Wednesday, January 30, 2019

SCARLET: Psychological Suspense with primarily female readers in mind

From Shelf Awareness:

Mystery publisher and bookseller Otto Penzler and Pegasus Books are jointly creating Scarlet, a company that will focus on publishing psychological suspense "with primarily female readers in mind." Scarlet will publish six to eight novels its first year, starting in Winter 2020, and will be distributed by Norton, which distributes both Penzler Publishing and Pegasus Books.

Luisa Smith, buying director of Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, CA, will be editor-in-chief (while continuing at Book Passage). Nat Sobel of Sobel-Weber Associates, the agent for many authors in this category, will act as consultant. Jessica Case of Pegasus Books will work closely with the other Scarlet personnel in acquisition, marketing and publicity.

Smith commented: "Suspenseful stories, unique perspectives, and quality writing all play important roles in my favorite books and we hope to find these elements in every Scarlet title. After years of promoting the books I love within the bookstore, I now look forward to discovering new voices that my fellow booksellers will enjoy sharing with their favorite mystery readers."
"Psychological suspense is an exciting sub-genre of mystery fiction that has enjoyed a long history of success, both critically and commercially," Penzler said. "The opportunity to work with Claiborne Hancock and Jessica Case of Pegasus Books was too enticing to pass up. When Luisa Smith agreed to join us in this joint venture, I was immediately convinced that we had a great team that would prove to be successful."
"Over the past two decades, Otto has taught me more about crime fiction than I could ever imagine so it's especially exciting now to partner on Scarlet," Claiborne Hancock of Pegasus Books commented. "Psychological suspense that features complex women--whether they are the protagonist or the villain or somewhere in between--is one of the most dynamic categories in popular fiction right now, so the time is right for an imprint dedicated to this genre."

Jessica Case said, "This genre in particular allows for so much room to explore complex characters in depth while crafting tight and compelling plots. Readers who gravitate toward this genre are always looking for new ways to be challenged and surprised."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: Catnip Mouse: Defense Attorney

MURDER AT THE SUPER BOWL & Other Football Crime Fiction

There's lots of real crime surrounding the Super Bowl: drugs, money, egos, etc. Fodder for the crime writer. So in 'honor' of Sunday's Super Bowl Game, I've updated my short lists of Super Bowl and other Football Mysteries. This is in no way a definitive list--just some football crime fiction for you to enjoy in case you're not watching the Super Bowl! As always, I welcome additions!

If you're interested in other Sports Mysteries and essays on Football Mysteries, Mystery Readers Journal has had several Sports Mysteries issues. The last Sports Mysteries Issue of MRJ was Volume 25:4 (Winter 2009-2010). Available in Hardcopy and .pdf download

Super Bowl Mysteries

The Hidden Key by George Harmon Coxe
Super-Dude by John Craig
Cover-Up: Mystery at the Super Bowl by John Feinstein (YA)
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris
Paydirt by Paul Levine
The Last Super Bowl by Robin Moore & David Harper
4th and Fixed by Reggie Rivers
Murder at the Super Bowl by Fran Tarkenton and Herb Resnicow
Life's Work by Jonathan Valin
Killerbowl by Gary K. Wolf
Other Football Mysteries (not British Football, of which there are many titles)

The Professor by Robert Bailey
Rough and Tumble by Mark Bavaro
Pass Judgment by Jerry Brewer
Sweeper by Steve Bruce 
Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben
Coliseum by Barney Cohen
Et Tu Brady by Joseph Collum
Day of the Ram by William Campbell Gault
Murder at Cleaver Stadium by Douglas Lee Gibboney
Quarterback Trap by Dallas Gorham
Double Reverse; Ruffians by Tim Green
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Bleeding Maize and Blue by Susan Holtzer
Crown of All Virtues by Reece Kepler
The Prophet by Michael Koryta
Two-Minute Warning by George LaFountaine
Bump and Run by Mike Lupica
The Draft by Wil Mara
Dead Ball Foul by Kayla McGrady
A Cardinal Offense by Ralph McInerny
Parker's Blood by William Miller
The Jook by Gary Phillips
Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan
Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt
Marked Man; Red Card by Mel Stein
A Touch of Death by Charles Williams

