I’ll be moderating a panel at the upcoming Bouchercon in Albany next week (September 19-22). It’s called “I’ve Loved These Days” and boy, that topic couldn’t be more appropriate for me. But even more exciting are my panelists: International Guest of Honor Anne Perry, Caroline Todd, Susanna Calkins, Anna Loan-Wilsey and Susanne Alleyn.

This is gonna be fun.

But let’s get back to that topic for a moment. “I’ve Loved These Days.” My debut novel, Mistress of Fortune, takes place in late 17th century London, during the latter part of King Charles II’s reign. I’ve known since I was a teenager that I would someday write a novel set in Restoration London featuring King Charles himself as a character. After all, I’ve had a crush on him since I was fifteen. It’s pretty much the only thing I knew when I first sat down to write Mistress of Fortune. Everything else–my protagonist, Isabel Wilde, a mistress to the king who secretly makes her living as a fortune teller and the plot itself–was born out of my desire to write about this time and place.

I’ve walked the streets of London from the Tower to Primrose Hill, searching for the 17th century London I’d created. But a big part of that walk was imagining that my characters were traveling right along side me.

During the writing of it, I soon discovered that the novel was about so much more than the setting I’d loved for so many years. For a novel to truly come to life, the setting becomes a backdrop and the characters take over. At least that’s what happened to me. I’ve walked the streets of London from the Tower to Primrose Hill, searching for the 17th century London I’d created. But a big part of that walk was imagining that my characters were traveling right along side me.

Susanna Calkins, one of my panelists who also writes during the Restoration period, recently wrote a great piece for Writer’s Digest: How to Write Historical Fiction. I’ve been giving the issue of research quite a bit of thought lately, not only because I’m preparing for the Bouchercon panel but because I’m currently writing book two in the Mistress of Fortune series. One of the questions I plan to ask my panelists is: “How important is authenticity in historical fiction? Is authenticity more important for historical fiction writers than authors of other types of fiction?”

As Susanna wrote in the WD post: “When I was first dreaming about my story, even before I had worked out the plot or characters, I knew one thing for sure: By gum, this novel would be accurate. Every detail, every word, would be accurate. Historians everywhere would use my book in their classes and would revel in my accurate tale. That idea lasted about two seconds.”

I don’t know any historical fiction author (or really, any author at all) who doesn’t go into it with the best of intentions. The drive for truth and authenticity is obsessive and unrelenting. But at some point, a writer must accept that a detail or two might be fudged, or in some cases, made up entirely. I’ll give you an example. Mistress of Fortune is based upon the real-life, unsolved murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. Though it’s not the most famous of unsolved murders, quite a bit has been written about it over the years and I had access to a great deal of reference material. In the first draft of the novel, I kept meticulously to the time line of the murder and its investigation. What I ended up with was a confusing and boring manuscript that bore little resemblance to either a proper non fiction account of the killing or an engaging historical mystery. In order to achieve my goal–to write a publishable historical mystery–I had to throw the real time line and many of the true life players out the window. What I ended up with was a fast paced and readable fictional account of Sir Edmund’s murder.

I don’t know any historical fiction author (or really, any author at all) who doesn’t go into it with the best of intentions. The drive for truth and authenticity is obsessive and unrelenting.

Of course, I explained what I’d done and offered up references for those readers who want the real story. As Susanna says, “that’s what the ‘historical note’ at the end of your novel is for.” Or, as Harlan Coben once said in one of the first Bouchercon panels I attended: “I make shit up.”

Regardless, to write historical fiction, one must have a deep and abiding love of the days of which they write. I can’t wait to explore this topic with some of the best historical crime fiction writers in the field.

Panel:
“I’ve Loved These Days”
Friday, 9/19 3:10pm
Featuring: Anne Perry, Caroline Todd, Susanna Calkins, Anna Loan-Wilsey, & Susanne Alleyn (Holly West, moderator)

It is with great pleasure that I announce the new title of my debut historical mystery:

MISTRESS OF FORTUNE

Formerly known as Diary of Bedlam, MISTRESS OF FORTUNE will be released by Harlequin’s Carina Press in February 2014.

