Saturday, July 20, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 29

Scott D. Parker

Another really slow week for me, creatively. Finished reviewing the new novel's opening chapters and planned for the next few scenes. After writing into the dark for the previous six novels, I'm doing a hybrid for this new one. Yes, writing into the dark, but there are scenes and guideposts I intend to hit.

There is another new project going on that I've been working on for about a month now, but I don't want to reveal what it is just yet. Why? Because what I'm doing is something I want to do without any or much feedback. Well, that's a bit crappy of a....what's the term when creatives say a thing but never reveal said thing? Can't remember, so let me a bit more direct.

There is a series of movies many in the world have watched and I've never seen. Just last month, I decided to watch them all in order and write reviews about them. I've now watched and reviewed six of the films. My reviews have added up to over 10,000 words so far, and I've still got a few movies left to go. The reason for my comment above about feedback is that these movies have passionate fans and I don't want to get some feedback before I actually watch the movies on my own.

Anyone care to guess?

The Moon Landing at 50

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing! It's been great living in Houston this week and just about every TV station has a special or two. Even the networks are getting in on it. On Tuesday, CBS moved Blood and Treasure up to 8 pm, making me miss it when I tuned in at nine. But there was an Apollo show so I was assuaged.

I finished AMERICAN MOONSHOT by Douglas Brinkley this week. It's a political history of the moon landing through the prism of John Kennedy's evolving philosophy about the validity of the moon shot. Good book. Here's my review.

For those of y'all old enough to remember, what was it like living through that momentous time? What was it like going through your daily life knowing Apollo 11 was flying to the moon? I'd love to hear your reminiscences.

Oh, and if you've not already discovered it, you can follow everything that transpired fifty years ago at It is exactly what you think it is. Everything that was said back and forth, photos, elapsed time, all in one great website. I joked with a co-worker earlier this week that if you were a space junkie and had some sort of recuperation that involved you laying in bed for days, this would have been a neat way to pass the time.

The actual landing was 20:17 UTC. You'll have to do the math to figure out what you're local time is. For us in Houston and the Central Time Zone, that will be 1:17 pm today. I've already set my alarm on my phone so I can return to the website listed above and scan some TV channels to see if anyone is doing a "live" broadcast. Hope so.

Enjoy the week, and enjoy the moon landing fifty years on.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Called Out.

Not much from me this week as, by the time you read this, I will be well and truly ensconced at The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in the picturesque English town of Harrogate.

I’m writing this on the Monday just before I start packing for the 4 day trip, which I am sharing this year (as always) with my husband and (for the first time) with my Crime Fiction Loving Dad, as well as with a whole busload of crime writers who I’m almost impossibly proud to call my friends.

I was a solitary kid growing up, and as an adult I haven’t really had lots of friends to date, but since joining the crime-writing fraternity I have been blown away by the community, the camaraderie, the sheer love, and I am genuinely honoured that I’ve ended up with friends – genuine people-I-can-call-when-my-shit-becomes-too-much-for-me friends.

Friends who – as good friends should - call out my shit when it’s out of order: This week I made a comment on my social media. I was seeing footage of an event in Northern Ireland and my frustration at the social conservatism and homophobia of certain politicians and their supporters boiled over and lead to me making a comment about all the people at that event and – worse – all the people of a particular affiliation in the region.

And a friend called me out on it. This wasn’t tikki-torch ‘good people on both sides’ ism; this was genuine ‘You just called me – by inclusion – a backwards piece of shit, and I’m not.”

And he was right: he isn’t. My anger at a situation (the fact that women’s reproductive rights and equal marriage have only been passed because the local politicians were – for now – overruled by the government in London, and that they might yet block both regulations) boiled over into a crass generalisation.

I knew that there was a conversation to be had about what I said and why, and about how he felt and why.

But I knew that Social Media is not the place to have that conversation. I also knew that my feelings, at the moment where I was called out, were strange: Embarrassment blended with irritation, then a flash of anger, then a moment of calm where I looked at what I had written, looked at what he had written, realised that this was where most people doubled-down, where the smouldering embers were quite often on Social Media doused in kerosene, and….

I paused.

What was the purpose of my original comment? To vent my anger.

Had I made a generalisation? Yes.

Was it unfair? Well any generalisation, by it’s nature, is unfair – not every ‘X’ is a ‘Y’ – so yes, it was unfair to some in the referenced group.

So I took the conversation offline.

I said sorry.

