Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Wee Wobbly At Bouchercon

Steve has asked for updates, and so, we shall have updates. Even if I'm working on an empty stomach here, I shall sacrifice!

I would like to point out that at B'con, you tend to use words like fantastic, amazing, incredible a lot. So, when you simply say, "I met Jess Lourey" it means no word need be said, for you should know she's fantastic, amazing, incredible and entirely too nice.

You know, I knew I'd miss people. How did I forget to mention meeting Tasha Alexander, from that snappy Good Girls Kill For Love and Money blog (or something like that - strange computers, can't always look stuff up). Very cool blog, though. I wonder if I've linked yet? I have them saved on my bookmark bar at home for convenience.

And I met Lee Child. He's okay.

Okay, okay... I met Lee Child and he's fantastic, amazing, incredibe...

So, Friday morning began with Bill Cameron, determined to buy me breakfast. Only Rob Gregory Browne bought both of us breakfast, so Bill was suitably pissed. Then we went to the convention hotel, and we saw KIM again! She's wonderful. I'm not exaggerating. She's a lot of fun, and she hung out with us for a bit.

Then I saw Cornelia, and we hid in the back of the coat area, sat on the floor and acted like children. It was so cool. Of course, when Laura Lippman came by, we had to get up and try to behave. It was great to meet Laura - see, I'll start running out of adjectives. But can you adequately describe how wonderful she is? Not on an empty stomach. I have to go eat at some point, guys!

I was SO nervous about my panel, but it seemed to go well. A number of people did say afterward that they really enjoyed it, but John Rickards got the best line in when he tried to describe Jesus on the streets of New York driving his fist into some guys mouth saying, "I died for your sins you fuck!" Hilarious.

And what was very cool was that Matt Baldacci from St. Martin's came to our panel, and introduced himself afterwards, so we had an impromptu chat. Now, Matt is fantastic, incredible, amazing and had some great Killer Year ideas. I didn't realize what an impression I made on him... more on that later.

Oh, and Trace, I met John S! Way Cool! He's so sweet!

I'm going to skip plenty of stuff I'll have to catch you up on later, but the highlight of the afternoon was(beyond meeting fellow Canadians John McFetridge and Mike Harrison and Anthony Bilduka and Alex Brett)going to the bar with Duane Swierczynksi, Al Guthrie and Bill Cameron. Since Dave White couldn't be here we did an impromptu video discussing Dave White. There are things I didn't know about goats and scratching posts that shall be more fully explained on the Killer Year blog, but we do agree he's an appropriate poster boy for KY.

Then it was off to the St. Martin's party, which was a lot of fun. It was around this time that I started to hear about my impression on Matt Baldacci - specifically something I had that he liked. Hmmm, no way to take that wrong. Okay, I'll tell you. I had a big "FUCK" button pinned to my nametag. I kept forgetting I was wearing it, but it was a great conversation starter. Anyway, I heard he really liked the button.

I went off to the Midnight Ink party (where they had more great buttons) and then it was dinner with Bill, Julia Buckley - another fantastic person I'll talk about next week, because I'm using her computer right now - Dave Skibbons and Anne Frasier. Yes, I met ANNE! Actually, damn, I forgot to say that 15 of us from DorothyL managed to have lunch on Friday, and that was incredible, that we even achieved it! Met Sandra Parshall and Caroline Upcher, to name a few - and they were both lovely. I had been looking forward to this for so long, and wasn't disappointed. Sandra and I had been on panels opposite each other, and I think we were both relieved to have them behind us.

Rob Gregory Browne tracked us down and then Brett came and we went to the St. Martin's late night party, different location. And, when Marcus told me, yet again, how much Matt liked my button, I made the ultimate sacrifice and gave Matt the FUCK button. And it isn't just any man I'd give a FUCK to. He bought me a drink.

I met Gayle Lynds - incredible. David Morrell. Again... you see, running out of adjectives - I shouldn't have started.

But I have to pull them out for the other big name of the night. Ken Bruen. Wow. The man is frickin' amazing, and he'd read my blog posts. He asked me why I didn't put that (time, energy) into the books and I told him I had the first three done, and he shook my hand. It was the closest thing to a 'god' moment I've had here - he really is a fantastic person.

There were so many other people I met, and I'm trying to write them all down. I found my first official business card from someone I don't remember. Seriously, the collection gets too thick after a while, and it's all a blur.

Oh, and I pinched Russel's butt. Marcus pinched mine. Well, that's all he did. He sort of groped Bill's. And Tribe did smack my ass, so it was a good day had by all, I think.

Except Dave White, who should live in fear of The Truth About Dave White, coming soon to a blog near you.

And on a completely serious side note, before you ever do a panel, before you do a convention, if you have the chance to get advice from Jon Jordan, he will not steer you wrong. Let me tell you, everything he told me about panels was absofuckinglutely dead on.

XO Jon.

Okay kids, I must go. Val McDermid and Denise Mina are on a panel together this morning. I have chocolates for Val, so I must get over there, and then at 10:30 it's the WIMP panel with the guys who need characters to kick ass for them.

And then it's the women in the bar, which will be a hell of a lot of fun.

Oh, and Reacher Creature tonight. Who needs sleep? That's what Monday and Tuesday are for.

Friday, September 29, 2006

On the first official day of Bouchercon...

I learned that I must mention Brett Battles in all blog posts.

Did I mention I met Brett Battles? I met Brett! I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that.

What I learned at panels

Al "wise ass" Guthrie has the best t shirt.

You know you're in for a good panel when it starts with Al being asked to explain his pussy snorkel "don't go down without it" t shirt.

Duane Swierczynski says if the ending of a book sucks it can blow future sales. He says he's not holding his breath for a sequel to the Bible.

Eating haggis is an extreme sport.

Jan Burke has a "dear God don't let me die in this jurisdiction" list. I'll be talking more about the Crime Lab Project in the next few weeks.

Okay, now, quite seriously, you do not want to give John Connolly an opportunity to talk about shrinkage on a panel. It just isn't a good idea. John might have a need for therapy. Just... maybe. Of course, why else would he be on a panel called, If I could get away with it - crimes I've enjoyed imagining a wee bit too much. I think he has more than one. There was the cell phone thing, and then there was discussion about duct taping a naked guy face forward to a metal pole on a cold night... Okay, that was brought up by someone else, but John really ran with it.

John also called Brett Battles a wimp during his panel. (Did I mention I met Brett Battles? He's so sweet. Really. I'm not just saying that because he threatened to kick my ass, or because I feel bad that John Connolly called him a wimp in front of a few hundred people. Really.)

Quotes of the day
"It's the Scottish way. Every day is the worst day of your life."
- Russel D. McLean

"I wouldn't spank any other bottom."
- Tribe (speaking to yours truly)

Okay, to the good stuff. I woke Sean Chercover up at 7:30. Serves him right for partying half the night. I was a good girl, I was, and went to bed at a respectable hour, so I was up and ready to go, so I had breakfast with Bill Cameron.

We went to the convention hotel and ran into Clan de Jordan in the lobby, as well as Russel McLean. I have pictures and they will be posted next week. Lovely pictures. They were waiting for Mark Billingham who did a complete no-show on them. Lazy Brit. Anyway, upstairs for Bill to register and I saw John Connolly, who apparently went through the seven levels of airport hell to get there.

Saw Al Guthrie and Duane Swierczynski. See, this is where it gets tricky. I saw Brett Battles downstairs as well - did I mention I met Brett? And he's a doll. Seriously. Anyway, I'm going to start forgetting all the people I saw...

My moment of the day actually started early, when I was in the lobby at the convention hotel, waiting for Bill, and I went to set my bag on a chair and get my cell phone to call Brett Battles. Because Brett is important. I never made the call, though, because a woman sitting in a chair nearby looked up and did the Oh my God, you're Sandra Ruttan thing. And it was KIM ladies and gentlemen! Yes, Kim, who played faithfully and won an ARC of my book! And I had it with me, so it was presents and photos and fun. I was glad we met up at a time when nothing was scheduled, because once the program starts it's so frickin' busy.

I actually sat in front of Kim at John Connolly's panel on abusing people too, and then we saw here again later at the Bloody Brits Press launch party.

Speaking of which, that was cool, and I met DL-er Neil Plakcy as well. Val McDermid was serving wine and beer and she did a fantastic job... as always. I had seen her earlier, but we had a cool story on the way to the bookstore for the press launch. The cab driver told Bill and myself that he loved that bookstore, so I asked who he read. He said Val McDermid right off, and we told him Val was at the bookstore. He did a complete Oh My God reaction and said he'd have to go home and load his books into the trunk and come back. Then he told us he was part of a cab drivers book club group - how cool is that? They've done a dozen books so far, and they did a book by Val. It seemed fitting as we headed off to the launch of BBP, founded by Val and her wife, Keli. (Kelly? I'm not sure on the spelling off-hand.) And major congrats go to Val and Keli on their recent wedding.

Anyway, it was all fun, but prior to the BBP launch, I went for dinner with some of the KY boys. Brett Battles was off schmoozing with more important people, like his publisher, but Rob Gregory Brown, Marc Lecard, Bill Cameron and I went for dinner. We didn't mean to leave Sean Chercover out, but he'd been following Ken Bruen around like a puppy dog all day. It was great to start meeting fellow Killer Year members and have a chance to hang out, but if I tell you about the discussion about anal probing that came up over dinner, they might inflict bodily harm on me. So, I'll just say a pleasant time was had by all gentlemen, anyway.

