Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SMFS Member Publishing News: Nikki Dolson

SMFS list member Nikki Dolson’s short story, “Liars, Killers and Thieves,” is published online at TOUGH. The story is free to read here.  

Monday, March 30, 2020

Writers Who Kill: An Interview with the 2020 Agatha Short Story Nominated Authors!

Writers Who Kill: An Interview with the 2020 Agatha Short Story Nomi...: by Paula Gail Benson Even though we mourn the cancellation of this year’s Malice Domestic, that’s no reason not to celebrate with the A...

Little Big Crimes Review: The Night Beat by Ngumi Kibera

Little Big Crimes: The Night Beat, by Ngumi Kibera: "The Night Beat," by Ngumi Kibera, in Nairobi Noir, edited by Peter Kimani, Akashic Press, 2020. Let's review the basics,...

SleuthSayers: Talking About Dialogue III: Dialogue and Plot by Steve Liskow

SleuthSayers: Talking About Dialogue III: Dialogue and Plot: by Steve Liskow Last time, we discussed how dialogue can deepen character, so today we'll look at how it can advance your plot. Obvi...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Short Walk Down A Dark Street: Issue 97


As posted by Peter DiChellis to our SMFS member list…
This week’s blog salutes short mystery and crime fiction with links to a sinister selection of reviews, releases, free reads, and more.
Includes two free stories from the Akashic Books anthology Kingston Noir (along with a review of the anthology).
Plus, Tricks of the Trade: creating villains readers care about.
A short walk down a dark street (#97). Celebrating short mystery and crime fiction.
Best wishes,
Peter

Saturday, March 28, 2020

SMFS Member Publishing News: Gary Hoffman


Gary Hoffman was a member of the SMFS list up until his passing earlier this year. His short story, A Reason to Laugh: Mystery Short Story appears today at Kings River Life Magazine. Lorie Ham explained more this morning on the list: “Special note-Gary passed away earlier this year but his family reached out and asked if KRL would help get Gary to his goal of 500 stories published so we will be publishing several over the next few months.” 

The online story is free to read here.

Jungle Red Writers: Finding Felicia

Jungle Red Writers: Finding Felicia: HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It’s Saturday, in case , like me, you have no idea what day it is anymore. But there are some things you can rely on...

Friday, March 27, 2020

SMFS Member Publication News: John Floyd March 2020


SMFS list member John Floyd’s latest book, Lighten Up A Little: 300 Doses of Humorous Verse, was published earlier this week. Published by Dogwood Press, the print version is available at the publisher, Amazon, and at other vendors.

Synopsis:

Award-winning Mississippi author John M. Floyd is best known for his crime/suspense stories and his multiple mystery series featuring characters like Angela Potts, Chunky Jones, and Old West private eye Will Parker. Fans of those stories are often surprised to learn that Floyd has also published poetry in more than 100 different markets. His poems, however, are not about social issues or angst or philosophy. They are just fun. Their purpose is to make you smile, or maybe even Laugh Out Loud. As it turns out, the title of this book is also its message: We all need to take the world a little less seriously.

SMFS Member Publication News—JR Lindermuth

SMFS list member  J. R.  Lindermuth’s latest western short story, “Something for Nothing” is now online at Rope and Wire.  The story is available to read here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Mystery Fanfare: WHY CAPE COD? Guest post by Maddie Day aka Edith M...

Mystery Fanfare: WHY CAPE COD? Guest post by Maddie Day aka Edith M...: MADDIE DAY aka Edith Maxwell: Why Cape Cod? Janet, thank you for inviting me – and my alter-ego Maddie Day – to your blog! My latest...

The First Two Pages: “Farewell to the King” by Rosemary McCracken

The First Two Pages: “Farewell to the King” by Rosemary McCracken

Jungle Red Writers: The Swamp Killers? The Inside Scoop

Jungle Red Writers: The Swamp Killers? The Inside Scoop: HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So... today—let me introduce you to some of the most wonderful people on the planet.  One of the things we all treasu...

