Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mystery Bytes: Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson

According to The Telegraph and lots of other sources, Lucy Liu will play Sherlock Holmes's sidekick in a new CBS series called Elementary. Set in New York, it stars Jonny Lee Miller as the great detective – a former consultant to Scotland Yard whose addiction problems have resulted in a spell in rehab in the States – while Liu will play “Joan” Watson, a former doctor who has lost her license. I love Liu in Southland, but this is such a stretch.. not for her as an actor, but any woman as a female Watson. This just seems so wrong.

This is not the first time Holmes has had a female Watson. Joanne Woodward starred as Mildred Watson, in the 1971 film “They Might Be Giants,” a psychiatrist treating a man (George C. Scott) who thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes. Margaret Colin played Jane Watson in CBS’s 1987 TV movie, “The Return of Sherlock Holmes.”... but....

I  agree with the following Telegraph article. What do you think?

Of course, I'll watch it, but then I'll watch just about anything with Lucy Liu.... and any Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes has a well known "aversion to women". It suits his priest-like devotion to his job, as well as his autistic levels of detachment, which find "the motives of women … so inscrutable". Holmes embodies that very Victorian combination of exquisite manners and deep distrust around all women, with the exception of Mrs Hudson, his housekeeper.

But more importantly, detective stories were the original buddy movies. Whether it is the fraternal Poirot and Hastings, or the master-and-valet relationship Lord Peter Wimsey and Sergeant Bunter, or even the father-and-son banter between Morse and Lewis, sleuths are at their best when not trying to seduce their partner.

When two men live or work closely together, their average age is halved. All their juvenile hobbies and eccentric habits come out to play. But throw a woman into the mix, and they start tidying up, buying new socks and leaving the loo seat down. You lose the comic interludes that are essential in a murder mystery to offset all the blood and misery.

What is so odd about this choice is that there’s already a TV series that updates Sherlock Holmes for American audiences. Granted the limping misanthrope Gregory House is a long way away from the detective who inspired him. But the most enjoyable thing about the series remains the relationship between House and Dr James Wilson: whether elaborate pranks, passive-aggressive psychological games or the rare times when their friendship is tested to breaking point.

None of that is possible if Sherlock Holmes spends his entire time telling survivor stories from his addiction in an attempt to get Watson into bed.

The Raven read by James Earl Jones

Pretty spectacular:  James Earl Jones reads Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

20 More Beautiful Bookstores Around the World

Flavorwire always has such wonderful collections, and I love the latest post: 20 More Beautiful Bookstores from Around the World, especially because it includes one of my favorites: Baldwin's Book Barn in West Chester, PA. Love that the photo includes the resident cats. I haven't been there in awhile, but when I used to visit my parents in Philadelphia, my father and I always made a pilgrimage to this wonderful bookstore. I loved the outside and inside of the fabulous stone barn. I could spend hours wandering the warren of rooms in search of books.


To see the rest of the readers' choice 20 more beautiful bookstores, go HERE.

Hallie Ephron: When a Character Needs a Shrink

The following article appeared in the latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal: Shrinks and other Mental Healthcare Professionals (Volume 27:4). This issue is available for purchase. Hardcopy or PDF download. See the Table of Contents here.

Hallie Ephron writes novels she hopes will keep you up nights. Her latest: Come and Find Me. She is also the crime fiction book reviewer for the Boston Globe and author of the Edgar-award nominated Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.

Hallie Ephron: When a Character Needs a Shrink...

Agoraphobia. For many of those who suffer from it, the prospect of leaving the safety of home can generate a panic attack so severe that it feels like a heart attack. It's what Diana, the main character in my last novel, Come and Find Me, experiences whenever she tries to leave the safety of the fortress she's created within her home. There, she "lives" on the Internet and gets whatever she needs delivered to the house. She makes it through the average day with the help of Xanax and regular sessions with her therapist, whom she sees, of course, via Skype.

But even the arrival of the UPS man, whom she knows by name, can be traumatic.

Heart pounding, she peered through the peephole in the door. Wally's eyeball seemed to bulge back at her.

Opening the door can be terrifying.

As she opened the door, she felt as if an abyss opened in front of her, like an elevator door sliding open into an empty shaft. She grasped the door frame with both hands.

Fear keeps Diana in her house—until her sister goes missing. Then fear of what might be happening to her sister drives her out. In a sense, Diana is her own worst enemy; her own psyche is the villain she has to deal with before she can begin to confront her real enemies.

As I was writing the book, I need to learn as much as I could about agoraphobia. It helped that I was able to call on my former collaborator for advice, psychologist Donald Davidoff. Together we wrote a series of five mystery novels that were published by Minotaur. The books were set at a fictional version of Harvard's famed McLean psychiatric hospital where Don still runs one of the units. The powers-that-be have shown great restraint in letting Don keep his day job, even after we made the director of our fictional version of the MacLean an egomaniacal villain in one of the books. They understood that it was "just fiction." Really, it was.

It helps that the hospital has become accustomed over the years to being featured in books—The Bell Jar, Girl Interrupted, and Mount Misery, to name a few examples. And it's the setting of one of James Taylor's early songs. Sample lyric:

Just knocking around the zoo on a Thursday afternoon,
There's bars on all the windows and they're counting up the spoons...

Those spoons would have been silver back when James Taylor was a teenage inmate. Back then the healing grounds of the very rich, the MacLean had its own golf course and served tea each afternoon on silver tea service to patients who might be there for years on end. Its massive Victorian buildings still look as if mad women could easily reside in their attics, though with the arrival of managed care, few patients stay there for more than a few weeks.

I miss having a resident shrink for my characters, but fortunately Don still takes my calls. So when I was writing Diana for Come and Find Me, I called Don for a crash course in agoraphobia. I learned about its symptoms and about the medication and therapy to treat it. I learned that agoraphobia usually isn't triggered by a single traumatic event. Its victims have often struggled with it, to varying degrees, throughout their lives.

Today I'm working on my third solo suspense novel. One of the inspirations for this new story is a possibly apocryphal tale that Don once told me about the McLean.

As the story goes, the members of a wealthy family, despairing of getting their demented matriarch to accept the care she needed, had an exact replica of her house built on the grounds of the McLean. In the dead of night, the old woman was spirited out of her house along with her furniture, belongings, and cats. When she woke up the next morning it was in a bedroom just like hers in the replica. She lived out her years in that house on the grounds of the MacLean, never realizing she'd ever left home.

I've always loved that story, though Don refuses to divulge whether it's true or not. And I won't say how I use it in the new novel because that would be a spoiler. Let's just say that the main character in the book is old, very old, but things happen that make her wonder if she's losing her marbles.