The Crimespree party was a blast, and I FINALLY got to meet Cornelia Read! She's so cool. Brett Battles was there too. And Rob, Sean, Bill, myself, Marcus... Oh yeah! Finally met Marcus somewhere between dinner and the BBP launch. That was fun. Sarah Weinman broke the news that Dave White wouldn't be coming to B'con after all, damn him. Oh, and I finally caught up with John Rickards. Wahoo. His t shirt wasn't as brazen as Al Guthrie's. This parenting thing seems to really be taking the edge off John. Next thing you know he'll be writing about puppy dogs and flower arrangements.

I met Tribe at the Crimespree party! And I met half of the First Offenders in the bar... earlier. Sometime. I met Declan Hughes, someone I saw at Harrogate but never spoke to.

I met Jess Lourey too!

Oh, and I went up to JA Konrath and put my arm around him. He was pulling away in fear and trepidation, so I said, "Do you know who I am?" and he said "I have no idea." I told him, and then he hugged me. There aren't many people I'd introduce myself to that way, but Satan? Really, he's very sweet. At least, that's what I'll say until the cheque bounces.

And I'm sure I've forgotten someone, who will later set me straight in the comments and whine about me forgetting them. Oh, met Jeri Westerson. See? You have to make a list...

All of the Killer Year crew have been fantastic. I'm running off now to have breakfast with Bill and Rob, and then to get ready for my panel. I haven't got a clue what that's about, so it should be as surprising for me as everyone who attends.

And have I mentioned that Cornelia Read is SO cool?

Oh, and I can't wait to hear how well Mark Billingham did at pool today - he was heading off to do some serious playing with Jon Wood last I saw him.

And honey, if you're reading this, Mark says he's doing his own event in Calgary at Wordfest - if you get a chance can you check into that? If it's Friday, we need three tickets, because Kerry flies in that morning.

Speaking of which, EvilKev made a blog post. It is below and it contains very important Spinetingler news. And lies and slander about yours truly.

See what happens when you leave a guy alone for a few days?

I got six hours of sleep last night. I'm doing well for a convention so far. And the only drink I had was the one glass of wine at Val's book launch party. So there.

Exceptionally well behaved, I am. Anyone who says different is lying. Really.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Spinetingler News and an evil poem

Contrary to what the name on the blog, this is not Sandra but “he who is surrounded by deranged cats”.

In her absence, Sandra told me to write about what life with her is really like, but a story like that would require the following warning:

“The following post contains graphic violence, coarse language and adult themes. Parents are strongly encouraged to show extreme discretion and keep their children, pets and any literate person away from this post.”

So to protect the innocent and guilty, that post was preempted for an after-school special about the dangers of running with sharpen pencils. We now join “Pointy Pencil Problems” which is already in progress.

Now in the words of Monty Python:

“And now for something completely different”

Good News!!

The Print issue of SPINETINGLER Magazine is available for purchase. Go to to buy one or ten. I won’t complaint either way.

All you fans of Stuart MacBride’s blog may have had the chance to read my little unnamed poem, but since I am too lazy to think of anything else to say, here it is again:

"To know if you are evil see,
You must answer questions three.

Do you laugh when people cry
As you poke them in the eye?

Do you smile when people die
Face down in a blueberry pie?

Do you wish that you could kick
Ugly people when they're sick?

If you say 'It sounds like me'
You may just need therapy

Though you think evil in you lurks
Turns out you may be a jerk!"

Bouchercon - Orientation

The things I have learned so far at Bouchercon:

My blog looks like shit in Internet Explorer.

Pork is good.

Nobody has more books than Jon Jordan.

Sean Chercover is in touch with his feminine side.

Never fly from Portland. (Sorry Bill!)

"We need to work on our signals"

Half a chair works okay in the bar only if you haven't been drinking.

Yes, folks, I'm here. I'm in one piece, more or less. My night flight Tuesday had it's own share of drama, with a medical situation on board. As a result, there was no chance to sleep. This was compensated for by the fact that I had a kick-ass ms to read on the plane, by one of my Killer Year classmates.

I arrived in Toronto completely wiped, and then had to go through customs. Fun. The flight to Milwaukee was smooth and uneventful, and also in a little tin can, so more reading, no sleeping.

I was seriously overtired by the time Jon Jordan picked me up at the aiport, but it as off to see his comic book collection and 'meet' Sean Chercover in person for the first time, and catch up with the Russel McLean, who I had not seen since Edinburgh, when he fell asleep on a bus and missed his stop and made Marsha and I wait downtown for him to figure out where he was. Then we went to the Oxford Bar for a drink and I was still recovering from day 1 of that trip, so I didn't drink.

Felt a bit sacreligious.

Anyway, much fun so far. Particularly when Alexandra Sokoloff came over and sat down between myself and Sarah Weinman and was talking to Sarah. I introduced myself and her eyes got big and she expressed surprise over my curly hair.

Guess I should've posted the curly hair photo again before B'con.


Oh well, it gives me a degree of anonymity.

Got to give Val a quick hug and went for dinner with the Jordan clan, Sean, Russel and Sarah, and have started putting names to faces.

I only hope I remember some of them today because Jon did start me with appropriate beverages in Milwaukee before we even drove to Madison.

My head still hurts a bit.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

15 hours and counting

It’s down to the wire to get ready for Bouchercon.

I have to tell you guys, I find this event stressful. The sheer size of it, for one thing, is a bit much.

But it’s more than that. It’s the number of people who seem perfectly content to ‘wing it’ at conventions and not make plans.

Fuck me. How does anyone just wing it at something like this?

Now, I’m not talking about people with no responsibilities. First time I went to Harrogate, I never thought about a thing outside of the posted program. But I have interviews to do, things to cover, scheduled meetings.

How do you wing that?

My husband thinks I’m going off to have fun, just to have a great time, and yet this convention puts a knot in my stomach. Oh, I am looking forward to it. I’m sure I will have fun.

But I do find it stressful.

Add in another email from someone this morning, from someone, about hooking up with a group.

Good lord. I mean, I’m getting on a plane tonight. Well, tomorrow. Well, 12:30 am. That’s tonight to me.

I had it happen at Harrogate this year. Got a message that someone wanted to talk to me. Was told the first name only. I assumed it was the guy with that name that I sort of knew, who’d told me he wanted to talk earlier. Tracked him down.

Didn’t find out until later it was someone else entirely.

Okay, I can be incredibly shy. I can be very quiet around people I don’t know. And I understand that a lot of authors are this way, but please – if you want to talk to someone don’t relay a message. Go talk to them!

It’s true that my philosophy is that I prefer to email people I don’t know. I know that sounds weird, but I always figure an email can be deleted. I won’t know if you read it or not. It’s quite different than standing in front of someone, forcing them to talk to you because they feel obligated to be polite.

But if you’ve worked the nerve to actually go to a convention, you have to tell yourself this: did you spend hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars to hide in a corner and watch people? When you go home, will you kick yourself that you didn’t try to meet people?

Authors are afraid of being too pushy with fans (what if I talk to people and they think I’m just trying to get them to read my books?), and fans can be nervous about meeting authors, especially ones they admire.

I mean, we all know how I felt about meeting Ian Rankin.

In many respects, B’con will be easier. I get to meet Cornelia Read, and Anne Frasier. If any people on earth can persuade me to get a tattoo, it’s Cornelia and Anne.

They’re probably the only authors (other than the one who already did this) who could get me drunk, too.

Well, anyway, I’m scurrying around, getting ready. Made up the press kits. I was going to post them, and Kitty Pictures, but blogger was being pissy.

Maybe later...

Right, now, I have to pack today and leave tonight, so remind me: what do I need?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Raising a Virtual Glass…

In life there are many milestones we like to celebrate. In the pursuit of a writing career, you hope you’re lucky enough to have a few.

When I started this blog, it was just about my life. I didn’t have a book deal. Things changed, and I have chronicled some of the highs and lows, amidst my other reflections on various topics. This blog is never going to be strictly a ‘writer’s blog’ but there will be times when that aspect of my life is the focus.

I’ve told you about how the people locally – people I thought supported my aspirations – were some of the first to turn their back on me when I signed my contract. The people who congratulated me were the ones who I didn’t know, the people I had been friends with were the ones who pushed me away.

And they did me a favour. What I have found, instead, is an international community of real writers, serious about the business, and not threatened by other people who achieve a bit of success. People who see that there is room for all of us and that we go further by working together, instead of competing against each other.

Sadly, there will always be a few ‘Tonya Harding’ types – the kind who think the only way to get ahead is to cut the competition down.

But I’m pleased to say that the people in my inner circle aren’t like that. They’re the ones cheering from the sidelines, happy to see others succeed.

You all know that for the past four months, Jason Pinter andBrett Battles and JT Ellison and myself have been working on the creation of Killer Year.

Today, the new website has been launched. Three cheers for Brett and Rob Gregory Browne and Bill Cameron for their hard work, getting the design in place.

And much virtual wine for JT, who has sent out hundreds of press releases to share our big news. I'd buy you a drink at B'con, JT, if you were going to be there. But I'll buy one for the boys and we'll think of you. ;)

And we have re-launched the blog, with MJ Rose making a very special post today, announcing big news for Killer Year and the future. It’s a fantastic post, one that put a lump in my throat, because MJ’s vision for Killer Year mirrors my own.

I can’t tell you how incredible it is to receive this much support in the writing community. I still remember the first time JT emailed me. I called evilkev and said JT Ellison knows my name! And through JT I met Brett and Jason, and then look what happened!

Ideas out of control.

We have many people to thank, including Sarah Weinman, who has plugged us again, and supported this initiative.

JB Thompson is not only telling the world, she’s interviewing Killer Year members.

