Graham Ison is now a full-time author and speaker. He has published thirty-two novels, scripted for Thames Television's The Bill, and has contributed articles to the national press on policing, and law and order. His lastest novel Gunrunner, a Brock and Poole novel, will be out on August 25.


I first starting writing for pleasure when I was at school in London during the Second World War. As part of a week designed to boost War Savings – this one was called Wings for Victory Week - we were encouraged to enter an essay competition. As the essay had to have an air force theme, I wrote about a Royal Air Force squadron scrambling during the Battle of Britain. It was something I knew a bit about; I’d watched the battle from my back garden.

Those of us who were commended for our effort, and there were many of us, were taken to the local town hall to listen to a lecture by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, holder of the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order & Bar, and the Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar.

Gibson had just returned from the famous raid that had resulted in the breaching of the Möhne and Eder Damns in Germany, and he held us spellbound with his account of the raid. To us boys, Gibson was a giant of a man, a famous hero. But he was slightly built and only 26 years of age!

This encounter gave me the impetus to write, but my aspirations to become an author were interrupted by five years in the British Army and 30 years in the London Metropolitan Police. Being a Scotland Yard detective did not leave very much spare time, particularly during the espionage cases in which I was involved and the four years I spent at 10 Downing Street as protection officer to the prime minister. Nevertheless I managed to start writing as a hobby.

When I left the police, I found an agent and gave him a book I’d written, still unpublished, about a man who had lived through both world wars. But my agent suggested that, as an ex-cop, I should write a crime novel. It took me three weeks to write my first book, The Cold Light of Dawn. Two weeks later the agent told me that it had been accepted by Macmillan. For the next month I revelled in having become a published author, but then my agent asked me how my next book was getting on. I hadn’t started, but soon did. My second novel, Confirm or Deny, was written in four weeks, and accepted by Macmillan before the first had appeared in print.

I’ve now had 32 novels published, all of them crime stories except for my one political thriller, Division.

However, the farther removed I became from my police service, the more difficult it was to ensure accuracy. Police organisation and methods are changing all the time, and parliament is bringing out new laws on an almost daily basis. Consequently, I often found that what I’d written was technically out of date by the time it was published.

Seven years ago, I came up with an idea to overcome this problem: I created the historical character of Divisional Detective Inspector Ernest Hardcastle of the A or Whitehall Division of the London Metropolitan Police. The great advantage in writing such a crime novel is that neither the procedure nor the law changes by the time it’s published.

Hardcastle’s first outing was in Hardcastle’s Spy, set in 1916. I’m fortunate in being published by Severn House in that it releases my books in the United Kingdom and in the United States simultaneously.

The reaction of my American readers was very encouraging. They liked Hardcastle and they liked novels set in the Great War, and they wanted more of the same. This presented me with something of a dilemma. Bernard Cornwell, the brilliant creator of Sharp, hero of the Napoleonic Wars, had some 23 years to cover the action of his novels; I had only 51 months. Had I known, I would have set my first book in 1914. But by the time I discovered what the Americans liked, I had already written the second book in the series: Hardcastle’s Armistice set, obviously, in 1918.

This meant that if I were to remain within the time frame of the 1914-18 War, I would have to start going backwards. So, the action of the next book, Hardcastle’s Airmen, took place in February 1915, and was followed by Hardcastle’s Actress, which opens on Christmas Day 1914. The ninth in the series, Hardcastle’s Obsession, begins in September 1916, and was published this year.

Fortunately, I gave Hardcastle a son, Walter, who was born in 1900. If I run out of time, I can start on Young Hardcastle, who in 1939 would have been just the right age for him to be a divisional detective inspector doing the same job as his father had done, but in the Second World War.

There are linguistic problems in writing historical fiction, given that English is an evolving language. Some of the jargon and the slang that is commonplace today was not necessarily so in 1914.

I have about twenty dictionaries of varying kinds, the most important of which, in this context, are my two dictionaries of slang. These publications are of immense value in determining whether a particular word or phrase was current during the period about which I am writing. For example, who would know these days the meaning of a ‘fourpenny cannon’? But in Hardcastle’s day, it was a steak and kidney pie. And a ‘Piccadilly window’ was a term describing a monocle.

