Question_mark I had this idea to ask published authors random questions now and then, all geared toward aspiring authors like myself.

Today, Stephen Jay Schwartz, author of BOULEVARD and BEAT, was kind enough to answer one of my questions about his experience with getting published.

A bit of background: Stephen was the Director of Development for film director Wolfgang Petersen. He's also written screenplays, and worked as a "script doctor," along with many other accomplishments in film.

I asked Stephen: "Did your background in film help you land an agent and/or book deal?"

SJS: "My background in film helped only in that I took a rather aggressive approach to finding an agent. The film business is a bit dog-eat-dog, in case you haven't heard, and it's good prep for almost anything else you do in life. However, I didn't know any book agents and I had to begin at the beginning. I did a ton of research to determine who the great agents were and I went out to pursue them, sending my query letter and the first fifty or so pages of my manuscript. My experience in film did help validate me on paper–it let the agents know right away that I had a history working with story. So, it probably helped to get them to start reading my material. By the way, I've circled back a bit now. I've got a screenwriting assignment for an action feature. So, I hope to write the screenplay and two novels in 2011."

Good to know, Stephen! Thanks!

 

 

Wreath
December 24
Day 24

Tana French

I first became aware of Tana French when I was looking at the Mystery Writer's of America list of Edgar Award winners for 2007. I wanted new mystery authors to read, and her debut novel, IN THE WOODS, sounded like a great novel.

Inthewoods

As expected, I loved the book, and I became a Tana French fan. But it was her second novel, THE LIKENESS, that really grabbed me. It takes place six months after the events of IN THE WOODS. Cassie Maddox is called to a murder scene in which her double has been killed, and to solve the crime, her boss, Frank Mackey, convinces her to play the role of the dead woman as though she had never died.

I have an admission to make. Though THE LIKENESS is extremely well-plotted, it's true draw for me was because it strongly reminded me of one of my all-time favorite books, THE SECRET HISTORY, by Donna Tartt. Though it's safe to say the two books are really not all that similar, the setting, a group of young people living together in an old country house, echoed the group of friends in THE SECRET HISTORY. If you haven't read these books, I recommend both.

The-likeness---us-cover

This year, Tana released her third novel, FAITHFUL PLACE. This story's protagonist is Frank Mackey (Cassie's boss in THE LIKENESS). I am thoroughly enjoying it, and though I wanted to finish it by the time I wrote this post, time has conspired against me and I'm in the middle of it.

Bottom line, I love Tana French's novels, and if you've not yet had the pleasure of reading one, put them on your To Be Read list.

If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.

Some of the books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (orders@mystery-bookstore.com).

 

 

Wreath
December 23
Day 23

Kelli Stanley Interview

Before I get on with today's post, I want to remind you I'm donating $1 for every new Twitter follower between now and December 31 to Reading is Fundamental. Details here.

Due to some wires getting crossed (yeah, I know–but it still happens in this wireless world), I didn't include an interview in my recent post about Kelli Stanley. Yesterday, Kelli was kind enough to answer my questions post haste, and as a result, today I'm featuring her again.

Kelli_holly
Me & Kelli at the Mystery Bookstore

1) You write two historical crime series, one set in Roman times and the other set in 1940s San Francisco. Is one easier/more fun to write than the other?

Hmm. Good question! I'd say that neither series is easier to write than the other, but that because the Roman series is lighter, it's easier on me emotionally and offers a good contrast in tone–Arcturus, though facing his share of internal issues, has a loving bond with Gwyna that makes him a much less psychologically dark person than Miranda.

With the Roman noir novels, I get to be a bit playful, too, but as anyone who has ever performed comedy knows, "lighter" doesn't mean easier. And while hardly comedic, "Roman noir" is a pun on the French literary term as much as it is a description of time, place, and style–so the expression of it in the series is an acknowledged tribute to the genre as a lens through which we can view life.

