Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mint Julep Mysteries: Mint Julep Day

Today is National Mint Julep Day, so make a Mint Julep and read a Mint Julep mystery! Who knew there were Mint Julep mysteries? Want some chocolate with that? Make some Mint Julep Brownies!

Mint Julep Mysteries

Sharman Jean Burson: Mint Julep Mysteries Trilogy
C C Dragon: Mint Julep Murder
Angie Fox: The Mint Julep Murders
Carolyn G. Hart: Mint Julep Murder
Sara Rosett: Mint Juleps, Mayhem, and Murder

Friday, May 29, 2020

SHRIEKS IN THE NIGHT: Guest Post by Camille Minichino

Camille Minichino:
Shrieks in the Night

Do you know the difference between terror and horror, and who gave us that distinction?

I was one of the last to know, oblivious until last month when I completed a class in Gothic Literature. I’m halfway through an MFA program in Creative Writing, and this intense course got wedged into my schedule as a “required elective,” no one noticing the oxymoron.

It turns out it was Ann Radcliffe, in an 1826 article published posthumously, “On the Supernatural in Poetry,” who gave us the distinction. Briefly, in my less than eloquent paraphrasing, she advised us: terror is a sense of fear and anxiety that something horrible might happen, but you turn around and there’s nothing there; horror is the shock that comes when face to face with the dreaded monster.

If Radcliffe epitomizes terror in her novel, The Italian, Matthew Lewis is the master of horror, author of the shocking and gory novel, The Monk (1796). In it, you’ll have your fill of real horror, in the form of depravity, torture, and mob violence.

Radcliffe wraps up any loose supernatural ends with a real-world explanation, whereas Lewis leaves us with specters, mystic rites, and demonic forces.

Critical reviewer Samuel Taylor Coleridge ripped apart The Monk. The review reads in part:

“We trust, however, that satiety will banish what good sense should have prevented; and that, wearied with fiends, incomprehensible characters, with shrieks, murders, and subterraneous dungeons, the public will learn, by the multitude of the manufacturers, with how little expense of thought or imagination this species of composition is manufactured.”

In spite of this condemnation, or maybe because of it, The Monk was a huge success, a best seller.

Lucky for us, we get to hear what Stephen King, the modern day Goth-er, has to say. In Danse Macabre, he adds a third element to terror and horror: revulsion. King explains the hierarchy thus:

“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The readings and assignments in the Gothic Literature class nearly did me in with their volume and intensity, but in the end, I’m glad I experienced it. There’s hardly a better way to gain a sense of the foremothers and forefathers of the darker writings of some of my favorite authors: Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Martin Cruz Smith, who occasionally goes off his beaten path of police procedural.

You may be familiar with my attachment to the writers Margaret Grace, Ada Madison, Jean Flowers, and most recently Elizabeth Logan. They all write cozies. Not a lot of fear, very little dread, some suspense, and definitely no horror or revulsion. So what’s the story?

Under all these pen names, I may write cozies, but that doesn’t mean I read them.

From time to time, I try to write characters like Dexter or Rosemary’s baby Adrian/Andrew, or Mrs. Danvers, or even Mr. Ripley, with his sometimes charming side.

So far, it hasn’t worked out for me. It’s one thing to immerse myself in these characters for a few hundred pages; it’s another to live with one, to stay inside his or her twisted head for the months it takes to write a novel.

After this class, however, immersed in the highly emotional world of crypts, omens, curses, nightmares, hauntings, and evil in the asylum, I’m ready to take on the project again.

Watch, and listen for the scream!

Camille Minichino received her Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, New York City. She is currently on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and teaches writing throughout the Bay Area. Camille is Past President and a member of NorCal Mystery Writers of America, NorCal Sisters in Crime, and the California Writers Club. She has written more than 25 mystery novels.    The Periodic Table Mysteries, featuring retired physicist Gloria Lamerino,set in Revere, Massachusetts; 
The Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace), featuring miniaturist Gerry Porter and her preteen granddaughter in a northern California town; 
The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries, featuring a math professor at a small New England college; 
The Postmistress Mysteries (as Jean Flowers), featuring Cassie Miller, postmistress in a western Massachusetts town; 
The Alaskan Diner Mysteries (as Elizabeth Logan), featuring Charlotte "Charlie" Cooke, and her sleuthing crew in a fictitious Alaska town  The first Alaskan Diner Mystery MOUSSE AND MURDER was released in May.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


More news from our neighbors to the North.

The Bony Blithe Award 2020
The Bloody Words Light Mystery Award

Bony Blithe is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Bloody Words Light Mystery Award, a literary award for books that make us smile.
Liz Freeland for Murder in Midtown (Kensington Books)
Murder in Midtown, the second book in Liz’s Louise Faulk historical mystery series, is set in 1913 New York City. The story brings together the highest and lowest of NYC’s denizens as Louise works to solve a particularly nasty murder, all the while risking her newly acquired position as a novice NYC policewoman.
The Bony Blithe is an annual Canadian award that celebrates traditional, feel-good mysteries announce this year’s winner. Now in its sixth year, the award is for a “mystery book that makes us smile” and includes everything from laugh-out-loud to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore – in short, books that are fun to read.
Because of Covid-19, the Bloody Words mini-con/Bony Blithe Award gala was cancelled. However, the mini-con/award gala will be back next year at the High Park Club in Toronto with a double award presentation: the 2020 award to Liz and the 2021 award.
Twitter: @bonyblithe

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Not sure if this statistic will be accurate for the Shelter-in-Place situation, but in the past 53% of Americans barbecue on Memorial Day weekend? Will you be barbecuing?

