Saturday, April 30, 2011


I still argue that in the brouhaha that is publishing, we

often forget about the reasons that traditional publishing
existed to begin with, and why writers didn't just publish
themselves from the outset.

Traditional publishers fund works out of their pockets,
and they beat a dead horse in terms of preparing a book
for release. This has been true since Gutenberg printed
the first Bible. So I believe traditional publishing will
continue for many years to come.

Yes, I tend to lean to the . . . traditional side. (Bet you
thought I was going to say right or left, huh?) However, I've
self-published as well. I've seen good self-publishing and bad.
I've seen good agents and bad. I've marveled at good traditional
works and bad.

Nothing in publishing is perfect.

However, two items get overlooked, in my opinion, when it
comes to do-it-yourself publication.

1. Platform
2. Editing

The Steve Laube Literary Agency has quite the informative
blog, and lately they've run a series called, "A Defense of
Traditional Publishing." The latest post of April 26 addressed
"Content Development."

A reader cursed me (yes, I'm a "biatch") for advising her to
slow down, complete her book, and edit it to death before
considering the publisher, the movie, or the television
appearances. The point I tried to make was that editing
isn't a simple proofreading job before you forward the file
to a publisher.

Steve Laube explained the multiple editing tasks under a
traditional roof.

ACQUISITIONS EDITOR - Finds, acquires, negotiates the project.

LINE EDITOR - Performs the actual content edit (also call the
"line" or "substantive" edit).

CONTENT EDITOR - Reads for accuracy, balance and fairness,
cogency of argument, adequate treatment of the subject matters,
and conformity to the original book proposal.

COPY EDITOR - Scours the manuscript for accuracy in grammar,
citations, and factual content.

PROOF READER - Fine tunes punctuation and other nit-picky details.

Yes, there's room for self-publishing, especially if you
have a platform to die for, and a following that would
purchase anything you held up in your hand. But if you
are venturing into the publishing world alone, wouldn't
you want these people in your court?

by Hope Clark -

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The bodies at Gilgo...

Detectives were looking for a young woman that had disappeared... like so many others. She was pretty once, someone's little girl, but drugs and prostitution ravaged her... and now she was missing. Cops searched a lonely stretch of beach in Long Island, a place of gray sands and wretched tufts of grass and weeds. There is no laughter here, no smell of suntan lotion or picnic lunches. Even the ocean, as gray as the sand and sky, seems to refuse to lend its song to the greasy waves that roll onto the shore and then recede... as if ashamed.
The cops haven't found that young lady, but they did find the bodies of ten others very much like her... all wrapped in burlap, and all discarded along this mostly wild and untidy finger of sand and surf. Who they are, thanks to the marvels of forensic medicine, was fairly easy to determine. Who put them there and why is another matter altogether. The NYPD and the FBI have teamed up to investigate the work of yet another serial killer, they have even stretched their dragnet overseas and have enlisted the aid of Interpol.
It is all so sobering, and yet so scary and fascinating at the same time. That initial young lady lost, in a quiet and most profound way, led to the discovery of ten more young women who might otherwise have never been found. In their search for her, those detectives unearthed the works of a monster... and now the hunt grows in scope and in urgency. They want to stop this killer before he kills again. I hope they succeed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Many Truly Know Our Family Member and Friends?

So many times when someone has done something horrible like murdering his wife or girlfriends, or even worse his whole family, do you see the TV reporters interviewing the murderer's family, friends and neighbors. Almost always, those interviewed are shocked, declaring he was a loving family man, always nice, he was friendly and they'd never have guessed he would do something like this.

I'm saying "he" only because it's easier, but sometimes the guilty part is female--but the answers are always the same.

Think carefully, have you ever had a friend or family member that you wondered about?

Maybe someone you know has a hair trigger for anger. The littlest things, a slight--imagined or real, something said the wrong way, or was meant as a tease--would cause this person to fly into a rage. People who are around the person probably have learned to tiptoe and be careful what they say. There are more of these people around than we care to admit.

When we're perfectly honest with ourselves, we all have triggers that can make us angry.

