Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Criminal Minds: Should You Care? by Frank Zafiro

Criminal Minds: Should You Care?: Craft: Do characters need to be sympathetic? Why? Why not? Does it make a difference in different genres? From Frank Short answer? No,...

SleuthSayers: Proofreading during a pandemic by Barb Goffman

SleuthSayers: Proofreading during a pandemic: The first paid editorial job I ever had was working as a proofreader. I was in my senior year of high school and saw an ad in one of our l...

The First Two Pages: “Two Dead, Two Wounded” by Jackie Ross Flaum

The First Two Pages: “Two Dead, Two Wounded” by Jackie Ross Flaum

SMFS Member Publishing News: Edith Maxwell

Today is publication day for SMFS list member Edith Maxwell’s new book, Nacho Average Murder: A Country Store Mystery. Writing as Maddie Day, the book is published by Kensington Publishing and available in print, digital and audio formats. This seventh book in her long running mystery series is available from the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors.

Publisher Synopsis:

Robbie Jordan is temporarily leaving Pans ’N Pancakes, her country store in South Lick, Indiana, to visit Santa Barbara, California—where wildfire smoke tinges the air, but a more immediate danger may lie in wait . . .
While looking forward to her high school reunion back in California, Robbie’s anticipation is complicated by memories of her mother’s untimely death. At first, she has fun hanging out with her old classmates and reuniting with the local flavors—avocados, citrus, fish, and spicy Cali-Mex dishes. But then she gets wind of rumors that her mother, an environmental activist, may not have died of natural causes. With the help of friends, Robbie starts clearing the smoke surrounding the mystery—but what she finds could make it hard to get back to Indiana alive . . .

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Short Walk Down A Dark Street: Issue 110

As posted by Peter DiChellis to our SMFS list…

This week’s blog delivers links to a dangerous dose of reviews, releases, free reads, and more.
Includes a free-to-read story from the Akashic Books dope anthology The Heroin Chronicles.
Plus, Tricks of the Trade: How to create stakes for a character by looking beyond the plot and brainstorming different ways the stakes might affect the character.
A short walk down a dark street (#110). Celebrating short mystery and crime fiction.
Best wishes,

SleuthSayers: Lend Me A Scene by R. T. Lawton

SleuthSayers: Lend Me A Scene: Last month, you read my blog article about the creation of "St. Paddy's Day" and the process of brainstorming that story. Tod...

Saturday, June 27, 2020

SMFS Members Published in Super Puzzletastic Mysteries: Short Stories for Young Sleuths from Mystery Writers of America

SMFS list members are published in the new book, Super Puzzletastic Mysteries: Short Stories for Young Sleuths from Mystery Writers of America. Edited by Chris Grabenstein, the anthology is published by HarperCollins. Available in print and eBook formats, the read can be picked up at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors. The SMFS members in the book are:

Fleur Bradley with “The Perfect Alibi.”

Gigi Pandian  with “The Haunted Typewriter.”


Bestselling author Chris Grabenstein and the Mystery Writers of America bring together twenty peerless puzzles—from bestselling authors such as Peter Lerangis, Stuart Gibbs, Lauren Magaziner, Kate Milford, and, of course, Grabenstein himself—in an anthology of mystery short stories that invite readers to try to unravel the riddles themselves.
From tales of hapless superheroes and stolen squirrel monkeys to murderous triplets and haunted basements, these thrilling, puzzling, and hilarious cases have one thing in common—YOU get a chance to be the detective before the author reveals the solution.
With twenty never-before-published mystery stories, this collection will leave young detectives sleuthing for more!

SMFS Members Published in The Book of Extraordinary Crimes and Puzzling Deaths: The Best New Stories of the Genre (Mystery & Detective Anthology)

Several SMFS list members are published in the new anthology, The Book of Extraordinary Crimes and Puzzling Deaths: The Best New Stories of the Genre (Mystery & Detective Anthology). Edited by Maxim Jakubowski, the read is published by Mango Publishing. It is available in print and ebook formats at the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors.  The SMFS members with short stories in the anthology are:

Michael Bracken and Sandra Murphy with “Goobers.”