My friend Don happens to be an expert on memory and aging, so these days, once again, I have him on speed dial.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore: Oscar Winner

Oscar Winner for Best Animated Short Film: 
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore 

Watch the Short below.

From Open Culture “Made with an animation style that blends stop motion with computer animation and traditional hand-drawing, the silent film pays homage to a bygone era when elegantly printed books inhabited our world. The 15-minute short is the first made by Moonbot Studios, a fledgling animation shop in Shreveport, Louisiana.”

Author and ex-Pixar character designer William Joyce rose to the top of Apple’s Top Grossing Book Apps list last year with the $4.99 interactive storybook, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Academy Award Winning and Nominated Crime Movies

Just in time for the Oscars: Academy Award Crime Movies: Winners and Nominees. Many of the films are based on books which makes them all that much better in my opinion.  This is not a very organized post. Some movies are more annotated than others with all wins and nominations. Feel free to fill in the blanks or add more titles.If you haven't seen these movies, add them to your list.

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock). 1940. Best Picture. Based on the book by Daphne du Maurier

On the Waterfront. 1954 Best Picture

In the Heat of the Night. 1967 Racial tensions in the South as an African-American detective is sent into Mississippi to solve a murder. Based on the novel by John Ball. The movie earned seven Oscar nominations.
Academy Award wins
Academy Award for Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Actor: Rod Steiger
Academy Award for Film Editing:  Hal Ashby
Academy Award for Best Sound: Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay: Stirling Silliphant 
Academy Award nominations
Academy Award for Directing - Norman Jewison
Academy Award for Sound Editing - James Richard

Bonnie and Clyde.1967.
Academy Award wins:
Best Supporting Actress: Estelle Parsons
Best Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Nominations:
Best Picture
Best Director: Arthur Penn
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen: David Newman and Robert Benton
Best Actor in a Leading Role - Warren Beatty
Best Actress in a Leading Role - Faye Dunaway
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Michael J. Pollard
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Gene Hackman
Best Costume Design - Theadora Van Runkle

The French Connection. 1971.  Based on the book by Robin Moore. This was the first R-rated movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
 Academy Award wins
Best Actor: Gene Hackman
Best Director
Best Film Editing
Best Adapted Screenplay: Ernest Tidyman
Nominations:
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Roy Scheider
Best Cinematography and Best Sound

The Godfather.  1972. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo.
Academy Awards:
Best Picture
Best Writing (adapted screenplay) for Francis Coppola and Mario Puzo
Best Actor in a Leading Role for Marlon Brando

Serpico. 1973. Directed by Sidney Lumet,  starring Al Pacino. Movie based on the true story of Serpico written by Peter Maas.
Academy Awards nominations:
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Al Pacino
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

The Godfather, Part II. 1974.

All the President’s Men. 1976. Based on the novel by Woodward and Bernstein.
Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Art Direction: George Jenkins & George Gaines
Best Adapted Screenplay: William Goldman
Best Sound: Arthur Piantadosi, James E. Webb, Les Fresholtz, Dick Alexander
Nominated:
Best Director, Alan J. Pakula
Best Editing: Robert L. Wolfe,
Best Picture: Walter Coblenz
Best Supporting Actor: Jason Robards
Best Supporting Actress: Jane Alexander

The Sting. 1973. Robert Redford and Paul Newman-- caper movie. Two men play con artists who are inspired by the real-life con-game portrayed in the novel The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Men by David Maurer.
Academy Awards:
Best Picture
Directing: George Roy Hill
Writing Original Screenplay: David S. Ward
Best Art Direction: Henry Bumstead and James W. Payne
Best Costume Design: Edith Head
Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation: Marvin HamlischNominations
Best Actor: Robert Redford
Best Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Sound: Ronald Pierce & Robert R. Bertrand

Chinatown. 1974. Roman Polanski directs. Jack Nicholson stars as a Los Angeles private detective who investigates a man accused of adultery. What he uncovers is based on the real-life water disputes in L.A. during the 1920s. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
Wins
Best Original Screenplay – Robert Towne
Nominations
Best Picture – Robert Evans
Best Director – Roman Polanski
Best Actor – Jack Nicholson
Best Actress – Faye Dunaway
Best Film Editing – Sam O'Steen
Best Art Direction – Richard Sylbert, W. Stewart Campbell, Ruby Levitt
Best Costume Design – Anthea Sylbert
Best Cinematography – John A. Alonzo
Best Sound Mixing – Bud Grenzbach, Larry Jost
Best Music Score – Jerry Goldsmith

Silence of the Lambs. 1991 Best Picture

Fargo. 1996
The film earned seven Academy Award nominations
Academy Award for Best Actress – Frances McDormand
Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay – Joel and Ethan Coen

And more..

Notable Best Picture-nominated crime films include The Racket (1928), Dead End (1937),  Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Midnight Express (1978), Atlantic City (1981), Prizzi's Honor (1985), The Godfather: Part III (1990), GoodFellas (1990), Bugsy (1991), The Crying Game (1992), and Pulp Fiction (1994).


More Mysteries and film noirs nominated for Best Picture: The Thin Man (1934), Citizen Kane (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Z (1969), Chinatown (1974), JFK (1991), The Fugitive (1993), L.A. Confidential (1997), and Gosford Park (2001).


And a few other favorites:  Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Gaslight (1944), Spellbound (1945). Mysteries and film noir often tend to do exceedingly well in the artistic performance categories (acting, writing, and directing) despite not earning Best Picture nominations. Examples:  Laura (1944), Rear Window (1954), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Which are your favorites? I'm sure I missed a few.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Night at the Movies: Crime Movies

With the Oscar Awards coming up tomorrow night, I thought I'd revisit the Top 100 Crime Movies of All Time, according to the Masters in Criminal Justice website.  I chose one or two examples from each category. The full list appears on their site.  Of course, this list doesn't include most of the fabulous Noir films.. but that's another list. What movies would you add?

Gangster/Mafia: The Godfather

Superhero: Superman

Cybercrime and Technology: The Matrix

Police Dramas: Dirty Harry, The French Connection

Political and War Crimes: Shindler's List, Judgment at Nuremberg

Drugs: Traffic, Scarface

Gambling: Casino Royale, Oceans 11

Child Crimes: Notes on a Scandal, Taxi Driver

Westerns: No Country for Old Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Other, including murder plots, serial killers & other grisly tales: The Silence of the Lambs, Dial M for Murder, Psycho

Social Commentary: To Kill a Mockingbird

Mysteries & Detective Movies: Deal on the Nile, Rear Window, Citizen Kane

Blackmail, Revenge & Corruption: Charade, L.A. Confidential

Robbery & Heist: Bonnie & Clyde, Reservoir Dogs

International: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Other: The Bourne Identity, A Clockwork Orange

Go HERE for the complete list. What films would you add?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

20 Beautiful Private & Personal Libraries

Love this Slideshow from Flavorwire of 20 Beautiful Private and Personal Libraries. I would be happy with any of the library designs--and the space that goes with them. I have the books. Be sure and check out all 20. Here's one that's close by:

George Lucas's Library at Skywalker Ranch.. major coveting...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Celebration of Jewish Mystery Authors: March 4

Celebration of Jewish Mystery Authors: Sunday, March 4 • 1:00 – 5:30 pm 
Peninsula Jewish Community Center, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404 To Register, call 650.378.2702
www.pjcc.org

It’s the Most Wanted list...of Jewish Mystery writers! Registration includes admission for all three sessions. In-between sessions, enjoy time to shop (provided by Books Inc., Burlingame) and have your new books autographed!

