Wednesday, October 30, 2019

parting is such sweet sorrow...

It's been a good time here at Do Some Damage. But I think I've run out of things to say. Hard to believe, I know!
Thank you to Holly and Steve for inviting me, and thanks to all my fellow DSDers, and readers.

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away....


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Next Stop, Dallas

Like many, I'm looking forward to the four-day escape that is Bouchercon and one of the things I expect to do is take a few walks around the city of Dallas while I'm there.  Aside from the gathering itself, one thing I like about each Bouchercon is that it provides a chance to visit cities I might not visit otherwise, to be honest. And nothing against Cleveland or Raleigh or Long Beach or Dallas.  But there are indeed so many places to visit in the world (and limited money to do it with), and one has to prioritize. Everyone I've known who has visited Dallas mentions Dealey Plaza, of course, and I may stop by there, though to be honest, I prefer just wandering around a city, strolling through its downtown and various neighborhoods, just to get a feel for the place, or a tiny feel. I always try to get out of the convention hotel for awhile and do just that, and with the weather warm in Dallas, this should not be a difficult thing to do.  And restaurants? It's always good to check out a couple of good local places for lunch and dinner.

I'll be moderating a panel this year, called "The Mystery of History", which is about historical mysteries.  The panelists will be Frankie Y. Bailey, Kari Bovee, L.A. Chandlar, Liz Freeland, and S.C. Perkins.  Since I received the panel assignment, I've been getting acquainted with the works of each of these writers, seeing how each of them incorporates history into their fiction.  Frankie Y. Bailey writes about a southern crime historian named Lizzie Stuart. Kari Bovee has published two historical mysteries centered around Annie Oakley.  L.A. Chandlar has the Art Deco Mystery series going, set in 1930's New York City.  Liz Freeland writes about Louise Falk, a former amateur investigator who becomes a New York City police officer when there were few of them on the force, around 1913, and S.C. Perkins has as her main character a genealogist named Lucy Lancaster. Perkins is writing the Ancestry Detective series, set inTexas.

Five authors, all of whom approach history, different periods and locales in history, from different angles.  I'm eager to discuss with all of them the writing of fiction to explore the past and whether they use that exploration as a means to reflect on the present.

Anyway, time to go. I have to start packing.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

You should be reading Nikki Dolson.

Happy Monday, friends. Today, I would like you to learn more about Nikki Dolson. 

I'm a big fan of Ms. Dolson's short stories. Unrelenting and unapologetic, they are brutal and, at times, darkly funny. Her fast as a bullet shorts can be found in the archives of Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, Red Rock Review, Spinetingler, and many more.

Here’s the good news, she has a short story collection, LOVE AND OTHER CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR, arriving from Bronzeville Books next month. In this collection, Dolson delivers thirteen stories exploring love and the many ways it can manifest. These are tales of love and family, hard choices, betrayal, and heartbreak. 
Sex, violence, and blood. What more could you ask for?

Her debut novel came out in 2017. In ALL THINGS VIOLENT we follow Laura Park, but this is not our only meeting with this relatable and complex young woman. 

Nikki Dolson gave us a tiny glimpse in BETTY FEDORA TWO: KICK ASS WOMEN IN CRIME. Please note, Ms. Dolson shines as a short story and flash fiction wielder. It is in her compact tales where we first meet Laura.

Laura Park is a hit woman. Almost. She has weeks, if not months, of brutal training under the equally complex, but still terrifying assassin, Frank to complete. Together, they work for Simon, the callous and single-minded owner of a highly-specialized investigative organization. This trio forms a fragile and difficult team. 

Throughout ALL THINGS VIOLENT, Laura faces hurdles like so many young women do in the everyday world. Condescending and disrespectful co-workers. Manipulative and greedy bosses. Ugly, complicated family matters. Making rent. Hiding the body. Laura has stepped too many paces off the beaten path. Her road is much darker than other young women and the consequences are far graver. 

Sounds like noir to me. Excellent noir.

Dolson serves backstory throughout the book, never forcing. Parceling. The way in which we get closer to Laura feels natural. A new friend learning how to confide. Her past and how she got to this place in life is just as important and enthralling as her wild, violent present.

Laura is a powerful young woman, full of shiny spots and flaws. You want to root for her and shake her. Make her a cup of cocoa and kick her ass. She does not sit comfortably in any pigeon-hole. She’s perfect.

This book was a great read and a great ride. Quick and brutal. Ms. Dolson snaps her dialogue with perfect realism. I am looking forward to many more stories revolving around Laura.

“Dolson's book has been on my TBR list for a while now, and Marietta's description below bumped it up to the top.” – E.A. Aymar. THE UNREPENTANT, I’LL SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD.