I posted my updated Memorial Day Crime Fiction list yesterday, so I thought I'd update my Barbecue Mysteries list, too. There are so many ways one can murder someone at a barbecue, from the sauce to the skewers to the grill, not to mention the tiny wires on the barbecue brush (true crime!). Here's an updated short list of Barbecue Mysteries. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles!

Barbecue Mysteries

Delicious and Suspicious, Hickory Smoked Homicide, Finger Lickin' Dead, Rubbed Out by Riley Adams  (Elizabeth Craig Spann) - The Memphis BBQ Mystery Series
Bad Move by Linwood Barclay
Murder, Basted and Barbecued by Constance Turner
Murder Well-Done by Claudia Bishop
Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette
Several of the recent Dan Rhodes books by Bill Crider
Murder at the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival by Gene Davis
The Grilling Season by Diane Mott Davidson
Memphis Ribs by Gerald Duff
Murder Can Singe Your Old Flame by Selma Eichler
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
The Politics of Barbecue by Blake Fontenay
Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber
City of Saviors by Rachel Howzell Hall
Barbecue, Bourbon and Bullets by M.E. Harmon
Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester Himes
The Big Barbecue by Dorothy B. Hughes
Close to Home by Cara Hunter
The Sheriff and..  (series) by D. R. Meredith
Hush My Mouth by Cathy Pickens
Say You're Sorry by Michael Robotham
The King is Dead by Sarah Shankman
Stiffs and Swine by J.B. Stanley
Revenge of the Barbecue Queens by Lou Jane Temple
Murder at the Barbecue by Liz Turner
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Barbecue by A. E.H. Veenman
Death on a Platter by Elaine Viets
A Bad Day for Barbecue by Jonathan Woods
Books, Barbecue and Murder by Lori Woods

Short Stories: "Gored" by Bill Crider in Murder Most Delicious
Young Readers: The Barbecue Thief by Starike

Want a little chocolate on the barbie this weekend? 
Check out recipes on my other blog:

S'mores on the Grill  
Savory Chocolate Barbecue Sauces
Chocolate Ancho Chile Rub
Cocoa Spiced Salmon Rub 
Scharffen Berger Cacao Nib Rub for Tri Tip
Red White & Blue Brownie Stars 
Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream Pie

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Memorial Day aka Decoration Day is a day of remembrance of those men and women who who fell protecting us, of those who didn't come home. Many people go to cemeteries and memorials on the last Monday in May, and there's a tradition to fly the flag at half mast. Memorial Day in the U.S. is part of a three day holiday weekend. Many think of this weekend as the beginning of Summer, a time for Barbecues, the Beach, the Cabin, and S'mores. Unfortunately, because of the Corona Virus, most of the beaches and campgrounds are closed, and there won't be any parades, as we all social distance. But even though you're SIP, it's still Memorial Day, and you can celebrate and remember by reading some of these Mysteries set during the Memorial Day Weekend.

But in memory of all who served their country and didn't come back, here's an updated list of Mysteries set during Memorial Day Weekend. Let me know if I've forgotten any titles. You may also want to check out my Veterans Day Mystery List.

Memorial Day Mysteries

Death is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons
Last Man Standing by David Baldacci
The Twenty Three by Linwood Barclay
Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz
The Decoration Memorial Day War by David H. Brown
Memorial Day by Sandra Thompson Brown and Duane Brown
Flowers for Bill O'Reilly: Memorial Day by Max Allan Collins
Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors
One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer Fleming (not technically Memorial day, but it fits the theme)
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
Memorial Day by Harry Shannon
Beside Still Waters by Debbie Viguie
Who Killed the Neanderthal by Cheryl Zelenka

Children's Mysteries:

Trixie Belden: The Mystery of the Memorial Day Fire by Kahryn Kenny
Sam's Top Secret Journal: Memorial Day by Sean Adelman, Siri Bardarson, Dianna Border & Andrea Hurst

Rosemary is for Remembrance. Check out the recipe for Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies on my other blog:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Reply All


D.P. Lyle:
Who the Heck is Jake Longly? 

Jake Longly is the protagonist of my comedic thriller series (DEEP SIX, A-LIST, SUNSHINE STATE, RIGGED). He’s an ex-pro baseball pitcher with an overpowering fastball until a rotator cuff injury ended his career. He then purchased Captain Rocky’s, a bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

His major life goals now are running his bar and chasing bikinis. Worthy goals for Jake. His father Ray feels otherwise. Ray has some murky background in the US military world of black ops and now runs a P.I. firm in Gulf Shores. He can’t understand why Jake won’t work for him and is constantly trying to drag Jake into his world.


Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks.
Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment.

Jake has an ex-wife. who he affectionately calls Tammy The Insane. We met her at the beginning of DEEP SIX, Jake #1. Jake has been roped into doing a stake-out of an adulterous woman who happens to live a few doors down from Tammy and her now husband attorney Walter Horton. Tammy takes issue with Jake being near her home.


