Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Creativity

Cartoon of the Day: Creativity

Call for Articles: New York Crime Fiction

CALL FOR ARTICLES: New York Mysteries!

The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 32:1) will focus on crime fiction set in New York, New York. Looking for reviews, articles, and Author! Author! essays.

Reviews: 50-250 words

Articles: 250-1000 words

Author! Author essays: 500-1500 words. Author essays should be first person, about yourself, your books, and the 'New York connection'. Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe about your work and the New York connection. Add title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline.

Deadline: February 20. 

Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor 

Please forward this request to anyone you think should be included.

Subscribe or renew Mystery Readers Journal for 2016 and receive all four issues for '16 -- New York, New York!, Small Town Cops; Mid-Atlantic Crime Fiction; Big Law Enforcement Agencies.

Many back issues of Mystery Readers Journal are available as single copies in hardcopy or PDF.

Call for Articles for 2016 (Volume 32): 
New York, New York (1)
Small Town Cops (2)
Mid-Atlantic (3)
Large Law Enforcement Agencies (4)

Have titles, articles or suggestions for these upcoming issues?
Want to write an Author! Author! essay?
Email Janet Rudolph.

Friday, January 29, 2016


The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers announced the nominees for their annual HAMMETT PRIZE for a work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author.  


The Stranger, by Harlan Coben (Dutton)
Sorrow Lake: A March and Walker Crime Novel, by Michael J. McCann (Plaid Raccoon Press)
The Whites: A Novel, by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt (Henry Holt)
The Do-Right, by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)
The Organ Broker: A Novel, by Stu Strumwasser (Arcade)

A reading committee of IACW/NA members selected the nominees, based on recommendations from other members and the publishing community. The organization will name the HAMMETT PRIZE winner, during the NoirCon literary conference in Philadelphia, October 26-30, 2016. The winner will receive a bronze trophy, designed by sculptor Peter Boiger.

Suggested Amazon Book Warning Labels

Love this. Suggested Amazon Warning Labels on Books. On Words on Words.

HT: Lawrence Block

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Christopher Marlowe and Me: Guest post by Phillip DePoy

Phillip DePoy is the Edgar Award winning author of the play Easy as well as 14 published novels and 39 theatre pieces that have seen production throughout the country. Phillip DePoy brings Christopher Marlowe--playwright, student, spy--to life unraveling a scheme to assassinate her majesty Queen Elizabeth I.  With his new series he combines his passion and skills to pen a superb historical mystery. Phillip DePoy's A Prisoner in Malta (1/26/16) St Martins Press.

Christopher Marlowe and Me

Although I have not yet been stabbed in the eye, or worked as a spy for Queen Elizabeth, there are at least a few similarities between Christopher Marlowe and me. (Or so I discovered as I researched my latest novel, A PRISONER IN MALTA.)

We’ve both worked as playwrights. His Dr. Faustus has been performed as many times as any Shakespeare play over the course of four hundred years; my play Easy won an Edgar in 2002.

As I write that I realize that it’s not much of a similarity, but it does serve to say that we’ve both known theatre. Marlowe was a spectacular fencing master; I took two fencing lessons and learned the difference between a parry and a plié, although I think that second one may actually be a ballet term. Another similarity: neither of us ever danced with a ballet company. And while Marlowe is the vastly superior playwright, I have, in fact, written more plays than he. He wrote six that we know of, and another six or so that could conceivably be attributed to him. I’ve written forty-three that have been produced (although, sadly, many of them just once).

Marlowe also wrote poetry. “Come live with me and be my love, and we shall all the pleasures prove that hills and valleys, dale and field, and all the craggy mountains yield.” That’s his, from one of the greatest poems of seduction ever written, a timeless work of genius. My first published poem was in 1973 and it was about a man hiding behind a piano.

Marlowe brawled in the pubs of London and died in one such disagreement, his own knife stuck in his eye. I, on the other hand, am still alive, and wrote part of one of my novels at The Spaniard’s Inn, a pub in London, sitting in the booth where Bram Stoker wrote Dracula—or so the barmaid encouraged me to believe.

And speaking of vampires, Jim Jarmusch’s film Only Lovers Left Alive features a vampire Marlowe, and I composed music for the play Vampyr in 1995.

