August 2014

Meg Gardiner Cuts to the Chase

phantom“What’s the most important piece of advice you offer to aspiring writers?” Hopeton Hay of KAZI Book Review asked thriller author Meg Gardiner.

“Figure out what the chase is—and cut to it,” she replied.

What does that mean?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut_to_the_chase

Cut to the chase is a saying that means to get to the point without wasting time.

The phrase originated from early silent films. It was a favorite of, and thought to have been coined by, Hal Roach Sr. (January 14, 1892 – November 2, 1992). Films, particularly comedies, often climaxed in chase scenes to add to film time. Some inexperienced screenwriters or directors, unsure of how to get to the climax or who didn’t have enough script to meet time requirements, would just make an abrupt transition, known as a cut.

An earlier version of the phrase (recorded 1880-1940) was Cut to Hecuba. This refers to the practice of shortening matinée performances of Hamlet by cutting the long speeches before the reference to Hecuba in Act II, Scene ii.

And there you have it. Quit fooling around and get down to business. If you want to hear more great tips from Meg Gardiner on how to build your own crime fiction novel, come to the Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas chapter meeting on Sunday, August 10, 2 p.m. at Recycled Reads.

To listen to the entire podcast of Hopeton Haye’s interview with Meg Gardiner on KAZI 88.7 FM on June 29, please click the following link:

http://kazibookreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/podcast-interview-with-meg-gardiner-author-of-phantom-instinct

Recycled Reads is located at 5335 Burnet Road in Austin, TX.

Link to Recycled Reads:

http://www.recycledreads.org

 The Boys Are Back in Town on August 6

Reavis Wortham, Tim Bryant, Ben Rehder, and Bill Durham have a conversation about crime fiction at BookPeople on August 6 at 7 p.m.

http://mysterypeople.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/mysterypeople-qa-with-reavis-wortham/

http://www.thetimbryant.com/#!books/cnec

 

Murder by Misrule

Murder-by-Misrule-eBook-Cover-120x177Heart of Texas: Sisters in Crime member Anna Castle’s Francis Bacon mystery, Murder by Misrule is listed on Indies Unlimited: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2014/07/02/july-releases/

See publications by Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas members at:

http://sinc-heartoftexas.com/publications/books-2/

 Tea and Murder in the Afternoon

tn (3)On September 14, you are cordially invited to afternoon tea in honor of P.D. James’ birthday at Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas chapter’s very British programme at 2 p.m. at Recycled Reads.

Crook your pinkies, nibble a scone, and find out about crime across the pond.

tn

 

Posted in Uncategorized

July 2014

March 9 012After a two-year absence, the HOTSHOTS! blog newsletter has returned. Instead of PDF format, we will now publish the Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas newsletter in WordPress format.

Get Ready to Network

If anyone is interested in starting or joining a writers’ critique group, please come to the Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas chapter meeting How to Critique: Constructive Criticism and Critique Groups at 2 p.m. on July 13 at Recycled Reads.

Timothy E. Green, PhD., English professor at St. Edward’s University, will tell Sisters in Crime members how writers can discuss fellow writers’ work without engaging in tears or fisticuffs.

According to Professor Green, “Most of this stuff is common sense, but in the heat of critiquing egos are easily bruised and some folks have a strange lack of empathy. So the key is constructive courtesy–combined with the development of a little thick skin and a climate of general respect.  And sometimes learning a few verbal rituals helps (e.g., what works well for me is…, etc.), and that includes offering praise first and asking questions.”

Joining Professor Green for a panel discussion will be Amanda Robinson of North Austin YA Writers, and Kathy Waller and Valerie Chandler of Austin Mystery Writers. After the program, writers in the audience can break up into small groups. Handouts will be available as well as encouragement and support from Sisters in Crime members. Please bring a page or two of your fiction writing to share with others if you wish.

Get ready to network!

Meg Gardiner Presents Program on August 10

On August 10, at 2 p.m. at Recycled Reads, Sisters in Crime: Heart of Texas chapter is thrilled to present well-known thriller novelist Meg Gardiner. Her latest crime novel, Phantom Instinct, is now on the shelves of your favorite bookstore. She has written many pulse-pounding crime novels. More details will be revealed in the next HOTSHOTS! newsletter. megbiophantomarcadesmall

 

 

 

 

The following article is reposted from the October 2010 issue of HOTSHOTS!

Critic or Critique?

by Gale Albright

I grew up admiring critics.

Critics like Dorothy Parker and Rex Reed. Their comments were witty, dry, often acerbic. For many years, Rex Reed has been known for his acidic movie reviews. Just a small example among many is this one, from the New York Observer, July 13, 2010:

“At the movies, incomprehensible gibberish has become a way of life, but it usually takes time before it’s clear that a movie really stinks. Inception, Christopher Nolan’s latest assault on rational coherence, wastes no time. It cuts straight to the chase that leads to the junk pile without passing go, although before it drags its sorry butt to a merciful finale, you’ll be desperately in need of a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.”

 Screenshot of Katharine Hepburn from the trail...Image via Wikipedia

 Pretty funny, eh? And then there’s the iconic Dorothy Parker, whose critique of a youthful Katharine Hepburn’s performance on Broadway has become legendary: “Miss Hepburn runs the emotional gamut from A to B,” Miss Parker is supposed to have said to a colleague during the play’s intermission.

So, naturally, I thought you were supposed to basically heap scorn on books and movies and performances you didn’t like. As long as you were witty, dry, and often acerbic. A good critic made expert use of sarcasm and unkind jokes and metaphors.

I thought the critic was the center of attention. The bringer of wit and laughter.

I learned that the origin of the word sarcasm was from Latin for rending the flesh. Apt indeed.

 The trouble is, when your flesh is rent, it doesn’t feel very good. As a person who thought cheap shots and ill-considered comebacks were the height of wit, I discovered how devastating it was to be on the receiving end of those oh-so-clever comments and witticisms.

Especially when it involved something I had written.

When I went back to college after intervening years of Real Life, I decided to major in English Writing and Rhetoric. To my chagrin, I had to take some classes in which, among other things, we had to learn the proper manner of critique. Critique etiquette, as it were.

I found I was not the second coming of Rex Reed or Dorothy Parker. Nasty, witty comments were strictly taboo. I had to learn how to give constructive criticism to classmates.

At first, I had a very hard time. What if I just hated what the other person wrote? What if it was stupid, boring, idiotic, or insane? Too bad.  And I had to do it over and over again. In short, I hated it. I felt totally out of my depth.

It was pure torture. Witticisms leaped to my tongue, only to die a stillborn death within my mouth. It was discipline. It was a change of habit. It was hard.

Then I understood. A critic is a star. She is the center of the universe. She earns her money by saying clever, often unkind things. But a person who offers a critique is not a star. To offer a critique is to offer a somewhat educated opinion, encouragement, and suggestions. One endeavors to be honest without being cruel or funny. I had to learn that I was not the director of the show. My lofty pronouncements did not come straight from Mount Olympus. I was merely a handmaid in the service of some other writer’s creative birthing.

At school I was told to start out a critique by telling the writer “what worked” in the piece. Sometimes I had to look pretty hard to find something “that worked.” It was like your mother telling you that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Except, the catch was, you couldn’t abstain. You had to give feedback.

After stressing the positive parts of a piece of writing, the critiquer would then write down “What didn’t work so well was ….” And say it without making a cruel comment at the writer’s expense.

All the critiquer has to offer is a personal opinion. It is to be hoped that critiquers in writers’ groups are people who love reading and writing, so that their opinions might have some literary weight. But it’s still just a solitary opinion.

As a critiquer, I’m not writing a syndicated column. I’m not an agent or an editor. I’m a fellow writer who needs another pair of eyes to look at my work. I want feedback, gentle feedback. It’s a balancing act.

I can’t lie and say something is great when it’s not. That’s evading one’s responsibility as a critiquer. But I’m not mean. The aim, I should think, of a writing group, is to keep the writers writing and coming back to the critique group. You don’t want to be so witty and sarcastic and cruel that a writer quits the group, shreds all her writings, shoots her laptop and treks off to Tibet in search of the spiritual peace of which you robbed her.

If a writer seeks out a critique group, obviously said writer, number one, wants to be read and, number two, wants feedback. Number three, said writer probably wants to continue writing.

A writer puts his heart and soul and ego on the page. A writer needs tender treatment. Tell the truth, but do it in a constructive manner. To critique is to help a fellow writer improve, not implode.