My goals for both series are different, too–with the Roman series, I'm trying to make a very remote and

seemingly alien culture become more accessible for the modern reader–trying to demonstrate how little has changed within human behavior, and why, therefore, history is relevant. With Miranda, I don't even see the series as "historical" … really, it's my own peculiar attempt to examine our very recent past, question the mythology we've built up around it and ourselves, and rewrite the rules of noir without the gender stereotypes and Hays Office censorship code that pervaded the entertainment media.

I will confess that I enjoy spending time in 1940 more than in 84 AD, because I've always been drawn to that particular era … so in terms of setting, the Miranda series wins out. 🙂

Curse-Maker-3D1
2) Describe your perfect San Francisco day.

Well, a perfect day would mean a day off from the day job. We’d start with the weather—about 63 degrees, sunny, a few clouds, and a breeze from the West. I’d get up early, walk the dog, check email, and probably head to the San Francisco Public Library—main branch—to browse through the newspapers for research and (if I have time), the History Room.

I’d grab lunch in Chinatown (of course), snap a few photos, and get home in time to settle down to a few good writing hours for the next Miranda. I’d reach a benchmark—usually the end of a scene, sometimes the end of a chapter—feel good about it, check email again, make dinner, and settle down with a book before bed, or possibly a DVD. Or maybe more research … I’ve been known to take large, dusty newspaper compilations into the kitchen or bedroom when I’m on a research jag.

That probably sounds terribly boring … but honestly, writing is not something I’m free to do full time or even every day, so for me—it’s perfect!

3) Where do you do the majority of your writing?

I alternate between two places: in front of my computer, which is a Dell 64 bit I purchased after I sold CITY OF DRAGONS (I wrote my first three books on a Dell, so I had to buy another), and my writing desk, which is where I go over hard copy edits and do most of my plotting, thinking and research. These are both in one room, facing opposite walls. I do a bit of writing outside the house—on the bus, occasionally, or whenever something strikes me. Sometimes in the shower! The truth is, I’m actually writing ALL the time, in my head, once I’m working on a book, but the act of putting words to paper usually happens in front of my computer (or, if I’m on the road, on my laptop).

4) Writing aside, what is your greatest aspiration?

It’s just about impossible for me to put writing aside, because it really IS my life. I devote all my time and energy to it, and we sacrifice quite a bit of other things (like movies, museums, vacations, etc.) to make sure I have both the time to write and the equally necessary time to tour, promote, etc. Writing is my passion but it is also a business, and—as a former small business owner—I can testify to the fact that ANY business you begin will take over your life. So … my greatest aspiration is to be able to write full-time, to be successful enough for that to be a reality.

If I force myself to take writing out of the equation, we still come back to a related aspiration: make the world a better place. Sounds corny, but it’s true—and writing is the way I’d like to contribute to the world, to help people. I have a profound respect for the power of any creative act, and believe as a matter of principle that writers, artists and creative people should use the power they wield for the good of the world, not to exploit it.

5) What inspires you, in writing or otherwise?

People inspire me. They fascinate me … and, even though I’m a noir writer—and maybe because I’m a noir writer—I believe that they’re fundamentally good in many ways. Hearing stories from people I meet is wonderfully inspirational, and my family in particular has always been an inspiration to me on every level of my life.

Film noir, of course, has been hugely influential. My first novel, NOX DORMIENDA, and the whole idea of “Roman noir” was conceived during one of my annual pilgrimages to the Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco. Great narrative film-making in general inspires me and certainly informs my style of writing.

Books and other writers—of course. Raymond Chandler, Hammett, Woolrich, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald … I love the lyrical in writing, and used to spend my time in classes writing poetry when I should have been studying the topic of the class! Poetry has always been a major inspiration, and I adore writers or playwrights that touch on the lyrical—Tennessee Williams, for instance, or Eugene O’Neil.

Nature inspires me. I grew up in a rural, remote area, surrounded by animals, wild and otherwise. My love of nature and desire to protect what wildness we have left on the planet generally crops up in the Roman noir series, and is something I share with Arcturus.

