Confidential: Crime Writers of the Paperback Era (Sept., Stark House
tpo, 19.95). 120 profiles of writers from the ‘30s through the ‘60s, Each
profile contains a biographical sketch, notes about their key works and
characters, as well as film adaptions of their books. Some have begun to be
reissued and others are still neglected. A sharp, useful and informative
book, glad we’ve got one on our reference shelf!
Sad new today with the passing of Elmore Leonard, Grand Master of Mystery, Western and American Letters, bestselling writer and the source of stories for our bookshelves and movie screens: Get Shorty, The Big Bounce, Out of Sight, 3:10 to Yuma, Hombre, Valdez is Coming, Mr. Majestyk, 52 Pick-up, Stick, Rum Punch (source for Jackie Brown) and Fire in the Holewhich was adapted into the series "Justified". This is a partial list but impressive on so many fronts. 26 of his novels were adapted for the large and small screen. Actors who voiced his characters include Burt Lancaster, Roy Schieder, Jennifer Lopez, George Clooney, Peter Falk, Diane Lane, John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Burt Reynolds and Rene Russo.
Writing on the side while holding down the day job in advertising. He sold his first story in 1951 and produced mostly Western tales until the 60s when he turned to crime stories. Three of his Westerns were filmed in the 50s and more were filmed, or re-filmed in the decades that followed. He would return to the Western in 1972 with the original screenplay for Joe Kidd with Clint Eastwood and Robert Duval.
Leondard won the 1984 Edgar Award for Best Novel for LaBrava. His 1980 novel Gold Coast has been cited by authors as reawakening the interest in Florida-based crime stories. In 1992, Mystery Writers of America made it official, bestowing on Leonard the Grand Master of Mystery title, an award given for a lifetime of contribution to the field of crime and mystery writing of continuing high quality.
Leonard was famous as well for his advice to writers. "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans on Oct 11, 1925. His father worked for General Motors and the family moved often in his youth, settling finally in Detroit in 1934 where "Dutch" (a nickname he gained in WWII, named after baseball pitcher Dutch Leonard) lived the rest of his life. He suffered a stroke on July 29th and was thought to be recovering but died at home today.
Here are Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules for Writers
1 - Never open a book with weather.
2 - Avoid prologues.
3 - never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4 - Never an adverb to modify the verb "said"... he admonished gravely.
5 - Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allwoed no more than two or three per 100,00 words of prose.
6 - Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose".
7 - Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8 - Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
9 - Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10 - Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is coping with challenges. I think it dates back to the very origins of my career. I was trained as a poet and the longest piece of fiction I’d ever written before attempting to write my first novel was a short story I wrote in fifth grade entitled ”Hector the Garbage Collector”. No joke. I came to fiction writing at almost thirty years of age after taking a night class in American Detective fiction at Brooklyn College. Three weeks into the class, I knew I had found my calling. So, in a way, my whole career has been a challenge. Did I have the nerve to quit a good paying job to pursue writing? Could I teach myself how to write fiction? Could I get it published? It took me a few years, but the first piece of long fiction I ever wrote was published as my first novel, Life Goes Sleeping (Permanent Press 1991).
For the past 22 years, I have approached the remainder of my career in a similar fashion. Whether I challenge myself or if I’m asked to try something I’ve never tried before, I jump at it. After my first few novels were published, I was asked to try my hand at short stories. Ones a bit more complex than my fifth grade musings. My first stab at it, “Kaddish”, was published on the Plots With Guns website and then later in their 2005 anthology. When Jon Jordan approached me about writing a column—something I’d never done before—for Crimespree Magazine, I said yes without thinking twice. When Ken Bruen asked me to collaborate on Tower, I agreed even before I knew what the book was to be about. When Sarah Cortez asked me to write a story for the Indian Country Noir anthology, I couldn’t get started fast enough. I’ve been challenged to write stories of over 10,000 words and stories of less than 500 words. When Otto Penzler approached me about writing an essay on Rober B. Parker’s Jesse Stone, I took the job without hesitation.
My favorite challenge came a little over a year ago when the Canadian publisher, Orca Books, approached me about writing novellas for the Raven Books imprint in their Rapid Reads series. The books were to be marketed to reluctant and late to literacy readers as well as to traditional mystery fans. In order to accept their offer, I had to agree to some very strict contraints on my usual style. Linear narrative with no flashbacks. No longer than twenty thousand words. No compound sentences. Limited use of tri-syllabic vocabulary. All this while writing an adult-themed work that could be appreciated by new readers and experienced readers alike. Of course, the most important feature—in my opinion—of any novel is character. These short books feature a short detective, Gulliver Dowd. Dowd is a little person who would hate that label. As Gulliver might say, labels don’t change who you are or what you look like. The first Dowd book, Dirty Work, was released in 2012. The second book in the series, Valentino Pier, will be released September 1. I’m at work on the third, The Boardwalk.