Short Stories:  The Mighty Johns edited by Otto Penzler

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (winner of the 2011 Edgar for Best Fact Crime)

Monday, January 28, 2019


MALICE DOMESTIC announced the nominees for the Agatha Awards! The Agatha Awards will be presented on May 4, 2019 during Malice Domestic 31. Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Best Contemporary Novel 
Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin (Witness Impulse)
Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best Historical Novel 
Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
The Gold Pawn by LA Chandlar (Kensington)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel 
A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
Little Comfort by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
What Doesn't Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell (Level Best Books)
Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin's)

Best Short Story 
"All God's Sparrows" by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"A Postcard for the Dead" by Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
"Bug Appetit" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"The Case of the Vanishing Professor" by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) "English 398: Fiction Workshop" by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Best Young Adult Mystery 
Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Henry Holt)
A Side of Sabotage by C.M. Surrisi (Carolrhoda Books)

Best Nonfiction 
Mastering Plot Twists by Jane Cleland (Writer's Digest Books)
Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J Cohen (Orange Grove Press)
Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox (Random House)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)
Wicked Women of Ohio by Jane Ann Turzillo (History Press)

Saturday, January 26, 2019


The Minnesota Book Award Finalists were announced today. Congrats to all finalists, especially those in Genre fiction. Congrats to all.


Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Books)
Leave No Trace, by Mindy Mejia (Atria Books)
The Shadows We Hide, by Allen Eskens (Mulholland Books)
The Voice Inside by Brian Freeman (Thomas & Mercer)

To see all Categories and Finalists, go HERE.

Cartoon of the Day: Dogs & Books

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

NO EXIT (from rewrites): Guest Post by Taylor Adams

NO EXIT (from rewrites)

Writing a book is a long, strange, complicated process. Some days are euphoric. Some are dismal treks. Most fall somewhere in the middle. This writing process won’t work for everyone (heck, it doesn’t even always work for me) – but here is how I wrote my novel NO EXIT, over the course of roughly 18 months and 1.5 million gallons of coffee.


During time I probably should have been focusing on my day job, I combined various story elements into a mixture that excited me enough to believe in the project. In this case, it was “highway rest stop” plus “blizzard” plus “kidnapped child in an animal crate” plus “what would you do?” I was admittedly pretty unsure if the premise could sustain a full-length novel at first.


For a few weeks or even months, I regurgitated ideas, sequences, and subplots to fill the story out in an “outline” format, which involved tons of bullet points, abbreviations, and sentence fragments. Outlines are a critical step because they allow me to get my brain around the narrative’s basic shape. I like to work on it until I have about five pages (give or take), and at that stage, I’m fairly thrilled about the story’s potential, ready to write it, and overall, quite optimistic.


Wherein all of that optimism is obliterated like an insect against the windshield of reality. Writing a first draft sucks. The key – for me – is to not lose momentum. Don’t look back. Don’t revise (yet). Just write that awful thing all the way to its bitter, poorly-judged end. It’s important to just get something down on paper, so you have a lump of clay to work with. In my case, after two-ish months of my obligatory 1,000 words a day, I had a NO EXIT first draft that was about 99% crap, and 1% OK.


The second-worst part of the process. But for the second draft – and every draft after – I always start with a fresh Word document and rewrite every word from page one. Often, I’ll have two Word docs open on my laptop – the prior draft, and the current draft. I do this because it forces me to think (and rethink) about every single word. As tempting as they can be, Word’s copy-paste commands are my mortal enemy, because nothing I write is ever good enough in its first few iterations. But draft by draft, as I run the story through this rewriting filter, it grows steadily, incrementally better.