Criminal Minds: Biggest Publishing Change - Two Truths and a Lie by Frank Zafiro

Criminal Minds: Biggest Publishing Change - Two Truths and a Lie: What change in the publishing landscape over the past decade and a half has impacted you the most? - From Frank It's a good thing I&...

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A Short Walk Down A Dark Street: Issue 96


As posted by Peter DiChellis to our list…
This week’s blog applauds short mystery and crime fiction with links to an awesome assortment of reviews, releases, free reads, and more.
Featuring, for those stuck at home with not enough to read: nearly four dozen free-to-read stories—including from Raymond Chandler, Anton Chekhov, Lee Child, Wilkie Collins, Roald Dahl, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Elmore Leonard, Edgar Allan Poe, and others. (Note: All of these were linked in previous blog posts, but if you missed ‘em then, check ‘em out now!)
Plus, Tricks of the Trade: A Robert Lopresti essay on lessons learned about writing short mysteries, including what he’s learned about selling stories to EQMM vs. AHMM.
A short walk down a dark street (#96). Celebrating short mystery and crime fiction.
Best wishes,
Peter

Little Big Crimes Review: Plot Ten by Caroline Mose

Little Big Crimes: Plot Ten, by Caroline Mose: "Plot Ten," by Caroline Mose, in Nairobi Noir, edited by Peter Kimani, Akashic Press, 2020. I confess I don't tend to enj...

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Friday, March 20, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Writers Who Kill: Taffy, Anyone? by Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day

Writers Who Kill: Taffy, Anyone?: Debra, thanks so much for inviting me back to Writers Who Kill! Murder at the Taffy Shop is the second Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery, a...

Washington Independent Review Of Books: An Interview with Art Taylor

Washington Independent Review Of Books: An Interview with Art Taylor

SleuthSayers: When Extroverts Must Stay Home by Barb Goffman

SleuthSayers: When Extroverts Must Stay Home: Sometimes current events coincide with stories you've already written. This is one of those times. A friend asked me this morning ho...

SMFS Member Publishing News: Joseph S. Walker

SMFS list member Joseph S. Walker’s short story, “The Man Who Wouldn’t” appears online at TOUGH. The story is free to read here.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Short Walk Down A Dark Street: Issue 95


As posted by Peter Dichellis to our SMFS list…

This week’s blog cheers short mystery and crime fiction with links to a fired-up line-up of reviews, releases, free reads, and more.
Includes another free story by Dashiell Hammett.

And, 2018 MWA Raven Award winner Kristopher Zgorski reviews The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense from multiple award-winning short mystery author Art Taylor.
Also, Mystery Tribune Issue 12 and crime-noir novel-in-stories The Swamp Killers are hot off the presses.

Plus, Tricks of the Trade: Balancing dialogue and description in a story.
A short walk down a dark street (#95). Celebrating short mystery and crime fiction.
Best wishes,
Peter

Little Big Crimes Review: What Mr. Leonard Said by Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Little Big Crimes: What Mr. Leonard Said, by Andrew Welsh-Huggins: "What Mr. Leonard Said," by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, in Mystery Weekly Magazine, March 2020. People have told the narrator all hi...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Thursday, March 12, 2020

LEFT COAST CRIME 2020 IS NOW CANCELLED on ORDER OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY

As posted on their FB PAGE....

LEFT COAST CRIME 2020 IS NOW CANCELLED on ORDER OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY
County Public Health Officer Announces Restrictions, Prohibits Mass Gatherings
According to the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency, effective immediately all gatherings of more than 250 people are directed to be postponed or cancelled across the county. This includes concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events. Smaller events can proceed only if organizers can implement social distancing of six feet between participants. These restrictions will remain in effect at least through the end of March.

SMFS Member Publication News: O'Neil De Noux


SMFS Member O'Neil De Noux’s latest book, Walkin' The Blues: Lucien Caye Private Eye Book Five is now out. Published by Big Kiss Productions, the read is available in print and digital formats at Amazon.