I’ll confess that I had a few bittersweet tears in my eyes when I replaced Diary of Bedlam with MISTRESS OF FORTUNE. I’d lived with that title for so long–five years–it had almost become a part of my own identity. But they weren’t tears of sadness, they were more like tears of victory. I was in the process of approving the final copy edits on the manuscript and replacing the title felt like the symbolic cherry on top. The incredibly long journey of writing my debut novel was finally over when I hit the send button yesterday, new title and all.

It felt good.

My editor sent me the final edited copy of MISTRESS OF FORTUNE, the version that will go into production, this morning. It’s an understatement to say that I’m proud of this novel. I love it so much that I can hardly believe I’m the one who wrote it.

Whew. Now I’m sniffling again.

As I work toward completing the second book in the series, Mistress of Lies, I wonder if I’ll be able to do the first novel justice. It seems a daunting task at the moment. But one thing’s certain, after reading through the final version of MISTRESS OF FORTUNE, I know I have it in me.

Who knew?

Read the first chapter of MISTRESS OF FORTUNE by Holly West

Yesterday's Echo by Matt CoyleMay 2013 marked the long awaited (by me) launch of my debut crime novel, Yesterday’s Echo. It has been a dream come true and a lifetime goal achieved and never would have happened without the help of many people, most of whom I mentioned in the book’s acknowledgments. But I never would have had the chance to thank anyone if I hadn’t been willing to break out of the comfy confines of the Cocoon.

I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was fourteen when my dad gave me The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler. The hard part was actually doing the writing and that didn’t really start in earnest for about thirty years. I’m a slow starter. However, even when I buckled down and consistently put my ass in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard, I still had a lot to learn.

Being a fledgling author is a fun and exciting time. You’re finally doing something you were put on earth to do, and dammit, you’re pretty good at it. You start each day reading over the literary gold you spun the day before and realize that you’re home. You’ve found your niche. If you stay with it, you’ll have a draft in around a year, give or take. Then it will only be a matter of time, a short matter at that, before your brand new novel is on the bookshelves between Connelly and Crais.

Or so I thought. But why wouldn’t I? I read what I’d written every day and it was genius. The couple members of my family whom I’d let read the book even agreed with me. Now they might have just been happy that I’d finally started writing instead of just talking about it, but they wouldn’t lie. Would they?

Still, I’m Irish and with that comes self-doubt. So, I decided that before I quit my day job and found an agent to get me the big contract, I’d better vet the work with a professional. Let someone outside the warm, snuggly, cocoon of my family and myself read what I’d written. That is sort of the point of being an author, isn’t it? Hopefully, at some point strangers will read your work and they’ll have opinions.

So, I took some night classes at UC San Diego from a mystery author turned writing teacher. Well, apparently she wasn’t that good of a teacher because she failed to recognize my genius. I was shocked and disappointed. I’d paid good money and I got some flunky as a teacher. It was a beginner’s novel class and most students never really began writing so my stuff was on the chalkboard each session. It was ugly. The teacher asked me questions that I’d never thought of, like what does your character want in a scene and what is he thinking?Matt Coyle, August 24, 2012

It took a while, but I started to realize that the teacher wasn’t that stupid and I wasn’t such a genius. It hurt. I’d jumped out of my cocoon and let strangers see my work and been slapped in the face. Hard. I lost some of that confidence earned writing in anonymity. Maybe I couldn’t do this. Maybe I wasn’t good enough and never would be. But after I stopped feeling sorry for myself (in just a few days…okay, a few weeks) and started revising through the teacher’s prism, the book got better.

Then I joined a writers group and exposed my work to other writers. Like the teacher, they tore it apart and helped me put it back together. Stronger. It took years of tearing and mending before I knew, that, finally, it was ready for an agent and then a publisher. Ten months later was just last month and the publication of Yesterday’s Echo.

Writing in a cocoon will make you feel good. Breaking out of it might get you published.