Visit her website, for more excellent stories and up to date information.

Moderating Influences

Moderating a panel at this past spring’s Left Coast Crime in Vancouver, BC. That’s me at the end staying out of the way, then Steven Buehler, Renee Asher Pickup, Amy Peele, and Sam Wiebe.

I’m getting ready to leave for Bouchercon in a few days. It’s the biggest crime fiction convention in the world, and this year’s fiftieth anniversary in Dallas is expected to be larger than ever. I’m one of the panelists on Southern Charm: Books Set in the South on Friday, but the real prep work is for my Saturday assignment. I’ll be moderating The Postman Always Rings Twice: Desire as Motive. We’ll be talking about love, romance, and sex as motives in crime fiction, and how using those in novels has changed over the years. It’ll be juicy!

I love moderating. It’s basically interviewing, and I love interviewing. The whole reason I went into journalism (aside from getting to write all the time) was to be able to ask people questions. Moderating a convention panel is obviously not the same as grilling a politician (which is its own spectacular kind of fun). With a panel, you’re asking questions in order to start a conversation among other people—not with you. You need to make sure all the participants get equal time. You need to keep the discussion rolling, and you need to stay out of the way.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some great moderators when I’ve been one of the panel guests. One of the best is DSD favorite Josh Stallings. His prep work and thoroughness is legendary and being on a panel that he’s running is a ton of fun and completely unstressful, because you know you’re in good hands.

I’m aiming to provide the same experience Saturday. Some of my discussion starters include:
- How do you personally write desire as a motive? Do you decide on that beforehand, or does it develop as you go along in your writing process?
- How does desire compare with other criminal motives, like greed or power?
- What novels have influenced you in this respect?

If you’re attending Bouchercon, come find me and say hello. I’ll be around all week and I'm hoping to meet as many new people as I can, including fellow DSDers Scott Adlerberg and SA Cosby.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 43

Scott D. Parker

Who's doing NaNoWriMo?

This coming Friday is 1 November, the month associated with National Novel Writing Month. Thirty days, 50,000 words, no looking back, just charge ahead.

I'm gonna do it. Pretty sure. I wrote in this column a few weeks ago about writing short stories to get out of the slump. That's fine, but I think I'm better at writing novels. Longer works, because even my short stories are rather long. The short story I submitted to an upcoming anthology came out to nearly 8,000 words. Is that long?

So I'm looking at starting a novel this Friday. I've done NaNoWriMO before back in 2015. I've done a "NaNoWriMo" in multiple other months. Averaging 1,667 words per day can seem daunting if you've never done it before, but when you get in a groove, the words fly. My plan is to average around 800 words per writing session: one at 4:45-6:00 am and another at lunch time. That's for weekdays. Weekends should likley be early morning sessions each day.

The biggest decision between now and Halloween night will be to decide which tale to tell. I've got three in the hopper: one modern mystery, one modern slice of life story, and one...thriller. I think. I've come up with the idea for the story--based on a song, no less!--but I'm trying to figure out its style. Good thing about not planning ahead: the style will reveal itself during the writing process.

Looking forward to having some fun.

Truth Told

Do Some Damage was founded in part to discuss the writing process. All of the writers who have posted all have our own takes on the subject of writing and creativity. It's one thing to hear how we writers who are not as famous as other folks say what we have to say, but its something quite different when a person as famous as Christopher McQuarrie weighs in.

In a 24-part Twitter thread, McQuarrie speaks truth upon truth upon truth. Most of it is difficult to read, especially if you are betting on the 'lottery' [his term]. I zeroed in on Tweet #8 because it echoed what I've always called "Control the Controllables":

8. The secret to success is doing what you love, whether or not you’re being paid. The secret to a rewarding career in film (and many other fields) is focusing entirely on execution and not on result.

Read the whole thing. Print it and tape it to your writing desk.

The Great Kevin Smith Watch

In case you missed some of my other posts, I made a decision this summer: watch all twelve of Kevin Smith's films leading up to the thirteenth coming out this week here in Houston. This past Wednesday, I posted my twelfth review for Yoga Hosers. This coming Wednesday, I'll be seeing the new film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, at a special event here in H-Town. Smith and his friend Jason Mewes are traveling with the new movie in which they show the film to the audience and then do a question and answer session.

I'll be posting my review of the new film on 6 November, but as a placeholder, this week I'll be posting my ranking of Smith's films. I instantly knew my top three, the fourth one, and the one in dead last. What I didn't know was what film would get the top spot. I sat with a piece of paper and started putting the movies in my own order. When I finally realized which film I liked best, I looked forward to publishing the list. It's unconventional, but easy to understand if you know me and what I like.

