Archive for the 'industry' Category


The Old Gray Lady’s Gone Batty

Recently the New York Times announced its list of the 50 best mystery writers and most of the folks I know went, “huh?” I’ll admit, I’m late to the table reading mystery. I can’t say I’d picked up anything beside Christie or Hammett and only because I had to for school. That is until a few years ago. Then I couldn’t get enough.

But I still have to wonder how they came up with this particular list. Did they stick a bunch of names in a hat and pick out the first 50? And who came up with the cheesy descriptors??? But let me ask you–do you agree with this list? If not, who would you kick off? Who would you add?

1. Patricia Highsmith

Rule-breaking master of amorality

2. Georges Simenon

The Trojan horse of foreign crime-writing

3. Agatha Christie

The original Queen of Crime

4. Raymond Chandler

The most profound of pulp writers

5. Elmore Leonard

The Dickens of Detroit

6. Arthur Conan Doyle

Creator of the ultimate hero-and-sidekick team

7. Ed McBain

Thrilling writer of snap-and-crackle dialogue

8. James M. Cain

Godfather of Noir

9. Ian Rankin

Edinburgh’s gritty crime laureate

10. James Lee Burke

American spinner of bleakly lyrical tales

11. Dennis Lehane

A tender craftsman with a tough centre

12. P.D. James

Prolific and cerebral grand dame of British crime

13. Dashiell Hammett

The man who dragged murder back into the alley

14. Jim Thompson

Revered creator of corrupt cops and sociopaths

15. Sjowall and Wahloo

The mother and father of Nordic crime

16. John Dickson Carr

King of the “locked room mystery”

17. Cornell Woolrich

Tortured pulp novelist known for Rear Window

18. Ruth Rendell

Criminal mastermind of unparalleled breadth and depth

19. Ross Macdonald

Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled heir

20. James Ellroy

The most literary of American crime writers

21. Charles Willeford

Aficianados’ favourite who is ripe for a break-through

22. Dorothy Sayers

Lord Peter Wimsey’s witty creator

23. John Harvey

The man behind the jazz-loving Nottingham cop Resnick

24. Wilkie Collins

Godfather of the detective novel

25. Francis Iles

Pseudonymous writer of radical plots

26. Manuel Vasquez Montalban

Intellectual gourmand whose fiction mapped Barcelona

27. Karin Fossum

Norway’s foremost cold-climate crime writer

28. Val McDermid

Influential author of high-grade “Tartan Noir”

29. Edgar Allan Poe

Mould-setter for the modern sleuth

30. Derek Raymond

Hard-drinking, hard-writing British crime legend

31. George Pelecanos

Energetic, music-loving social crusader

32. Margery Allingham

Golden Age sophisticate who can chill or charm

33. Minette Walters

Unflinching chronicler of humankind’s dark side

34. Carl Hiaasen

Rapid-fire satirist of Miami vices

35. Walter Mosley

A bold American voice, not afraid to tackle race

36. Reginald Hill

Playful creator of British favourites Dalziel and Pascoe

37. Michael Dibdin

Late, great ironist who investigated Italy’s corruption

38. Patricia Cornwell

Shrewd pioneer of gruesome pathology

39. Scott Turow

Legal thriller-writer famous for Presumed Innocent

40. Dick Francis

Former jockey and king of equestrian intrigue

41. Edmund Crispin

Elegant and accomplished Oxford plotter

42. Alexander McCall Smith

Scottish Professor whose Mma Ramotswe has won hearts and minds

43 Andrea Camilleri

Italy’s foremost crime export

44. Harlan Coben

Mature metroplitan stylist loved for his twisting plots

45. Donna Leon

American explorer of the Venetian underworld

46. Josephine Tey

Acute 1940s author whose books describe the danger of love

47. Colin Dexter

Former classics teacher who found fame with Morse

48. Nicholas Blake

C. Day Lewis’ crime-writing foil

49. Henning Mankell

Swedish novelist with a bleak take of modern life

50. Sara Paretsky

Spirited creator of feminist sleuth VI Warshawski


Keeping it real

I think I’m in love with Lee Lofland’s blog The Graveyard Shift, particularly the last entry on “getting it right” in crime fiction posted by literary agent Scott Hoffman. He’s discussing why writers should strive to know what they are talking about, with both agents and the general public. You can read for yourself what he says about agents, but as for readers, here’s my favorite part.

Well, readers of crime fiction like to feel smart. To the extent that you can debunk closely-held myths in the course of your writing, agents, editors, and ultimately readers will love it. If you can tell readers how things REALLY happen—as opposed to the way they look on TV, it will give your work a feeling of authenticity that’s often missing in crime fiction (and nonfiction.)