I recognized the grating voice even before I looked up into the face of my ex. Tammy’s the name; crazy’s the game. I’d lost four good years listening to it. Mostly whining and complaining, sometimes, like now, in a full-on rage. She had a knack for anger. Seemed to need it to get through the day.
She gripped the five iron with both hands, knuckles paled, cocked up above her shoulder, ready to smash something else. If history offered any lesson it was that she might graduate from the side window to the windshield and so on until she got to me. Tammy didn’t have brakes. Or a reverse gear.
Cute according to everyone, except maybe me, she was a beach-blond with bright blue eyes, a magic smile, and a perfect nose. Some plastic surgeons were gifted. Expensive, but gifted. I knew. I’d paid for the nose.
But cute Tammy had a short fuse. She could go from zero to C4 in a nanosecond.

Jake has a girlfriend. Nicole Jamison. Insanely beautiful, but no bubble-headed bleach blonde. Not even close. Smart, clever, tough, and she doesn’t suffer fools well. They met the same night Tammy The Insane shattered Jake’s Mustang window.


I raised one hand to shield my eyes from the headlamp glare. The car, a shiny new red SL Mercedes, rolled to a stop. The deeply-tinted window slid down, revealing a young woman. Her straight blond hair hung like silk curtains to her shoulders and framed a face that could grace the cover of Vogue. Definitely not what I expected.
“That was interesting,” she said.
“You saw that, huh?”
She laughed. Soft, almost musical. “Hard to miss a woman beating the hell out of a classic Mustang with a golf club.”
I looked back up the street, from where she had come. “You live around here I take it?”
She brushed a wayward strand of her from her face. “Just back around the bend.”
“You on a beer run or something?”
Another soft laugh. “Heading out to see a friend.”
“A little late, isn’t it?”
“He’s a bartender. Doesn’t close up until one. But he’s not nearly as interesting as this.”
“Bet he’d be happy to hear that.”
She shrugged. “He’d get over it.”
I reeled in my first response—that a woman as beautiful as her probably didn’t have to worry too much about pissing him off. No one would put her on the road for being late. Instead, I smiled.
“So what was that about?” she asked.
“My ex. She’s insane.”
“I’m Jake,”

Jake has a best friend—-Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. Big doesn’t cover it. He’s six-five and 275, with unruly red hair and crazy computer skills. He also knows how to handle any confrontation.

From A-LIST:

“Good day gentlemen,” he said, smiling. A true salesman. Probably would do well with aluminum siding. Or as a midway barker.
We introduced ourselves, Ray saying we were P.I.s and needed to ask a few questions to which Rag Man said, ““I don’t got to talk to you.” His head swiveled up and down the street. Like he didn’t want to be seen talking to us.
“No, you don’t,” I said. “But we’d appreciate it.”
“Go appreciate something else,” he said.
“It’s about your business,” Ray said.
“I ain’t got no business.” Another glance up the street. “I suggest you move along. Get out of my face. Might not be healthy for you white boys to hang around here. Know what I’m saying?”
I love watching Pancake work. It’s a true work of art. Mostly he’s a gentle giant, wouldn’t hurt anyone. Even go out of his way to avoid trouble. Then there were times he did stuff that made you stare in disbelief. Even if you’d seen it before.
This time, he simply grabbed Rag Man’s arm and tossed him into the alley. Just like that. Like a kid having a tantrum and tossing a doll across the room. Rag Man rolled and bounced a couple of times but to his credit quickly scrambled to his feet. Pancake was on him. He poked his chest with a finger. “No, I don’t know what you’re saying.”
“Hey dude, you can’t do that.”
“I’m just getting started.” Pancake palmed his chest, pressing him against the wall.

Despite Jake’s resolve, he is repeatedly dragged into Ray’s business, a place where things go sideways all too often. Jump into Jake’s world and grab a copy of RIGGED, his latest adventure. Lot’s of crime, craziness, and fun.
DP Lyle, Award-winning Author, Lecturer, and Story Consultant Author of the Jake Longly and Cain/Harper thriller series  
D. P. Lyle is the Amazon #1 Bestselling; Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Award-winning; and Edgar(2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, and USA Today Best Book(2) Award-nominated author of 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction. He hosts the Crime Fiction Writer’s Blog and the Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction podcast series. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.
Criminal Mischief Podcast Series: 
Crime & Science Radio: 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

2020 ARTHUR ELLIS AWARDS for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing

Crime Writers of Canada just announced the Winners of the 2020 Arthur Ellis Awards. Congratulations to all!

Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo with a $1000 prize 
Michael Christie, Greenwood, MacClelland & Stewart

The Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Maureen Jennings with a $500 prize 
Philip Elliott, Nobody Move, Into the Void Press

Best Novella sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $200 prize 
Wayne Arthurson, The Red Chesterfield, University of Calgary Press

Best Short Story sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $300 prize
Peter Sellers, Closing Doors, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

Best French Book
Andrée Michaud, Tempêtes, Éditions Québec Amériques

Best Juvenile or YA Book sponsored by Shaftesbury with a $500 prize
Tom Ryan, Keep This to Yourself, Albert Whitman & Company

Best Nonfiction Book
Charlotte Gray, Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island

The Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript sponsored by Dundurn Press with a $500 prize
Liz Rachel Walker, The Dieppe Letters

Cartoon of the Day: Writer's Life

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

FATHER'S DAY MYSTERIES: Father's Day, Fathers & Sons, Fathers and Daughters in Crime Fiction

Father's Day. My father passed away several years ago, but I still think about him every day. He encouraged and supported me throughout allmy many careers and educational pursuits, and he always told me I could accomplish anything and succeed in whatever I chose to do.