How about that person who is always down? Whether it's real or perceived, he or she thinks the world is falling apart, there really isn't anything or anyone who is good or worthwhile.

Everyday we run into people who, given the right circumstances, might end up killing someone.

What about road rage? Sometimes the people who seem the most together, turn into a demon when behind the wheel of a car.

The other day my son was driving his wife and me and my husband down a country road. The speed limit is 55, son was going 60. Anyone who has ever gotten a ticket for speeding on that road never goes over 60. Speeding tickets are really high in California. Once I was driving on that road around 9 in the morning, no one else was anywhere in sight, and I was doing 70. A CHP car came over a hill with it's lights flashing, since I was the only one around I knew he was after me. My ticket was nearly $300 dollars. I never go over 60 on that road.

A car came right up behind us and stayed on our tail. Son said the driver was gesturing in the window. Two car lengths ahead of us was another car also going 60. The tailgater pulled out, passed on a double yellow line and flipped us off as he drove by. He roared past the next car and kept on going. Merely five miles more and we spotted this guy. He'd turned off the road and was parked at the closed gate to the gravel pit. Now what on earth could have been so important to drive there so fast? This guy was so angry, no telling what he might have done.

My point in all this is we never know about people. The quiet next door neighbor might turn out to be a serial killer, who knows?


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: How to Survive a Killer Seance

Posted by Chris Redding
How to Survive A Killer Séance

By Penny Warner

Mass Market release in 2011

by Obsidian, 290 pages.


Party planner Presley Parker is back. In another delightfully cozy murder mystery, she’s got herself enmeshed with some high-roller, high energy, digital silicon-valley types who are nothing if not focused. The problem is they seem to have left everything resembling human values back at the starting gate. Compassion? Nowhere to be found. Fidelity? It is to laugh.

The women are sexy and high energy, the guys are bright and energetic, if often ill-tempered, and poor Presley is caught between some over-stressed corporate types, her own urges and career needs, and her flakey mother. It’s easy to see where Penny gets some of her idiosyncrasies.

A wide range of characters? You bet. Unusual ideas and offbeat characters? Absolutely. This author fully understands what her readers are looking for and in spite of having already produced a huge number of enjoyable books, she continues to plumb her creative muse to write stories that satisfy a certain risibility and belief in the quirkiness of human nature.

A fast read, well-plotted, with a setting to die for, and characters that are distinct. This is yet another of Penny Warner’s diverting, novels. Here there is no gloom or doom, just a murder or two in dark rooms, secret passageways, unreal emanations and a fast romp to a perfectly designed conclusion.

Carl Brookins,

Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky

more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Review:A Puree of Poison

Posted by Chris Redding
A Puree of Poison

By Claudia Bishop

ISBN: 0425193314

Publisher, Berkley Prime Crime

December, 2003, 260 pgs.

This small-town cozy comes with two squabbling sisters, one a gourmand cook, the other an established painter. They collide in a little upstate New York town called Hemlock Falls. Aptly named. Together the sisters Sarah, called Quill, and Meg, own and operate an inn on a perfect plot of property overlooking the namesake falls. The novel comes with a list of the huge number of characters at the front and an unremarkable recipe at the back.

The 133rd anniversary of a minor Civil War skirmish is approaching and the town is planning big doings. Things get rapidly complicated. Re-enactors are arriving to stage the battle, a poisonous couple of independent film-makers appear, and Quill, who cannot manage a business to save her soul, is trying out various practices on the Inn’s employees she is picking up from a business course at Cornell. Cornell ought to sue.

Then people start dying. They are old and not exactly in the best of health, but they weren’t at death’s door, either. The one thing they had in common was the Inn. All three victims had had meals at the Inn on the same day. The town doctor, who’s in love with Meg, the aforementioned sister, is mightily distressed. He asks Meg’s sister, Quill, to investigate. This of course adds to the number of subjects over which the two sisters can disagree. As one might imagine, there’s a great amount of shouting, stomping about and door slamming.

Quill, of course, agrees to look into the deaths, if only to protect the reputation of the Inn and her sister. It isn’t like she hasn’t enough to occupy her. She has to deal with a twit of a receptionist who’s trying to finish a PhD and her own inept efforts to force worrisome new business practices on her employees without any preparation.

