The launch of Snake Oil and Other Tales, my second collection of crime stories is this coming Saturday, November 4th at Sleuth of Baker Street Bookstore, 907 Millwood Road, Toronto.
The paperback edition of Snake Oil will be available for sale. Sleuth’s will always be happy to take your order, too.
I’d love to meet and chat with you in person. And do take the opportunity to browse Sleuth’s unrivaled collection of vintage mysteries and buy that book you’ve always been looking for.
With huge bears hug and thank you’s to my publisher and editor, Donna Carrick at Carrick Publishing; to Sara Carrick for her fabulous cover and to Marian Misters and J. D. Singh of Sleuth’s for hosting!
Today I’m both delighted and honored to be interviewed by two great supporters of their fellow authors.
I’m visiting Joanne Guidoccio’s Friday page to share 10 tips on short crime fiction writing: the hills, valleys and rewards of pursuing this literary form. Here’s the link.
Do subscribe to Joanne’s blog. It’s a great way to discover new authors. And her interesting blogs range from humour to confidence-building to life observations.
And I’m also a guest on my dear friend and leading crime writer, Rosemary McCracken’s blog, Moving Target, talking about writing on the dark side. Here’s the link.
Subscribing to Moving Target is another excellent way to discover new crime fiction authors. Rosemary is the author of the popular Pat Tierney financial mystery series and a widely published short story writer.
I’m excited to be part of Melissa’s kick-starter for her new Dr. Hope Sze mystery, Sugar and Vice, Book 3 of the Seven Deadly Sins series. Hope attends a festival that celebrates dragon boat racing and food, an unusual pairing made sinister by a warning that someone is about to die.
Read our interview here and do check out Melissa’s kick- starter here.
I read mostly thrillers and noir so cozies aren’t really my go-to read, BUT every once in while it’s great to switch up, which is why I’m recommending two engaging and thoroughly entertaining reads: The Merry Widow Murders (Cormorant Press) by Melodie Campbell and The Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler.
BOOK ONE: THE MERRY WIDOW MURDERS
Melodie and I are longstanding author friends and I’m big fan of her Derringer-winning Goddaughter novella series. Melodie, AKA The Mesdames of Mayhem’s Queen of Comedy, got her training in stand-up, so she’s always written short. Do take a look at her featured story, “The Kindred Spirits Detective Agency” on the Mesdames’ website and see how she creates a world in under 2000 words. That takes skill!
Melodie confided to me that writing “long” for a standard novel posed a challenge. And it’s a challenge she’s overcome beautifully in The Merry Widow Murders. Her mystery is set in 1928 aboard a luxury ocean liner. Lady Lucy Revelstoke, the wealthy young widow of an English lord, is travelling back to England when someone dumps a dead stranger in her cabin. Was this planned or an unhappy accident? Lucy and her two sidekicks, Lord Tony and her maid, Elf, don’t wait to find out. They try to dispose of the body discretely, but things don’t go as planned.
Lucy has a shady past, which would ruin her in the conventional society of the day. To safeguard her reputation, Lucy must solve the stranger’s murder. The mystery has many twists and turns and a satisfying ending. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of ocean-going life, the food and art deco decor. Melodie skillfully weaves in social comment about the position of women in 1928 and the strictures of social convention.
BOOK TWO: DEVIL’S CHEW TOY
I had the pleasure of meeting Rob Osler in person at Left Coast Crime in Tucson this year. Fellow author, Stephen Buehler, who’s also a professional magician, invited me to LCC’s Author Speed Dating – not as an author pitching a book but as a reader. This proved to be terrific training for how to pitch to readers and a most enjoyable way to discover new authors and books.
Rob’s book stood out, not only because it was nominated for a Lefty Award, but because of his humorous pitch. His bookmarks were dog bone-shaped and he promoted The Devil’s Chew Toy with a funny poem – doggerel, get it?
The premise is hilarious. Hayden McCall is a shy high school teacher, who because of his height, is constantly mistaken for one of his students. His love life isn’t great nor is his luck. Venturing out to the local gay bar, he is accidentally punched in the face by Camillo, the hot disco dancer. Feeling bad for him, Camilo takes him back to his place. The morning after Hayden wakes up to the police banging on the door. Camilo has disappeared – and Hayden is not only a suspect, he’s saddled with Camilo’s pit bull terrier.