My father was the ultimate reader. His idea of a good vacation was sitting in a chair reading a good mystery. It didn't mattered where he was, the book took him miles away.

So many times when I finish a book, I say to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." It always makes me sad to remember I can't. My father engendered my love of mysteries through his collection of mystery novels and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. I like to think he's up there somewhere in a chair surrounded by books and reading a good mystery.

Here's to you, Dad, on Father's Day!

The following are updated lists! As always let me know any titles that you think should be included.


Father’s Day by John Calvin Batchelor
Father’s Day by Rudolph Engelman
Father's Day: A Detective Joe Guerry Story by Tippie Rosemarie Fulton
Father’s Day Keith Gilman 
Dear Old Dead by Jane Haddam
The Father’s Day Murder by Lee Harris
Day of Reckoning by Kathy Herman
Dead Water by Victoria Houston
Father’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier
On Father's Day by Megan Norris
Father’s Day by Alan Trustman

Murder for Father, edited by Martin Greenberg (short stories)
"Father's Day" by Patti Abbott --short story at Spinetingler
Collateral Damage: A Do Some Damage Collection  e-book of Father's Day themed short stories.
"Where's Your Daddy?" by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Let me know if I missed any titles.

And a very short list of Crime Fiction that focuses on Fathers and Sons and Fathers and Daughters. Have a favorite Father / Son Father/Daughter Mystery? Post below in comments.


Carriage Trade by Stephen Birmingham
His Father's Son by Tony Black
Her Father's Secret by Sara Blaedel
The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
Secret Father by James Carroll
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
Hot Plastic by Peter Craig
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne 
The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron
Lars and Little Olduvai by Keith Spencer Felton
Unsub by Meg Gardner   
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
King of Lies by John Hart
Damage by Josephine Hart
The Good Father by Noah Hawley
1922 by Stephen King
A Perfect Spy by John LeCarre 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh 
The Son by Jo Nesbo
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Roman Hat Mystery; other novels by Ellery Queen (Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay)
Paperback Original by Will Rhode
The Senior Sleuths: Dead in Bed by Marcia Rosen
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
The Father by Anton Swenson

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Rearranging My Bookshelves

REVENGE IS SWEET, COZY, AND FATAL: Guest Post by Kaye George

Kaye George:
Revenge is Sweet, Cozy, and Fatal

Thanks so much for having me on Mystery Fanfare, Janet! You’re such a good friend to so many writers.

I’d like for your readers to know about my new cozy series, especially if they were fans of the Fat Cat mysteries published by the late, lamented Berkley Prime Crime. I used the author name Janet Cantrell for those and they were extremely popular. In fact, they’re still selling 4 years later. Also, I still get emails and messages asking if there will be another book!

Sadly, no. For technical reasons, I can’t write any more of them. I can’t use the term Fat Cat nor the name Janet Cantrell. But I CAN come up with another series using a large cat and recipes. So that’s what I’m doing.

The Vintage Sweets mysteries take place in picturesque Fredericksburg TX, in the heart of both Hill Country and Wine Country, mid-Texas, west of Austin. When I lived in the Austin area, it was a favorite place to visit, and to spend long weekends touring wineries and gift shops.

My goal is to give my readers this experience, adding in the odd murder or two.

The new cat is named Nigel. He’s a rival to Quincy, the Fat Cat. But while Quincy was a chow hound (so to speak, crossing species a bit) put on a diet and rebelling against that, Nigel is a genuinely large feline, a Maine coon. It’s an interesting breed, the only domesticated cat native to North America, native to the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat. (Do you know YOUR state cat? I don’t.) (Okay, I had to look it up. Most states don’t have one! How careless of them.

Nigel was inspired by the cat my son’s family had for many years. The kids named him Friendship because he was as big as a ship. They have almost a puppy-dog personality and they make their own unusual sounds. From inquiries I’ve made online, their owners are thoroughly besotted with them. I have a long list of people to thank who’ve told me Maine coon stories. I’ve never actually been owned by one, so the anecdotes of others have been great.

Here’s a little anecdote about the perils of publishing. Nigel was a gray striped cat. I even purchased a professional picture of one to use in my publicity. However, when I saw the cover, I discovered that Nigel was fated to be a black and white tuxedo cat. I quickly rewrote the galley proofs and tucked away the purchased photo. At least he didn’t lose any of his awful personality!

Back to the setting, the town—it wasn’t hard to decide where to locate Tally Holt’s shop. (Do you like her name? It’s supposed to give a faint echo of Tally Ho, off we go!) There’s one main street since it’s a rather small town, so that’s where Tally’s Olde Tyme Sweets is located. (Don’t blame me for the spelling. That was Tally’s idea, so it would be noticed and remembered. I’m not crazy about it. I have to look up the spelling every time I type it.)

Tally’s best friend, Yolanda Bella, is a big player in the books also, and has a gift basket shop next door. When you read the books, you’ll see how that was engineered. Yolanda’s place is called Bella’s Baskets. They have a lot of opportunity to combine their products, and to also include those of the nearby wine shop.

