Monday, March 31, 2014

Mystery Weekend Roundup for March 30, 2014

Hank Phillippi Ryan Interviews Rosemary Harris

New England Sisters in Crime has a great interview of Rosemary Harris on their website as part of their Writers At Work series. Rosemary Harris is the author of five novels, including Pushing Up Daises, which was nominated for the Agatha and Anthony awards. Hank Phillippi Ryan is an investigative reporter and award winning writer of several thrillers, including The Wrong Girl.

Rosemary shares with us some great writing techniques that help her put words on paper. 

Spring Is Here! Bring On The Books

The Rap Sheet put up a schedule of new crime novels being released over the next two months, including works by Hilary Davidson and Benjamin Black. You can see the list here, and read what J. Kingston Pierce has to say about some of his favorites at his Kirkus column, Spring Breakouts

Come in From The Cold...Ice Cold, That Is

The Mystery Writers of America has a launch party for their new short story anthology, Ice Cold coming out in April. The event is hosted by The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City on April 29th. Celebrate with tales of mystery and intrigue from the Cold War. Get more info at the facebook event page here. The collection is edited by best selling authors Jeffrey Deaver and Raymond Benson. Further updates will be released on a "need to know" basis. And that's all the information you need to know.

How One Determined Man Made A Difference (Or Shall We Say, A Definition)

Steve Parks proved that one man can make a difference when his lobbying efforts paid off after more than 10 years. He convinced Merriam-Webster to add the term "Yooper" to its dictionary. Yooper, as anyone should know, is a term used to describe a resident of the upper peninsula of Michigan, a population known for "being resilient, looking out for your neighbors, and working hard." Read more about this victory for readers everywhere at the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mystery Weekend Roundup for March 23, 2014

Talking Crime with Declan Burke and William Ryan

 Mystery Tribune has a great interview with two of Ireland's best crime writers, which you can read here. They discuss their work and the influence that music has on the creative process, as well as the conflicts created when trying to write and raise a family. This quote from Declan rings true for me, when he states, "I always used to listen to music when I was writing, usually a collection of songs I’d identified as being close to the sound or feel of what I was trying to achieve."

When I write, I try to listen to a song that reflect the mood of my story. How about you? What's on the headset when your fingers are striking the keyboard? Right now, I'm listening to She's Not There by The Zombies.

Want Music?  Listen To Some Crime Jazz!

If you do listen to music while you write, then you'll want to check out this offering from the Retro Cocktail Hour, compliments of the host Darrell Brogdon. Click on the link here, then select the March 15th show to sample some familiar and not so familiar crime jazz music. The perfect way to stimulate those creative juices.

Do You Hear Voices In Your Head? Well, Let Them Out!

Writers listen to their characters, or at least the better ones do. Karen Dionne, who has written several thrillers, including Freezing Point, is one of those writers. She's been described as "the new Michael Crichton", and she has an article in the Huffington Post where she discusses the voices in our heads, and how we deal with them to create our stories.

In my first novel, In The Dismal Swamp, I had a minor character suddenly demand a larger role in the story. What did I do? I complied, of course, and she emerged as a driving force behind one of the suspects. I liked her so much, I've decided to put her in a sequel. I only hope she doesn't demand a cut of my royalties.

Writing Contest

Sharpen those pens. A short story mystery writing competition is open at Hofstra Law until May 1, 2014. Alafair Burke, Lee Child and Marcia Clark are the judges. First prize is $500 and online publication and promotion by Mulholland Books. The second and third prizes ($200 and $100 clams) ain't too shabby neither. Click here for the details.

There's just one catch...yeah, there's always a catch.

The story must feature a lawyer as a main character. And seeing as this is a crime fiction contest, I can't think of a better reason to include a lawyer.

Girl Scout Book Stand Vandalized

A free standing library set up by a local girl scout troop has been vandalized. The Girl Scouts are going to rebuild the library, but they need donations. If you can spare a book or two, send them to the Girl Scouts main headquarters at 4300 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson Arizona 85711. You can read more about this heinous crime at KVOA News in Tucson.

Want A First Edition of the First James Bond Novel? The Bidding Starts Here!