O’Neil De Noux with “It’s Not What You know.”

Bev Vincent with “Expiration Date.”


Some of the Latest and Best from the Whodunnit Genre
The Book of Extraordinary Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths is the latest collection from legendary murder mystery editor and writer Maxim Jakubowski. Filled with impossible murders and puzzling plot twists that keep your eyes on the page and brain on the mysteries until the last page.
Clever fictional crime stories. Some of mystery fiction's most inventive talents from the USA and UK offer a series of brand-new ingenious murder stories that will have you scratching your brow until the very last minute and delighting in Machiavellian solutions. Enjoy the third volume in Mango's innovative collections of the best crime stories fiction has to offer.
Enigmas and puzzling plot twists. Crime mystery fiction can be full of impenetrable conundrums and endless question marks when the story itself becomes a reality-defying puzzle for the sleuth to solve. A murder has been committed but how could it have happened? Was the room locked from the inside? Was the suspect or killer actually close to the scene or miles away? Why does the body show no sign of violence? Where is the murder weapon? Was the right person actually killed?

Fresh innovative murder stories. The locked room murder genre has always been a favorite. Collected by Maxim Jakubowski, one of the genre's eminent award-winning editors, his latest book features never before seen stories by some of the most renowned American and British crime and thriller authors of today, including British Science Fiction Award winner Eric Brown, Derringer Award winner O'Neil de Noux, and multiple CWA Dagger Award winners and nominees.

SMFS Member Publishing News: John M. Floyd

SMFS list member John M. Floyd’s short story, “Biloxi Bound”  appears in the just released, The Strand Magazine: Spring 2020. The release had been delayed by the pandemic. The issue is available at the publisher and elsewhere.


The Strand Magazine: Unpublished Louisa May Alcott
(The Strand Magazine: Unpublished Louisa May Alcott, also fiction by Eoin Colfer, David Marcum and an exclusive interview with Alan Furst)
In our 60th issue, we’re proud to present an unpublished Louisa May Alcott story, Aunt Nellie’s Diary, published here for the first time, is told from the perspective of a single and insightful forty-year-old woman who is responsible for the care of her teenage niece. Her niece’s beautiful, worldly friend is staying with them over the summer, as is a young man—Nellie’s friend’s handsome son. According to scholars, Aunt Nellie’s Diary was written when she was quite young; nevertheless Alcott displays sharp psychological insight into the characters who inhabit the seemingly carefree world of picnics, masked balls, and cozy carriage rides.
Alcott scholar Professor Daniel Shealy provides an introduction which looks at the historical and biographical context of this gem. Set during Gilded Age America, this 9,000 word story provides romance, the idyllic world of a time gone by, and characters who served as the inspiration for her future masterpieces.
Among our other short stories in this issue, David Marcum challenges Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to enter the world of international intrigue with “The Home Office Baby.”  Against the backdrop of a diner, John Floyd serves us a heaping spoonful of menacing mobsters on the loose in “Biloxi Bound.” And last but not least, the inimitable Eoin Colfer with “Kevin of the Dead” invites us to meet a vampire who drives a stake into our stereotypes of the undead.
It’s our great pleasure to also share in this issue an exclusive interview with Alan Furst. Long established as one of the greatest espionage authors of the last 25 years, Furst shared his knowledge of the craft of writing, his experiences as a journalist, and the research behind his atmospheric historical spy novels.
Our reviews this issue feature the latest novels by Walter Mosley, P.D. James, Joe R. Lansdale, Linwood Barclay, and Linda La Plante.
The Strand Magazine continues to bring our readers the best in fiction, interviews with authors, and book and audiobook reviews. In the past nine years, we’ve featured unpublished works by writers ranging from Mark TwainJohn SteinbeckF. Scott FitzgeraldRaymond Chandler, H.G. WellsAgatha ChristieDashiell Hammett, Tennessee Williams, and Joseph Heller . 
This unpublished Louisa May Alcott work represents the 20th unpublished work we’ve released by a literary legend. Since the critically acclaimed production of Little Women, Alcott has become even more popular among fans of American literature.