And David J Montgomery has taken an interest in Killer Year as well.

I know I speak for the entire group when I say that we’re overwhelmed and honoured by the support in the industry. I can tell you now that, officially, each Killer Year member has a mentor, a member of the ITW.

My mentor is Cornelia Read. Other Killer Year members are being mentored by Ken Bruen, Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Gayle Lynds, Allison Brennan, Tess Gerritsen, Joe R. Lansdale, Harley Jane Kozak, Anne Frasier, Douglas Clegg, David Morrell, Jim Rollins and Duane Swierczynski.

And, of course, we could all say MJ is our mentor as well, for she has given so generously of her time and energy to help us launch not what will just be a cute club for one year, but a thriving entity that will continue to feature exceptional debut suspense authors.

The post is also up at MJ’s blog. Please drop by, check it out!

In fact, I’ll shut up now, because today’s a day for clicking on links and reading elsewhere… and checking out that wonderful new website.

But while I’m in the ‘thanking’ vein, I’m going to thank each and every one of you, for sharing all these moments with me.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Scottish Viking Does Road Trip in Style

It all started on Stuart MacBride’s blog, which is where most things peculiar start. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to do a direct link to a specific post over there, so I’ve copied the whole damn thing here.

Like Vikings Of The Open Road!

We had a visitation from She Who Must's parents last night. They're also from Fife, which maybe explains their choice of caravan -- it's a Marauder 380.2 in cream and pistachio... 'Marauder'? Hello? It's a bloody caravan! Marauder my arse. Picture the marketing meeting where everyone sits round the table, drinking lattés and playing with their ponytails:

Marketing Guy 1: "OK, you guys, we gotta come up with a name for this new caravan."
Marketing Guy 2: "What kinda something?"
MG1: [shrugs] "I dunno, do I? Something that says: 'Caravan'."
MG3: [having a bit of a think] "Hmmm...."
MG2: [pretending to have a think, but actually having a scratch under the table] "Hmmm...."
MG3: "How 'bout: HAPPY ROAMER?"
MG2: "Nah, that sucks ass. How 'bout: SUNNY WANDERER?"
MG1: [pounds fist on desk and looks disgusted] "Jesus, just poke a stick in my eye, why don't you? Naw, we're gonna call it..." [strikes dramatic pose] "MARAUDER!"
MG2 & MG3: [share a startled look] "Marauder?"
MG1: "Yeah! I like it! It's butch and manly. It says, 'I'm a fuckin' caravan driver, don't fuck with me, asshole! You fuck with me: I kill your whole fuckin' family!' That's what we want!"
MG2: "Cool! Let's go do more cocaine off hooker's boobs!"
MG3: "Yay!"

And so on and so forth. Marauder. Can you imagine the Viking hordes pillaging up and down the coast of Britain, dragging their three berth caravans with chemical toilets behind them? And if you're going to call a caravan the Marauder 380.2 (obviously the numbers are there to make it sound like some sort of weapon: Uzi 9mm, Magnum .45, Marauder 380.2 -- see, much more dangerous) the least you can do is paint the damn thing black. Maybe with red flames. And some skulls and crossbones. Not pastel pistachio with a cream roof!

No self-respecting Visigoth would be seen dead in one of those: all his mates would laugh at him.

Now, this is what Stuart didn’t post.

Photo credit: K. Robert Einarson

”No self-respecting Visigoth would be seen dead in one of those: all his mates would laugh at him.”

Draw your own conclusions.

Now, speaking of road trips, Kevin was called out last night. A couple of guys with too much to drink, a vehicle and a tank full of gas.

Kevin said the one guy was pretty messed up. Not pretty.

The other day, Bill was talking about his issues with flying. Funny, I know it wouldn’t be fun (to be in a plane crash), but the thought of being in another car accident…

Well, I like planes.

Bill directed me to this, and I have to say, I’m surprised at that outcome.

I am so not in favour of the NDP.

You Are 28% Capitalist, 72% Socialist

You tend to be quite wary of businesses, especially big business.

While you know that corporations have their place, you tend to support small, locally owned shops.

As far as the rich go, you think they're usually corrupt and immoral.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cloning Myself By Thursday

I have some level of commitment to be in three different places at the same time on Thursday night, as Bouchercon officially kicks off.

Fun fun fun...

Val McDermid is launching a publishing company. The fantastic folk from Crimespree are having a party. And then there's a 'meet the Canucks' thing.

So, I've worked it out. My priority is to cover the publishing company launch, since I'm writing about it for Spinetingler. After that, I'll stop by the Crimespree party.

Not very Canadian of me, I know, but what can I do? How was I to know all three things would coincide?

I have news I'd like to share, as an update to yesterday's post.

Lee Goldberg has given Tico a thumbs up for changing course.

My publisher stated in the comments on the original thread:

Our vision was to start a publishing company that sought out new talent.

There are a lot of authors who have the skill and ability of the John Grisham's and Nora Robert's of the publishing business, but they don't have agents or connections and struggle to find publishers willing to take a chance on them. In fact, John Grisham originally self-published and was selling his books out of the trunk of his car. That's how hard it is for a new writer to get noticed.

We wanted to be different. We wanted to give the new voices of tomorrow a chance.

Our intention was to start a publishing company that could find the new talent and get their books in print. We also wanted to provide assistance to new writers, needing feedback.

We never required authors to pay for publication.

Some of the other services we offered have led to misperceptions about Tico's philosophy, and thrown our reputation into question.

As a result, we've cancelled those other services. Our exclusive focus will be on receiving submissions from aspiring authors and finding the best new voices to put into print.

I have to say, one of the reasons I decided to sign with Tico in the beginning was that when I talked to my publisher, I had confidence in his sincerity. This is a tough business to be in, and people do make mistakes. We tried to start Spinetingler with a subscription, and it didn't work. People ask us now why we don't charge... well, nobody would read it. We hope to be able to sell some advertising spots along the way and eventually raise the amount writers are paid, but for now, we'll just leave things the way they are. That's more important than having an ezine nobody reads.

It is my sincere hope that new writers view Tico with fresh eyes and give them a chance. To be honest, an optional editorial service wasn't such a big deal to me. Why? I paid three times as much money to have five chapters of my manuscript critiqued by an author. Was that stupid? I didn't think so. It didn't guarantee me publication - it didn't guarantee me anything - but it did help me learn as a writer. Around here, people set up 'workshops' and you pay $50 to have a journalist from the newspaper critique your manuscript. I have to ask why. What does a journalist know about getting a book published? It's a different ballpark. They might know something, but I'd rather pay an author or a publisher, thanks, if I'm going to pay anyone. For me, it was the combination with the review option that was the problem. However, both have been canceled by Tico. They're listening.

I never paid for services with Tico, nor did they ever suggest I consider it. I received an assessment of my first book I submitted and found it helpful. I was glad to have them look at the other manuscript as well. My book was edited, the ARCs are out there, promo materials are on their way to meet me in Madison. I don't know what more anyone wants from their publisher, and I can do one better than a lot of new authors.

My publisher considers my input. We communicate, and that's a nice thing. Not everyone even gets asked about cover design, etc, but I've been given a chance to make suggestions for my book, and that's been fantastic.

It's growing pains for a new company that is on the right path. I exchanged a number of emails yesterday with my publisher, and they've made substantial changes to the website already.

And now I can put my energy back into my book, where it belongs, but my thanks to all of you who've been so supportive.

You rock. XO.

So many people have sent me this, although I can thank James for being the first.

Oh, damn. Stuart and his Marauder will have to wait for tomorrow... :)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Is My Publishing Contract A Scam?

There are only a matter of inches of distance between your head and your heart, but it take be a hell of a lot of pain to bridge the gap between what you know theoretically and what you understand from experience, or what you really know.

I’ve experienced a lot of bridge building lately.

There has been so much stuff going on with Spinetingler and Killer Year that my creative juices have been tapped. I haven’t had the energy or enthusiasm for much, to be honest.

And there was another situation I was facing, that meant no matter what, today just wasn’t going to be a happy smiley kind of day. Some of you know about our legal battle with the energy company over our mineral rights, because they’ve been stealing the natural gas reserves we own from under our property. Well, we finally (only something like 17 months along) worked it out to sell, and now the bank has an issue.

Just understand that I already wasn’t in a great mood, and I won’t be around this morning, because I’ll be biting my tongue off while I smile nicely at some arrogant bank manager.

Setting the bank issue aside, I was actually starting to feel a bit better. Monday will be hell, as JT and I work to get all the Killer Year press releases out and I finish the Killer Year press kits, then pack for B’con, but otherwise, I was finally starting to feel like I’d caught up.

Only to find myself coming face to face with some slanderous inferences about me online. Now, it’s been pointed out perhaps I should ignore it instead of drawing attention to it. I have to say this isn’t the first time it’s come up. I’ve ignored and ignored and ignored. It’s just the first time my name has been dragged into it, and I’ve got to get this off my chest.

But first, I’d like to point out that things seem to go in a steady pattern for me. Something good happens, something bad happens. And recently, something very good happened – I had a phone call from the delightful Robert Fate, and he gave me this blurb after reading Suspicious Circumstances:

“Sandra Ruttan’s Suspicious Circumstances soars. It is complex, exciting, and elegant. In musical terms, it’s listening to Bach. I’m in love with Lara Kelly, the smart, strong, vulnerable protagonist. Her detective lover better move fast or I’m in there. A gripping adventure, a large cast of marvelous characters, and twists that follow turns. Read it. You’ll love it too.”

