Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quote of the Week

"You see, we are here, as far as I can tell, to help each other; our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our enemies. That is to help each other and not hurt each other."

--- Stevie Ray Vaughan

Sunday, December 14, 2008

That Perfect Gift

Are you a last minute Christmas shopper? Me too. So, if you're wondering what to get for someone, allow me to make the same suggestion other writers have been making: Books. New or used, they make great gifts, especially if you can get them signed or find a rare book. So, here are a few of my suggestions (some are newer books, some not so much, but I think they're all great):

Anything of William Shakespeare's

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
The Price by Alexandra Sokoloff
When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe
Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder
Beloved by Toni Morrison
My Name is Will by Jess Winfield
Nox Dormienda by Kelli Stanley
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen
Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon
Just After Sunset by Stephen King
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The Complete Collected Poems of Mya Angelou
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Okay, hopefully that list will give you a few ideas. And remember (even if I did link to Amazon for the book descriptions) please be sure to support your local independent bookseller.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quote of the Week

"You can only be young once. But you can always be immature."

--- Dave Barry

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Story Not Included

Before I get to this, I just need to do bit of housekeeping. I just remembered that I never picked a winner for the chap book for Nox Dormienda, that I was giving away to a commenter from my post Hodie Ego sum Centum (Today I am 100). So, without further ado, the winner of the chap book is Stephen D. Rogers. Congratulations Stephen. Could you please e-mail me at rj@rjmangahas.com with your snail mail so I can get your prize off to you? Now, that that's taken care of, on with the post.

There are certainly a lot of changes going on in the publishing industry, not just with the reorganizing, but also with the technology involved. Today there are e-readers, such as the Kindle from Amazon and print on demand services where anybody with a credit card can pay some money and call themselves published. But there is another thing that has changed in the publishing industy and that's HOW people write. In olden times, it was carvings on a cave wall. In Shakespeare's day it was a feather quill and parchement. Later, pencils and pens, then typewriters and finally word processors. But that too has evolved.

There are now a variety of programs used to assist in writing: From Final Draft for screenplays and stage plays to New Novelist for, well, novels. Many of these programs have features such as automatic formating, character databases, virtual index cards complete with corkboard and push pins and outline modes. Yes, sir. These are loaded with all sorts of neat things. Plus according to the ads, they will help the user write the next big blockbuster or Great American Novel. But you know what? Despite all the bells and whistles these programs have, there's one thing that none of them can do: and that's write the actual story. Listen, it doesn't matter how fancy these wriitng programs are. The story has to come from you. As I said, long before all this fancy technology, books and screenplays were being written. People just used real index cards and corkboards.

As for myself, I do a majority of my writing on a laptop. But when it comes to certain scenes and editing (on hard copy mind you) I rely on the Faber Castell 9000 3B Drawing pencil.

So, how about you all? What do you prefer to write with? Whether you're a writer or not, I'm interested to know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power."

--- Toni Morrison

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Things Like This Should NEVER Happen

Black Friday. That yearly day after Thanksgiving that many retail employees don't look forward to. Throngs of people lining lining up (okay, mobbing up is more appropriate waiting for a store's door to open. Believe me, people are absolutely ridiculous on this day, some of them lining up HOURS before the store opens. I've worked retail and I've seen the madness. And every year you hear about injuries to employees and shoppers caused by the stampedes of people. But this situation is truly unacceptable:

"A Wal-Mart worker died early Friday after an "out-of-control" mob of frenzied
shoppers smashed through the Long Island store's front doors and trampled him,
police said." (Read full article)

And the worst part of this situation was that other workers were also trampled while attempting to help the fallen worker and shoppers actually got mad when the store closed for a few hours because of the death. It's absolutely inhuman and at the same time very sad that people felt mad and inconvenienced at a store closing making them have to wait to get their holiday deals. Thanks to some of them, a family will be grieving the loss of a loved one because these shoppers just had to save a few dollars or get that hot new gift item.

And you know what? I bet after these people read all the articles about 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour (the unfortunate Wal-Mart worker), they'll either say they weren't involved or won't give it a second thought.

So as we all go about our holiday shopping and go to gather with our loved ones, we should keep in our thoughts Jdimytai Damour as well as his family and friends who have suffered a terrible and such unnecessary loss.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quote of the Week

"At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable."

--- Raymond Chandler

Sign of the Times?

Much like other businesses during these tough economic times, the publishing industry is also suffering. But has it truly reached the point that major NY publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt actually told their editors to "temporarily" stop acquiring manuscripts? (Additional NYT article here)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hodie EGO sum Centum (Today I am 100)

Okay, so I'm not 100, but this IS the 100th post here at Out in Writefield. (trumpets sound) And to kick things off, I'd like to announce the winner of Ken Bruen's latest book, Once Were Cops, that I offered to one lucky commenter on my post Cracking the Block. And the winner is....(opens envelope). Jake Nantz. Congratulations, Jake. Could you please e-mail me at rj@rjmangahas.com with your snail mail so I can get your book off to you? And by the way folks, check out Jake's blog, The Pen-Ferno. Cool name, huh?