Finally, San Francisco and the 1930s/40s—with Art Deco style, Big Band swing, long, low cars and skyscrapers—is a constant source of inspiration, and I try to convey some of the beauty of the era in the Miranda books.

Thank you for stopping by, Kelli!

If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.

Some of the books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (orders@mystery-bookstore.com).

Wreath
December 22
Day 22

Reading is Fundamental

Yesterday, Jason Pinter, author of the Henry Parker series, came up with a good idea. He decided to pledge $1 for each new follower he got between today and midnight, December 31 and donate the proceeds to Reading is Fundamental. Then he challenged his corner of Twitter to do the same. The response was big.

  Logo_rif2
Reading is Fundamental advocates literacy in communities all over the United States, and puts books in the hands of children. The gift of reading is one that lasts a life time, and one I am grateful I received early in my life.

Like Jason and many others, I'm pledging $1 for every new follower I get on Twitter between now and midnight, December 31 (PST), up to $250. Yesterday, my new followers and I raised $26, let's see if we can do better today and in the days to come.

C'mon, don't be shy. Make me and the other participants spend their cash on this worthy cause!

Here's a complete list, compiled by Shelf Unbound:

@hollywest
@jasonpinter
@thebookmaven
@erinfaye
@shelfmagazine
@authorrobbins
@trishandtwoboys
@sam_Iles
@vivian_kees
@bradfordlit
@leahcstewart
@aswinn
@badsvillebroad
@shanditty
@laurieabkemeier
@danacmrn
@riljn
@pdtoler
@cblackstone
@trydzinski
@timobrien
@irisblasi
@patobeirne
@mincontro
@mysteryscene
@danielpalmer
@sammywrites
@mjrose
@alisonedits
@jeaninecummins
@medusasmirror
@zombologist
@bcmystery
@bookfreakchick
@joannelessner
@toddaritter
@angelakelsey
@alanjporter
@thrillerchick
@steveulfelder
@tyrusbooks
@lisacon
@crenel
@jmpaterno
@ljsellers
@ruthspiro
@lundeenliterary
@theresewalsh
@judylarsen
@avwriter
@cathychall
@leslie_tentler
@sarahdarerlitt
@lara_adrian

Follow these tweeps, and not only will you be helping RIF, you'll be treated to some great tweets as well.

Wreath
December 21
Day 21

Kelli Stanley

Kelli Stanley's CITY OF DRAGONS was one of the books I most enjoyed this year.

1940 San Francisco. China Town. Miranda Corbie, a former Spanish Civil War nurse and ex-escort, now a private investigator, is caught amid the crowd during a Chinese New Year Rice Bowl Party when Eddie Takahashi, a small time numbers runner, falls at her feet, fatally shot.

  City of dragons

From here, the reader is thrown into all the excitement, beauty, and brutality that 1940 San Francisco has to offer. And in Miranda's world, that's a lot.

I really enjoyed everything about CITY OF DRAGONS, from the plot, to the language, to the setting. But most of all, I loved Miranda Corbie, a fast-talking P.I. who doesn't take crap, and seeks justice even when it seems futile. If there was an award for my favorite protaganist of 2010, it would definitely be Miranda Corbie.

The second in the series, CITY OF SECRETS, comes out in early Fall 2011. I can't wait to see where Kelli takes Miranda next.

If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.

Some of the books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (orders@mystery-bookstore.com).

 

 

 

Wreath
December 20
Day 20

John Grisham

I'm wondering, if among crime fiction enthusiasts, John Grisham doesn't get the respect he deserves. Sure, he's mega-successful in a way few authors are, and frankly, I tend to write off certain high-profile-thriller-writers-whose-names-I-shall-not-mention because some of their novels seem like they're phoned in (and in fact they actually may be) or are just plain bad. But if you've ever read a Grisham novel, you know the man tells a kick ass story.

Book-thefirm-sm

I remember back in the day when THE FIRM came out, my friends and I passed that book around and then all went to the theatre to see the movie. Shortly after that, I went through a fairly intense John Grisham phase, reading through as many of his books as I could get my hands on. After that, I kind of got over Grisham, only to rediscover him when my mom started reading his novels in the past couple of years.

