Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another review for TRIBULATION HOUSE

Bruce Judisch wrote up a really nice review of my 2007 "quirky apocalyptic gangster novel" Tribulation House (Harvest House Publishers). Check it out here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tony Hillerman 1925-2008

Tony Hillerman, author of the Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, died Sunday of pulmonary failure. He was 83. Link: Acclaimed author Tony Hillerman dies at 83 (AP)

Beating Sherlock Holmes

Historically, mystery fans generally consider the first two sleuths in modern detective fiction to be Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin in the 1840s and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes in the 1880s. However, during the 40 years in between, at least one author was also writing mystery fiction: Westholme Publishing has unearthed the never-reprinted 1864 collection Leaves from the Note-Book of a New York Detective: The Private Record of J.B., by author John Babbington Williams.

"Twenty years before Sherlock Holmes, a fictional New York private investigator was being celebrated for his ability to solve crimes based on observation and deductive reasoning -- the principles that would later become Holmes' hallmark. Originally published in 1864 and never before reprinted, "Leaves from the Note-Book of a New York Detective" features 29 cases from the first American detective hero to appear in fiction, James Brampton."

Check out Sarah Weinman's review, Dark Passages: Early American Detective Fiction.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Next from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries

Coming up in the latest shipment from cozy mystery imprint Heartsong Presents: Mysteries:

Down Home and Deadly
Christine Lynxwiler, Jan Reynolds, and Sandy Gaskin
When Jenna Stafford quits her deadend job to help her sister Carly open a diner, she may have jumped from a the frying pan into the fire. Even though business is really cooking, last time the sister checked, murder was not on the menu.

Of Mice ... And Murder
Mary Connealy
Being named in great-grandma's will was like hitting bankrupt on the Wheel of Fortune. The whole family held their breath while the wheel ticked around and around-or rather while the lawyer opened the envelope.

Misfortune Cookies
Linda P. Kozar
Best firends Sue Jan and Lovita run a beauty shop/boutique in the little West Texas town of Wachita. They share a passion for food and fun. But one day, over lunch in a Chinese restraurant, Lovita opens a fortune cookie with a sinister fortune.

There Goes Santa Claus
Nancy Mehl
A few days before December 25, Ivy and her husband Amos are awakened by noises on their rooftop. Amos' joke that Santa Claus must have arrived early loses its humor when a body goes flying past their second-story window.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Building critical mass

One challenge for any novelist is finding just enough fans to stay in print ... long enough that complete strangers can also discover your book. Marketing guru Seth Godin (Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us) has a few things to say on the topic, in his blog entry The sad truth about marketing shortcuts:

"Critical mass is the pay off from focused, consistent effort. Critical mass is what you don't get if you are constantly working the angles and looking for a shortcut. ... If you have a presence on twitter, squidoo, blogs, facebook, myspace, linkedin and 20 other sites, the chances of finding critical mass at any of them is close to zero. But if you dominate, if you're the goto person, the king of your hill, magical things happen. One follower in each of twenty places is worthless. Twenty connected followers in one place is a tribe. It's the foundation for building something that matters." (Read the whole entry here.)

Speaking of which, I have whittled my social network presence down to primarily
Facebook and ShoutLife. (The other pages are still out there, but I don't have time to visit all of them.)

Related links:
The changing business of media
10 Links To Build Your Blog Traffic
The Biz of Fiction

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Fans of classic pulp detective The Shadow will be glad to know that Radio Spirits has a new collection of 1930s-40s old time radio dramas starring the masked vigilante: The Shadow: Knight of Darkness features eighteen digitally restored and remastered episodes from the classic mystery/suspense series on nine audio CDs, including episodes featuring three of the actors who portrayed the title dual role of The Shadow and alter ego, Lamont Cranston -- Orson Welles, William Johnstone, and Bret Morrison. The set also includes two newly discovered "lost" episodes from 1938, plus a program guide by radio historian Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. with photographs and background info about the shows. (For more details click here.)