1:00 pm True Crime with Ron Arons
The author of The Jews of Sing Sing will delve into the history and infamy of notorious gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky.

2:15 pm Murder She Wrote Three Bay Area female “serial killers” (on paper at least), share insights into creating characters you’ve come to love; plots that keep the pages turning and the impeccable research that makes it all come together.
Cara Black - Aimée Leduc Paris series 
• Rita Lakin - Gladdy Gold, Getting Old series 
• Lisa Lutz, Spellman - Family Private Investigators series
Moderated by Keith Raffel- Drop by Drop and Dot Dead.

4:00 pm The Kellerman Family
Join Jonathan, Faye and Jesse Kellerman, deservingly dubbed The First Family of Jewish Mystery Writers, as they delve into their unique writing process and style, knack for supporting multiple authors in one household and passion for their work.
Moderated by Cara Black (see above).

Copper: New BBC America Crime Drama

Production has begun in Toronto on the upcoming BBC America crime drama Copper. Ten one-hour episodes are being filmed. Copper is expected to premiere in Summer 2012.

Set in 1860s New York City, Copper stars Tom Weston-Jones as Kevin Corcoran, an intense, rugged Irish-American cop working the city's notorious Five Points neighborhood. Corcoran is struggling to maintain his moral compass in a turbulent world, while on an emotional and relentless quest to learn the truth about the disappearance of his wife and the death of his daughter. His friendship with two Civil War compatriots — Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid), the wayward son of a wealthy industrialist; and Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), a physician who secretly assists Corcoran with his work — takes him to the contrasting worlds of elegant Fifth Avenue and an emerging black community in rural northern Manhattan. The three men share a secret from their experience on the battlefield that inextricably links their lives forever.

COPPER is a Cineflix (Copper) Inc. production in association with BBC AMERICA and Shaw Media. The series is created by Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere, Netflix’s Borgia) and Will Rokos (Monster’s Ball, Southland).

Irish actor Kevin Ryan has joined the cast of BBC TV's upcoming series Copper, joining M-15/Spooks star Tom Weston-Jones and German actress Franke Potente (The Bourne Supremacy).
Ryan will play the series regular role of Detective Francis Maguire, an Irish-American cop working alongside Weston-Jones' Kevin Corcoran.

COPPER debuts on BBC AMERICA in the summer of 2012 and in Canada on Shaw Media’s Showcase in fall 2012.

Source: OmniMystery News, Hollywood Reporter, BBC America News 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Judi McCoy: R.I.P.

Judith Ann Karol McCoy, national bestselling author of 'The Dog Walker Mystery' series and other novels, died February 18, in Cape Charles, VA.  Judi McCoy was the published author of 22 mystery and romance novels. Her first, "I Dream of You" won Waldenbooks 2002 award for best-selling new author. Her most recent series, the popular Dog Walker Mysteries, debuted in 2009 with "Hounding the Pavement", all royalties from which Judi donated to the Best Friends Animal Society. Her 2010 novel "Death in Show" Dogwalker mystery won Romantic Times Most Humorous Mystery award. Her latest novel, "Fashion Faux-Paw," will be published in March 2012.

In addition to writing novels, Judi was a cornerstone of Crescent Moon Press, led many writing workshops for aspiring writers at national conferences and mentored numerous new authors.

Judi is survived by her husband of 44 years, Dennis McCoy; her beloved dogs Buckley, Belle, Sasha, and Polly; her daughters and grandchilden.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM at the Wilkins-Doughty Funeral Home in Cape Charles, VA. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Judi's name to Tidewater Bichon Frise Rescue, P.O. Box 8084, Suffolk, VA 23438.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.doughtyfuneralhome.com

Mardi Gras Mysteries

Today is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras or Carnivale, whatever you call it, is a great setting for Murder! Busy streets, crowds, costumes, drinking.. mix it together and it's the perfect backdrop for a crime novel.

This year, I've expanded my list to include more New Orleans books that might not take place exactly at Mardi Gras, as well as several eBooks. As always, I welcome additional titles.

The Mardi Gras Mystery by Henry Bedford-Jones
Death Visits Mardi Gras by J.J. Boortz
Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown
Purple Cane Road, Dixie City Jam, The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke 
Gumbo Justice, Jambalaya Justice by Holli Castillo 
Murder Comes to Mardi Gras, Death Swatch, Keepsake Crimes, Death by Design by Laura Childs
Mardi Gras Murders by Nicole Daines and Robert Daines
The Mardi Gras Murders by Ricardo S. Dubois
No Mardi Gras for the Dead by D.J. Donaldson
Shelter from the Storm by Tony Dunbar
The Big Uneasy-Terror Strikes Mardi Gras by Murray C. Fincher
The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan
Carnaval Capers by Jody Ford
Carnival by Charlotte Foryan
Venetian Mask by Mickey Friedman
Jass, Rampart Street by David Fulmer
A Free Man of Color, Fever Season, Sold Down the River by Barbara Hambly
Mardi Gras Mamo by Greg Herren
A Thin Dark Line by Tami Hoag
The Mardi Gras Mystery by Carolyn Keene
The Mardi Gras Murders by Gwen Bristow & Bruce Manning
Mardi Gras Eyes by Phyllis Morris
Masques by Bill Pronzini
Mardi Gras Murders by Phillip Scott
New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith
A Diamond Before You Die by Chris Wiltz

Short Stories
New Orleans Noir, edited by Julie Smith
Mardi Gras Madness: Tales of Terror and Mayhem in New Orleans, edited by Russell Davis and Martin Harry Greenberg

Kindle eBooks:
A Venetian June by Anna Fuller and Frederick Simpson Coburn 
Mask of the Betrayer by Sharon Donovan 
Novel Noir by Lewis Faulkner 
Bourbon Street by Leonce Gaiter 
Mardi Gravestone by Sandy Semerad
love, murder, etc by Kahtleen Valentine
Cruel Woman Blues, Cities of the Dead, Wild Magnolias, Pontchartrain by Eric Wilder
Fair Warning by Bob Zimmerman

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, you might want to have some Chocolate Chip Pancakes or Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie or Chocolate "Cupped" Cakes with Coffee & Chicory. If you're celebrating Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, or along the Gulf Coast, have a Moon Pie. Read more here. They're a favorite 'throw' in Mobile.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Downton Abbey Paper Dolls

Print out Vulture's Downton Abbey Paper Dolls.  Love these...  Four sets of Paper Dolls created by Kyle Hilton. Go to Vulture for 4 printable paper doll sets —of the Dowager Countess (complete with multiple facial expression), Matthew and Mary, Thomas and O'Brien and their villainous accessories, and Sybil in a contemporary T-shirt.