KRL Guest Post: Not in Kansas Anymore by Edith Maxwell

KRL Guest Post: Not in Kansas Anymore by Edith Maxwell

Ladies of Mystery: Writer’s Block or Writer’s Rest by Susan Oleksiw

Ladies of Mystery: Writer’s Block or Writer’s Rest by Susan Oleksiw

Friday, June 26, 2020

SleuthSayers: How a Story or Novel is Written by O'Neil De Noux

SleuthSayers: How a Story or Novel is Written: Spent the last two hours going through all the posts I put up here on SleuthSayers to see if there was something about writing I had not pos...

Ignotus Award Nominee: Bev Vincent

SMFS list member Bev Vincent has informed the list that his short story, “Zombies On A Plane” translated into Spanish as "Zombis en el avión” has been nominated for an Ignotus Award. These awards are described by Locus Magazine as being the Spanish equivalent of the Hugos. The story appears in the anthology, Por Los Aires (Flight or Fright) published by Cemetery Dance Publications in September 2018 and was released in paperback in June 2019. The anthology was edited by Bev Vincent and Stephen King and is available in hardback, paperback, and audio formats from Amazon, the publisher, and other vendors.

The full list of nominees can be found on the Spanish language website here.

SMFS Members Published in Thriller Magazine: Volume 3, Issue 1

Several SMFS list members are published today in Thriller Magazine: Volume 3, Issue 1. Published by Thriller Magazine, the read is available at Amazon in both eBook and print. The SMFS members in this issue are:

Michael Bracken with “Caked.

Peter DiChellis with “They Die in Eight Minutes.”

J. B. Stevens with “A Reliable Belt.”


Featuring established and new literary voices comes the fifth issue of Thriller Magazine!

This issue features short stories that will leave readers on the edge of their seat and some amazing artwork. Showcasing a wide range of tales, everything from psychological thrillers, to brutal tales of murder, to political thrillers, and much more, this issue has it all!

Authors included are:
Chris Fortunato, Michael Bracken, John Grey, J.B. Stevens, Mary Kowalchyk, Peter DiChellis, Kolby Diaz, G. Wayne Ashbee, J.B. Stevens, Arthur Davis, & A.R. Bender

Artists included are:

Denny Marshall

Thursday, June 25, 2020

2020 Shamus Award Winner: O’Neil De Noux

SMFS congratulates SMFS list member O’Neil De Noux for his Shamus Award win in the “Best Private Eye Short Story Category.” Mr. O’Neil De Noux’s winning story, “Sac-A-Lait Man,” appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine: September/October 2019 issue. More about the Shamus Awards and the Private Eye Writers of America can be found on their website.

(Hat tip and a big personal thank you to Gary Phillips who provided a cover scan from the Pwa Newsletter: Reflections of a Private Eye).

SMFS Member Publishing News: C. W. Blackwell

SMFS list member C. W. Blackwell’s latest short story, “From Dusk To Blonde,” appears in the just released, Switchblade: Issue 12. Published by Caledonia Press, the read is available in eBook format at Amazon.


Three months back there was a suicide bomb in Tunisia, a prison riot in Colombia, and Australia was on fire. Italy fought a losing battle with an insidious virus, which went on to engulf the planet in a worldwide pandemic. The first world shut down. Then we watched a public execution, by a so- called peace-keeper. Then the rioting and looting began—and you know what came next, because you’re living it. The world in 2020 isn’t what it once was. The west is on fire with revolution and unrest. Violent crime and lawlessness are on the rise. Which is good news of crime is your business. And whether the world bounces back or burns down to ashes, there will always be storytelling. For Switchblade, storytelling is our business, and business is good. This is the twelfth issue of the world’s only no-limit noir digest magazine. Featuring 13 reality-check, hard luck tales of the human condition, before and after Covid-19.

