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Damn Near Dead 2

I’ve been so intent on catching folks up on upcoming projects that I neglected to mention an awfully nifty project I was involved in last year. In November, Busted Flush Press released Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying, edited by the illustrious Bill Crider.

As people who’ve read my work know, I don’t usually hang with the noir crowd, but when Bill invited me to submit a story to this book of “geezer noir,” I couldn’t resist giving it a try. I drew inspiration from my grandfather, who was devoted to Finch’s Restaurant in Raleigh, NC. And by devoted, I mean he ate breakfast there every weekday and many weekends for as far back as I can remember. He knew every waitress, and though the owners changed a couple of times over the years, Granddaddy’s order never did. (Two eggs, over easy, dry toast, and streak-o-lean.) My parents have a similar relationship with Skyland in Charlotte, NC.  I drew on both places to come up with my story “Kids Today.”

As you can see, artist Jeff Wong created a dynamite cover, and the stories inside are pretty darned good, too.  Just check out the table of contents:

“Sleep, Creep, Leap” by Patti Abbott
“El Conejo” by Ace Atkins
“Stiffs” by Neal Barrett, Jr.
“The End of Jim and Ezra” by C. J. Box
“Out Stealing Buddha” by Declan Burke
“Love Story” by Scott Cupp
“All About Eden” by Christa Faust
“Flying Solo” by Ed Gorman
“Neighborhood Watch” by Carolyn Haines
“Memory Sketch” by David Handler
“Some Things You Never Forget” by Gar Anthony Haywood
“The War Zone” by Cameron Pierce Hughes
“You’re Only Dead Once” by Dean James
“The Sleeping Detective” by Jennifer Jordan
“Kids Today” by Toni L.P. Kelner
“The Old Man in the Motorized Chair” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Angel of Mercy” by Russel McLean
“Miss Hartly and the Cocksucker” by Denise Mina
“Sometimes You Can’t Retire” by Marcia Muller
“The Investor” by Gary Phillips
“Bill in Idaho” by Scott Phillips
“Zypho the Tentacled Brainsucker from Outer Space vs. the Mob” by Tom Piccirilli
“Trade Secret” by Bill Pronzini
“The Summer Place” by Cornelia Read
“Warning Shot” by James Reasoner
“Cutlass” by Kat Richardson
“Chin Yong-Yun Takes the Case” by S.J. Rozan
“Granny Pussy” by Anthony Neil Smith
“Old Men and Old Boards” by Don Winslow

Sadly, this was one of the last projects from the late David Thompson, who founded Busted Flush. But I recently learned that his wife McKenna Jordan will be taking over the reins, and I think that David would be proud to know that.

Want a peek at a pinup queen?

Yesterday I got an advance copy of Who Killed the Pinup Queen?, the second “Where are they now?” mystery. Since this is my tenth novel, I pretty much took it in stride.

Okay, maybe I was a little excited. At any rate, this served as a reminder to me that Who Killed the Pinup Queen? will be hitting the stores on January 5 more or less. So I thought I’d post an excerpt here on my blog as a sneak preview.

The link is up above, or you can click here.

As for me, I have more cavorting to do.

Faire to Middling Historical

This weekend, my family and I–and my daughter’s friend Amanda–spent the day at King Richard’s Faire, a long established renaissance faire in nearby Carver, MA. It was a gorgeous New England fall day, and we saw amazing sights, including:

King Richard & Court

King Richard Himself, With Members of His Court



Pirate Percussionists

Pirate Percussionists

Tortuga Twins

The Tortuga Twins Storytelling Troupe (with an audience volunteer)

Bite Me

The Renaissance Vampire Musical “Bite Me”

You may be picking up on the fact that King Richard’s Faire is not strictly historically accurate. I understand that this is true of many renfaires. I like Neil Gaiman’s description from the comic book Sandman. Hob, an actual survivor of the renaissance, visits a modern faire and says, “It’s just someone’s idea of the English middle ages crossed with bloody Disneyland.”