Obviously the word similarity is now being stretched beyond the breaking point. It’s more important to say that I’ve enjoyed writing about Marlowe more than I have anything else in my life, excluding three things that my wife told me to take out of this sentence. I feel such an affinity with Marlowe. He was the quintessential Renaissance man, genuinely able to fence, compose a poem, solve a riddle, work in the theatre, and make a joke in Latin—often all at the same time. While that’s clearly not a portrait of my abilities, I am often accused of not being able to stick to any one thing, so that’s like a Renaissance Man. I just enjoy doing so many things it’s impossible for me to concentrate on any singular pursuit. For that reason, sometimes people in the theatre think of me as a novelist who writes plays, and some of my friends in the book world consider me a playwright who’s got a few novels to his credit. I think that’s our greatest similarity, in fact, mine and Marlowe’s. We’re in it but not of it, neither fish nor fowl. That’s what makes him such a great detective (and sometime-spy). He’s something of an outsider. It makes him fall in love with people and ideas at the drop of a hat (or a dagger) and suddenly his world is filled with a multiplicity of distractions. Still, he’s able to wade through those distractions, solve the murder and save the day, even if he doesn’t always get the girl.

If ever Marlowe had a code, it might be summed up in his quote, “You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute, and now and then stab, when occasion serves.” That’s where we part company, I’m afraid. I’ve never stabbed anyone in my life. I did very lightly bite someone on the arm at Manuel’s Pub in Atlanta one night, but she took it as an overture and we dated for a while after that. Also pride is not one of my sins. Or at least I’m not proud of biting someone on the arm at Manuel’s Pub. And finally I realize that I have Marlowe to thank for all the times I ever said, “Come live with me and be my love” and things turned out so nicely.

Cartoon of the Day: Accessories to the Crime

From my Favorite cartoonist, Hilary B. Price, at Rhymes with Orange:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Jobs: Louise Rick and Sara Blædel

Today I welcome one of my favorite authors, Sara Blaedel. Sarah is the author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in 23 countries. She lives in Copenhagen. Sara Blaedel is the most popular author in Denmark, literally. She won the Martha Prize – The Readers Favorite Authors Prize – again in 2014, becoming the first Danish author to receive the prize four times. In the summer of 2014, she learned that she had won the Golden Laurel (De Gyldne Laurbær), the most prestigious Danish literary award, which is voted on nationally by Danish booksellers and can only be won once in a lifetime. Collectively, Blaedel’s dark, suspenseful stories reach one fifth of Denmark’s entire population, and her fan base is growing all the time. She is the author of nine bestselling crime fiction novels published in twenty three countries, translated into over thirteen languages, and optioned for film rights. Our local Mystery Readers International group was lucky to host her at a Literary Salon during her last book tour in the U.S. Fascinating!

Sarah Blaedel:
Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Jobs: 
Louise Rick and Sara Blædel

When you write a crime novel series with a recurring protagonist, one of the most frequently asked questions (my favorite one) you get from readers, journalists, and panel participants is: How much of yourself have you worked into your main character? The first time somebody asked me that, I was struck; I realized, that I was not actually aware of how much of myself I’d brought to my portrayal of Louise Rick. I have since gained clarity. After these many years of living and breathing beside the same protagonist – a woman I have invented from my imagination - it is inevitable that she has been heavily influenced by what I carry around, with regard to history, experiences, weaknesses, desires, and fascinations. Louise Rick is not me, and I am not Louise Rick, but we definitely share some common features and interests.

In my latest book, The Killing Forest, which will be published in the United States on February 2, we encounter a Louise Rick who has evolved over the years (as do we all). She’s grown older and amassed knowledge as she’s been through wonderful and heartbreaking events.

As I’ve written, I have explored a number of timely and ubiquitous topics like prostitution, Internet dating, drug abuse, peer pressure, foster care, and assisted suicide. There is always a central thrust, which is developed separately from the main story. Running parallel to how this crucial element develops, we follow Louise, along with her dear friend, Camilla Lind, a journalist. Permeating throughout each book is the story of this friendship, and how they grow and change. We follow them through Copenhagen and the suburbs where they both grew up, and out in the countryside, an area with large forests, fjords and villages, and ancient history. We follow police work and crime-solving in this setting. I live in and love Copenhagen and am riveted by the cramped network of dangerous connections which can be found there, and all the lurking mysteries and secrets.

Louise and I are similarly driven. She immerses herself deeply into her career, and always gets 100% engaged in her cases. She is motivated by personal indignation and outrage. Ultimately, though, she is simply an ordinary woman with an extraordinary job she loves. Just like me.