I would urge new writers and my more experienced colleagues to try new things. Lest you think I am successful at all the things I try, come take a look at my rejection folder. It’s pretty stuffed and thick as a concrete block. Successful or not, I find that trying unfamiliar things makes me a better writer. If nothing else, stretching cannot help but shake the cobwebs or stimulate you. You might be surprised at the results. I know I have been.
Reed’s most recent release, OnionStreet (Tyrus
Books), was chosen by PW as one of
the best summer reads of 2013. His final Moe Prager Mystery, The Hollow Girl (Tyrus Books), will be
released in May 2014. ValentinoPier, featuring Gulliver Dowd will be
released on September 1st by Raven Books. You can visit Reed at www.reedcoleman.comor on Facebook.
Reed Farrel Coleman has published sixteen novels, two novellas, several short stories, essays, and poetry. He is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year and is a two-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also won the Macavity, Barry, Anthony, and Audie Awards. He is an adjunct instructor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of Mystery Writers of America University. He lives with his family on Long Island.
Frederick Nebel, Tough as Nails: The Complete Cases of Donahue from the Pages of Black Mask(Altus trade paperback original,
$29.95, 610 pgs). All 15 stories with this hardboiled PI, the author
and his character who replaced Hammett when he stopped writing for Black Mask Magazine.
Written between ’30 and ’35, most have never been republished. Contains a
bibliography of Nebel’s works, and illustrations from the original issues by noted pulp artist Arthur Rodman Bowker.
Now in stock from Altus Press, trade paper original, $29.95
28 short stories from Black Mask Magazine, published between 1930 and 1937, as well as the two legendary Nagasaki novelettes not reissued since 1930, and the only Jo Gar novel, The Rainbow Murders, all accompanied with line drawings from Arthur Rodman Bowker, one of the great illustrators of the pulp era.
Recently,NW Book Loversrepublished something that Village Books in Bellingham sent to their customers about the importance of supporting local businesses - booksellers or not. It's thoughtful and important and we think worth rebroadcasting.
We’re so grateful to all of you for the outpouring of support since the reports of Amazon’s predatory pricing onslaught. We’ve received dozens of encouraging notes, quite a number of you have sworn off buying from predators, some have written directly to Amazon, and several of you have mentioned the issue as the reason you were consciously making purchases here. Thank you.
The issue grew a bit more widely known last week when President Obama chose an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee as the venue for a speech on job creation. Critics have rightly pointed out that local retailers, including independent booksellers like Village Books, have been far more successful in creating sustainable jobs than the massive online discounter. Some of you even told us that you have written the White House, protesting the President’s choice of speaking venue.
A number of you have asked, “What can I do?” There are a couple of things. First, you can spread the word widely about the importance of shopping locally. Here are ten good reasons to pass on to your friends:
1. Buy Local — Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.
2. Support community groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
3. Keep our community unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun — all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit. “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust
4. Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community provide the most jobs to residents.
6. Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.
7. Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
8. Put your taxes to good use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
9. Buy what you want, not what someone wants you to buy: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
10. Encourage local prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
To be clear, we have no problem with Amazon, or anyone else, selling printed books, eBooks, or even refrigerators. What we object to is the predatory pricing that is fully intended to put other retailers out of business and establish one company as a monopoly. Monopolies have never proven to be in the best interest of the public.
Thanks again for your support,
Chuck & Dee and the entire team at Village Books and Paper Dreams
As the only child of two PhDs in English literature, I grew up surrounded by walls of books. Growing up, I read and read and read, and started writing short stories at a young age. I always dreamed of writing a book and getting it published, but it seemed like such a lofty dream, and I didn't even really know where to start.
So, instead, I focused on something that was also tough, but that I enjoyed and came more easily, and that was to hone my skills as an investigative reporter and feature writer for newspapers. I continued to write fiction on the side, surprised to find myself pulled along by my characters, and scribbling in a notebook at 2 A.M.
Eventually, I learned how to meld those two worlds into narrative non-fiction, the craft of writing true stories using fiction techniques, which I initially wrote for the newspaper and now teach in San Diego. But as the newshole shrunk, so did the editors' encouragement for in-depth storytelling.