I explained why I was angry. I said what I wanted to have happen (ie I talked about what I was FOR rather than what I was AGAINST, and thereby made the conversation mean something because instead of a generalisation I was talking specifics – i.e. what I am specifically asking those Unionist politicians if / when they return to Stormont to do.)

I look at so many Social Media spats these days and they are all anti- they are all saying “This person is cancelled,” or “This group are all bastards,” and I fell into the trap.

And it’s not like it was a well camouflaged trap of the most malevolent genius.

It was the trap I seem to spend half my life pointing out to other people: Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t be a troll. Think: Is what I am trying to say actually sayable in 280 characters? Is it a nuanced statement? Is the audience on a micro-blogging platform really the place to say it?

And if you say it, and get it wrong: If offence is taken either genuinely because you were a dick or via a misunderstanding caused by your trying to discuss a complex issue on a fucking postage stamp and if you get called out for the inherent contradictions in your half a paragraph, what then?

Do you tell the offended that they’re stupid for taking offence, or that they’re clearly deliberately misunderstanding you, or do you double down and take the ‘but the other guys are just as bad” tack?

All I knew was And I don’t want to be the person adding to that environment where debate increasingly consists of purely opposing statements followed by fury and ultimately leading to death threats, and where nobody seems overly worried on explaining themselves or in understanding the opposing viewpoint.

I’ll make an exception for Nazis, open ‘phobes, and racists of any ilk. But they normally self-identify, so I think there’s little risk of me getting it wrong in those environments.

So instead of doubling-down and making my anger a flame to burn down the internet, I’ll see my friend face to face at Harrogate, this big forward looking smart creative man, and we’ll talk about what we can do, not what we can resent, not what we can be against, but what we can be for.

And we won’t change the world, but we might be able to make a start.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Derek Farrell is the author of 5 Danny bird mysteries. “Death of a Diva,” “Death of a Nobody,” “Death of a Devil,” and “Death of an Angel” can all be purchased from the usual e-stores or directly from the publisher here. The fifth, “Come to Dust,” is available exclusively as a free download from his website .

His jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie’s paperboy, and Investment Banker on the 80th floor of the World Trade Centre.

He’s just delivered a sixth Danny Bird mystery and is going straight into a new book as otherwise he tends to fret.

He’s often on social media and can be found at.
Twitter: @DerekIFarrell (
Instagram: Derekifarrell (

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


    The first time you do something can be exciting, terrifying , magical or even confusing. This is usually the case whether it's your first time having sex or your first time scaling Mt.Everest.  I experienced all these emotions and more at my very first THRILLERFEST.

      For the uninitiated THRILLERFEST  is the annual gathering of fans, writers and industry professionals in the literary fields of suspense, mysteries and eponymously thrillers. It's a whirlwind  five day event that combines the anxiety induced paroxysms of a first date with the casual camaraderie of people trapped in an elevator for ten awkward minutes with the halcyon euphoria of meeting your idols in the flesh while holding a cocktail and trying not to trip over your words. 
     THRLLERFEST is held every year in the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The city that never sleeps but seemingly takes a lot of power naps. After enjoying my first rip roaring Bouchercon last year I had high expectations for THRILLERFEST.  
    Two minutes after I stepped in the hotel I ran into John Sanford. 
My first THRILLERFEST  was off to a rocking start. After a few false starts I acquired my credentials which included the familiar lanyard , a bag of wonderful books and a nifty hat that doesn't fit. That is not the fault of THRILLERFEST... my head is so large it has it's own gravity field.  
     Thursday night was a maelstrom (I know it's similar to whirlwind but that's the only way I can describe it.) of handshakes and business cards as I made my way from the bar to the cocktail party and back again. Along the way I saw a lot of old friends and made some new acquaintances. I don't think I made any enemies. At least not on purpose. I found myself surrounded by writers in every stage of their careers. Grizzled veterans, naive newbies and middle of the road journeymen or women like myself.  I'd like to report more of what I saw Thursday but I  am old and passed out early. 
   Friday was the first full day of panels and let me just say this. I've been to a few conferences now and I know everyone does there best to make the map or guide simple and informative but for the life of me I can never find any panel on the first day of any conference. I wander down the hall like a member of Shackleton's voyage lost and on the verge of cannibalism. 
   But I digress.
 The panels by and large are informative and inspirational in equal measure. We got to pick the brains of some of the most successful crime and mystery writers working today. One of the people who stood out to me was Karin Slaughter. At times hilarious and heartfelt. Tender and tough she dispensed great advice with just the right amount of snark that any good writer would appreciate. 
   Friday night ended with another party and more hand shaking and even more business cards. I ran out because my chronic low self-esteem ensured I didn't bring that many because i didn't think anyone would want my card.
    Saturday was the last day of conferences but for me the three highlights were getting Jennifer Hilier to sign my copy of Jar of Hearts. Getting Stephen Hunter to sign my copy of Dirty White Boys, after which I followed him onto the elevator. I swear I wasn't stalking him but the President of Taiwan was also at the Hyatt and elevator became a precious commodity in light of her security detail and staff.  The third highlight was Jennifer Hillier winning Best Novel at the awards banquet.
     All in all I had a fantastic , wonderful  interesting and somewhat intoxicated time at THRILLERFEST.  Yes it is a tad bit pricey but if you can go I recommend you do go. The only way to make your dreams come true is to chase them. 