I also have a copy of The Handbook of English Costume in the Twentieth Century, an invaluable guide to what was worn – and not worn – during the Great War.

Bearing in mind that I am writing for an American readership as well as an English one, I’ve had to include in each of the Hardcastle stories a glossary of less familiar terms, as well as military terminology. This was originally placed at the end of the book until an Australian reader, emailing me from Alice Springs, complained that he’d only discovered the glossary after he’d finished reading the book. Later publications now place it immediately after the title page.

When I started my police career, I was posted to Cannon Row police station where Hardcastle has his office. I was fortunate, as far as the Metropolitan Police was concerned, that little had changed since the Great War, and I was able easily to recall the layout of that police station. In addition, much of the law that, as a patrolling constable, I helped to enforce, hadn’t changed for years, and was extant in Hardcastle’s time.

I also remember walking a night-time beat in London’s Whitehall. At two o’clock in the morning there was hardly any traffic. In fact, there was just an eerie silence broken only by the popping of the street gas lamps. Apart from the Cenotaph, that made its appearance first as a wooden structure in 1919, little had changed since the days of the Great War. And when I met another policeman, wearing a similar cape to the one I was wearing, it was easy to imagine that I had travelled back in time.

A great deal of the action of the Hardcastle novels involves the armed forces, and as a former soldier, I’m familiar with their organisation and regulations.

What’s more, I’ve always had a consuming interest in the Great War, and have visited the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders many times. As a result, I was able to place some of the action in that area. In Hardcastle’s Spy, I had my hero travel to the little town of Poperinge in Belgium, home to the original Toc H.

In order to provide the reader with period detail, I’ve made a point of including significant events that took place during the Great War. The mining of the Messines Ridge in Belgium, the loss of Field Marshal Earl Kitchener at sea in HMS Hampshire, the disastrous Battle of the Somme, and the Zeppelin and Gotha air raids on London have all been used as a backcloth to Hardcastle’s adventures.

Probably the greatest compliment I’ve received about Hardcastle came from an American reviewer who described him as being ‘as curmudgeonly as Inspector Morse, as intelligent as Sherlock Holmes, and as wily as Hercule Poirot’.

Medical Examiner Cupcakes

Sweeet Dreams Bakery in Orange County (Orange County, San Bernardino, & greater LA area) has the perfect cupcakes for the Medical Examiner, Crime Writer or Mystery Fan. And, yes, my worlds of chocolate and mystery often collide

These cupcakes were created for Alvina Chow, Medical Examiner for the County of San Diego.

Photos: Sweet Dreams Bakery

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enid Schantz, R.I.P.

The Mystery Community lost one of its special people this morning. Enid Schantz, bookseller, book publisher (Rue Morgue), convention organizer, reviewer and wonderful person, succumbed to cancer early this morning. Enid and her husband Tom Schantz have been involved in the mystery community since 1970. They were awarded the Raven in 2001 by Mystery Writers of America for their contributions to the genre. Enid will be missed by all.

My thoughts and sympathy go out to her husband Tom and her family.

Read the following article (which first appeared in MysteryFile in a slightly different form) that traces the history of the Schantzes and The Rue Morgue Press.

 I will be linking comments and posts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Inspector Morse Prequel: Masterpiece Mystery!

Variety reports that PBS "Masterpiece Mystery!" will air a prequel to "Inspector Morse," with Shaun Evans playing the title character.  

The single-episode "Endeavour," a reference to Morse's first name, will air on PBS in 2012 to mark the 25th anniversary of the "Morse" bow (written by Anthony Minghella). ITV1 will air the prequel in the U.K.

"Inspector Morse was one of my favorite detectives," said "Masterpiece" exec producer Rebecca Eaton. "Shaun Evans has a similar depth and quiet charm. I can't wait to see his Endeavour."

In all, 33 previous episodes of "Morse," with John Thaw starring, have been made. All but five aired from 1987-93, with nearly annual specials following from 1995-2000. Thaw died in 2002.