SMFS Member Publishing News: Teel James Glenn

SMFS list member Teel James Glenn’s new short story, “The Occurrence of the Kali Curse” appears in the Pulp Adventures Magazine #35. The issue is available at Bold Ventures Press in both eBook and print editions and at Amazon in print. 

Publisher Synopsis:

  • "Home for Killers!" by Charles Boeckman
    A man can run just so far before facing the devil in pursuit.
  • "Thubway Tham’s Baggage Check" by Johnston McCulley
    Detective Craddock tags along to the pickpocket’s hometown.
  • "Space Burial" by Lew Merrill
    His enemy challenged him five astronomical units from earth.
  • "The Robbers" by E.C. Tubb
    A new breed of soldier from the ashes of the pioneers ...
  • "The Colour Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft
    Had Death descended from the stars?
  • "Theft of the Crown Jewels" by John Clemons
  • A Dastardly Swindle in Stones Takes Shape!
  • "Sniffing Out the Rain Shadow" by Robert W. Walker
    A cadaver dog goes forth on a rescue mission ...
  • "Give ’Em Hell, Helen" by Adam McFarlane
    The race was on, but was Helen racing to or from something?
  • "The Occurrence of the Kali Curse" by Teel James Glenn
  • "Great Caesar’s Ghost" by Jack Halliday
  • Editorial Rich Harvey 2
  • “Remembering E.C. (‘Ted’) Tubb” by Philip Harbottle
  • "Retro Review: The Big Fix by Ed Lacy" by Rich Harvey

SMFS Member Publishing News: C. A. Rowland

SMFS list member C. A. Rowland’s new book, The Meter’s Always Running: A Haunted City Mystery is out now. Published by Shadow Dance Publishing LTD, the read is available in eBook format at Amazon.


Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, taxi driver Trisha Reede knows all the haunts and legends of the city built on the dead. After a long day of ferrying tourists, Trisha ejects a late evening out of line fare. But when he's found murdered, she questions her decision to let him out in such a seedy neighborhood. As the police investigation steers her way, she puts on the gas to solve the crime. As if she didn't already have enough baggage to deal with, newly dead Aunt Harriett shows up, helpful but cryptic, more dreamlike than real, warning of an enraged spirit searching for Trisha.

Monday, June 22, 2020

SMFS Member Podcast News: Margaret Mendel

The latest KRL Podcast features the mystery short story, “Vengeance In Cadmium Blue” by SMFS list member Margaret Mendel. Originally published online in March 2015 at Kings River Life Magazine, the story is read by actor Ariel Linn.  You can hear the KRL Podcast here.

From the site:

This episode features the mystery short story "Vengeance In Cadmium Blue" by Margaret Mendel and read by local actor Ariel Linn. You can learn more about Margaret and her writing on her website pushingtime.com. In each episode, we share with you mystery short stories and mystery novel first chapters read by actors from the San Joaquin Valley. Ariel Linn has read many past podcast stories for us and they too are available here and on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and others. If you enjoyed this episode please review or rate it as that helps more people be able to find us! Also, consider subscribing so you never miss an episode-both to this podcast and to the podcast newsletter. You can find more mystery fun on our websites Kings River Life Magazine and KRL News and Reviews.

SMFS Members Published in Pulp Modern: Volume Two, Issue Five

SMFS members are published in Pulp Modern: Volume Two, Issue Five. Published by Uncle B. Publications, the read is available in both print and eBook formats from Amazon. The SMFS members in this issue are:

Peter J. Hayes with “The Bowie Knife.”

Vicki Weisfeld with “The Unbroken Circle.”


The cornerstone of the independent pulp fiction revolution returns and raises the bar once more. The stories begin with the apocalypse and venture into dark and entertaining territory. No brow-beating fiction here, just pure storytelling, the way it's SUPPOSED to be. Featuring stories by Nils Gilbertson and Mandi Jourdan, among many others. Interior art by Ran Scott. A killer cover illustration by legendary Rick McCollum. As always, art direction by Richard Krauss and chief editing duties performed by Alec Cizak.Pulp Modern and Uncle B. Publications are official members of the Independent Fiction Alliance.