What goes around comes around. Yesterday’s witty, cruel comments may come back to haunt you when your own heart and soul are exposed on the page.

Writers. Handle them with care.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

June 2012

June 10 Meeting

 

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

presents

Scott Montgomery

Crime Fiction Coordinator

MysteryPeople @ BookPeople Independent Bookstore 

   June 10, 2012
2:00-5:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble – Westlake

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Joan Upton Hall Receives Sage Award

Author and HoTXSinC member Joan Upton Hall received the Sage Award at the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event on May 20. W. D. Smith, of the Barbara Burnett Smith Foundation, presented the award.

The Sage Award is given to the Mentor Author who demonstrates an outstanding spirit of service in mentoring, sharing, and leading others in the mystery writing community.

Following the presentation, Joan accepted copies of books from former Sage Award recipients.

A copy of Joan’s speech follows.

So You Want to Write a Novel

by Joan Upton Hall

Have you ever noticed, when you say you’re writing a book, how often the person you’re talking to says he intends to do that too? Well, we all know what road is paved with good intentions.

Stephen King once wrote about a plane trip in which the person next to him had mentioned being a brain surgeon. Then after commenting on King’s books, the doctor remarked, “I plan to write a book myself some day.”

“And I plan to do a brain operation someday,” Stephen King answered.

When you think about it, doesn’t one vocation deserve as much credibility as the other? Yet, most people don’t credit a writing career as taking much of a learning curve—and that much of it comes through the act of practice.

Yet, if you’ve ever mentioned that you’re writing a book (or short writings), I’ll bet someone has responded to you the way that surgeon did to King. The statement seems to follow as surely as “TICK” triggers “TOCK. Perhaps telling our stories or ideas is part of being human—except that only a few people “get around to it.” As if everything else is important, and recording our thoughts isn’t.

If every cave man or woman had taken time to depict their experiences, cave paintings might not be such a find as it is today.

Of course bringing home the bacon (or wooly mammoth) does take time—and, no, I don’t speak from experience about prehistoric times. Besides bringing up children, my vocation was teaching English, so novel writing was pretty much out of the question—until I got the hang of it. I did, however, make time to write short articles and stories, which is an excellent way to learn on the job. In fact, some of those stories grew into full-length books later after I retired. Also you learn writing skills facts about the trade along the way. You also learn to have fun with it.

Contrary to general impression, writing isn’t simply dashing off a book after you finish the REALLY IMPORTANT stuff. Skilled writing comes with practice—as well as reading, reading, reading. Don’t wait too long to give writing time its fair share.

Being around other writers helps immensely, especially if you watch for classes and other opportunities such as the mentoring opportunity you are now attending—and the selfless generosity of families like that of Barbara Burnett Smith who honor her memory in a concrete way.

So don’t put off your yearning to write. Make time for it. Watch for opportunities to learn from the pros. And above all—have fun with it, even if you have to bite your tongue at flippant remarks from others say, “I’m going to write a book too someday.”

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Texas Mystery Month 

6/16 @ 9:30 a.m. – Sage Award winner Joan Upton Hall presents the Seventh Annual 2012 “How to Write a Mystery” workshop, co-sponsored by Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, hotxsinc@yahoo.com, and BookPeople. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, Texas 78703. Phone:  1-512-472-5050. Contact: Scott Montgomery, wildremuda (at) yahoo.com

For more information please go to www.hotxsinc.org, or e-mail hotxsinc (at) yahoo.com.

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More Mystery Matters

5/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – MysteryPeople presents Charlaine Harris speaking & signing Deadlocked. The speaking portion of this event is free and open to the public. Wristbands are required for the signing portion of this event and are available only with the purchase of a copy of Deadlocked from BookPeople.” MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

5/16 @ 7:00 p.m. – MysteryPeople presents New York Times Bestselling Author CRAIG JOHNSON speaking & signing As the Crow Flies. “A&E is set to launch a new series based on Craig Johnson’s books. Already well-known, Johnson’s popularity is about to skyrocket.” MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

5/30 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Word Book Club discusses Ace Atkins’ White Shadow. MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

5/31 @ 7:30 p.m. – MysteryPeople presents GREG RUCKA speaking & signing Alpha. MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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Professional Writers of Austin & Write by Night

Professional Writers of Austin is a “free, members-only networking group for professional and aspiring writers” whose mission is to “develop a supportive and informative community for Austin’s writers, editors, and interactive content creators.” See http://professionalwritersofaustin.com/.

Write by Night offers Write Here, a writing center free and open to the public. More information, including schedule, appears at http://www.writebynight.net/writing-center/. Write by Night also offers coaching, manuscript consultation, and other services. For benefits of membership, follow this link: http://www.writebynight.net/services/membership/

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 Opportunities

Pen 2 Paper: Texas’ Biggest Disability-focused Creative Writing Contest

In March, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) announced the third year of Pen 2 Paper, an annual disability-focused creative writing contest. Pen 2 Paper calls on Texan writers of all ages and abilities to submit their works on the topic of disability, including personal experience, social commentary, and works of fiction.

As an organization, CTD works on multiple levels to change the cultural attitudes and public policies that foster injustice and discrimination against people with disabilities. This contest aims to give Texans an opportunity to consider or re-consider how they think about disability and to encourage individual expression about it. “… this is a topic that few companies, even non-profits, like to publicly discuss and yet, it’s a topic I feel should be discussed,” said Jill Eisnaugle, a past Pen 2 Paper entrant.

Pen 2 Paper includes divisions for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic narrative. $500 will be awarded to one Grand Prize winner, and additional winners in each division will receive gift cards and prizes, donated by local and state bookstores, magazines, and local writers.  There is no charge to enter.  The deadline for submissions is August 20, 2012, and the contest will conclude with a series of public readings this fall, including a special presentation at the 9th annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival. Full details can be found at www.cotwd.org/pen2paper.html.

CTD is an Austin-based, cross-disability advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure that Texans with disabilities may live, work, learn, play, vote, and participate fully in the community of their choice. While CTD focuses on legislative advocacy to address its mission, it is also heavily involved in public education, community events, and voter outreach initiatives.

Contact:
Laura Perna
Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
Ph: 512-478-3366
Fax: 512-478-3370
lperna@cotwd.org
www.cotwd.org

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Literary Austin reports the San Antonio Current is seeking submissions for its flash fiction feature.

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Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library (Lockhart, Texas) are seeking entries for its Scare the Dickens Out of Us ghost story contest. Submissions will be accepted from July 1 through October 1, 2012 (postmarked). See http://clarklibraryfriends.com

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See Conferences, below, for links to information about Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award.

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Conferences 

The 4th International Mystery Writers’ Festival will be held in Owensboro, Kentucky, June 14 – 17, 2012. Subscribe to its e-mail newsletter at http://www.newmysteries.org/.

LexiCon Writers Conference takes place June 21-22, 2012, in Denton, Texas. Special events are planned for June 19 and 20 as well. See http://lexi-conwritersconference.com/index.html and http://lexi-conwritersconference.com/About_Us.html.

Killer Nashville: A Conference for Thriller, Suspense, Mystery Writers & Literature Lovers takes place August 23-26, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Information about submission to Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award (for unpublished manuscripts not under contract) appears at http://www.claymoreaward.com/


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More Links

Writer and independent editor Ramona DeFelice Long posts a How To piece every day this month: “How to Write a Log Line,” “How to Write a Thematic Statement,” “How to Write a Story Question”…

Leslie Budewitz blogs about Getting Your Officers Inside on her blog Law and Fiction.

Rasana Atreya offers authors the opportunity to “List YOUR Book Here” on her blog On Getting Published, Good Books, and Living Goddesses.

Helen Ginger explains Pinterest in Marketing Via Pinterest,” on Straight from Hel.

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HotTXSinC  2012 Program Schedule

  • January 8 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: “Murder Investigation Step by Step”
  • February 12 – Gordon A. Bowers: “Property and Evidence Management”
  • March 11 – Durriyah Chinwalla: “Banking as You Don’t Know It, or Laughter Is the Best Medicine
  • April 8 – Easter: No Meeting
  • April – No Meeting
  • May 20 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event
  • June 10 – Scott Montgomery

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Related articles

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

August 2012

August 12 HoTXSinC Meeting

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

presents

Adrian Eissler

speaking on

Criminal Law for Crime Writers

The villain has committed the dastardly deed, and has been doggedly run to ground by the intrepid protagonist.  So what happens next?  In his August 12 presentation, Criminal Law for Crime Writers, Adrian Eissler takes the Sisters in Crime into the framework of Texas criminal law, laying a foundation for members to conduct efficient legal research into the points of Texas criminal law that may be relevant to their works.