Prequel will be set in 1965 and takes place in Oxford, the setting for "Morse" and spinoff series "Inspector Lewis," which will see four new episodes on "Masterpiece" beginning Sept. 4. Russell Lewis, creator of the spinoff, is writing "Endeavour."

Hat Tip: Shelf Awareness

Monday, August 8, 2011

H is for Hallinan: Timothy Hallinan

Today I welcome Tim Hallinan to the continuing Mystery Author Alphabet Meme.

Timothy Hallinan is the author of the highly praised Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers, the latest of which, The Queen of Patpong, was nominated for both the Edgar and the Macavity as Best Novel of 2010. He's also writing a series of e-book originals he describes as "thrillers with a laugh track," about a Los Angeles burglar who moonlights as a private eye for crooks. The series begins with Crashed. Most recently, he conceived and edited Shaken: Stories for Japan, a Kindle e-book anthology of original stories by well-known mystery writers, with every penny (including Amazon's share) going to the 2011 Japan Relief Fund. Hallinan lives in Santa Monica and Southeast Asia.


What is it about murder, anyway?

Sure, it's a rock through a window that can never be repaired, a hole punched in the world that can never be refilled, a gunshot that doesn't stop reverberating for years. It's one of a small number of acts that turns the person who commits it into someone else forever, which is probably why those of us who mess around with fiction usually find the murderer more interesting than the victim.

Who remembers the old woman Raskolnikov kills, and who can forget Raskolnikov?

One of my problems with serial-killer fiction is that I find people who kill over and over to be much less interesting than people who do it once. I doubt that Ted Bundy was any different after he killed his ninth victim than he was after his fourth. When I read these characters, they're played in my mind's eye by the kind of all-surface actors who float from TV series to TV series with no change except that he's “Ted” in one and “Hank” in the other.

On the other hand, look at old Macbeth before and after the killing of Duncan. It's like slow-motion footage of an imploding building.

So if I'm interested in the effect of murder on the murderer, that means that I find some kinds of murders more interesting, fictionally speaking, than others. I'm not particularly interested in spur-of-the-moment self-defense, for example. It may be thrilling if it's written well, but I don’t think it’s intrinsically any more interesting than any other largely instinctive behavior.

I suppose that the killings I find most interesting are the ones in which the killer feels he or she is acting morally – that the murder is an appropriate and justifiable thing to do. The aftermath of such an act will create deep fracture lines in anyone who isn't a sociopath.

Those killings fall into the “gray area” of morality, which is the area that I like to write about. When I decided to set my second series in Bangkok, I did it in part because Bangkok is especially rich in gray areas. (I believe that a hard-line, black-and-white moral sense is a privilege of the well-fed.) And since I think quite a bit about murder, I decided in the first Bangkok book, A Nail Through the Heart, that I would introduce those spacious gray areas by turning at least one of the conventions of crime fiction inside out – I would make all the murderers innocent and all the victims guilty.

Naturally, in writing the book, I gave a lot of thought to what comprises a justifiable murder, and in the end, my middle-class, as-yet-innocent American travel writer, Poke Rafferty, commits one himself. It’s partly self-defense but there’s a conscious decision before he pulls the trigger, and that very brief decision process is one of my favorite parts of the book. Some readers have said they laughed when it happens, and I take that as a high compliment. And Poke goes through a shattering aftermath, one that actually requires an improvised Buddhist exorcism to expiate.

I don’t actually believe that murder is ever truly justified, but at the same time I do believe that there are people who shouldn’t be allowed to live. So that puts me in a moral conundrum. But I'll live with it because it's the kind of internal stress fracture that produces questions that can be worked out through the writing of books.

And to be honest, I should admit that there is one serial killer in the Bangkok books, in The Queen of Patpong. And I decided I was going to forgo all the psychological insight about how he became that way (which we've all read a hundred times) and present him instead as his victims experience him when he lurches, a walking blunt-force instrument, into their world. I could get away with that because the book isn't actually about him, but about his effect on the life of the victim who survives, Poke's Thai wife, Rose. And I think it works: we do see the squirming mass of dark worms at the center of his being, but we see it through his actions, and when he's gone, it's gone, too—except in memory and nightmares.