Amazon Synopsis:
The cases come quickly to New Orleans Private Eye Lucien Caye in the spring of 1952 –
1. A missing person case involving deception, greed and a possible murder.
2. A nosy father wants to know about his daughter who joined the beat generation.
3. A vengeful father wants to locate the photographer who took lurid pictures of his adult daughter.
4. Men in a black Chrysler Imperial accost women on the street, leading to bloody violence.

Lucien’s new wife, the alluring AlizĂ©e, is on a roll – writing and publishing songs, modeling, becoming a PI, bringing her sharp mind and knockout-looks to the agency. It takes a cool head to be a good private eye, along with quick wits. As usual in New Orleans, gunfire echoes, leaving the innocent to mourn lost loved ones.

The Lucien Caye New Orleans Private Eye books include the short story collection NEW ORLEANS CONFIDENTIAL; and novels NEW ORLEANS RAPACIOUS; ENAMORED; HOLD ME, BABE; DAME MONEY.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in New Orleans, O’Neil De Noux is a prolific American writer of novels and short stories with 42 books published, over 400 short story sales and a screenplay produced in 2000. Much of De Noux’s writing is character-driven crime fiction, although he has written in many disciplines including historical fiction, children’s fiction, mainstream fiction, mystery, science-fiction, suspense, fantasy, horror, western, literary, religious, romance, humor and erotica.

Mr. De Noux is a retired police officer, a former homicide detective. His writing has garnered a number of awards including the UNITED KINGDOM SHORT STORY PRIZE, the SHAMUS AWARD (given annually by the Private Eye Writers of America to recognize outstanding achievement in private eye fiction), the DERRINGER AWARD (given annually by the Short Mystery Fiction Society to recognize excellence in short mystery fiction) and POLICE BOOK of the YEAR (awarded by PoliceWriters.com). Two of his stories have been featured in the prestigious BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES annual anthology (2003 and 2013).

O’Neil De Noux was named the 2015 Literary Artist of the Year by the St. Tammany Parish Art’s Council, St. Tammany Parish, LA. He is a past Vice-President of the Private Eye Writers of America.




Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Short Walk Down A Dark Street: Issue 94


News of the latest issue as posted by Peter DiChellis to our list…

This week’s blog toasts short mystery and crime fiction with links to a big gulp of reviews, releases, free reads, and more.
Includes six new stories and three new Solve-it-Yourself mini mysteries, all free-to-read at Over My Dead Body!
Plus—Tricks of the Trade: How a savvy British bookseller and a well-heeled investment firm plan to revive Barnes and Noble.
A short walk down a dark street (#94). Celebrating short mystery and crime fiction.
Best wishes,
Peter

Little Big Crimes Review: A Little Help From My Friend by John Dobbyn

Little Big Crimes: A Little Help From My Friend, by John Dobbyn: "A Little Help From My Friend," by John Dobbyn, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. March/April 2020. A quickie this week,...

SMFS Member Publication News: Andrew Welsh-Huggins


SMFS list member Andrew Welsh-Huggins short story, “What Mr. Leonard Said” appears in the  Mystery Weekly Magazine: March 2020 issue. The read is available from the publisher  and at Amazon in both eBook and paperback formats and other vendors.

Synopsis: 

At the cutting edge of crime fiction, Mystery Weekly Magazine presents original short stories by the world’s best-known and emerging mystery writers.
The stories we feature in our monthly issues span every imaginable subgenre, including cozy, police procedural, noir, whodunit, supernatural, hardboiled, humor, and historical mysteries. Evocative writing and a compelling story are the only certainty.
Get ready to be surprised, challenged, and entertained--whether you enjoy the style of the Golden Age of mystery (e.g., Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle), the glorious pulp digests of the early twentieth century (e.g., Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler), or contemporary masters of mystery.