Catherine Dilts Reviews: Great Short Fiction from Alfred Hitchcock

Catherine Dilts Reviews: Great Short Fiction from Alfred Hitchcock

SMFS Member Publishing News: Frank Zafiro

Today is publication day for SMFS list member Frank Zafiro’s new book, Never The Crime. Co-written with Colin Conway, this is the second book in the series that began with Charlie-316. Published by Down & Out Books, the police procedural is available from the publisher, Amazon, and other vendors in a variety of formats.

Publisher Synopsis:

Synopsis … The Tyler Garrett Saga Continues…

Spokane Police Officer Tyler Garrett is a man of many different images. To the public, he is a once-maligned and now redeemed cop, the victim of public prejudice and city politics. To the Chief of Police and the Mayor, he is a good cop, falsely accused and thankfully back to work. To his wife, a man she no longer knows. And to those who know his secret, he is the most terrible thing any police officer can be—a traitor to his badge.

Clear of the controversy that surrounded him less than two years ago, Garrett is moving on and getting his life back in order. Meanwhile, Detective Wardell Clint remains on the hunt for any evidence against him that proves what Clint already knows—that Tyler Garrett is dirty. Clint has vowed to stop at nothing to bring down Garrett once and for all.

In the midst of Clint’s efforts, a rash of new city hall scandals break out, including a suspicious death, and Tyler Garrett inserts himself into the investigation. But he isn’t the only one. No one seems immune to being drawn into the web of dirty politics. Officer Gary Stone, assigned as a liaison to city hall, finds himself thrown into the midst of this maelstrom, struggling as his loyalties and ethics are challenged. The mayor, the chief, councilmembers, police captains, and news reporters all square off, each with their own agenda.

Before it ends, everyone will learn that it’s never the crime that causes downfall, but the following cover-up.

SleuthSayers: A Matter of Trust by Steve Liskow

SleuthSayers: A Matter of Trust: A few weeks ago, a novice writer reached me through my web site. He said he went to the high school where I taught, but I never knew him. He...

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Little Big Crimes Review: Chin Yong-Yun Sets The Date by S.J. Rozan

Little Big Crimes: Chin Yong-Yun Sets The Date, by S.J. Rozan: "Chin Yong-Yun Sets The Date," by S.J. Rozan, in  Deadly Anniversaries,  edited by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, Hanover Squa...

A Short Walk Down A Dark Street: Issue 109

News of the latest issue from SMFS list member Peter Dichellis…
Instead of cigars or cargo shorts this week’s blog gives Dads (and other folks everywhere) links about short mystery and crime fiction—reviews, releases, free reads, and more.
Includes all the latest free-to-read flash fiction from Mystery Tribune.
Plus: Submission call—a new Mardi Gras Mysteries anthology is open for submissions July 1 through August 31. Check out the details.
A short walk down a dark street (#109). Celebrating short mystery and crime fiction.
Best wishes,

One Day Sale: Flash and Bang: A Short Mystery Fiction Society Anthology

For one day only, Flash and Bang: A Short Mystery Fiction Society Anthology is on sale for just $2.00 at DriveThruFiction.com. It’s available there in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats. Regularly priced at $4.99, this is the perfect time for you to pick up a copy and show your support for SMFS!

Just head to DriveThruFiction.com and you’ll find the ebook smack dab on their homepage.

Want a paperback or hardcover copy? Those are 15% off every day when you purchase through The Untreed Reads Store (http://bit.ly/flashandbang). We even offer a large print paperback edition! Spend $20, get free shipping (you can combine ebook and paperback purchase to get the free shipping).