So let's move this party. You're probably wondering, "What's with the Latin in the post title?" Well, it goes along with my guest here today at Out in WriteField: Kelli Stanley. She is the author of
Nox Dormienda, a historical mystery set in Rome but with a noir feel. So please join me in welcoming Kelli Stanley to Out in WriteField.


RJ: NOX DORMIENDA. Can you give us the pitch?

KS: Well, first let me thank you, RJ, for the invite! It’s great to be here to help celebrate your 100th.

As for NOX … it’s a mystery-thriller and the first Roman Noir. A combination of ancient historical setting (first century Roman Britain) and the style of hardboiled fiction made famous by Hammett, Chandler, Woolrich and Cain. Arcturus—the governor’s doctor—has only one week to figure out who murdered a Syrian spy—and why … or civil war will erupt between the Roman Empire, and the small, wet province known as Britannia.

And of course there’s a woman involved. Isn’t there always? ;)

RJ: I've read that you're both a Classicist and a huge fan of noir. What made you decide to combine the two?

KS: An epiphany while attending Eddie Muller’s Noir City film festival in San Francisco. I’ve been a noir fan all my life. I wanted a lens for the book, something people could look through and say, “OK, I get it, Roman culture wasn’t all marble and togas, and it really does have relevance to the here and now.” For me, noir is that lens … it gives me a chance to prove that history can be just as tough, just as visceral, as a contemporary novel.

RJ: NOX DORMIENDA has been described by you and others such as author James Rollins, The Library Journal and Becky Lejeune, of Bookbitch.com, as "Roman Noir." What exactly is Roman Noir?

KS: Well, Roman Noir is a pun on “roman noir”, the French literary term for a detective novel. I thought it would be a good way to distinguish NOX from other historical mysteries on the market, and let people know that it’s something completely new. I’m very proud of the fact that the city and county of San Francisco—my homebase—awarded me a Certificate of Honor for my creation of a new subgenre.

Thanks to Jim Rollins, Becky Lejeune, and other reviewers, I’ve been able to get the word out about Roman Noir. Thanks to the support of readers, I have a good chance at expanding the series to the second, third and fourth novels. We’re trying to move to a larger publisher, so we’ll see.

RJ: I understand that you're also working on another series set in
San Francisco in 1940.

KS: I just finished it, actually. Right before Bouchercon (a large annual mystery convention). Not Roman, but definitely noir … and a much darker version than Roman.

RJ: Any possibility for a little insight into the series?

KS: Without giving too much away, the protagonist is a female PI, who gets involved in a case dealing with racial tensions between the Chinese-American and Japanese-American communities in the wake of Nanking. Sweeping book, very dark and very big.

RJ: Just for fun, what are some of your favorite noir films and books?

KS: My favorite noir films include Nightmare Alley, Gilda, Out of the Past, Double Indemnity and Touch of Evil … and of course the minute I say that, I think of Night and the City, In a Lonely Place, Sudden Fear, Woman on the Run, Thieves’ Highway … it’s virtually impossible to rank them!

As for books, I consider Chandler a noir writer. He’s my favorite author. I also hold Hammett, Woolrich, Elizabeth Sanxay-Holding, Patricia Highsmith, Dorothy B. Hughes, David Goodis in high esteem. James Cain. Jim Thompson was brilliant, hard as hell to read sometimes because he was so damn disturbing. I like a combination of aesthetic lyricism with a brutal subject.

RJ: Who were some of the biggest influences on you as a writer?

KS: All of the above, plus Hemingway, Steinbeck, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Poe and a whole lot of other people. Lots of poetry. Shakespeare. Virgil, Catullus, Euripides in terms of classical literature.

RJ: You say that you're also a comic book buff. Name some of your favorites.

KS: I used to own a comic book store with my family, and have collected since I was a kid. Batman and Detective are my two main titles … I have every issue of Detective from about 1959 to 1989. Batman is, for me, the ultimate noir super-hero. I’ve always been a DC fan (and am one of those unfortunate souls who can name all the members of the Legion of Super-Pets).

My collection has ground to a halt since publication, but I collect Silver and Golden Age DC, Fawcett and Quality. I’ve always loved Plastic Man (Jack Cole), Will Eisner’s The Spirit (what a wonderful man Eisner was!) … and I’m partial to a few other heroes in the DC pantheon, including Green Arrow, Dr. Fate and the Specter. I adore Catwoman. I was never much of a Wonder Woman fan, though as an academic I published an article on how she reflects American cultural trends toward women.

RJ: Did any of them influence your writing as well?

KS: Great question! I’m sure comic books have influenced me … they’re like reading storyboards, and before I turned to novels, I wrote screenplays … gave it up because unless you’re in LA and are willing to knock on doors it’s too frustrating a business. Batman certainly influenced me … made me understand (and from a young age) the pain of loss and the anger at not being able to prevent it. And the desire for revenge … psychologically he’s a very complex figure.