Hat Tip: Bethanne Patrick

Cartoon of the Day: Ancient Grammar Police

From Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller comes this great Cartoon of the Day: Ancient Grammar Police


Saturday, February 18, 2012

From Traditional Publishing to Self-Publishing: Should You Jump

Today I welcome writer John Barlow whose prize-winning fiction and non-fiction has been published by HarperCollins/William Morrow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 4th Estate and various others in the UK, US, Australia, Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland.
Apart from writing fiction, he also works as a ghost writer and journalist. He has written for the Washington Post, Slate.com, Penthouse, Departures Magazine and The Big Issue, and he is currently a feature writer for the award-winning food magazine Spain Gourmetour. His current project is the LS9 crime series. Set in the north of England, it follows the life of John Ray, the half-Spanish son of crime boss Antonio 'Tony' Ray. The series will eventually comprise nine novels. In this post, he addresses one of the hottest topics in publishing today: Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing.

From Traditional Publishing to Self-Publishing: Should you Jump? by John Barlow

A crisp February evening in 2002. We got a cab from our hotel on Times Square and stop-started our way down Broadway in the rush hour traffic. I was reading at the Paris Review Awards that evening in the village, having won the magazine’s Discovery Prize. The theatre was packed with Manhattan’s literary crowd, and I was so nervous that at one point I thought I was going to throw up in George Plimpton’s lap.

At dinner that evening I sat next to George. We talked about Capote, Hemingway and Mailer, all friends of his, and drank enough for the three of them. As the night progressed, people came up and asked me what I was working on, pressing cards into my hand and urging me to give them a call. As you can imagine, I felt as if I was at the heart of the literary universe.

I wasn’t there long. The following six years brought me a NY agent, an LA movie agent, a two-book deal for literary fiction from HarperCollins, then a book with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. But none of my books hit the bestseller lists, and all things considered, I reckon I did pretty well just to stay afloat as a writer.

Then, about a month ago, having finished my next book, I decided to do the unthinkable: self-publish it on Amazon. It may have been the best decision of my life. Or the worst. Either way, here are a few things you might want to bear in mind when looking at the traditional vs indie question.
NO MORE MR. MID-LIST

I’m a mid-list writer, and the mid-list is now under serious threat. Publishers no longer have the confidence or the funds to maintain the system by which a lot of books are published in the knowledge that most won’t make a lot of money. And as the mid-list contracts, so does the ability of authors to sustain writing careers, or even to make any kind of secondary income from writing. Meanwhile, the most famous ‘ex mid-lister’ of them all, Joe Konrath, just announced that he made $150,000 in the last month. He’s not the only one making a good e-living from self-publishing these days, either.

AND THE BOOK CONTRACT GOES TO...
Celebrity novelists, cookbook diaries, boo-hoo memoirs, X-Factor autobios... If you’re looking for an old fashioned novel deal, and you’re not an actor or a celebrity chef, it’s getting harder and harder just to find a publisher. When you do manage to get a contract, advances are so low that there’s less financial motivation than ever for signing. Money isn’t the only consideration, of course. But for me it definitely comes into the equation. I like money. And there’s hardly any of it to be had right now.

FUTURE PERFECT
The future of publishing is unpredictable. Nobody has the first clue what things will look like in five years’ time. Not industry leaders, not expert industry watchers, not agents. Nobody. So now is a great time to experiment with something new. In fact, there could hardly be a better time. No one’s gonna blame you; they’re all too busy being worried to hell. Given that writers have always had less job security than anyone else in the book business, this is a relative gain for us. Writers are currently the only people in publishing (apart from programmers, obv.) who have any cause for optimism.

PUBLISH OR PERISH
Self publishing is no longer a kiss of death for your reputation as a writer. Elmore Leonard’s having a go, as are a lot of established authors. Thanks to the ebook revolution, the stigma has simply gone away. Traditional publishers have begun signing successful ebook authors (Hocking, Locke...), and agents are now using ebooks as a legitimate part of a publishing strategy for their clients. Example: aspiring British crime writer Mel Sherratt recently joined Curtis Brown, one of the top agencies in London, and they went straight to digital with her TAUNTING THE DEAD; the novel is now a top-ten seller over on Amazon.co.uk, and a print deal can’t be far away. In some ways it might in fact be better to have your ebook out there, fighting for visibility at the Kindle store, rather than struggling to be seen at the bottom of an editor’s in-tray.

DO-IT-YOURSELF
Be your own boss, commissioning editor, publicist, packager, sales manager... Perhaps you’re not naturally drawn to any of these roles. Perhaps you just want to write. That’s exactly how I felt. But now I’ve been forced to do new things, and to approach my work from new angles (the publicist’s role is particularly revealing for an author, I have found). Self-publishing will enliven you and make you a bit scared about what you’ve got yourself into. It’s the new frontier, the Klondike, and it’s developing at an amazing speed. All good news then? No; not by any means. The hucksters and rip-off artists have already moved in, as David Graughan recently pointed out. Also, even the greatest fan of indie writers would admit that not everything that can be purchased for your Kindle is actually very good, and nobody wants to be associated with crap. On the other hand, trad publishing was never perfect either, if the bitching, moaning and self-pity I hear every time I talk to other writers is anything to go by.

DON’T DO-IT-YOURSELF
Publishing houses are magical places, full of bright people who love books (a working definition of Paradise for many of us). I had three brilliant editors at HC and FSG, and I learned an incredible amount about writing from listening to their comments and advice. But hold on: how much editing is actually going to be done in-house in the future? Most writers I know are now working far more closely with their agents, with many agencies employing specialist editorial assistants. So, the trad route is less attractive than it used to be in terms of the editorial support it offers.

As an indie you’ll also need to do everything else a publisher did for you: proof-reading, book design/ebook conversion, cover art. Don’t skimp on these things. Know what you can’t do alone. And bear in mind that all this will cost money ($1000 for an ebook is not uncommon). What do you get in exchange? You keep up to 70% of the book’s cover price. Worth it in the long term? I have no idea, but at 70% I’m willing to be a guinea pig.

