February 13 Meeting
Austin American-Statesman Crime Reporter
Crime Reporting in Austin
Our Sisters in Crime speaker, Claudia Grisales, is a crime reporter with the Austin American-Statesman and has been with the paper for over ten years.
According to an article by Fred Zipp, Thursday, June 18, 2009, “Getting people indicted is one of the real prizes in journalism. It means we have found evidence of misbehavior and presented it in
so persuasive a fashion that the justice system is moved to action.
“Bennie Fuelberg and Walter Demond are innocent until proven guilty, of course. But American-Statesman reporter Claudia Grisales deserves a big share of the credit for getting them indicted Wednesday on several felony charges related to their actions at Pedernales Electric Coop.”
That was only one case, but we will hear about others from Ms. Grisales on Sunday, February 13, 2:00 p.m., at the Westlake Barnes & Noble bookstore.
For information contact: Joyce Arquette, Publicity (512) 266-6543
The Changing State of Publishing
Who is Candice Adams, what is Editor Muse, and what is the State of Publishing? These questions were answered December 12 when Candice Adams, owner/editing director of Editor Muse provided information on The Changing State of Publishing. This soft-spoken, highly qualified lady, with an MFA from Notre Dame and hands-on experience from tutoring to working as a Project Editor/Coordinator for Newgen-Austin, presented an overview of the publishing world.
Significant change began in publishing about 1960, when a consolidation of the major publishing houses began. Many small publishing houses were acquired by the larger ones. Currently there are six major houses: Hatchett, Harper Collins, McMillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. With consolidation it became more difficult to breach the sacred walls of the literary world. Thus, the creation of the Literary Agent was inevitable.
The literary agent acts as a liaison between the author and the larger publishing houses. Many of the large publishing houses are looking for high-concept books with film potential and books with public relations potential. With the author’s interests in mind, the literary agent should provide direction to the best publishing house. The agent is paid about 15% of the author’s earnings.
The growth of retail chains is another change to be considered. The publisher works directly with the retail chain, which then passes the book on to the consumer. The books are sold for up to two times their cost, but in many chains they are returnable for two years. Retail chains make up to 95% of the publishing revenue for the house.
The digital revolution and self-publishing are two more events that have affected the publishing world. The digital revolution began with music in the 1990’s and then spread to newspapers, magazines, and, finally, books. The Sony Reader was presented in 2006 and the Kindle debuted in 2007. The Nook is also on the market and Google is making a foray into e-publishing.
Self-publishing or author-funded publishing has specific benefits to the new author but has drawbacks also. It takes less time to publish but the out–of–pocket expenses can mount. This means of having one’s book on the market is closest in production and quality to traditional publishing; however, the costs and mark-ups can be expensive. Also, the company may not be invested in your project.
To learn more about the world of publishing and for expert assistance in moving your work to market, contact Candice Adams at www.editormuse.com. She and her staff of editors will be happy to assist you.
Sue Vertrees is Assistant Editor of HotShots!
Words from Our Members
HOW TO GROW UP TO BE A PI
Hi, it’s me, Imogene Duckworthy, again, with PI advice. This is advice mainly for my daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, in case she ever decides she wants to be a private eye. Sad to say, she doesn’t show any inclination toward the profession, being more taken with Barbie dolls and rodeo queens at the moment. But maybe, by the time she’s five, she’ll have outgrown all that. So I want to get this set down in writing for her.
Not everyone has an example in the family and, to tell the truth, I don’t either, not exactly. But Daddy was a police detective who got shot during a robbery, and I’m very proud of him. Mother would never in a dog’s age let me go into police work, but I think that, someday, I might bring her around to accepting me doing some private detecting.
So, IF Drew (that’s what we call my daughter for short) were to ever come to her senses and put away those hideous Barbie dolls that Mother keeps buying for her, I could give her good advice.
Read detective stories!
That’s mostly it. You can learn tons from reading about how detectives work in the books people write about them. I expect Drew, of course, to love Nancy Drew books. After all, she’s named after them. I think she’ll like the Hardy Boys, too. I know I did. George Wyatt’s Brains Benton books are good, and the Saltlick Public Library has lots of Enid Blyton books, and the Dana Girls, and Encyclopedia Brown, too, a whole shelf.