Matt Coyle grew up in Southern California, battling his brother and sisters for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. Yesterday’s Echo is Matt’s first novel. He drew from his days in the restaurant business and his extended family’s law enforcement background in creating this book. Matt lives in San Diego with his wife, Deborah, and their Yellow Lab, Angus.

 

A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins

Today, April 23rd, marks the release of a novel I’ve been looking forward to very much: A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE by Susanna Calkins. It tells the story of Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate. Her life, an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores, is interrupted when a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and someone she loves is wrongly arrested for the crime.

Susanna kindly accepted my invitation to chat about our novels, both of which are set in Restoration England and feature strong female protagonists who must struggle against the gender and class constraints of their time in order to achieve their goals.

HW: When I tell people I’ve written a historical mystery they often comment on how much research it must’ve taken and how daunting that is. But I actually found that writing a story set 350 years ago was freeing in some ways.  I like the world building involved in reconstructing a historical time period for the purposes of my fiction. Plus, I’m a complete geek about the Restoration so I found my research a pleasure. Did you find the research you did for A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE at all daunting?

SC: I started doing research in early modern English history when I was a graduate student, years before I began to put A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE to paper. I had come across some really interesting murder ballads from the 1650s when I was writing a paper on “gender patterns in domestic homicide in 17th c. England.” Later those ballads became the impetus for my novel. So, for me, doing historical research was always part of what I loved about being a historian. So, in A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE, I wanted to place my heroine in some deeper themes, reflecting what I knew about gender (specifically the role of working class women), religion, politics, and culture.

What themes did you explore in DIARY of BEDLAM?

HW: At first, I only knew I wanted to write a story set during the Restoration. But as I got to writing, my protagonist evolved into a fairly complex person–she’s been a mistress to the King for fifteen years and at his behest, she operated as a spy against the Dutch. She lost her brother in the plague and she’s served time in prison. I was surprised, however, when the subject of motherhood entered her story, and realized it’s because of my own relationship with motherhood (I don’t have children and don’t plan to) that I wanted to explore the subject with her.

The story takes place during the Popish Plot so religion, politics and the corruption of the court all play big roles in the story as well.

In an interview I read, you indicate that you’re not overly fond of using real-life people as characters (I paraphrased that, obviously). Which, if any, real-life people did you use in the novel, and why?

SC: I don’t think I have any “real” historical figures in my novel, although of course I mention important figures from time to time (Charles II, the diarist Pepys, as well as the murderess Anne Scarisbruck). I don’t have anything against other writers who fictionalize historic figures–Sam Thomas, for example, quite admirably fictionalizes the midwife Bridget Hodgson in A MIDWIFE’S TALE. I don’t like when historical figures are either romanticized (made to seem more important and perfect than they were) or trivialized (diminished as a punch line). There’s too much ‘Great man’s history’ as it is; I don’t like to add to that in the public imagination.

Is your heroine, Isabel Wilde, a real historical figure? She sounds like Aphra Behn, the famous writer, who was also a spy. Did Behn’s life influence you at all?

HW: Two parts of Isabel’s backstory come from Aphra Behn: the spying, of course, and the prison time for debt. But I’ve got other real-life people who appear: King Charles II is a character and the murder itself is based upon a true crime that was never solved. For me, there was never any question that Charles II would be an actual character in the book and not just mentioned. He’s not a main character, but the scenes in which he appears were definitely the most fun to write.

Tell me a little bit about your protagonist, Lucy Campion. I’m assuming that she is, in some ways, a woman of her time, but I want to know how she rises the above the constraints of her place in society (that of a chambermaid) in order to achieve her goals in the novel.

Author Susanna Calkins
Photo by Lisa Bagadia

SC: Even though Lucy was not particularly well-educated, I wanted her to have a lively, inquisitive mind. I deliberately placed her in a small household run by a thoughtful magistrate–someone who would not shut the door on a good idea just because it came from a woman and a servant. There was, after all, a progressive spirit of Enlightenment thought that was infusing the thinking of more educated people at the time. If Lucy had been in a different type of household, she might well have been beaten for some of things she did, and than that would have been the end of her curiosity and her pursuit of justice. What’s the fun of that? Moreover, at the time of the plague, and certainly after the Great Fire, there was an unprecedented social mobility in England, as servants rose up and took over their master’s trades and households. (If everyone else flees or dies, who’s around to say something isn’t yours?)