RJ: What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

KS: Movies—I’m looking forward to Quantum of Solace. Usually I’m catching up on something from 1948 on DVD. J I love visiting historic places, watching ships come in under the Golden Gate Bridge, walking in parks, playing with the dog. I also like vintage radio shows—some great writing on shows like Suspense … full entertainment in a half hour. But the thing about being a writer is that you never *not write.* Even when you’re doing other things, you’re still writing in your head. Deep down, I never stop.

RJ: So, what's next for Arcturus and company?

KS: The sequel is called MALEDICTUS (Cursed). Set a few months after NOX, in the town of Aquae Sulis (modern day Bath). It deals with the health spa/snake oil atmosphere of the town, and the murder of a curse-writer … someone whose curses seemed to come true. I’m hoping to see the series picked up by a larger publisher.

RJ: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today.

KS: My pleasure, RJ, thanks for asking me!! And here’s to the 200th post!


There you have it fols, your intro to Roman Noir and a great writer. So be sure to get your copy of Nox Dormienda. And in honor of Kelli Stanley stopping by, you can check out the first three chapters of Nox Dormienda in the chap book that I'll be giving away to a randomly selected commenter.


Kelli Stanley likes fog, which is a good thing because she lives in San Francisco. In addition to writing Roman noir, she holds a Master’s Degree in Classics. As a scholar, she writes and lectures internationally on a variety of subjects from Sallust to Superman, and her published work can be found in academic books and journals.

Her favorite film is Casablanca—she always gets choked up over the “Marseillaise” scenes.

She is currently working on her third Arcturus novel, and is researching a second series set in San Francisco in 1939.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore....2009"

In celebration of Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday next year, the City of Baltimore (where Poe is buried), will hold a yearlong celebration known as Nevermore 2009. Some of the activities include:

* An Edgar Allan Poe tribute by noted actor John Astin (a Baltimore Resident) of “The Addams Family” fame. Mr. Astin will present a spellbinding hour of Poe’s most beloved works interspersed with comments and observations on Poe’s life.

Sample the wines mentioned in Poe's stories while enjoying the ambience of the Westminster catacombs. Witness Montressor luring Fortunado to a gruesome death in a theatrical
performance of The Cask of Amontillado. Enjoy characters from Poe's stories as they mingle among the living.

Beginning at midnight, join hundreds of people as a vigil is held at Poe's grave. Throughout the vigil, celebrities and members of the public will get a chance to read excerpts from Poe's works or just read their own tribute to Poe at his gravesite.

A horse-drawn funeral hearse will bring Poe's body from his home on Amity Street to the Westminster Hall for burial services. A drum and fife corps will lead the procession. The funeral service will include musical selections performed by a pianist, soloist, violinist and a choir. Guest speakers will include five people who knew Poe, "legacies" such as "Alfred Hitchcock," "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle," "Charles Baudelaire" and "H. G. Wells" will present eulogies. Invited representatives from the literary, stage and movie industries will present their own eulogies for Poe. Tributes from ambassadors from many countries will also be read.

Did you ever wonder what happened to the narrator in The Tell Tale Heart? Did he stand trial? Was he found guilty or innocent by reason of insanity? Witness the chilling confession of the accused as he relates why and how he murdered an old man. A retired or sitting judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney and the arresting police officer will conduct the case. The audience will be the jury.

For a complete schedule of the events and other info, be sure check out the official site for Nevermore 2009.

Just a reminder: Next post I will be announcing the winner of the drawing for Ken Bruen's latest book Once Were Cops.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Crichton passes away

The literary world has suffered yet another loss this week when best-selling author Michael Crichton died this past Tuesday (Nov. 4) after a bout with cancer. He was 66.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Quote of the Week

"A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen."

--- Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cracking the Block

I'm sure this has happened to you. You're breezing along through your current WIP and all is right with your writing world. Then it happens. Your fingers hover over your keyboard and won't go back down. You've been blocked. You rack your brain, but the words just won't come fast enough (or even at all). Now what? Fortunately, today, we have award winning-author Ken Bruen to offer some advice as to what he does:

There's an old joke about if you are blocked, picture your bank manager and the words will flow. Then there is Chandler's advice, bring a man through the window with a gun
I'm a little more radical when I'm blocked
I kill someone
Usually a loved character, the impact of that will really get you moving
Or if not that, something to shock the hell out of yer own self, and if it shocks you, it will definitely shock the reader
take a real reckless chance, come out of left field, do something you never dreamed you'd do and watch the block dissipate

There you have it folks. Kill someone {on paper of course ;)} or shock your reader. So how about you all? What do you do to get past your block?

Everyone who comments in the next few days or so will be entered in a drawing to receive a copy of Ken Bruen's latest book Once Were Cops.


Ken Bruen was a finalist for the Edgar, Barry, and Macavity Awards, and the Private Eye Writers of America presented him with the Shamus Award for the Best Novel of 2003 for The Guards, the book that introduced Jack Taylor. He lives in Galway, Ireland.