And as long as I'm at this, let me outrage some people by saying that my primary problem with cozies is that they deal with murder as a puzzle rather than a messy, violent reversion to the world that Tennyson said “is red in tooth and claw.” Too many of them stuff the murder in a cage in a little-used corner of the parlor, like a small but mildly dangerous dog that you don't want to feed with your fingers. And I think that dishonors murder victims and trivializes our primal sin.

Not that anyone asked me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

SCIBA 2011 Award Finalists

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Assn announced the finalists for its 2011 book awards. The winners in six categories will be announced in an Oct. 22 event in Long Beach.

For his many contributions to Southern California independent bookstores and the community of readers, SCIBA  is honoring T. Jefferson Parker by naming its annual mystery award the T. Jefferson Parker SCIBA Mystery Award. This award also honors all of the award winning mysteries Jeff has written and will write in the years to come. Jeff will personally present this award at the annual Authors Feast & Trade Show.

T. Jefferson Parker Book Award for Mystery and Thrillers:
The Sentry by Robert Crais (Putnam)
San Diego Noir edited by Maryelizabeth Hart (Akashic Books)
The Informant by Thomas Perry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Savages by Don Winslow (Simon & Schuster)

When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle (Viking)
Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan (Prospect Park Books)
Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Viking)
Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr (Akashic Books)

For the nominees in all categories, go HERE.

Hat Tip: The Rap Sheet

Friday, August 5, 2011

G. is for Gaus: P. L. Gaus: Book Giveaway

Continuing the Mystery Author Alphabet Meme today, I welcome P.L. Gaus, author of The Amish-Country Mysteries: G is for Gaus. I was lucky to sit with Paul and his wife at Malice Domestic. You'll love his books that give you an insight into another culture. Great sense of place.

P. L. Gaus is the author of six books in the Amish-Country Mystery series. He lives in Wooster, Ohio, an area that is close to the world’s largest settlement of Amish and Mennonite people. Gaus lectures widely about the lifestyles, culture, and religion of the Amish. Read more about his unique experiences at P. L. Gaus’s Ohio Amish Journal.

Book Give-away: Comment below for a chance to win the latest novel HARMLESS AS DOVES by P.L. Gaus. Be sure and leave your email address.. can be in john  at  comcast dot com (form)

P. L. Gaus:

At nearly every appearance I have made, I have been asked why I write murder mysteries about Amish people, who are plainly among the most peaceful Americans anyone knows, and my answer is always in two parts. First, Amish society is infinitely fascinating to me, and I believe it deserves to be better understood. Second, murder mysteries are especially fun (I don’t need to explain that to anyone in this audience), and crime fiction gives us what I think is the best opportunity in popular literature to explore the human condition. I’ll elaborate.

How can Amish people not be fascinating? They hold themselves apart from the rest of us. They travel only in horse-drawn vehicles. They farm the old ways, eschewing most modern conveniences in life. They worship privately. And they hold to Christian pacifism more doggedly than they hold to their own safety and wellbeing. Then, crime fiction connects naturally with all of the underlying reasons for conflict, and an examination of motive is really an examination of the human condition. Our passions expose the rawest and most authentic emotional dilemmas. But why combine these two – Amish and murder? A bishop near Batavia, NY, once asked me at a talk I gave at the local library why I write murders mysteries about Amish people. The answer that appeased him the most is that I do not write for an Amish audience. I write for English people who want to know more about Amish society.

In each of my novels, I explore an issue that is pivotal in Amish society, and there is usually a scriptural theme that is the focus of the plot and of the choices the characters face. In Blood of the Prodigal, the theme was repentance and forgiveness surrounding a shunning event. In Broken English, I examined Amish pacifism with a story about a vengeance quest. Clouds without Rain was about authoritarian leadership, through the vehicle of broken leadership and lapse of faith. In Cast a Blue Shadow, I wrote about child abuse in a closed society. The choice every Amish teenager faces about taking the vows to live Amish was the theme in A Prayer for the Night. The dilemma of interactions and compromises with the modern word of science and medicine was the issue in Separate from the World. And in Harmless as Doves, I wrote about the need we all have for forgiveness, from the viewpoint of several characters who understood this to widely varying degrees.