The presentation will first cover some of the key sources of criminal law in Texas, including the Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Evidence, appellate opinions, and the U.S. Constitution.  Delving further into these sources, we’ll discuss points of law that may be of particular interest in plot development, including culpable mental states, transferred intent, causation, accomplice liability, self-defense, insanity, and death penalty issues.  Finally, we’ll dust off a fascinating case from 1898 that highlights the wealth of powerful stories to be found in the old case reporters in law libraries.

Adrian Eissler is currently a lawyer for the Public Utility Commission of Texas.  He previously practiced corporate law in Boulder, Colorado and served as a research attorney to Judge Paul Womack at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  During law school at the University of Texas at Austin, he worked in the appellate division of the Travis County District Attorney’s office. Adrian currently lives in northwest Austin with his wife and their three-year-old son.

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. at the Westlake Barnes & Noble bookstore, located at the southeast corner of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road, in The Village at Westlake shopping center.

 Sisters in Crime is an international organization of women and men whose purpose is to promote mysteries written by women, and combat discrimination against women mystery authors.   Speakers include published mystery authors and technical experts who help writers craft better mysteries and readers enjoy what they read. Meetings are free and open to all. For more information, check out the Sisters in Crime website at www.hotxsinc.org.

For information contact:  Joyce Arquette, Publicity (512) 266-6543

*****

How to Write a Mystery: Janet Kilgore Subs for Joan Upton Hall at BookPeople Workshop

by Gale Albright

Joan Upton Hall, author of the Excalibur series, was scheduled to present a free, all-day mystery workshop at BookPeople on June 16, 2012. Unfortunately, Ms. Hall became ill and had to cancel her appearance.

Janet Kilgore, humorist, editor, and secretary of the San Gabriel Writers’ League in Georgetown, graciously stepped up to the plate and took over the workshop.

Using Hall’s class notes and her own background as editor and teacher, Kilgore led the class through the maze of mystery sub-genres, including amateur sleuth, cozies, disaster, eco-thrillers, legal, espionage, ethnic, gay, medical, noir, occult, government agent, hard-boiled, private eye, senior sleuth, true crime, and country noir.

Cozies are usually short (159-200 pages), make the reader feel good, and can be humorous. Non-fiction true crime books involve a case that’s already been solved.

Joan Hess writes humorous mysteries. Bill Crider is author of a western sheriff series. Good sources for mystery writers include Farm Fresh Forensics, a Houston website, and the Texas Rangers.

In the afternoon session, talk turned, among other things, to sex.

According to Kilgore, well-done sex scenes in suspense and true crime books can be very …well, sexy. In cozies, sex usually happens off stage. Sex sells when it’s done right.

Moving on to editing, Kilgore covered several ways to make one’s writing more professional and readable.

    1. “To be” verbs tend to dilute the text. They are repetitive. Replace them with action verbs.
    2. Tightening the text is like tuning a guitar.
    3. Get rid of unnecessary “thats,” most of them, that is (joke). It will improve and tighten the text.
    4. Don’t send an unedited manuscript to a publisher. Follow submission guidelines to the letter.
    5. Prologues can be handy if you’re trying to set the time and place, or set a scene that is not readily apparent. Prologues should not be used to start the story. Use them sparingly.
    6. Dialog (not dialect) is “where you can get away with murder.” Take your favorite book and look at the way dialog is written and handled. Try to avoid “he said/she said.” Watch for too many clichés.
    7. Show, don’t tell.
    8. Create a sense of place. A child’s POV (point of view) can give a reader a great sense of place. Senses other than sight can also create a sense of place.

At the end of the day, workshop participants received plenty of good writing advice. Kudos to Janet Kilgore for her presentation.

*****

June HoTXSinC Meeting: Scott Montgomery, Bookseller

by Gale Albright

Scott Montgomery, crime fiction coordinator at BookPeople in Austin, was guest speaker at the Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime June 10 meeting held in Barnes and Noble, Westlake.

Montgomery, after a stint at the Mystery Book Store in Los Angeles, moved to Austin to work for BookPeople, where he became “a glorified bookseller.” Part of his job as head of the mystery section is setting up author signings and reading and promoting new books.

His advice to writers is “make yourself known to your local bookseller. Introduce yourself when your book comes out.”

Mystery is a “wide genre.” With 185 paperbacks, 87 hardbacks and various foreign imports coming in each month, Montgomery can only read so many books at a time.

Local authors must make themselves known. Use social media to promote yourself and your work. If you have a book signing, how many people can you get to come? See if you can get another author to join you.

“Be nice to your book sellers. We don’t make that much money, so be patient,” said Montgomery, who leans toward hard-boiled noir. At the moment he’s on a “Mickey Spillane kick. I don’t know much about light mystery, but I do like authors Janice Hamrick and Sophie Littlefield. BookPeople sells a lot of mysteries by Craig Johnson and Ace Atkins. I get lots of ARCs (Advanced Writer Copies) from writers I know that are worth championing.”

Writers are told to be aggressive in promoting their books, but “don’t tell us how to do our jobs.” Part of his job is to moderate author panels at such events as Bouchercon and the Texas Book Festival. He often isn’t given much time to read all the authors’ books. Montgomery once requested an ARC from an author on a panel list and was told that he wasn’t going to get a “free copy” and “Sorry, can’t help you. Go to the library.”

It’s foolish to antagonize your bookseller. Montgomery says he likes to help writers, but won’t go out of his way for “difficult authors.”

Besides playing nice with your local bookseller, authors should pay attention to their book covers. People say “don’t judge a book by its cover, but nobody does that.” A photograph is better than an ugly book cover with shoddy, computer-generated art. An ugly book cover is a source of embarrassment for your booksellers. Sometimes just the title, author’s name and a simple photo is the best way to go.

A big publisher may not allow an author any control over the cover, but small presses can present an author with more leeway in this area. Montgomery cited Kaye George’s book Choke as an example of a good cover.

As well as a decent cover, blurbs are important to help promote an author’s work. Make sure the author you get to write blurbs writes pretty close to what you write. Support other writers.

Use book blogs, social media and ARCs to promote your book. Montgomery recommends Jen’s Book Thoughts as a good book blog.

More than anything, “Book selling is a relationship business. A bookseller may be the only person going to bat for your book.”

When asked if the growth of e-books is causing problems for traditional booksellers, Montgomery replied that e-books actually helped BookPeople “get its act together. We got innovative and concentrated on what makes us unique. We promoted events in the store. The years 2010 and 2011 were good for BookPeople. E-books have made people more aware of books.”

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Always a crime fiction fan, Scott Montgomery worked on the sales staff of the acclaimed and influential The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles for four years. After three years as a bookseller at BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookstore, he helped develop MysteryPeople, the mystery bookstore within the store. He has moderated panels for the annual Bouchercon mystery conference, Texas Festival Of Books, and other events. He has written articles and reviews for The Weekly Lizard blog, Crimespree magazine, and other blogs and publications. He also hosts The History Of Mystery Class and Hard Word Book Club at BookPeople.

“Scott is one of the foremost experts on crime fiction. I’d put him up against any college professor in a test of wits anytime. He saw the many influences that went into this book (The Ranger) — as diverse as classic Burt Reynolds films to Dashiell Hammett to the crime fiction of William Faulkner. Not much escapes Scott.” ~ Bestselling Author Ace Atkins talking about the heart and soul of MysteryPeople, Crime Fiction Coordinator,Scott Montgomery.

Material from http://mysterypeople.wordpress.com/about/

*****

 MysteryPeople, August 1: Lone Star Author Panel

TIM BRYANT
REAVIS WORTHAM
BILL DURHAM
BEN REHDER

by Gale Albright

Scott Montgomery, BookPeople crime fiction coordinator, introduced a panel of four Texas authors to talk about their new novels. Tim Bryant kicked off the evening by performing a couple of his own songs, including “Buenos Noches, Nacogdoches.”