Aided by Camilo’s feisty lesbian friends, Hayden tries to find him through a series of mishaps and misadventures. Camilo’s disappearance is tied to a shady pet store, appropriately named Barkingham Palace. Hayden solves the mystery and – surprise – for once there are NO murders in the book!
I’m excited to announce that Carrick Publishing will be bringing out my new book, Snake Oil and Other Tales. Launch date is slated for October in keeping with the tradition of the Mesdames of Mayhem anthologies.
Snake Oil brings together ten of my stories and novellas published since the release of my first collection, Glow Grass and Other Tales, Carrick Publishing, 2016. Many of the stories were finalists for the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence.
Stand by for the cover reveal by talented artist, Sara Carrick. I’m especially delighted by this one!
I’ve had a lifelong fascination with people who mysteriously disappear, especially those who get lost in the wilderness. On January 13th, British actor Julian Sands was reported missing by his family. Sands, an experienced hiker and mountaineer, had set out alone for the San Gabriel Mountains , 50 miles northeast of Los Angeles. He never returned. On January 18th his car was located near Mt. Baldy , one of his favorite trails.
Julian Sands is/was 65 years old and made his home in North Hollywood. His break-out role was in the British period piece, A Room with a View , which coincidentally starred Helena Bonham Carter as an ingenue -before she found her goth persona and her partner, Tim Burton. Sands continued to work in many diverse films and series, including The Killing Fields, The L Word, Smallville, 24 and even Dexter!
How could he simply disappear? How could a seasoned climber come to grief?
For answers, I looked to my friend, bear biologist, Sarah Poole. She told me about search and rescuer, Dr. Robert J. Koester, who’s an expert in understanding the behavior of lost people.
It is very easy to get lost. Dr. Koester describes a case of an experienced 65 year old hiker who had a habit of walking 80 steps from the trail for a washroom break. (That’s right, eighty not eight!) Her skeletal remains were found two years later.
Lost people DO tend to wander around in circles. People wander in random patterns and can travel great distances. They are often found far from the area where they were supposed to be.
Lost people tend to travel downhill rather uphill. People believe that down is safer and that they will be more likely to find help there. Sadly that is not necessarily true.
People get lost by making a mistake. At first, they believe their instruments or maps are faulty so they can travel a significant distance before they realize they are lost.
People get an adrenalin rush when they discover they are lost. This is a normal physiological response. The worst thing one can do is to panic. The first thing to do is to calm down; a simple drink of water can be enough.
So what happened to Julian Sands? The San Gabriel Mountains are about an hour’s drive from LA, stretching between the city and the Mohave Desert. Winters are wet and snowfall can be heavy. Ice-climbing and snow trails are popular with mountaineers and Baldy Bowl is a favorite. This is where Sands was headed.
Mt. Baldy’s real name is Mt. San Antonio. At over 10,000 feet, it’s the highest peak in the mountain range. Winter climbing on the Baldy Bowl requires ice axes and crampons with ascents of 45 to 50 degrees. Rockfalls and avalanches are common. This January severe storms in the area led to extremely dangerous avalanche conditions and search and rescue operations had to be curtailed. Julian Sands remains missing.
Not long after, a number of bogus reports surfaced, claiming that Sands had been spotted alive and well. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario, born of romanticism and desperate hope – and perhaps too much bingeing on Netflix.
One hiker, 75 year old Jin Chung, was rescued from Mt. Baldy around the same time after he went missing for two days. He’d gone off on his own leaving his two hiking companions on another route. Fortunately, after they alerted search and rescue, Chung was found with only mild injuries.
As Dr. Koester warns hikers: tell people where you are going; take emergency survival supplies with you and never hike alone.
Really looking forward to the Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13, the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem’s 5th anthology in celebration of our 10th anniversary. Entry is free but guests must pre-register with the publisher email@example.com
I’m really excited about our upcoming launch at Sleuth of Baker Street Bookstore, this Sunday, October 30th at 2 pm. It’s the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem’s first public appearance since the beginning of COVID!
And here’s our blurb: Ghosts and demons and booze, oh my!
To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem have let our imaginations run wild to bring you our fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13. Does “spirit’ mean ghost or demon – or debunking of same? Or simply the evil in twisted human hearts? Or could it be alcohol? You must read these 23 tales to find out!
The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem are established award-winning authors as well as talented new writers. We aimed to keep our stories light-hearted to counter the world’s troubled times, but some of them have strayed into the dark. We are crime writers after all!
Laugh, shed a tear and prepare to be deliciously frightened.