Why did you come to focus on the murder of Edmund Godfrey? How did you come across it? I think it’s told in Magnolia…did you ever see that movie?

HW: The story, as told in Magnolia, is more about the coincidence of Green, Berry, and Hill, three men who were falsely accused and executed of the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. Godfrey’s body was found at what is today known as Primrose Hill, but for a time, the location was known as Greenberry Hill. It has a small mention in Magnolia.

I came upon Sir Edmund’s murder quite randomly–it was a featured entry on Wikipedia’s home page one day when I happened to be looking for inspiration and I thought it might work for my plot. I soaked up every account of his killing I could find and constructed my story from there. Though his murder is a true historical event, my telling of it is fiction, through and through.

I find myself now in the exciting but daunting position of writing a sequel to DIARY OF BEDLAM. I know you’ve written an sequel to A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE. I’m curious to know what your experience has been writing a second Lucy Campion novel. Was it easier? Will there be others in the series?

SC: Yes, I’ve finished the sequel, tentatively titled FROM THE CHARRED REMAINS, which like ROSAMUND’S GATE, gets its title from a fictional pamphlet which relates to the murder. I really enjoyed writing the sequel, if only to continue with my characters. This book picks up about 2 weeks after the last one left off, in the aftermath of the Great Fire. Lucy, like many Londoners, is pressed into service to help with the massive cleanup. A body is discovered in a barrel outside of an old tavern; the man was clearly murdered before the Fire. Unbeknownst to others, a pickpocket takes a little bag off the body and passes it to Lucy. Inside are a number of odd objects, including a poem, which Lucy convinces the local printer to publish as a pamphlet. She begins to be targeted by some people who believe she knows the secret of the man’s murder.

What was the funniest or more surprising question you got from people when they found out you had written a novel?

HW: Honestly, I haven’t gotten what I thought was a funny response to me writing a novel. I’d been talking about it since I was a teenager, and after a failed attempt to write one ten years ago, they were probably thinking “finally,” or “yeah, right.” But for the most part, people have been really supportive. What about you?

SC: Supportive yes, but a lot (A LOT!) of people asked me how much sex was in my novel. First question! Yikes!

***

Yikes indeed! Well, my response to Susanna’s writing a novel is obviously “YAY!” There’s nothing I like more than a good historical novel set in my favorite time period, Restoration England. Thank you, Susanna, for stopping by my blog and congratulations on your Book Birthday.

Susanna Calkins is an educator and faculty developer by day and a writer by night. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two sons.

Yesterday, something happened that I’ve been waiting for, for like, ever. The announcement of my book deal showed up in Publishers Marketplace. Here it is in all of its luscious glory:

Holly West’s DIARY OF BEDLAM and DIARY OF DECEPTION, in which the secret identity of a lady as soothsayer – also a favorite mistress of King Charles II – is threatened when a plot to murder the King is revealed as her diary goes missing and one of her clients ends up dead, to Angela James at Carina Press, for publication in 2013, by Elizabeth Kracht at Kimberley Cameron & Associates (World).

The only gripe I have (there had to be at least one, right?) is that it’s classified as “Women’s Fiction/Romance.” Say what? I’m a crime fiction writer, people! I thought I’d made that clear!

But the thing is, who really cares what I am? These classifications are somewhat arbitrary anyway. And frankly, if being a writer of “women’s fiction” or romance helps to sell books, I’m down with that. Girlfriend wants to get paid.

The thing that bothers me more than the classification, I think, is my own reaction to it. I do think there is a stigma attached to women’s fiction and romance and I’m as guilty of perpetrating it as anybody. The fact is that there are great and not so great books in every category and I hate that something that’s labeled “woman” is somehow considered lesser, especially in my own mind.