Bryant read the first three paragraphs of his novel Dutch Curridge, a hard-boiled detective novel set in post-World War II Fort Worth. Music plays a big part in it, partly because Bryant is a musician. The protagonist, Dutch, is a fan of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and goes to clubs in 1953 Fort Worth to hear them. According to Bryant, “It’s a little bit of a ghost story and there’s a little bit of Native American mysticism.”

Bill Durham read from his novel Amarillo, which is part legal thriller and regional novel. Durham said there’s lots of “music, cussing, fighting, sex, horseback riding, pool shooting, sex, etc.” He said he “drew the short straw” and had to represent the more sensitive side of the Texas male of the four authors. He proceeded to read a lyrical description of a West Texas sunrise and a touching kiss between protagonist Max Friedman, a lawyer from New York, and Angel, an Amarillo pool hall proprietor.

Scott Montgomery described Reavis Wortham’s Burrow as one of the “creepiest and cringe-worthy books I’ve read in a long time.” Burrow is a coming of age novel and the second in the Red River series. It follows a family in Northeast Texas in 1965. Ned Parker is the constable of a small town “full of weirdos and crazies.” Burrow involves a booby-trapped building, a warehouse packed full of garbage, a deputy held hostage, and the terror of being buried alive.

Known throughout Texas for his Blanco County series, Ben Rehder read several paragraphs from his new novel The Chicken Hanger.  The protagonist is Ricky Delgado, an undocumented immigrant who works under dangerous conditions in a poultry plant. Set in the mythical Texas border town of Rugoso, The Chicken Hanger explores the meaning of justice when Ricky’s brother is shot and passions run high on all sides of the immigration controversy. Montgomery called Rehder the “Hill Country Hiaasen” for his use of humor.

In a general discussion, the authors talked about vocabulary and dialect. Texans have their own way of doing and saying things. One author said his editor didn’t know what caliche was. However, in the big, universal themes, the emotions and motivations of the characters in Texas novels are not really that different from people in other states.

According to Montgomery, “All your books, no matter how dark, have moments of laughter and humor.” The consensus at the end of the evening was that dark humor is the best humor.

Gale Albright is a member of HoTXSinC, a former Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer, and a 2008 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest Winner, YA Division. She is working on a historical novel for middle grade readers and a mystery novel.

*****

Book Review: Mercy Kill, by Lori Armstrong

Reviewed by Margaret-Anne Halse

Mercy Kill is the second in writer Lori Armstrong’s series focusing on Mercy Gunderson, a former military sniper trying to adjust to life back in her South Dakota hometown.

When one of Mercy’s fellow service members is found murdered and it looks like the sheriff is shuffling his feet, she sets out to find the killer.

Mercy is a sassy, no-nonsense woman who makes for a compelling protagonist. The book’s unique setting gives readers a glimpse of life on a Native American reservation, and the subplots involving Mercy’s family and love life provide added depth and suspense.

Curiously the author gives away the murderer from the first book in the series. So if you don’t want to read a spoiler, check out that first book, No Mercy, before reading Mercy Kill. The other complaint I had is that an oddity found on the body of Mercy’s murdered friend is never explained.

Overall, though, Mercy Kill is an enjoyable read, and Mercy Gunderson is a character that readers will want to follow.

Mercy Kill
Touchstone, 2011
Simon & Schuster
Paperback, 293 pages
ISBN 978-1-4165-9097-2
ISBN 978-1-4165-9707-0 (ebook)

FTC Disclaimer: A review copy of Blacklands was provided to HoTXSinC by the publisher. That did not influence the reviewer’s opinion.

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Margaret-Anne Halse is a member of HoTXSinC. She was a Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer in 2011.

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Links

Roni Loren warns “Blogger Beware: You CAN Be Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog–My Story.”

Nancy Mehl defines the cozy mystery in “Writing the Cozy Mystery,” on Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista. 

Register for 6th annual writing workshop Do the Write Thing @ Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Hurst, Texas, August 17-18.

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  • January 8 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: “Murder Investigation Step by Step”
  • February 12 – Gordon A. Bowers: “Property and Evidence Management”
  • March 11 – Durriyah Chinwalla: “Banking as You Don’t Know It, or Laughter Is the Best Medicine
  • April 8 – Easter: No Meeting
  • April – No Meeting
  • May 20 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event
  • June 16 – Joan Upton Hall: “How to Write a Mystery”
  • July 8 – Rex Craft: “Training Dogs for Law Enforcement”
  • August 12  – Adrian Eissler: “Criminal Law for Crime Writers”
  • September 9 – New Authors’ Panel: Robin Allen, Kaye George, Janice Hamrick; Hopeton Hay, Moderator
  • October 14 – TBA
  • November 11 – Denae Rickenbacker: “Mental Illness and the Law”
  • December 9 – Greg Pyles: “Underwater Search, Rescue and Crime Scenes”

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Disclaimer: Advertising on this blog is the responsibility of WordPress and has no connection with Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter. HoTXSinC neither approves nor recommends any products advertised here.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

May 2012

HoTXSinC Celebrates Texas Mystery Month!

May 20 Meeting

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation

and

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

present

The Eighth Annual Barbara Burnett Smith

Aspiring Writers Event

   May 20, 2012
2:00-5:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble – Westlake

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter is pleased to announce the selection of the 2012 Esteemed Mentor Authors and  Valued Aspiring Writers, as part of the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project. This project is the  Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter’s contribution to the Fourteenth Annual 2012 Texas Mystery Month in May.   The purpose of  Texas Mystery Month is to spotlight Texas mystery authors.

 Esteemed Mentor Authors and Valued Aspiring Writers are:

    • Jan Grape mentoring Laura Ole
    •  Joan Upton Hall mentoring Maya Pruett
    •  Russ Hall mentoring Grace Garne
    •  Julie Wray Herman mentoring Elizabeth Buhmann

Mentors and Writers will be honored, along with Sage Award winner Joan Upton Hall, on May 20, 2012, 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the Eighth Annual 2012 Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event at Barnes & Noble – Westlake,  701 S. Capital of Texas Hwy. #P860, Austin, Texas 78746; phone 512-328-3155.

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the support and encouragement of Mentor Authors, and the growth and development of  Valued Aspiring Writers in the mystery community.  The purpose of  Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter is to promote women mystery authors, and to combat discrimination against them.

For more information please contact The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation, W.D. Smith wsmith (at) catalystraining.com, or Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter,  hotxsinc (at) yahoo.com.

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Joan Upton Hall to Receive 2012 Sage Award

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation is pleased to announce Joan Upton Hall as the recipient of the 2012 Sage Award.  The Sage Award is given to the Mentor Author who demonstrates an outstanding spirit of service in mentoring, sharing, and leading others in the mystery writing community. Ms. Hall will be honored at the  Eighth Annual 2012 Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event on Sunday, May 20, at 2:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble -Westlake, Austin. Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter will co-sponsor the event.

Joan Upton Hall is author of the futuristic fantasy mystery trilogy Excalibur Regained.  A new futuristic mystery series will launch soon with Dream Shifters. She has also authored Texas history books: Just Visitin’ Old Texas Jails and Grand Old Texas Theaters That Won’t Quit.  Other books have explored the paranormal:  Ghostly Tales from America’s Jails” and Haunted Encounters:  Personal Stories of Departed Pets.  She has written numerous articles and short stories published in magazines in Texas and throughout America as well. She has written columns about travel, humor and writing for newspapers, magazines and newsletters.  As editor and cartoonist for a teacher newsletter she won state and national awards.

Ms. Hall taught junior high and high school English for twenty-eight years.  Now a full-time freelance writer and editor, she instructs writing classes and speaks to civic organizations, book clubs, and writers’ groups; she also speaks at libraries. Her manual, Rx for Your Writing Ills, has helped hundreds of writers.

Ms. Hall received her bachelor of arts degree in English and secondary education from  Texas State University in 1963. In 1984, as editor and cartoonist for “The RRAFT Report,” newsletter of the Round Rock Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, she received first place statewide from the Texas Federation of Teachers and, later, the first place national award from the  American Federation of Teachers. She has received first chapter contest awards for both of her series’ opening books:  Excalibur Regained received first place from Writers League of Texas in 2001, and Dream Shifters received first place from the Houston Writers Guild in 2008.  Ms. Hall has served as an  Esteemed Mentor Author for the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012.  On June 26, 2012, she will present the Seventh Annual 2012 “How to Write a Mystery” workshop at BookPeople in Austin.