My stories are also about life in small-town America, where everyone knows everyone else, and where friendships last a lifetime. It’s a place of quiet competence, steadfast loyalties, and sturdy moralities. My three main protagonists are like this, as are the strong women in their lives. Sheriff Bruce Robertson, Pastor Caleb Troyer, and Professor Michael Branden have been friends since kindergarten, and as strong as their friendship is, the strain of a case often divides them sharply. These characters give me my connection to law enforcement, religion, and academia. Their wives and families give me the opportunity to portray these men with soft lighting and close familiarity. Then men are not complete without their families, and the women often out-think the men on the more subtle points of a case.

For my setting, The Amish-Country Mysteries are parked on the numerous cultural divides in Holmes County, Ohio, where the world’s largest Amish and Mennonite settlement is found. English folk are perplexed and challenged by Amish folk. One type of Amish sect is pitched against another. The differences are highlighted in a mix of cultures that nevertheless seems peacefully and gracefully to get along for the most part. Where could an author find a better source of material?

I have been traveling the back roads and lesser gravel lanes of Holmes County, Ohio, for nearly thirty-five years, now, and the material for my novels comes from my experiences there, watching the culture, talking with people, wandering through the countryside. I seem to have an excellent ability to remember detail (I was a chemistry professor for thirty-one years, and I have an eye for detail), and I have met hundreds of fascinating people. At library, bookstore, and literary appearances, I almost always tell stories about the Amish people I have met in Holmes County, and each story I tell gives me a chance to illustrate some important point about Amish culture. There was the one-armed Amish entrepreneur who traveled the southern and Midwestern states to buy broken down sawmills, which he shipped to his home in Minnesota after they were refurbished in Holmes County. He makes quite a handsome profit reselling these sawmills to Amish families around the country, and incidentally, he lost his arm at a young age in his father’s sawmill. He is a proper old order Amish man in every aspect of life, and he is not in trouble with his bishop for any infractions of the rules. But he has managed to earn a living doing something other than farming. In a similar, way, I once met an old order Amish man who’s first job many years ago in Indiana was to install electric wiring in travel trailers.
He studied various aspects of electronics and computer circuitry through mail-order courses, and now he installs high technology home security systems in English people’s homes, traveling to nearby states in a van his chauffeur owns and drives. He is likewise not in danger of any infractions of lifestyle rules – after all, it is his chauffeur’s van, and he himself never drives. There was the Amish dwarf with a life-long goiter condition, who lost his fingers in a threshing machine when he was ten, and whose family is being studied by geneticists who are interested in the types of disorders that arise from close inbreeding in restricted societies. And then there was the young bishop I met on a park bench once, whose teenaged charges had been asking him embarrassing questions about sexuality, which he, as leader of the church, could nevertheless not answer. It seems he came to town that day for the same reason I did – to sit on a park bench and talk to someone who understood life on different terms. As best as I could, I answered his questions for over an hour, blushing at times, but always fascinated by his sudden need to know details that he probably had never thought about. You see, Amish teenagers have access to all of the modern devices – videos, DVDs, radios, computers, TV, magazines, cell phones, FAX machines, and the like. An author could not ask for a more subject-rich environment.

Finally, the one other question that I always get at talks, lectures and appearances I give is: “How do you know your stories are authentic?” By that people almost always mean ‘true-to-life.’ My best answer is the story of an old order Amish man who read several of my novels and remarked to the neighbor from whom he had borrowed them that, “These are such marvelous stories. And just think - they are all true!” When she told him that they were works of fiction from start to finish, he became angry, announcing with some considerable consternation that his bishop did not permit his congregants to read fiction. As an author, I take it as a high complement to the stories that at least one Amish fellow thought they were entirely plausible.

That’s precisely the kind of authenticity I have been striving for in The Amish-Country Mysteries – to illuminate Amish culture so thoroughly that even the practitioners will think it is real.

