Jul 30, 2005

The Panic Days

Every two months I sit down to do the layout on Crimespree and usually it takes a good to solid days. Issue 6 and 7 involved longer than usual periods with out sleep. As I get better with the software I think the issues look better and better.

Well, number 8 is coming down fast and the panic comes along with it.
Do I have enough material?
Do I have too much material?
If I have too much, how can I whittle it down?
Does someone get bumped?
That’s weird, I don’t remember talking to this person about doing an article, and yet here it is with a note saying that we had talked about…
Do I have enough reviews?
Did I forget to review something?
Are my regular contributors going to make the deadline?

Well, so far I have a fair amount of stuff a little early, so the layout has already begun. A number of regular contributors always manage to scare me, but always, and I mean always, come through in the end.

So I’m going through everything lined up for this coming issue and trying to figure out the page count. And of course I also have to try and get the ads in there and remember all of them.

So far so good.

We have some great pictures from Mary Reagan and from Rik Shepherd of event in the UK, a nice piece from Harry Hunsicker on his book launch, David Morrell sent us a great article, we have Sandra Tooley and some great thoughts on Self Publishing. Julia Spencer-Fleming interviews Zoe Sharp, Maureen Robb interviews Patricia Sprinkle. Cover boys Michael Connelly and William Kent Krueger. A nice piece on Michael from Craig McDonald and a great interview of Kent by Jeremy Lynch. Lori Avocato, Shirley Kennet, Ray Banks, and Will Staeger are here too. Great fiction from Iain Rowan, Steven Torres and Otis XII. And of course Reed Coleman, Robert J Randisi and Jim Pascoe.

And just so no freaks out, it will ship the Friday before Bouchercon, this means with bulk mailing it will be between 10 and 16 days before it shows up.

It will be on sale at Bouchercon® in Chicago at the MYSTERY ONE booth in the dealer room.

All in all a pretty action packed issue. Will it all jam into the 76 pages between the covers? I hope so…

Jul 29, 2005

More great books

Well, TILT-A -WHIRL was great. I wasn't sure what to exect going in, but it turned out to be a great read. It's the first in the series from this ad executive with a background that goes to comedy. He also did the ad campaign for TROJAN MAN, a wonderful way to sell condoms.

The book takes palce in a resort town called Sea Haven and is a wonderful setting for a book. The narration comes from Danny Boyle, who is actually a bit of a sidekick with a ebnt towards being a smart ass. A dead millionaire and kidnapped daughter later the book really starts humming and the ending is not what I expected, which is getting rare these days! I would say it would be a good idea to get this as soonas it comes out.

I finished the Randisi/Matthews book also. This was such a pleasure to read. SAME TIME ,SAME MURDER, while telling the story of how Gil and Claire Hunt met, is also a great whodunit set at a mystery converntion. Seamless plotting and story telling at it's finest. St. Martins should really put these out in paperback too.

I also read the new Kirk Russell book, DEADGAME. This time out our wildlife officers are tracking Salmon poachers, add a litte Russian mob action, some ex-cons and a few budget cuts, and what you have in your hands is another great book from Russell. Anyone who han't read him yet should, he's a real talent.

I just started THE DARWIN CONSPIRACY by John Darnton. I picked it up thinking it would be a book trying to get buzz from that Da Vinci book. Nope. This is definitly a book standing on it's own merit. Plus Darnton is a mucg better author. The story opens with a man kind of lost and recovering from tragedy. He is doing research for a degree and begins to lose interest. He becomes fascinated with Chrles Darwin and starts looking into the man's life. Written with flashbacks to Darwin's time it is a lot of fun and beauttifully written.

And don't forget, Zoe Sharp's book comes out Sept. 1st!!

Jul 21, 2005

Lethargic in Milwaukee


It's really humid, it's too hot. I'm working in a shop that feels like an oven set on broil.

I come home from work and I'm drenched, sweaty, gross and a bit rank.