That’s always been my goal in writing crime fiction–to show what I know that the reader doesn’t without making them feel foolish for believing everything you see on CSI.

So, I end by asking you the same question as Mr. Hoffman does his readers–whast are your bugaboos and pet peeves about crime fiction (or even reportage of true crime)? What story line could you do without ever seeing again? Fess up!


March Fools

It’s the end of March, the time when every young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of — did you really think I was going to say spring? Actually the advent of warmer weather usually tends to bring on a spate of contentiousness in the publishing world and elsewhere. Two recent developments make my point. flexed it’s considerable muscle and decided that only those POD books published through the company’s BookSurge program will be sold on Amazon. Other books will be listed, but their Buy Now buttons will be deactivated to prevent direct purchase. You can read more about it here.

You may not have noticed it, but I removed my links to Amazon from this blog and will remove all links to Amazon from my website when that is redone in my own brand of protest. In my opinion, Amazon has acted like the 800-pound gorilla since its inception a few short years ago. Yes children there was a time before Amazon. All I can wonder is, what’s next? Now that they have that ebook capacity on their pages, will they only sell ebooks they put out, too?

The second bit of contentiousness comes from the state of Indiana that suddenly has a bee in its bonnet over sexual content in books.

From the Publisher’s Weekly article:

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) has blasted a new Indiana law that requires bookstores to register with the government if they sell what is considered “sexually explicit materials.” The new law, H.B. 1042, was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on March 13, and calls for any bookseller that sells sexually explicit materials to register with the Secretary of State and provide a statement detailing the types of books to be sold. The Secretary of State must then identify those stores to local government officials and zoning boards. “Sexually explicit material” is defined as any product that is “harmful to minors” under existing law. There is a $250 registration fee. Failure to register is a misdemeanor.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is a bit extreme. If it is acknowledged that explicit material is not intended for minors and effort is made to keep it from minors, can’t the rest of us see it, please? For more information on this ridiculousness, you can go here.

According to IC 35-49-2-2, Indiana Code defines Matter or performance harmful to minors thusly:

Sec. 2. A matter or performance is harmful to minors for purposes of this article if:
(1) it describes or represents, in any form, nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse;
(2) considered as a whole, it appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors;
(3) it is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for or performance before minors; and
(4) considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
As added by P.L.311-1983, SEC.33.

My real question about this stems from who will decide what is prurient and what isn’t? Who will decide what has merit and what doesn’t? What’s to distinguish the nudity in an art book or a book about the human body from a series of pornographic photos. Is everyone suspect a smut peddler until proven otherwise?

By far, my favorite take on this mess has come from Seressia Glass’s blog:

Given the current heat level of everything but inspirational romance, even the local drugstore will have to register on the sex offender bookseller list. (After all, it isn’t fair for the Borders to have to register and not Bob’s Drugstore.) Or perhaps the store buyer will offer a questionnaire to publisher reps and distributors asking if a title has the sex in it and having them sign a declaration stating that it doesn’t so that it could be sold.

Hhm, maybe this will finally get all those clinches off the covers.

That’s what I’ve been hoping for for years now.At any rate, with April only gearing up now, I can’t wait to see what other foolishness will crop up this spring.


Appearing now on a blog near you

Looking around the blogosphere for some writing/book news you can use, I found a few things:

At long last, an explanation for my glaze cravings. Neuroscience Marketing takes on Krispy Kremes and your brain will love you for it.

Connie Briscoe offers this post on Virtual Book Tours. There’s a lot of good information here.

Editorial Ass tells how not to piss off your editor (before she is your editor).

Elaine Viets waxes humorous (but oh, so true) about the Spitzer debacle.

And finally, Ann Christopher wins my heart with her post at Access Romance titled Die, Winter, Die. I’ve never been too fond of winter, except for the perfectly timed Christmas Eve snowstorm. As we speak I’m twisting the knife in old man winter’s back myself.


And the nominees are . . .

I found this announcement in my mailbox this morning and thought I ‘d pass it on:

Named after the co-founder of the Romance Slam Jam Conference, the Emma Awards is THE premier awards event for readers and authors of Black romance. Congratulations to the 2007 Emma Award finalist:

Favorite Anthology:
Big Spankable Asses by Angie Daniels, Kimberly Kaye Terry, and Lisa G. Riley
Creepin’ by L. A. Banks, Donna Hill, Monica Jackson, and J. M. Jeffries
Cuffed By Candlelight by Beverly Jenkins, Gwyneth Bolton, Katherine D. Jones
Love For All Seasons by A. C. Arthur, Barbara Keaton, Sapphire Blue, and Maureen Smith

Favorite Hero
Blade Navarone Only You by Francis Ray
Flex Sweet Sensation by Gwyneth Bolton
Merrick Grayslake Stranger In My Bed by Rochelle Alers
Reese Anthony Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins

Favorite Heroine
Camille Davis A Cinderella Affair by A.C. Arthur
Justine Crandall In Another Man’s Bed by Francis Ray
Sierra Grayson Only You by Francis Ray
Skye Barclay Slow Burn by Brenda Jackson
Teresa July Wild Sweet Love by Beverly Jenkins

Favorite Inspirational
Guilty of Love by Pat Simmons
Redemption by Jacquelin Thomas
The Ex Files by Victoria Christopher Murray
The Pastor’s Woman by Jacquelin Thomas

Favorite Novel
A Cinderella Affair by A.C. Arthur
Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins
Only You by Francis Ray
Wild Sweet Love by Beverly Jenkins
Working Man by Melanie Schuster

Favorite Novella
Handcuffs Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry by Gwyneth Bolton
Payback’s A Bitch by L. A. Banks
Prisoner by Beverly Jenkins

Favorite Sequel
A Cinderella Affair by A.C. Arthur
A Lovers Mask by AlTonya Washington
Ian’s Ultimate Gamble by Brenda Jackson
Only You by Francis Ray
Stranger In My Arms by Rochelle Alers

Favorite Steamy
Ridin’ the Rails by Kimberly Kaye Terry
Risky Pleasures by Brenda Jackson
Taming The Wolf by Maureen Smith
Whisper Something Sweet by Deatri King-Bey

Favorite Suspense
Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins
Ebony Angel by Deatri King-Bey
Serial Affair by Natalie Dunbar
Whisper My Name by Maureen Smith
Whispers In The Dark by Denise Jeffries

Cover of the Year
Deadly Sexy by Beverly Jenkins
Just Can’t Get Enough by Cheris Hodges
No Commitment Required by Seressia Glass
Ridin’ the Rails by Kimberly Kaye Terry
Whisper Something Sweet by Deatri King-Bey

Debut Author of the Year
Carmein Canton Not His Type
Farrah Rochon Deliver Me
LaConnie Taylor Jones When I’m With You
Pamela Yaye Other People’s Business
Savanna Frierson Being Blumville

Author of the Year
A.C. Arthur
Beverly Jenkins
Brenda Jackson
Dyanne Davis
Francis Ray

Please join me in congratulating all the finalists!!


Lazy Days and Fridays

Okay, not exactly lazy, just busy. instead of posting I’ve culled a few interesting posts for you to ponder.

The first comes from Editorrent, dealing with story reversals, Charles Dickens and a few other useful tidbits.

Angela Jefferson’s blog pointed me toward NY Times coverage of the Cassie Edwards brouhaha. Personally, I’ve never read any of Ms. Edwards work and have been offended myself by the use of the word savage in many of her bajillion titles (which is why I didn’t read her). I don’t know what she did or didn’t do, but it is an important discussion, since few folks seem to know what the P word is or even if they do, they don’t care. I was pleased the other day, though, when my daughter had a research paper to write for her English class (high school, you know) and her teacher told her that she had to be careful how she paraphrased or incorporated research material so as not to plagiarize. Send that teacher an apple!

Getting back to Angela for a minute. She claims herself to be a font of useless information. I was a font of useless information way before she came around. But I digress.

Don’t know much about the writer’s strike in Hollywood, but Booksquare posts some interesting information on the ramifications of all these indie deals on whatever the major settlement turns out to be. My message to the studios: pay the two dollars and get your houses back in order.

And finally–the Edgars are coming, the Edgars are coming. Or the nominations for the awards have been announced. You can find commentary on who’ll win at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, or if you just want the list of nominees, go here.


What becomes a laureate most?

In the case of Jon Scieszka, it’s a string of crazy fairy tales and an eye for the absurd. I have been delighting classrooms of children with Mr. Scieszka’s work ever since I discovered the TRUE story those three rotten pigs didn’t want you to know. Who better to serve as an ambassador for kids than a man whose work kids actually want to read?

When discussing reading Mr. Scieszka (pronounced SHEH-ska) says:

Kids see it just as a school activity or something that just can’t compete with a Nintendo Wii or just hanging out and text messaging your friends. Parents and booksellers and teachers are dying for some help.

Can I say amen to that? For more info, go here. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of the Stinky Cheese Man. You won’t be sorry.

Get into your most comfortable reading chair, take off your shoes, turn off the phone and let Ms. Savoy's incredible talent take you away. --Debra Ross, Romance in Color

A skewed sense of humor has kept me sane through 10+ years of teaching and almost as many writing. I invite you to come in and look around. Leave a comment if you like. My goal is to leave you with a smile on your face and a few new thoughts to mull over. If you like the blog, please tell your friends. If not, tell your enemies.

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