Any ideas?

TV Show of the Week: Evil

Two Thursdays ago, my wife suggested we watch episode four of the new TV show Evil on CBS. I had seen the previews all summer long while watching Elementary. Initially it looked like something not in my wheelhouse, but I gave episode four a try.

Intrigued. Very intrigued.

Then I watched episode one. Hooked. All in.

I've now seen episodes five and two. Just have to see three and I'll be caught up.

Anyone else watching this show?

That covers it for the week. As I write this, the Houston Astros are up 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Hopefully when you read this tomorrow, the team from H-Town will have a World Series win in 2019.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The twist in the tail

I've written my whole life, and been a published author for several years now, and every time I think I have the whole thing locked down, the universe sort of twists. Sometimes, it shows me something shitty about the whole writing thing that I had been unaware of, but others - more often, to be honest - it shows me something brilliant that would never have happened to me if I hadn't written a book, sent it out into the world, and allowed myself to say "I'm a writer."
One of those amazing things is the sheer volume of friends I have acquired since I became a writer. I was never exactly friendless, but I have found, in writing, my tribe, and it's my tribe that sent this blessing my way.

You see, back in July my dear friend Paddy Magrane (author of the brilliant Chase Thrillers Disorder and Denial) was doing some work in Israel at a charity called Safe Haven for Donkeys.

Safe Haven for Donkeys was set up in 2000 to help the thousands of working donkeys in Israel and the West Bank. They provide life-long care to around 200 unwanted and abused donkeys of all ages but the charity’s work does not stop at the sanctuary gates.

Each month, their mobile clinic helps around 1,000 working donkeys, mules and horses across the West Bank and they also have a permanent clinic in the city of Nablus, where my friend Paddy was working.

In early July, Paddy, at the clinic, met a donkey who’s leg had been broken

Now, a donkey with a broken leg is of little use and if the owner cannot afford vets bills and / or decides that the cost of feeding and healing the donkey is more than he’s willing to bear, the animals can be abandoned. Cast aside the way you or I might chuck a broken vase in the trash.

And that’s what had happened to this donkey. He’d been found, by the outreach people at Save Haven For Donkeys, abandoned in the street in Hebron. Left to starve.

And so they took him in, and by the time Paddy met him, the donkey had made a full recovery. One small problem remained. He had no name. As a visitor, Paddy was given the huge honour of naming him.

It was the third of July, Paddy was far from home, but he knew that the day in question was my birthday, and so he christened this donkey – the one who was left to die, and who got lucky and lived –  Derek.

And so here, I suppose, we need to talk about me. Like I said, I write crime novels. They’re about – spoiler – crimes. But they’re also about family and friendship and love and compassion (but not, so far, about donkeys). But nothing prepared me for how emotional I’d feel at this naming. Cos I’ve often, in the past, felt broken and abandoned. Sometimes it’s been because I’ve broken and abandoned my self, but often it’s been because I’m hearing the voices telling me that people like me can’t do what I’ve decided I really want to do; and being told you’re not good enough – being told by the people entrusted to educate and form your spirit that people like you are worthless – can leave you feeling lost. Abandoned. Alone. So Derek the Donkey made perfect sense to me.

Last week, Paddy was back in Nablus, and sent me a picture of Derek, sprightly and spirited (and certainly more spirited than I’d be if I’d been left out by the trash with a broken leg just a few months previously).

Paddy was given the honour of helping put the named bridle on to my spirit animal. It’s not the first time I’ve been referred to as a donkey and had a bridle put on me but the previous time was in a long condemned club on Tooley Street in the late eighties, so we’ll leave that story for another time…

Suffice it to say that Derek and Doctor Studley Al-Vetski are doing well. Yes, I saw your eyes straying to Dr Studley. Isn’t it lovely when the people who help animals are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside? And that, I think, is where I will leave that one.

Many of the donkeys at Safe Haven are available for adoption. Chill: This does not mean they do a home visit and then send your donkey of choice around in a crate (though I am sure that some of you are now considering ‘donkeysbymail’ as a business venture). What it really means is you pay an amount, they send you a picture and a fact file and a cuddly  donkey toy and you get the joy of knowing that you’ve done something for something and someone else.

I highly recommend it. I’ve already adopted Daniel in honour of the titular hero of my series, and am negotiating a name change for a Caz so I can adopt the pair and have them as enduring mascots at book signings.

Derek Farrell is the author of 6 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 . The sixth - Death of a Sinner - is on Fahrenheit Press's fall 19 slate. 

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 never off social media and can be found at.
Twitter: @DerekIFarrell (
Instagram: Derekifarrell (