Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Dashiell Hammett! (among others)

Today is the birthday of Dashiell Hammett, the father of the noir mystery novel and author of The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon.

Also born today was Vincent Price, actor whose stage and movie performances will be forever linked with Edgar Allen Poe.

Happy Birthday, gentlemen. Thanks for your work.

Monday, May 25, 2009

101 Things to Do Before You Die...for mystery writers (a work in progress)

It seems these type of lists were red hot for a while, in many categories, like travel and dining. I thought I'd give a stab at making my own list, in no particular order. I'm up to 30 items, so it's by no means complete. Some of the entries were written with tongue in cheek, but I hope you enjoy them. If you have an idea for additions, I'm open to suggestions, and credit will be given for any I add.

101 Things to Do before You Die (for mystery writers)

  1. Subscribe to Crimespree Magazine. Thank Jon & Jen Jordan for all their work.
  2. Attend Bouchercon.
  3. Take the Konrath Quiz! (
  4. Meet Sarah Weinman. Prostrate yourself before her while you chant “I’m not worthy!” Read her blog.
  5. Read An Unquiet Night by Patricia Carlon.
  6. Join Crimespace. Then go to Australia. Track down Daniel Hatadi (creator of Crimespace). Buy him a beer. Praise him highly in front of the other bar patrons (while you’re still sober, so they know you really mean it).
  7. This year, query three agents a week until you snag one.
  8. Get your novel published.
  9. Join the Mystery Writers of America.
  10. Visit the grave of Edgar Allen Poe, at night. Leave a rose.
  11. Go to your local library and give a talk about your book or the mystery genre.
  12. Buy a bottle of Maker’s Mark. Sip it while you read the August Riordan PI series by Mark Coggins. Note: There are several books in the series…you may need more than one bottle.
  13. Get on a panel at a writer’s conference, as a moderator or participant & teach your fellow writers about a topic you’re an expert on or excited about.
  14. Learn how to kill someone with poison and get that story published.
  15. Write and publish a story from the killer’s point of view and make him/her sympathetic.
  16. Ditto from the victim’s point of view, but make him/her unlikeable.
  17. Get a book review published in your local newspaper, whether it’s the New York Times or the Small Town Gazette.
  18. Attend the Love is Murder conference in Chicago.
  19. Read all of JA Konrath’s Jack Daniels novels. As you read each one, have a drink from the recipe in the front of the novel.
  20. Read The Rap Sheet and then visit all of the links that J Kingston Pierce lists on the sidebar…all 656 of them.
  21. Meet Allison Janssen and Ben LeRoy of Bleak House Books and tell them thanks for publishing some great novels.
  22. Attend a pitch session at every writer’s conference you attend.
  23. Send an autographed copy of your novel to David J Montgomery, because those are the ones he keeps. Thank him. Read his blog, the Crime Fiction Dossier.
  24. Read literary agent Janet Reid’s blog. If you get a chance to meet her at a writer’s conference, introduce yourself, and thank her for the useful advice. Then shake her tentacle.
  25. Write a cozy, a police procedural and a thriller & get them each published under different pen names.
  26. If you’ve never tasted it, try absinthe.
  27. Visit Hemmingway’s house in Cuba.
  28. Learn to read and speak a foreign language. Read a foreign language mystery novel in the original.
  29. At your next writer’s conference, go to the lobby or main room one after all the panels are done and read one of your favorite mystery stories out loud, even if no one is listening.
  30. Meet Julie Hyzy, president of the Midwest chapter of MWA and chat with her. Observe her optimistic and bubbly personality (you can actually hear the bubbles in her voice…it’s quite amazing). Oh, and read her books, starting with this one. She’s a very good writer.