Apr 30, 2011

Mystery Week

Everyone who knows Crimespree, knows that we spent this past week in New York City. What a week it was. I came to the party late. Trailing two days behind Jon, Paul, Jen and Judy.

Here are the bullet points.

Great meetings with many of New York's top publishers. We were there to talk Bouchercon involvement. The enthusiasm was gratifying. Jon has developed a good and quick presentation over the past three years. I'm a proud wife.

Big News for two of Mystery's champions.

Agent extraordinaire David Hale Smith has joined Inkwell Management in a move that I believe to be brilliant for both sides. The incredible talent the two are merging promises great reading ahead for readers everywhere.

Good Friend Ben Leroy of Tyrus Books had some news of his own. I am very excited both by the launch of F&W Crime, and the future of Tyrus Books. Ben has an eye for fiction that thinks outside the box and adds to the world of books.

Tremendous Launch for THE RICH & THE DEAD at The Mysterious Bookshop: When hundreds of people descend upon an independent bookstore on a Tuesday evening, it reaffirms my belief in the book itself. The bookstore on Warren Street was pulsating with life and overflowing with both authors and the folks who buy their books. If you are a reader be sure to visit this store on any New York visit.

The 65th Edgar Awards
And the Edgar goes to.....
A night of glitz, glamour, and celebration. A banquet with edible food. New memories created with old friends and new acquaintances. Long live mystery.

The Raven Winners: To see Augie (Centuries & Sleuths) Pat & Gary (Once Upon a Crime) outside of their natural milieu was worth a trip to New York. These three people have championed the book and the people who write them for many years. Owning a bookstore would be a thankless task except for their love of the written word. This one time "Payback is a Blessing". I cannot over-emphasize what it meant for me to see them receive this honor in person.

The 2011 Grand Master: Sara Paretsky is one of the world's most amazing women. Three decades ago now she began to write a series about a PI named V.I. Warshawski. This series breathed a fresh breath into the life of the Private Eye Novel, proving it could sell. Her sales encouraged many of the writers I know, male and female to begin writing what was in their gut. The sales allowed publishing houses to take a chance on talented new writers in the field of Crime.One of the founding members of Sisters in Crime, Paretsky has influenced an entire industry, from the people who publish it to the folks who report it. She has done it with a quiet elegance that has required the raising of her voice on occasion.
The champion of many social issues, Sara has lent her name and reputation to homelessness, womens' shelters and the list goes on. Her series has explored issues ranging from abortion to the quiet death of print newspaper. She does this with one of mystery's most enduring characters. V.I. is the go to chick for many of us who read and write.

That she receives this honor in a year when the presidency of the MWA is passed from Laura Lippman to Lisa Scotteline only makes it more special.

Typing from Wisconsin with two cats at her feet...

Apr 22, 2011

The 8 % Solution Continued

I began this project with a simple request. Asking people to bring a friend to an Independent Book Store on the weekend and share a photo with us.
I'm not done yet. Last night I had the great good fortune to go to a book event. Have you attended one this month? Would you be willing to share a photo? I've got more books. Send me a picture by April 26th and you'll be entered in a drawing for a St. Martin's Press book.

The Winner of our first Photo Contest is Bill Cameron pictured here with a charming young man at Powell's Books. Bill is also a writer with ferocious chops and insane talent.

If you have the time to tell me your favorite story (500 words) about any bookstore purchase and will share I will consider it a privilege to read it. Any and all stories will make my birthday week a little better. I will share mine with everyone next week.

The strong core of Mystery Indies can keep our favorite genre healthy. Please help by finding one to frequent.


Apr 19, 2011


New York Times bestselling author [and scriptwriter for Law & Order], Peter Blauner, has written six critically-acclaimed novels including Slipping Into Darkness and The Last Good Day. Here, Peter shares the back-story behind his first novel, the Edgar award-winning Slow Motion Riot.