If you're a James Bond fan, you'll want to join in on the bidding for a first edition of Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming. The book is in great shape, and would make a great gift fir the Bond lover in your circle. Click here to join the bidding. You can bid until April 2nd. The current bid? Only 13,000 dollars.

But that includes the dust jacket. Good luck, and hope you win.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mystery Weekend Roundup for March 16, 2014

Celebrate St Patrick's Day with Some Irish Crime Fiction

St Patrick's Day is upon us, but before you head out for the parades, dig into a meal of ham, potatoes and cabbage, or down another Guinness, I'd like to talk to you. You're missing out on some of the best things Ireland has to offer. I'm not talking about the beer, or the whiskey, or even the vastly improved food.

I'm talkin' about the crime fiction!

 It's booming, and you're missing out if you haven't read Brian McGilloway, Tana French, Declan Hughes, and Jane Casey, among others. This is the Golden Age of Irish Crime Fiction, according to an article in the Irish Times. And although the Irish have a reputation for exaggeration, this claim is dead to rights.

Some of the fiction focuses on the difficult history under British occupation, but many new writers spotlight "The Troubles", as they're called in Ireland and also the recent economic recession that struck hard among the working class.

"Crime fiction has taken off in Ireland over the past few years with a number of our best writers winning awards and making an impact on the international scene," says Brian McGilloway. Check out his list of the 10 Best Modern Irish Crime Novels, featured in The Guardian.

Mystery Readers International Magazine devoted an entire issue to Irish Crime Fiction in the 21st Century.

And Declan Burke, who writes one of the best blogs around on Irish Crime Fiction, featured his own list of favorites on his Saint Patrick's Day Massacre post. By the way, he's no slacker when it comes to story telling. According to Brian McGilloway, Burke's novel The Big O  "recalls Elmore Leonard at his best".

Want more suggestions? Check out Amazon's top 100 Irish Crime Fiction list right here.

And crack on some fierce Irish crime fiction, lest someone think you're an eejit.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

True Crime Tuesday for March 11, 2014 (Irish Edition)

“Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer.”
                                                - Oscar Wilde
Drug Lord Shot Four Times, Declares It Was "Just A Misunderstanding"
You've really got to hand it to the Irish. We're known for telling outlandish stories, but this one may be a bit of Irish Crime Fiction. Criminal gangster John Gilligan was shot four times in an assassination attempt last week in Dublin. But from his hospital bed, he told police that he has no enemies and that the shooting was "just a misunderstanding".
Gilligan, a suspect in the murder of Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin, was released from prison only 5 months earlier after serving twelve years for drug trafficking. Rumor has it that he has been trying to re-establish his power in the criminal underworld, with mixed success.
Read more about this 'misunderstanding' in the Irish Mirror.
Prisoners Allowed To Buy Mobile Phones
Most prisons struggle to keep cell phones out of the hands of prisoners. But you know how we Irish love to gab. Several prisoners in Loughan House jail have been given permission to buy and use cell phones while serving their sentences, including one man convicted of manslaughter. The Irish Prison Service has recommended the change, and other prisons have already begun offering the benefit in County Wicklow. Not everyone is happy about the new policy, however. Justice Committee member Finian McGrath expressed his displeasure and said, "People have got to get the message that prison isn’t a luxury hotel."

Before you know it, they'll be handing out things like condoms to the prisoners. Oh, wait.
Thieves Swipe ATM Machine Through Bank Wall
Thieves in Sligo used a digger to break through a bank wall and haul off an ATM machine. Police are asking the public for help in identifying the driver of a white Nissan pulling a trailer in the Teeling Street area between the hours of 4 AM and 6 AMon January 29th. The ATM has been recovered. No word on whether or not the robbers triggered an alarm at the bank, but judging from the size of that hole in the wall, it's hard to believe no one was roused by the event. Just the facts, if you please.
Criminals Betrayed By Sweet Tooth
It didn't take long for police to apprehend three men who robbed a gas station in Palmerstown. The trio got only a small amount of cash, but helped themselves to plenty of candy. Dropping sweets as they ran, police followed the trail and found the men divvying up their ill gotten gains. They're now sitting in jail awaiting a hearing...without dessert, one hopes.
 Dublin Cost Of Living Goes Up...Again
Finally, this may be the worst crime of all.
If you've ever thought of returning to the green fields of Ireland to live or retire, beware. The cost of living in Dublin's fair city is going up. It's now the 21st most expensive city in the world. That's up 13 rungs from last year's spot at 34.
Oh, the humanity!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mystery Weekend Roundup for March 9, 2014

International Women's Day with Women Crime Writers

This Saturday was International Women's Day. Celebrate by listening to a radio broadcast discussion of female crime writers, with Maria Doganieri.