  Now I said at the outset that THRILLERFEST  was five days. Technically it is. However the first day is basically classes and workshops. The next day is a Thunderdome  of pitches to agent's and editors for writers looking to break in to the business. I didn't attend these meetings because I am pleased to announce that my 2nd novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND was acquired by Flatiron Books through my agent Josh Getzler of HSG and Associates. 

How's that for a plot twist?

Shawn Cosby is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. His first novel MY DARKEST PRAYER is available from Intrigue Publishing via Amazon. com  His 2nd novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND will be published next year by Flatiron Books.
follow him on Twitter @blacklionking73  or at his authors page on Facebook S.A. Cosby Author .

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Edge of Democracy

Not that it's solace or anything, but sometimes it's bracing and instructive to examine the problems going on in other countries, and recently I submerged myself in Brazil and its difficulties by watching the documentary, The Edge of Democracy. Made by Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa, it's a movie that is part documentary and part memoir, and though it takes a very close and detailed look at the turbulent and sometimes head-spinning recent political events in Brazil, it also serves as a fascinating cautionary tale for this current time in the world, a time of bruised and battered and imperiled democracies. 

It goes without saying that Brazil has its own history and problems.  It has issues and political situations unique to itself.  But at the same time, it also has a number of things in common with the United States.  Here is a story of a place where a widespread optimism took hold under a particular leader and, briefly, his successor, only to see a remarkable series of events result in a total reversal of power.  A democracy that appeared to be heading in one direction (in this case to the left and toward more and more openness) wound up sliding backwards into nationalism and populism, and now Brazil has a leader who knows how to push, through his words and threats, all the autocratic buttons.  And this all happened, it's important to note, through what you might call legal means.  We're not talking about any actual coups here.  

Do you think the United States is polarized?  Our polarization has got nothing on Brazil.  Do you think we have a president who is an environmental disaster?  Brazil's president has set about allowing faster deforestation of the Amazon jungle than anyone in history. It's funny how the language used by opposing sides in the United States so often sounds quite like the language (and insults) hurled between opposing sides in Brazil.  And let's not forget that both countries still have to deal, quite uncomfortably, with the legacy of slavery.  

It might not be something you want to watch when you're in the mood for a comedy (unless we're talking about the overall and eternal comedy of being human), but The Edge of Democracy is a movie absolutely worth seeing.  I found that it had anger and sadness and very sharp analysis in equal measure, and I found it riveting.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday Roundup

A bit of news on upcoming projects you need to be aware of and good news for friends in our community.

Looking forward to watching…

Richard Vialet, Managing Editor over at BLACK GUYS DO READ and award-winning cinematographer on AMERICAN SOUL and THE QUAD, is finishing work on a brand-new Starz series and I am extremely excited. You should be, too.

P-VALLEY is based on Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall’s play PUSSY VALLEY. Ms. Hall, the first black woman in history to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play for THE MOUNTAINTOP, is executive producing the production and serving as showrunner. 

According to Starz, P-Valley “takes an unapologetic look at the lives of strip-club dancers working down in the Dirty Delta.”

“This southern-fried, hour-long drama tells the kaleidoscopic story of a little-strip-club-that-could and the big characters who come through its doors - the hopeful, the lost, the broken, the ballers, the beautiful, and the damned. Trap music meets film noir in this lyrical and atmospheric series that dares to ask what happens small-town folk dream beyond the boundaries of the Piggly Wiggly and the pawnshop.” – Starz

With the fictitious Pink Pony as the main setting, the show stars Brandee Evans as Mercedes, a dancer who has been on stage too long and seen too much, and Nicco Annan as Uncle Clifford, the Pink Pony’s bouncer, bar manager, and drag queen.