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Texas Mystery Month 

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter is pleased to announce the Fourteenth Annual 2012 Texas Mystery Month. The purpose of  Texas Mystery Month is to spotlight Texas Mystery Authors.

Texas Mystery Month events include panel discussions, book signings, author presentations, and more. Austin, Bryan, Burnet, Fort Worth, Georgetown, Round Rock, and San Antonio are sponsoring activities to Texas Mystery Authors.

2012 Texas Mystery Month events currently scheduled include the following:

2/15 – 5/15 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project, Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter and the Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation. Contact: Sarah Ann Robertson at hotxsinc (at)yahoo.com

5/2 @ 6:30 p.m. – “Les Coalson, Local Mystery Author, discusses the changing relationship of authors and publishers.” Igo Mystery Book Club, Glenda Shipley, Moderator, ssgship (at) msn.com. John Igo Public Library Branch, San Antonio Public Library System, 13330 Kyle Seale Parkway, San Antonio, Texas 78249. Phone  1-210-561-6113. Contact: Kathy Claspill, Manager, kathy.claspill (at) sanantonio.gov.

5/3 @ 7:00 p.m. – Lee Thomas signs The German. Denver mystery author Robert Greer also will be there signing Astride a Pink Horse. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas 78703. Phone 1-512-472-5050. Contact: Scott Montgomery, wildremuda (at) yahoo.com.

5/5 @ 1:00-4:00 p.m. – Texas Mystery Author Ben Rehder signs The Chicken Hanger. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 5801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas. Phone 512-232-0100.

5/9 @ 7:30 p.m. – The Mystery Book Discussion Group will discuss Crush by Alan Jacobson. Barnes & Noble – Arboretum, 10000 Research Blvd., Austin, Texas 78759. Phone 512-418-1013 or e-mail Charley Carroll, Community Relations Manager, crm2536 (at)bn.com.

5/10 @ 1:30 p.m. – Texas Mystery Author Ben Rehder: coffee, talk, and signing of The Chicken Hanger. Book sales and autographs after the program.  Herman Brown Free Library, 100 East Washington Street, Burnet, Texas 78611.  Contact:  Library – 512-715-5228 or hbfl@burnetcountylibrary.org .

5/12 @ 8:30 a.m. – “Law and Disorder” workshop for writers and readers. Fee.
See http://lawanddisorder.eventbrite.com/.  Brazos Writers. Ann Kellett, kellett (at) mac.com; Mark Troy 1-979-696-2614.  Brazos Center, 3232 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan, Texas 77802. Contact:  Kevin Hurst, KHurst (at) brazoscountytx.gov; phone (979) 776-8338.

5/12 @ 11:00 a.m. – Paranormal and Young Adult Mystery Panel:  Texas Mystery Authors Victoria Laurie, Julie Kenner, Rosemary Clement-Moore, and Moderator Kari Holt. Discussion and book signing to follow.  Books from each author will be available for purchase at the event. The Book Spot, 1205 Round Rock Ave. #119, Round Rock, Texas 78681. Contact:  Danny Woodfill, Co-Owner, info@juliesbookspot.com; phone 1-512-351-3284.

5/12 @ 2:00p.m. – Texas Mystery Author Robert Norris signs The Barrett Solution. Barnes & Noble – Round Rock, #2009 2701 Parker Road Bldg. A., Ste. 700, Round Rock, Texas 78681. Contact: Frank Campbell, Community Relations Manager, o (512) 600-0114;  f (512) 600-0095; e-mail: crm2009@bn.com.

5/14 @ 6:30 p.m. “Doyle: The Consistency of Mystery: What Sherlock Taught Us About Mystery Characters,”  George Arnold and Ken Squier. The Sherlock Holmes Society of Austin aka Waterloo Station.  Contact:  Sarah Ann Robertson, sherlockholmessocietyaustin (at) yahoo.com. La Madeleine – Arboretum, 9828 Great Hills Trail Austin, Texas 78759. Phone  1-512-502-2474. Neil Coleman, Manager.

5/18 – 7:30 p.m. Texas Mystery Authors Panel:  Judy Alter, Melissa Bourbon, Carol Nelson Douglas, Rhonda Hopkins, Paula Laroque, Laura Moore, Wendy Lynn Walston. Contact:  Judy Alter, j.alter (at) tcu.edu. Barnes & Noble – University Village, 1612 South University Drive, Suite 401, Fort Worth, Texas 76107. Phone 1-817-335-2796  Contact:  Mark Brown, Community Relations Manager, crm2687 (at) bn.com

5/19 @ 2:00 p.m. – Texas Mystery Authors panel & Texas Mystery Artist Trish Prehn. Georgetown Mystery Readers. Contact: Kathalee R. Holmans, maryfkrh (at) gmail.com. Hill Country Bookstore, 719 S. Main St., Georgetown, Texas 78626-5700. Phone (512) 869-4959 ; info (at) squarebookstore.com

5/20 @ 2:00 p.m. – Eighth Annual 2012 Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event. Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter and Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation. Contact: Sarah Ann Robertson, hotxsinc @yahoo.com. Barnes & Noble -Westlake,  701 S. Capital of Texas Hwy. #P860, Austin, Texas 78746. Phone  512-328-3155. Bob Kissinger, Manager.

5/26 @ 2:00 p.m. – Denninger Bolton and other Texas Mystery Authors, reading from their work. Contact: Denninger Bolton, denny (at) DennigerBolton.com. Barnes & Noble-Arboretum 10,000 Research Boulevard Austin, Texas 78759. Phone 418-8985. Contact: Charley Carroll, Community Relations Manager, crm2536 (at) @bn.com

5/26 @ 2:00 p.m. – Snappy Patter and Dangerous Ladies Panel: Susan Rogers Cooper, Jan Grape, Joan Hess, Karen MacInerney and Moderator Jeanette Larson. Discussion and book signing to follow. Books from each author will be available for purchase at the event. The Book Spot, 1205 Round Rock Ave., #119 Round Rock, Texas 78681. Contact: Danny Woodfill, info@juliesbookspot.com; phone  1-512-351-3284

6/16 @ 9:30 a.m. – Sage Award winner Joan Upton Hall presents the Seventh Annual 2012 “How to Write a Mystery” workshop, co-sponsored by Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, hotxsinc@yahoo.com, and BookPeople. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, Texas 78703. Phone:  1-512-472-5050. Contact: Scott Montgomery, wildremuda (at) yahoo.com

For more information please go to www.hotxsinc.org, or e-mail hotxsinc (at) yahoo.com.

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More Mystery Matters

5/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – MysteryPeople presents Charlaine Harris speaking & signing Deadlocked. The speaking portion of this event is free and open to the public. Wristbands are required for the signing portion of this event and are available only with the purchase of a copy of Deadlocked from BookPeople.” MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

5/16 @ 7:00 p.m. – MysteryPeople presents New York Times Bestselling Author CRAIG JOHNSON speaking & signing As the Crow Flies. “A&E is set to launch a new series based on Craig Johnson’s books. Already well-known, Johnson’s popularity is about to skyrocket.” MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

5/30 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Word Book Club discusses Ace Atkins’ White Shadow. MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

5/31 @ 7:30 p.m. – MysteryPeople presents GREG RUCKA speaking & signing Alpha. MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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Professional Writers of Austin & Write by Night

Professional Writers of Austin is a “free, members-only networking group for professional and aspiring writers” whose mission is to “develop a supportive and informative community for Austin’s writers, editors, and interactive content creators.” See http://professionalwritersofaustin.com/.

Write by Night offers Write Here, a writing center free and open to the public. More information, including schedule, appears at http://www.writebynight.net/writing-center/. Write by Night also offers coaching, manuscript consultation, and other services. For benefits of membership, follow this link: http://www.writebynight.net/services/membership/

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Book Reviews

The Hope Vendetta

By Scott Mariani

Review by Gale Albright

The Hope Vendetta is more somber and reflective than the fast-paced, multiple-mayhem Mozart Conspiracy, the first novel starring soldier of fortune Benedict Hope. But there is lots of action in this sequel and the reader is in for a roller coaster ride down to the last bomb and bullet.

Benedict Hope, tall, blonde, handsome former SAS (United Kingdom Special Forces) officer, has sunk into a deep depression since the death of his beloved wife. The reader finds him drinking whisky, reading the Bible, and holding a loaded Browning Hi Power 9mm pistol to his head. He feels guilt for his wife’s death and dreads the future without her. Eschewing suicide, he returns to his religious studies at Oxford. Once a top-flight commando and international specialist in kidnap/ransom situations, Hope puts down his guns and pursues a degree in theology.

