Moonlight Feels Right

It really is a wonder I have a career.

Yes, I missed the official launch of my short story collection, which was officially published on April 10….five days ago.

Seriously. How do I have a career?

Who fucking forgets their release day?

Apparently, this fool.

The jacket copy:

A Katrina survivor waits for rescue on his roof in the brutal heat, reflecting on the life choices that brought him to this moment. A young woman discovers there’s more to her perfect man than she thought. A gay journalist travels to Italy to interview his teen idol, only to discover a darkness in the Tuscan hills. A gay man cleans his home, reflecting on his sociopathic criminal mother. Chanse MacLeod returns to his hometown to help his younger brother, accused of murder. A daughter keeps her father’s legacy alive while hiding his darkest secrets.

Including five new stories written for this collection (along with the first-ever Chanse MacLeod short story), Greg Herren’s tales of murder, crime, and the darkness that lives inside all of us are evocative of the proud Southern Gothic tradition of writers and are now available, for the first time, in a single collection.

Table of contents:

Survivor’s Guilt

The Email Always Pings Twice

Keeper of the Flame

A Streetcar Named Death

An Arrow for Sebastian

Housecleaning

Acts of Contrition

Lightning Bugs in a Jar

Spin Cycle

Cold Beer No Flies

Annunciation Shotgun

Quiet Desperation

The Weight of a Feather

My Brother’s Keeper

Don’t Look Down

You can order it from Amazon right here. Or from Barnes and Noble here.  You can also get it directly from my publisher here. You can also support your local independent by ordering from here!

I also encourage you to walk into your local independent and if they don’t have it, request it.

Thanks all!

Survivors Guilt

Kissing Asphalt

Reading the stories in this book, in a roundabout way, led me to Spotify, and in an even more roundabout way made me rediscover one of my favorite bands from that period: The Cars. It also enabled me to rediscover how blissfully amazing the Cars’ eponymous first album, The Cars, was.
And the way “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” leads right into “Bye Bye Love” so seamlessly! Classic. 
I’ve also been listening to Candy-O, and this weekend I’m going to start listening to Heartbeat City, to see how well it holds up.
And the next song/story covered in Murder-a-Go-Go’s is “Kissing Asphalt” by Dharma Kelleher.
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Sitting in the back seat of the Lexus SUV, I racked the slide on my Ruger 9mm, secured the Rossi snub-nosed revolver in my ankle holster, and adjusted the Velcro straps on my Kevlar vest. I tried to convince myself I was ready for action. But I wasn’t.
My body was sore and heavy with fatigue from an all-night session of much-needed sex. Meanwhile, my mind bobbed like a balloon with the giddiness of newfound love. A tiny voice in the back of my brain warned me to get my shit together and quite acting like a twelve-year-old girl with her first crush.
It didn’t work. As I stared out the window at Phoenix’s urban desert whizzing past, a highlights reel of the night before played in my mind, with the Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” as the soundtrack.
“Oy! Earth to Jinx Ballou! Are ya with us?” My boss, Conor Doyle, glared at me from the front passenger seat.
Deez, Conor’s second-in-command, chuckled from behind the wheel, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say our girl got some last night.”
“Shut the hell up, Deez,” I playfully punched the back of his seat.
Murph, the guy sitting to my right, screwed up his face. “All the times I ask you out and now you’re fucking some other guy?”
This is my first time reading something by Dharma Kelleher, and it won’t be the last. This tale–about bounty hunters tracking down a bail-jumper–turns what could easily be a tired old same-old same-old story into something fresh and new; which is just another example of showing how diversity, and diverse writers, can breathe new life into a genre that is in danger of becoming tired and stock. Kelleher’s characterizations and voice are fresh and new, the action comes fast and furious, and the personal story interwoven into the case work never feels forced or contrived. I do invite you all to check out some of Kelleher’s work; this story features her series character, Jinx Ballou, and is an excellent teaser for her series.
Get on it, people.

Pilot of the Airways

VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HUZZAH!

I am happy dancing, in case you were wondering.

It’s eight ten on Tuesday evening; the eve of the final parade weekend (yes, they start again tomorrow night and run through Fat Tuesday) and I am on vacation. This is the first Carnival in years–maybe 2008?–where I haven’t had to work during the final weekend of parades. No condom distribution, no three miles each way hike to the office every day, with aching feet and hips and thighs and knees. No, I can leisurely get things taken care of during the days without stressing or worrying about when I’m going to get the mail or make groceries or…any of that. No, I can get my errands taken care of and clean and edit and revise and cook and do all sorts of things while waiting for Paul to get home and the parades to arrive.