More of The Shadow:

Radio Dramas
The Shadow (3-Hour Collectors' Editions) (3-Hour Collectors' Editions)
Mystery: Old Time Radio Shows (Original Radio Broadcasts)

Mystery Classics 50 Movie Pack Collection (with The Shadow Strikes and The Shadow: International Crime)
Shadow: Shadow Strikes/International Crime (1937/1938)
The Shadow (1994)

Classic Pulp Reprints from Nostalgia Ventures (each featuring two novels)
The Shadow #1: "The Golden Vulture" and "Crime, Insured"
The Shadow #2: "The Chinese Disks" and "Malmordo"
The Shadow #3: "The Red Blot" and "The Voodoo Master"
The Shadow #4: "The Murder Master" and "The Hydra"
The Shadow #5: "The Black Falcon" and "The Salamanders"
The Shadow #6: "The Shadow's Justice" and "The Broken Napoleans"
The Shadow #7: "The Cobra" and "The Third Shadow"
The Shadow #8: "The London Crimes" and "Castle of Doom"
The Shadow #9: "Lingo" and "Partners of Peril" (the stories that inspired the creation of BATMAN!)
The Shadow #10: "The City of Doom" and "The Fifth Face"
The Shadow #11: "The Road of Crime" and "Crooks Go Straight"
The Shadow #12: "Serpents of Siva" and "The Magigals Mystery"
The Shadow #13: "Six Men of Evil" and "The Devil Monsters"
The Shadow #14: "The Grove of Doom" and "The Masked Lady"
The Shadow #15: "The Shadow Unmasks" and "The Yellow Band"
The Shadow #16: "City of Crime" and "Shadow Over Alcatraz"
The Shadow #17: "The Fate Joss" and "The Golden Pagoda"
The Shadow #18: "The Golden Masks" and "The Unseen Killer"
The Shadow #19: "VooDoo Trail" and "Death's Harlequin" (more origins of BATMAN)
The Shadow #20: "The Blue Sphinx" and "Jibaro Death"
The Shadow #21: "The Plot Master" and "Death Jewels"

Related links:
The Shadow Volume 19 Reveals The TRUE Origins of "Batman"...
Two historic novels that gave birth to Batman!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Flynn's World
Written by Gregory Mcdonald

What a great book! Through three interweaving plots -- a distinguished Harvard professor is being harrassed; a young man is found with his ear nailed to a tree, but refuses to say who did it; a police lieutenant has an "impressive" arrest record that displays a disturbing trend -- Boston Police Inspector Francis Xavier Flynn is forced to explore different forms of intolerance, from the hypocrisy that comes from an irrational brand of political correctness, to a prejudice as old as humanity.

Flynn's World is a remarkable work, in that it is a story about people struggling with a crumbling society, a commentary about the fractionalization that comes with jettisoning the past, and a treatise on the importance of embracing our common humanity before technology makes us obsolete. All, of course, neatly wrapped in the guise of a fast-paced and clever mystery story.

Don't get me wrong: the author has not written some cold textbook. Flynn's World is infused with all the trademarks we expect from Mcdonald -- crisp dialogue, colorful characters, and rich storytelling. The scenes with Flynn at home with his wife and five children are priceless. And watching Flynn infuriate his fellows at the Boston Police with philosophical conundrums is a howl.

This is the final book starring Flynn. He debuted in the Edgar Award-winning Confess, Fletch (1976), before going to star in four books of his own: Flynn (1977); The Buck Passes Flynn (1981); Flynn's In (1984); and then Flynn's World (2003).

Do yourself a favor and read each and every one of them.

When Boston Police Inspector Francis Xavier Flynn’s barely adolescent daughter asks him to rescue her friend Billy from the cemetery, where he’s been fastened to a tree by a nail through his earlobe, the good inspector is pretty sure there’s something more behind what at first seems like a bully’s prank. And he’s convinced there is more than mischief involved in the hateful threats against distinguished Harvard professor Louis Loveson. If that weren’t enough to keep Flynn busy, there’s Lieutenant John Kurt, whose very impressive arrest record follows some very disturbing patterns. In Flynn's World, two-time Edgar Award-winner Gregory Mcdonald’s dogged detective confronts intolerance in all its guises, and sheds light on more than one dark secret.

F.X. Flynn made his first appearance in Confess, Fletch, where he matched wits with the inimitable Irwin Fletcher. Since then he has befuddled, bemused, amazed, and infuriated his colleagues on the Boston Police force as he has pursued international terrorists, blackmailers, murderers, embezzlers, politicians, and, occasionally, his fellow policemen—all while doing his regular job.