Robert Fate, author of Baby Shark

And if you haven’t heard of Robert Fate yet, you will. JT Ellison recently reviewed Baby Shark and declared: There are very few books that I read these days that take my breath away -- but Robert Fate's BABY SHARK is one of them. It's certainly the best book I've read this year, and possibly one of the best I've ever read. That may sound like overblown hype, but believe me, this is an amazing debut.

And this amazing author had some praise for my debut effort?

I tell you guys, when I got that, I cried. It was one of the few moments along the way when….Well, I knew someone else believed in what I could do. Every time I get a blurb, it helps. I’ve been really nervous about asking for blurbs, and haven’t asked a lot of people I know, so to go through all the anxiety of working up the courage and asking someone to consider reading the book and then they do, and they like it… Amazing.

But, as seems to be the way for me, high was followed by low – Kevin’s car died. Then another high (stuff I can’t disclose just yet).

Then another low, with these statements.

Sandra Ruttan is an interesting case in point…. She's "published" by this
company…* After numerous statements about my publisher, the anonymous commenters ask, Are there really people out there stupid enough to fall for shit like this????

Let’s address a few points here. If you refer to my interview with Lynne Patrick, who founded Crème de la Crime, you will see that they launched their company with a contest that charged a £10 entry fee. They received over 600 entries, from which they selected 20 with promise. The 20 were offered editorial support in exchange for signing an agreement to give Crème de la Crime first option on publishing their manuscript, but if CDLC passed on it, they could take it elsewhere.

Crème de la Crime has been in the business three years, is bringing their books to the American market now, and Lynne has been invited to speak on panels, including where I first met her, at Harrogate Crime Festival. She is well respected and runs a credible business.

So, the $5 contest entry fee my publisher charges is hardly criminal. These anonymous accuser also fail to note it’s optional. Nobody has to pay anything to submit their manuscript.

My own reasoning was that if I paid to print off my manuscript and mail it, it would cost far more than $5. I decided to submit it for the basic assessment.

I didn’t think about winning the contest for best fiction.

There are a number of people who have deals with my publisher who didn’t win a contest, either. They were offered contracts based on the assessed merit of their work. Not everyone who submits is offered a deal. It’s publishing.

It is true that there is an editorial feedback option you can pay for. $30 or so – I didn’t pay much attention because I wasn’t interested. Your manuscript gets assessed faster, and you get editorial feedback. This, again, isn’t unreasonable, per se. It is something that a lot of places do. It doesn’t make them a book doctor – they make no commitment to publish those books, and there are places that charge far more online. I do know I never paid for it, nor was I encouraged to do so.

I know in fall of 2005, when I entered the Opening Pages competition, I paid £12 to enter and get editorial feedback. The winner of the competition got a publishing contract. I made the long list. I got the feedback I paid for. Although they had initially stated long-listed authors would receive additional feedback and short-listed authors would receive a manuscript evaluation, I never got anything beyond what I paid for. I was a bit pissed off about that at the time. I heard some negative stuff about the short-listed people having to argue for that critique, but did it make them a vanity press? No. Why? Because they publish all kinds of people who just submit their work. They have a contest – lots of publishers have contests to find new talent. Sometimes, it’s a way in. People pay to enter the Debut Dagger, and they have no guarantee of being published. I know the CWA has credibility, and don’t question that. What I’m saying is, on the face of it, charging a contest entry fee doesn’t make you vanity, a scam or mean you’re taking advantage of writers.

Now, the paid-for reviews. That, again, is not something that necessarily applies to anyone being published by my publisher. Let’s look at this objectively. I have Spinetingler. We publish reviews. We will not publish a review of my book in the ezine, because I don’t think that would be right, even if one of the other reviewers submitted it.

On our online review site? I don’t know. We get a lot of submissions and I don’t monitor them– Andrea Maloney does, and she does a fantastic job.

Spinetingler averages 8000 downloads an issue, plus online reads. We’re optimized. Type ‘Mark Billingham review’ into google, and the review I did over a year ago comes up #2.

Not too shabby.

Would I charge people to be reviewed in Spinetingler? No. Never.

Would I pay anyone for a review?

No. Never. I’ll come back to this.

Now, all of these things are separate, but they’ve been pulled together to make some big conclusions, namely that my publisher charges fees for publishing and reviews and handles that for all their authors and is a scam. It makes it sound like, in order to be published by them, you’re obligated to pay all these fees.

I certainly wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t know about the paid reviews until I read someone criticizing it online, elsewhere.

This is what I know. I paid $5 to enter a contest. Didn’t bug me – it was cheaper than paying to print the ms and mail it. I won best fiction. I have an award. They sent it with a card and a t-shirt.

ARCs of Suspicious Circumstances are already out there, making the rounds. Next week, I’ll hold one in my hands for the first time, at Bouchercon. (So, no, Kevin won’t be there to see it or take a photo. Just another moment that will come and go in this process, essentially unmarked.)

Some promotional material is being printed for Bouchercon.

And I haven’t paid for any of it.

Nor would I.

I’m not a fucking idiot. I had the contract checked by people I knew in the business. People who live in New York and London. People who were willing to put their names behind their commentary directly to me.

Preditors and Editors gave my publisher a bad rap, and told me it was because they didn’t like the percentage they took if they sold movie rights. I found it incredibly hypocritical, because another publisher P&E recommended on their site takes 100% of those royalties, something I knew because I know an author who was under contract with that other publisher. Facts I pointed out to P&E and here, on my blog, way back in Feb/March, for anyone who’s interested in reading all about it. And, as one author told me, it was a bit of a red herring, since movie rights are rarely sold anyway. Certainly not a reason to turn it down if that was the only concern.

My publisher’s website is geared to writers, not readers, and I’ve received multiple email complaints about it. What can I do about it? Sweet fuck all. And if I put my honest opinion on it in writing I’d be in deep shit, but….

As far as I can see, nobody is paying for the reviews, so having that on the site is only hurting their credibility, not earning them any money. (And it’s just a bad idea all-round. If it had been on there when I signed on… well, I might not have taken the contract. Who can say now? Hindsight is 20-20.) If you lack credibility in this business, you won’t get serious writers. You won’t get the next real talent. End of the day, publishers need to make money. That means they need to find the most marketable books that require the least amount of editing in order to be strong sellers and get them out there, but the website should be about the books they publish and the front page shouldn’t read like a recruitment message. When the books are selling and the publisher has credibility they don’t need to advertise for authors – they’ll have more than they can handle submitting work.

I mean, when I go into Sears, if they hand me a leaflet telling me how nicely they treat their staff, do I care? Where’s the garbage? is what I’m thinking.

But in all of that, when a publisher is starting out, they’re looking for writers. That’s been the focus. Whether I agree or disagree with how they manage it, this is a professional relationship. I have a contract. When I fulfill my contract, if they aren’t happy with me they can show me the door. If I’m not happy with them, I can walk off. That’s reality – we’re both assessing each other all the time and our future business relationship depends on both of us being happy. I have all the material I’m obligated to give them first look at done already. I could fulfill my contractual obligations tomorrow, short of final editing, and start taking fresh material elsewhere.

But my energy is where it should be – on doing what I can to make SC’s debut a success, with the support of my publisher behind me.

What matters is what’s in my contract and whether it’s legitimate. I’m not self-published or a vanity author, because I’m not paying to be published, and as I’ve established, the contest fee I did pay for is well within acceptable industry standards.

The distribution is Ingrams (I talked to bookstore owners about the distribution before I signed as well, and made sure there was a return policy in place), the other authors have their books on bookstore shelves, they have books on amazon - more than one book, I might add. The books are on Barns and Noble. An the books are on Chapters Indigo - type in Ronnie's Rotten Recipes - for some reason the direct link wouldn't work in blogger.

Less than six months from now, my book will be out. It will be available for purchase. It has an ISBN number. I’ve edited the hell out of the book. I’ve got blurbs - seven, from authors and reviewers already. I have people committed to reviewing the book.

I’m a founding member of Killer Year.

And I get an email that leads to the heart of an accusation that I’m nothing more than a wannabe hack who’s fallen for a scam.

You know what I find myself thinking about these anonymous accusers? I wonder why they don’t have the balls to sign their name to their statements. Could it be that they know they’ve just got a personal ax to grind, with me or my publisher?

Then I wonder if it’s anyone who’s ever submitted work to Spinetingler, who thinks they might be so smug that they’ll be sweetness and light to my face and stab me in the back when they think I can’t know it’s them.

I’ve had that a few times. There’s someone who’s posted nasty remarks on old posts on my blog. Anonymously. They think I don’t know who they are, but when you know a few things about them and the internet, it isn’t hard to track a blog post to… let’s say Oregon, for example. Not hard to collect enough evidence that you could report them for harassment to their ISP any time.

Forgive me for a being a wee bit bitter. I’ve worked my ass off for Killer Year. I work hard for Spinetingler. And I’ve worked very hard on my book.

Just to have to deal with shit like this?

If people have a negative impression of my publisher and use that as grounds to infer I’m not being legitimately published, it’s slander. This is 100% about defending me. If anyone wants to do an audit of my finances to prove I didn’t pay to be published, bring it on. I have nothing to hide. Unfortunately, though, just the accusations can be damaging and undermine my credibility. Maybe it makes people feel powerful to try to hurt others and their career from an insulated ‘anonymous’ vantage point.

Sadly, I come away from this feeling, again, jaded.

And I wonder how many people will be so petty that they’ll post trash reviews of my book on amazon, just because they’ve got nothing better to do than run around criticizing things? Or they don’t like me, or my publisher. Or they were rejected by some press and I’m a convenient target. If these people had been interested in facts, they could have come to me at any time and asked questions, as many people have. If people really cared about me and wanted to make sure I wasn’t being taken advantage of, they would have come to me.

