Archive for January, 2017

Outside the Law is released!


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Today’s Links

‘Six Four’ avoids every crime-fiction cliche. The reward is a gripping novelHideo Yokoyama’s complex, ingenious and engrossing new novel, “Six Four,” has no serial killers, no femmes fatales, no locked-room murders, no torture, no sexually repressed villains, not even much in the way of forensic evidence.

Book review: The Death of Kings by Rennie AirthThe 1938 murder of a young actress was an open-and-shut case for Kent police… an itinerant farm worker confessed and was hanged for his crime. But was it a miscarriage of justice?

Emma Flint’s shattering debut, ‘Little Deaths,’ leads crime fiction roundupIt has been a long time since a novel captured a time and place as powerfully as Emma Flint’s shattering debut, “Little Deaths.” Inspired by real-life events, the book imparts a poisonous nostalgia in evoking working-class lives in Queens, N.Y., in 1965 — a year after young stabbing victim Kitty Genovese, a bar manager, had her screams for help ignored outside her apartment in that borough’s Kew Gardens neighborhood.


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Today’s Links

Book reviews: Thrillers and crime fictionMejia’s first foray into crime is a good one. Hattie Hoffman is a precocious, whip-smart 17 year old. She wants “a life bigger than Pine Valley” – the small rural Minnesotan town she’s grown up in.

Live By Night: Ben Affleck pulp fiction bombs; earns less than $10 mln at US Box officeAcademy award-winning actor-director Ben Affleck is back with yet another directorial venture Live By Night, an ambitious pulp fiction set in the 20s—adapted from Dennis Lehane’s 2012 novel of the same name.


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Today’s Links

Gripping yarns: Our pick of the best new crime fiction: JAKE Kerridge clues up on new crime fiction.

The True Mystery of Popular Crime Fiction: With adaptations of crime fiction barely ever off the stage and screen, and the most famous writers of the genre enjoying constant re-issues of their popular works, the case for the longstanding appeal of the murder mystery seems incontrovertible.

Book review: Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb: Steph Broadribb is perhaps best known by her alter ego, Crime Thriller Girl… an online blogger and book reviewer with a love of ‘all things crime thriller.’

Book review: blood scars the snow in The Pledge as Swiss noir runs deep: The body of a girl is found in woods outside “a little hole in the wall” Swiss village. Matthäi, an inspector in the Zurich cantonal police, is reluctant to take on the case: it is his last afternoon in the job and one of his last days in the country before he embarks on an overseas posting in Jordan.

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Writing vs. Editing

There’s an old saying that it’s easier to edit than it is to write, but I’m not sure I’m all in on that.

Especially when you’re writing long form fiction.

A question that comes up often when I’m in a discussion about writing is “Do you edit as you go, or at the end?”

My answer: depends on the writer. I write my first draft longhand, using a pencil and a small notebook. This allows me to get ideas down fast. I just write it out, regardless of whatever errors may exist. And I usually write a chapter at a time. Then I transcribe the handwriting onto my laptop file, and that usually serves as my first edit. And I try to make that my only edit at the time.

I do believe in writing the entire story first, though. There’s time for a thorough edit once you’re done. Going back over the already written portion again and again bogs me down when I need to focus on going forward.

Sure, there are times when I print a section, or all, of the manuscript at some point and give it a read-through because I need to tighten up a timeline, or remember a specific sequence of events, and when I do this I can’t help but edit … a little. But I try to hold off on that until I’ve completed the novel. Once I have, I open up my “working copy” and edit extensively, using “track changes.” Sometimes, because I’m still old-fashioned, I’ll print the whole thing out and mark it up, which allows me to physically spread the book out and take a look at it from a “panoramic” view.

Today’s Links

PAUL AUSTER’S NOVEL OF CHANCEAccording to a currently popular line of philosophy, a self is merely the sum of all the stories we tell about a particular human body.



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Today’s links

Star of Spanish crime fiction returns years after creator’s deathLike any good private eye, Pepe Carvalho refuses to let a little death get in the way of his inquiries.

