Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Tanabata Magpie -- IJ Parker

Got my latest Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and it has a story by IJ Parker, who writes about 11th century Japan. Read it. Loved it. The story stars her series character Akitada (does it mean "Little Akita" in ancient Japanese?) a Japanese court official. I solved the puzzle in my usual method -- that is, I suspected every named character and most of the unnamed characters like gardeners and maids. In fact, I suspected everyone but Akitada and the victim. No wait. There was a point when I suspected the victim.

In any event, a very good story, an interesting mystery and a splendid introduction to the series.

One small dissappointment--- I would have loved to have known more about the Tanabata Festival which is part of the title of the story. This doesn't affect the understanding of the story, but I would have enjoyed the added value.

I have searched through my old Alfred Hitchcock's and found a story called The Kamo Horse. Will report when I'm done.

The Last Day of the Season - Lawrence Furbish

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine has published this story and I consider it to be quite a gem. It is very short (about five pages) but packs a wallop and is finely written. That last quality -- the fineness of the writing is why I've remembered to post about it. It's a bit like reading a Raymond Carver or Andre Dubus story except interesting. (Not that those other two were uninteresting, although...) Anyway, highly recommended and I hope to see others like this and by this author.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Ballad of Gato Guerrero, Part One

I've read the first half of Manuel Ramos's "The Ballad of Gato Guerrero." Marvelous stuff. Ramos is, I think, the most poetic of the crime writers I've read on a line by line basis. Raymond Chandler came up with some great lines, but not even line impressed me. This is my third Ramos novel, and so far, every line impresses.

Also, he writes short novels which I think is key in a crime novel -- of course a procedural may need to take out space to explain or describe procedures and a historical may need to do the same to get across the historical nuances of an age, but if there is no reason for a book to be long, then it should be short. This may sound like the simplest advice in the world, but it really isn't. Publishers have word count targets that writers are asked or required to hit. Mine is 65k. Not sure why. Anyway, Ramos gives you a story where every line, every word, is integral. Cool.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Heard from a writer today who has been discouraged by rejections. That is sad. The most abundant thing in the business of publishing is rejection. When I first thought of being a writer, I read that one should keep the rejections in a file and look at them once in a while. I tried it for a while, but got no reward from the practice. It didn't make me stronger. It also didn't make me weaker. I lost the file, found it, then threw it out.

Acceptances are a lot cooler, but they also don't do anything for me, so I don't keep them either.

One rejection was useful for me -- Gordon van Gelder at The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy sent me a rejection letter that was personalized (he's sent me three now). In it, he told me that he liked the story but had published a patient zero story only a few months earlier. The part where he said he iked the story wasn't helpful, but I hadn't thought of the story as a patient zero story. In fact, I had never even heard of a patient zero story. It took me a minute to figure out what that was, but when I did, I understood that I had used a plot device that had been used often before. That's okay, but if you do that, you'd better bring something new and refreshing to the concept. Something that overcomes the cliche and makes it a novelty again. I didn't in that story.

May I take your order?

I have a P.O. Box now. It's a strange thing to have, but there it is. If you'd like to place an order with the Crime Time Cafe (see below for the Menu of Doom), then send me the money (check please!) and an list of the stories you're interested in. I'll be posting brief descriptions of the stories in a day or two.

The Crime Time Cafe
P.O. Box 634
Ellington CT 06029

Friday, June 17, 2005

My favorite so far...

I've read about eight of the stories of the online collection and so far my favorite story is "The Horror in the Sands" by John Rickards. I feel like rewriting it. I'd take out the Nazi/Indiana Jones aspect and put in either selfish ambitions or, perhaps better yet a vixen in the background. In any event, the story is superb. Link to it below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More Stories Than a Stick Can Effectively Be Shaken At

Most Wanted - review

Just finshed reading Most Wanted by Michele Martinez. Fast paced, complex and with a central character that I actually cared about. Crooked lawyers, possibly crooked cops, how-far-up-does-this-conspiracy-go? plotting, a little sexual deviance, and the summer swelter of NYC - what more could one ask for? A thoroughly enjoyable book and I'll be looking for the second in the series -- I've heard from the author herself that she has turned it in and is hard at work on book three.

Who's the romantic interest in the next book? That's what I want to know.

Hopefully, I'll have an interview with Michele ready soon on my website.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Menu of Doom

This is the menu I'll be serving from starting June 15th at my website (see the only link in my sidebar). Then you'll get information about how to send me money and what kind of format. These prices are for little, paper booklets with not very fancy covers. Essentially pamphlets. I'm hoping for PDF as well; those prices should be cheaper. We'll see. For now...