It took me 15 years of rejections to get my first book published, and it wasn't even the first book I wrote. I spent 17 years writing and rewriting my first book, Naked Addiction, a crime novel set in two San Diego beach communities, before it was published. Every time I felt like I wanted to give up, I saw another positive sign that told me to stick with it.
After getting Poisoned Love published, I developed a plan for the future. I took a risk and quit my full-time newspaper job, leaving behind my paid health benefits, holiday and sick pay, and 401-K match, to follow my dream of becoming a full-time author. I proceeded to juggle several book projects at a time over the next six years, producing books at a rate of about one a year (and some in four to six months).
When I finally hit the New York Times bestseller list in 2011 with My Life, Deleted, I knew I couldn't quit. And even though the last few years have been tough with the recession and the publishing world going through a transition, I have hung in there and tried to adapt. I felt my determination (or stubbornness) was rewarded this year with my first invitation to participate in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, where our panel was televised live by C-Span. Still reaching for new heights, I had my first out-of-state signing at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop last week (Thank you, SMB!), and I'm about to have my first international signing at the library on Salt Spring Island tonight.
Today, I've now got nine books under my belt, the latest of which areLost Girls, and I'll Take Care of You, which will be released in January 2014. And although I live contract to contract and piece together my living with half a dozen side gigs as a teacher, book doctor, speaker and consultant, I'm far happier than I was at the paper and I'm proud to hold the primary job title of "author."
I see other authors who seem to have reached the next level after 18 books or so, others who have reached it much sooner, and many others who have given up before they got there. For now anyway, I am hanging in there and trying to inspire others to stay on the path and follow their dream. Writing and publishing isn't for the meek or those who don't feel they MUST pursue it. It's for those of us who can't think of anything else that they would rather do.
Barbara Mertz died on the morning of Aug 8th. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, you probably know her better as Elizabeth Peters and/or Barbara Michaels. As Michaels, she wrote 29 suspense novels. As Peters, she wrote 35 mysteries, 19 of those were the beloved Amelia Peabody books.
Barbara was born on Sept 29, 1927, in Canton, IL. She received a PhD in Egyptology at the age of 23 from the University of Chicago. She authored two books on Ancient Egypt that have been continually in print since their release. She began writing fiction in 1964 and had her first book, The Master of Blacktower, published in 1966 as by ‘Barbara Michaels’ to separate her fiction from her academic work. The Michaels books were more gothic and supernaturally tinged than her mysteries. Amelia Peabody first appeared in 1975 and this independent sleuth harkened back to Agatha Christie’s time in the Middle East with her Egyptologist husband and the Golden Age whodunnit. In addition to the Peabody books, as Peters she also wrote two other characters, Vicky Bliss and Jacqueline Kirby, as well as non-series thrillers. She was a writer of great range with a wide scope of interests and was nominated many times for various awards, winnning the Agatha Award for Best Novel in 1989. In 2012, Malice Domestic named an award after her character Amelia.
This prolific woman was 85. Rest in peace!
"In the end the clouds will blow away and falcon will fly through the portal of the dawn."
Standing in a bookstore, surrounded by stacks of books?
Standing in Seattle Mystery Bookshop, with stacks of my book: Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.
This morning, I started counting. I needed all my fingers and most of my toes to figure out when I started writing mysteries. Along the way, there have been many adventures, half a dozen or so published short stories, and a published nonfiction book for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books, 2011).
Oh, and an Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. Another thrill, no question.
But is there any writer aiming for publication who doesn’t envision that first bookstore signing? Her name on the schedule, on the website, on a placard outside?
And that stack of books, on a table, waiting for her?
Seattle Mystery Bookshop was a haunt of mine in the last year or two before I left Seattle and moved back to my native Montana. When Mr. Right and I visit the city, we go pay homage. (We also go to Emerald City Guitars. We have an egalitarian marriage.) SMB is just what a mystery bookshop ought to be: tucked on a sidehill in the earliest surviving section of town, with windows full of posters for books, and inside? Oh, inside. Shelves and shelves and tables and shelves and nooks and crannies and shelves of books.
And people who love them and know them all, backwards and forwards.
And that table and chair, waiting for the writers who come to sign.
Thank you, SMB. Thank you, readers, who let me talk to you about my book and took it home with you. I hope it gave you a few hours of enjoyment, of pleasure in discovering a mysterious little corner of Northwest Montana.
Because it gives me a thrill to share it with you.