He is also a former regular at the grog Murderati. If you've never read his posts, you can do so here. They are well worth the read.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house."

--- George Carlin

Monday, October 27, 2008

Farewell to a Mainstay

This past Sunday, the mystery world lost one of it's true greats when Tony Hillerman died at the age of 83 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Edgar at Bouchercon

This year's Bouchercon World Mystery Convention was held in Baltimore, which is where Edgar Allan Poe is buried. So rather than post the standard pics of B'Con (panels, etc.), I thought I'd let Edgar share some pictures from his personal album from the trip to Charm City. He asked that I do the captions. Also, you can read my Bouchercon wrap up here.

At South Station in Boston

On the train to Baltimore

In his room at The Radisson Lord Baltimore (across the
street from the Sheraton where Bouchercon was held)

Getting started at the bar

By the bag given to attendees this year's Bouchercon

With Jon Jordan of Crimespree Magazine

Edgar and me with authors (l to r) Jason Pinter, Kelli Stanley,
Bill Cameron and Brett Battles

A Panel about drinking and alcohol in crime fiction
(l to r) Edgar and me, Ali Karim, Michelle Gagnon, Ken Bruen,
Jason Starr, Elizabeth Zelvin and Con Lehane

With publisher Karen Syed of Echelon Press

Edgar and me outside the Poe Room at the Sheraton

Outside the Radisson

Relaxing in the lobby at The Sheraton


With Poe experts (l to r) Edward Pettit, Shelly Costa,
Louis Bayard and Daniel Stashower

Enjoying some drinks at Lee Child's "Reacher Creature" party

Poe's Grave

Original Burial Site

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quote of the Week

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."

--- T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bouchercon: A look back

I arrived home yesterday from my very first Bouchercon. My head is still doing a bit of spinning. It was a rather large conference of about 1400 people. I could go on about the panels, of which there were quite some good ones, including one on Edgar Allan Poe (this year's con was held in Baltimore), and one on TV and it's place in the crime fiction world. Instead, much like author Louise Ure did today over at Murderati, I would like to talk about the moments that meant more to me (as an unpublished writer among some of the published). Let me just say that, I really felt so welcome among the crowds of readers and writers. Many have told me that there is such a sense of family among the crime writing community. That is certainly true.

Here are just some of the things that made my first Bouchercon such a wonderful experience.

* Meeting Ken Bruen on Wednesday night as I showed up for registration. I also got to meet his lovely fiancee Lisa. You could really see the spark in Ken's eyes when he was with her. And if you haven't read any of Ken Bruen's books yet, you're REALLY missing out on superb writing.

* Getting to hang out with Kelli Stanley. Kelli is the author of the book Nox Dormienda a brilliantly written crime novel written in what she calls "roman noir." It's basically done in the hard boiled noir style but just happens to be set around the time of Rome's conquest of Britain. Better than that though, she is probably one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet.

* Being invited to the Murderati get-together at the bar on Saturday and meeting the authors of the blog as well as two of the other regulars Will Bereswill and B.G. Ritts. I felt very welcomed among this group. Sadly, there were members who were not there: J.T. Ellison, Toni McGee Causey, Allison Brennan and Tess Gerritsen.

* Having a couple of drinks with J.A. Konrath. He may be loud and obnoxious (hey, he's told me this himself), but he is very generous with advice. Just check out his blog and you'll see.

* Going along with editors Gary Phillips and Chris Chambers as well as some of the authors of The Darker Mask anthology (a great book from what I've heard) to their signing at Red Emma's coffee shop and bookstore.

* Chatting with author Zoe Sharp and getting some good advice about some of my writing techniques (thanks so much Zoe). I also had the pleasure of getting to know her husband Andy. I even got to have dinner with them along with other U.K. writers Stuart MacBride, Sophie Hannah and Meg Chittenden.

* Meeting Karen Syed, president and publisher of Echelon Press.

* Discussing things supernatural with Alexandra Sokoloff, whose book The Price is a great read. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Alex in person, you can feel a certain energy when you talk with her.

* Being mentioned in some other Bouchercon blog posts. It's truly an honor to named in some of the blogs that I read and comment on on a regular basis.

* Once again seeing writer and fellow TV nut Lee Lofland. For those of you who don't know, Lee is a great source of information on all things law enforcement. His book Police Procedure and Investigation should be a standard in every crime writer's reference library.

* Though not part of the actual conference, I got to see Edgar Allan Poe's grave. There was however a great panel about Poe as part of B'Con.

These are only some of the things that will really make me remember this Bouchercon. I also got to meet a whole host of other writers including Jason Pinter, Eric Stone, Bill Cameron. Marcus Sakey, Michelle Gagnon, Jason Starr, Christa Faust and Troy Cook as well as agent Janet Reid.

If I have not mentioned someone that I've met (and I know I'm missing plenty) please forgive me. Just know that I enjoyed meeting you.