The Hors D’oeuvres of Peril

___ Stoop, The Thief ($1.00)
___ Caring for José ($1.00)
___ Viktor Petrenko, Have You No Mercy? ($1.00)
___ Taking Van der Flieder’s Bad Star ($1.00)

Full Entrees of Crime

___ The Short Story Sampler ($4.00)
(Stoop, The Thief * Caring for José * Viktor Petrenko, Have
You No Mercy? * Taking Van der Flieder’s Bad Star)
___ Tales of Angustias ($4.00)
(Caring for José * Rolling Rivera * The Valley of Angustias)
___ Viktor Petrenko, Man of Disaster ($5.00)
(Viktor Petrenko, Have You No Mercy? * We Will Make You Beg *
Run, Viktor, Run * Bring Them To Their Knees * Elena Speaks of
the City Under Siege)
___ Stoop, The Thief: A Biography, (Vol. One) ($4.00)
(4 stories including Stoop, The Thief – COMING SOON)

Just Desserts (Not Always Criminal)

___ Chaos ($1.00)
___ The Devil in Jackson Township ($1.00)
___ Doubleplay ($1.00)
___ Every Man a Liar ($1.00)

Smorgasbord of Evil

___ All Fourteen Stories Currently Available ($12.00)

* Postage extra!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Crime Time Cafe Press - Why?

I have written a lot of stories in the past year. About 25 or so ranging from 1,650 words to 12,500. Not all of them are crime or mystery stories, but many are. The good people at CrimeSpree have published one and taken a couple of others. Shots has taken another. Shred of Evidence has taken another (to be published in August) and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine is publishing another in November. This is a good publishing year for me, but I still have about twenty stories with no home, some too violent for Alfred Hitchcock others too long for Shots or CrimeSpree.

Of course, I might just set the stories aside for publication next year, but I presume that I'l have added a couple dozen more to the pile, and these are good stories.

There again, I could just stop writing. I don't find writing addictive, but then that doesn't really solve the problem of what to do with the stories (again, it's not like I'm writing rubbish (he says hopefully)).

I thought I might try something just a little adventurous -- a chapbook series. The stories get out there, I bring home a little money, readers are made happy. Win, win, win.

We'll see.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Crime Time Cafe Proudly Presents...

The Crime Time Cafe Chapbook Series.

(Imagine that deep voice used in movie trailers...)

In a world where short story writers get very little money for their stories, one man stands alone willing to turn his stories (of which he writes quite a few) into chapbooks.

No, really.

The menu will be coming soon (this is a cafe after all) and your waiter will be by to take your order. There'll be appetizers and full entrees and guilt free deserts. It'll be fun. It'll be amusing. Only you'll have to pay for it.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 06, 2005

AHMM, Part 2

They let me know that my story "UFO" should be published in the November issue which will be distributed at the next Bouchercon. Very, very cool.

What's Going On?

I'm working on lots and lots and lots of things all at once. For a person with the attention span of a gnat, this isn't such a bad thing -- it keeps things interesting. The down side is that I haven't a clue when any of it gets finished. I'll be announcing some of my projects in the next day or two; maybe even later today.

One thing I can say is that my website (clickable on the right hand column) will soon have interviews with two authors I enjoy quite a lot -- Will Thomas of "Some Danger Involved" and Michele Martinez of "Most Wanted." Excellent books, excellent people, excellent interviews.

More later.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What to Write?

This year I've started three novels and I currently have about five short stories going. Four of them on one character - more about that at a later date. The Summer is just starting for me (though I am teaching a class) but I'm going to be house hunting (I think) so I can't really get too tied up in a big project. It is short story city for at least a while.

But which short story? The ones I've started will be finished soon. Then what? I've decided -- ones that can be sold for cold hard cash. Or checks. That is, ones that would suit the good people at Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen. AHMM has recently taken one of my stories and that's a good feeling. It would be great to get EQMM to do the same.

But how do these outlets differ from other fine outlets like CrimeSpree Magazine, Shots or Shred of Evidence (when I figure out how to do linking, I will)? It seems that part of the difference is that AHMM and EQMM have a distaste for graphic violence (which I write well) and for spousal and child abuse (which I find to be great motives for action). They lean more toward the puzzle story (which I can't write and can sometimes get confused by as a reader). Still, I'll have to find some happy medium because, well, checks are pretty sweet.

On the other hand, it is a privilege to have one's story selected even by a market that doesn't pay. And they are more tolerant of the crime story I like to write as opposed to seeking actual MYSTERY in my stories. That, I think, is another post.