Then check out an excellent article on Mary Roberts Rinehart and the anniversary of the publication of her mystery novel, The Circular Staircase. It was 106 years ago last week that the novel was published. It sold over a million copies and established Miss Rinehart as the American "Agatha Christie". Read more about this amazing woman at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, thanks to journalist Marylynne Pitz.

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend Can Be Murder

Alex Berenson, creator of the highly successful John Wells thrillers, discusses the creation of the fictional hero that jump started his career as a novelist. He also touches on a decision that many writers will someday face...when is it time to kill your character? When that character has paid the bills for many years, it's a tough decision. Tougher when you think of all you been through together. Read Alex's article at the New York Times. And what about you? Does one of your characters face a future on the chopping block?

If your a fan of espionage thrillers, you can check out the entire John Wells series here.

The Pinckley Awards

A new crime fiction award, created in the memory of crime fiction columnist Diana Pinckley, has been awarded to Laura Lippman and Gwen Florio for their contributions to crime fiction.  The awards will be given on March 22nd at the 28th annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. Read more about the awards and the woman who inspired them at The Rap Sheet.

Asian Pulp Fiction

Did you know that India has a thriving readership devoted to pulp fiction? Neither did I.  But according to journalist Tarquin Hall, pulp fiction is very popular in India, though the elite in that country tend to frown upon it (hmm...that sounds familiar, doesn't it?)

Yet millions of blue collar workers devour these novels, according to Hall's article in The Times. Just ask Surender Mohan Pathak, who has written 250 novels and sold more than 25 million copies of his books. He describes himself this way: "I am like Colgate: a reliable brand name...".

Not unlike the way another famous pulp writer one described himself, and who once declared, "I don't have readers. I have customers." Perhaps Mr. Pathak took his cue from Mickey Spillane.

Get Your Own Poe Action Figure!

If your looking for some inspiration, or something to place on the desk to keep you company while you write, look no further! You can get your own Edgar Allen Poe Action Figure, complete with Raven, to serve as the ultimate Muse. Makes a great conversation starter! Hurry, because supplies are limited. Available on eBay. Go ahead...check it out. You know you can't resist looking.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mystery Weekend Roundup for March 2, 2014

Book Giveaways

Interested in a free book? Who isn't? Check out this link on Goodreads, where you can enter drawings to win a book. They have several categories, including Popular Authors and Ending Soon. Even if you don't win, it's a great way to discover new and emerging authors.

And seeing that St. Patrick's Day in just a couple of weeks away, you might want to check out the Irish Crime Bookshelf. Ireland has seen the emergence of some great talent in crime fiction during the past few years.

Winners of The Lovey Awards

A hearty congratulations to all the winners of the Lovey Awards, handed out in Chicago during the latest Love Is Murder Mystery Writers Conference. I was particularly glad to see that J. Michael Major won for Best First Novel with One Man's Castle (which I've recently started reading). Check out the list of all the winners at Janet Rudolph's excellent blog, Mystery Readers Inc.

Faulkner Interview, The Art of Fiction, From The Paris Review (1956)

It's been a while since I've read this and it well worth reading every so often. Faulkner's witty responses in between his serious commentary are a lot of fun, like this answer on the difficulty of understanding his novels.

Interviewer: Some people say they can't understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

Faulkner: Read it four times.

And then there's this gem, on what a writer needs to write:

So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. All the wrong environment will do is run his blood pressure up; he will spend more time being frustrated or outraged. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.

Keep it simple...and keep writing. Here's the full interview, from the Paris Review.

Humorous Definition of a Cozy Mystery (And one more reason to love The Big Bang Theory)

Actor Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, is a big fan of mystery novels, in particular the "cozy". Who knew? And he gives a great definition in this talk show appearance.

Here's the video:

And if you'd like to visit the website that Jim mentions in the video, here's the link to Cozy-Mystery. Enjoy!