And finally, there are two sets of very special thanks that need to go out. The first is to Ruth and Jon Jordan and Judy Bobalik for organizing this wonderful event.

The second goes out to the staff of The Sheraton that hosted Bouchercon. Despite your troubles with Labor dispute, you all provided such wonderful and friendly service and for that you deserve much thanks. Know that your efforts were appreciated

Well kids, that's it. I had a great time and I'm looking forward to next year's Bouchercon in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Quote of the Week

"If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you."

--- Paul Newman

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning."

--- Maya Angelou

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman

Hollywood legend Paul Newman, the cool "anti-hero" in such films as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Sting, and The Color of Money, died this past Friday of cancer at his Westport Connecticut home. He was 83 years old. A lot of the younger generations may know Mr. Newman as the guy whose face is on Salad dressing and pasta sauces, but he also owned a racing team and was a great philanthropist. But perhaps what made Paul Newman a rarity by today's Hollywood standards was that he was married to actress Joanne Woodward for over fifty years. Considering some celebrity couples are already thinking about divorce before the ink on their marriage license is even dry, that is something to take pride in.

R.I.P. Mr. Newman, you will be missed.

How could ANYONE who has seen Butch Cassidy forget this scene?

Paul Newman in The Color of Money

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quote of the Week

"You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants."

--- Stephen King

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are You Experienced?

It was 38 years ago today that rock legend and pioneer Jimi Hendrix died in London. The true circumstances of his death have never been fully explained.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."

--- Agatha Christie

Monday, September 15, 2008

Farewell Rebus

In a New York Times article, Ian Rankin's latest John Rebus novel Exit Music is referred to as a milestone. And it's with a very simple reason: this latest Rebus novel marks the end of the series according to Rankin. Although, (not having read the book myself) who knows? After all, unless Rebus dies in this book, there's always a possibility of return. And even "death" didn't stop Sherlock Holmes from returning.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quote of the Week

"What I do is based on powers we all have inside us; the ability to endure; the ability to love, to carry on, to make the best of what we have - and you don't have to be a ‘Superman' to do it."

--- Christopher Reeve

I am Superman

Who would have ever imagined that when two teenagers named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created a character by the name of Superman, seventy years ago, that he would become such a part of our cultural landscape? Superman is perhaps the most recognizable character not just in the United States but around the world as well.

This is evident by the number of shows, films, radio and television serials, comics, books and daily strips all based around The Man of Steel. Not to mention all the different kinds of merchandising, from clothing, jewelry and other apparel to backpacks, coffee mugs, toys, video games and even mouse pads. Apparently, he's even a close friend of Jerry Seinfeld.

Superman has been portrayed on TV by such actors as George Reeves in the 1950's Adventures of Superman to Dean Cain in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Of course when most of people think of Superman on the big screen, they probably think about Christopher Reeve from the Superman Movies.

But I believe that it is Clark Kent, Superman's alter-ego, that many can identify with. Clark is your everyman. The regular guy who has the heart of a hero. Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

When author Brad Meltzer(who penned several Justice League of America graphic novels), whose latest work The Book of Lies, visited Ohio doing research, he saw something that was considered a shame. The birthplace of Superman, not the Planet Krypton, but the house in which Jerry Siegel had lived, had fallen into disrepair.

It is truly sad when any home falls into disrepair, but especially if it's the home of someone who gave the world such an enduring character. This is where we all can try and bring out the hero in us. When several Cleveland residents and comic book creators learned about the condition of the house, they founded the Siegel and Shuster Society, whose aim is to save the Supeman House. So what do you say? Are you ready to rip open that shirt, reveal that 'S' and become a hero?

As an interesting note, Meltzer's The Book of Lies also touches on the 1932 murder of Jerry Siegel's father, Mitchell. Interestingly enough, in all the interviews that Jerry Siegel has given, is none of them does he mention that his father was killed in an armed robbery.

"But think about it," Meltzer says, in a USA TODAY on-line article. "Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man who becomes the world's greatest hero. I'm sorry, but there's a story there."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Quote of the Week

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers."

--- T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Sky is Crying

Eighteen years ago today, blues guitarist great Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter accident while on tour with Eric Clapton.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quote of the Week

"I'm not even supposed to be here today."

--- Dante Hicks in the movie Clerks.

Employee of the Month Award

I'm sure we've all encountered them when shopping before. The employee who acts as if you're wasting their time. The snooty individual who takes one look at you and assumes you can't afford that necklace. The clerk who won't be happy until you open a store charge. And one of my personal favorites, the one who just has to finish that last paragraph. But I have to tell you folks, compared to this guy, everyone else, no matter how rude or unhelpful you think they are, is a perfect model of customer service excellence.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quote of the Week

"If you can't change your fate, change your attitude."

--- Amy Tan

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen....

It was on this day in 1899 that Master of Suspense, and director of such films as Strangers on a Train, Psycho, and Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock was born.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quote of the Week

"So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?"