I began my career as a novelist with a determined sense of mission - sort of like the Donner Party, I guess. I didn't want to write a "snow on the tennis court" novel. I wanted to write a book that was engaged with the real world, not dewy memories of childhood or an ode to tragically wasted adolescence. But to do that, I needed to get out of my own life and into someone else's. So I remembered (or misremembered) a quote from the novelist Stanley Elkin, who said he always began by thinking about what a character did for a living. So I began looking for a job that would provide the characters, the language and ultimately the story I was looking for. And I found it one day when I did a story, as a journalist, about a probation officer in New York.
Here was a world I hadn't seen in a novel before. A dimly-lit 8 by 10 cubicle on the tenth floor of a municipal building, which became a crossroads of urban criminal life and, in some ways, a microcosm for the city. Because it was the 1980s and prisons were overcrowded, a wide-range of people were getting probation - Wall Street brokers, street kids selling crack, middle-class ladies with kleptomaniac issues. And the probation officer himself was the richest character of all - kind of a half-cop, half-social worker, who could either help these people or send them to prison, every appointment a potential existential dilemma. So I decided the only way to do this was full-on. I took of absence from my job at New York magazine and signed for a six months as a volunteer probation officer, going through the training program, sitting in on office visits, and eventually going out into the field with the gun-carrying squad serving warrants. Then I came home and typed as fast as I could, trying to capture not just the scary moments, but the surreal humor and the glimmers of humanity I saw. The result, in somewhat more polished form, is Slow Motion Riot. It's raw and rough, and there are parts that I wish were maybe a little more balanced and refined, but it's the way it was - or more accurately, it’s the way those characters would have seen it at the time.
Of course, the irony is that now I like some "snow on the tennis court" novels. But you can't tell young people anything.

Five of Blauner’s novels are available for the first as ebooks from Open Road Media: Slow Motion Riot, Casino Moon, Slipping Into Darkness, Man of the Hour, and The Last Good Day.

Apr 13, 2011

Barry Bonds

To say I know Barry Bonds would be perhaps, an exaggeration. To say he was stand up when we were in proximity to one another is not.

As a young woman in my twenties I took the trek to work the Cactus League in Arizona, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life but dammit, I knew I loved baseball.

Barry Bonds story read like a fairy tale. He too, loved baseball. He too moved west. He made a lot of money, me not so much. If you're a true fan of baseball you know how much his free agent deal meant. If you are not a true fan of baseball I'm sure you remember or will be reminded of the numbers.

When Bonds signed his contract with San Francisco we were all excited. This would be what got us there and we were ready. Bonds in the batting cage was magic and not just for this concessions office manager. He'd slam them into the backdrop for the kids when he should have been saving it for the season. He worked with Coach Kennedy. He signed autographs. He shared stories with the fans and did the calisthenics with his team mates. He said hello every day to a young woman who was working from 4:30 in the morning until 1:30 at night. He signed a bat and a ball for her and with Matt Williams made his first season with the Giants perhaps my most memorable.

The man loves the game. He's always appreciated his gift.

The verdict is in. It is perhaps fair and perhaps not. I personally would like to know why?? While our country was involved in a war most of us don't want, a bank scandal that took away life savings from many I know, and too many other substantive issues, why did we focus on steroids. Why were these the congressional hearings that were held and seemingly mattered?

Just last summer I argued with a friend that the only rule a ball player was ever told couldn't be broken was betting on baseball. We learned that one the hard way. In the late eighties and early nineties players did what they had to to be better, bigger, swing the bat harder, run faster. We demanded it of the players.

The left hand challenges the right here in America. It doesn't mean we're paying attention . I choose to remember the best ball player of his age greeting me in the morning with a "You didn't let Ed talk you into living on McDonald's' again today?"

Thank you Barry Bonds for everything you did for baseball. I'm sorry baseball didn't do everything it should have for you.

Apr 9, 2011

Our mailing service is shipping the latest issue, as I type it should be on trucks driven be dedicated postal workers. 

Jeremy Lynch did a really nice interview with Don Winslow and the guest editorial from Jen Forbus is terrific.