I also want her to know that she can begin to solve little crimes when she’s very young. Like that time when Mother and I were at the mall in Dallas, Christmas shopping, and my shoelace was untied when we went up the escalator. My shoe got stuck at the top. I was able to kick it off so my foot didn’t get chopped off, but the guy behind me fell over my shoe–and me–and all the stuff he had shoplifted fell out of his coat. The mall detective thanked me.
When she’s a little older, we’ll read Trixie Belden, also to show her that age is no barrier to sleuthing. As soon as she can read well enough, I’ll get her some Choose Your Own Adventure books for her education. I want her to read The Boxcar Children by herself because I had such joy reading them at night, under the covers with a flashlight, when I was supposed to be asleep.
She might like The Three Investigators, too. I had a crush on that Jupiter Jones. He was so smart! I wanted to be smart like that. I did try to make the microwave better once, and managed to solve a crime doing it. I figured that if there were more wires in the cord it would work faster, so I took the cord apart one summer afternoon while Mother was working at the library. When I put it all together with tape and plugged it in, this bright blue light flared up outside with a big POP. Well, somehow, that made a meth lab in the next block blow up. Two of the criminals survived and got arrested–because of me! Drew will be able to do things like that when she’s older.
Eventually I’ll start reading Sherlock Holmes stories to her at bedtime, then we’ll move on to Agatha Christie. After that, I’ll probably let her start choosing her own reading material. As long as she doesn’t start picking up glamour magazines. She may if I let her have her head. But, you never know. She might even like those Kaye George mysteries. There’s something very familiar about them.
JEFFERY DEAVER: MASTER OF SUSPENSE
Jeffery Deaver, a prolific author of mystery novels, is one of the best suspense writers I have ever read. He always starts his books with a bang, right from the very first page. His plots twist and turn like eels. There’s always a surprise within a surprise.
The Bone Collector is the first in Deaver’s series about Lincoln Rhyme, a brilliant forensics expert, and Amelia Sachs, who becomes his protégé. Rhyme, the country’s top criminalist, is former head of Central Investigations Resources Division of the New York Police Department. Rhyme is injured at a crime scene, when a wooden beam crashes down on him, damaging his C4 vertebra. He loses all feeling and movement from the shoulders down, except for his left ring finger, which operates his computerized environment. Everything is damaged except his face and brain. In order to survive, he must have constant care.
A brilliant, proud, and often acerbic man, used to being in charge, Rhyme feels useless and hopeless. He decides to commit assisted suicide rather than continue life as a quadriplegic. Then, much to his aggravation, his old associates from the NYPD come to ask him for help with a puzzling case. A man has been kidnapped, murdered, and partially buried next to a railroad track. The sadistic perpetrator leaves a gruesome calling card, deliberately taunting the police. Against his will, Rhyme gets sucked in. Soon, he finds himself heading a task force to find the kidnapper, who goes on a serial murder spree in the city.
He meets Amelia Sachs, a beautiful redheaded patrol cop, who is haunted by inner demons. She bites her nails ragged, scratches bloody wounds on her scalp, and drives her souped-up Camaro like a maniac. Although she is a crack shot and a fearless fighter, she is afraid of being confined. When she has the audacity to stop a train because it might contaminate a crime scene, Sachs gets in trouble with the downtown brass, but wins Rhyme’s admiration for her chutzpah. Over her protests, he demands she be assigned to the new task force as his assistant so she can act as his legs and eyes on the ground at the gruesome crime scenes. He talks her through “walking the grid” with a microphone, observing and collecting evidence. Rhyme and Sachs, both stubborn, obsessive and hot-tempered, fight each other all the way, but end up sharing mutual respect and trust, not to mention extreme personal danger.