In this issue:
“Death Under The Dragon Prow” by Scott Forbes Crawford: In this historical whodunit a Viking chief is found murdered aboard his ship, and the brewing storm is the least of the dangers facing his wife. Far from shore and surrounded by cut-throats, she must find the killer—to avenge her husband and escape with her life.
“The Big Seal” by Andrew McAleer: It's a race against time in this hardboiled tongue-in-cheek romp when a self-revered notary public must save the justice system.
“What Mr. Leonard Said” by Andrew Welsh-Huggins: A poetic serial killer deals with the ‘death under mysterious circumstances’ of his beloved Texas middle school teacher, triggering a series of slayings of particular resonance in the Lone Star State.
“The White Box” by E R Brown: A caper with a twist begins with a man grilled by the DEA as he retrieves the ashes of his brother, whose bomb killed a drug boss and himself and ends with an escape plan.
“The Whisperers” by L. A. Wilson, Jr.: In this supernatural mystery, Ivory Roberts learns that his nine-year-old neighbor has a mysterious illness, but it is not the illness that is likely to take his life. The real danger comes from others who surround him including his doctors.
“The Florida Regiment” by Denise Robbins: A darkly humorous suspense in which a former police detective based in Miami, Florida, who quit the force and her alcohol abuse problem, intending to turn over a new leaf finds her past quickly catching up with her in strange and unexpected ways.

SMFS Members at Left Coast Crime 2020- -San Diego


Left Coast Crime 2020 is in San Diego this year and begins Thursday, March 12th.  Numerous SMFS members will be attending and actively participating on panels, book signings, and more. The list below features just some of the many activities featuring SMFS list members. For the  conference schedule go to the website. Please note that the panels have a separate page and are  listed here.


SMFS meetup is at 5:30 PM, Thursday, for drinks.


Various Events


Thursday

1:15 PM  Cynthia Kuhn is a panelist for the “I Am What I Write: Authors drawing on their own backgrounds” panel in Sierra 5-6.

1:15 PM  Frank Zafiro is a panelist for the “I Am What I Write: Authors drawing on their own backgrounds” panel in Sierra 5-6.

1:15 PM  Merrilee Robson is a panelist for "Murder in a Small Town: Adding small community flavor to crime fiction" in Rio Vista E. 


Friday

10:15 AM  Ana Brazil moderates “The Wonder Woman: the Powerful Female Protagonist” panel in Rio Vista E.

10:15 AM   Cynthia Kuhn is a panelist for “Lefty Award Mysteries: Best Humorous Mystery” panel in Rio Vista  A-D.

1:30 PM  Hilary Davidson is a panelist for “Let’s Talk About Sex (in mysteries)  panel in Rio Vista A-D.

1:30 PM  Faye Snowden is a panelist for “The State of Noir. What defines Noir today" panel  in Rio Vista A-D. 

1:30 PM  Travis Richardson is a panelist for “The State of Noir. What defines Noir today" panel  in Rio Vista A-D. 

4: 00 PM . Camille Minichino is a panelist for “Write What You Want to Know: Creating beyond personal experience”  in Sierra 5-6.

4:00 PM   Alan Orloff is a panelist for the “Politics: A deadly business” panel in Rio Vista E.

4:00 PM   Frank Zafiro moderates the  “Inside the Mind of a Cop: Law enforcement officials talk reality versus fiction” panel in Rio Vista F-H.

4:00 PM   Martin Roy Hill is a panelist for “Inside the Mind of a Cop: Law enforcement officials talk reality versus fiction” panel in Rio Vista F-H.

5:00 PM   Stephen Buehler and Travis Richardson host “Short Stories & Writers Groups.”  This is an Author-Reader Connection and one of a number listed here.



Saturday

9:00 A.M.  Faye Snowden is a panelist for “Not your traditional detectives: Female Investigators bucking the hard-boiled rules" panel in Rio Vista A-D. 

10:15 AM  Hilary Davidson is a panelist for  “ Crime Fiction and Reality: How do today’s headlines impact fiction?” panel in Rio Vista E.



Banquet Dinner


Camille Minichino hosts a table with Ann Parker and Margaret Dumas.

Stephen Buehler, and Travis Richardson, are hosting a table with themselves.


Sunday

9:00 AM  M. H. Callway moderates for the “Celebrating the Short Story: when less is more” panel  in Sierra 5-6.