Excerpt, discussion guide, author bio, and more online at Vintage

Related links:
'Fletch' author Mcdonald 1937-2008
GREGORY McDONALD and the Fletch Books, Lee Goldberg

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Neal Hefti 1922-2008

Composer and arranger Neal Hefti, best known for his familiar themes for "Batman" and "The Odd Couple," died Oct. 11 at his home in Toluca Lake, California. He was 85. Hefti's prolific career as a jazz musician, composer, and arranger started in the 1940s and flourished in the 1950s and '60s, as he worked alongside such legends as Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Tony Bennett. Working with film and TV in the 1960s, Hefti's credits included How to Murder Your Wife, Barefoot in the Park -- and the original film The Odd Couple.

TV Themes: BATMAN 1966 (w/ THE ODD COUPLE) (Learning Curve)
Composer Neal Hefti; Jazz Master Penned Theme for 'Batman' (Washington Post)
Neal Hefti, composer of 'Batman' theme, dies (MSN Entertainment News)
Neal Hefti - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, October 13, 2008

Falling for the Nigerian scam

Anyone with an email account has likely been approached once (if not dozens of times) by some variation of the "Nigerian scam," where someone posing as a wealthy foreigner promises millions of dollars for very little effort. (More explanation of this con click here.) Shocking as it sounds, victims still fall for this all the time.

Armed with this information, novelist Lisa Harris was inspired to write the suspense thriller Final Deposit (Love Inspired Suspense). She explains the thinking behind the book on her blog ("Fiction vs. Fact"), and in her interview with Keep Me In Suspense ("Interview with Lisa Harris").

About the book:
It's just another scam, sent via email to thousands. Yet Lindsey Taylor's elderly father has fallen for it and lost his life savings. He's even gone off to claim his promised fortune. Lindsey knows he'll never see a penny. Worse, she's worried she'll never see him again. Frantic, she turns to financial security expert Kyle Walker. Kyle has his own vendetta: he lost his brother to an Internet mail-order-bride scheme. He's promised to help Lindsey find her father, but first he has to get them close to the scam artists. And the closer they get, the more danger they find ...

Related link:
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Southern Festival of Books

This weekend, the Southern Festival of Books is in Nashville. Some handy links:
Humanities Tennessee | This Year's Festival
From mysteries to memoirs, the strong survive at the Southern Festival of Books (Nashville Scene)
Acclaimed novelist appears at Southern Festival of Books (Nashville City Paper)
Southern Festival of Books celebrates written word (The Tennessean)

Bouchercon 2008

Bouchercon 2008 is underway in Baltimore, drawing creators and fans of mystery fiction from all over the world. Some handy links:
Bouchercon in Baltimore -- CHARM CITY (Official Site)
Conference Culture (A Newbie's Guide to Publishing)
Greetings from Baltimore (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)
Bouchercon blogging (Odd Jobs)
Crime writers who also write comics (Learning Curve)
Reporter-turned-novelist lives her secret dream (San Francisco Chronicle)
Bouchercon: The definitive mystery conference (Off the Page)
Read Street: Meet the mystery authors (Baltimore Sun)
Crime Spree: The Tirelessly Prolific Laura Lippman ... (Baltimore City Paper)
Mystery writers converge on city for conference (Baltimore Sun)

In the news (Oct 10)

Kentucky Deputy Wanted in Ex-Girlfriend's Murder Captured at Days Inn (FOXNews, Oct 7)
The sheriff's deputy accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in Kentucky was taken into custody early Tuesday at a motel in Iowa.

Ala. sheriff says inmate hid hacksaw in Bible (AP, Oct 8)
In Houston County, a 19-year-old man used a hidden hacksaw to cut through a cell bar, but an observant correctional officer saw the damage and searched the inmate's cell.

Body Found in Suitcase in New York Park Contains $100,000 Worth of Heroin Packets (FOXNews, Oct 8)
A man found dead in a suitcase in a suburban park was a drug "mule" who had 50 packets of heroin in his body and probably died when one or two of them broke open, police said Tuesday.

Zoo trip returns to bite suspect (Oklahoman, Oct 8)
A man unwittingly helped lead to his own arrest in the case of a python and a tortoise stolen from the zoo -- when went back to the zoo that day to ask employees how to care for a python and a tortoise.