But things have a way of happening when men of action take vows of peace, as Western movies Shane and High Noon attest. An Oxford professor enlists Hope’s help in finding his wild young daughter, Zoe Bradbury, a famous Biblical archeologist who has mysteriously disappeared in Greece. Despite Professor Bradbury’s pleas, Hope refuses, saying he is through with the violent life. But he sends the just-married Charlie, a former SAS buddy, on the mission instead, figuring Charlie can make some quick, easy money.

Unfortunately, everything goes wrong. Hope flies to Greece when Charlie asks for help. It looks like there’s foul play involved with Zoe’s disappearance, including murder, a strange prophecy, and a mysterious stash of money. Then Charlie gets blown up in a terrorist attack right in front of Hope, leaving behind a pregnant wife who blames him for her husband’s death.

Feeling angry and guilty, Hope picks up his guns again, literally and psychologically, to get justice for Charlie and find Zoe, especially after two people try to kill him.

From Greece to the United States to Jerusalem, Hope relentlessly hunts for Zoe. Why do the kidnappers want her and what dangerous secret does she know? The more he hunts, the more he unravels a horrendous, unthinkable plot that may result in the end of the world. The clock literally ticks toward the showdown (referencing High Noon again), as Hope rushes to stop the evil machinations of power-mad psychopaths who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

Even though there’s a bit more reflection and religious and political depth to The Hope Vendetta than we saw in The Mozart Conspiracy, there is still action galore. Hope knows his Bible as well as he knows his guns, which is good, because he needs all the help he can get. I have the feeling we’ll be seeing more of Ben Hope in future novels.

The Hope Vendetta
Touchstone, March 2012
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-9347-1

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FTC Disclaimer: HoTXSinC received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the book did not influence the review.

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Gale Albright is a member of HoTXSinC, a former Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer, and a 2008 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest Winner, YA Division. She is working on a historical novel for middle grade readers and a mystery novel.



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Choke

By Kaye George

Review by Kathy Waller

Question: If you combined Lucille Ball with Inspector Clouseau, what would you get?

Answer: Imogene Duckworthy, amateur PI and main character of Kaye George’s Agatha-nominated mystery, Choke.

Immy is a delight–the 22-year-old unwed mother of 3-year-old Nancy Drew Duckworthy (Drew), she lives with her retired-librarian mother, Hortense, in Saltlick, Texas; slings hash at her Uncle Huey’s cafe; and wants with all her heart to be a detective like her “dead sainted father.”

When Immy up and quits her job (Huey wants her to work double shifts again), and then explains her sudden unemployment by telling Hortense that Huey pinched her bottom (well, he DID pinch the other waitress’s bottom), Hortense heads to the cafe to give Huey what-for. Then Huey is murdered, the police take Hortense to the station, and Immy has her very first case. Guided by the Moron’s Compleat PI Guidebook, she sets out to find the perp.

The Moron’s Compleat PI Guidebook says nothing about staging a jailbreak, holing up in a Cowtail motel, or color-coding her list of suspects. But it does mention disguises, just what Immy needs to investigate on her home turf. An outfit that combines “Buns of Foam” with “Boobs and Belly,” however, leaves the amateur PI in need of the Jaws of Life, and the reader in stitches.

Kaye George’s CHOKE is a different kind of mystery. In most detective novels, the reader watches the sleuth-protagonist work his way through chapter after chapter, picking up clues and discarding red herrings, until he finally comes up with the answer. In CHOKE, however, the reader picks up clues while watching the gullible, ultra-literal, but enthusiastic Immy charge through to the solution while remaining blissfully clueless.

With CHOKE, first-timer Kaye George has accomplished something special: an original mystery, an original Immy, and a novel that leaves readers laughing and wanting more.

CHOKE
Mainly Murder Press, 2011
Paperback, 220 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0982795279

FTC Disclaimer: No one gave me this book. I bought it with my own money. Kaye George is one of my critique partners, but our relationship did not influence my review. I did not tell her how to write CHOKE, and she did not tell me what to write in my review. In fact, I never even critiqued the manuscript, and my introduction to the novel came when my copy arrived in the mail. I wish I had critiqued it, because I would like to take credit for “Boobs and Belly,” and the part about the letter opener, and the chicken. But the whole thing was Kaye’s idea. Even the orange pickup on the cover.

This review first appeared on the blog To write is to write is to write.

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Kathy Waller is a member of HoTXSinC and a former Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer. She is working on a mystery novel.

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Opportunities

Pen 2 Paper: Texas’ Biggest Disability-focused Creative Writing Contest

In March, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) announced the third year of Pen 2 Paper, an annual disability-focused creative writing contest. Pen 2 Paper calls on Texan writers of all ages and abilities to submit their works on the topic of disability, including personal experience, social commentary, and works of fiction.

As an organization, CTD works on multiple levels to change the cultural attitudes and public policies that foster injustice and discrimination against people with disabilities. This contest aims to give Texans an opportunity to consider or re-consider how they think about disability and to encourage individual expression about it. “… this is a topic that few companies, even non-profits, like to publicly discuss and yet, it’s a topic I feel should be discussed,” said Jill Eisnaugle, a past Pen 2 Paper entrant.

Pen 2 Paper includes divisions for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic narrative. $500 will be awarded to one Grand Prize winner, and additional winners in each division will receive gift cards and prizes, donated by local and state bookstores, magazines, and local writers.  There is no charge to enter.  The deadline for submissions is August 20, 2012, and the contest will conclude with a series of public readings this fall, including a special presentation at the 9th annual Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival. Full details can be found at www.cotwd.org/pen2paper.html.

CTD is an Austin-based, cross-disability advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure that Texans with disabilities may live, work, learn, play, vote, and participate fully in the community of their choice. While CTD focuses on legislative advocacy to address its mission, it is also heavily involved in public education, community events, and voter outreach initiatives.

Contact:
Laura Perna
Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
Ph: 512-478-3366
Fax: 512-478-3370
lperna@cotwd.org
www.cotwd.org

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Literary Austin reports the San Antonio Current is seeking submissions for its flash fiction feature.

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Friends of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library (Lockhart, Texas) are seeking entries for its Scare the Dickens Out of Us ghost story contest. Submissions will be accepted from July 1 through October 1, 2012 (postmarked). See http://clarklibraryfriends.com

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See Conferences, below, for links to information about Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award.

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Conferences 

The 4th International Mystery Writers’ Festival will be held in Owensboro, Kentucky, June 14 – 17, 2012. Subscribe to its e-mail newsletter at http://www.newmysteries.org/.

LexiCon Writers Conference takes place June 21-22, 2012, in Denton, Texas. Special events are planned for June 19 and 20 as well. See http://lexi-conwritersconference.com/index.html and http://lexi-conwritersconference.com/About_Us.html.

Killer Nashville: A Conference for Thriller, Suspense, Mystery Writers & Literature Lovers takes place August 23-26, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Information about submission to Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award (for unpublished manuscripts not under contract) appears at http://www.claymoreaward.com/


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More Links

Writer and independent editor Ramona DeFelice Long posts a How To piece every day this month: “How to Write a Log Line,” “How to Write a Thematic Statement,” “How to Write a Story Question”…

Leslie Budewitz blogs about Getting Your Officers Inside on her blog Law and Fiction.

Rasana Atreya offers authors the opportunity to “List YOUR Book Here” on her blog On Getting Published, Good Books, and Living Goddesses.

Helen Ginger explains Pinterest in Marketing Via Pinterest,” on Straight from Hel.

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HotTXSinC  2012 Program Schedule

  • January 8 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: “Murder Investigation Step by Step”
  • February 12 – Gordon A. Bowers: “Property and Evidence Management”
  • March 11 – Durriyah Chinwalla: “Banking as You Don’t Know It, or Laughter Is the Best Medicine
  • April 8 – Easter: No Meeting
  • April – No Meeting
  • May 20 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event
  • June 16 – Joan Upton Hall: How to Write a Mystery

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Nolo Contendere

Please e-mail material for June’s Hotshots! to katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com by May 27.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

March 2012

March 11 HoTXSinC Meeting

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

presents

Durriyah Chinwalla

and

Mary Hey

with

Banking as You Don’t Know It: Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Durriyah Chinwalla and Mary Hey will be Sisters in Crime presenters on March 11, 2012, for “Banking As You Don’t Know It:  Laughter is the Best Medicine.”