All of this is handled with a light touch and there are several clever scenes, helped by some imaginative and interesting characters, but it all never quite comes off. The sisters’ constant squabbling, the irritating front office receptionist who should have been fired for insubordination, and half a dozen other offenses, overshadow some strong writing and clever plotting.

Carl Brookins,

Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky

more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Inside an Insane Mind

The Twitchell murder trial is in full swing here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Aside from the gruesome murder and dismemberment itself, the case is notorious because the accused is a fledgling playwright and movie director, dabbling mostly in the more morbid genres.  Prosecutors are claiming the motive for the murder was to make life imitate art.

Twitchell recorded details of his crime on his laptop in what he is claiming was a fictional script.  Prosecutors, though, claim its a true account of the brutal murder since the details it contains closely match the evidence.

Reporters at the trial have skimmed over the more troubling sections of both the document that Twitchell had named "SK Confessions" (SK for Serial Killer) and Twitchell's testimony, specifically deleting the details of the butchering of the body.

During my daily scan of news headlines, I ran across a opinion piece questioning whether reporters ought to censor the news and even whether or not they ought to report at all on sensational cases.  It was mentioned that The Edmonton Journal had printed a version of "SK Confessions".

This sent me on a search to find the document online, which I eventually did--just before bedtime.  About then I realized that perhaps I didn't really want to know the details that reporters had censored.

I saved the link so I could decide in the morning whether or not to view it.

Being a crime writer burdened with an insatiable curiosity about the criminal mind, I of course decided to open that document and read it.

Thankfully, the more gruesome detail about the crime are blacked out in the version I found.  The script is unsettling, though.  Twitchell is a good writer.  The story flows.  There are elements of romance behind the violence.  There's a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Twitchell thinks he knows his mind and rather proudly diagnoses himself a psychopath.  I personally don't think he rates that label.  I think he falls short, just as he fell short of becoming the serial killer he set out to be.

 If you want to read this diary of a killer, here is the link:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

W. H. Auden 1907 - 1973

I can so identify with this fabulous and quite famous quote.

"If I have any work to do, I must be careful not to get hold of a detective story for, once I begin one, I cannot work or sleep till I have finished it." - W.H. Auden The Guilty Vicarage, Harper's Magazine, May 1948

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Review: Tomb With a View

Posted by Chris Redding

Tomb With A View

By Casey Daniels

ISBN: 9780425235515

2010 mass market release

from Berkley Prime Crime

Pair one of our less interesting presidents, James A. Garfield, with a cute slender, sexually aware private detective, cum medium, and what do you get? You get this delightful cozy mystery, one of several in Casey Daniel’s series of Pepper Martin adventures.

But be warned. If you don’t like a bad pun or two, several tongue-in-cheek jokes and a huge riff on one of the presidents of these United States, this delightful novel isn’t your cup of tea.

On the other hand, if your humor runs to the mildly risqué, you don’t mind a self-aware sexy cemetery tour guide(!) who happens to be reluctantly channeling the dead President, and you enjoy fast-paced well-conceived criminally artful plots, this latest adventure of Pepper Martin is definitely a winner.

Around every prominent figure in history there swirls scandal and scandal attracts the greedy. If this author is to be believed, an incredibly audacious land swap plan was under way when anarchist Charles Guiteau fired the bullet that cut short what might have been a sterling presidential career.

That’s all in the past. What’s here and now, is a well-managed funny, and twisty story peopled with interesting characters, not the least of whom is one well-named, Pepper Martin.

Carl Brookins,

Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky

more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The FBI wants YOUR help!

For all of us crime writers and readers, here's a chance that doesn't come by often. 

The FBI has released an encoded note found in the pocket of a murder victim and is asking for help decoding it.  Apparently the victim was known to encrypt messages, but this one has everybody stymied.  It may be a clue to his murder...and you might be just the one to solve it!

For more information on the victim and his murder and for the email address to which you should send your answer, visit:

p.s. let us all know if you solve it...please.