PIMP YOUR MS
There are new opportunities opening up all the time for ebooks. Wattpad, fiction streaming, enhanced books, a million forms of interactivity... Not for you? Newsflash: you can still go up to the spare room in the evenings and write the Great American Novel on legal pads using your favourite retractable pencil. There’s just more you can do (or get someone else to do) once you’re through with the writing. And you won’t have that difficult situation in which opportunities for publicizing your book are missed because the person doing publicity at your trad publisher won’t cooperate (or has just forgotten about your book amid the other three dozen s/he is currently trying to push). As an indie you can do whatever the hell you like: distribute hundreds of free copies; change the price whenever you feel it; get excerpts on as many sites as you wish; email a thousand book bloggers; make a book trailer; take out ads; write the title of your book in lipstick across your ass and go streak in your local mall.

THE NEXT PHASE
If you still harbour a deep desire to be taken under the wing of an established publisher, think about it this way: over the course of the next few years the publishing industry is going to change immeasurably. There are two possible outcomes for you: 1) the new, emerging reality will suit you better than the present situation; 2) it won’t. Either way, you have zero control over this. So, in the meantime (wo)man up and get kindling.

FINALLY...
Let’s face it, this is all about Joe. Mr Konrath has been at the forefront of e-publishing from the start, and has become the de facto spokesperson for the indie movement. He has that knack of combining aggressive cheerleading with the kind of evidence-based reasoning that’s hard to counter. I asked him to provide a few words for this article, and he responded not with his normal stats and pro-indie arguments, but with a metaphor. Traditional publishers look away now:

“When we're young we all date someone bad for us. They're cute, but we get used, treated like shit, and wind up battle-scarred but hopefully stronger and wiser and determined to never get into a one-sided relationship again.
It's only later, when we find someone generous who allows us freedom and a measure of control, that we realize how very unhealthy and abusive the former relationship was.” Joe Konrath

Contact:John Barlow
John’s website
Twitter

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hail to the Chief: Presidents' Day Mysteries

In honor of Presidents Day, I've updated my list of mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction that feature the U.S. President. Hail to the Chief. This is not a definitive list by any means, and I welcome any additions.

Assassination Attempts:
Pursuit by James Stewart Thayer
Watchdogs by John Weisman
American Quartet by Warren Adler
Primary Target by Marilyn Wallace
Primary Target by Max Allan Collins
The Kidnapping of the President by Charles Templeton
Campaign Train (Murder Rides the Campaign Train) by The Gordons
Glass Tiger by Joe Gores
Murder at Monticello by Jane Langton
The Surrogate Assassin by Christopher Leppek
The President's Assassin by Brian Haig

Kidnappings:
The Kidnapping of the President by Charles Templeton
Line of Succession by Brian Garfield
Oath of Office by Steven J. Kirsch
We are Holding the President Hostage by Warren Adler
The Camel Club by David Baldacci

Presidential Disappearances:
The President Vanishes by Rex Stout
Missing! by Michael Avallone
The President's Plan is Missing by Robert J. Serling

Fixing the Election:
President Fu Manch by Sax Rohmer
The Big Fix by Roger L. Simon
The Ceiling of Hell by Warren Murphy
Atropos by William DeAndrea
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
The 13th Directorate by Barry Chubin
The Red President by Martin Gross
The Trojan Hearse by Richard S. Prather

Presidential Crisis:
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II
Vanished by Fletcher Knebel

The President as Detective:
Bully by Mark Schorr
Speak Softly by Lawrence Alexander
Lincoln for the Defense by Warren Bull
Mr President, Private Eye, edited by Martin Greenberg & Francis M. Nevins

The JFK Plot:
Too many to list, but...
Executive Action by Mark Lane, Donald Freed and Stephen Jaffe
The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry
Mongoose, RIP by William F. Buckley

Presidential Families:
Murder and the First Lady (and other novels) By Elliot Roosevelt (featuring Eleanor Roosevelt)
Murder in the White House (and other novels) by Margaret Truman (fictional White House daughter)
They've Shot the President's Daughter by Edward Stewart
Deadly Aims by Ron L. Gerard
The First Lady Murders, edited by Nancy Pickard
The President's Daughter by Jack Higgins
The Devil's Bed by William Kent Krueger

 Other: 
Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series
Treason at Hanford by Scott Parker
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
The Plan by Stephen J. Cannell
The Next President by Joseph Flynn
The First Patient by Michael Palmer
Put a Lid on It by Donald Westlake
Killing Time by Caleb Carr
Enslaved by Ron Burns
The President's Vampire, Blood Bath by Christopher Farnsworth
The President's Henchman by Joseph Flynn
The President's Daugher by Mariah Stewart
Keeping House by Tucker and Richard Phillips
President Lincoln's Spy by Steven Wilson

An Anthology:
Mr President, Private Eye, edited by Martin H. Greenberg. Different historical presidents in the role of sleuth

From my Election Presidential list November 2009: Political Election and Thrillers
Rubicon by Lawrence Alexander
Saving Faith by David Baldacci
Political Suicide and Touched by the Dead by Robert Barnard
Capitol Conspiracy by William Bernhardt
Bowen, Michael Richard Michaelson- Retired Foreign Service Officer-Washington DC
Three Shirt Deal by Stephen J. Cannell
Impaired Judgement by David Compton
Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
Term Limits by Vince Flynn
The Scandal Plan by Bill Folman
The Power Broker by Stephen W. Frey
Spook Country by William Gibson
Fast Track, Sleeping Dogs by Ed Gorman
The Fourth Perimeter by Tim Green
The People's Choice by Jeff Greenfield
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
The President's Daughter and The White House Connection by Jack Higgins
The Enemy Within  by Noel Hynd
First Daughter by Eric Lustbader
Executive Privilege by Philip Margolin
The Race, Protect and Defend, Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson
Politics Noir: Gary Phillips, Editor
Missing Member by Jo-Ann Power
Dark Horse by Ralph Reed
Dead Heat, The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
Dead Watch by John Sandford
State of the Union by Brad Thor
Capital Crimes by Stuart Woods

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Agatha Christie Abridged for English Language Students

According to this article in the Guardian, Collins has published a new series of abridged simplified Agatha Christie novels for non-native English speakers for use in learning English. Before you raise a hew and cry, as was done in 2007, Collins has an answer for why they are 'cutting down' the original text. I'm not sure I agree. What do you think?

Publisher Collins has cut down 20 of Christie's detective novels – including Poirot's first case, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and Miss Marple's debut outing The Murder at the Vicarage – by 60%, simplifying the language and adding character notes and glossaries. The books are aimed at "upper intermediate" English language learners, and are intended to ensure that "studying English is as captivating as it is educational".