9:00 AM   Rob Pierce is a panelist for the “Celebrating the Short Story: when less is more” panel in Sierra 5-6.

9:00 AM   Kate Thornton  is a panelist for the “Celebrating the Short Story: when less is more” panel in Sierra 5-6. 


Saturday, March 7, 2020

SMFS Members Published in Columbus Noir


SMFS list members have been published in the new anthology, Columbus Noir. Edited by SMFS list member Andrew Welsh-Huggins, the read is part of the Akashic Noir Anthology Series. The read is available in both print and eBook formats from the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors.

Tom Barlow with "Honor Guard."

Andrew Welsh-Huggins with "Going Places.”


Publisher Synopsis:

Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.

Brand-new stories by: Lee Martin, Robin Yocum, Kristen Lepionka, Craig McDonald, Chris Bournea, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Tom Barlow, Mercedes King, Daniel Best, Laura Bickle, Yolonda Tonette Sanders, Julia Keller, Khalid Moalim, and Nancy Zafris.

From the introduction by Andrew Welsh-Huggins:

Today, Columbus is an epicenter of the opioid epidemic, awash in heroin and the even deadlier fentanyl as dealers flood the city with their wares . . .  The wealth gap in the city is growing, and Columbus is now one of the deadliest places in the state for babies trying to make it to their first birthday, even more so if their mothers are African American. These days, Columbus is a place forensic investigators are moving to. Overdoses, homicides, infant mortality: at long last, we’re finally as lethal as any big American city.
In that light (and darkness) I’m pleased to present Columbus Noir, a collection of shadowy tales from the city’s best storytellers set in neighborhoods across the metropolis. Sexual passion drives many of the stories, appropriate for a genre marked by protagonists striving for things out of their reach. Racism makes an appearance or two, as do those twin pillars of noir, greed and pride. Still, a deep appreciation of Columbus runs through the book as forcefully as the swath cut by the Olentangy after a couple of days of hard rain.

Table of Contents
Introduction
Part I: Sin in Cbus
“The Satin Fox” by Robin Yocum (Victorian Village)
“Gun People” by Kristen Lepionka (Olde Towne East)
“Curb Appeal” by Craig McDonald (German Village)
“My Name Is Not Susan” by Chris Bournea (Eastmoor)
Part II: Capital Offenses
“Going Places” by Andrew Welsh-Huggins (Ohio Statehouse)
“Honor Guard” by Tom Barlow (Clintonville)
“An Agreeable Wife for a Suitable Husband” by Mercedes King (South End)
“Take the Wheel” by Daniel Best (Short North)
“The Dead and the Quiet” by Laura Bickle (Union Cemetery)
Part III: Buckeye Betrayals
“The Luckiest Man Alive” by Lee Martin (San Margherita)
“The Valley” by Yolanda Tonette Sanders (Whitehall)
“All That Burns the Mind” by Julia Keller (Ohio State University)
“Long Ears” by Khalid Moalim (North Side)
“Foreign Study” by Nancy Zafris (West Broad Street)

Watch or listen to Andrew Welsh-Huggins provide a sneak preview of Columbus Noir on All Sides Weekend: Book (WOSU, Columbus, OH NPR).
Read a feature on Columbus Noir at Columbus Dispatch.
Read a “Seven Questions with editor Andrew Welsh-Huggins” interview at Columbus Monthly.

SMFS Member Publishing News: Rosemary McCracken


SMFS list member Rosemary McCracken’s short story, Weekend in Lisdoonvarna: An Irish Mystery Short Story appears today at Kings River Life Magazine. This new story can be read online for free here.

Guest Post: Editing A Short Story Anthology in Three Easy Steps, Along With Months and Months of Hard Work by Andrew Welsh-Huggins


Editing A Short Story Anthology in Three Easy Steps, Along With Months and Months of Hard Work

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Editing my first short story anthology stretched me both as an editor and a writer. I undertook the project beginning in 2017 when I pitched the concept of Columbus Noir to Akashic Books as part of its long-running Noir series. After the project was accepted and the contract signed in January 2018, I had eleven months to solicit stories, edit them, and assemble the manuscript. I developed a system early on that proved useful as submissions rolled in and my deadline approached, and which I thought might be worth sharing.