The Forgotten Girls, which precedes The Killing Forest, marks a fresh chapter in Louise’s life. She starts a new position at the Special Search Agency with the National Police Department. Switching from Homicide proves a huge move for Louise; major changes began to unfold after she meets her new partner, Eik Nordström. In so many ways her total opposite, Eik is relaxed, sensitive, and a bit disorganized. Louise cannot hide her irritation with Eik, who doesn’t seem bothered by her behavior. At first, that is …

I hope you’ll enjoy reading my Louise Rick crime novels as much as I’ve enjoyed cooking them up.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cartoon of the Day: Internet Cats

Where Do I Get My Ideas? It's a long story by Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore is an attorney with the Honolulu firm of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda. Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, the owner of Taiwan’s first Mexican restaurant, and an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington D.C. The Poison Artist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) will be out January 26. Moore is the author of two previous novels, Close Reach and Redheads, which was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award.

Jonathan Moore:
Where Do I Get My Ideas? It’s a long story. 

I am not a seasoned veteran of the publishing industry, but I’ve noticed a few things since my agent sold The Poison Artist to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. For example, there is an unwritten dress code for male authors at writing conventions. It goes like this: whatever else you do, your jacket shouldn’t match your pants. If your jacket and your pants are cut from the same cloth, it looks like you’re wearing a suit. That’s way too formal, and people will shun you. Find an old jacket that doesn’t match anything. Elbow patches are probably a plus. If you have elbow patches, people might even take you seriously.

Aside from the dress code, the other thing I’ve noticed is that publishing is a slow process. I started writing The Poison Artist in the spring of 2013, and finished the rough draft in July of the same year. I rewrote the ending twice (at my agent’s insistence), and then she sold the book in May of 2014.

Right now, it’s January of 2016, and the book isn’t out yet. In the meantime, I’ve written two additional novels which will come out in 2017 and 2018.

It’s an interesting delay, because now that The Poison Artist is about to come out, I’m getting a lot of questions from people about what it was like to write it, and how I researched it, and where I got the idea. I have a one-track mind, and am mostly thinking about a book called The Dark Room, which I just finished revising. So when I get these questions, my internal response is usually something along the lines of: I have no idea—that was three books ago. I barely even remember why I wrote the last one.

That answer will never do, so I’ve been thinking back to 2013, and how I came to write The Poison Artist.

It’s strange, what goes into a novel. I think the origins of most novels are tiny and hard to detect, like the headwaters of a river. This little trickle is going to make it all the way to the ocean? You’re telling me that ships can navigate this? But what starts as just a tiny stream picks up other branches along the way, and grows until it carries itself. Somewhere in the north, you can cross the Mississippi by taking a step.

The Poison Artist is a dark novel, set around a cold Christmas in San Francisco. In December of 2012, I stayed for a week in The Palace Hotel while on a business trip. The hotel is a fine place, but I was in no mood to appreciate it. I lived in San Francisco during college, and not all of my memories of college are good. On top of that, I missed my wife, and I was freezing the entire week. Every time I went out onto Market Street after dark, I’d get followed around by a stumbling crowd of meth addicts, so I stopped taking my normal evening walks. But when you’re in a dark mood, The Palace can be a creepy place to be cooped up—just ask President Harding, or King Kalakaua, who both died while staying there. I began hanging out in the hotel’s bar, The Pied Piper, which has an incredible Maxwell Parrish painting over the back bar. I’d drink Jameson and Guinness, and stare at the painting, and look at my watch a lot.

Even though I was on the lookout for one, I wasn’t the lucky recipient of any ideas during that trip. But the hotel and the bar stuck with me.

When I got back to Hawaii, I was diagnosed with skin cancer, and had surgery to remove it. This was my first brush with anything more medically complicated than a simple check-up. The procedure was with local anesthesia, and the spot to be removed was on my face. So I was awake for it, and watching. It was fascinating, and horrifying, to lie there and see a scalpel or a pair of scissors go past my left eye, and out of my sight. There’d be a slight tug, but no feeling, and I’d hear the sound of cutting.

Again, I left the hospital without any ideas, but that surgery stayed with me, too. I dreamt about it for a couple of months.