"There's a high awareness of Agatha Christie out there but a lot of non-English speakers would find the originals too difficult. The language is quite archaic, the plots are quite difficult, with loads of characters," said publisher Catherine Whitaker. "Her grammar is quite complex – which it would be – when you're speculating you need to use more complex grammar."

Keen to keep the flavour and style of Christie's novels as much as possible, instead of taking the usual approach and having the adapter read the original and rewrite it in simple language, Collins decided to work with abridgers and specialist English language editors to create their new versions.

"The plots are too complex and it wouldn't have felt like Christie [if the original was rewritten in its entirety]. The estate wanted a very strong flavour of Christie, and for them to be as close to the original as we could get them, so we employed the kinds of abridgers we use for audiobooks. They did an initial abridgement, but it was still too difficult, so we then had the language edited," said Whitaker. "Very rarely have we cut a character – occasionally there's a little plot deviation we could do without, but all the characters really need to be there otherwise there aren't enough people to speculate about whodunit."

In the original Christie opening to the Hercule Poirot novel Appointment with Death, Poirot overhears the line "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?". "The question floated out into the still night air, seemed to hang there a moment and then drift away down into the darkness towards the Dead Sea," writes Christie. Before going on to reminisce over a story about Anthony Trollope, Poirot "paused a minute with his hand on the window catch. Frowning, he shut it decisively, thereby excluding any injurious night air!"

In Collins's new version, the question becomes "Don't you agree that she's got to be killed?", with the simplified edition continuing – with no subsequent Trollope reference – "The words seemed to hang in the still night air, before disappearing into the darkness. It was Hercule Poirot's first night in the city of Jerusalem, and he was shutting his hotel-room window – the night air was a danger to his health! – when he overheard these words."

While Orion provoked outrage in 2007 with its "compact classics" – abridged versions of the greats criticised as "for modern audiences who are too busy/stupid to read the real thing" – Whitaker says the Collins adaptations of Christie are "a very different" proposition.

"They are for a completely different audience. Our books have been abridged not because language learners are too 'busy or stupid' but because extensive reading in a foreign language is hard and the more the plot moves along and you get hooked by the story because you understand what you are reading, the better," she said. "Also, readers like this are often used in schools as part of an English course so there isn't the time to read very long texts because the class will also be developing their listening, speaking and writing skills and students will be expected to do their reading in their own time with all the other homework they have.

Read the rest of the article here, including a chance to abridge an Agatha Christie into 100 words.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Agatha Award Nominees: Malice Domestic

The Agatha Award Nominees have been announced! The awards will be presented at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD on April 28, 2012. Congrats to all!

Best Novel:
The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews
 The Diva Haunts the House by Krista Davis
Wicked Autumn, by G.M. Malliet
Three Day Town, by Margaret Maron
A Trick of the Light, by Louise Penny

Best First Novel:
Dire Threads (A Threadville Mystery), by Janet Bolin
Choke, by Kaye George
Learning to Swim: A Novel, by Sara J. Henry
Who Do, Voodoo? (A Mind for Murder Mystery), by Rochelle Staab
Tempest in the Tea Leaves (A Fortune Teller Mystery), by Kari Lee Townsend

Best Non-Fiction
Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, by Leslie Budewitz
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks, by John Curran
On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, by Michael Dirda
Wilkie Collins, Vera Caspary and the Evolution of the Casebook Novel, by A. B. Emrys
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, by Charlaine Harris

Best Short Story
“Disarming”, by Dana Cameron (in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“Dead Eye Gravy”, by Krista Davis (in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology)
“Palace by the Lake”, by Daryl Wood Gerber (in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology)
“Truth and Consequences”, by Barb Goffman (in Mystery Times Ten)
“The Itinerary”, by Roberta Isleib (in MWA Presents the Rich and the Dead)

Best Children's/Young Adult:
Shelter by Harlan Coben
The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey
The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key by Penny Warner

Best Historical Novel:
Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen
Murder Your Darlings by J.J. Murphy
Mercury's Rise by Ann Parker
Troubled Bones by Jeri Westerson
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Poisoned Chocolates Case: Happy Valentine's Day

Chocolates are perfect for Valentine's Day. I have several recipes for Chocolate Truffles on DyingforChocolate.com including Chocolate Cherry Truffles

Celebrate the Day with one of my favorite chocolate mysteries:  
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley. Don't put poison in the bon bons!








 


Mystery Lovers Bookshop for Sale

Shelf Awareness reports today that the Mystery Lovers Bookshop is for Sale.

Richard Goldman and Mary Alice Gorman, who founded Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pa., near Pittsburgh, 21 years ago, are putting the store up for sale.

Goldman said yesterday, "We fulfilled a lifelong dream opening the store and it's been a great life, but now we have other priorities, mostly our four grandchildren."

The 1,900-sq.-ft. store, which includes a café, has an emphasis on mystery titles, which account for nearly three-quarters of all book sales, but children's, fiction, nonfiction and special orders are also strong categories. Sidelines, mainly jigsaw puzzles and games, account for 7% of sales. Mail-order sales have grown to 25% of overall revenue.

The store's sales have risen the last several years in a row, and Mystery Lovers Bookshop made money in both 2010 and 2011, Goldman said. Last November and December, sales were up 11% and Thanksgiving weekend sales jumped 58%.

In 2010 Mystery Lovers Bookshop won the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has received several local awards. The store also hosts the annual Festival of Mystery, which features over 40 authors.

Monday, February 13, 2012

David Kelly: R.I.P.

From The Guardian comes the news that Irish actor David Kelly has died at the age of 82:

Perhaps best known in recent years for playing Grandpa Joe in Tim Burton's movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), a performance that was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy.

Kelly was a tall and flamboyant figure who was often cast as a comic, eccentric Irishman, notably as Albert Riddle, an incompetent, one-armed dish-washer in the late 1970s British sitcom Robin's Nest; he could always play up to stereotype, and beyond, in his extravagant facial and physical gestures.

His career spanned over 50 years, and he never considered retirement. Equally, he would never accept a role unless he felt he could add something unique and personal to it.

Although he was always strangely noticeable in mediocre 1970s sitcoms such as Oh, Father! (with Derek Nimmo) – and played a hapless builder, O'Reilly, in the second episode of Fawlty Towers – he distinguished himself, and first endeared himself to a television audience, in RTÉ's 1980 series Strumpet City, based on James Plunkett's novel about the Dublin lock-out, also starring Peter O'Toole, Cyril Cusack and Peter Ustinov.