Work on the magazine a bit, do some chores (laundry) and head to the shower.

At this point I'm feeling human, though wiped out. So the best remedy must be to...
Read of course.

And right now I'm reading Stuart McBride's COLD GRANITE. Wondrful book. Police Procedural set in a sall Scottish burg. I love the characters and the story rocks. Look for a review in Crimespree #8.

Thanks Stuart. You've made this tropical hell a little easier to endure.....

UPDATE: 3:30 am, finished book. McBride rocks. If you like Rankin, Billingham, Kernick you'll love this. It has a similar flavor, while still being fresh. Outstanding book.

Also, after finishing the book I went down to the family business and finished a job that has been making me crazy. I had a revelation while looking throught the book stack. Now the Job is done and I'm starting TILT A WHIRL. So far so good. I'm also half way through the new Randisi/Matthews book, SAME TIME-SAME MURDER. This is also a very fun book with a murder at Bouchercon.

Jon - 4:18 am, off to read some more.

Jul 17, 2005

Harry Potter

Let me get this straight from the begining.
I had the new Harry Potter in my hands at 14 minutes after midnight. There was no long hours of waiting in a bookstore, I reserved a copy at a store which was beyond organized. Quarter to twelve I walked in, went to the counter and paid for my books. including the Potter. I had been handed a letter as I walked in the door ( I was a "L"), I went out for a smoke and waited maybe five minutes for midnight. I casualy walked into the store and got in line. At twenty minutes after the hour I was driving home. No Fuss No Muss.

And now.....The rest of the story...

I went to get the new book with one of my best friends, Richard. Richard's wife said as w were leaving, "Have fun dorks!". We just smiled. Richard explained to her how we had costumes hidden in the car and would be changing in the parking lot before entering the store.
We didn't really do this.....

Ruth kept referring to this as our attempt at male bonding. It's not. We both wanted the book, and why not go and enjoy the show?

And it was a show.There were hundreds of people in the store. And they were all there to buy books. Children dressed up and excited. This was cool.
Twenty something goth's excited and dressed up, this was weird.
Adults excited and dressed up, this was sad.
It's not sad they were excited, but I do think there is an age when you should consider the fact that dressing up in costumes is for kids, leave it to them.
However it was also very cool because the store we went to had someone come in to read to the kids. A local celebrity who was in Buffy The Vampire Slayer series and for us older folks, ANIMAL HOUSE. That's right ladies and gentlemen, Neidermeyer was there and reading Harry Potter aloud. Mark Metcalf owns a local eatery in Mequon, just north of Milwaukee and he was on hand. I could not help mself an immediatly start to say very loudly" IS THAT A QUIDDITCH PIN ON YOUR UNIFORM??!!!". Some of the older muggles actually got it and laughed. This led Richard to start with lines from the Twisted Sister vidoes...

It was very cool to see whole families come out with copies of the book. All of them happy and excited.I loved seeing this many people excited about reading. We have a whole generation who considers reading something you do on a monitor. And the fact that people are making it a family event is great.

So to anyone who feels the need to rip on Harry Potter or JK Rowling I say this: Get over yourself. JK Rowling deserves every penny she makes. Why? Because she has made reading somethig kids want to do again. She has made it cool. She also has entire families reading together and discussing books. And when they finish the Potter book, many are looking for other books to read as a family. This is where the next generation of mystery fans could be coming from.

So enough of this bullshit about the book needs some editing, it's too long, it isn't as good as the last one, will it be an enduring classic.... Shut up already. It's entertainment. It's fun. It's adventure. They aren't supposed to change your life or your diet or philosphy in all things. They are supposed to entertain. They are supposed to be fun.

And they they are entertaining and they are fun.

And the best part is JK Rowling has a lot of people reading again.

Jul 15, 2005

Bouchercon 2008

Baltimore Maryland.