In the Valley of the Weed review: Michael Wilding’s satire of neoliberalismMichael Wilding, a landmark in Australian literature for the best part of 50 years, shared the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards non-fiction prize for Wild Bleak Bohemia, a scholarly biographical study of colonial Australian writers Marcus Clarke, Henry Kendall and Adam Lindsay Gordon.



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Today’s links

Ingrid Thoft delivers action-packed plot in ‘Duplicity’The private detective novel continues to explore contemporary hot-button issues, as Ingrid Thoft illustrates in her latest exciting novel about Boston investigator Fina Ludlow.

10 Irish crime fiction novels you didn’t know you needed in your lifeIrish crime fiction has exploded into a literary phenomenon in recent times. Declan Burke selects the best examples of how the genre has developed through the years.

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Today’s links

5 Must-Haves for a Great Detective in FictionThe Detective in its formal sense is a fairly recent construct – the first professional police service wasn’t established until 1829 with Robert Peel’s Metropolitan Police Act in London – but crime has been a part of human behavior since time immemorial.

I use a variety of methods to stay mentally  and physically focused while I’m trying to write a novel, and this is important to me because I don’t spend all day writing. I may go days without being able to sit down with the characters, and I need to be able to jump right back in whenever I do. So, one of the big challenges for me during the writing of Outside the Law was staying organized for the long haul.  Both physically and mentally.

Outside-02-215x330Physically, writing a 60,000+ novel can get cumbersome, depending on how you’re going about it. I’m like several writer friends I know — I start a Word document and just start banging words out. Which sounds like a great idea until you’re deep into the story, and you need to refer back to an earlier scene or timeline. Then you have to go back and search through pages and pages until you find it. That eats up a lot of time.

So, my preferred method of the actual writing is to do it by chapter, with each chapter being a separate file on my laptop (this is done after I longhand the chapter/scene/thought in a notebook I keep readily available). I also keep one “master” document that is the entire manuscript, and as I finish a chapter, I copy and paste it into the master. This helps if I want to read the whole thing for some reason, plus it lets me see where I am as far as word count or page numbers go. I don’t write to a word count, but that’s a useful rudder when you’re well into the story.

About two years ago, I decided I wanted to try something different as far as “manuscript management” (as I call it). I downloaded a trial version of Scriveners, a powerful multi-function program that allows a writer to accomplish a multitude of tasks: notes, rewrites, cross-reference, etc.

It took some getting used to — you have to learn how to use the system, after all — and in the end I found myself spending more time “getting organized” than I did actually writing. So I went back to my old-fashioned way: my notebook and laptop, a white board and (my nod to “modern times”) and “mind mapping” software that I love because it is my second white board.

And I do love a white board. That’s where I throw timelines, questions, character sketches, whatever brainstorm comes to mind. I’m a visual person, so seeing an idea is much more helpful to me than a spreadsheet or an index card. The software I use does the same thing. I use Mind Node for two simple reasons: it’s free and it’s easy. And because it’s on my laptop, I have a white board  with me everywhere I go — and that comes in handy.

That’s where the ideas usually start. For Outside the Law, I took a look at where the characters were at the end of Deep Blood, and wrote the names on the board . At the top of board, I wrote “Redemption vs. Justice.” Then, as ideas I came to me I filled in the blank, then fleshed out more ideas on Mind Node (where there no physical limitations like the size of the board). The more I did this, the more the story shaped up and pretty soon I was writing it out in my notebook, a chapter or a scene at a time.

(Not to get ahead of myself, but once I finished Outside the Law, I started thinking about ideas for the next Colt Harper book. I wrote three things on the white board: 1. A briefcase full of money; 2. a cemetery; 3. a severed foot.)

After 3 ½ years in the making, it’s hard to believe I’m now three weeks away from the launch of my latest novel, Outside the Law (coming 1 February from Brash Books).

Writing this novel has been by far my most interesting and, I think, productive writing session yet. But it was not without its challenges. Like a lot of writers I know, I started out with a grand idea and a lot of words clogging up my head, and so I embarked on the tale in December 2013. I cranked out nearly 10,000 words over a holiday vacation week and felt pretty good about where I was headed.