He maintained his popularity in two long-running television soaps both set in fictional villages in County Wicklow: Glenroe, the first RTÉ series to be shown (from 1991) with Irish subtitles, and the BBC's Ballykissangel, screened from 1996 to 2001.

Kelly worked consistently in movies from 1969, when he played the vicar in a funeral scene in The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine. He appeared again with Caine in Terence Young's spy movie The Jigsaw Man (1984).

His most notable movie appearances in the 1990s were in two delightful Irish movies: Mike Newell's Into the West (1992), scripted by Jim Sheridan, with Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin, in which he played an old storyteller in a community of travellers; and Kirk Jones's Waking Ned (1998) in which, with his best friend, played by Ian Bannen, he engineered a small village's response to an unexpected lottery windfall and set about fooling the claims inspector. He appeared with Kevin Spacey in the Irish crime caper Ordinary Decent Criminal (1999), and with Helen Mirren and Clive Owen in Greenfingers (2000).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dogs, Valentine's Day, Mysteries, & Dog Treats

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, now in its 136th year, will be held February 13-14 (view on CBS). So in honor of the Dog Show and Valentine's Day, and keeping in mind how important dogs can be to mysteries and in our lives, I am posting a recipe for Valentine's Day Dog Treats that you can make for your 'special' friend. Just an FYI, I watch the Westminster Dog show on TV, and so does Topper. It's so funny! He doesn't care much for other TV shows, but this one always has him mesmerized. Perhaps memories of his early days as a show dog before we adopted him?

The illustration above is from Tyler Hmphreys at TylersWorkshop (posted with permission). Here's a link to the etsy site where you can buy this card or order lots of other cards, pictures and sculptures. I love this Valentine's Day Card because it reminds me of Topper and Belle au Bois Dormant.

And, to keep this post to a mystery theme, here's a link to the Mystery Readers Journal Animals in Mysteries issue. Available as a PDF or hardcopy. Here's a link to an article by Spencer Quinn, author of the Chet the Dog series.

Valentine's Day is all about chocolate. This week I posted a recipe for Walker's Shortbread Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots. This is a HUMANS ONLY RECIPE. Be sure and keep the chocolate away from Fido. I posted an article at Halloween about Animals and Halloween Treats, and the same warnings are in effect for Valentine's Day.

Finally the Valentine's Day Dog Treat recipe for your four footed faithful friend. 

Cupid’s Canine Cookies 
From the Home Alone Website, Recipe by Ariel Waters (my comments are in italics)
Warning: Don't overfeed

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 to 35 minutes
Yield: 2 pounds of heart-shaped dog treats

Ingredients
5 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup beef broth  (choose one with no or low salt or make your own)
1/2 cup corn oil
2 eggs
+ heart-shaped cookie cutter  (of course I've got plenty of these)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet using either 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
3. With clean hands, roll dough out to 1/4 to 1/2-inch thickness and use heart-shaped cookie cutter in honor of the holiday. If you have a small dog (or a piggy dog like Topper) or a large cookie cutter, perforate the cookies with a fork down the middle to break apart easily after baking. Instead of a cookie cutter, you can roll the dough into 1/2 to 2-inch balls and place them one inch apart on the greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes until they turn golden brown. Baking times will vary based on size of treats ,  altitude, and your oven.
5. Cool cookies on wire racks, as far away from your dog as possible.
After treating your dog, store the rest in the refrigerator or freeze until the next visit from Cupid.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Topper

Cartoon of the Day: Horror Story

This Cartoon of the Day is making the rounds on the Internet, but in case you missed it!
It's a real Horror Story!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Barry Award Nominations

2012 BARRY AWARD NOMINATIONS
The Barry Awards will be presented October 4, 2012 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Bouchercon in Cleveland, Ohio.

Best Novel
THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES (in U.K., MERCY), Jussi Adler-Olsen (Dutton)
THE ACCIDENT, Linwood Barclay (Bantam)
THE HURT MACHINE, Reed Farrel Coleman (Tyrus)
IRON HOUSE, John Hart (Minotaur)
HELL IS EMPTY, Craig Johnson (Viking)
THE TROUBLED MAN, Henning Mankell (Knopf)

Best First Novel
LEARNING TO SWIM, Sara Henry (Crown)
THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, Keigo Higashino (Minotaur)
THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE, Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis (Soho Crime)
TURN OF MIND, Alice LaPlante (Atlantic Monthly)
THE INFORMATIONIST, Taylor Stevens (Crown)
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, S.J. Watson (Harper)

Best British (Published in the U.K. in 2011)
NOW YOU SEE ME, S.J. Bolton (Bantam Press)
HELL'S BELLS (in U.K., THE INFERNALS), John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)
BAD SIGNS, R. J. Ellory (Orion)
THE HOUSE AT SEA’S END, Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
OUTRAGE, Arnaldur Indridason (Harvill Secker)
DEAD MAN’S GRIP, Peter James (Macmillan)

Best Paperback Original
THE SILENCED, Brett Battles (Dell)
THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER, Oliver Pötzsch (Mariner Books)
A DOUBLE DEATH ON THE BLACK ISLE, A. D. Scott (Atria)
DEATH OF THE MANTIS, Stanley, Michael (Harper Perennial)
FUN AND GAMES, Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland)
TWO FOR SORROW, Nicola Upson (Harper Perennial)

Best Thriller
CARVER, Tom Cain (Bantam Press)
COUP D’ETAT, Ben Coes (St. Martin’s)
SPYCATCHER (SPARTAN), Matthew Dunn (William Morrow)
BALLISTIC, Mark Greaney (Berkley Trade)
HOUSE DIVIDED, Mike Lawson (Atlantic Monthly)
THE INFORMANT, Thomas Perry (Houghton Mifflin)

Best Short Story (compiled by Marv Lachman)
Doug Allyn, "Thicker Than Blood" (AHMM September)
Jeffrey Cohen, "The Gun Also Rises" (AHMM January-February)
Mike Cooper, "Whiz Bang" (EQMM September-October)
Trina Corey, "Facts Exhibiting Wantonness" ( EQMM November)
James Powell, "Last Laugh in Floogle Park" (EQMM July)
Eric Rutter, "Purge" (AHMM December)

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Valentine's Day Crime Fiction list. I'm posting early, so you'll have plenty of time to read some of these titles. Be sure and check out my other blog: DyingforChocolate for Chocolate reviews, recipes, Wine + Chocolate, Wine + Beer and chocolate gift ideas. Books are a perfect gift, so bundle some of the following mysteries, add a red ribbon and a box of chocolate truffles, and you're good to go!