Finally around March of 2013, I was out for a walk in Waikiki. I wanted to write a new book, something more ambitious than my first two novels. I was hoping if I walked far enough, I’d think of something. I remembered an old idea—a book I tried to write when I was a twenty-two year old college student, living just north of Golden Gate Park. It was a story about a man who becomes obsessed with a woman while simultaneously trying to solve a string of murders. I had been excited about the story when I first tried it on, and was disappointed when it didn’t fit. At twenty-two, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know about murder or toxicology or law enforcement, and I didn’t know about adult relationships or what actual jobs were like. I was afraid to write sex scenes, because my mother was the only person who read my stories. Worst of all, I didn’t know how to research the things I didn’t know. I wrote twenty pages, and realized the story was out of my league. I quit writing it, and after ten years, I forgot it.

On that walk through Waikiki, in March, I remembered my old story, but this time I saw it beginning in The Palace Hotel. I still didn’t know anything about murder or toxicology, but I knew how to research them. I went to the medical examiner’s office in Honolulu, where I saw autopsies in progress, and I interviewed doctors and talked with policemen. I sent my dad and my sister to reconnoiter the police headquarters in Sausalito, and through them struck up a friendship with an employee there who has helped me with all three of my recent books. And I remembered that surgery—the sound of the suturing thread as it’s pulled through the skin on either side of a cut, the sound of steel tools being set on a tray.

 I remember that I was at the intersection of Kalakaua and Kuhio. The light had just changed, and I was stepping into the street, and I realized: this time I can do it. This time, I have enough.

The first time I tried to write The Poison Artist, I struggled for three months and got nowhere. The second time, I had an absolute ball. When I look at it now, it surprises me how dark the story is. (Stephen King said it was the most terrifying thing he’d read since Red Dragon. But while I was writing it, I thought I was telling a sad love story.) It wasn’t until I was finished, and could look at what I’d made, that I really understood what it was.

Now I just need to figure out how I came to write The Dark Room, and its sequel, The Night Market, so that in 2017 and 2018 I can explain where those two books came from.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Authors and their Cats: Mary Stewart

Happy Caturday! Authors and the Cats: Mary Stewart. Mary Stewart was a marvelous author of romantic suspense, historical fantasy, and so much more. Read about her here.

CWA Diamond Dagger

Peter James has been awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger. The CWA Diamond Dagger is awarded each year to a writer who has a career marked by sustained excellence. Congratulations!

HT: Ayo Onatade

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe, born January 19, 1809... this gravestone notwithstanding..

So raise a glass of Absinthe.. Nevermore..

Edgar Award Nominees

Mystery Writers of America announced the Nominees for the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2015. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 70th Gala Banquet, April 28, 2016 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City. Congratulations to all!
The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House - Dutton)
Canary by Duane Swierczynski (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Night Life by David C. Taylor (Forge Books)

Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster)
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (Penguin Random House - Viking)

The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Woman with a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
The Daughter by Jane Shemilt (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the American Genocide by Eric Bogosian (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)
Where The Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him by T.J. English (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
American Pain: How a Young Felon and his Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's  Deadliest Drug Epidemic by John Temple (Rowman & Littlefield – Lyons Press)

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins Publishers - HarperCollins)
The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue by Frederick Forsyth (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (Arcade Publishing)
Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming's Jamaica by Matthew Parker (Pegasus Books)
The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett by Nathan Ward (Bloomsbury Publishing – Bloomsbury USA)

"The Little Men" – Mysterious Bookshop by Megan Abbott (Mysterious Bookshop)
"On Borrowed Time" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Mat Coward (Dell Magazines)
"The Saturday Night Before Easter Sunday” – Providence Noir by Peter Farrelly (Akashic Books)
"Family Treasures" – Let Me Tell You  by Shirley Jackson (Random House)
"Obits" – Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
“Every Seven Years” – Mysterious Bookshop by Denise Mina (Mysterious Bookshop)

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi (Algonquin Young Readers - Workman)
If You Find This by Matthew Baker (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C.Chester  (HarperCollins Publishers – HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands  (Simon & Schuster - Aladdin)
Footer Davis Probably is Crazy by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

Endangered by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Children’s Books - HarperTeen)
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (HarperCollins Publishers – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers - Workman)
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Clarion Books)

"Episode 7," - Broadchurch, Teleplay by Chris Chibnall (BBC America)
"Gently with the Women" - George Gently, Teleplay by Peter Flannery (Acorn TV)
"Elise - The Final Mystery" - Foyle's War, Teleplay by Anthony Horowitz (Acorn TV)
 "Terra Incognita" - Person of Interest, Teleplay by Erik Mountain & Melissa Scrivner Love (CBS/Warner Brothers)
"The Beating of her Wings" - Ripper Street, Teleplay by Richard Warlow (BBC America)