The chemistry between them grows throughout the series. Rhyme is a man of little sentiment, for himself or anyone else. He is obsessed with solving crimes. He believes in concrete evidence, and has little patience with what he sees as “hunches” or “feelings” about crime. Sachs leads more with her heart and often feels Lincoln is too cold, more concerned about the chase after the criminal then the plight of the victims. She humanizes him and he teaches her forensics and gives her the stability she needs so desperately.
One of Deaver’s best mysteries is The Empty Chair. Sachs accompanies Rhyme to the University of North Carolina Medical Center so the criminalist can have experimental medical surgery for his paralysis. Sachs is very much against the procedure and tries to talk him out of it. A local sheriff asks them for help in finding a kidnapping victim. Sachs jumps at the chance to delay the medical procedure, and persuades Rhyme to at least give the sheriff a few hours of assistance. He does so reluctantly, not wanting to lose focus on his upcoming surgery. In nearby Tanners Corners, a dismal hamlet with a startling absence of children, Sheriff Jim Bell and his deputies tell the criminologist that a beautiful young graduate student was kidnapped by The Insect Boy, a strange teenager who adores insects and has trouble with people. The locals suspect the boy has committed other crimes, even murders, including one in which a woman was stung to death by a nest full of hornets. The boy knows the nearby Dismal Swamp like the back of his hand and uses his knowledge of insects to lay traps for his pursuers. What starts out as a mere forensic consultation ends up with Rhyme and Sachs on opposite sides of the law, with life-threatening consequences. There are armed pursuits through the hot, deadly wilderness, where in the blink of an eye, the hunter becomes the hunted. When the woods are full of people with hidden agendas, the bodies start to pile up. One is never sure who the villains and heroes are. Don’t count on anything being what it seems. Just when you think you know what’s going on, get ready for a big surprise.
Deaver does more than deliver top-notch action in his crime novels. The characters he creates are complex human beings, not cardboard stereotypes. In The Empty Chair, Sachs is afraid that Rhyme will die if he gets the surgery. But she also fears that if he gets better, he might not love her anymore. Rhyme wants the surgery so he can give more to the relationship with Sachs. He worries about her recklessness and wants to protect her. Their increasing dependency on each other brings both pleasure and pain.
All the crime novels in the Lincoln Rhyme-Amelia Sachs series are good, but my special favorites include The Stone Monkey, about a vicious human smuggler, and The Coffin Dancer, about a mysterious hit man. The Broken Window and The Burning Wire are also excellent novels of suspense. In Cold Moon, Deaver introduces a new character named Kathryn Dance. She is a special agent in the California Bureau of Investigation. Her expertise in body language and interrogation helps Rhyme solve a baffling new case. Rhyme, initially skeptical of any crime-fighting technique that doesn’t involve concrete evidence, eventually comes to respect and appreciate Dance’s gifts as an investigator. In fact, Dance is so good that she gets her own mystery series, starting with The Sleeping Doll and Roadside Crosses, both set in California.
Deaver has written a number of stand-alone novels, among them A Maiden’s Grave, Garden of Beasts, and Speaking in Tongues. My favorite of the stand-alones is The Blue Nowhere, about a brilliant madman named “Phate” who hacks into people’s computers, finds out everything about them, then uses the information to trap and kill them. The police need a “wizard” hacker who can give them a chance to catch this evil genius, so they reluctantly spring young computer geek Wyatt Gillette from prison to help them. Gillette, convicted under a federal computer crime statute, is a complicated character. Brilliant and obsessive, he hacks high-security computer systems just for the thrill. Skinny and pale, addicted to Mountain Dew, Pop-Tarts, and cyberspace, he nevertheless has a good heart. He is pitted against an egomaniacal killer who has no heart at all. Some of Gillette’s police handlers don’t trust him, don’t believe he can help them, and can’t wait to throw him back in the slammer. Gillette is still in love with his ex-wife Elana, who left him when he was busted for breaking the law. When he hacks into her e-mail, he finds out she’s planning to leave the state with a mysterious stranger. The Blue Nowhere is a first-rate, edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Jeffery Deaver’s books regularly appear on international best-seller lists. He has received the Steel Dagger and Short Story Dagger from the British Crime Writers’ Association, three Ellery Queen Reader’s Awards for Best Short Story of the Year, and the Nero Wolfe Award. The Mystery Writers of America have nominated him for six Edgar Awards. And the list goes on. His current project is writing the new James Bond novel.