--- Ayn Rand

Perhaps one of the best (and biggest) Book on All Things Publishing

With all the books on writing and publishing, how do you decide which one to pick? There so many factors to consider here: Cost, Who Wrote it, What aspects are covered. Well, to help you navigate though it, let me throw in this suggestion. J.A. Konrath, author of the Jack Daniel's Mystery Series, has recently released Newbie's Guide to Publishing. It may be the name of his blog, but now it's in book form. Covering everything from writing, to querying, to self-promotion (I can't think of another author who does so much in the way of self promotion), it's your one-stop shopping guide to questions you may have about publishing. And the best part? This book is ABSOLUTELY, 100% FREE. Just hop on over to J.A.'s website and download it for free.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I love books just as much as the next person. My shelves are starting to bow under the weight of the many tomes I've collected over the years. However, I don't think I'm quite as dedicated as some of these people. Talk about wearing your emotions on your sleeve.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Dream as if you'll live forever; live as if you'll die tomorrow."

--- James Dean

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Odds and Ends

Stark's Parker gets 'drawn' out
Richard Stark's (aka Donald Westlake), character Parker is set to be adapted into comic form. Darwyn Cook told fans at this year's Comic-Con that he will be adapting Stark's first four novels (The Hunter (aka Point Blank), The Man with the Getaway Face, The Outfit, and The Mourner) into graphic novels, the first of which is scheduled to be released late in 2009.

Potter's Fairytales
J.K. Rowling announced this past Thursday that she will publish a book of wizarding fairytales. Rowling originally produced only seven copies of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard." Each were bound in Moroccan leather and decorated with silver moonstones. Six were given to people involved with the Potter books while the seventh copy was bought at auction for roughly $4 million.

Saved By the Bell
Joining the ranks of celebrity tell-all books is Dustin "Screech" Diamond. You have to read this one for yourselves, 'cause I really have nothing to say, except yikes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Someone once told me that every minute a murder occurs, so I don't want to waste your time, I know you want to go back to work."

--- Alfred Hitchcock

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pinter hits "The Mark"

If you have yet to read Jason Pinter's The Mark, the novel that introduces the world to young reporter Henry Parker, you can read it for free, for 11 more days. How you ask? Quite simple. You can go to either Jason Pinter's Website or blog. Trust me, you won't be sorry you did. I personally am anxiously awaiting the release of The Stolen, the third in the Henry Parker series.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Always be yourself... unless you suck."

--- Joss Whedon

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quote of the Week

"All great achievements require time."

--- Maya Angelou

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Disrepair. . .Nevermore

The small cottage in New York where Edgar Allen Poe spent his later years has been closed to the public for renovations. The work is scheduled to begin next spring and should be finished by spring 2010. The estimated cost for these renovations is around $250,000.

Mr. Poe, meet your contractor.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lennon's Lyrics Auctioned

The hand written lyrics for John Lennon's song "Give Peace a Chance" were auctioned off at Christie's for the tidy sum of $833,654.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quote of the Week

"I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image. "

--- Stephen Hawking

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Odds and Ends

Born on this day:
Writer Franz Kafka (1883)
Playwright Tom Stoppard (1937)

Literary Hot Spots
So where are some of the most literary friendly cities? Writer's Digest recently compiled this list of "Literary Hotspots:"
If you have any hot spots that you'd like to add, please feel free.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living."

--- Anais Nin

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Are you a writer?

Much like Jeff Foxworthy came up with ways to tell if you're a redneck (ie. you do your Christmas shopping at a truck stop), Adair Lara, who founded an on-line writing community called Matchwriters.com, compiled a book with signs to tell if you're a writer. It's titled, funny enough, You Know You're a Writer When...
So what are some of the signs?

You know you're a writer when...
  • You drink coffee black because Balzac did
  • You accidentally sign a check with your pen name
  • The cafe won't lend you pens anymore
  • Not writing makes you depressed
  • You keep a notebook under your pillow
Any of this sound familiar?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote of the Week

"I do not like to get the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons."

--- Ogden Nash

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George, you ##$%^&!!@

George Carlin, the first host of Saturday Night Live and the man who brought us "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" died yesterday in Santa Monica, CA of heart failure. He was 71.

I personally loved his social commentary, just because it was so true. One of my absolute favorite bits that Carlin did was the "airline announcements" and the "safety lecture" on the plane. (oops, sorry George, I meant in the plane). However, I believe his best bit is when he's talking about "Stuff."

I did have the opportunity to see him live a couple of times. All I can say is that it was a great show.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Odds and Ends

That's Connery. Sean Connery
The man who is best known for his role as James Bond will be unveiling his memoir Being a Scot on August 25 at a book festival in Edinburgh.

Two more for Lehane
After the success of the film versions of two of Dennis Lehane's books, Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, two more books are primed to be translated into film. Up next is The Given Day, a novel set during the 1919 Boston Police riots. Universal and director Sam Raimi (both of Spider-man fame) are set to work together on the film version of the book. Also, production on Shutter Island is just about complete. The movie reunites Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, who last worked together on The Departed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I am Amazon, hear me roar!