"Chung Ling Soo’s Greatest Trick" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by Russell W. Johnson (Dell Magazines)

Walter Mosley

Margaret Kinsman
Sisters in Crime

Janet Rudolph, Founder of Mystery Readers International

* * * * * *

A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)
The Masque of a Murderer by Suzanne Calkins (Minotaur Books)
Night Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)
Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

Saturday, January 16, 2016


2016 Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Award Nominations

Left Coast Crime 2016, “The Great Cactus Caper,” will be giving four Lefty awards at the 26th annual LCC convention, to be held in Phoenix next month. There’s something new this year: now all LCC awards are called “Lefty” — for humorous, historical, regional, and worldwide. The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, February 27, at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. The award nominees have been selected by this and last years’ convention registrants. The nomination period has just concluded, and LCC is delighted to announce the Lefty nominees for books published in 2015:

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel (given since 1996). This year’s nominees are:
   • Donna Andrews, Lord of the Wings (Minotaur Books)
   • Ellen Byron, Plantation Shudders (Crooked Lane Books)
   • Jess Lourey, February Fever (Midnight Ink)
   • Cindy Sample, Dying for a Donut (Cindy Sample Books)
   • Diane Vallere, Crushed Velvet (Berkley Prime Crime)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (Bruce Alexander Memorial, first given in 2004) for books covering events before 1960. This year’s nominees are:
   • Rhys Bowen, Malice at the Palace (Berkley Prime Crime)
   • Susanna Calkins, The Masque of a Murderer (Minotaur Books)
   • Heather Haven, The Chocolate Kiss-Off (Wives of Bath Press)
   • Jennifer Kincheloe, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc (Seventh Street Books)
   • Laurie R. King, Dreaming Spies (Bantam Books)
   • Susan Elia MacNeal, Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante (Bantam Books)

Lefty for Best LCC Regional Mystery Novel, set in the LCC Geographic Region (Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii). The nominees are:
   • Michael Connelly, The Crossing (Little, Brown and Company)
   • Matt Coyle, Night Tremors (Oceanview Publishing)
   • Robert Crais, The Promise (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
   • Gigi Pandian, The Accidental Alchemist (Midnight Ink)
   • Josh Stallings, Young Americans (Heist Publishing)

Lefty for Best World Mystery Novel (set outside LCC Geographic Region). The nominees are:
   • Lou Berney, The Long and Faraway Gone (William Morrow)
   • Lisa Brackmann, Dragon Day (Soho Crime)
   • Chris Holm, The Killing Kind (Mulholland Books)
   • Louise Penny, The Nature of the Beast (Minotaur Books)
   • James W. Ziskin, Stone Cold Dead (Seventh Street Books)

The Left Coast Crime Convention is an annual event sponsored by fans of mystery literature for fans of mystery literature, including both readers and authors. Usually held in the western half of North America, LCC’s intent is to provide an event where mystery fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests.

The 26th annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in Phoenix, AZ, February 25–28, 2016. This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Gregg Hurwitz (American Guest of Honor) and Ann Cleeves (International Guest of Honor). Chantelle Aimée Osman is the Fan Guest of Honor, and author Catriona McPherson will serve as Toastmaster.

For more information on Left Coast Crime 2016, please visit

Lucinda Surber & Stan Ulrich, LCC Awards Committee Co-Chairs
Ingrid Willis, LCC 2016 Chair

Caturday: Colette and her Cats

Colette (1873-1954) was a prolific French fiction writer who wrote over 50 novels. She bought a pearl gray Chartreuse at a cat show in 1926, and wrote a novel La Chatte (The Cat) in 1933.

"Time spend with cats is never wasted" -- Colette

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vintage Library Poster: January

Alan Rickman: R.I.P.

Such sad news. Amazing British actor of stage and screen Alan Rickman, died yesterday, at the age of 69. Alan Rickman was a much-loved star of stage, TV, and films, including Harry Potter and Die Hard. He had been suffering from cancer for the past year. He was in two of my top films, Truly, Madly, Deeply and Galaxy Quest.