Watch for this gritty new drama near the end of 2019.

Looking forward to reading…

Tom Leins has a new book set to hit the streets on July 26.

Tom is the author of the Paignton Noir novelettes SKULL MEAT, SNUFF RACKET, SLUG BAIT and SPINE FARM and the short story collections MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES (Close To The Bone, June 2018) and REPETITION KILLS YOU (All Due Respect, September 2018).

His new book is BONEYARD DOGS, the dark sequel to the cult classic MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES. 

This tight and brutal story revolves around Paignton private investigator Joe Rey. Hired to track down the missing teenage daughter of a demented local lounge singer, Rey’s investigation spirals bloodily out of control, and he finds himself surrounded by the ruined corpses of  traffickers. The police are determined to pin the murders on the hapless PI, but as his search unfolds it becomes apparent that the culprit may actually be a man he knows all too well…

BONEYARD DOGS: A PAIGNTON NOIR MYSTERY will be published by Close To The Bone in July 2019, and THE GOOD BOOK, a collection of wrestling noir will be published by All Due Respect in December 2019.

Looking forward to listening…

Tom Pitts over at 10th Rule Books Old School Radio Serial Podcast.

The 10th Rule Books podcast is old school radio serial featuring bad ass pulp fiction that skips the boring parts. Each episode is a chapter featuring some cool horror, sci-fi, crime fiction or some combination of the three. Don’t be surprised by the gratuitous violence and possibly inappropriate dark humor.

Season 3 starts with flash fiction from Tom Pitts and a wicked bit of street level noir entitled A Little Help From My Friends.

Congratulations go to…

Shawn Cosby signed a two-book deal with Flat Iron Books. Look out for his newest novel BLACKTOP WASTELAND soon. BLACKTOP WASTELAND is set in a rural African-American community in Virginia. We follow a former getaway driver as he’s pulled into one last job. A story of sons and fathers, fast cars, heists gone bad, and a man pushed to his limits.

Shawn is a superb and passionate writer with a command of storytelling that is extraordinary. Keep your eyes on him, he’s going far.

Mark your calendars for upcoming Noir at the Bar events…

Wilmington, Delaware

Sunday, July 21


STONEY’S BRITISH PUB (featured on Food Network)

Hillsborough, North Carolina

Thursday, July 25


YONDER, Southern Cocktails and Brews

Arlington, Virginia

Sunday, August 25



Public libraries boycotting audio books

I'd like to live in a world in which I didn't have to know about things such as "windowing" a book. I have quite a bit going on lately, and I feel much like Homer Simpson when he says that each time he learns something new, something old falls out of his brain.

And, yet, here we are. Thanks, publishing.
The George Mason Reg Lib, via

The librarians are, as always, doing the Lord's work.

The whole digital book thing -- ebooks and audiobooks -- has been screwy for libraries and now is getting oh so much more screwier.

Here's where we are ->

Citing Embargo, Libraries Plan Boycott of Blackstone Digital Audio

The Washington Digital Library Consortium (WDLC), a statewide coalition of some 44 public libraries across Washington state, is organizing a potential six-month boycott of Blackstone Publishing's digital audiobooks. The move follows Blackstone's decision, announced last month, that as of July 1 it would embargo selected new release audiobook titles in libraries for 90 days. The WDLC is urging libraries across the nation to join them in their protest, which is set to begin on August 1.
“As advocates for equitable access for our residents, we protest your decision and, as a result, will boycott Blackstone’s e-audiobooks for six months (August 1, 2019, to January 31, 2020). We ask you to reverse the embargo and to refrain from creating future barriers for libraries,” reads a draft letter making the rounds in the library community. “We take these steps because we truly believe that services without special barriers to libraries are best for both for our patrons and your business.”


Recent developments suggest a grim future for digital content in libraries, writes Sari Feldman, unless library supporters find a way to respond.

Despite holding meetings with librarians (including me), as well as with representatives from the American Library Association, it does not appear that Macmillan has listened to our concerns. 

As usual, librarians are fighting the good fight, with limited funds and limitless energy.

As Michael Kozlowski says:

I believe that major publishers and smaller ones are actively trying to sabotage the public library. Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon and Schuster and others have recently changed their business model from perpetual ownership to a two year term.  It certainly seems like all sorts of publishers are trying to screw over the library. I believe libraries should not stop at an embargo with just Blackstone, but they should boycott all publishers that suddenly change their terms to make more money. >>>