Synopsis Supplied by Jay Hartman, Untreed Reeds:

From Jan Christensen’s introduction to the book, here’s the author matched up with their title:

There are nineteen short stories by nineteen amazing authors all in one volume. Here’s a peek inside:

1. “The Perfect Crime,” a rhyming flash by Herschel Cozine, proves that crime writers can write the perfect crime story.
2. Was the fire at the old cotton mill arson? If so, who could have set it? Find out the surprising answer in “The Conflagration at the Nameless Cotton Gin” by Bobbi A. Chukran.
3. There’d been a “Murder on Elm Street” years ago, and the house had remained empty ever since. Until the power went out and two strangers moved in. A real mystery by Su Kopil.
4. In “Fireworks (From Judge Lu’s Ming Dynasty Case Files)” by P.A. De Voe, what was supposed to be a celebration turns deadly.
5. If you like surprise endings, you’ll love “The Bag Lady” by Laurie Stevens.
6. In “Sierra Noir” by Tim Wohlforth, the stakes are hot and high. A fire almost burns down a whole town, but a young woman loses her life to gunshots, not the fire.
7. Suzanne Berube Rorhus tells an unusual tale of two inventors that takes place in ancient times in “Thor’s Breath.”
8. Sandra Murphy provides laughs and surprises in her flash story, “Arthur.” Don’t miss it.
9. In “Fractured Memories” by Julie Tollefson, more than fireworks go off at a Fourth of July celebration.
10. “Don’t Let the Cop into the House” by O’Neil De Noux is a powerful story about two police officers having an intense discussion, and what follows.
11. In “Rosie’s Choice” by John Floyd, the suspense builds to unbearable heights while an old woman confronts two gangsters offering “protection.”
12. A retro, atmospheric story about unrequited love is JoAnne Lucas’s offering, “Don’t Be Cruel.”
13. Andrew MacRae’s “A Simple Job” involves a detective, a beautiful female CEO and blackmail.
14. Another flash story, “Beautiful Killer,” by Judy Penz Sheluk is a moving tale of love and loss.
15. There’s Diana, the smart hooker whose heart of gold is a bit tarnished in “The Fruit of Thy Loins” by Albert Tucher.
16. Earl Staggs’s story, “The Raymond Chandler Con,” stars a smart sheriff and a brave best friend who disagree about how to catch a murderer.
17. A satisfying, flash revenge story is short and not so sweet—“The Wrong Girl” by Barb Goffman.
18. Then there’s “Silent Measures” by BV Lawson, a heartwarming tale of a little deaf boy being lost, then found. 19. Walter Soethoudt's story, “A Day Like No Other,” closes out the anthology with a look at a police lieutenant in Antwerp whose social intolerance leads to a very bad day.

Guest Blog: Heartbreaks, Half-truths, and Writing Inspiration by Judy Penz Sheluk

The authors of Heartbreaks & Half-truths: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense share their opening lines and the inspiration behind the stories.

The cast, in order of appearance:

From Burning Desire by KM Rockwood
My cousin Sophia leaned in close, her boozy breath assailing my nostrils. “Such a lovely party, Roger. Aunt Regina thought you might be pretty much down in the dumps right now, what with the wedding called off and all. She thought a party for your fiftieth birthday would be just the thing to cheer you up.”

The Inspiration: My family swarmed with well-intentioned aunts and cousins who tried hard to support relatives, regardless of the merits of their cause. Usually their attempted supports just missed the mark.

From The Devil’s Club by Peggy Rothschild
There were two things Jessie Mayhew hated: visitors and talking about the past. The man standing on her front stoop was a problem on both counts. Unwelcome, unshaven and underdressed for the weather, he stood in that familiar cocky way, gloved hands on hips.

The Inspiration: Hiking with a group in Alaska sparked the germ of this tale. I started to think about how living in an isolated area provided a perfect setting for murder.

From Blackjack Road by John M. Floyd
Dave Cotten sat on his back porch with a .38 revolver in his lap, staring at nothing in particular. Under other circumstances, it would have been a fine day: sunny and humid but not quite steamy, with the kind of fresh, crisp clarity that comes only after a recent storm.

The Inspiration: Growing up in a house where the back porch had a view of miles of fields and woods, as far as the eye could see.

From The Greatest Secret by James Blakey
August 1962
My Fairlane backfires, drawing glares from the foursome of old-timers lining up putts on the ninth green. I return shaking fists with a friendly wave and continue up the looping driveway to the valet station.