When a story first arrived, I created a Word folder with the story title and saved it there, along with a second notes document devoted purely to that story. However, no edits yet.

Next, I sent the story to the Kindle app on my iPhone, which is where I read e-books and e-documents (I don’t have a tablet or a physical Kindle right at the moment). At the next available juncture, I would sit in my arm chair in the living room away from my desk and read the submission through as I would any story—again, without making any edits.

After that—usually a few days later—I returned to my office and read the story a second time on my computer. As I did, I wrote down observations on that separate notes document, but didn’t insert any comments into the story itself. Those observations typically entailed plot points to come back to, grammatical issues, and any thematic questions.

In the third step in my process—usually after another few days—I saved the story as an editing file, consisting of the story title with my initials tacked on. Then, with Word’s tracking changes activated, I read through the contribution and made edits and suggestions as I saw fit. Finished, I sent that document to the writer and began a back-and-forth conversation about the story and my edits.

The hardest part of this was not necessarily the edits, but juggling the combination of staggered due dates. Because I invited writers over a period of weeks, the arrival of a first draft often coincided with the deadline for someone else’s revision. I tracked everything on a Word document, including where in the process a story was, and made ample use of Google Calendar for any deadline prompting of the contributors that I needed to do. Once October 2018 arrived, I assembled the manuscript and did a final read-through of everyone’s stories. Based on that, I made a few additional but mostly minor suggestions to the writers before submitting the final draft. Slotted into the publishing rotation, Columbus Noir launched March 3 as the 101st title in the Akashic series.

In hindsight, I learned three lessons I recommend to anyone tackling a similar project:

_ Underscore the rubrics. Whether your anthology is based on a call for submissions or invitation-only (as Columbus Noir was), the clearer the instructions are about the project upfront, the better. This includes everything from length requirements, to making sure the theme of the anthology is clear—in this case, stories in the noir style, each with a strong connection to a Columbus-area neighborhood—to whether the work must be original to the collection, as the Akashic series mandates. Laying all this out in writing came in handy when, in a couple of cases, I had to part ways with writers whose submissions just weren’t working.

_ Explain your edits. It’s reasonable to suggest changes, whether syntactical or thematic, but it’s also reasonable to explain why you’re asking for it. This is not a universal rule, nor should it be a heavy lift, but a simple note in the Word comment mode is a fair way to outline your thinking.

_ Don’t neglect your own contribution. The other part of my balancing act was my own short story along with the introduction to the book. Of the two, I was more nervous about the latter, since it would set the tone for the anthology and also serve as an explanation for why Columbus was noir enough to begin with. I made sure to undertake both pieces early on, giving me plenty of time to show both my story and my introduction to beta readers ahead of inclusion in the final manuscript.

In conclusion, while assembling Columbus Noir was a chore at times, I tried never to lose sight of the obvious: someone was paying me to edit fantastic stories by a bunch of great writers. That was the most important lesson of all.


Andrew Welsh-Huggins ©2020


Writer, reader, owner of too many pets. AP News Guy, author of the Andy Hayes private eye mystery series, and editor, Columbus Noir from Akashic Books.
Twitter: @awhcolumbus

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Guest Post: RESEARCHING FOR THE POLICE PROCEDURAL by Jim Doherty (Part Five)


Please welcome back SMFS list member Jim Doherty as continues delving into the various ways of researching and writing the accurate police procedural. This is the fifth and final part of the series that began last Saturday.