Then reality set in. Ten thousand words is a commitment — once I’m into it that deep, I have to finish it. And that takes a long time. Once the initial excitement of a new idea, a new start, a new 10,000 words wears off, I’m left looking down that long, empty highway and thinking, “What the hell did I just do?”

I think the question I get asked the most when people find out I write fiction is: “Where do you find the time?”

Answer: I have no idea, because most times, I don’t.

writingOTL will be my fourth novel, and I have yet to establish a “routine” in writing. The closest I came was years ago, writing A Simple Murder, when I was able to dedicate at least one hour a night to writing. Sometimes that turned out to be 15 minutes; some nights it was two hours. And I wrote the entire novel on a computer, notes and all.

But these days, I write whenever I’m able. I keep a notebook handy. For Deep Blood and now OTL, I’ve gone back to my original method – I longhand the draft – in pieces – then write it up on my laptop when time permits. This gives me the chance to read it again and edit a little as I go. I tend to write in chapters — if I get started with an idea, it is usually the “what happens next” idea, and I write it until I think it’s done. And that usually means the next chapter, or at least enough to propel the “what happens next” part a little farther down the line.

Yeah, I know, that’s a lot of handwriting. But it’s therapeutic for me, and for some reason keeps me better organized (not that a look inside that notebook would reveal any such organization). And when I’m using a pencil and paper, I tend to fall right into the story in a way I don’t when I’m in front of a computer screen. So, I write late at night, or early in the morning, or at the car repair shop, or on the commuter train (which is where I did most of my “daily” writing for Outside the Law).

That’s a big part of the reason why it took 3 ½ years to write it. Fortunately, I was under no deadline pressure except my own. I wrote when I could and I knew I’d know when I was done.

More on staying organized later.

Pulp Fiction Cover of the Day


Today’s links:

Crime novelist Agatha Christie helped in uncovering Iraq’s ancient NimrudHer diligence and face cream cleaned Nimrud’s most famous ivory. She captured the archaeological dig in Iraq on celluloid and Kodak film, developing the prints in water painstakingly filtered from the nearby Tigris River. And every day, after she balanced the books and arranged for the next day’s meals, Agatha Christie sat down to write.

The Best and Latest in Crime FictionHave advances in technology killed the traditional escape novel? Thomas Perry raises that question in THE OLD MAN (Mysterious Press, $26) by forcing a retired intelligence agent to run for his life using obsolete survival techniques.

Review: New crime fiction from Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves and othersThirty books in, most crime writers start to flag, but not Val McDermid. This latest book, featuring cold case Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie, is as slickly plotted and polished as her earliest works, and that’s saying a lot because McDermid’s work always slashes like a knife.




Check out the latest Brash Books promo for Outside the Law, which will give you a little insight into who Sheriff Colt Harper really is. View it here.







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Today’s links:

Murder mystery on the East CoastWairoa woman Margie Sullivan, who works under the pen name Rita Ann Ryan, has been writing novels for 20 to 30 years but has only recently decided to finish one.

Angel City turns Hollywood noir on its head in this Oni Press exclusiveMale voices and perspectives dominate the crime noir genre, but Oni Press’ Angel City is changing that both on and off the page. Written by Janet Harvey with art by Megan Levens, this six-issue miniseries follows Dolores Dare, a young woman who moves to Hollywood in the 1930s to pursue a showbiz career, but instead ends up attached to a local gangster as both his girlfriend and one of his enforcers.

It’s Terminal: A Successful Mystery Novelist Goes IndieThis isn’t your typical self-publishing story. Marshall Karp was not only a successful, published author when he went the indie route, but he had written several books with James Patterson, a longtime friend and colleague.

Crime Runs in the Family in New ‘Trespass Against Us’ TrailerCrime fiction has a long, rich legacy of stories pitting one character’s allegiances against each other. Internal conflict is the engine that generates drama for criminals; torn between conscience and instinct, between right and wrong, or in the case of upcoming British import Trespass Against Us, between family and the law.