5) DRAFTS 3-7

Somewhere, many months into the process, a beautiful tipping point occurs. I like to think it’s the exact moment when the book transitions from 51% crap and 49% OK to become 49% crap and 51% OK. It’s genuinely thrilling to see the story that I’ve envisioned months ago finally take form. It keeps me going.


Here’s where it gets fun. Once I’ve achieved a workable framework of a functioning story, I’m able to layer in the flourishes. I can really hone the characters, the dialogue, the small beats, and make the big ones hit harder (this is also the part of the process where I actually feel like a writer and not a captive word processor). Every day, I’m able to solve a new problem, or add a nifty new spin to a scene. With NO EXIT, much of this time was spent sharpening the action beats, fleshing out the atmospheric details of the rest stop, and adding new elements of uncertainty and tension. Key character beats, such as Darby’s text messages to her mother, also came in here – not to mention a fair bit of logic fixes (it took months to make the spatial geography of a certain plot twist work, around page 200 – but what a blissful eureka moment that was).


Beta readers are invaluable for locating all of the things in my blind spots. From test reads of NO EXIT, I learned about a multitude of pacing issues in the novel’s first half and ended up cutting a full 5 pages of bloat from the first chapter alone. This step is also the best way test how readers will respond emotionally to the characters, so I had plenty of guidance in making Darby’s plight sympathetic and her errors forgivable (nothing is worse than a thriller protagonist who annoys the reader!). Also… apparently, I’m guilty of heinously overusing the word “chatter.”

At the end of this grueling process… well, there’s still a lot of work to do. NO EXIT underwent numerous edits and copyedits, but with every pass through the eyes of people more experienced and detail-oriented than I, it emerged a better and more polished piece of storytelling.

Certainly, this is hard stuff, particularly during the early drafts when story lacks shape and direction. My advice: if you’re dying to tell your story, work on it every hour you can spare. Keep writing and rewriting. Every day. No excuses.

It’s worth it.

Taylor Adams graduated from Eastern Washington University with the prestigious Edmund G. Yarwood Award. His directorial work has screened at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival. He lives in Washington State.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sign of the Day: Books

MWA Edgar Award Nominees

Mystery Writers of America announced the Nominees for the 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2018. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at the Gala Banquet, on April 25, 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Congratulations to all!

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard (Blackstone Publishing)
House Witness by Mike Lawson (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
A Gambler’s Jury by Victor Methos (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (Hachette Book Group - Mulholland)
Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne (Penguin Random House – Hogarth)
A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (Penguin Random House – Berkley)

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper (Seventh Street Books)
The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut (HarperCollins Publishers - Ecco)
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs (Simon & Schuster - Touchstone)
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (HarperCollins Publishers - Ecco)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
Under My Skin by Lisa Unger (Harlequin – Park Row Books)

Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge First and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler (W.W. Norton & Company - Liveright)
Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood, and Betrayal by Jonathan Green (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure by Carl Hoffman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Penguin Random House - Viking)
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)
The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia by Alex Perry (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland Publishing)
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
Mark X: Who Killed Huck Finn's Father? by Yasuhiro Takeuchi (Taylor & Francis - Routledge)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)

“Rabid – A Mike Bowditch Short Story” by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
“Paranoid Enough for Two” – The Honorable Traitors by John Lutz (Kensington Publishing)
“Ancient and Modern” – Bloody Scotland by Val McDermid (Pegasus Books)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor (Dell Magazines)
“The Sleep Tight Motel” – Dark Corners Collection by Lisa Unger (Amazon Publishing)

Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
Zap! by Martha Freeman (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective by A.B. Greenfield (Holiday House)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Company – Henry Holt BFYR)
Otherwood by Pete Hautman (Candlewick Press)
Charlie & Frog: A Mystery by Karen Kane (Disney Publishing Worldwide – Disney Hyperion)
Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)

Contagion by Erin Bowman (HarperCollins Children’s Books - HarperCollins)
Blink by Sasha Dawn (Lerner Publishing Group – Carolrhoda Lab)
After the Fire by Will Hill (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Fire)
A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers)
Sadie by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)