If you haven’t read Jeffery Deaver, do yourself a favor. Read him. And be afraid. Be very afraid.
Here is the link to Jeffery Deaver’s official website: http://www.jefferydeaver.com/index.html
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.
HoTXSinC Announces Texas Mystery Month
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter is pleased to announce the Thirteenth Annual 2011 Texas Mystery Month in May. 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. In preceding years, Austin, College Station, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Seguin, and Waco all celebrated Texas Mystery Authors with activities in May, Texas Mystery Month.
2011 Texas Mystery Month events currently scheduled include the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project, February 15-May 15, sponsored by Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter and the Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation. Contact Sarah Ann Robertson, <email@example.com>.
HoTXSinC dues are due. They can be sent to
Sarah Ann Robertson, Membership/Treasurer
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter
Post Office Box 170014
Austin, Texas 78717
The Word on Our Members
Kaye George was interviewed by Cassy Pickhard at Mysteries and Margaritas (http://www.mysteriesandmargaritasblogspot.com/2010/12/cassys-corner-interview-with-author.html).
Sylvia Dickey Smith’s A War of Her Own made the Top 10 Reads TWICE at the Hill County Bookstore in Georgetown, Texas and was reviewed in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, January 2, 2011. Sylvia was also interviewed by Tumbleweed Smith and his Sounds of Texas radio program.
New Marketing Opportunity for Authors
On February 7, 2011, Sylvia Dickey Smith resumed her weekly live Blog Talk Radio internet talk show. The format has changed from Murder She Writes, to Writing Strong Women. The 30-minute program airs at 1:00 p.m. CENTRAL time, every Monday. Conducted over the telephone, live, it will also be archived for those listeners who cannot tune in at that time.
Sylvia will be interviewing published authors who write any genre, any time period, fiction or non-fiction, whose work supports her theme of strong women. Listeners may also call in to ask questions or comment.
This opportunity is free and the format is relaxed and casual.
E-mail Sylvia at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a time slot and look forward to a fun half hour talking about YOU!
Websites and Blogs
HoTXSinC has created a webpage to encourage and promote the mystery writing efforts of the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer Project’s Mentor Authors and Aspiring Writers. Find it at http://hotxsinc.org/Barbara_B_Smith_Project/Mentors_Writers/mentors_writers.html.
SinC into the Depths of Mystery at the SinC blog: http://sisters-in-crime-sinc.blogspot.com/
To subscribe to Brian Jud’s Book Marketing Matters Newsletter via e-mail, go to http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/mktgmattersnews/
To subscribe to the Guide to Literary Agents via e-mail, go to http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/?et_mid=40206&rid=3001824. Each month you’ll receive a newsletter “filled with submission tips, industry updates, and more.”
Kaye George alerts us to the article “A Rose by Any Other Name: Pros and Cons of Pseudonyms,” which appeared in Writers’ Digest in 2003. The article focuses on the hows and whys of adopting a pen name, including copyright provisions relating to works published pseudonymously.
Digest in 2003: http://www.mbbp.com/resources/iptech/pseudonyms.html
Literary Austin is a blog devoted to supporting local writers and literary organizations. Access it at http://literaryaustin.com.
Sisters in Crime’s “The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age” appears at http://www.sinc.affiniscape.com/associations/10614/files/ConsumerBuyingBookReport.pdf
2/13 & 14/11 Capital City Mystery Players perform A Valentine Cruise Ship Crime at 7:00 p.m., Spaghetti Warehouse. For reservations, call 404-9123.
2/15/11 – 5/15/11 Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project
2/16/11 Join the Texas Book Festival and the Austin Film Festival for a Conversation with Hook Screenwriter James V. Hart and a Screening of the Movie. Conversation, 6:00 p.m. at the AT&T Conference Center; screening, 7:30 p.m. at the Bullock Museum. More information at http://www.texasbookfestival.org/pdfs/aff_tbf_release.pdf.