So whatever DIARY OF BEDLAM and its sequel are considered for the market, my only real concern is that they are KICK ASS books. Oh, and that girlfriend gets paid.

Updated 8/9/13 with my new titles. Yay!

Forget for one moment that it’s April Fool’s Day, folks, because this is for realsies. I’ve been letting the news out in drips and drabs, but consider this the official announcement:

For those of you who can’t watch the video, here is the gist:

I GOT MYSELF A BOOK DEAL!

Color me delighted.

My historical mystery, Mistress of Fortune, will be published in early 2014 by Carina Press, the digital first imprint of Harlequin. They’ll also be publishing its sequel, Mistress of Lies, with a release date to be determined.

What does digital first mean? Well, initially, Mistress of Fortune will be an eBook, available in all formats. It will also likely be an audiobook through Carina Press’s partnership with Audible.com. My hope is that it will also be available, eventually, by print-on-demand.

In the meantime, I am all kinds of happy. Carina Press is a great home for Mistress of Fortune, and I’m looking forward to working with my editor, Deborah Nemeth and the rest of the team at Carina.

Cover of The Devil Doesn't Want Me by Eric BeetnerEric Beetner is a frequent guest on this blog, and for good reason. Not only is he a great crime fiction writer, he’s very supportive of fellow writers. In fact, he co-founded Noir at the Bar Los Angeles along with Stephen Blackmoore and Aldo Calcagno and it’s become an enormous success–a place for crime writers at all stages in their careers to read their work for an enthusiastic audience.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Eric’s latest novel, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. It’s about Lars, a mob hitman for a prominent East Coast crime family who finds himself put out to pasture when he’s been unable to kill Mitch-the-Snitch, an informant living in witness protection who has managed to elude him for the past seventeen years. Lars is given the task of training his own replacement, an arrogant young gun named Trent. It’s an uneasy relationship, to say the least, and when the hit on Mitch goes hopelessly awry, Lars finds himself in a new and precarious role: that of protector to Mitch’s teenage daughter Shaine.

Lars might be a little stuck in his ways, but it can’t be denied that he’s a consumate professional–he has definite opinions on how to do the job right. But his convictions don’t end with a hit, they extend to other areas of life, from love to exercise to music. And speaking of music, it plays a significant role in The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, so I asked Eric about it.

Eric Beetner: Music ends up being a fairly strong through-line in my new novel, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. It opens with a chapter about a song on a jukebox and ends with a line from an AC/DC song. Honest to goodness, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind as I was writing.

Using music as a way into character is not a new concept. I feel like it gets used much more in film than in novels, primarily because you can, y’know, hear the songs. If you introduce a character on screen with a shot of a Harley riding up, a close up of big black boots and the opening strains of Bad To The Bone, you know a hell of a lot about that character before you ever pan up to his face. Though if you do use George Thorogood in your movie my biggest takeaway will be that you are lazy. Music is a fast track to cliché-ville.

used music to define a deep generational gap in my characters. Lars, the aging hit man in the book, is a classic rock purist. There are lines in the book touting the praises of hard rock classics like AC/DC and Motorhead, and trashing things like the Hagar-era Van Halen and Steely Dan. Compare that to Lars’ main rival in the book who listens to an iPod, dresses like a refugee from MTV and couldn’t name a Judas Priest song if his life depended on it.

Music then became a way to get to know Lars’ mental state too. We hear about what is playing in his head during certain scenes. Though I did have to cut some lyrics from Ace Of Spades because of copyright reasons. I was bummed. 

Music can be an effective way to get to know a character since music is very personal. Every one of us identifies strongly with the music we like. It effects the way we dress, the way we spend our free time, how many tattoos we have. A guy who likes the Grateful Dead and a guy who like Norwegian death metal are already a long way to having their character’s defined for them simply based on the type of music they listen to. We assume things about people based on their music tastes in the real world, I assume we also do it to the same extent in books. Now, please take note that Lars’ musical tastes are not a reflection of my own. I’m not a classic rock guy, though the bands I did use in the book I am generally a fan of. Well, maybe not Judas Priest. Or Iron Maiden. But I do really hate Sammy Hagar and Steely Dan, does that count for something?Author Eric Beetner

I’d love to see a day when books came with soundtrack albums. Not that I want people listening to music while they read. I can, and most often do, read in noisy places like restaurants. There is constantly music playing and I can tune it out easily enough. But if I put on something I like and want to hear my reading attention goes out the window.