I’ve had such fun writing these! I hope my readers have as much fun reading them.

Kaye George is a national-bestselling, multiple-award-winning author of pre-history, traditional, and cozy mysteries (her latest is the Vintage Sweets series from Lyrical Press). She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Smoking Guns chapter (Knoxville), Guppies chapter, Authors Guild of TN, Knoxville Writers Group, and Austin Mystery Writers. She lives and works in Knoxville, TN. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

ADVICE FROM A DUMB WRITER: Guest Post by C.M. Wendelboe

C. M. Wendelboe: 
Advice from a Dumb Writer  

As I was completing the final draft of my last Spirit Road mystery manuscript, I began thinking about three other projects I had kicked around in my head—one a contemporary mystery, one a mystery set in the Great Depression, and the last one a period western set in the 1870s Dakota Territory. After doing preliminary sketches on each, I felt equally confident about each story. But which one should I concentrate on? Which one should I put all my efforts into completing with the hopes that a publisher will accept it?

Then, an epiphany came to me that overrode my common sense—I could write two novels at once. But writers do not write two books simultaneously. Some may write a novella while writing their novels. Others may write a seasonal short story while writing their books. I thought if they could do that, surely I could write two at once, so I jumped on to a writer’s forum and asked for suggestions as to how I could accomplish this. The responses were universal—that nobody did that and it would be a pretty dumb idea to try writing two books at once. Pretty dumb! Being competitive by nature, I felt as if I could be more than just pretty dumb. I could be really dumb and write all three at once.

Back to the writer’s forum again and telling folks I intended writing all three projects simultaneously and asked once again for suggestions. This time, several writers got back to me suggesting I take a cue from method actors of the stage: get into costume of the period I was writing. That, I could do. I have western apparel for the period western and contemporary clothes for that mystery. There are several antique shops where I live that have vintage clothing I could purchase. It would work out—I would dress for the period of whatever book I was writing at the time.

But there was a glitch. One of my voices in my western was a woman’s. I thought I might be able to find a dress that’d fit (but I would draw the line on accessories and makeup and such.) I could make that work. Until—I thought—the UPS or FedEx delivery man came to the house and needed a signature as I was dressed for writing my woman’s voice. He’d see this big guy wearing a dress answering the door, and before long, all the mothers in the neighborhood would be jerking their kids inside when they saw me out walking the dog. So, that wouldn’t work.

What did work, though, is setting aside material to read for the particular time period of the book I was going to write. In my library I have several thousand periodicals dating back to the 1850s, and I laid out a plan. I would read about the west during the Dakota Territory to get me in the mood and write for about three or four hours, then set it aside while I grabbed reading material from the Great Depression. After reading for fifteen or twenty minutes to get me into the mood of that era, I would write for three or four hours before setting that aside and reading contemporary articles to get me into the mood of the modern mystery.

That was my daily routine for five months. It was exhausting, but at the end of that time, I had three first drafts that I could work with and began revision on each. After I completed them, I started shopping them around, and within a month I had sold all three series.

My advice for writers wishing to do that: Don’t! Like my friends at my writing group said, it is a dumb idea. However, if for some reason you’ve gotten a little too much Jack Daniels in you and insist on writing two novels simultaneously, do this: spend the time to organize yourself. I took six months before writing even a word to perfect my character profiles and their story arcs. I plotted each novel out and set aside the periodicals to study that would get me in the mood. And be prepared to live with all your various characters for some time, depending on your genre. This may get a little confusing, particularly if your characters are from a different time period, different professions, different ages. In the end, you may have completed something approximating a first draft on each. But be prepared to have folks call you dumb. Especially dumb ol’ me.

C. M. Wendelboe entered the law enforcement profession when he was discharged from the Marines as the Vietnam war was winding down. In the 1970s, his career included assisting federal and tribal law enforcement agencies embroiled in conflicts with American Indian Movement activists in South Dakota. He moved to Gillette, Wyoming, and found his niche, where he remained a sheriff's deputy for more than 25 years. In addition, he was a longtime firearms instructor at the local college and within the community. 

During his 38-year career in law enforcement he had served successful stints as police chief, policy adviser, and other supervisory roles for several agencies. Yet he always has felt most proud of "working the street." He was a patrol supervisor when he retired to pursue his true vocation as a fiction writer. He is the author of the Spirit Road Mysteries.

Cartoon of the Day: Books

Saturday, May 16, 2020



Music has a way of reaching deep into our hearts and souls. The mournful notes of the sax in Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street and Chris Botti’s trumpet in most of his songs touch me, a delicious haunting that I can’t quite explain, so I knew my short story Siren Song, in the anthology All That Weird Jazz, would incorporate haunting music.

In Siren Song, Hawk Hathaway spends his evenings at the Gimlet Lounge, hoping to lose himself in the high, keening notes of a jazz trumpet that reach in and touch his soul. Having made one bad decision that ruined lives, he’s a man in desperate need of redemption.

Like Hawk, the Gimlet Lounge in Kansas City, Missouri has fallen from its former glory. The current dive bar and former speakeasy, which gave lip-service to the 18th Amendment thanks to notorious Boss Tom Pendergast, has seen far, far, better days. Hawk might not find redemption in the Gimlet Lounge, but he will find a great drink, thanks to barkeep Greta’s great mixologist skills.