“The Box” - Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Teleplay by Luke Del Tredici (NBC/Universal TV)
“Season 2, Episode 1” – Jack Irish, Teleplay by Andrew Knight (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Mystery Road, Teleplay by Michaeley O’Brien (Acorn TV)
“My Aim is True” – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Kevin Wade (CBS Eye Productions)
“The One That Holds Everything” – The Romanoffs, Teleplay by Matthew Weiner & Donald Joh (Amazon Prime Video)


“How Does He Die This Time?” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Nancy Novick (Dell Magazines)

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur Books)
A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington Publishing)
Bone on Bone by Julia Keller (Minotaur Books)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier (Minotaur Books)

Monday, January 21, 2019

BARRY AWARD Nominations 2019


Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the Barry Award Nominees. Winners will be announced on October 31 at the Dallas Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies. Congratulations to all! 

The 2019 Barry Award Nominations
The Awards will be presented at the Dallas Bouchercon on Thursday, October 31, 2019 during the Opening Ceremonies.

Best Novel
Lou Berney, NOVEMBER ROAD (Morrow)  

Michael Connelly, DARK SACRED NIGHT (Little, Brown)
Allen Eskens, THE SHADOW WE HIDE (Mulholland)
Craig Johnson, DEPTH OF WINTER (Viking)
Mindy Mejia, LEAVE NO TRACE (Atria)
Abir Mukherjee, A NECESSARY EVIL (Pegasus)

Best First Novel
Oyinkan Braithwaite, MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER (Doubleday)
Karen Cleveland, NEED TO KNOW (Ballantine) 

John Copenhaver, DODGING AND BURNING (Pegasus) 
Caz Frear, SWEET LITTLE LIES (Harper)
James A. McLaughlin, BEARSKIN (Ecco)
C. J. Tudor, THE CHALK MAN (Crown)

Best Paperback Original 

Christine Carbo, A SHARP SOLITUDE (Atria) 
David Mark, DEAD PRETTY (Blue Rider Press) 
Dervla McTiernan, THE RUIN (Penguin) 
Sherry Thomas, THE HOLLOW OF FEAR (Berkley) 
Emma Viskic, RESURRECTION BAY (Pushkin Vertigo)

Best Thriller

Jack Carr, THE TERMINAL LIST (Atria)
Dan Fesperman, SAFE HOUSES (Knopf)
Mick Herron, LONDON RULES (Soho)
Anthony Horowitz, FOREVER AND A DAY (Harper)
Nick Petrie, LIGHT IT UP (Putnam)
James Swain, THE KING TIDES (Thomas & Mercer) 




Saturday, January 26, 2019 
10:30 AM-1 PM, Rockridge Library, 5366 College Ave., Oakland (parking in the area, or 5 minutes to BART) 

For all authors and would-be authors, whether traditional- or self-published: a workshop on social media, newsletters, websites, and more—all the essentials of your digital outreach.

Maddee James (xuni web design) and Zoƫ Quinton (literary strategist)
will help you figure out how to:
  • make the best use of your social media time 
  • focus on your target audience 
  • choose the essentials for your website to attract readers (and sell books!) 
  • write a great newsletter that makes people want to open it 
  • join exciting group promotion ideas understand and use affiliate links to discover the basic principles of branding 
All this and more!

Plus, nibbles & coffee with your fellow writers.

Free and open to all.

Vintage Reading Poster of the Day

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cartoon of the Day: How to Deal with Too May Books

Love this answer to Marie Kondo from Tom Gauld:

10 Weird Things About Edgar Allan Poe: Happy Birthday, Edgar!

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe, born January 19, 1809

For all the Poe-aholics out there comes this wonderful post from Matthew Mercier at the Tor website.    