4) THE COLLIN WILCOX METHOD – HUM A FEW BARS AND FAKE IT
Most of your readers aren’t going to be cops, so most of them won’t really know whether or not you’ve made an error.  Why not just fake it?
Collin Wilcox, who wrote twenty novels featuring SFPD Homicide Lt. Frank Hastings, once claimed that he researched his subject by watching TV shows like The Streets of San Francisco and Barney Miller.  He admitted that he once spent two hours hanging around SFPD’s Homicide Detail, but found it was a waste of time.
“Research,” he said, “is endlessly beguiling but writing is hard work.”
His books have a great sense of place, and he’s a fine stylist and craftsman.  The novels are well-paced, and highly readable. 
But they are replete with errors about SFPD.
Still, he managed to get twenty novels published.  So maybe he had a point.  The idea, after all, is to get published.
So, if you can get away with faking it, what’s the drawback?
Well, aside from the obvious point that your books will have an element of superficiality, I think you’re breaking a covenant with your audience. 
Readers who read police procedurals expect technical accuracy.  If that’s the sub-genre you’ve chosen to specialize in, I really think it’s your job to provide it.
But Wilcox proves that success, both critical and financial, doesn’t hinge on this. 

CONCLUSION

I said at the beginning that the things I’d talk about could be applied to any kind of research you do for your fiction.  And, reviewing what I’ve written, I’ve found that to be even truer than I realized.  Research, when all is said and done, can be broken down to four types:

1)  Find out as much as you can about the subject before writing.
2)  Use what you know and get an expert to correct your mistakes.
3)  Work in the field yourself so that you’re speaking from experience.
4)  Fake it.  How many people will even know the difference?  Don’t worry about getting it right.  Worry about getting it written.

In the police procedural sub-genre, they’ve all worked, and worked well.  And they can all work with whatever kind of mystery, indeed whatever kind of fiction, you choose to write.


Jim Doherty ©2020

A cop of some kind or another for more than 20 years, JIM DOHERTY has served American law enforcement at the Federal, state, and local levels, policing everything from inner city streets to rural dirt roads, from college campuses to military bases, from suburban parks to urban railroad yards.  He’s the author of the true crime collection Just the Facts – True Tales of Cops & Criminals, which included the WWA Spur-winning article “Blood for Oil,” Raymond Chandler – Master of American Noir, a collection of lectures about the pioneering creator of hard-boiled private eye Philip Marlowe used for an on-line class; and An Obscure Grave, featuring college student and part-time cop Dan Sullivan, introduced in a series of short stories, which was a finalist for both a CWA Dagger Award and a Silver Falchion given at Killer Nashville.  He was, for  several years, the police technical advisor on the venerable Dick Tracy comic strip, and was a guest writer for a short sequence that ran in April and May on 2019.   Coming in 2020 are The Adventures of Colonel Britannia, written as “Simon A. Jacobs,” an unlikely (but incredibly fun to write) mash-up of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with Captain America, and an as-yet-untitled collection of Dan Sullivan short stories. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The First Two Pages: “The Patience of Kane” by Bev Vincent

 The First Two Pages: “The Patience of Kane” by Bev Vincent

Guest Post: RESEARCHING FOR THE POLICE PROCEDURAL by Jim Doherty (Part Four)


Please welcome back SMFS list member Jim Doherty as continues delving into the various ways of researching and writing the accurate police procedural. This is a multi part series that began on Saturday and will run through tomorrow of this week.