To celebrate the publication of Siren Song in All That Weird Jazz, I’d like to share one of my favorite drinks with you, and what better drink than a gimlet?

Like Hawk Hathaway and the Gimlet Lounge, the gimlet has a history. Most sources agree the gimlet originated in the mid-nineteenth century as a way to get British sailors to drink lime juice, and thus get their vitamin C and prevent scurvy. There is a question about whether it was named after British Naval surgeon Thomas Desmond Gimlette, or after the piercing tool the gimlet, for the way the cocktail “pierces” the drinker. I’m thinking it was probably a little of both, a coincidence the sailors found humor in.

However the name originated, there is little disagreement on the ingredients: gin, lime juice, and a simple syrup if the lime juice hasn’t been sweetened. For those of you that are Raymond Chandler fans, you may recall in The Long Goodbye that Terry Lennox told Philip Marlow the perfect gimlet was half gin, half Rose’s Lime Cordial. Philip Marlowe didn’t care. As he said, he wasn’t fussy about drinks.

For myself, I enjoy crafting my own cocktails, and prefer the brightness of fresh citrus to bottled juices, but I’m no cocktail snob. Use what appeals most to you. I always like to have a coordinating “mocktail” for every cocktail, because whether you can’t, shouldn’t, or just don’t want to drink alcohol, there is still pleasure to be gained in quietly sipping a delicious drink.

If I could give you only one hint about how to make a great cocktail, it is to always buy your liquid ingredients in glass bottles. Glass doesn’t impart an additional flavor to the drink, unlike plastic.

This recipe produces a tangy gimlet. For those that prefer a sweeter drink, increase the simple syrup to taste.


2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup

Combine in a shaker and shake vigorously, then pour into a stemmed glass.

For a non-alcoholic mocktail, replace the gin with tonic water:


2 oz. tonic water
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup

My tonic water preference is Fever Tree, which offers several different varieties, letting you tweak the flavor according to whim. Whichever tonic you choose, remember to get one that comes in a glass bottle for best flavor. You’ll have no regrets. Unlike Hawk Hathaway.

Enjoy your drink as you listen to your music of choice. Preferably siren songs that will draw you into another place and time, away from your everyday cares.

Until next time,

In addition to Siren Song in All That Weird Jazz, M. A. Monnin is the author of “Bad Ju-Ju” in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, and also writes about gardening and Victorian periodicals. An Air Force veteran and avocational archaeologist, she enjoys traveling and archaeology in addition to making cocktails. She and her husband live in Kansas City, Missouri with their two Siberian huskies. She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Featuring eight additional mysterious tales, All That Weird Jazz is available on Amazon.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Procrastination for Creative Writers, a 10-Week Course


The Finalists for the 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction have been announced. The books nominated for the tenth annual award are:

The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime) 
The Hallows, by Victor Methos (Thomas & Mercer) 
An Equal Justice, by Chad Zunker (Thomas & Mercer)

The prize, which was authorized by the late Harper Lee, was established in 2011 by the University of Alabama Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law and the ABA Journal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


Sheila Mitchell:
Reflections on Writing a Biography

I embarked on writing a biography of my husband HRF (Harry) Keating when the first Christmas came round after he had died. I had decided to stay at home on my own rather than join any of the rest of the family and needed to think positively. However, being an actor rather than a writer it took me a long time and more than one false start before I arrived at the point when I was ready to let anyone else read it. I was always sure that I wanted the book to be as much about his writing as about his day to day life but it wasn’t until I found an American article published in 1987 that I was certain it was the right thing to do. Contemporary Authors, a multi-volume publication had asked authors how, if they were to do so, they would approach writing their autobiography. Harry had started his article: My life in terms of the events that have occurred has been no different from thousands, from millions of others. It is worth no particular record. But the books that it has come to me to write are perhaps, perhaps, worth considering. Had Harry somehow conveyed to me what I should be doing? I did not stop to find out. I was reassured – the books would be at the centre of the biography.

I had a massive amount of reading to do. Not only were there sixty-five published books and countless newspaper and magazine articles but he had also kept a diary for a short period and although containing a certain ‘dear diary’ element, it was largely a chronicle of self-education detailing, as it did, his reading lists – he read voraciously - as well as the descriptions of visits to the theatre and concerts and opera and above all, being able to listen to the wireless as the BBC was then called. Those were the days before television and the licence fee was solely used to fund radio, a device harnessed by the visionary Lord Reith to make programmes to ‘inform, educate and entertain the masses.’

The diaries began when he was nineteen, the Second World War was over and he was called up to do his national service on VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, 1945. He kept writing them until after he was demobbed and was in his second year at Trinity College, Dublin where, having overcome many obstacles he had arrived to read Modern Languages.

I was also lucky to find that, subsequently and with percipience, he had kept all the reviews the books had received, and there were hundreds, good and bad, each stored in the flap of the dust jackets of the first editions. As such, I was enabled to quote what others thought rather than relying on what might be considered my own biased views.

Of course it would not have been a biography if it was just a chronicle of his work. The early chapters tell the story of his origins and life up to the time the first book was published and from there on each book was set against the background of what was happening in his life. Throughout, I tried to follow Harry’s advice that a book should have an ongoing narrative that would keep the reader glued to the page in their desire to know what will happen next.