Honestly, I don’t understand why I haven’t done this before. I love the parades. I love the floats and the riders and the friendly people along the sidewalk and the kids playing and the marching bands and the celebrity riders.

Love. It. ALL.

Which means it’ll probably rain them all out this year.

But I’ll still be on vacation.

Huzzah!

And yes, I’m gloating just a little.

Now to start cleaning up this mess.

 

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Against the Wind

Yesterday I only managed to revise one chapter, but I am chalking that up as a win. I figured if I do one chapter a day it’ll be done by the end of the month, and there will be days when I’ll revise more than one, which will put me further ahead of schedule. This weekend I managed to get caught up–I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but what I did get done caught me up again, and that’s really what I needed to have happen. And it did. So, that’s a win.

I don’t know why I am so hard on myself.

Seriously.

I’ve not decided what to read next. I checked Caleb Roehrig’s White Rabbit, a queer y/a, out from the library, but I kind of also want to read either Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett or Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things, which is a vampire novel set in Mexico City and comes highly recommended by my horror peeps. I’ve got an entire pile of diverse books, including John Copenhaver’s Dodging and Burning, Kristen Lepionka’s The Last Place You Look,  Kelly J. Ford’s Cottonmouths, Chester Himes’ If He Hollers Let Him Go and Cotton Comes to Harlem, Frankie Bailey’s The Red Queen Dies…so many wonderful diverse books–and there’s even more than that. I know I have a Rachel Howzell Hall book on the shelves somewhere, and it might not, actually, be a bad idea to dive into some New Orleans/Louisiana history…decisions, decisions.

There are, frankly, worse things in life, to be honest, then being unable to decide which book you want to read next.

I think my sleep schedule is finally stabilizing. I slept very well on Sunday evening and as such, wasn’t tired even after a twelve hour shift yesterday when I got home. We’ll see how tired I am tonight when I get home from work after day two of twelve hour shift; but instead of working straight through, I have a doctor’s appointment in between testing shifts so I’ll be doing that instead…and since I’ll be over in that part of time, am going to treat myself to Five Guys for lunch. Huzzah for Five Guys!

One can never go wrong with a delicious burger. And Cajun fries to go with it. YUM.

Ever since the Great Data Disaster of 2018, I’ve felt disconnected in some ways to all the projects I was brainstorming before it happened…which is why I think reading some local history might just do the trick of reenergizing me with the Monsters of New Orleans project. My life is so defined by said Data Disaster that I can hardly remember what was going on before it happened, and I’ve felt, as I have said numerous times, disconnected, and not just from Monsters of New Orleans, but from everything, and when I try to get everything back on track, it just seems like all those things are adrift in fog and I can’t quite get my hands on them again.

Which, obviously, sucks. But it’s life.

I had all kinds of plans for the future before a little disruption called Hurricane Katrina came along, too. And the time before the evacuation seems like it was a million years ago, and I can barely remember the time evacuated or the time after I returned, or that first year back in the carriage house. My memory is a sieve–and I used to have the most insane memory! I could remember all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys titles in order, and could even tell you the plots. I used to be able to remember details about every book I’d read, including plot and characters and scenes. I used to be amazing at Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit. Not so much anymore, sadly. I like to think I am forgetting things now because there’s so much more to remember, and some things are getting crowded out by new memories…but I think it’s more a symptom of being older than anything else.

Sigh.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Take Your Time (Do It Right)

Monday morning, and surprisingly enough, I am not feeling homicidal. I know, I know, and this despite the forecast for snow in the early morning tomorrow. That’s right–snow. In the forecast. For early Tuesday morning.

Madness.

But looking at the forecast again this morning, it’s shifted a bit from last night; it’s going to be cold, but not cold enough to snow.

But still.

Anyway, I am very pleased to share with you the Agatha Award nominees–lots of friends on this list, but most importantly Susanna Calkins made the list for Best Short Story for her contribution to Florida Happens, “A Postcard for the Dead”! How cool is that?

Here are the nominees:

Best Contemporary Novel

Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin (Witness Impulse)
Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best Historical Novel

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
The Gold Pawn by LA Chandlar (Kensington)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel

A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
Little Comfort by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell (Level Best Books)
Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin’s)

Best Short Story

“All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“A Postcard for the Dead” by Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
“Bug Appetit” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Best Young Adult Mystery

Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Henry Holt)
A Side of Sabotage by C.M. Surrisi (Carolrhoda Books)

Best Nonfiction

Mastering Plot Twists by Jane Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)
Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J Cohen (Orange Grove Press)
Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox (Random House)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)
Wicked Women of Ohio by Jane Ann Turzillo (History Press)

 

 

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Let’s Get Serious

Congratulations to this year’s Edgar Award finalists!
Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce, as we celebrate the 210th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the Nominees for the 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2018. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 73rd Gala Banquet, April 25, 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

