The year in mystery.
When 2017 began, I was still working at Texas A&M with one month before retirement. No mystery there unless you count the mysteries of retirement planning, health care, annuities, etc. I am pleased to report that retirement is going great.
Left Coast Crime—Honolulu Havoc, mid-March in Honolulu. This was my retirement trip, one we had planned on for years. Once my retirement date was set we built a six-week tour of Hawaii, beginning with the convention at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. For mystery lovers, Left Coast Crime is always a great treat. This was no exception. My hat goes off to Lucinda Surber and her team of organizers.
The convention began with a reader connection event. Mary Fran and I hosted six attendees for drinks and sunset at the House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel. Great evening, great conversation, and spectacular sunset. I participated in two panel discussions. One panel on writing Hawaiian, moderated by Terry Ambrose, and another panel on writing villains moderated by Ken Wishnia. Both panels had lively, intelligent speakers, as you can see in the pictures. On the writing hawaii panel, we had Leslie Karst, Laurie Hannan, and Katharine Nohr. The Villain panel had Laurie R. King, Terry Shames, and Matt Coyle.
Between panels, I had a chance to connect with friends, listen to great music, eat great food, and swim in the beautiful Pacific. I don’t think any convention can top LCC in Honolulu. Readers of this blog know some of the things we did after the convention, so I won’t go into that here. Stay turned for future posts because I haven’t finished recounting our adventures.
When 2017 began, I was working on the sixth draft of a novel, Day Of Infamy and getting editorial assistance from Dario Ciriello . I finished the seventh draft before heading to Honolulu. I also began querying agents about the book. I sent the first query on March 7. On November 9, I signed with Elizabeth Marshea of Ladderbird Literary Agency https://www.ladderbird.com. In all, I queried 80 agents. Ladderbird was number 75. Between March and November, Day Of Infamy went through three more drafts and changed title to Questions Of loyalty. I’m hoping for a sale in 2018.
Speaking of title changes, I changed the title of IFHC, a short story that had appeared in the Shamus Sampler II anthology, to Red Christmas, put a new cover on it, and published it on Kindle as a stand-alone. https://www.amazon.com/Red-Christmas-Ava-Rome-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B074PDSTXY/.
Closing out the year, I received notice that my short story, Shaft On Wheels, has been accepted for inclusion in a forthcoming anthology, The Eyes Of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken. It will be published next year to coincide with Bouchercon in Dallas. Shaft On Wheels introduces a new character, Colt Colton, a Texas private eye. Colt is a former Dallas PD officer and former bull rider who was injured by a bull and is now confined to a wheelchair. I’m planning on several more Colt stories.
The first book of the year (or perhaps the last book of 2016) was a Christmas gift. Impounded, by Linda Gordon and Gary Okihiro. Impounded is a set of essays and photos by Dorothea Lange of the Japanese concentration camps during World War II. Lange is best know for her photo essays of the Depression. She was commissioned by the War Department to photograph the camps in a propaganda effort to show that the internees were being well treated. Instead, she captured much of the emotion and unfairness of the experience. As a result, her photos were impounded and only allowed to be made public a few years ago.Since my book, Questions of Loyalty, deals with the same history, I found the book to be moving and enlightening.
A book which I acquired early In the year but have not read is The Cooperstown Symposium On Baseball And American Culture: 2013-2014. I purchased it on Kindle while doing research for Questions Of Loyalty. I wanted more information on baseball in the Japanese concentration camps and the book contains an essay on the topic. The essay might have more than I want to know. In looking at the index. I was able to determine that the author discusses baseball at Tule Lake, the camp that figures prominently in my story. Moreover, the author is named Osaki, which is the name of an important character in Questions Of Loyalty. I closed the ebook and changed my character’s name to Miyazaki because I don’t want to be telling Osaki’s story. I hope to read the essay when Questions of Loyalty is published.
A selection of books I read in 2017.
Rusty Puppy, Joe R. Lansdale
Honky Tonk Samurai, Joe R. Lansdale
Devil Red, Joe R. Lansdale
Coco Butternut, Joe R. Lansdale
Dead Aim, Joe R. Lansdale
Hyenas, Joe R. Lansdale
Hap and Leonard Ride Again, Joe R. Lansdale
(Note: since we had two long flight two and from Hawaii, and many more inter island flights, plus a lot of beach time, I downloaded all the Lansdale books I hadn’t read for the hawaii trip)
The Gods Of Guilt, Michael Connelly
The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, Michael Connelly
The Late Show, Michael Connelly
World Gone By, Dennis Lehane
The Promise, Robert Crais
Not A Drill, Lee Child
Night School, Lee Child
Small Wars, Lee Child
A Wanted Man, Lee Child
The Fever, Megan Abbott
Hawke’s Prey, Reavis Z. Wortham
Bucky F___ing Dent, David Duchovny
Dying For A Taste, Leslie Karst
Land Sharks, Katharine Nohr
Honolulu Hottie, Terry Ambrose
The Rainbow Connection, Laurie Hannan
The Lady From Zagreb, Phillip Kerr
Recently acquired, but not finished:
The Obama Inheritance, 15 stories of conspiracy edited by Gary Phillips
A Chant of Love and Lamentation, Brian Reeves
The Kona Shuffle, Tom Bradley, Jr.
I also have some non-fiction, which I won’t list here. Most are books to help with my research or my writing. Several of the books on writing are by James Scot Bell, whose books every fiction writer should have.
The mystery world is very saddened at the passing of Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone series. Ms. Grafton was a talented writer who created a revolution in literature and, especially the world of detective fiction, with the publication of A Is For Alibi. She, along with P. D. James, Sara Paretsky, and Marcia Muller created the modern, hard-boiled, female private eye and opened the way for many female and male writers. Prior to Grafton, James, Paretsky, and Muller, there were female private eyes, but they were written by men, and mostly continued male stereotypes of women. Grafton, along with the others, gave us realistically drawn women facing realistic challenges, and often having to overcome stereotypes and prejudice. She was also instrumental in the formation of Sisters In Crime, an international organization that worked to encourage women writers and to fight for equality in reviews and remuneration with male writers.I was fortunate to meet Sue Grafton several times at various Bouchercons. She was a delightful and gracious lady. We are all diminished by her death. Her latest book in the famous alphabet series was Y Is For Yesterday. Sue Grafton was adamant that her books not be translated into movies or television, and that the series not be ghost written. Kinsey Milhone’s 25th adventure was her last.
Hope 2018 is better.