I had been worried that I would be unable to write enough words for a conventional book but it was soon apparent the problem would be to keep the word-count down. In fact I was enjoying the experience of writing and was helped by occasionally feeling that Harry was leaning over my shoulder and admonishing me for some outrageous piece of grammar or other inaccuracy. Not that he himself had not broken many of the rules, particularly in the early books like Death and the Visiting Firemen where much of the narration was deliberately written without verbs but that was a conscious decision, my mistakes were just that, mistakes.

It was not until much later when I was asked to write an article about Harry’s non-fiction books – there are ten of them - that I realised that I had in the biography devoted too little space to them. Especially as they reveal as much, if not more, about his beliefs on writing in general but particularly about what makes crime fiction, at its best, superior to what is loosely called main-stream or literary fiction. I had covered this point but perhaps with insufficient quotation from the actual books.

There can be no doubt about the fact that it was very therapeutic for me to go back over the eighty-four years of Harry’s life and the fifty-eight years of our marriage, recalling all the ups and downs, but I hope I have also managed to convey to others in H.R.F. Keating:A Life of Crime the achievements and personality of this most remarkable man.

The British actor Sheila Mitchell has just made her literary debut at the respectable age of 94, with a biography of her late husband, the acclaimed crime writer H.R.F. Keating. As executor of his literary estate she discovered a wealth of material in his study, where the majority of his books had been writing: diaries, notebooks of research into each book, unpublished manuscripts and the thorough plotting of an unwritten novel. This year also sees the reissue of all 21 available Inspector Ghote novels, HRF Keating's beloved detective. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


The shortlist for the 2020 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award was announced.

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle) 
Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Cornerstone) 
Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (Hamish Hamilton) 
The Lost Ones, by Anita Frank (HQ) 
My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic)
The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker)

The Glass Bell Award, sponsored by London bookseller Goldsboro Books, celebrates “the best storytelling across contemporary fiction.” This year’s winner will be announced on July 2.

HT: The Rap Sheet

Monday, May 11, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: Traffic Stop

HT: LJ Roberts

CSI Shakespeare - The Case of the Dead Duke: Guest Post by Dr Kathryn Harkup

Kathryn Harkup:
CSI Shakespeare - The Case of the Dead Duke

There are more than a few murders in Shakespeare plays. From Othello suffocating his wife Desdemona in a jealous rage, to the cold calculated serial killings of Richard III, Shakespeare knew that a good murder would keep his audience interested. You might think brutal stabbings and bloody murder would be the order of the day, and for the most part you would be right. What you might be surprised to see in a Renaissance drama is a forensic examination and detailed detective work, but that is exactly what Shakespeare wrote.

There is a moment in Henry VI Part 2, where a group of people are gathered round the dead body of the Duke of Gloucester and looking for clues as to how he died. It is a lot like scenes in modern TV detective dramas where the pathologist and detectives speculate over cause of death. Even the scientific detail being discussed in this four hundred year old play is exactly the same kind of thing that would be examined in modern police procedurals, it’s just that the language is a little different.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, was Lord Protector of England, an extremely powerful man who had designs on the throne. In the play, to thwart the Duke’s dastardly plans, Suffolk accuses him of treason and he is arrested. But, before he can stand trial Humphrey is, rather conveniently, found dead in his bed. It might not be surprising to find the 56 year-old had expired of natural causes, after all, he was known to have lived life to the full, and was under the extreme stress of accusations of crimes that could lead to his execution. But on closer inspection, there are signs ‘that violent hands were laid / Upon the life of this thrice-famed duke.’

One of the characters gathered round the dead duke is Warwick, who takes the role of pathologist and comments on the appearance of the body: ‘see, his face is black and full of blood’. This is the sixteenth century way of discussing lividity, or the colour changes in the skin after death, which can be a useful indication of cause of death. Other indications of a violent death are cited by Warwick, including hands stretched out as if fighting off an attacker, a disordered beard that may indicate smothering, and hair sticking to the pillow as though sweaty from exertion. He concludes that ‘It cannot be but he was murdered here.’

Now everyone is convinced that the Duke was murdered and the drama quickly turns to speculations and accusations of who might be responsible for the death. It might sound like a murder mystery, where the audience tries to guess along with the characters in the drama, but this kind of detective fiction wasn’t invented until the nineteenth century. There is absolutely no mystery as to who killed poor Duke Humphrey, it was Suffolk. This isn’t a spoiler, Suffolk himself tells the audience exactly what he is going to do in the previous scene, but he had hoped to get away with it.

There is no mystery in the play and no big denouement scene at the end where the killer is revealed by a Belgian with magnificent moustaches. However, Shakespeare’s murderers, like murderers in any good detective drama, never get away with it. Elizabethans had a strong sense of justice and, even though Suffolk escapes the full penalty of the law, he cannot escape entirely. Banished from England and on his way to France, Suffolk gets his just deserts when he is captured and beheaded by pirates. Shakespeare may have missed a trick by not having a murder mystery in his plays, but murder mysteries are definitely missing out by not having more pirates in their plots.

Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author who writes and gives regular public talks on the disgusting and dangerous side of science. She has written three books, A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie, Making the Monster: The Science of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and her new book, Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts, which is now on sale. In Death by Shakespeare, Harkup employs her vast expertise on the more gruesome side of science, this time focusing on Shakespeare, as she provides an in-depth look at the science behind the creative methods Shakespeare used to kill off his characters.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


The shortlist of nominees for the 2020 Glass Key Award have been announced. The Glass Key is presented by Crime Writers of Scandinavia to the author whose work is judged the best Nordic crime novel of last year.

Dødfunden (Found Dead), by Gretelise Holm (Denmark)
Den åttonde tärnan (The Eighth Bridesmaid), by Eva Frantz (Finland) 
Svik (Betrayal), by Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Iceland) 
Kniv (Knife), by Jo Nesbø (Norway) 
Skuggjägaren (Shadow Hunter), by Camilla Grebe (Sweden) 

The winner will be announced in August.

HT:  TheRapSheet

Friday, May 8, 2020

Cartoon of the Day: The Morning Ritual

From Rhymes with Orange:

Closing the Great Divide: When Journalism and Mystery Writing Meet: Guest Post by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Andrew Welsh-Huggins:
Closing The Great Divide: When Journalism And Mystery Writing Meet

One of the most frequent questions I receive about my fiction writing—after, of course, “Where do you get your ideas?”—is what the difference is between the composition I do as a journalist and that as a crime novelist. It’s a fair query, given that I’ve been a reporter for thirty-plus years, including more than two decades with The Associated Press, and have also published six mystery novels and several short stories. But like a lot of questions about writing, the answer is complicated. The work I did editing Columbus Noir, the latest anthology of a city’s dark tales from Akashic Books, helps explain how I balance the two forms of content creation.

Let’s start with the differences. Most of the stories I write for the AP are in the 500 to 600-word range. That’s a little short if you’re accustomed to New York Times or Washington Post articles, but about average for the breaking news and spot investigative stories that I focus on. By contrast, the shortest of my most recently published short stories—“The Most Terrible Thing,” in Over My Dead Body magazine—was about 3,500 words, while my private eye novels run about 65,000 words. As a result, we’re talking the distinction between, say, a 400-meter race on the track vs. the 26.2 miles of a marathon. In addition, depending on the subject matter, it takes a few hours, a couple days or perhaps a few weeks to write an article. On the other hand, a short story requires at least a week to ten days to compose followed by periodic rewrites over several weeks, while a book eats up three to four months minimum, not counting the multiple drafts to follow.

Then there’s the question of craft. It’s common to hear reporters-turned-novelists say that in fiction—unlike in journalism—every word matters. I’d contend that’s true up to a point. Certainly, I don’t rewrite my articles as much as my mysteries. Going Places, my own contribution to Columbus Noir, went through ten drafts alone before it was ready for publication. But in my fiction as in my nonfiction, I pay as close attention as possible to using active verbs, minimizing the use of adverbs and adjectives, avoiding clichés, and showing, not telling. In both forms, nothing drives me crazier than slipping and using the same word twice within close proximity. (I did it in this very essay, until I substituted “frequent” for “common” in the opening sentence a few drafts in.) However, it’s fair to say that my journalism is prose pared down to the essentials, whereas my fiction involves more description, metaphors and observations—a well-constructed sandwich on the one hand, an attempt at a three-course meal on the other, to use another analogy.

When it came to Columbus Noir, my vocation of journalism and my avocation of fiction writing finally met in the middle. To begin with, the discipline of deadline writing that I’ve developed as a reporter served me well when it came to editing the thirteen submissions to the anthology as they rolled in on a staggered basis over several months. Not only did I have to keep track of whose story was due when, I had to schedule my edits of the stories and when I expected authors to return their responses to those edits, all in time to compile the entire manuscript for submission. Missing that due date—Nov. 1, 2018—just wasn’t an option.

When the time came for my own contribution, I turned back to my roots at the AP as a full-time Statehouse reporter from 1999 to 2006. I’d previously set a book in my private eye series in the Statehouse—Capitol Punishment—but welcomed a chance to return to the Greek revival building in the heart of downtown Columbus. (I’m always surprised more mysteries don’t focus on statehouses, with their delectable mix of power, greed, and sexual hijinks.) Drawing on my experience as a reporter, the plot for my story—involving missteps by a governor’s bodyguard—came relatively easily, and on time to boot. Drawing on my side gig as a fiction writer, I polished the prose until I felt sure that, indeed, every word mattered. Finished with editing the anthology, and with my own contribution, I turned the book in on time; always a good feeling no matter what writing cap I’m wearing.

Though my day job as a journalist and my earlier-in-the-day job as a fiction writer overlap regularly, my story—and by extension, Columbus Noir—was an example of the rare alignment of both my worlds. Deadline writing meets deadly fiction: what could be better than that?


Andrew Welsh-Huggins is a reporter for the Associated Press in Columbus, and the author of six mysteries featuring Andy Hayes, a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned private eye. Welsh-Huggins is also the editor of Columbus Noir from Akashic Books, and his short fiction has appeared in publications including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, and Mystery Tribune. Andrew’s nonfiction book, No Winners Here Tonight, is the definitive history of the death penalty in Ohio. When he’s not writing or reporting, Andrew enjoys running, reading, cooking, spending time with family, and trying to recall why having a dog, three cats and two parakeets seemed like a good idea at the time.