Saturday, December 14, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 50

Scott D. Parker

The NaNoWriMo novel continues apace. My goal is to complete it this year and start 2020 fresh with new tales to tell.

Not sure about your Christmas/holiday time, but I enjoy reading specific Christmas stories in this time and listening almost exclusively to my Christmas CDs. Ever since 13 November--when I broke the seal on the newest album from Chicago, a Christmas one--that album has been spun numerous times. It's a wonderful collection of songs from a veteran music group using the vocabulary and trappings of Christmas to craft what is likely my favorite album of the year.

Spinning my own tunes has album kept me out of Whamageddon (so far.) Whamageddon, if you don't know, is a fun game where you are in the game as long as you don't hear "Last Christmas," the  really good Wham song.

Anyway, back to reading, I have a box of books that I break out every year. Most are Christmas-themed anthologies and I read a few stories each year. Granted, when one of those books is The Big Book of Christmas Stories, it'll take more than a few years to get through it.

Well, this year, there is something better.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and WMG Publishing has done something wonderful this year. They have created what is essentially an Advent calendar with short stories. You know what Advent calendars are: Starting on 1 December, they are calendars where you get a prize each day leading up to Christmas Day.  Sometimes it's chocolate. Sometimes it is Legos.

Well, via a Patreon subscription, they are releasing a short story per day from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. And it's been so fun! She curates all the stories, giving introductions via email where you get the link to the stories. If it's a particular day--like 6 December, St. Nicholas's Day--she selects a story about that day. Ditto for Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

I'm having a blast getting a new story each day. You can still sign up. Give yourself the gift of stories.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Beau picks up JAR OF HEARTS

Today it's Beau Johnson on Jennifer Hillier's JAR OF HEARTS

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

Get your own

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mystery Tribune Talks to Parnell Hall

Mystery Tribune, that excellent magazine both in print and online, has just done its first video production - an interview with veteran mystery writer Parnell Hall.  Hall has written a slew of novels, not to mention the screenplay to the 1984 horror film C.H.U.D. (which stands, as anyone who has seen the film knows, for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers).

Hall's 50th book, as he says in the interview, will be coming out soon.

The idea behind this talk is to create an oral history of the crime fiction writing world, and there will be more conversations to come.

You can watch the interview here on You Tube:

Monday, December 9, 2019


Chanel Miller’s 2019 memoir, KNOW MY NAME, describes the events following her sexual assault by rapist Brock Turner.

In the early morning hours of January 17, 2015, at Stanford University in California, nineteen-year-old Brock Turner raped Chanel Miller behind a dumpster near an on-campus fraternity house. Twenty-two-year-old Chanel was unconscious. Incapable of fighting back. 

The attack was stopped by two foreign exchange students passing by. The intoxicated Turner ran, but was tackled by one of the students. The attacker was arrested, and later, indicted on five sexual assault charges. He pleaded not guilty. He was convicted of three of the charges and sentenced to six months in prison, of which he served only three months. 

When Judge Aaron Persky served this lenient sentence, he cited Turner's age, the fact that both he and the victim were drunk and that prison time could have a "severe" impact on Turner's life as the reasoning behind the soft six-month sentence. He was swayed by the offender’s outstanding character and bright future, all pleadings for gentility given by his family and friends. After two years of anger, outrage and debate, Judge Persky was recalled from his seat on the court.

Through the entire process the survivor, Chanel, was called Emily Doe. This anonymous signature the only bit of privacy or privilege she was afforded throughout this traumatic time.  Immediately after the attack hospital officials and police knew what happened to Chanel, yet they were hesitant to tell her. 

In her book, she tells of waking up on a gurney in the hospital hallway and being told that she had been assaulted. But she learned the details of what had happened to her the way the rest of the world did — reading the news on her phone while at work. Investigators had taken pictures of her partially dressed, unconscious body for the investigation. These pictures were displayed in court during the trial. In front of her family. There was little dignity given to Chanel.

She heroically reclaimed her worth when she wrote KNOW MY NAME, published in September of this year. She writes about being defined only as the anonymous victim of something terrible that happened to her. Turner, on the other hand, was often characterized as a deep, talented young man with great potential. She talks about what it was like to endure a high-profile trial but it also gives her the chance to present herself not just as a victim but as a person. A strong, amazing person.

This book is emotional, thorough, and difficult to read, but it is an important read. KNOW MY NAME is sad and horrifying, yet somehow written with beauty and care. The book is a requiem for Chanel’s lost innocence. Innocence lost, not just at the hands of her attacker, but by the levels of bureaucratic manhandling after the damage was done. KNOW MY NAME is a song for so many others who lost their naiveté, their security or hopefulness

Sunday, December 8, 2019

We're Next

Fast-paced meeting photo taken at high shutter speed in order to capture all the action.
Bouchercon 2020 will be held in Sacramento, Calif. next October. The local organizing committee have been working on this event for years. We’ve had numerous planning meetings, but yesterday’s felt a little different now that the 2019 Dallas Bouchercon is in the books. Now we’re up to bat.
Bouchercon is the annual world mystery convention where readers, writers, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers and other lovers of mystery and crime fiction gather for a four-day weekend of panels, book signings, entertainment and education.
Check out our lineup and click here for more information and to register