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, businesses can change over time. Not everything in place now was there eight months ago.

Look, I get it. I’m screwed. I may as well quit while I’m ahead, because this is going to tarnish my career forever, right? It’s got sweet fuck all to do with the writing and the book – some people will be against me just because they don’t like the publisher.

And there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it.

Bottom line is, nobody is obligated to pay my publisher a cent to have their work assessed or to end up with a publishing contract. There is a difference between being offered to option to pay for a service if you choose, and being obligated. I 100% get why people are bothered and have concerns, but it isn’t like publishers that do a bait and switch and tell you you’re getting a deal and then they send you a bill.

And believe me – when I try to send feedback to writers when we reject their stories for Spinetingler and they argue with me, I wish it was a paid-for service. Makes me feel like an absolute idiot for investing my free time, trying to help people improve their chances of getting published.

I’m sure when I get home later, I’ll have some unpleasant emails to read. Yippee skippy. Happy Friday everyone.

Spinetingler Update.

The numbers were strong, so as of Monday I wondered if we’d make 6000 downloads by Friday.

We did it Wednesday. 6277 by Wednesday night.

Thanks guys.

Deletta sent me this joke. I’m so thankful for friends like Deletta, someone I’d never worry about turning my back on. Proof that there are still some wonderful, decent people in the world.

It was entertainment night at the senior center and the Amazing Claude was topping the bill. People came from miles around to see the famed hypnotist do his stuff. As Claude went to the front of the meeting room, he announced, "Unlike most hypnotists who invite two or three people up here to be put into a trance, I intend to hypnotize each and every member of the audience."

The excitement was almost electric as Claude withdrew a beautiful antique pocket watch from his coat. "I want you each to keep your eye on this antique watch. It's a very special watch. It's been in my family for six generations."

He began to swing the watch gently back and forth while quietly chanting, "Watch the watch, watch the watch, watch the watch..."

The crowd became mesmerized as the watch swayed back and forth, light gleaming off its polished surface. Hundreds of pairs of eyes followed the swaying watch, until suddenly, it slipped from the hypnotist's fingers and fell to the floor, breaking into a hundred pieces. "SHIT!" said the Hypnotist.

It took three days to clean up the senior center.

Tomorrow: On the road with Stuart in his Marauder. We have a photo!

* link

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Who's The Idiot?


I feel pretty stupid.

I did an article for Crimespree Magazine. Some of my previous stuff got bumped around, but I didn't actually clue in to the fact that this article was shifted until, well, today.

When I opened up the magazine and discovered it was in print.

Fuck me. I thought it was going on the website. Would I have owned up to my idiocy if I'd comprehended it was going in print?

All of this confusion persuades me that I'm not drinking enough. At least then, I'd have something to blame it on.

I think I need a secretary.

Trash, Lies, Reviews (and Killing a Career Before It Begins)

It’s funny how something that’s been on your mind, perhaps not the primary focus of your thoughts, but rather an issue lingering on the periphery, can suddenly come to the fore. This morning I was skimming through the news headlines when I read, Munro is so admired by so many, both at home and abroad, that the Canadian reviewer who now dares to give her a failing grade needs to think of delisting his phone number and possibly pricing a bullet-proof vest.

Wow, what a statement. And eerily reminiscent of something a Canadian publicist told me recently, that in Canada everyone is afraid to give a bad review in case you end up at a dinner party with the person next week.

Throws our credibility into question, doesn’t it?

I never liked writing reviews, not even when I was studying journalism. They were the type of assignment I was happy to do and be done with, and move back to hard news or some ‘relevant’ feature. I did the ‘dealing with death’ assignment when one of the journalism students was killed in Yugoslavia, for example. Always very serious,

As I moved into writing, I particularly didn’t like signing off on reviews. I hate the feeling of being judge and jury on a book. I know how much work goes into creation, and to some degree with how hard it is to be published, just getting published (I’m not talking self-publishing or vanity press here) is success. It’s something many others strive for and never achieve.

However, as I’ve dealt with writing reviews over the past year, and had to write more and more of them, I’ve learned the cold hard truth of good reviewing: you have to be honest, even if it hurts.

One of the things I didn’t realize when I expanded the reviewing Spinetingler does was that we were going to face so many ethical dilemmas. The crime fiction community is a small one. How will you deal with reviewing friends? What if someone argues over the review they receive? What if your publisher asks you to review someone else they published, and you don’t like the book? That hasn’t happened to me, but once you start down this path, you start to realize where all the potential pitfalls are.

If it’s true I didn’t like writing reviews before, I hate it now.

That said, I have no plans to stop reviewing.

What I have done is given myself a buffer. I’ve had to make some rules so that we avoid problems before we find ourselves neck deep in them.

Part of the reason this has been on my mind is that people have started sending me ARCs that I didn’t request or specifically approve. I suppose that’s a reality – once you’ve given your address to a few people it can get around. May as well post the damn thing on the web for all the good it does to have review submission guidelines - you have no idea how many people don’t bother following them.

I actually had something else in mind for my post today, but when I saw that comment on Alice Monro, the other topic shifted to the back burner. I didn’t click on the link to go on and read the paper singing Monro’s praises. It is, as always, an extreme exaggeration. I don’t know anyone who’s read Alice Monro. Not saying there’s anything wrong with Monro’s work, but the thought of people here being passionate enough to harass reviewers with abusive phone calls or threaten their life?

Please. I mean, if that’s true, I’d love to see it, because it would be more genuine enthusiasm for books and an author than I’ve seen here… since Rankin was in town. The event was sold out, and people were waiting outside in case extra tickets were made available – he’s that popular around here. And even then, this isn’t Scotland, where someone’s assigned to the weekly Rankin report and tells the world if he’s shopping for duvets.*

Take Alice Monro out of the equation. Really, there’s a lot about that statement up there – however obviously exaggerated – that bugs the hell out of me.

I don’t particularly like going on the record trashing books. Tomato, tomahto. What isn’t for me might be enough to convert someone to being a life-long reader. To be honest, the fact that readers have such divergent tastes and don’t always agree should be regarded positively by writers, because it means there’s hope that we shall also find our audience without just writing an imitation of what everyone else is doing. It gives me the courage to follow what’s in my heart to write, instead of trying to follow formulas, and still believe it can sell.

However, I have to admit that writing reviews has made me a better writer. It’s made me a nitpicky reader, but it has taught me a lot about what makes a book succeed and what makes a character lack credibility, what contributes to confusion for a reader, etc.

And I try to apply what I learn in my own writing.

That said, there are certain books I’ll refuse to review. I’m getting to the point now where I don’t read anything strictly for pleasure anymore. Submissions to Spinetingler, manuscripts, review copies… The books I got for my birthday remain unread on my shelves. I had them planned, I was ready to read them, and then got my editing schedule. They got pushed aside. Then we had the Canadian issue and I went to the UK. Then the fall issue was looming, along with another edit of my book, and all things Killer Year…**

So, one of these days, I’m going to read the new Billingham, MacBride, Kernick and (dare I admit it?) McDermid and Lippman books.

I need a month off. And I’m not promising to review any of them. I might, but right now, I just want to read some books for the pure love of reading, and enjoy the latest from some of my favourite authors.

The thing is, when I read that list of names, those are all people I now know and there is a part of me that’s scared of reviewing people who’ve become more than names on book covers.

I know is that anyone who’s a real friend will respect a fair review and take it like a professional. We all have to get used to doing that. Not everyone will like what we do. Although I might be intimidated by the idea of critiquing Val McDermid (and who wouldn’t be? Val is a multi-award winning author, and deservedly so. I feel very much that a little upstart like me has little business evaluating her work.) I also know Val is a professional about these things. If the day ever comes, she won’t hire a hitman to come after me.

I thought reviewing a Rankin book would help me get over that intimidation. Add in that I reviewed Anne Frasier’s latest, Pale Immortal, and I found myself in the unfortunate position of assessing work by two people I have a lot of respect and admiration for. Glutton for punishment that I am, I read those books back to back as well, and they both made me cry.

I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read as an adult that made me cry, including those two. The others were To the Power of Three, by Laura Lippman, and The Touch of Ghosts by John Rickards.

I used to love chatting about books on forums, but primarily books I liked. As I found myself reviewing more, I found myself reading more arcs, and fewer books already on shelves. I didn’t have as much to talk about, because I wasn’t reading what others were reading.

And the reviews became a one-way dialogue that could no longer be just me expressing my enthusiasm for something I enjoyed.

The authors don’t typically talk to me about my reviews of their books. I used to be grateful for that. Now there are times when I have this gnawing worry, hoping I haven’t offended someone.

If I ever have, I hope the author understands one thing. I never set out to dislike a book, or to give a tepid review, but I try to be fair and honest, and back up my points if I feel criticisms are warranted. It’s never about hurting someone’s feelings.

It’s become far more about my own integrity, because if I praise everything unilaterally, my compliments on writing are worthless.

To be honest with you, I think Alice Monro should be disappointed that an alleged national infatuation with her would be enough to keep reviewers from saying what they honestly think of her work. If she falters, how will she know? If there is room for improvement, who will point it out to her?

This is why critique in the early stages of your writing is so valuable. Not only will the tough love of other knowledgeable writers help you become a better writer yourself, but it will prepare you for the day that your book is out there, and someone writes a review that’s less than glowing.

And there is something else you can do, if you want to learn.

Write reviews.

The more I’ve learned to assess the works of others – even authors I admire – the more I’ve learned about writing.