From The Guardian:

A star whose arch features and languid diction were recognizable across the generations, Rickman found a fresh legion of fans with his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. But the actor had been a big-screen staple since first shooting to global acclaim in 1988, when he starred as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s sardonic, dastardly adversary in Die Hard – a part he was offered two days after arriving in Los Angeles, aged 41.
Gruber was the first of three memorable baddies played by Rickman: he was an outrageous sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, as well as a terrifying Rasputin in an acclaimed 1995 HBO film.

But Rickman was also a singular leading man: in 1991, he starred as a cellist opposite Juliet Stevenson in Anthony Minghella’s affecting supernatural romance Truly, Madly, Deeply; four years later he was the honourable and modest Col Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, starring and scripted by Emma Thompson. He was to reunite with Thompson many times: they played husband and wife in 2003’s Love, Actually and former lovers in 2010 BBC drama The Song of Lunch

Rickman is still to be seen in Eye in the Sky, a thriller about drone warfare that won rave reviews at the Toronto film festival last year, and repeating his voiceover as Absolem the Caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass, also due for release later this year.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Silence of the Lambs house not Selling

"The Silence of the Lambs" house has been up for sale since last summer. For some reason it's not selling. Duh!

According to the TribLive:

Calls poured in from the Huffington Post, National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal when Scott and Barbara Lloyd's home hit the market last summer, but none of the calls resulted in a sale.

Their three-story Victorian in Fayette County was used as Buffalo Bill's torture lair in the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs.”

It was the second-most clicked home on in 2015, so why won't it sell?

“The fact that a home gets a ton of publicity doesn't necessarily add up to a quick sale,” said Erik Gunther, a senior editor and unique home expert at “Just because I want to gawk at something doesn't mean I want to buy it.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Murder She Baked!

The Hallmark Channel debuts The Peach Cobbler Murder next in the Murder She Baked series. The Peach Cobbler Murder will air on Sunday, January 10. Also airing back-to-back on Sunday are the previous two titles in the series based on Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series.

Tie-ins have been published by Kensington for all three: Peach Cobbler Murder, Plum Pudding Mystery, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, all by Joanne Fluke. Because of the success of the series, Kensington is re-releasing Fluke's backlist. The next book in the Hannah Swensen series, Wedding Cake Murder, is coming in February.

HT: Kristopher Zgorski

Renee Paley-Bain: R.I.P.

Sad News. Renee Paley-Bain, died January 8, 2016, after a difficult three-week hospital stay. Renee with her husband Donald Bain, collaborated on the Murder She Wrote series. She was a wonderful woman who supported everyone in the mystery community and beyond.

Donald Bain's post on Facebook:

Renee had a distinguished career in public relations before turning her talent to the novels. She brought to the series a keen intellect and subtle humor that perfectly matched Jessica Fletcher and others in the cast of characters enjoyed by millions of TV viewers and readers of the books. Renée’s children and I derived much comfort during her gallant fight to stay alive from our families, including my daughter Pamela, and the legion of people who treasured, as I did, this gentle, generous and loving woman. I thank all the nurses who provided superb professional care and touching compassion to Renée during her medical ordeal, an exemplary group of people.

Per Renée’s instructions and based upon hundreds of conversations she had with me and her children about end-of-life decisions, an autopsy will be performed. She did not want a wake or funeral. She’ll be cremated, her ashes strewn over a bird feeding sanctuary she loved, and I’ll host a gathering in the future to celebrate her life. We’ve been loyal supporters of Compassion & Choices and its commitment to death-with-dignity for many years. Hopefully the state in which we live, Connecticut, and its legislators will follow the lead of Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Vermont in allowing physician-assisted aid for certifiably terminal patients to pass peacefully and with dignity in their final days. Renée would want anyone who wishes to donate in her memory to help Compassion & Choices, the United States Humane Society, or ASPCA to carry on their work, which she so ardently supported.

Renée Paley-Bain brought me unmitigated joy during our 33 years together, and I’ll spend what years I have left honoring this talented, exemplary woman. What a joyous 33 years it’s been.

Read this essay by Renee Paley-Bain: "Partners in Crime" that appeared on Mystery Fanfare.

Caturday: Edgar Gorey and his Cats

Love this photo of Edgar Gorey and his Cats

Friday, January 8, 2016

Anthony Boucher House Literary Salon: January 16


Join mystery, science fiction, and local history fans at the Berkeley home where the famed mystery and science fiction editor and writer William Anthony Parker White -- best known by his pen name, Anthony Boucher -- lived from 1947 to his death in 1968, and did much of his work.