Having recently read THE BRETHEREN, THE RUNAWAY JURY, and THE LAST JUROR, I can say Grisham doesn't ride the coattails of his success, creating brittle, stereotypic characters that you've seen a thousand times. His dialogue is authentic (as far as I can tell at least), his settings are come alive and his plots are exciting. Almost makes a person want to go to law school.

When I first thought of the "25 Days of Books" idea, John Grisham was nowhere on my list. But having recently traveled to our house in Oregon and finding many of my old Grisham titles on my bookshelves, I thought hey–I gotta give the man some props. I have enjoyed his books for twenty years now, and I hope to keep on enjoying them.

If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.

Some of the books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (orders@mystery-bookstore.com).

Wreath
December 19
Day 19

The Supporting Cast

Most people who read my blog know I'm an aspiring author. I consider this a major step up in the world, because for almost 40 years I was an aspiring writer. I no longer aspire to write, I write. Now I aspire to be published!

There are a lot of people who encourage me in my quest. Seriously, I feel so fortunate to be doing what I'm doing, among people who are unfailingly supportive and helpful.

Many of these people are the authors themselves, writers like RJ Ellory, Hilary Davidson, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Stephen Jay Schwartz, and David Liss, who I've featured on this blog. Whether they know it or not, I consider them all important to my process in writing DIARY OF BEDLAM. They patiently answer my questions and kindly tolerate my wide-eyed "what does it feel like to be a published author" gaze.

But there are many other people who support me as well. This post is dedicated to them.

Mick West
Goes without saying, but I am fairly confident DIARY OF BEDLAM would not exist, even in its unfinished state, without my husband. And you can blame him for any mistakes in the manuscript, because he is  my primary editor.

Gretchen McNeil
Gretchen, whose own novel, POSESS, comes out in Fall 2011, was one of my first beta readers. Her feedback on the manuscript has helped to improve it way beyond what I could have done myself. Believe me, this is a woman you want on your side.

Julie Carruth
I've never met a reader like Julie. Ever since we were little girls, she read fast and furious, blazing through book after book. She is an invaluable beta reader because she knows books. She knows a good story, and she's not afraid to tell it like it is (with a little sugar to help it go down easier).

Ali Karim
Before Ali even really knew me, he was unabashedly enthusiastic about DIARY OF BEDLAM. When I finally got to meet him in person at Bourchercon 2009, he introduced me to every person (including Sue Grafton and RJ Ellory) we came into contact with. He has helped to build my confidence as a writer more than he could ever guess, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Steve Weddle
I think I might want to be Steve Weddle when I grow up. His name is everywhere in crime fiction, and he never hesitates to promote authors he likes. Besides Ali Karim, I'm not sure I know a guy more enthusiastic about the genre. I just got the latest copy of Needle Magazine (Steve is the editor) yesterday, and with stories by Sophie Littlefield, Matthew McBride, and Ray Banks, it's sure to be a great one.

The Mystery Bookstore
There's a reason I never shut up about the Mystery Bookstore. They have been instrumental in my development as a crime fiction reader, and now a writer. I have met some of my favorite authors in that store, and a greater group of crime fiction enthusiasts, you will not meet.

Do you write crime fiction? Need some encouragement/inspiration? Follow these people on Twitter:

Jen Forbus
Janet Rudolph
Elizabeth A. White
Jon Jordan
Ruth Jordan
Lauren O'Brien
Judy Bobalik

It is absolutely certain I've forgotten someone in this list. For that, I am sorry.

 

Wreath
December 18
Day 18

True Crime

I've always had a soft spot for Truman Capote. Probably because I'm named after Holly Golightly. My dad was watching BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S in a ski lodge bar and decided if he ever had a daughter he'd name her Holly. So here I am.