Valentine's Day Mysteries

Love Lies Bleeding by Susan Wittig Albert
Death of a Valentine by M. C. Beaton
The Broken Hearts Club by Ethan Black
Claws and Effect by Rita Mae Brown
How To Murder The Man Of Your Dreams by Dorothy Cannell
Red Roses for a Dead Trucker by Anna Ashwood Collins
A Catered Valentine's Day by Isis Crawford
Hard Feelings by Barbara D’Amato
Love With The Proper Killer by Rose Deshaw
The Saint Valentine's Day Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich
Happy Valentine’s Day by Michelle Fitzpatrick
The Living Daylights by Ian Fleming
St. Valentine's Night by Andrew M. Greeley
Caveman's Valentine by George Dawes Green
Bleeding Hearts by Jane Haddam
The Valentine's Day Murder by Lee Harris
Deadly Valentine by Carolyn G. Hart
Sugar and Spite by G.A. McKevett
Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz
The Valentine Victim by Dougal McLeish
Sugar and Spite by G.A. McKevett
Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier
Love You to Death by Grant Michaels
Cat Playing Cupid by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The Body in the Attic by Katherine Hall Page
A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell
Valentine by Tom Savage
One Rough Man by Brad Taylor
Murder of a Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson
Daughter Of The Stars by Phyllis A. Whitney

Short Stories
Crimes of Passion with stories by Nancy Means, B.J. Daniels, Jonathan Harrington and Maggie Right Price
My Heart Cries Out for You by Bill Crider
Valentine's Day Is Killing Me edited by Leslie Esdaile, Mary Janice Davidson, Susanna Carr
Crimes of the Heart edited by Carolyn G. Hart
Valentine’s Day: Women Against Men-Stories of Revenge edited by Alice Thomas Editor

As always, let me know if I've missed any titles!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bookstore Cats

Mental Floss has a round of 10 Excellent Bookstore Cats including Ginger from my local indie bookstore, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

Not all bookstores have cats: the big chains don’t have cats, and some mom and pop stores keep their cats at home, so if you are allergic to cats, you can still find a place to browse for reading material. But you’ll find resident cats in many independent bookstores because they are nice to curl up with (just like a good book), they don’t eat the merchandise, and they protect the premises from rodents who will eat the merchandise.  Read the full text here
 

Orinda Books in Orinda, California features their bookstore cat right on the website’s home page. They welcome you to come in and pet Ginger, who is accustomed to customers. Here you see her drawing attention to a table of books for sale.

See other Bookstore Cats HERE with links to library cats and other bibliocats.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cartoons of the Day: Charles Dickens

Lots of great 'writerly' cartoons making the rounds in honor of Charles Dickens' 200th Birthday! Enjoy!


Lovey Awards: Love is Murder

The winners of the Lovey Awards, given out at Love is Murder.

BEST FIRST NOVEL: BASIC BLACK by SCOTT DOORNBOSCH
BEST TRADITIONAL: THE FINE ART OF MURDER by DONALD BAIN
BEST PI/POLICE PROCEDURAL: THE TOWMAN’S DAUGHTERS: by DAVID J.WALKER
BEST THRILLER: NORTHWEST ANGLE by WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER
BEST HISTORICAL: TERROR AT THE FAIR by ROBERT GOLDSBOROUGH
BEST SUSPENSE: TOXICITY by LIBBY FISCHER HELLMANN
BEST PARANORAMAL/SCI FI/HORROR: HOMEFRONT: THE VOICE OF FREEDOM by RAYMOND BENSON
BEST SERIES: THE WHITE HOUSE CHEF SERIES by JULIE HYZY
BEST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE: A LOT LIKE LOVE by JULIE JAMES
BEST SHORT STORY: DIAMONDS AREN’T FOREVER by MARY WELK

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Farewell to Bullets Across the Bay

Farewell to Bullets Across the Bay
by Randal Brandt

To celebrate the conclusion of the popular exhibit, Bullets Across the Bay: The San Francisco Bay Area in Crime Fiction, the Library at the University of California, Berkeley is holding a closing reception on Friday, February 24, 2012 from 6:00-8:00pm in the Morrison Library. The reception is co-sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, NorCal Chapter and Sisters in Crime, Northern California Chapter and will be open to the campus community and the general public. The program will feature five local mystery authors—Mark Coggins, Janet Dawson, Diana Orgain, Sheldon Siegel, and Simon Wood—reading selections from their favorite Bay Area crime and detective novels, followed by an opportunity for audience members to engage the readers and exhibit curators in Questions and Answers.

Bullets Across the Bay exposes the richness of the University Library collections for the study of detective narrative and genre fiction set in the San Francisco Bay Area. From 19th-century dime novels to today’s bestsellers, the exhibit features examples of novels both iconic and obscure that provide commentary on topics such as cultural diversity and historical events represented in popular literature. It also highlights resources for the academic study of the mystery genre and chronicles the careers and influence of some of the titans of the Bay Area mystery scene: Dashiell Hammett, Anthony Boucher, Marcia Muller, and Bill Pronzini—as well as the work of many other authors whose writing contributes to the richness of fiction on either side of the Bay Bridge.

The exhibit is on display in the Bernice Layne Brown Gallery through February 29, 2012. It is free and open to the public during the operating hours of Doe Library.

Randal S. Brandt is a librarian at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. He is the creator of Golden Gate Mysteries, an annotated bibliography of crime fiction set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one of the co-curators of Bullets Across the Bay.

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens

If Charles Dickens had lived, he would have been 200 today! I always think of Charles Dickens as a mystery writer because he gave us such 'suspenseful' books. Yes, he was writing for the serials, so he kept us going, but his novels were filled with crime and intrigue, detectives, and criminals.

Bleak House surely qualifies as a mystery with Inspector Bucket,  the first British literary detective. The Bow Street Runners appear in Oliver Twist. And, of course, there's The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the final--and unfinished- work that has seen the light of day in theatres, as well as in print, and soon to be shown in the US, a new BBC production.


Google even has a Charles Dickens doodle.

Here's a round-up of some Charles Dickens info for the mystery reader:

Charles Dickens, Crime Writer by Terrie Farley Moran at CriminalElement.com

Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Charles Dickens: Worldwide information on exhibits, Film, TV, Radio, Theatre, and special events
celebrations.
  Included: Dickens and London: Museum of London, December 2011-June 10, 2012
  The Mysteries of  Charles Dickens: Museum Strauhof, Zurich

Charles Dickens at 200: Guardian UK Webpage  (links to videos)

Charles Dickens at 200: Still the great British 'Idol' by Bob Minzesheimer in USA Today

Charles Dickens Facebook Page (Friending Charles?)

Contemporary Mysteries featuring Charles Dickens or his works:
Edith Skom's The Charles Dickens Murders
Dan Simmons' Drood
Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens

So raise a glass to Charles Dickens today!  And, here's a link to a Fiendishly Difficult Birthday Pub Quiz