Explore the expansive 1941 split level, just off Telegraph Avenue, including the large upstairs corner bedroom where Boucher wrote, and the living room where he supervised literary salons, and helped shape the modern genres of mystery and science fiction.

We can't promise you an unsolved murder or a portal to another dimension on the premises, but we can offer light refreshments, socializing, brief remarks (starting at 2:30) and reminiscences (Boucher family members will be on hand), and perhaps even some scripted drama.

The house itself is passing to new owners, so this is a one time opportunity to visit. It is hoped a historic plaque for the site, honoring Boucher, will be completed in time for the opening and on display. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016 from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM (PST) 

2643 Dana Street Berkeley, CA 94704 

RSVP. Space Limited.  To register, please click here.

Organizers of Anthony Boucher House Literary Salon: 
Randal & Maria Brandt, Steven Finacom, Janet Rudolph 

Randal Brandt is the curator of the California Detective Fiction Collection at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Janet Rudolph is the Editor of the Mystery Readers Journal, organizer of Literary Salons, blogger at Mystery Fanfare and DyingforChocolate.

Steven Finacom is former president and active member of the Berkeley Historical Society.

F. Scott Fitzgerald House for Sale

A row house in St. Paul, MN, where F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived is up for sale. The brownstone was listed for $665,000.

Read more Here.

Cartoon of the Day: The Magician Did It

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sleuthfest: Writers Conference

I'll be at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix the end of February, but if you're in Florida or elsewhere on the East Coast, Sleuthfest would be a great way to spend the weekend of February 25-28.

Sleuthfest is an Annual Conference for Mystery, Suspense, & Thriller Writers
--sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America

Location: Doubletree by Hilton, Deerfield Beach, FL
Dates: February 27-28, 2016
Guests of Honor: P.J. Parrish and Valerie Plame
Keynote Speaker: C.J. Box.

For more information: Sleuthfest

Cartoon of the Day: Coffee Shop Writer

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Lawrence Block Guest Post: on writing Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel

Photo credit: Mary Reagan
Today I welcome back one of my favorite writers. Lawrence Block has been writing crime, mystery, and suspense fiction for more than half a century. He has published in excess of 100 books, and no end of short stories. Lawrence Block is best known for his series characters, including cop-turned-private investigator Matthew Scudder, gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanner, and introspective assassin Keller. Because one name is never enough, Larry has also published under pseudonyms including Jill Emerson, John Warren Wells, Lesley Evans, and Anne Campbell Clarke. He is a Grand Master of Mystery Writers of America, and a past president of MWA and the Private Eye Writers of America. He has won the Edgar and Shamus awards four times each, and the Japanese Maltese Falcon award twice, as well as the Nero Wolfe and Philip Marlowe awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and the Diamond Dagger for Life Achievement from the Crime Writers Association (UK). He’s also been honored with the Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Ink magazine and the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement in the short story. In France, he has been proclaimed a Grand Maitre du Roman Noir and has twice been awarded the Societe 813 trophy.

Lawrence Block:
On writing Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel

Forty years ago, I began contributing a column on fiction writing to Writers Digest. At first it was to be every other month, alternating with a column on cartooning, but after I’d sent them two or three columns they canned the cartoonist and my column went monthly, and I went on doing it for fourteen years.

After year or so, editor John Brady commissioned me to write an instructional book on writing novels. I asked myself what the hell I knew about writing novels, and then reminded myself that I’d written and published maybe fifty of them at that point. And, as with the column, I knew better than to tell readers This is how you do it. With novels, as with any fiction writing, there are at least as many ways to do it as there are writers. (More, come to think of it. There are at least as many ways to write a book as there are books to be written. It’s always different—even when you think you’re following a formula.)

So I wrote the book. I called it WRITING THE NOVEL, and the folks at WD stretched that to WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT. At the time I didn’t like the change, thought it made the whole thing sound too mechanical, but over time I decided they’d done well by me and my book.

For one thing, a definition of a good title is any title on a bestselling book, and this one sold well from the beginning—and, more to the point, went on doing so year after year after year. It started life as a hardcover book, and was eventually reissued as a trade paperback, and stayed in that form with a cover change or two all the way to 2012, when it finally went out of print.

It must have been just about twenty years ago when the then-current Poohbah at WD Books suggested I revise WTN. By then it was dated in certain respects, and the thinking was that they might be able to sell more copies if they could ballyhoo it with those magic words, New! and Improved!