If you’re a serious writer, that’s never a bad thing. And if the author is a pro, they aren’t going to come after you if your assessment is fair.

Just bear in mind one thing. Whatever you say about someone else’s work can come back on you some day. So be sure you can back it up from their work.

And then double-check your own.

I do miss discussing good books, though. It just seems there is a solid number of people on forums more interested in trashing than anything else, and that’s not my style. There’s a big difference between saying, “This book didn’t work for me” and “This book is shit.”

Something anyone who ever hopes to be published should remember. And to completely indulge myself on a tangent here, it amazes me people do stuff like that when they want to get published. I’ve had emails from authors, editors, agents – all off of forum remarks or blog comments or Spinetingler stuff. People read online.

And do you really think if you go around trashing authors – calling them hacks or whatever – that if their agent sees it they’ll even consider representing you?

Hmmmm. Option #1. Piss off important, best-selling client by taking on upstart who is unproven in the writing community.

Hmmmm. Option #2. Keep best-selling client happy and tell upstart to get lost.

Gee. Do we even need to think about it?

Even what you ‘say’ online casually can come back on you. So if you’re going to level criticism, be smart and be fair.

Or don’t try to be a writer.

Wahoo! Stephen Blackmoore has been caught flashing. Wait a second…. Wahoo? More like run for your life. But this flash is pretty clever.

And possibly proof of Stephen’s insanity.

* I’m not kidding. I read a news story a few years ago where he was tracked down for a comment while out shopping.

** There will be big news on the Killer Year blog on Monday that you won’t want to miss!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mounting Pressure

This week, I was put in a situation where I did something I don’t normally do. Actually, it happened more than once, and I broke personal rules. In each case, I felt secure in my decision, for a variety of reasons.

My husband muttered something about my need to over-think everything.

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with exercising caution. Okay, it can paralyze you from time to time. One thing I was asked to do this week, it took me close to half an hour of just sitting and thinking it through before I was able to proceed.

I know I can over-think things, but I also know something else. The trust it’s taken a lifetime to earn can be destroyed in the blink of an eye.

Now, nothing that came up was quite that serious, but still. There have been times in the past when I’ve had to break confidences, and those were difficult situation, but the decision was the result of my obligations to one thing being more important than my obligations to another. Specifically, I was the boss and one of my staff told me about a medical condition. I was leaving the job and had to make an assessment of fitness of the staff… I didn’t put it in writing, but I did tell my boss. Ultimately, I had a greater obligation to the children we were responsible for than the staff member. If silence would jeopardize the safety of the staff, as well as kids, I had to break that confidence.

Those are horrendous situations to be in, although I suspect we’ve all had a few along the way. Part of the reason this has been on my mind is because I started working on a guide for readers for Suspicious Circumstances, and because of some things that are coming up in the media.

Namely, the fact that the RCMP is coming under mounting pressure to take swift action to restore public confidence in the force in the wake of a damaging public inquiry report into the Arar affair.

The RCMP has a squeaky-clean image. Most of the international community sees them as Dudley Do-Right. Do no wrong. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to have a good reputation, but the RCMP is an organization, like any other, comprised of people. And when people are involved there can never be perfection.

We’ve had our share of RCMP who made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Officers charged with murder, for example. But for some reason, the Arar case is a political hot-potato, I suppose because it connects directly to terrorism and because this man was imprisoned in another country as a result of the actions of the RCMP.

And now, it’s been established that the RCMP passed incorrect information to US authorities. As a result, Arar was detained on Sept. 26, 2002, during a stopover at New York's JFK airport as he was returning home after a vacation. He was held for two weeks in the United States, then flown on a private plane to Jordan and driven across the border to Syria where he was tortured, questioned and held for a year without charges.

Right now, I’m not sure if I should be grateful or worried. You see, my Canadian series centers on the RCMP, and I’m not pandering to the squeaky-clean image. The department if made up of real, flawed people, who don’t always get along or get things right. It was part of the reason the book was a harder sell.

I’ve always believed that people will warm to a sense of honesty. Watch a movie like Dudley Do-Right, or watch Due South, and you’ll see that people can’t really take the flawless Mountie reputation seriously.

Now, personally, I’ve never met an RCMP officer I haven’t liked. Those who helped me research for the book were fantastic. I have nothing against the RCMP.

I just wanted a healthy dose of realism in the book.

If the first Canadian noir book came out next year, the timing could be good. With a case like this fresh in people’s minds – even reaching international press – it paves the way for people having an open mind to what I’ve done with the book. (And no, I haven’t vilified the RCMP – my protagonists are RCMP officers. It’s just that they certainly aren’t perfect.)

But if a fair bit of time elapses between the backlash on this and my book release, the RCMP may go on a campaign to restore credibility and take a dim view of anything that doesn’t portray them in the most favourable light.

I have to admit that I never thought about any of this when I started the book. In fact, it was almost two years ago that I finished the first draft on it, having finished the first draft of Suspicious Circumstances in June and Past Transgressions in August.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. It will also be interesting to see how the book is received.

And if will be interesting to see how much I cringe when I do the edits on that book this fall.

As I noted, I didn’t write Suspicious Circumstances and the Canadian book back to back, but there are some similar themes.

Trust is definitely one of them.

Maybe, when it comes to some themes, we take things that are important to us, things we feel strongly about, and keep handing them over to different characters to see how they deal with them. A betrayal of trust is one of the most serious offenses in my book. Not just friend to friend, a country betraying the trust of citizens, a religion abusing the trust of followers. Trust on all levels.

There are other themes too, but we don't need to talk about them today.

I will suggest to you writers that when you work on edits, you give some thought to reader guides for book clubs. It is a bit tricky.

Now, a question for you guys. How do you decide to trust someone you’ve never met in person? I mean, what would prompt you to give me your phone number, or not, if you’ve never physically met me?

Asks she who just arranged to drive from Milwaukee to Madison with someone she’s never met before next week. But he has a nice telephone voice…

For laughs, it’s Dar Wednesday.

** And I have to warn you. I might make another tweak to the blog design. One of my regulars can't read white on black, so I'm going to see what I can do...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Canada's Anti-Shania & The Wire pt 2

I had to post this link. Bottom line: I love Corb Lund. That might sound weird, because his music really is guy music in many respects, but when they say he's being hailed as a modern practitioner of hardcore country and folk — think of a storytelling Johnny Cash, a Western Canadian Gordon Lightfoot, a kinder, gentler (and Canadian) Steve Earle. He's sincere, yes, but with a wry sense of humour and an eye for detail as a songwriter what more can you say? Makes you take notice.

It's worth a read, because this is a guy with international success, who tours all over the world, and he doesn't get much radio play. How does he do it?

Damn. I wonder.

But there's one thing about Corb that is similar to The Wire, and that's how the stories resonate with authenticity and capture a cultural flavour. With Corb, it's rural life.

I really should have a link to Corb's site here on the blog, since he so graciously gave me permission to quote lyrics from Five Dollar Bill in my second book.

The man kicks some serious ass. If you like country and don't mind it a bit scruffy, you'll love his stuff.

And now back to today's regular post...

It Was Killing McNulty...

…but it’s saving my marriage. Yes folks, The Wire is finally back on TV, after a punishing absence that left me watching dust settle and making shadow puppets on the wall for entertainment.

Could it be as good as I’d hoped? I’d watched all the episodes from the first three seasons until I’d virtually memorized them, and had been counting the days until Season 4.

And it was brilliant. I must admit to cheers when I saw that Prez was back. The first Wire episode I ever saw was season 2, episode 10, which is one of the very few that starts off with music. Johnny Cash, and Prez is pinning up all the pictures and targets on the board while Herc and Carv are putting tracking devices on vehicles. It was all coming together visually. The only words spoken were by Prez, when he’s done, and steps back and says Fuckin’ eh*. I was hooked, and of course, if you’ve seen that episode, you can imagine I was flipping out by the end of it.

Whenever I watch the show, I have the sense of genius at work. Someone able to pull hundreds of threads together and weave an intricate portrait of crime, the drug trade, the state of education, the corruption of politics… This isn’t some fluff show with no substance, a show that’s entirely forgettable. It’s a show that cuts to the core. It humanizes drug dealers, it humanizes killers. It vilifies the politicians who contribute to the problems that force people to operate outside the law to put food on the table.

It is, in short, real.

The dialogue is tight, crisp, so convincing. In fact, if anyone is having difficulty writing dialogue, I suggest watching season 1 on dvd, then season 2. Well, hell, all three seasons, to be honest. One of the things The Wire does is move across boundaries, through different groups of people. You’ll hear cop talk, regular talk, drug dealer talk. But by hearing it all in the same show, you start to pick up on the differences. If you can identify what makes someone sound like they’re a street dealer and what makes someone sound like a cop and what makes someone sound like a politician, you’re a long way toward being able to replicate authentic dialogue in your own stuff. Best to go out on real street corners, but a close second is listening to The Wire.

Beyond that, it’s entertaining. The way that the show compares routine things we don’t give a second thought to, to tools of the trade gang “muscle” would use to kill someone is genius.

I feel like the show is off to an incredibly tight start. Already, you can see where it’s heading and the worst thing about it was that I knew I’d have to wait a whole week for episode 2, which just sucks.

Now, I said it was saving my marriage, and that’s not a complete exaggeration. Our schedules have been so hectic lately that we’ve seldom had time to sit down to a meal together, or when we have we’ve been eating out.

But yesterday felt like old times. I actually cooked, Kevin came home to food ready, and we cuddled on the couch and ate dinner while we watched The Wire. And we’ve managed that two weeks in a row now.