In this issue we have:.
LOSES CONTROL OF HIS MIND by Keith Thomson                                  
FICTION: THE BOXER by Sean Monaghan             

DON WINSLOW INTERVIEWED by Jeremy Lynch                                   

5 QUESTIONS, 5 ANSWERS with Sophie Hannah                  
Let’s Twist Again by Hank Phillipi Ryan
Footprints: The Spider , Master of Men
This Time It’s Personal by Dave Zeltserman
RESPONSIBLE, CREATIVE, LOYAL by Libber Fischer Hellmann
Reed Farrel Coleman – TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
FICTION: THE NICKEL by Gay Degani                                       
EYE ON HOLLYWOOD by Jeremy Lynch                        
SCIENCE FICTION NOIR by By Maxim Jakubowski
BUZZBIN - book coverage

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Apr 4, 2011

Do You Have A Local?

This blog is dedicated to all of the wonderful folk who feed my addiction for books in the most personal of ways. Sometimes it's nice to walk through the door and have everyone know your name. More importantly, it is astounding to think that I can go to 40 different cities in this country, roll up to the counter and the Bookkeeper is gonna be able to put my book of choice in my hand. This number would be even higher if I was better traveled.

This past weekend Crimespree flew to Minneapolis for Writes of Spring, an annual event held at ONCE UPON A CRIME. How heartening it is to see Authors rally around their local book store. Even better? Seeing the folks coming out to buy books. It warmed my heart to see that all that booky energy.

The last four times I've been to my own local, MYSTERY ONE BOOKS in Milwaukee the crowd has also been good. It's worth mentioning that on Super Bowl Sunday .. in Wisconsin, Robert Crais had an audience of 70 people. Not bad at all.

Have I lost you? Are you thinking there goes Ruth with her Rose Colored glasses.. If you're still here I have an idea... a crazy, silly & wonderful idea. All I need is a little help from my friends. All I need is a little help from the people I haven't met yet but stumble across this blog. All I need is a commitment.

Do you remember the rush when you stumbled across that perfect book? Do you recall a cover calling to you, the flap copy adding to the harmony, and possibly a blurb that sealed the deal? When you read that book it was yours. The book belonged to you and was yours to talk about, share, put into other folks hands. It was the discovery that made it special.

For most fiction readers that feeling I just described along with print reviews is the way they find these treasures, for now. The casual reader likes to walk into a store and find the book that's going to get them through that chilly weekend or long plane ride.

Summer is coming and with it the beach & vacations. An outlet is gone for those who are part time readers to get their fix. The closing of Border's presents any number of problems to everyone with any conscious awareness of the Publishing Industry. Last year the box store accounted for 13% of all book sales.

There's an opportunity here. Last year Indy stores accounted for only 2% of Sales. Let's change that this year. Let's Make it 8%.

That co-worker who asks you what to read? The friend who asks you what you think they might like? Surely all of us can find two people to walk into an independent bookstore of our choice who've never been to one before.

That's it. That's my plan. If all of us do this we can help the Indy dealers who lay the footprint for the best sellers of tomorrow. These smaller stores may not have as many end caps or focal points as a Borders but they are full of reading goodness and staff who knows how to put the right book into the customer's hand.

There will be hard choices for writers, publishers, distributors and the consumer in the months ahead. But for the now, let's gift our family, friends and acquaintances with a choice they never knew they had. The Indy Book Store.

This idea is so simple I bet Joe Konrath has time to play and a desire to help.

Mad Men Season 4

News hit last week that Mad Men has been renewed and we'll be getting more.  The fourth season on DVD also just shipped.Here in Castle Crimespree we love the show, the look, the feel, the music, the characters, and the stories. It's great television.

To celebrate we will be giving out a free copy of MAD MEN SEASON FOUR on dvd.

But of course there is a catch. You need to subscribe to Crimespree to enter the drawing. On Friday afternoon April 8th we will pick a name and send out the lat3est DVD set to one winner.

You can subscribe here:   http://crimespreemag.com/subscribe.html