MTSU confirms arrest made in e-mail threat (City Paper, Oct 9)
Middle Tennessee State University officials confirmed late Thursday the arrest of student Justin Davis, following the receipt of threatening e-mails and what appeared to be a deliberately set residence hall fire.

Sheriff in Ill. county won't evict in foreclosures (AP, Oct 9)
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart won't take part in evictions, concerned that many being evicted are renters unaware their landlords are failing to pay their mortgages.

Palins Repeatedly Pressed Case Against Trooper (NYTimes, Oct 9)
Former Alaska public safety commissioner Walt Monegan believes he was ousted because he would not bow to pressure to dismiss Michael Wooten, the Alaska state trooper now divorced from Gov. Sarah Palin’s sister. The Alaska Legislature is investigating whether the governor abused the powers of her office to pursue a personal vendetta.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Law enforcement consultants

Novel Journey recently hosted partners Glenn Rambo and Candice Speare, whose RS Writing Services is a "law enforcement consulting service for mystery and suspense writers." Glenn has 20 years of police service including patrol, K9, criminal investigations, narcotics, crime scene processing, and emergency management. Candice, a freelance content reviewer for Heartsong Presents: Mysteries!, spent two years volunteering at her local sheriff's office training academy, participating in recruit training scenarios and other aspects of recruit education. Check out the article at Crime Scene Facts from RS Writing Services.

Related links:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bookstores vs. Amazon

Publishers Weekly reports that more than 200 retailers were urged to take a stronger stand against the behemoth that is Amazon. "It’s a matter of survival and a quality-of-life issue for entire communities," explained Carol Besse, co-owner of Carmichael’s Books in Louisville, Kent., and outgoing board president of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. She called for a “grassroots effort to re-educate every author” who visits independents, asking them to disable links to on their Web sites.
Link: Outgoing GLIBA President Issues “Call to Arms”

Find an ABA (American Booksellers Association) store near you
Find a CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) store near you

Monday, October 06, 2008

Crime writers who also write comics

While crime comics have always been part of the comics landscape, there seems to have been an upsurge in the past few years (fueled, somewhat, by the growing number of crime and thriller novelists also writing comics). On October 10, crime fiction convention Bouchercon and Crimespree magazine will host a signing at Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore.

The guest list boasts several novelists who also write comics: Max Allan Collins (The First Quarry, Road to Perdition, Criminal Minds: Finishing School, Ms. Tree -- not to mention several years writing the Dick Tracy newspaper comic strip); Greg Rucka (the Atticus Kodiak series, Adventures of Superman, Gotham Central, Queen & Country); Victor Gischler (Gun Monkeys, Shotgun Opera, Punisher), Duane Swierczynski (Severance Package, The Immortal Iron Fist), and Gary Phillips (Shooter’s Point, High Rollers).

Also on hand will be crime comic writer Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets), artist Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother), and crime webcomic "Odd Jobs" creator Tim Broderick (Cash & Carry).

The event will be held 1-3:30 PM this Friday. Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located at 301 West Camden Street, Baltimore, MD 212201. Additional information is available at

"Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is something that every fan of popular culture should see at least once, if not more," says Jon Jordan, editor of Crimespree. "Crime fiction has long been a vibrant, vital part of American pop culture and it can be found in the pulps, comic strips, comic books, radio programs, television shows, and movie material featured at GEM."

"The old walls between the world of prose fiction and non-fiction on one side and comic books on the other have been shattered in the last few years by people like Max Allan Collins and the other Bouchercon guests who will be signing here at the museum," said Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg, GEM’s Curator. "This is a great celebration of that."

Bouchercon 2008 guests of honor include Lawrence Block, Distinguished Contribution to the Genre; Laura Lippman, American Guest of Honor; John Harvey, International Guest of Honor; Mark Billingham, Toastmaster; Robert Rosenwald and Barbara Peters, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Thalia Proctor, Fan Guest of Honor. Bouchercon also hosts the Anthony Awards, which recognize the achievements of creators in the crime genre in an array of categories ranging from Best Novel to Critical Work, as well as panels and discussion groups. A presentation from DC Comics on their new Vertigo Crime line is also scheduled.

Related links:
Adapting Richard Stark's PARKER
Crime comics: CRIMINAL
10-4: 75 years of DICK TRACY
Defending Comic Books
SINISTER SIX: Are You In Or Out?

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at Watch the trailer on YouTube.