I’m a self-confessed obsessive workaholic, so it’s good for me to have something that makes me stay out of the office at night. A great TV show can do that, and there are damn few of them out there. Can’t honestly say one debut for this year has gotten on my radar yet. Mind you, I’m tired of starting to like a show and then seeing it pulled – which has happened to half a dozen shows I regularly watched over the past few years. Now, I’m down to The Wire and The Shield. and occasional fixes from Law and Order SVU.

Writers, if you’re like me, always remember to try to find the balance. I know it’s tough, but there has to be life outside of your work. After all, it tends to be life that makes the work meaningful, and it’s life that generates the ideas for your work. Don’t forget that.

And if there are any good TV shows you’ve seen debut this fall, fill me in.

JT Ellison sent me this joke. I'm not sure if she wanted me to tell anyone it was from her, though.

The next time you see a little old lady with shaky hands, you'll remember this lady:

A little old lady, well into her eighties, slowly enters the front door of a sex shop. Obviously very unstable on her feet, she wobbles the few feet across the store to the counter.

Finally arriving at the counter and grabbing it for support, stuttering she asks the sales clerk: "Dddooo youuuu hhhave dddddiilllldosss?"

The clerk, politely trying not to burst out laughing, replies: "Yes we do have dildos. Actually we carry many different models."

The old woman then asks: "Dddddoooo yyyouuuu ccaarrryy aaa pppinkk onnee, tttenn inchessss lllong aaandd aabboutt ttwoo inchesss ththiickk...aaand rrunns by bbaatteries?

The clerk responds, "Yes we do."

She asks: " Ddddooo yyoooouuuu kknnnoooww hhhowww tttooo ttturrrnnn ttthe ssunoooffabbitch offffff?"

* note the Canadian translation – I don’t know how y’all spell it in American.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sex and Hockey

I have now been to an NHL game at the Saddledome.

Okay, so it was an exhibition game. The first exhibition game of the season for the Flames, I might add. What that means for all those who don’t know much about hockey is that you won’t get to see all the big names. The teams are restricted on how many regular players from their routine line-ups they can put on, because they don’t want the pricey guys getting injured in the pre-season play.

In fact, Florida had more names out there that I recognized. And that was good, because it meant Calgary was playing from a less-known vantage, while Florida had a bit more strength to the line-up, as far as I could tell. Certainly in terms of guys who’ve seen a lot of ice time, Florida had the experience edge going in.

Why is that good? You do cheer for Calgary, don’t you Sandra?

Well, when Calgary scored the first goal, just minutes into the game and dominating the play out there solidly through the first half of the first period, I thought it was looking very good for Calgary. If the guys without as much ice time behind them were looking that solid, it was good news indeed.

And what a surprise to me when Calgary scored. I didn’t realize they actually shot flames up when that happened. Of course, they do that from above the viewscreens, but the place actually rises in temperature.

And the fans went wild.

Of course, they started to tire in the second half of the first period, and Florida rebounded to get a goal.

But Calgary returned strong in the second, scoring two more goals, the first barely seconds into the game. I think by then Florida had pulled Ed Balfour from net. I must say, seeing a guy who’s in the Hall of Fame get his butt kicked made me feel a bit sorry for him. That, and the fact that parts of the crowd kept cheering, “Balfour sucks!” Talk about psychological attack. I don’t know if they can hear stuff like that or not, but it’s remarkably quiet between goals and fistfights, because you don’t get the running commentary that you do on TV.

Well, until Butthead #1 and Sidekick decided to find their seats, which were right behind me. You know the type. Butthead #1 was talking on his cell phone with increased volume. And he was a guy, so his voice carried solidly anyway. In fact, Sidekick finally told him to get off the phone.

The guys had missed both goals by the time they arrived late in the first. You really want to ask yourself, what’s the point? They left early to get something to eat, but not before assessing every fucking thing going on and making sweeping pronouncements and stupid observations. Do I see two guys named Ference out there? No, couldn’t be. Could be, jerkwad. I mean, if you’d been there for the warm-up or opened your fucking eyes…

Then it was That’s not Balfour in net. Can’t be Balfour. Yep, that’s right. Thousands of people cheering against Florida’s goalie must be wrong. After all, you were here to hear the starting line-up… Oh wait. You weren’t. Stuff a sock in it, buddy.

Then there was the fistfight. Yes, when two hockey players drop sticks and gloves on the ice, you know what’s coming. Well, I actually thought the referees would prevent it. They certainly could have, but that’s not what the crowd wanted. The guys behind me were screaming every encouragement, telling the Flames guy just how to take the Florida guy down.

I’m trying hard to remember the last time I watched two grown men go at it. I mean, on any given night I suppose I could drop by the bar, but the bars around here aren’t my scene. Testosterone and adrenalin make for a bad combination, I suppose. I’m sure they make their mothers proud.

But it does make it kind of multi-sport. Hockey, with boxing. Has a wider fan base appeal, I guess.

Out of all the behind-me commentary my personal favourite had to be, Flames have never looked stronger on the power play.

Now, granted, the first goal we got last night was on a power play. And the power play did have solid look to it. Almost complete control. Seemed to instinctively know where each other were. The moves were down.

But for crying out loud guys, who told you a power play was supposed to be like foreplay and end there? Yeah, yeah. Nice stick handling, very nice job showing everyone that you know exactly how to handle a power play, short of one critical thing: scoring. What they need is a female coach to go in there and ask them if they want a woman to get them all warmed up and then just waltz off? Because handling the power play so well and failing to score each time, except once – including when they had a five on three – is pretty frustrating to take. Well, especially since where we were sitting wasn’t center ice (as Kevin had thought) but was actually just to the side and up from the goal. Since Florida was in that net in the second period, and that’s when the Flames had a bunch of power plays and scored twice, we got to see the best hockey up close.

I’m not complaining about the outcome of the game. Just, fellas, when you have a power play quit fucking around and showing off and score a damn goal.

My only other regret? Bertuzzi wasn't in the Florida line-up for the night. Damn, I'd actually enjoy seeing someone kick the crap out of him. Oh well, another time...

I know people might find it odd to think of me as a sporty person. I’m not really. But thanks to my grade 7 teacher, Bruce Dart, I know a lot about sports. Mr. Dart was also our physical education teacher, and he liked sports. For each sport he would let up watch a few games start of the season, then pick a team. All the team lists were posted in the room. When the playoffs were finished and a team had won the championship/cup/whatever, he would buy a certain amount of candy and it was split between the winners.

But there were extra prizes with hockey, this being Canada and all. We also got to pick top goal scorers. Back then, only rule was nobody could pick Gretzky. There would be no point.

So, I made my list. Of course, the boys in class drooled over the stats at length and discussed pre-season play, yaddi yaddi yadda… and made their lists too.

Top three people with the highest overall goals based on the players they picked got prizes. I came in second.

Much to the supreme annoyance of a lot of boys, who wanted to know how I did it.

If I told them I looked over who was scoring well at that point, and picked the people with names I liked from within a certain range, I’m sure they really would have hated me.

One of the things I discovered last night was how bonding sports is. It is the community coming together, mutual purpose, united in focus. People tend to be in a good mood. There was a lot of buzz in the Saddledome.

And I had a good time. The last time I was at the Saddledome was for a Sting/Annie Lennox concert (Shhhh Steve. I know how you feel about Sting. But let’s be candid here – you think I was going to miss Annie Lennox? And I like Sting. Well, not him, but some of his music. This was the biggest concert I’d ever been to, and I enjoyed it.) but there was a completely different atmosphere for the hockey game. A large sporting event is like radio – it beats the tribal drum. It pulls people together, into a shared experience. And people will phone the radio stations after games to give updates on plays and exciting developments. You want to be part of it.

I remember a few years ago, when Calgary made the Stanley Cup Finals, against Tampa. One of the Tampa sports reporters commented on the fact that Calgary had (I can’t remember exactly then – we’ll say) 900,000 people living there and 899,997 were Flames fans.

There doesn’t seem to be anything that unifies us more than a love of sports – in particular, hockey. I was still working during that playoff run and that mean going all over the city. From the statues downtown to every other vehicle on the road, Flames flags were everywhere. People just driving by pedestrians would honk and wave and yell, ‘Go Flames Go’ out the window.

It has my wondering why sports has such a significant impact on us. Why Kevin’s employer would shell out hundreds of dollars so we could go to a game. Why a hockey game and not the Elton John concert, for example? Because everyone likes hockey. Duh. That’s the thinking.

And they aren’t really wrong. Kevin was shocked when he read my blog. He remarked that he’d never known I’d always wanted to go to a hockey game.

Well, what I really want to do is see the Flames play the Leafs, because then I can cheer for everyone. I’ll watch hockey on TV sometimes, just not often, because I don’t have time for that.

I’d rather watch figure skating.

But I’d go to a hockey game again, in a heartbeat. I had fun, and if it wasn’t for Butthead, the evening would have been 100% pleasant, but since they didn’t stick around, I survived.

Now I get to look forward to catching up on The Wire tonight. ☺

Deletta (who is a Flames fan!) sent me this joke

A moron takes his dog for a walk. After awhile he gets thirsty so he ties his dog to a parking meter in front of a bar and goes in for a couple of beers.

After he has been there for an hour or so the local policeman enters the bar. "Whose dog is tied up out front?"

The moron responds, "That's my dog. Is there a problem officer?"

"Well she's in heat," says the cop."

"Oh, she'll be all right. It's shady out there."

"That's not what I mean. Your dog needs bred."

"I gave her a half of a loaf this morning. She's fine."

