Published today: Echoes of Sherlock Holmes

EchoesOfSherlockHolmes low res

I’m thrilled that Echoes of Sherlock Holmes is published today. This is the third volume in an award-winning series of short stories inspired by the Holmes canon. I’m honored that editors Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger asked me to contribute to this book, and that it includes my story “Irregular.”

Kirkus Reviews says: “‘Inspired’ is the key word here… every fan will find different reasons to cheer. And they’ll all marvel at the inventive range of this salute to the greatest of all fictional detectives.”

Publishers Weekly has named Echoes of Sherlock Holmes one of its Top 10 Mystery Books of Fall 2016.

And I’m absolutely stoked to see my name on the cover alongside authors like David Morrell, John Connolly, Cory Doctorow, and so many other amazing writers.

Saturday, October 8: Devine, Texas Writes

WLT-logo.jpg

Saturday afternoon October 8th, I’m giving a free writing workshop as part of the fantastic Texas Writes program offered by the Writers’ League of Texas, supported by the Tocker Foundation. Here’s some information from the Writers’ League:

Texas Writes is a statewide program that brings accomplished authors to rural libraries for a half day of presentations and panel discussions. Each event is free and open to the public.

This event will feature presentations from authors Meg Gardiner and Reavis Z. Wortham. More information on the presentations will be posted prior to the event. To pre-register for this event, contact the library at 830-663-2993.

I’m talking about “What Makes a Killer Story?” Reavis Wortham, a fellow mystery author, will speak on “The Road to Publication and Other Successful Disasters.”

If you’re in the San Antonio area, come on down.

Devine, Texas Writes 
Saturday, October 8, 1:00pm-4:00pm
Driscoll Public Library
202 E Hondo Ave
Devine, Texas 78016

Where I get my ideas Part 6 Million: photos

BConPolaroid.JPG

My publisher threw a shindig at Bouchercon in New Orleans. When guests walked in, a Polaroid-style camera was available for everybody to use. This is roughly what happened when I found it.

Me: I love Polaroids! Okay, these are actually mini Fujifilm pics, but I love them!

The Husband: Sure. Whatever makes you happy. I’m just arm candy.

[click]

[photo develops]

Me: Wow. Uh. It looks like something you’d find in a serial killer’s garage.

Journalist friend: And everyone asks, “Who are these people?”

And so my next novel is born. To all involved: Thanks.

(And yes, in the novel, when the cache of photos is found in the garage, the people in them won’t be wearing name tags. But I have to start somewhere.)

Hello from New Orleans

Bonjour, y’all. Hello from New Orleans, where I’m enjoying Bouchercon: Blood on the Bayou. I have not had my fill of authors, great novels, pralines, or jambalaya. I never will.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going in search of all of those.

Bouchercon 2016: Blood on the Bayou

Bouchercon2016

Today I’m heading to New Orleans for Bouchercon 2016: Blood on the Bayou.

Here’s my schedule:

NOIR AT THE BAR – Welcome to Bouchercon
WEDNESDAY, 4:30-6PM LaGalleries 6

WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES – Diversity, Disorder and Detection
THURSDAY, 9:00AM-9:50AM LaGalleries 6

DOIN’ WHAT COMES NATUR’LLY – Writing believable characters
SATURDAY, 1:30PM-2:20PM LaGalleries 1

ECHOES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES — Author group signing
SATURDAY, 4PM Book Room

If you see me wandering the French Quarter with my face covered in powdered sugar, you’ll know I’ve raided Cafe DuMonde for their entire supply of beignets. Stop me and say hi.

When characters tell each other things

I love to receive mail from readers. A recent message pointed out something about my novels that I wasn’t consciously aware of.

Thank you for what I think is almost a unique point in your books – your characters actually tell each other things. It seems to be a common plot device for people to keep things to themselves for various reasons, but the underlying reason is that the author wants to keep the story going by causing confusion or discord. You would not believe the number of books I’ve read (or TV programmes I’ve shouted at) thinking just tell X or Y or the police what has just happened.

My sister-in-arms! I also shout at TV programs. To the point that my kids sometimes point the remote at me and hit MUTE.

Sometimes I throw books across the room, too. But that’s another story.

Back to the reader’s point.

That is what your characters do – they tell their relatives and friends what is happening and report things to the police. They might not always be believed and the discord and confusion is caused by this but not by an unnatural secretiveness. Every time it happens it stops me in my tracks, I think “yes” and my mind does a little happy dance.

Dear Reader: Thank you. I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying my novels, and I’m glad you think the characters act both believably and responsibly.

In general, I avoid the don’t-talk tactic because I find it annoying. In particular, I toss aside any book where a woman sees the man she’s attracted to speaking to another woman, jumps to the conclusion that they’re romantically involved, and spends the next 100 pages fuming/flouncing/bitching at him in a fit of jealousy. Of course it turns out that the “other woman” is his boss, or his sister, or his doctor. The whole thing smacks me as contrived, juvenile and, worst, cliched.

If I hate reading something in a story, I try to keep from writing it into my own.

I’m just telling you all this, so you’ll write books to suit me.

However, I’ll allow characters the following reasons for not talking:

  1. They’re little kids, too scared to tell anybody what they saw
  2. They’re teenagers, who get distracted and forget
  3. They fear that if they talk to the police, word will get back to the perpetrator and they’ll be put in danger
  4. The community enforces a “don’t snitch” standard

And I appreciate the idea that “unnatural secretiveness” can trip up a story. Remember that, folks.

Noir at the Bar Bouchercon

NoirBar Bcon2016.jpeg

Next week at Bouchercon New Orleans, I’m taking part in Noir at the Bar. A bunch of authors will read — for just one minute apiece, so you know we’re going to dive straight into the juiciest, hardest-hitting, noir-iest, crazy wild bits of our writing — and give away a copy of one of our books.

If you’re attending the convention, come on by. It should be a blast.