I can’t argue with that. It’s not history. But we weren’t there for history–we were there for fun, and we had plenty of that. Besides, I suspect some history snuck in when I’m not looking anyway. I did get to see a knight actually walking and riding in armor, heard the sound of swords hitting, realized the amount of space it takes for a woman in that kind of gown, maybe learned a little bit of authentic vocabulary mixed in with the Monty Python accents. I didn’t mind a little bonus of learning as long as it was entertaining.

There’s a lesson there for writers of fiction. No, I’m not suggesting that we fill our work with historical inaccuracies, or even modern inaccuracies. Nor should we throw in vampires and pirates just because they’re popular–though I admit to doing stories with both. My point is that if you entertain the reader, you can sneak in a lot of facts without anybody minding. There’s a fair amount of TV trivia tucked into my own Curse of the Kissing Cousins, though it’s by no means a history of television. Okay, it’s not a grand epiphany, but didn’t I already tell you that I don’t go to renfaires to learn anything?

So to King Richard’s Faire, I offer a resounding Huzzah!

Death of a Cover

Or rather, the revision of a cover. Though we thought we were decided on the previously posted cover for the upcoming anthology Death’s Excellent Vacation, edited by Charlaine Harris and myself, upon further reflection we weren’t. After discussion, we realized the previous cover–though perfectly charming–was a bit subtle with the paranormal aspect and might discourage male book buyers. So the cat lady–or perhaps wolf lady, because she’s been called both–will be staying home, and the Grim Reaper will be going on vacation in her place.


It’s still the same stellar lineup of authors, and that’s the best part!

What a Vacation Should Look Like

Just got a picture of the cover for Death’s Excellent Vacation today, which is coming out in August of 2010. Charlaine and I had a great time with this, and we’re constantly amazed by the creativity of our contributors.


Speaking of 2010 releases, the trade paperback of Wolfsbane and Mistletoe is scheduled of November of 2010, just in time to fill any stockings that might need a helping paw.

Laura Fleming Rides Again!

The books in my Laura Fleming series have been out of print for some time now, which is not a happy thing for an author. But she’s coming back, in a big way. Well, in large print anyway. On October 16, 2009, Kennebec Large Print will be releasing a large print edition of Mad as the Dickens. I loved the cover Kensington originally did for this book, but I love this new one, too.


Mad as the Dickens is my Christmas in Byerly book. With Christmas approaching, Laura planned to curl up in her Boston apartment with her English professor husband, Richard, to await the birth of their first child. But when her cousin Vasti asks Richard to direct A Christmas Carol, Laura heads back home for some unpleasant surprises. First, running a play turns mild-mannered Richard into a backstage tyrant. Next, Seth Murdstone, the play’s Scrooge, is a washout as an actor. Worst of all–grimmer than the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come–Seth is brutally murdered.

Library Journal said, “Lots of small-town bickering, family gossip, and not a few private agendas make for an entertaining Southern mystery, the seventh in the series. For all collections.”

Seeing a book come back into print is a great Christmas present for any author, even if it’s only October.

Death’s Excellent Vacation

As summer draws to a close, it seems only appropriate to share a few details about the August 2010 release of Death’s Excellent Vacation, the latest anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and myself. This time, we asked our cadre of contributors to play travel agent for supernatural denizens and send them on fictional vacations.

I don’t have the cover yet–given Ace’s track record, it’s going to be awesome–but I do have the list of contributors.

I may be biased, but I think they came up with some terrific stories. So as you pack away the sandals and bathing suits, you’ve got something to look forward to.

Ahoy! Pirates sighted on the horizon!

Avast me hearties! There be a new pirate mystery on the horizon!

Or, in less piratical terms, my story “The Pirate’s Debt” appears in the August issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which I just received today. To add to the pleasure, my name is on the cover!

“The Pirate’s Debt” is the sequel to my Anthony-nominated story “Skull and Cross-Examinations,” which is currently posted on the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine site.

Any new publication is cause for celebration and to hoist a tankard of rum! Of course, to Blood-eye Val, any excuse is good enough!