10 Weird Things about Edgar Allan Poe.  Check them all out, including #1-his love of cats.

He loved Cats. Really.
Contrary to the famous and nasty depiction of a man gouging the eye of a poor feline in “The Black Cat,” Poe adored animals. His own kitty’s name was Catterina.

So raise a glass of Absinthe.. Nevermore..

Friday, January 18, 2019

Mystery Bytes: Quirky & Interesting Mystery & Book-related Links on the Internet

Here's my Round-Up of interesting and sometimes quirky mystery-related links on the Internet. Just wanted to share in case you missed these. Click on the link to read the entire story.

A Brief and Incomplete Survey of Edgar Allan Poes in Pop CultureQuoth the Raven, Many, Many Times . . . LitHub.
What’s the first image that pops into your head when you think of Edgar Allan Poe? 

Five Bookshops that Globetrotting Bibliophiles should put on their Bucket List. ABC News (Au)
"When you enter a bookshop you discover a kind of country — a little world — and you can find different aspects of the history of the world, and also of the present time."

10 British Crime Shows You Can Watch on Netflix. Huffington Post.
Crime dramas with a strong mystery at their heart seem perfect for the Netflix business model of getting viewers hooked on stories they can’t stop watching.

Before Lisbeth Salander: The couple that invented Nordic noir with the Martin Beck series.

Bleak landscapes and brooding detectives with personal demons are par for the course in books and TV now because of Swedish writers Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

Mothers and Daughters and Psychological Thrillers. CrimeReads.

The perilous territory of mother-daughter relationships is often explored in crime fiction, especially in psychological thrillers. This month’s Freefall by Jessica Barry tells the story of mother Maggie Carpenter whose estranged daughter, Ally, is supposedly killed in a private plane crash. As Ally’s body is not found with the plane, Maine-based Maggie sets out for Ally’s home in San Diego to try and reconnect if not with Ally herself than with the new life she has built in California. As in Freefall, in the books below mothers and daughters are trying to reconnect, protect each other, and reckon with their formative bond.

Stuck with Them: An Interview with Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of My Sister, the Serial Killer. LA Review of Books.  
OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE has received recognition as a spoken-word artist and been a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She also sketched the cover art for the Nigerian edition of her debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer.

The Best Daphne du Maurier Books. Five Books.
Daphne du Maurier is one of the most overlooked writers of the twentieth century, says Oxford University's Laura Varnam. As Rebecca celebrates its eightieth anniversary and du Maurier enjoys a critical renaissance, Varnam explores five works that best highlight this novelist's sheer range and brilliance—from biography and fiction to history and horror.

Travellers Staying at this Place in Scotland Take Turns Running the Bookshop Downstairs.
At The Open Book, in Wigtown, Scotland, you can fulfill your dream of running a bookstore. The unique Airbnb flat costs just 57 USD a night, but it comes with a stipulation: renters also work at the bookshop on the first floor, doing everything that a regular bookshop owner might do.

Best-selling Author Sherrilyn Kenyon tells fans she suspects her husband poisoned her. Yahoo Entertainment.  
Having written dozens of fantasy novels, best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon knows a thing or two about crafting the twists and turns of a thrilling plot. Unfortunately, it seems that she’s also now versed in what it’s like to be at the center of one. According to a newsletter she sent to fans earlier this week, she was allegedly the victim of someone trying to poison her.

The Hunt for Nazi Loot still sitting on Library Shelves. NYT.
The hunt for the millions of books stolen by the Nazis during World War II has been pursued quietly and diligently for decades, but it has been largely ignored, even as the search for lost art drew headlines. The plundered volumes seldom carried the same glamour as the looted paintings, which were often masterpieces worth millions of dollars.

The Best Agatha Christie Books of All Times. Real Simple.
Throughout her lifetime, Agatha Christie published more than 75 novels and introduced generations of readers to the beloved detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Since, her books have been adapted into movies (including, most recently, Murder on the Orient Express) and TV shows. While it's impossible to pick only 10 best titles out of her large body of work, below is a list of the ten essential novels that every Christie fan or newbie must read.