Kenneth Branagh: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Variety reported that Fox 2000 "is circling" Kenneth Branagh to direct The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, based on the novel by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.

The film, which is being produced by Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan from a script by Dan Roos, is expected to begin production in the spring.

Hat Tip: Shelf Awareness

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ned Kelly Awards 2011 Shortlist

The Crime Writers’ Association of Australia has announced its shortlist of nominations for the 2011 Ned Kelly Awards:

Best First Fiction:
• Prime Cut, by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
• Line of Sight, by David Whish-Wilson (Penguin)
• The Old School, by P.M. Newton (Penguin)

Best Fiction:
• The Half-Child, by Angela Savage (Text Publishing)
• The Diggers Rest Hotel, by Geoffrey McGeachin (Penguin)
• Bereft, by Chris Womersley (Scribe Publishing)

S.D. Harvey Short Story:
• “Southern Hemisphere Blues,” by Robert Goodman
• “Hemisphere Travel Guides: Las Vegas for Vegans,” by A.S. Patric

True Crime:
• Abandoned: The Sad Death of Dianne Brimble, by Geesche Jacobson (Allen & Unwin)
• Wasted, by Ross Honeywill (Penguin)
• Honeymoon Dive, by Lindsay Simpson and Jennifer Cooke (Macmillan)

Read the Longlist HERE

The Ned Kelly Awards for 2011 will be held on 31 August at Toff in Town, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Hat Tip: TheRapSheet

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

‘Lost’ Hitchcock film found in New Zealand

One of the earliest films made by British master director Alfred Hitchcock has been found in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Film Archive said the first three reels of the six-reel feature "The White Shadow" were found in a cache of ageing nitrate prints given to the archive in the 1990s. It said the silent-era film, made in 1923, was believed to be the oldest surviving feature by Hitchcock, who went on to Hollywood with classic thrillers such as "Psycho", "Vertigo" and "North by Northwest".

The archive described the film as "a wild atmospheric melodrama" about two sisters, one angelic and the other without a soul. No other copies are believed to exist.

"This is one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock?s extraordinary body of work," David Sterritt, chairman of the US National Society of Film Critics, said.

The whereabouts of the final three reels of the film remain a mystery.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Hat Tip: Bill Crider

F is for Freveletti: Jamie Freveletti

Continuing the Mystery Author Meme today with F is for Freveletti: Jamie Freveletti. Welcome, Jamie.

Jamie Freveletti is a trial attorney, martial artist, and runner. She has crewed for an elite ultra-marathon runner at 50 mile, 100 mile, and twenty-four hour races across the country, and holds a black belt in aikido, a Japanese martial art. After law school she lived in Geneva, Switzerland while obtaining a diploma in International Studies. Back in Chicago, she represented clients in areas ranging from class actions for mass salmonella poisoning to securities fraud. Her debut thriller, Running from the Devil (2009), was chosen as a “Notable Book” by the Independent Booksellers of America, awarded "Best First Novel" by the International Thriller Writers, awarded a Barry Award for "Best First Novel" by Deadly Pleasures Magazine, and nominated for a Macavity Award for" Best First Mystery" by Mystery Readers International and "Favorite First Novel of 2009" by Crimespree Magazine. Her second novel, Running Dark, released in June, 2010 won a Lovey award for Best Novel 2010. In January, 2011, she was tapped by the Estate of Robert Ludlum to write the next in the Covert One series. The third novel in her series, The Ninth Day will release September 27, 2011.


 I’m pleased to be here and want to thank Janet Rudolph for asking me to post. Janet suggested discussing my next book, and I am happy to oblige! This one was a blast to write.

My next novel, The Ninth Day, launches September 27th, and I’m very excited about this story. For those who don’t know my books, my protagonist, Emma Caldridge, is a chemist and ultra runner that can usually be found either running away from, or into, danger. I tend to throw Emma into failed or failing nations, because these are the areas of the world where the life or death matters arise. For the first, Running From The Devil, I chose Colombia and the endless paramilitary crises there and for the second, Running Dark, Somalia, where the pirates ply their trade.