Durriyah Chinwalla came from India in June 1989. She came with her husband and two children for further college education. She has a degree in psychology with a minor in French.  She is currently vice president at Regions Bank-Anderson Mill.

Ms. Chinwalla grew up with banking in India, where her father was with the Reserve Bank of India for 45 years.  She offers some comparisons between banking in India and the United States: Most banks in India are nationalized; they are not service- or goal-oriented. When she came to United States, she worked at retail jobs but went back to banking because she loves to build the relationships with clients and to help them with their finances. Since 1991, she has worked in about six different Austin banks; customers have moved with her from bank to bank.

Mary Hey was Ms. Chinwalla’s boss before becoming Life Savings Manager.  She has since retired from banking. She has also been Human Resources manager of  a software company. Recently she became owner of a Pet Resort. She excels in marketing. Her kindness and generosity make her successful.

Ms. Chinwalla and Ms. Hey will share insights into banking (including all those abbreviations!) and their commitment to customers during good times and bad.

And then there is the customer who brought in his pig…

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2:00 p.m. at the Westlake Barnes & Noble bookstore, located at the southeast corner of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road, in The Village at Westlake shopping center. 

Sisters in Crime is an international organization of women and men whose purpose is to promote mysteries written by women, and combat discrimination against women mystery authors. Speakers include published mystery authors and technical experts who help writers craft better mysteries and readers enjoy what they read. Meetings are free and open to all. For more information, check out the Sisters in Crime website at www.hotxsinc.org.

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Renew HoTXSinC Membership NOW (if you haven’t already)

HoTXSinC 2012 dues are past due! Bring your $20.00 for 2012 membership to a meeting or send them to

Sarah Ann Robertson, Membership/Treasurer
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter
Post Office Box 170014
Austin, Texas 78717

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HoTXSinC Invites Submissions for BBS Aspiring Writers Event

Aspiring writers of mysteries, cozies, suspense, thrillers, and  true crime are invited to submit a one-page synopsis and the first 500 words of their unpublished manuscript to the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project. Each aspiring mystery writer selected will be matched with a published Mentor Author for one-on-one sessions and recognition at the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event on May 20, 2012.

This is not a contest–there is no judging and no fee. It is a wonderful opportunity for writers unpublished in the mystery field to talk with and be mentored by published authors. Full details about the March 31, 2012 submission deadline can be found at http://www.hotxsinc.org.

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The Word on Our Members and Friends

Kaye George’s CHOKE: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Agatha Awards will be presented at the Malice Domestic convention in April.


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 Opportunities

Writer Advice announces its Seventh Annual Flash Prose Contest. Mesmerize us with your best short fiction or memoir up to 750 words. Deadline: April 18. First prize: $150. Fee: $12 for processing only or $22 for detailed evaluation. Visit www.writeradvice.com for complete guidelines and link to Submishmash.

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Call for Submissions for 10th annual Goose River Anthology, 2012: “We seek selections of fine poetry, essays, and short stories (3,000 words or less—double-spaced).” Deadline for submissions is April 30, 2012 (postmarked).  For guidelines, see www.gooseriverpress.com

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Calendar

3/18/12 @ 4:00 p.m. – Wine, Women, & Mystery: Deborah Coonts presents So Damn Lucky; Kira Peikhoff presents Living Proof – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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3/28/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Words Book Club discusses Nineteen Seventy-Seven - MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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4/1/12 @ 4:00 p.m. – History of Mystery class screens Darker than Amber 
4/1/12 @ 6:00 p.m. – History of Mystery
class discusses John M. McDonald’s Darker than AmberMysteryPeople @ BookPeople

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HoTXSinC 2012 Program Schedule

  • January 8 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: “Murder Investigation Step by Step”
  • February 12 – Gordon A. Bowers: “Property and Evidence Management”
  • March 11 – Durriyah Chinwalla: “Banking as You Don’t Know It, or Laughter Is the Best Medicine
  • April 8 – Easter: No Meeting
  • April 14 or 21 – Possible Workshop
  • May 20 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event

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Nolo Contendere

Please send news for the February 2012 issue of HOTSHOTS! to katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com by April 25.

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As always, if you find errors or omissions in this (or any other) issue of HOTSHOTS!, please notify me at katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com. Blogs are forgiving–I can easily make necessary changes.

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Disclaimer: Advertising on this blog is the responsibility of WordPress and has no connection with Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter. HoTXSinC neither approves nor recommends any products advertised here.

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February 2012

February 12 HoTXSinC Meeting

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

presents

Police Chief Gordon A. Bowers (Ret.)

on

Property & Evidence Management

On Sunday February 12, Sisters in Crime welcomes Police Chief Gordon A. Bowers (Ret.) as our speaker.  Chief  Bowers has consulted in the areas of policy development, planning, and technical writing, and served as a partner on property and evidence management audits for numerous police departments.  During 38 years in law enforcement he progressed from reserve police officer to police chief. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees, and also graduated from the FBI National Academy (FBINA) and California Peace Officer Standards Training Command College (CA POST Command College). He is a Master Police Officer in Texas, and most recently has studied Strategic Foresight at the University of Houston.

Chief Bowers’ articles have been published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, The Police Chief, Journal of California Law Enforcement, The Evidence Log, and POST Pacesetter. Bowers is a Past President of the International Association for Property and Evidence and has served on its Board of Directors of since 1997. For over 10 years he was editor of the IAPE professional journal, The Evidence Log.  He is a Life Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a Charter Life Member of Police Futurists International, and the only sworn Officer in Texas with Advanced Planner Certification from the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners.

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2:00 p.m. at the Westlake Barnes & Noble bookstore, located at the southeast corner of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road, in The Village at Westlake shopping center.

For information contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity, at (512) 266-6543.

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HoTXSinC Dues Due

HoTXSinC 2012 dues are (over)due. (Sisters in Crime collects dues in January.)

Bring your $20.00 2012 membership to a meeting or send them to

Sarah Ann Robertson, Membership/Treasurer
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter
13000 Hymeadow Drive #210
Austin, Texas 78729

*****

Book Review

Salvation Boulevard by Larry Beinhart

Review by Sharon Scarborough

Larry Beinhart’s Salvation Boulevard opens with Carl, a detective whose life has been in the gutter, in the cell of a Muslim student. The student is accused of killing an atheist college professor who has written a book about the inherent need of humans for religion. The student is defended by a Jewish lawyer.  The detective is a born-again Christian, a man rescued from alcohol and drugs by an evangelical superstar preacher, Paul Plowright. At the end of the first page Carl’s first observation is “beware of anyone with a cause.”

The lawyer has hired Carl to help prove that the Muslim student is innocent. Not too far into the book, the lawyer is killed and, in his dying scene, makes Carl promise to make sure the kid goes free.

If this sounds over-the-top—that’s because it is.

Even further into the book, it is evident that the Reverend is encouraging Carl to leave the case. There is sex, some lying, and a climactic scene of Carl and his wife confronting each other about the preacher and the murder. Their religious beliefs are tearing them apart because Carl’s wife believes in “literal” interpretation of the scripture. Carl believes that the preacher actually is a human and a sinner. Remember that admonition about “a cause.”

To Beinhart’s credit, he is trying to make the reader consider bigger issues throughout the book. I don’t know that he succeeds.

I wanted to like this book. And at points in the narrative and the dialogue, I saw where a thoughtful premise and discussion could be salvaged. I can see the message here: People can easily be misled. People of all religions are searching for faith, and that leads them to wars and other acts in the name of religion that are untenable when considered outside the realm of religion.

But here the characters are too large and too plastic. The plot is meandering, and so many concepts are stuffed in that a reader wonders if the author had a handle on the whole thing.

Finally, the book makes some readers uncomfortable. That may be where it succeeds. If it makes anyone question their beliefs and/or their politics, or even think beyond what someone else has told them, it has probably served its purpose. It has, indeed, made the point: Beware of a man with a cause.

SALVATION BOULEVARD
Larry Beinhart
Nation Books, 2008
ISBN 978-1-56858-411-9

FTC Disclaimer: The reviewer was provided with a free copy of this book; however, this did not influence the review.