Apparently, small presses are also now feeling the strong arm tactics by Amazon.com. This started with Amazon saying that any POD book that is sold on Amazon.com must be printed by BookSurge. Those who don't comply, will have the buy button on their page "turned off."

For those of you who may not be up to speed or want a quick refresher course of what exactly is going on, you can find out at the Writer's Weekly website.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quote of the Week

"It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block."

--- Paul Gauguin

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quote of the Week

"He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination."

--- Jose Rizal (National hero of The Philippines)

Harry Potter and the Rare Prequel

As reported by The Associated Press, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling wrote an 800-word prequel to her popular series about the boy wizard. The prequel is hand written on both sides of an A5 sized card (slightly bigger than a post card) and will be auctioned off for charity by Waterstone's Booksellers Ltd. in London. Waterson's said that they distributed 13 of the A5 cards to people including Rowling, playwright Tom Stoppard, graphic novelist and author Neil Gaiman, and Sebastian Faulks, whose Bond novel The Devil May Care was released last week.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quote of the Week

"A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul."

--- Franz Kafka

How Kafka-esque

It was on this day in 1924 that Franz Kafka - known for works such as The Trial, Amerika and Metamorphosis - died from tuberculosis contracted in 1917.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Odds and Ends

Farewell Harvey
Comedic actor Harvey Korman, best known for his performances on The Carol Burnett Show as well as appearing in movies such as Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety, died this past Thursday at the age of 81 in Los Angeles.

to the Silver Screen
Following up the Oscar-winning adaptation to Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, another one of McCarthy's novels is headed for the big screen. This time around, it will be The Road, a post apocalyptic tale of an unnamed man and his son traveling down through desolate lands, is scheduled to open on November 28 of this year. The film stars Viggo Mortenson and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the father and son.

Published Author and Creative Writing Teacher Offers Free Novella
Mike Heppner, a creative writing teacher at Emerson College in Boston and author of The Egg Code and Pike's Folly, is offering his latest work, a novella called Man Talking free on his Website. He describes it as a "hybrid novel and writing manual."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quote of the Week

"I'm one of those regular weird people."

--- Janis Joplin

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Odds and Ends

Fleming, Ian Fleming
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond is the the latest exhibition at The Imperial War Museum in London. So, if you're a Bond fan who lives in London (or just feel like going there) be sure to stop in to see it. The exhibition is scheduled to run through March 2009.

It's kind of like...Coke buying out Pepsi
Super bookstore chain Barnes and Noble reportedly has been eying the bid to buy out rival Borders Group.

"No time for love, Dr. Jones"
Actually, there seems to be plenty of love for Indy. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the first in the series in nineteen years, grossed $56 million dollars in it's first two days. On his blog, The Man in Black, author Jason Pinter gives a good round up of the movie. WARNING: The post contains spoilers. Don't read it unless you've seen the movie. And just for fun, don't forget to check out the official Indiana Jones Web site.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quote of the Week

"It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper."

--- Rod Serling

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is that a fact?

Are you someone who enjoys strange facts and trivia? Then perhaps this book is for you. Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Schnakenberg reveals to the reader some lesser known facts of some very well known writers. Did you know that:

  • After being given a bad review, Ernest Hemingway wrestled the critic to the floor

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda would sometimes show up at parties drunk and bark like wild dogs

  • Toni Morrison is a fan of the show Law & Order

  • Kurt Vonnegut once owned a Saab dealership

These are only a few of the interesting bits of trivia about some of the greatest writers, from Shakespeare and Lord Byron all the way to J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon, found in this entertaining book.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Quote of the Week

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

--- Toni Morrison

Friday, May 2, 2008

May I have the envelope please?

The Mystery Writers of America has announced 2008's winners of the Edgar Awards.

Best Novel
  • Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt and Company)
  • Priest by Ken Bruen (St. Martin's Minotaur)

  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)

  • Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books)

  • Down River by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best First Novel by an American Author
  • Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell (HarperCollins - William Morrow)
  • In the Woods by Tana French (Penguin Group - Viking)

  • Snitch Jacket by Christopher Goffard (The Rookery Press)

  • Head Games by Craig McDonald (Bleak House Books)

  • Pyres by Derek Nikitas (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original
  • Queenpin by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
  • Blood of Paradise by David Corbett (Random House - Mortalis)

  • Cruel Poetry by Vicki Hendricks (Serpent's Tail)

  • Robbie's Wife by Russell Hill (Hard Case Crime)

  • Who is Conrad Hirst? by Kevin Wignall (Simon & Schuster)

Best Critical/Biographical
  • The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction by Patrick Anderson (Random House)
  • A Counter-History of Crime Fiction: Supernatural, Gothic, Sensational by Maurizio Ascari (Palgrave Macmillan)

  • Deviance in Contemporary Crime Fiction by Christiana Gregoriou (Palgrave Macmillan)

  • Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley (The Penguin Press)

