Aug 28, 2005

Finding the Magic

I love a mystery. From cozy to thriller a good book provides me with hours of entertainment. A great book is magical. The bad ones are disappointments. Every book is unique. It is an experience put on the page by one individual and interpreted by another. We are all a fan base of one. I hate the labels and yet they are needed. . With as many titles as are put out annually in our genre I cannot think of another way to wade through the thousands of offerings presented to me every year.

I consider myself a liberal when it comes to reading. I don’t dismiss any title because of a preconceived prejudice. "I don’t read British", "I read the books with recipes", "police procedurals are too much about the crime", "Oh, I tried him but there was too much violence for my taste" All statements I’ve heard from more than one source. Personally they make me shudder. However, I have no right to tell anyone what to read. Free time is precious and certainly everyone has a right to decide how to use theirs. I can and I do mourn for their loss. The James Lee Burke fan who never tries Ian Rankin. The Katherine Hall Page Fan who never tries Susan McBride. Any soft-boiled reader who misses Martha Grimes because Jury and Wiggins are police is only hurting them self. And that last statement…… if you’re reading mystery and the subject of violence is glossed over…… you’re reading a bad book.

That’s my background. I read 350 books a year. And now I’m going to weigh in on this year’s controversy. Gender preference.

Mr. Penzler drove me a little crazy earlier this year. He dismissed much of the mystery genre with a rather broad statement put forth in the New York Post. Patricia Sprinkle had an excellent rebuttal in the next Sisters in Crime Newsletter. I have to say a bookstore owner saying all women writers are hacks is, let me look for the right word here…. got it…… comical. Now my taste in mystery and Otto’s are not all that different. I love most of the authors he endorses. I just read more. And I pity him. Some of the books he’s missing because of gender preference are important. Some are pure fun, and many are unforgettable. He has every right to his opinion, and females have every right to boycott his store and his mystery line. But I’m not holding my breath on that front nor am I endorsing it. As I said Otto and I have similar tastes.

Women authors banding together and saying, "We shouldn’t be categorized as females and our work should be appreciated for its merits," is a good idea. Calling the sounding board “The Lipstick Chronicles” is ….. let me find the right word here…. comical. There have been some great pieces on that site. There’s also been a number of sweeping generalizations I find offensive. Male bashing and dismissing entire sub-genres is perpetuating the problem not making it better. There’s nothing new in women not getting any respect. It happens in every job. It happens in mine. Write a good book. Do a good job. That’s all it takes.

So now I’m going to celebrate some of my favorite authors. They happen to be female. They are to a name a joy to share the experience of reading with.

Without a doubt S.J. Rozan and Laura Lippman are two of the most important writers today. Rozan’s ABSENT FRIENDS and Lippman’s EVERY SECRET THING and TO THE POWER OF THE THREE are proof that the unique experience of a read can become communal. These two women played with the structure of the novel and presentation of character with an ability and craftsmanship that was brilliantly individual. The stories may not be for everyone but the talent of the scribes must be acknowledged. Both of these women also continue to write their series with a rate of growth few are capable of.

Val McDermid is a name in mystery that has to be read. She writes everything. Hard-boiled, Soft, P.I., Police Procedural, Amateur Sleuth. She’s written from every p.o.v. and here’s the most important part….. she writes everything well. No matter where your tastes lie within the vast genre of mystery there’s a McDermid book out there screaming for you to read it.