The Inspiration: Eight years old and hacking away at the golf ball while impatient men mutter snide comments

From So Long by Edward Lodi
3:17 p.m.: Hey Sarah, Doc here. Not asleep I hope? The sedative should’ve worn off by now. I wouldn’t want to disturb you. You’ll need all the rest you can get to build up strength for what’s to come.

The Inspiration: While recuperating from an operation and listening to the messages on his Voice Mail, Edward asked himself: would it be possible to construct a suspenseful story consisting solely of voice messages left by various individuals on one person’s Voice Mail?

From Afterlife by Kate Flora
Since Hal died, Ida has had too much time on her hands. While he was with her, she never noticed how much of her day was spent taking care of his needs.

The Inspiration: This story of a widowed elderly woman watching the conflicts between young lobstermen stems from two things. My cottage on a lobstering cove in Maine, where I have lobstermen in front of me every day; and how, in my mystery fiction, my detective often goes for insight to the overlooked witness--a woman who watches her neighborhood or a child who isn't noticed.

From Tongor of the Elephants by Buzz Dixon
Here, lemme show you something you’ve never seen before.
I’ve only shown this to maybe six other people in the last thirty years, but I’ll be honest, I must’ve watched it dozens of times whenever I find myself in a bad mood, an ugly mood.

The Inspiration: I’ve long been interested in Hollywood’s history and folklore (viz. Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon books).  By chance in the weeks prior to writing my story, I binged watched six or eight old movie serials, and the next thing I knew, Tongor Of The Elephants materialized.

From The God Complex by J A Henderson
Jensen and Murphy peered through the smoked glass partition. On the other side, a dumpy, middle-aged woman sat at her console. She had unusually dark hair, short and bobbed, with a purple butterfly clasp fastened to one side. It looked suspiciously like a wig.

The Inspiration: It fascinates me that observation actually affects events on a quantum level. It seems like a great metaphor for reading, plus it makes me sound smart.

From For Elizabeth by Christine Eskilson
I’ve loved Elizabeth for years. From a pimpled adolescence obsessed with maritime history and video games through a lucrative tech career and right up to my present confines.

The Inspiration: Reimagining a sixteenth century scandal involving Queen Elizabeth I and one of her favorite courtiers, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

From See You in Court by Robb T. White
Trey’s friends all said it at one time or another with a wink or a laugh: “He’s just like that lawyer in Body Heat.”

The Inspiration: A homicide case involving a Las Vegas wife who murdered her husband. Knowing she wasn’t strong enough to lift his dead weight into the trunk of her car, she prepared months in advance by a regimen of intense exercise.

From In the Halls of Mercy by Rhonda Eikamp
My womanly intuition tells me you’ve pieced it together, but I’ll go over it for you from the beginning.
You’ve got to understand what a scandal it was for us here at Mercy. We don’t get out much, you know.

From Near Warrenton by Sharon Hart Addy
Warrenton. The town’s name on the green expressway sign tripped a thought. I swung to the right lane and took the exit, hoping a quick visit would prove profitable. The idea of scrounging up cold hard cash in a free hour before my next business call had an inviting ring to it.

The Inspiration: In Warrington came from seeing a skinny old man tinkering with an ancient tractor in a farm's driveway. The house, barn and equipment in the barnyard was well past its best -- all except one brand new building that stood out like a sore thumb. Why a new garage when everything else needed so much attention?

From Exposure by Tracy Falenwolfe
Sheila and Edward Vandaveer sat shoulder to shoulder across the desk from Dax and Lorna Cosgrove. Dax let the Vandaveers stew while he unwrapped a butterscotch candy and popped it into his mouth.

From Living One’s Own Truth by Paula Gail Benson
In the fall of 1931, near Patriot in Posey Township, Switzerland County, Indiana, I was employed to teach literature at Framingham Preparatory Academy, basically an all-male village school elevated only by its presumptuous name.

The Inspiration: I wondered why a young woman might be reared to be a heartbreaker. At first, she told the story. Then, I realized she needed a listener and my true narrator was born.