I’m also not a music listener when I write. Can’t do it. Too distracting. I envy the people who can tune everything out to write. I think my relationship to music is just too intimate. Music has absolutely changed my life at different points. I played music for many years and have written dozens of songs. I like to really focus on music when I listen. I don’t like background music. 

I do think if you’re going to write about music, it has to be something fairly universal. You want people to hear the song in their head as they read, not go look it up on iTunes and discover it’s some über-hip Japanese band I’m into. Believe me, I’ve got plenty of obscure hipster music I could name drop, but then my book wouldn’t be understood, readers would be pulled out of the story the same way if I referenced an obscure movie or other literary reference. But if you name check a band everyone is familiar with, they don’t even need to know the specific song, they get the vibe.

I bet there are no music references in Diary of Bedlam, huh? Kind of hard to bring up a song that is 400 years old that people can relate to. But you’ve written contemporary set stuff too. Have you ever used music to set a scene or define a character?

Holly: Thanks for tossing the question back to me, Eric. Diary of Bedlam actually does have a soundtrack. I downloaded an album of 17th century folk songs that I occasionally listened to while writing to get some atmosphere in my head. But mostly I like silence when I’m writing anything beyond the first draft. I’m just too easily distracted.

When I’m writing a first draft, however, I occasionally listen to something or have the TV on in the background (usually something silly and familiar, like I Love Lucy  reruns). It’s still distracting, but I’m not working so hard at choosing precisely the right words. I’m just trying to get the story out and if I self-edit too much during that process I get stuck. So having something else going on keeps me on track somehow. During the first draft stage of writing, silence has a sort of paralyzing affect on me. Kind of weird, but there it is.

Many thanks to Eric for stopping by the blog. And if you’re looking for an absorbing read I can definitely recommend The Devil Doesn’t Want Me or any of Eric’s booksHe wasn’t voted Most Criminally Underrated Author” in the 2012 Stalker Awards for nothing.

California Crime Writers Conference Logo
Well then, have I got the conference for you.

Every two years, the Southern California chapters of Sisters in Crime (SincLA) and the Mystery Writers of America (SoCalMWA) get together and put on the California Crime Writers Conference in Pasadena, California. It was the first writers conference I ever went to and it remains one of my favorites. For the 2013 conference, I’m coordinating registration and the manuscript critiques.

(Speaking of manuscript critiques, I coordinated them for the 2010 conference, and one of the attendees who asked for a critique not only landed the agent who critiqued it, but recently got a book deal. You know who you are, Matt Coyle.)

The 2013 conference features two of the biggest names in crime fiction writing today: Sue Grafton and Elizabeth George. If that isn’t enough, here’s a sneak peek at how the schedule is shaping up:

Elizabeth George: Sunday’s keynote speaker but she will also lead a workshop on “Finding Your Process” on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. To 11:45 a.m.

Michael Levin: “Take Your Manuscript From Good To Great: 12 Things You Must Do To Make Your Novel “Unrejectable”! Everybody knows that rewriting is the key to success in fiction writing, but exactly what does rewriting mean? Join New York Times best selling author, Shark Tank contestant and Huffington Post blogger Michael Levin for a fascinating, clear, and concise checklist to get your book to the best seller list!

Adrienne Lombardo, literary agent: a rising star at Trident Media Group in New York and ACTIVELY looking for clients who write crime fiction.

T. Jefferson Parker: multiple Edgar award-winning and bestselling author.

Kristen Weber: former Senior Editor at Mysterious Press/Warner Books and NAL/Penguin. Now freelance editor and partner in the upcoming online booklovers sitewww.shelfpleasure.com.

Hank Phillippi Ryan: award-winning author, multiple Emmy-award winning news reporter, MWA national board member and incoming President of national Sisters in Crime.