   175px-BreakfastAtTiffanys
Speaking of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS, if you've never read it, shame on you. It's a melancholy (I loves me the melancholy), often touching, story that spawned an icon: ME! (Er, I mean, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightlly).

But as it so oftend does, all of this talk about me has led me off the point. Today's tribute is to True Crime, and perhaps one book, more than any other, defines the genre: IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote.

It is captivating.

Since it's a classic, there's not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said. On November 15, 1959, all four members of the Clutter family were murdered by shotgun at close range. On assignment by the NEW YORKER, Capote traveled to Holcombe, Kansas, where the murders took place. But he stayed in the town long after the article was finished, interviewing everyone in town, and over time, developing a close relationship with one of the murderers, Perry Smith. The book that resulted is absolutely haunting.

It's been said that Capote invented a new genre: the nonfiction novel. It's a genre I'm now a huge fan of, especially as it pertains to crime. For a time, I voraciously read every book written on the Black Dahlia (admittedly, many of those books are pure speculation and out right lies). I gobbled up James Ellroy's MY DARK PLACES, his account of his mother's murder and his troubled past. His latest, THE HILLIKER CURSE (though not stricly crime) is high on my "To Be Read" pile. I can't get enough of the narrative nonfiction crime "novel."

175px-RandomHouseImprint_Arrow_JamesEllroy_MyDarkPlaces

Here are some of my other favorites. I can't recommend them enough.

1) THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson
Set during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, this book intertwines the stories of two men, Daniel H. Burman, the architect of the wildly popular fair, and Dr. D.H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who uses the fair as a means to lure his victims into his boarding house.

2) THUNDERSTRUCK by Erik Larson
Set during the turn-of-the century, it follows the stories of Guglielmo Marconi and the laying of the transatlantic cable and Hawley Crippen, a mild-mannered but deeply troubled homeopathic American doctor living in London. Their tales connect when a the new technology helps to apprehend him in a transatlantic chase.

3) UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN by Jon Krakauer
So facsinated was I by this book, I couldn't read it fast enough. In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murder the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother, Allen. The two claim they were acting under the direct orders of God. What began for Krakauer as a look into the murders themselves, became an exploration into the violent origins of the Mormon faith and Mormon fundamentalism, polygamy, and the call to a so-called righteous life.

4) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Jon Berendt
If you've never wanted to visit Savannah, Georgia, you certainly will after you read this book. When Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute, is killed by Jim Williams, a respected Savannah antique dealer. Whether it was pre-meditated murder or self-defense during a lover's quarrel was the subject of four trials, the final of which resulted in an acquittal for Williams. The killing, however, is simply a backdrop for a character study of some of the more eccentric inhabitants of Savannah, as well as the city itself.

If you're looking for last minute Christmas gifts, you can't go wrong with any of these books.

If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.

Some of the books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (orders@mystery-bookstore.com).

 

 

Wreath
December 17
Day 17

Hiliary Davidson

When I first heard the premise of Hilary Davidson's debut novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, I knew it would be at the top of my "To Be Read" pile as soon as it released. Unfortunately, I had to wait like 6 months for it to happen.

TheDamageDone_cover-197x300

Here's the premise: Lily Moore is a travel writer who has moved to Spain to escape her troubled sister, Claudia. But when Claudia is found dead in her bathtub, Lily returns to NYC to deal with the aftermath, only to find that the dead woman in the tub isn't her sister, and that her sister has disappeared.

Pretty good, huh? Yeah, I thought so too.

Turns out, the novel was worth the wait. In THE DAMAGE DONE, Hilary creates a truly compelling portrait of two troubled sisters and their dysfunctional history, enticing the reader to care deeply about the outcome of Lily's search for her sister. Combined with the romantic backdrop of its Manhattan setting, this book was one of my favorites this year.

I've been fortunate enough to get to know Hilary over the past year, and it's been an even greater pleasure than reading her book. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions for this post:

1) Much of your career has been spent writing non-fiction (travel). Apart from the fact that in fiction you're "making stuff up," how is writing fiction different from writing non-fiction?