  • Chester Gould: A Daughter's Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy by Jean Gould O'Connell (McFarland & Company)

Best Fact Crime
  • The Birthday Party by Stanley Alpert (Penguin Group - G.P. Putnam's Sons)
  • Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi (W.W. Norton and Company)

  • Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn't Commit by Kerry Max Cook (HarperCollins - William Morrow)

  • Relentless Pursuit: A True Story of Family, Murder, and the Prosecutor Who Wouldn't Quit by Kevin Flynn (Penguin Group - G.P. Putnam's Sons)

  • Sacco & Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders and the Judgment of Mankind by Bruce Watson (Penguin Group - Viking)

Best Short Story
  • "The Catch" - Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)
  • "Blue Note" - Chicago Blues by Stuart M. Kaminsky (Bleak House Books)

  • "Hardly Knew Her" - Dead Man's Hand by Laura Lippman (Harcourt Trade Publishers)

  • "The Golden Gopher" - Los Angeles Noir by Susan Straight (Akashic Books)

  • "Uncle" - A Hell of a Woman by Daniel Woodrell (Busted Flush Press)

Best Young Adult
  • Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (Penguin - Dial Books for Young Readers)
  • Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)

  • Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

  • Blood Brothers by S.A. Harazin (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)

  • Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - Simon Pulse)

Best Juvenile
  • The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Shadows on Society Hill by Evelyn Coleman (American Girl Publications)

  • Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion Books)

  • The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion Books for Young Readers)

  • Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things by Wendelin Van Draanen (Random House Children's Books - Alfred A. Knopf)

Best Play
  • If/Then by David Foley (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
  • Panic by Joseph Goodrich (International Mystery Writers' Festival)

  • Books by Stuart M. Kaminsky (International Mystery Writers' Festival)

Best Television Episode Teleplay
  • "It's Alive" - Dexter, Teleplay by Daniel Cerone (Showtime)
  • "Yahrzeit" - Waking the Dead, Teleplay by Declan Croghan & Barbara Machin (BBC America)

  • "Pie-Lette" - Pushing Daisies, Teleplay by Bryan Fuller (ABC/Warner Bros Television

  • "Senseless" - Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Teleplay by Julie Martin & Siobhan Byrne O'Connor (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)

  • "Pilot" - Burn Notice, Teleplay by Matt Nix (USA Network/Fox Television Studios)

Best Motion Picture Screen Play
  • Eastern Promises, Screenplay by Steven Knight (Focus Features)
  • The Lookout, Screenplay by Scott Frank (Miramax)

  • Michael Clayton, Screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Warner Bros. Pictures)

  • No Country for Old Men, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy (Miramax)

  • Zodiac, Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Robert L. Fish Memorial Award

  • "The Catch" - Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)

Mary Higgins Clark Award
  • In Cold Pursuit by Sarah Andrews (St. Martin's Minotaur)
  • Wild Indigo by Sandi Ault (Penguin Group - Berkley Prime Crime)

  • Inferno by Karen Harper (Harlequin - MIRA Books)

  • The First Stone by Judith Kelman (Penguin Group - Berkley Prime Crime)

  • Deadman's Switch by Barbara Seranella (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Congratulations to all the winners as well as the nominees!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit."

--- e.e. cummings

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

They Say it's Your Birthday!!

William Shakespeare

April 23, 1564 ~
April 23, 1616

  • Playwright
  • Actor
  • Man of many "True Identities"
Whomever you may be,

"A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age."
--- Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, Scene 3

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages."

Virginia Woolf

Cozy No More

When one thinks of British mysteries, images of quaint little villages, older ladies and gentleman as the amateur sleuth and bloodless crimes usually come to mind right away. But according to Publisher's Weekly, the traditional British mystery is getting a makeover. As mentioned in the article "the noir traditions set down by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett made their way across the Atlantic, seeping into the consciousness of a new generation of U.K. crime writers."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Huxtable goes Hip-Hop

It appears that Bill Cosby, yes Bill Cosby, will be releasing a hip-hop album some time in the next several weeks titled "Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency." A spokesperson for Cosby described the album as "unflinching look at life in the 21st century, but without the profanity, misogyny, violence and braggadocio."

"Yo, yo yo, word to the Jell-o." At any rate, I'm interested in hearing it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

--- Scott Adams

In the beginning. . . .

Who ever said that coming up with the perfect opening was easy?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."

--- Franz Kafka

Odds and Ends

All in the family
This month, two second generation writers will all have new offerings.
Novel Writing
There are numerous books on how to write a novel, so why aren't there any books that tell you how NOT to write a novel? Good news. Now there is. You can check it out here.

Happy Birthday Converse!
I'm sure at some point in their life, many people owned at least one pair of Chuck Taylor canvas sneakers. Today, there are a multitude of colors and patterns. It may be hard to believe, but it's been 100 years since Marquis Mills Converse began making simple, rubber-sole work shoes in a factory outside Boston that would eventually lead to one of the most popular shoes of all time. Shoes have always come and gone, but those Chucks were always there.