Marcia Clark: former Los Angeles County Deputy D.A. Lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson trial and crime fiction author.

Anthony Manzella, former Los Angeles County Deputy D.A., Major Crimes division who specialized in prosecuting Mexican Mafia murder cases. He and his partner were profiled in MEXICAN MAFIA by Tony Rafael. He spoke at the 2009 conference and people are still talking about his presentation.

This is just a small portion of what will be on offer. You can register here and I look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels Volume 1

When Ron Earl Phillips asked me to be in the first ever Shotgun Honey anthology, my fingers couldn’t type “YES” fast enough.

Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels Volume 1

Today marks the launch of Shotgun Honey Presents: BOTH BARRELS:

Buy the Trade Paperback – $14.95
Buy for Kindle – $4.95
Buy for Nook – $4.95 (coming soon)
Buy for Kobo – $4.95 (coming soon)

Before I continue, many thanks must be given to the Shotgun Honey crew: Kent Gowran, Ron Earl Phillips, Sabrina Ogden, and Chad Rohrbacher. These folks help writers like me who are trying to get their name out there by publishing our stuff. For that I am very grateful.

To date, this is my proudest achievement as a writer. My story, REGRETS ONLY, is about a chronically down-and-out woman named Tammy Valero, who, when she learns she has terminal cancer, decides she has a few loose ends to tie up.

The story was challenging for me to write, mostly because it required me to dig deeper than I usually do. I felt exposed and vulnerable when writing it, as though Tammy’s story was my own (it’s not, of course). Every story written, no matter how short, is a learning experience, and this story in particular was a milestone.

But enough about me. Check out the amazing talent who appears with me in this anthology:

Andrew Nette – King Tut’s Tomb
Cameron Ashley – The Blonde Chimera
Chris Holm – Not Forgotten
Dan O’Shea – Father’s Day
Frank Bill – The Jade Bounty
Frank Wheeler Jr. – Tapdancing for Idiots
Garnett Elliott – Chicken Soup for the Hole
Glenn Gray – Intubation
Hector Acosta – Jueves
Holly West – Regrets Only
Jen Conley – Escape
Jim Wilsky – Traffick
Joe Myers – Cold Read
Julia Madeleine – Rage
Keith Rawson – 2 Kilograms of Soul
Kieran Shea – The Judgement of Roland J. Monroe
Matthew C. Funk – Lovely Men
Michael Oliveri – The Wrench in Her Works
Naomi Johnson – Hero
Nigel Bird – Rhythm of Life
Nik Korpon – The Owls
Patti Abbott – How to Launder a Shirt
Paul D. Brazill – Gareth and Fiona Go Abroad
Peter Farris – Cut. Copy. Paste. Delete
Ray Banks – The Warmest Room
Steve Weddle – The Awakening: From the Cyborg Lesbian Vampire Chronicles
Thomas Pluck – Train: A Denny the Dent Story
Tom Pitts – Luck
Trey R. Barker – A Good Boy

Forget my story–I can’t wait to read what everyone else wrote.

I am honored to announce I will be contributing a story to a charity anthology called FEEDING KATE. It benefits someone whose very dear to me and many others in the crime fiction community, Sabrina Ogden. She suffers from lupus and needs a jaw surgery that her insurance company won’t pay for (those bastards). Laura Benedict, Laura Curtis, Clare Toohey, and Neliza Drew organized an Indiegogo campaign to fund it, and for just $5 you can get an e-copy of the anthology. An $18 contribution will get you the print version, and higher donations will get you a signed copy. All the details are here.

Even though I call this a “charity anthology,” it really doesn’t feel like charity. You know why? Because your contribution will get you a kick ass crime fiction anthology featuring stories from some of the best crime fiction authors writing today:

I know, huh? It’s great to be included in such an awesome list of writers–I am humbled.

If you’re unable to contribute, you can still help by posting about this anthology on your blog, interviewing one of the authors, tweeting about it, posting it on Facebook, etc. We all appreciate any promotional help you can give for this cause.