The level of intensity is much greater. With nonfiction, I would usually write one draft of an article and turn it in. With fiction, I'm obsessive. I write and rewrite and carry the story with me wherever I go. My husband jokes about me walking into traffic, because my brain just keeps twisting the story around and around, and the real world recedes, bit by bit. It makes me feel like Mr. Magoo.

2) Your debut novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, has received (deservedly) many accolades. Is being a published fiction author different than you thought it would be?

First, that is really kind of you to say. Thank you. Things are different from what I imagined, even though I thought I knew something about the publishing business. I expected to handle my own publicity for the book, but I never used to think about issues like how books end up in stores. I mean, isn't that automatic? Doesn’t the publisher handle everything? Um, no, actually. I've been on a steep learning curve for the past year, and it has given me such a deep appreciation for independent bookstores. There are some — The Mystery Bookstore, the Poisoned Pen, Murder by the Book, Sleuth of Baker Street, and Mystery Lovers Bookshop all come to mind — that have played a huge role in getting my book in front of people. I assumed that it was my publisher’s job to deal directly with indie bookstores, but now I’m glad that it’s mine.

3) Writing aside, what inspires you?

I love just walking around New York and observing people. Even when I’m in one of my Mr. Magoo fugue states, that inspires me and fires up my imagination. Museums, too — I love photography exhibits, because I’ve gotten some of my wildest ideas looking at photos and telling myself a story about what’s really going on inside the frame.

4) Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I like quiet when I’m writing a first draft, but I often listen to music when I’m editing and rewriting. I made a playlist for THE DAMAGE DONE. It had a lot of songs by Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, because that’s what Lily, the main character, listens to. But there were songs I added for the other characters, too. “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young was on it, and that eventually inspired the book’s title.

5) Any hints as to what's next for you or Lily (or ideally, both)?

Well, I can tell you that Lily will be back. My second novel is called THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, and it’s set in Peru three months after the end of THE DAMAGE DONE. Forge is publishing it in late 2011 or early 2012. I have a third book with Lily that I want to write, and I also have a standalone that I’m working on now. On the short-fiction front, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is publishing a story of mine this spring, and I have a story in the upcoming CRIMEFACTORY anthology.

Thanks, Hilary! I'm so happy about the success of THE DAMAGE DONE, and I can't wait to read the next Lily Moore book.

If you're buying books as gifts this holiday season, please consider purchasing from your local independent bookshop. The level of customer service you'll receive is unmatched, you'll have the added benefit of making new friends of the staff, and you'll help support a local business.

Books featured in this post can be purchased from the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (orders@mystery-bookstore.com).

Wreath
December 16
Day 16

The Bible says Day 16 is the day of rest, right? I mean, I know it's a Thursday, but I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be resting today.

All right, so who was I kidding when I said I was going to post 25 days of content, featuring authors and books that I've enjoyed or that inspired me this year? This is hard work.

But there's a whole lot going on in the crime fiction world lately, so I thought I'd take a breather today and post some links for you.

Warner Bros. Options "Conspiracy of Paper"
So remember yesterday when I featured David Liss in 25 Days of Books? Well, today the world learned that his Edgar Award winning novel, CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, has been optioned for a movie. The lesson here is that when I feature you on this blog, great things happen.

The Best of 2010 from George Pelecanos
I don't know about you, but when George Pelecanos speaks, I listen.

Truegood by Sophie Littlefield
A short story by Sophie Littlefield, author of A BAD DAY FOR SORRY and A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY.

Needle Magazine
If you like your crime fiction hard boiled (and really, is there any other kind), then you need to subscribe to Needle Magazine. Each issue features stories from some of the best crime fic authors out there.

Crossing the Line
The fabulous Stephen Jay Schwartz has written a short story prequel to his novels BOULEVARD and BEAT. Download it for free and enjoy the ride.

Crime Writers Recommending Crime
Jen Forbus over at Jen's Book Thoughts wraps up her holiday recommendation series with a fun video.