And here’s a list off the top of my head

Hard-boiled- Vicki Hendricks, Karin Slaughter, Carroll O’Connell, Denise Mina, Mo Hayder,

Amateur Sleuth- Barb D’Amato, Jan Burke, Nevada Barr, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Sue Dunlop, Sujata Massey, Libby Fischer Hellman, Nancy Pickard

Police Procedural- April Woo, Leslie Glass, Ruth Rendell, Paula Woods

P.I.- Sandra Scoppettone, Sara Paretsky, Linda Barnes, Marcia Muller

Lawyers- Lia Matera, Lisa Scottilone, Alafair Burke, Margaret Maron,

Lighter side- M.C. Beaton, Sarah Graves, Charlaine Harris, Joan Hess, Dianne Mott Davidson, Denise Swanson

There are new writers. Rochelle Kirch’s series does everything Kellerman tried to do with hers. Ruth Francisco is a name to follow. Judy Clemens has a unique series that I’m not going to miss. And it goes on and on. In this genre there is something for everyone and no matter what you like to read there are men and women who do it well. There are also men and women who do it badly. Cutting yourself off from a percentage of writers because of their gender is absurd. Deciding to put down a book because it isn’t your cup of tea is simple common sense. Two absolutes. This is a huge genre and finding a new author you think is special is one of life’s greatest joys. Respect your fellow readers when they do the same. That’s called manners.


Aug 27, 2005

Sweet Home Chicago

It's almost Bouchercon time. How do I know? I have stuff piled up all over ready to load into the truck. This is the first time we'll be driving to the convention so we are taking advantage of this.

We loaded up on Vitamin Water, five different flavors, and rockstar energy drink.
A huge footlocker for door prizes for our party, magazines to have on sale in the book room. I could go on and on, but let's just say the bell boy will be getting a nice tip....

SO, Crimespree Magazine's Second Annual Gala Party!
Last year we wanted to buy drinks for a few people and invited twenty or so folks ofver to The Lone Star bar across the street from the hotel. We had more than twenty show up!
This year we have a great place picked out and have set up for a cash bar, free food and doorprizes to be given out. We'll also be giving out the Crimespree awards at this party.
If you are interested shoot me an email for details.

Next week not too much going on here on the blog, but the week after start looking for pictures and tales from the road!

Aug 19, 2005

Two weeks till ship date

Interview with Zoe Sharp, author of the rocking great book FIRST DROP by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Appearing in issue 8 of
  • Crimespree Magazine

  • Please remeber that Bulk Mail takes up to 14 days. It is shipping the Friday before Bouchercon, and will be on sale in the dealer room at Bouchercon.

    A Poll

    This year at Bouchercon during our party we are giving out a couple awards.

    Favorite Book which was voted on last winter and The Jack Reacher Book of the year.

    I'm looking for interesting ideas for other awards. We're thinking of best second or third novel, best on going series, and best marketing idea.
    We're looking for new ideas that are a little different. so feel fre to leave a comment with your thoughts.

    Aug 9, 2005

    **** Rant Warning ****

    I need to get this out.

    Can't we all just get along?

    A number of ladies are discussing the fact that men aren't reading their books, and that they aren't being treated seriously enough.
    The PI people think that they are not represented properly at conventions.
    Thriller writters think they are over looked by awards.
    Hard boiled guys want to know why they don't have wider appeal.
    The self published folks want to be seen as real writers.

    I could go on and on.

    Hey!! It's all mystery. It all falls into this genre we love. It is making me crazy to see all this splintering off of little groups, getting smaller and more specific. What's next? Transvestites who write cozy PI novel paperback originals translated from Greek?

    Bouchercon to me is all about everyone coming together. And yet everyone is trying to seperate themsleves. Doesn't it occur to anyone that by putting authors who write things a little different from each other you might bring in different readers? A thriller writer on a panel with a cozy writer is going to attract new readers for both, not just catering to the readers they all ready have.

    There is speculation about why certain books are only in paprback and not hardcover. The reason? Because the publisher feels that is what the target audience will buy. If they were switched to hardcover they might lose readers. Better to sell 10000 paperbacks than 100 hardcovers.

    And why should I feel guillty because Out of every hundred books I read 60 are men ond only 40 are women? I'm reading what I enjoy. I don't get asked to explain why I like Coke more than Pepsi, why should I have to explain this? When I review I judge on one thing only, quality of writing. And that's what it's all about. Is there some bias in peoples reading habits? Of course there is. It's the nature of humans to be that way. Is it a plot against what ever particlular writers grop you may be a part of? I doubt it.