I wasn’t crazy about the idea, and asked what they could offer me for my work. They rather grudgingly said they could pay me $1000 as an advance against royalties. “In other words,” I said, “you’ll reimburse me for my time with my own money.” I said I’d want an outright fee, not to be charged against future earnings, and they balked, and I said with not a little relief that I’d just as soon pass.

Cut to 2014. Alex Kourvo emailed me to renew the suggestion—but I found her a good deal easier to listen to. Alex has a whole website devoted to books for writers, and over the years she’d said some very heartening things about my various offerings, with special praise for WRITING THE NOVEL. She praised it again in her email, while pointing out that the world, in and out of publishing, had changed vastly since 1978, while my book had not. Beside the fact that commercial fiction’s categories had changed—when was the last time you saw a rack of Gothic novels in a drugstore paperback rack? When, for that matter, was the last time you saw a drugstore paperback rack at all?—besides all that, there’d been great developments in electronic books and self-publishing, and they went unmentioned in my 1978 guidebook.

Well, I knew she was right. And I knew the book was out of print, and its ebook edition was under a contract due to expire at year’s end. If I prepared a new edition, I could publish it myself in both ebook and print-on-demand paperback—two options which had not existed when the original book was published.

I sat down and read the book, something I hadn’t done in ages. And I found that, dated though it might be, I still liked it. I was more than a little anxious at the prospect of changing what I’d written, and for two reasons. For one, any piece of writing is an organic creation, very much of its time, and when you change words here and there you risk messing up the whole thing. For another, all those original chapters had clearly stood the test of time, staying in print all those years, pleasing readers and helping them launch their books for all those years. Rewriting might expunge something particularly useful.

So what I decided to do was leave everything pretty much unchanged, while adding material when it seemed appropriate. And I wrote the new material in a sans-serif font, like this one, and printed the original material in an old-timey typewriterish font like this one…so readers could tell what was old and what was new.

That took me all the way through the original book, to which I wound up adding quite a bit. One of the most satisfying additions, in the chapter on outlining, was the outline from Donald E. Westlake’s hysterical yet affecting novel of a blocked writer, Adios, Scheherazade! I’d cited the chapter-by-chapter outline back in 1978, but hadn’t quoted it—probably for fear that WD would have found it objectionable. Well, I didn’t find it objectionable, I found it riotously funny as well as instructive, and I didn’t have to worry what any publisher might think. I did have to sit down and type it out word for word, but that’s the sort of sacrifice I was happy to make for y’all.

Then I wrote new material, several chapters on ebooks and self-publishing, and that was odd—because I did so knowing what I was writing would be wildly out of date long before another 37 years went by. The industry’s evolving at a furious pace, and while the way one writes a novel doesn’t change much from decade to decade, ebooks and self-publishing change constantly.

Whew! One of the miracles of self-publishing is how fast it is. It was sometime in November that I completed revisions on WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL, and by January 4th, both the ebook and the Handsome Trade Paperback were on sale. Reviews have been pouring in, and so far they’re all extremely complimentary, and sales are strong, and, well, I couldn’t be happier.

—Lawrence Block

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

MASTERPIECE BOOK CLUB for Sherlock Fans and others

MASTERPIECE on PBS has just launched The MASTERPIECE Book Club. The club will serve as the destination for book-loving MASTERPIECE fans, hosting exciting features for popular programs such as Sherlock and Downton Abbey. Features will include recommended reading related to current MASTERPIECE shows, insights into what cast and crew are reading, related recipes perfect for a book club meeting, British book news, and much more. (I've posted my own recipes for Scones on to accompany Downton Abbey viewing--check out Mrs Patmore's Chocolate Cherry Scones here)

Sherlock enthusiasts will get reading inspiration from Sherlock co-creator and actor Mark Gatiss, who reveals his favorite Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories and the mystery authors he reads most. Sherlock book club features also include a list of titles to make anyone a Sherlock Holmes expert and cookbooks from bestselling mystery authors.
(Check out the Sherlock Holmes cookbooks from my tie-in cook book collection in Mystery Readers Journal: Culinary Crime II).

There will be special collections assembled for other MASTERPIECE mysteries including Endeavour and Inspector Lewis later this summer.

NOTE: Sherlock’s 90-minute special, The Abominable Bride, will be rebroadcast on Sunday, January 10th at 10pm EST.