Ruth Jordan and Judy Bobalik co-chairs.

Bouchercon 2008
Official Bouchercon 2008 blog site is up and running.
Links to Guest of Honor's Websites, Links to Baltimore tourist information.

It's still three years out, but things are already in movement. Exciting times ahead in my house!

Jul 13, 2005

Ruth's Reading - A Snapshot in Words

I’m inspired by recent events to share a taste of my reading so far this year. The books I’m going to talk about may or may not be the best in any academic sense of the crop I’ve read so far this year. What these books were and will always be are a reading experience. If you’re on Jon’s blog you know what I’m talking about. That perfect mix of environmental and mental factors working with your appreciation of the words in front of you on the page. So here it is, the year so far:

My first favorite of the year was a borrowed ARC of Pelecanos’ DRAMA CITY. Jon and I were in Baltimore , stranded for an extra four hours in the airport. Rescued, I was. Mechanical problems be damned, I was in D.C. with the man who writes it best. The character strokes and nuances of the book were vintage G.P. but the read was streamlined. If you’d have told me in advance I’d be a fan of a full frontal plot from Pelecanos after the wonderful epics of the last four years I’d have been skeptical but the sparseness won me over within pages and an inconvenience became stolen moments in time

My first surprise of 2005 was this year’s Elizabeth George. Many of you know of my pre-marriage book buying strategy. George was one of the few always purchased in Hard Cover at Casa Flannery. WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS is a special book. George maintains her series integrity while paying it forward. I found this her most intricate book since PLAYING FOR THE ASHES. I read a lot more now than I did when George was a must buy. Still, I’ve yet to miss reading a title in year of publication. So trust me, the broo-ha-ha started about this book is justified and it’s one that deserves to be talked about.

My second favorite reading experience of the year belongs to Michael Parenti. SUPERPATRIOTISM stole a weekend from Jon. Parenti’s analysis of current day knocked my socks off as his books often do. If there is a more articulate person writing from the left today I haven’t found him. Anyone interested in not only political but societal changes brought about due to “patriotism” will enjoy this read.

And then came the weekend when I had a pile of twelve review books to read and I ignored them all. Due to misinformation I had failed to receive a pre-read of Jan Burke’s BLOODLINES. I grabbed it, “Just for me,” I proclaimed. The next morning I was wrapping it up as Jon awoke to start his day. Burke’s books have consistently improved since GOODNIGHT IRENE. GOODNIGHT IRENE was a very strong book. But Bloodlines took me back to the beginning of Burke’s always good series and roped me. The time before and the time since all co-mingled in this excellent and ambitious book. Long time questions were answered for readers and the story was enveloped in the mystique of a singular voice so the same and yet so much better. A Sublime experience that was well worth two days of dark circles.

I had a reading marathon in the midst of April. From Wed. to Sunday I read Sarah Weinman style (but it takes me at least twice as long). Three nights, two days, sixteen books. Saturday, I picked up a short story anthology titled DREAMS NEVER DIE and discovered H.P. Tinker. I am a slave and will follow him anywhere. Precise and unique his prose is the freshest I’ve read in a long time. I bow to you Mr. Tinker. Thank you for making me feel like I was a giddy neophyte again. I called people and e-mailed, and pounded the brush. 16 books and your three stories are what I come away with from that weekend.

My experience of the year thus far? THE POWER OF THE THREE by Laura Lippman. Talking about this book is almost mandatory this summer. To say I’m in awe of what this author is managing to do with words is an understatement. “You never know what you’re going to get.” Few authors shift their eye and maul our comfortable allusions in the way this woman can. POWER is a potent read. It’s a shattering look at how today’s upper middle class can blow apart in a nano-second. Lives not realized resonate from the pages and the bonds that form us are exposed for how tenuous and damaging they can become under a given set of circumstances. The pressures faced by today’s adolescents become visceral and the fears of every parent are realized. With a myriad of characters that are singularly and as a whole unforgettable TPOT3 is a reader’s experience. I spoke with a friend who’s also a best selling author last month and he was astonished not that Lippman had written another great book but at how complete it really was. Paraphrasing here, “I kept waiting for a mistake, somewhere, anywhere. Turning pages and knowing one had to happen. It never did. The book is the real deal. Perfectly constructed.” And that sums it up better than I ever could. That overused phrase “genre-transcending” does apply to THE POWER OF THE THREE. It is the only book this year that I’ve read twice and is still on my TBR pile.