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Book Review

Hot, Shot, and Bothered: A Lilly Hawkins Mystery

By Nora McFarland

Review by Gale Albright

Lilly Hawkins, a TV news “shooter” for KJAY in Bakersfield, California, is trapped between a blazing, out-of-control forest fire and a crackling hot murder investigation. Lilly, a stubborn, impulsive, and fiercely independent camera woman, is shooting fire footage near the scenic town of Lake Elizabeth when she spots a coroner’s van. She quits shooting and follows the van into town, despite her boss Callum’s objections. Lilly figures that someone has been killed in the blaze and wants her station to get exclusive coverage. She is disappointed when the corpse turns out to be a woman who was fished out of the lake, apparently drowned while intoxicated.

The theme of news hounds being disappointed when things are not as gruesome as they could be is a darkly humorous running joke throughout the book. Lilly and Callum wouldn’t hurt a fly but keep hoping for the worst-case scenario from a newsgathering perspective.

Lilly thinks the story isn’t newsworthy until she learns that the dead woman is Jessica Egan, a former acquaintance from Lilly’s traumatic teenage years in Lake Elizabeth. It’s an unpleasant reminder of Lilly’s rebellious, troubled youth. Back then, the police accused Jessica of vandalizing property. But even though Jessica knew that Lilly was the guilty one, she never betrayed her.  Now, years later, Lilly learns that the townspeople and Jessica’s brother Brad are bad-mouthing the dead woman, calling her a slut, drunk, druggie, and environmental nut. They still believe she is responsible for Lilly’s teenage vandalism.

This is not the Jessica that Lilly remembers. Feeling guilty for her past sins, Lilly is determined to find out what really happened. She knows that Jessica had a shoulder injury and would not have been able to start the outboard motor on the boat she borrowed on the fateful night she died.

Lilly is frustrated because her boyfriend, gorgeous TV anchor Rod Strong; Callum the TV station boss; and the entire town of Lake Elizabeth resist her efforts to find out if Jessica really was murdered. During the course of her investigation, someone tries to drown Lilly in the same spot where Jessica died, a sniper in the woods shoots at her, and the forest fire almost finishes her off.  Throw in a mad scientist and a few displaced cougars and you’ve got a firestorm of suspense and fast-paced action.

Is Jessica’s firefighter brother Greg, who seems to hate his sister, as heroic as he seems? Will Lilly’s boyfriend Rod stop fussing over her? Will Lilly allow Rod to love her? Is the lady mayor of Lake Elizabeth, Byrdie Fitzgerald, merely an ambitious politician or something more sinister?

This is a gripping thriller with frequently witty dialog. McFarland manages to throw in a lot of technical details about the daily life of a shooter without being tedious. She draws on her own experience as a former TV news camera woman in Bakersfield.

Lilly is by turns exasperating, rude, heroic, loving and impossible. You’ll want to catch her in the first Lilly Hawkins mystery, A Bad Day’s Work, and hope that McFarland is working on her next shooter mystery.

To find out more about Nora McFarland, visit www.noramcfarland.com

HOT, SHOT, AND BOTHERED
Nora McFarland
Simon & Schuster, Touchstone, 2011
ISBN 978-1-4391-5556-1

Disclaimer: HoTXSinC received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the book did not influence the review.

Gale Albright is a member of HoTXSinC, a former Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer, and a 2008 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest Winner, YA Division. She is working on a historical novel for middle grade readers and a mystery novel.



*****

The Word on Our Members and Friends

Sylvia Dickey Smith signed at the Hill Country Book Festival in Georgetown on February 11.

Sylvia’s cookbook–Sassy Southern, Classy Cajun–has been revised and will soon be re-released.

Watch for the Sidra Smart Spring Fling: Each of the first Sidra Smart books will be re-released, followed by release of the latest in the series, The Swamp Whisperer. Sylvia “promises contests, giveaways, and lots of fun.”

At Straight from Hel, Helen Ginger offers three reasons to read her interview of Sylvia on The Blood Red Pencil.

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Also on Straight from Hel, Helen Ginger reviews Robin Spano’s Death Plays Poker, the second in the Clair Vengel series, and Scott Nicholson’s thriller Chronic Fear.

*****

 Opportunities

Killer Nashville’s 2012 Claymore Dagger Award will be bestowed upon the author of the best beginning of an unpublished manuscript not currently under contract. Deadline for submission of up to 50 pages is June 1, 2012 (postmarked). Winner and any of ten top finalists may be offered a publishing contract. For more information, see http://www.killernashville.com/cokina20claw.html

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Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California, welcomes submissions or original works of short fiction “from lawyers (including “recovering lawyers”), judges, law students as well as non-lawyers – anyone, really with a good story to tell” for its Legal Fiction Contest. Winning entries will be published in a future issue of the Journal of Legal Education. Deadline for submissions is 6:00 p.m. PDT, March 15, 2012 (received). Rules and guidelines can be found here.

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Rasana Atreya at On Getting Published, Good Books, and Living Goddesses alerts us to Poisoned Pen Press’ Discover Mystery Contest. For rules and guidelines click here. For an entry form, click here. Deadline is 11:59 p.m. (Pacific), April 30, 2012 (due).

*****

Links

The Lexicon Writers Conference will be held in Denton, Texas, on July 21-22. Special events will be held on July 19 and 20, and July 23 is set aside for private meetings between conference attendees. The conference “seeks to assist, promote, and educate writers and authors in all genres and fields, including fiction, non-fiction, screenplay, and graphic novel. Published and unpublished writers are invited to attend. Meet with established writers, literary agents, publishers and marketing experts to discuss your finished or unfinished manuscripts. We will also have experts in various fields to provide technical information.”

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“Special Offer: The North Texas Book Festival is taking place on April 14th, 2012 in Denton, Texas. Anyone who signs up as a participant for the festival will receive a 20% discount off the admission price to the Lexicon Writers Conference. Go to www.ntbf.org for more details.”

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Killer Nashville, a “conference for thriller, suspense, mystery writers, and literature lovers,” will be held August 23-26, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee. Guests of honor are New York Times bestselling authors C. J. Box, Heywood Gould, and Peter Straub. Register for attendance at the Killer Nashville website.

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Jane Friedman answers the question When Do You Need to Secure Permissions?” She offers a brief explanation of Fair Use and provides a link to a more thorough discussion in  Howard Z. Zarahoff’s  “A Writer’s Guide to Fair Use” on the Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton website.

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Author and attorney Leslie Budewitz addresses the question “Does police use of a GPS tracker require a warrant?” on her blog Law and Fiction. Leslie is a member of Sisters in Crime and SINC Guppies. She is the author of Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure. 

In related post, Leslie discusses “GPS tracking by P.I.s–and other characters.”

And in a another, Leslie presents “Domestic abuse: some issues for writers to consider.”

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Check out the new MysteryPeople blog here.

*****

Calendar

2/18/12 @ 4:00 p.m. – Hilary Davidson speaks and signs copies of The Next One to FallMysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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2/18/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Leonard Pierce speaks and signs If You Like the Sopranos - BookPeople.

2/25/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Joan Hess speaks and signs copies of Deader Homes and Gardens: A Claire Malloy Mystery - MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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2/29/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Word Book Club discusses Cold Shot to the Heart – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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3/5/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – 7% Solution Club discusses The Sherlockian – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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3/6/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Tim Dorsey speaks and sign copies of Pineapple Grenade – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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3/18/12 @ 4:00 p.m. – Wine, Women, & Mystery: Deborah Coonts presents So Damn Lucky; Kira Peikhoff presents Living Proof – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

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3/28/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Words Book Club discusses Nineteen Seventy-Seven - MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.

*****

HoTXSinC 2012 Program Schedule

  • January 8 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: “Murder Investigation Step by Step”
  • February 12 – Gordon A. Bowers: “Property and Evidence Management”
  • March 11 – Durriyah Chinwalla: “Banking as You Don’t Know It, or Laughter Is the Best Medicine
  • April 8 – Easter: No Meeting
  • April 14 or 21 – Possible Workshop
  • May 20 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event

******

Nolo Contendere

Please send news for the March 2012 issue of HOTSHOTS! to katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com by February 25.

*

As always, if you find errors or omissions in this (or any other) issue of HOTSHOTS!, please e-mail katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com. Blogs are forgiving–I can easily make necessary changes.

******

Heart

Image via Wikipedia

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Disclaimer: Advertising on this blog is the responsibility of WordPress and has no connection with Sisters in Crime or Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter. HoTXSinC neither approves nor recommends any products advertised here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,