3) THE JOSEPH WAMBAUGH METHOD – BE A COP

            If you want to write about a particular job with authority, the best way to research the job is to do the job.
Herman Melville, was sailor on Naval, merchant, and whaling vessels before writing novels like Redburn, White-Jacket, and Moby Dick.   He would later say that his time at sea was what gave him something worth writing about.  And whether you regard his books as thumping great adventure novels, or poetic allegory, they are all technically accurate depictions of what the life of a seaman was like at that point in history.
Readers, particularly American readers, like books about the workplace, and if you’re a veteran of that workplace, you can write about it with authority.  And that’s why military novels by soldiers, medical novels by physicians, trial novels by lawyers, and espionage novels by spies are all so popular.
Joseph Wambaugh was not the first cop to turn his experiences into fiction.  He was preceded by, among others, Leslie T. White, Gordon Gordon (in collaboration with his wife, Mildred), and Dorothy Uhnak in the US; by Maurice Procter, John Wainwright, and Peter N. Walker in the UK; and by A.C. Baantjer in the Netherlands.  Nor is he necessarily the best (though he’s certainly one of the best).
 And he’s undoubtedly the most famous.  Moreover, he’s been successful in a variety of forms.  Novels like The New Centurions, The Blue Knight, and Hollywood Station.  Non-fiction about cops like The Onion Field, The Blooding, and Lines and Shadows.  The creator of the award-winning TV series Police Story.  An award-winning screenwriter adapting his own work to movies like The Onion Field and The Black Marble.  And, though he wasn’t the first, he certainly started a trend.  Hundreds of cops, including me, have turned their real-life experiences into fiction in the wake of Wambaugh’s success.  What had been a tiny stream before Wambaugh has become a flood in the years since his first novel was published. 
A flood you’ll have to compete with if you want to write police procedurals.
 William Caunitz (NYPD), Danny R. Smith (LA County Sheriff’s Office), Hugh Holton (Chicago PD), B.J. Bourg (Chief Investigator, LaFourche Parish DA’s Office), Frank Zafiro (Spokane PD), Joseph D. McNamara (San Jose PD), O’Neil DeNoux (Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office), John Robert Coffin (Portland, ME, PD), Lowen Clausen (Seattle PD), Gerald Petievich (US Secret Service), Paul Lindsay (FBI), Nevada Barr (National Park Service Law Enforcement Division), Marc Cameron (US Marshals Service), James O. Born (FL. Dept. of Law Enforcement), K.T. Mince (CA Highway Patrol), Graham Ison, Joan Locke, James Barnett, and Roger Pearce (all Scotland Yard), Karen Campbell (Strathclyde Police in Scotland),  Don Easton (RCMP), John Galvin (Irish Garda), Friedrich Neznansky (Moscow Prosecutor’s Investigator), Omar Shahid Hamid (Karachi, Pakistan, Police), are just a few of the cop-novelists who’ve appeared in Wambaugh’s wake.
There is a “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt” sense of knowing in a cop novel written by a cop that can’t quite be reproduced.  And you’re also less likely to include stuff that doesn’t really need to be included.
Hemingway once said that if you leave out something you don’t know, your story is hurt, but if you leave out something you do know, the sense of authority in your writing makes it seem as though you included it.  It’s easier to do this if you’re a cop.
Undoubtedly many of you are wondering how you can be a cop when you’ve already firmly ensconced in some other profession.  It’s one thing to be interested enough in police work to want to write stories about it.  But it’s something else altogether to make it career just for research purposes.
But many police departments and sheriff’s offices have a police reserve program.  Apply, go through the training, pass all the tests, and you could be a part-time cop, the law enforcement equivalent of a military reservist or a volunteer firefighter.  Patricia Cornwell, John Ball, Stan Washburn, and Patricia Smiley all work, or have worked, as police reservists.  I started my own police career as a reserve cop while I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley.  This is a way for you to get that convincing element that only comes from actual experience without having to make it a full-time career.
And you might just find you really enjoy it. 


Jim Doherty ©2020

A cop of some kind or another for more than 20 years, JIM DOHERTY has served American law enforcement at the Federal, state, and local levels, policing everything from inner city streets to rural dirt roads, from college campuses to military bases, from suburban parks to urban railroad yards.  He’s the author of the true crime collection Just the Facts – True Tales of Cops & Criminals, which included the WWA Spur-winning article “Blood for Oil,” Raymond Chandler – Master of American Noir, a collection of lectures about the pioneering creator of hard-boiled private eye Philip Marlowe used for an on-line class; and An Obscure Grave, featuring college student and part-time cop Dan Sullivan, introduced in a series of short stories, which was a finalist for both a CWA Dagger Award and a Silver Falchion given at Killer Nashville.  He was, for  several years, the police technical advisor on the venerable Dick Tracy comic strip, and was a guest writer for a short sequence that ran in April and May on 2019.   Coming in 2020 are The Adventures of Colonel Britannia, written as “Simon A. Jacobs,” an unlikely (but incredibly fun to write) mash-up of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with Captain America, and an as-yet-untitled collection of Dan Sullivan short stories.