    Most things that seem like a plot can most liekly be explianed on a business level. How does this effect the publisher? Or the newspaper reviewing, or the store ordering? It's simple economics. If the people involved aren't making a profit, they can't afford to do it, no matter jopw much they might like the author and the work.

    Another thing....

    Marketing. I got an email today asking if I would like torecevie a book in the mail. The emailer had seen my reviews on Amazon and thought that if I liked the book I could review it there.
    I already reviewed this book. The author knows this as do his publicity people. And the truth is, the only people who really care about reviews on Amazon are the publishers. The actual anount of sales from Amazon is pretty low in the whole scheme of things, between 6% and 10% of overall sales.
    I understand needing to market a book. I really do. It is very important. And trying new things is not a bad idea. MJ Rose's idea of using an internet video was pretty clever. Did it sell enough books to justify the cost? I don't know.

    But there are some ideas that are just bad. People driving themselves crazy figuring out how to get their books into Walmart. Why? So they sell a bunch of books to a box store that want's a 70% discount and only pays the employees a less than living wage? And don't get me started on how they discriminate against women with their promoting policies...

    I saw on a board I belong to a thread involving someone talking about going door to door and handing out postcards to his nieghbors. Months after the book was out I might add. Am I theonly person who thinks this would be a waste of time and postcards?

    The truth is there are thousands of mysteries put out every year. Competition is a factor, but you can only do so much promotion before it just gets annoying or becomes a waste of money.

    Ok, let's wrap this up.

    Be nice to each other, we're all in this together!!!

    And market wisely, not expensively.

    Aug 8, 2005

    The West Wing

    I never watched this show on network television. I came to it about a year ago in re-runs.

    I really enjoy it. I don't always agree with the politics, but thats the way life is, and no matter what it always makes me think.

    Good acting, some good comedy. All in all a pretty damn good show.

    My problem is this.

    Stockard Channing played a slutty girl in GREASE. That was the first time I ever saw her in anything and the image sits with me. I can't shake it. I see Mrs. Bartlett and I'm thinking Rizzo.

    She's a great actress, the fault is all mine. Or who maybe whoever did the casting for GREASE.

    GREASE is the word, it's time it's a motion.
    And Mrs. Barlett is a slut.

    Aug 5, 2005

    A newbie’s guide to Bouchercon


    I have found in past years it works best to pack one smaller suitcase inside a larger one. I always seem to have more coming back than I do on the way there.

    I’ve also stopped bringing books to get signed. I just don’t want to blow time standing in lines, and if I do need a signed book, I’ll get a copy there. If there is someone I never get to see I might bring a couple books….

    I’ve become one of those people who figures if I forget something, I’ll get it there.

    Dress comfortable:

    There’s a lot to be said for comfy shoes and fresh socks. One dressy outfit just in case should cover it.

    Also, for the most part you don’t really go outside much. So extra clothes to be warm takes up room. Of course this may change in Alaska…

    Do some checking ahead of time:

    What does shipping stuff home cost? Can you do it somewhere besides the hotel?

    Find cheap food or different food near the hotel.

    <>Check out transportation ahead of time, buses, cab fares Etc..

    Things you might not think about:

    Rock Star Energy Drink baby!


    <>Extra coffee

    Carry a pen with you, you never know when you’ll need it

    Business cards save time writing down your email address

    Don’t try and do everything. You’ll go crazy. Besides some of the best stuff isn’t on the schedule.

    Like sitting down to breakfast and being next to a favorite author, meeting new friends and going out to lunch, things like that.

    <>And remember. you can sleep when you get home!

    any other tips? I’m all ears.

    Aug 3, 2005

    HA hahahahaaaaa

    Panic was for naught.

    Issue 8 is at the printers awaiting final proof check. The first run through found only one error.

    Early reports indicate a nice looking issue. With far less speeling erros than can be found in my posting!

    All that's left now is waiting a bit and then mailing it out.

    So...... what to do for Number 9.......