At this point the policeman is becoming a little upset. "Listen fellow. You don't seem to understand what I am talking about. That dog needs to be screwed."

"Go right ahead officer, I've always wanted a police dog."

Sunday, September 17, 2006


That’s how many times the new Fall Issue of Spinetingler was downloaded on Friday.

As of Saturday night, it had been downloaded 4337 times.**

That’s our highest ever first-day download rate, I think. Certainly it’s impressive to be at that point into a weekend. I don’t know about you, but here, if the weather’s decent in September everyone is gone. Out and about, enjoying the pre-boots and winter coats warmth.

Of course, that wouldn’t literally be here. Mother Nature descended on us with a vengeance.

Anyway, the point is, the numbers have really helped after the hell this issue turned out to be on the production end. Every time we have a big argument and discuss shutting Spinetingler down, something happens to help us put it in perspective.

I can see I’m officially at my limit, though. Something’s going to have to give in my schedule. But I’m not going to think about that right now. I’m going to go read a manuscript.

Check out Stinkin’ Stan, the new flash from Patrick Sean Bagley. Reading a great piece of flash feels a bit like a morning devotional. Except I don’t feel spiritual and enlightened. Made me smile though. ☺

** We’d like to thank The Rap Sheet and Linda L. Richards. Stephen Allan for sharing the story behind his story. Anne Frasier. Bill Crider. JT Ellison and Bill Cameron. All of you helped spread the word. I was looking at the referrals and was amazed at the volume we got from a place called singing fish (and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how) and the Oxford Bar – again, no clue where those came from. And after my blog, Linda’s, The Rap Sheet and Miss Snark are our top referrers. No doubt I’ve missed more than a few links, and my thanks to those people as well.

We are flattered and thankful for the support of these people, all of whom are highly respected in this industry. I raise my glass of H2O to you. ** And Flood, and Angie...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Paging Graham Powell, Paging Graham Powell...

How do you get in touch with someone when their email keeps bouncing back? The charming Mr. Powell did ask about being notified when the new Spinetingler appeared. Alas, his virtual bouncers seem to think I’m trouble.

I suppose they wouldn’t be the first.

So, Graham, I tried. ☹ Sorry. Perhaps I’ll try pigeons. Morse code? Or smoke signals. Could be a little tricky and no doubt I’ll regret that Spinetingler has such a long name.

Anyway, as I mentioned, the new Spinetingler is up. And not just the new Spinetingler, but the all new Spinetingler, which contains the missing review. I felt so bad, we plugged it on the home page.

And here it is, for those who downloaded already: Stephen Blackmoore reviews Stuart MacBride’s Dying Light. The new, improved version of this issue. Vastly superior. Yes, we knew you were anticipating this review so much, we had to make you wait. Make you grovel, protest...

But really, I screwed up. I think on a purely subconscious level, I might have missed it because Stuart was so insidious, he’s everywhere in this issue. Damn! I counted four distinct places he was mentioned in this issue.

Must be part of his evil plan to rule the world.

Although I must admit, I liked the chubby-cheeked MacBride reference best. ☺

Kevin passed another course, btw. This is one he took a few months ago. He just got the certificate and marks back. Another 94%. He’s pleased.

And he’s off again, on another course. What will I be doing? Well, some Scottish author was on a radio program yesterday. I might listen again while I’m finishing the press kits for Killer Year.

I received a copy of Bill’s book and am anxious to read it. I’ve promised to have it done by B’con.

I’d rake leaves but with all the rain, I doubt I’ll get out there.

In fact, this whole Mother Nature doing whatever she wants thing is getting old. I need to get some yard work done before it snows. My dogs don’t like the rain and it makes it hard for me to do what needs to be done around here.
What else is new?

The charming Betty, someone I knew online and met in person at Harrogate, sent me the Dr. Phil test. How did I do?

Dr. Phil test: 47

Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical and always interesting; someone who’s constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate, and understanding; someone who’ll always cheer them up and help them out.

No snickering.

And on that note, I bring you this, which is in direct contradiction of the ‘kind, considerate’ assertion. Something for those who like to laugh at others. I know. I’m cruel. And I’m also not responsible for the title on it, but the guy is sort of funny to watch.

If I was the person there and it was a snake or a big spider, I’d be out of there.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I forgot - ARGH! - James Goodman's story, The New Kid in my post below.

I knew I missed it on DorothyL and I corrected it, but then I went to bed. Silly me for not checking here.

Thanks for all the support, the links, the lovely emails. Alcohol will also be accepted.

New Spinetingler, etc.

I noticed a mistake in the new Spinetingler.

We missed a review.

You know, sometimes, what can you say? I wondered why I didn’t hear the alarm go off this morning. The reason was, Kevin got up at 4 am to finish uploading. I didn't make it to bed until 1 am, so I’m hoping Stephen Blackmoore and Stuart MacBride will forgive us.

We’ll get the review up, at least online guys. I’m so sorry.

This issue was a bitch. After several days without internet and all kinds of grief over the past week, we’ve managed to get the new Spinetingler online, which is an accomplishmen in and of itself. Go forth and spread the word. There are some fantastic stories in this issue.

I didn’t get everything done for this issue that I wanted to, either. Something about my own book edits eating up my time. Everything felt rushed. I was just glancing at one of my reviews and kicked my own butt for all the repeated words and phrases. Sheesh. It’s not as bad as saying, “Read it. It’s great. I liked it. Great story,” but still, I should have taken another pass.

And – joy oh joy – now we move on to judging the Cozy Noir competition.

You people better be nice to me (and evilkev) for at least a weekend, because we’re both extremely tired. I expect fanmail, chocolate and virtual booze.

Kevin’s in a course again this weekend, so no sleeping in. I’ll be here, preparing for the next three interviews I’m scheduling. Or playing hooky. Hmmm, how nice it would be, to take the rest of the day off. HA! Like that will happen. Still, I could use a nice distraction. Maybe I’ll go outside and see if it’s still fall, or if it’s snowing yet.

Uncle Charlie sent me such a bad joke, I’m not even sure I’ll post it. Maybe just forward it to certain guys I know who’ll love it. But this one is postable.

The frog

An older lady was somewhat lonely and decided she needed a pet to keep her company. So, off to the pet shop she went. She searched and searched. None of the pets seemed to catch her interest, except this ugly frog As she walked by the jar he was in, she looked and he winked at her.


The old lady figured, what the heck! She hadn't found anything else. So, she bought the frog. She placed him in the car, on the front seat beside her.

As she was slowly driving down the road, the frog whispered to her "KISS ME AND YOU WON'T BE SORRY."

So the old lady figured, WHAT THE HECK, and kissed the frog.

IMMEDIATELY the frog turned into an absolutely gorgeous, sexy, young,handsome prince.







She's old.......NOT DEAD!!!!!

Stuart is lying on my computer, asleep, with a paw dangling down over the screen. Stewie might be cute, but she’s one dumb kitty.

Okay, what’s in this issue of Spinetingler:

Roudabout by Patricia Abbott
The Killing by Stephen Allan
The Devil To Pay by John Barr
I am Sam by Bill Blume
Prey For Change by Betsy Dornbusch
Boys Will Be Boys by Sam Douglas
Killing Carol Ann by JT Ellison
Bad Dreams by Andy P. Jones
With The Help of a Stranger by Lauri Kubuitsile
Lucy Comes Calling by Sarita Leone
Camera Shy by Ed Lynskey
Haven City by Beverle Myers
Natural Causes by James Oswald
When Kyle Comes by Colleen Quinn
Tip Your Head Back by Stephen D. Rogers
In The Bones by Tracy Sharp
Cat’s Pay by Pam Skochinski
Nuts to You by Paul Svendsen

Chris High profiles Peter Robinson and interviews Reggie Nadelson and reviews their latest works.

Sandra Ruttan interviews Simon Kernick

Sandra Ruttan profiles publisher Crème de la Crime, who has exciting news for North American crime fiction fans

Andrea Maloney reviews:
Twisted Perception by Bob Avey
Art’s Bloody by Vicki Lane
Max Unlocks The Universe by Mark Bouton
Murder, Mather and Mayhem by ME Kemp
The Deadly Tools of Ignorancy by Robert Elias
A Dream of Drowned Hollow by Lee Barwood
Philippine Fever by Bruce Cook
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
Deadly Interest by Julie Hyzy
The Final Judgment by Michael A. Black
Blind Traveler Down a Dark River by Robert P. Bennett

M. Wayne Cunningham reviews:
Framed by Tonino Benqcquista
The Last Days by Gail Bowen
The Joining of Dingo Radish by Rob Harasymchuk

Flood Gondek reviews:
Murder Without Pity by Steve Haberman
The Scout Master: A Prepared Death by Luisa Beuhler

Diana Bane reviews The Case of Emily V by Keith Oatley

Sandra Ruttan reviews:
Pale Immortal by Anne Frasier
The Flood by Ian Rankin
The Green Room by Deborah Turrell Atkinson
The Last Assassin by Barry Eisler

Web profiles:
DevilDog by James Oswald
Mouth Full of Bullets by BJ Bourg

Staff Profile: Tracy Sharp

Bonus: Between the Hardbacks with Barry Eisler and JA Konrath by Elizabeth Krecker and MG Tarquini

There is at least one thing to look forward to this weekend. We have kick ass tickets to an NHL game. 15th row, near center ice. And they were free – a nice little present worth several hundred dollars.

I’ve never been to an NHL game before. Of course, I’m happy to cheer on The Flames, although it would be more fun if they were playing The Leafs instead of The Florida Panthers.

Still, I’m looking forward to it. What are you guys doing this weekend?