BEST NOVEL

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard (Blackstone Publishing)
House Witness by Mike Lawson (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
A Gambler’s Jury by Victor Methos (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland)
Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne (Penguin Random House – Hogarth)
A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (Penguin Random House – Berkley)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper (Seventh Street Books)
The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs (Simon & Schuster – Touchstone)
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
Under My Skin by Lisa Unger (Harlequin – Park Row Books)

BEST FACT CRIME

Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge First and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler (W.W. Norton & Company – Liveright)
Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood, and Betrayal by Jonathan Green (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure by Carl Hoffman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Penguin Random House – Viking)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafiaby Alex Perry (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland Publishing)
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
Mark X: Who Killed Huck Finn’s Father? by Yasuhiro Takeuchi (Taylor & Francis – Routledge)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)

BEST SHORT STORY

“Rabid – A Mike Bowditch Short Story” by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
“Paranoid Enough for Two” – The Honorable Traitors by John Lutz (Kensington Publishing)
“Ancient and Modern” – Bloody Scotland by Val McDermid (Pegasus Books)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor (Dell Magazines)
“The Sleep Tight Motel” – Dark Corners Collection by Lisa Unger (Amazon Publishing)

BEST JUVENILE

Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
Zap! by Martha Freeman (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective by A.B. Greenfield (Holiday House)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Company – Henry Holt BFYR)
Otherwood by Pete Hautman (Candlewick Press)
Charlie & Frog: A Mystery by Karen Kane (Disney Publishing Worldwide – Disney Hyperion)
Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Contagion by Erin Bowman (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperCollins)
Blink by Sasha Dawn (Lerner Publishing Group – Carolrhoda Lab)
After the Fire by Will Hill (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Fire)
A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers)
Sadie by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“The Box” – Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Teleplay by Luke Del Tredici (NBC/Universal TV)
“Season 2, Episode 1” – Jack Irish, Teleplay by Andrew Knight (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Mystery Road, Teleplay by Michaeley O’Brien (Acorn TV)
“My Aim is True” – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Kevin Wade (CBS Eye Productions)
“The One That Holds Everything” – The Romanoffs, Teleplay by Matthew Weiner & Donald Joh (Amazon Prime Video)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

“How Does He Die This Time?” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Nancy Novick (Dell Magazines)


THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur Books)
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington Publishing)
Bone on Bone by Julia Keller (Minotaur Books)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier (Minotaur Books)

Do They Know It’s Christmas

Good morning, Friday, and how are you today? A four day weekend—one I have been waiting for, it seems, forever– is just over the horizon and about time, I must say. I am very tired this morning–this week and next I have to work eight hour days on Fridays instead of my usual half-day, because of the holidays, so I am up earlier than normal and quite frankly, I DON’T LIKE THIS–and I am having dinner with friends this evening, so it’s not a normal Friday for me.

But dinner will be fun, so there’s that. Yay, fun!

I am also hoping to get to see Aquaman this weekend, finish reading the book I am currently reading, and move on to another. I got some lovely books in the mail this week as gifts (thank you, generous gift-givers), so I am looking forward to reading some of the others. I also want to reread both The Shining (it’s been years) and Bracken MacLeod was talking about Pet Sematary recently, which made me realize that is one of the Stephen King books from his early period which I’ve not read more than once. The book disturbed me deeply, and I remember recoiling from it as I read it feverishly; it’s a very dark book–even for King, who’s not exactly known for light-and-fluffy–and I am thinking–thanks to Bracken–that I should revisit it now, in my fifties, to see if my own change in perspective and growing up (a lot) since I was such a sallow teen will change my opinion of the book. I also think I might spend some time in 2019 revisiting some of King’s work.

As the end of the year draws nigh, I generally start reflecting back on the year that was, wondering if I’ve accomplished all the things I set out to do and if I achieved any of the goals I set at the beginning of the year. I know I did some, and I also know I failed at others. The Short Story Project was a lot of fun, and I think I am going to sign up to do it again some in the new year; focusing on reading and writing short stories is a lovely thing, and even my blogging about terrific short stories gets even one person to buy an anthology or read a story, it’s a win.

One of the things I’m definitely going to do in the new year is diversify my reading list. I have a number of books in my TBR pile by non-white writers, and I need to start reading those books and writers. Is it an unconscious bias that makes me grab a book by a cisgender straight writer? Possibly and probably, and that’s where systemic bias comes into play; bias we don’t even think about is just as wrong as bias we do think about. It’s even more insidious, because we think we don’t have bias but it’s there, lurking in our subconscious, waiting waiting waiting…and that’s just wrong.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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