From Deep Freeze in Suburbia by Susan Daly
Dina Calder, the Honourable Member for Vancouver-Capilano, leaned back in her leather chair and reveled in the luxury of her office, with its view of the Ottawa River and the East Block in all its Gothic Revival glory. This was the life.

The Inspiration: Deep Freeze in Suburbia started life as a story about a book club. And a book about a long-ago murder, that one member wanted to forget. Plus arsenic-laced Nanaimo Bars. It didn’t end up that way.

From The Angel of Maastricht by Chris Wheatley
According to at least one expert witness, the victim was alive and possibly conscious during the last, frenzied attack, during which she suffered no less than seventeen separate knife wounds.

The Inspiration: I was thinking about the real-life situation of a friend whilst reading a biography which partly covered the Sharon Tate murder. The two came together to form the plot.

From Pink Hearts Pierced by Arrows by Joseph S. Walker
From her bedroom window, Crystal watched as her mother carried pile after pile of clothes out to the detached garage in the backyard, the garage where Crystal’s father kept the vintage Mustang he’d spent years lovingly restoring.

The Inspiration: Thinking about illicit affairs and the complicated emotional knots that can entangle three people, how alliances and sympathies twist and change--and how the whole thing can blow apart when you add money to the mix.

From Deadly Cargo by Blair Keetch
O’dark hundred.
My favorite time of day. Maybe I appreciated the pre-dawn hours because of the stillness. I’ve always enjoyed this pristine moment in time with no stress or any complications.

The Inspiration: As an airline project manager, I was always intrigued by the unusual and the bizarre in the world of aviation. So when I heard about the body of a stowaway falling from the landing compartment from an approaching aircraft into a into the garden near Heathrow airport, it sent my imagination into the dark motivations that drives dangerous actions.

From Ugly Fat by Steve Liskow
I’m coming back from the gym Saturday afternoon and the sun beating on my car makes my hair droop so you wouldn’t know I passed up the sauna. My gym bag huddles on the passenger seat like a sleeping dog.

The Inspiration: I remember nothing about when or where this story came to me. The draft I sent for the anthology is "Version S," which would be the 19th version. That’s far more than usual, and I don't know why there were so many. (Read more on Sleuth Sayers https://www.sleuthsayers.org/2020/06/heartbreaks-half-truths.html)

From Checkmate Charlie by Gustavo Bondoni
The small boy, as always, had set the difficulty level much too high. Charlie sighed inwardly and sent the holographic enemy out to get him.

The Inspiration: This one was actually built backwards. The title came to me first, fully formed, and I wondered who Checkmate Charlie might be. With a name like that, including cold war overtones, this Charlie had to be a sinister character.

From The Short Answer by James Lincoln Warren
HOLLYWOOD INVESTIGATIONS LTD. had been painted on the shopfront window in an arc, gold letters bordered in green, and below that, in a straight line and smaller print, was written “Sleuths to the Stars”, complete with quotation marks.

The Inspiration: I like to start a story by attempting to lodge a question in the reader’s mind. In this case, the question is, “Why would anybody with an IQ higher than a houseplant’s consider engaging a storefront private detective agency with such a cheesy name and motto?”

From Goulaigans by Judy Penz Sheluk
There’s a place about twenty miles north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, called Goulais River. Now, you might be tempted to pronounce it the French way—Goo-lay—or the way it reads phonetically—Goo-lays—but either way you’d be wrong.

The Inspiration: Watching Lake Superior as the waves came crashing in, a canoe pulled into the shore, off in the distance, and thinking, “what if?”

Heartbreaks & Half-truths: 22 Stories of Mystery & Suspense
Edited by Judy Penz Sheluk

Publisher: Superior Shores Press
Release Date: June 18, 2020

Book Synopsis:
Lovers and losers.
Whether it’s 1950s Hollywood, a scientific experiment, or a yard sale in suburbia, the twenty-two authors represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “heartbreaks and half-truths” in their own inimitable style, where only one thing is certain: Behind every broken heart lies a half-truth.
And behind every half-truth lies a secret.

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