2/19/11 Brazos Writers Movie Boot Camp, a half-day workshop. Details at http://www.brazoswriters.org/images/PDF/moviebootcamp.pdf and http://www.brazoswriters.org/images/PDF/moviebootcamp.pdf, or e-mail Mark Troy, email@example.com
2/26/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Milton T. Burton, author of Nights of the Red Moon, 3:00 p.m.
* Sheriff Bo Handel already has a sordid case when the body of the
minister’s wife is found on the church steps. But when the FBI arrives at
the crime scene, he may have a big city drug war in his small town. Texas
author Milton T. Burton has created an engaging and witty rural hard-boiled
mystery that was our MysteryPeople December Pick.
2/26/11 Houston Writers Guild presents Firm Up Your Middle, a workshop, with Kate Morris, Sugarland First Baptist Church. More information at http://www.houstonwritersguild.org/Workshops.htm.
2/28/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople presents Brad Parks, author of Faces of the Gone, 7:00 p.m.
* Following his fast paced, witty, and Shamus Award-winning debut, The
Faces of the Gone, Brad Parks returns with Jersey reporter Carter Ross in
Eyes of the Innocent. Ross is looking into a house fire that killed two
boys with a missing mother, taking him into the dark side of urban real
estate. Parks, a veteran newspaper man, is a funny and engaging speaker who
loves talking with readers, so don’t miss out.
3/3/11 Deadline to register for Houston Indie Book Festival (4/2/11). Details and registration form at http://indiebookfest.org.
3/3/11 Deadline for submissions to Houston Writers Guild Spring Contest. More information at http://www.houstonwritersguild.org/Contests.htm. Rules at http://www.houstonwritersguild.org/Contests.htm#GENERAL%20RULES.
3/6/11 History of Mystery Class, BookPeople, 5:00 p.m.
3/11/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Jasper Fforde, author of One of Our Thursdays is Missing, 7:00 p.m.
3/13/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Sara J. Henry author of Learning to Swim and Darryl Wimberley, author of Devil’s Slew, 5:00 p.m.
3/15/11 Deadline for submissions for the annual Gulf Coast Prizes in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Contest guidelines are at http://www.gulfcoastmag.org/index.php?n=7.
3/16/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Taylor Stevens, author of The Informationist, 7:00 p.m.
3/20/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Ian Rankin, author of The Complaints, 3:00 p.m.
3/29/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Harlan Coben, author of Live Wire, 7:00 p.m.
4/3/11 History of Mystery Class, BookPeople, 5:00 p.m.
4/9/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Libby Fischer Hellman, author of Set the Night on Fire, and Cara Black, author of Murder in Passy, 3:00 p.m.
4/12/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Jason Goodwin, author of An Evil Eye, 7:00 p.m.
4/13/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Joe Lansdale, author of Devil Red, 7:00 p.m.
4/29 & 30/11 The Northeast Texas Writers’ Organization (NETWO) 25th Spring Writers’ Roundup at Camp Shiloh Retreat on Lake Bob Sandlin. Details at http://www.netwo.org or call 903-572-0580.
5/7/11 The Writers Toolkit Conference, Houston Writers Guild, Sugarland First Baptist Church. More information at http://www.houstonwritersguild.org/welcome.html.
5/20/2011 Deadline for submissions to Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger Award. For more information, go to http://killernashville.com/cokina20claw.html.
The Editor’s Atelier
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Please send information for the March issue of HotShots! to kathy.davis.waller (at) gmail.com by February 25.
If you notice any errors or omissions in this issue, please e-mail me at the above address so I can correct them.
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
~e e cummings
Happy Valentine’s Day
Image of Valentine by faith goble via flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
- Fabtastic! Sisters In Crime Rally Members: Buy From Independent Bookstores! (bookshopblog.com)
- Amazon to shutter distribution center in Dallas (justjobs.com)
- No Bridge Too Far: Literary Agents Move to Brooklyn (nytimes.com)
- New chapter in publishing (mirror.co.uk)
- Where have all the book editors gone? (theglobeandmail.com)