The why I’m writing this belongs to a friend who slipped me a copy of Nick Hornby’s THE POLYSYLLABIC SPREE, “Books are, let’s face it better than anything else” . And Hornby’s Spree reminded me of why. A short little chronicle of his year in reading the book is a delight. From the wrestling match with Wilkie Collins to Pete Dexter’s overkill( “Pete, did the nipple have to go?”) I spent a series of lunch hours commiserating , agreeing and laughing with Hornby about the joys of our favorite pastime. The joy is back in my reading and words are an adventure again and I have ACTS OF FAITH by Philip Caputo waiting for me, calling my name even. Can you hear it?

Goodnight and happy reading.


Jul 10, 2005

IDW Publishing

IDE Publishingis a publishing house based in California. Among other things, they publish some great comics. One of the titles they do is the CSI line of comics licensed from CBS.Max Allan Collins is writing some of these and they are outstanding.The Show makes me a little crazy sometimes, but Collins, along with his research guy, Matthew V. Clemons, do a terrific job.
The Stories are well thought out and very entertaining. They also seem to flesh out the characters a bit more.

In addition to the CSI comics they also do a number of other really good titles, including two of my favorites which I thought we lost when First Comics shut down. Jon Sable:Freelance is a great series form Mike Grell .

They are also publishing Grim Jack by Matt Ostrander and Tim Truman. A wickedly entertaining series set in a "grim" future.

I would recommend getting some books from these folks. They reall y have some great stuff to offer.

Jul 2, 2005

Simon Kernick

Simon Kernick. He was born in 1966 in the outskirt of London. After a number of odd jobs he eventually started writing THE BUSINESS OF DYING. This lead to writing further novels which to date include THE MURDER EXCHANGE, THE CRIME TRADE and his latest A GOOD DAY TO DIE.

Post bouchercon in Las Vegas I had heard Simon's name. I'd seen it on the internet. In Vegas thanks to Ali Karim I got to meet Simon. I got to spend a bit of time with Simon. As it turns out I really like Simon. It might have to do with the closeness in our ages, his sense of humor is similar to mine and he's just a genuinely nice guy, or bloke depending who you talk to. He's enthusiatstic and outgoing. He also seemes to love what he does. So yes,because of these reasons and more I really liked Simon from the first time I met him.

So, here's the intersting part of meeting authors, especially when you know you will met them again. I had not read his work yet. It was my guess that judging by the fact that I liked Simon and we shared similar tastes in reading that I would probably really enjoy his writing.

Well, when we got back to Milwaukee post Vegas I got his first book, THE BUSINES OF DYING. It took about a week for me to get to it. In that time I had the thought that sometimes comes after meeting an author. What if I don't like it? Worse, What if it really sucks? Do I spend the next untold number of conventions avoiding talking about his books when I see him?

As it turns out this was not an issue. I really liked the book. Enough that I got his second book direct from the UK and read it. I've now read all four of his books and enjoyed them all. He actually gets better with each book.

He writes about characters that seem real. His good guys aren't always just good, but live in a bit of a gray area. He write wonderful plots that twist and turn. And he mangaes to keep the suspense building through out the books. They are fresh and wonderful.

From what I understand St. Martins will be releasing them in trade paperback as well, so the back list will be available. Simon is just another reason why I find my self reading more and more UK authors.

If you have not read Simon Kernick's books yet you should.