In The Ninth Day I decided that she should hit the incoming trouble head on, and when I searched for another dangerous area of the world, I was a bit surprised to find it in portions of Mexico. As I researched the current situation, I realized that our neighbor was at war with the criminal elements among them. Every day it seemed that some new, unbelievable aspect of the battle between the cartels and the Mexican government appeared in the newspaper. All of this mayhem is resulting because the cartels want to secure the pathway of their drugs, which begin in Mexico and travel into the United States, heading through the Southwest, Midwest and on to the East Coast. One thing I love about writing thrillers is the freedom that they give me to address the political and social issues around us all and I wove in some of the actual stories into the chapters. Also, Emma has a knowledge of plants and chemicals and most of what she uses are real plants and real results.

I’m the kind of person who does best with a routine. I like to take my time writing and will move along a little each day until it’s done. I usually write five days a week about 1,000 words each day, knocking off after. However, about two months into this novel, I found myself writing more and more. I got so wrapped up in the events that I couldn’t wait to pick up again the next day. Toward the end I was writing seven days a week and almost 3000 words a day.

When I finished, I shipped it off to my editor with fingers crossed. There’s nothing more wonderful than finishing a novel, and nothing more stressful than waiting to hear if your editor likes it or not.

About a month later I got a call from my editor, and she raved. She said she even stayed up late one night to finish because she needed to know how it would end. This was the best praise I could have received, because it was from a professional who reads stacks of manuscripts every day for a living. I’ll remember it always.

And here’s the synopsis:

Emma stumbles across human traffickers and is caught and brought to the marijuana fields of Ciudad Juarez. Here the plants are dying from a disease that is eating away not only at them, but it is also being transmitted to humans, though no one can determine how or why. The cartel leader believes that the disease is caused by the massive amounts of herbicide that the US dusting planes dump on the marijuana fields almost daily in an attempt to kill the plants. The leader decides to send the tainted plants into the States along the drug route. Once transmitted to humans the disease kills in nine days. Emma needs to solve the puzzle and stop the shipment or she, and everyone else who comes in contact with it, will die on The Ninth Day.

I hope you like it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dennis Lehane in Conversation with Eddie Muller

Litquake presents novelist Dennis Lehane in conversation with the Czar of Noir Eddie Muller.
When: Thursday, August 18 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA., U.S.A.
How: Tickets
Book sales and signing to follow. Co-presented by the Film Noir Foundation.

Dennis Lehane grew up in Boston. Since his first novel, A Drink Before the War, won the Shamus Award, he has published eight more novels with William Morrow & Co. that have been translated into more than 30 languages and become international bestsellers: Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; and Moonlight Mile. Morrow also published Lehane’s Coronado, a collection of five stories and the play, Coronado, which has received stage productions in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Genoa, Italy. Three of his novels— Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone, and Shutter Island—have been adapted into award-winning films. Mr. Lehane and his wife Angie divide their time between the West Coast of Florida and Boston.

Eddie Muller, “The Czar of Noir,” is a two-time San Francisco Library Laureate, an acclaimed novelist, a renowned film preservationist, and the producer and host of San Francisco;s hugely popular NOIR CITY Film Festival.

Cartoon of the Day: A Cat's Map of the Bed

Another fabulous comic from Hilary B. Price, A Cat's Map of the Bed:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Spanish Hammett Prize: Ricardo Piglia

Best Crime Novel published originally in Spanish in 2010, the Hammett Prize, went to Ricardo Piglia (Argentina) for Blanco Nocturno (Nocturnal Target).

The announcement was made at Semana Negra de Gijon XXIV (Spain) and was awarded by AEIP.

Juan Ramón Biedma, España: El humo en la botella. Salto de página.
Willy Uribe, España: Cuadrante las Planas. Tusquets.
Manuel Rivas, España: Todo es silencio. Alfaguara.
José Carlos Somoza, España: El cebo. Plaza & Janes.
Hiber Conteris, Uruguay: El séptimo año. HUM.
Juan Bolea, España: Orquídeas Negras, Espasa.
Ricardo Piglia, Argentina: Blanco nocturno, Anagrama.

Hat Tip: The Game's Afoot