Monthly Archives: December 2012

The criminal element

While I do a lot of research when I put my novels together, one thing that stymies (what a great word) me is this:

How do all the criminals seem to know each other? Zofia wonders more than once about this phenomenon.

Now the obvious place for the underworld characters to network is in prison. I have not as of this time, spent any time behind bars, something I am very happy to say. If it’s even half as tough as it’s shown in the movies, I’d last about ten minutes. Fortunately, I am writing fiction, and nobody is doing undercover work.

The first time I typed “prison life” into Google, the top results was a porn site and the first blurb under the link was something I wish I could wipe from my brain. There are some other sites out there that will offer you insight into the mind of a prisoner, but in the articles I reviewed, the writers don’t spend a lot of time talking about life in the joint. Though I did read a stomach-turning diatribe full of bad grammar and racial epithets about how the narrator was going to paint another inmate’s cell red with blood. It would be DNA city.  I was twitchy for days.

In the name of research, I’ve considered a prisoner pen pal, and this site looks like it might be a good option, should I go that route. It seems to be dedicated towards getting convicts needed help and resources and I thought it deserved a mention, even if I don’t take advantage of the pen pal option.

Now what if you’re a fledgling criminal and need to outsource? Do they have a magazine like mercenaries have Soldier of Fortune? Web sites? Dial-a-thug? Coded personal ads?

Before you think the idea of a web site is ludicrous, I should mention that in the mid-nineties I was taking a folklore class and found myself researching hobo symbols and found a website of hobo resources. A very nice gentleman emailed me a guide for the symbols that I turned in with my paper.

In D&D and some fantasy literature, you sometimes have an orphan or the child of a prostitute stealing to feed themselves. If the kid has some major talent, he or she usually gets found by a higher-level criminal and gets adopted into a criminal enterprise (Brent Weeks’ first series does this rather well). In these worlds, the thieves have a guild. In some worlds, the guild wields a fair amount of political power, and not they aren’t all of the party you don’t like.

If you’ve seen Goodfellas, you’re familiar with the story of Henry Hill, a rags-to-ill-gotten riches story if there ever was one.  Henry admired the rich and sophisticated gangsters and aspired to be one to get out of poverty. Everyone needs a role model

There’s also the family angle–following in dad’s or mom’s footsteps. Instead of Gwynned and Sons Carpentry, it’s Gwynned and Sons, Cat Burglars.

These are obviously not all the tropes out there, but this is something I think about because I want even my criminals to be believable, not just a version of Snidely Whiplash with one motive up his sleeve.  What’s with that guy and railroad tracks anyway?


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biting the hand that feeds you

My dear friend Opal, aka the Akamai Reader showed me a page that I’m really glad I read. I’m not familiar with Parajunkee, since the Bloody Murder books contain no paranormal elements (though I do plan to spend some time at the New Orleans Voodoo Museum on my next trip to the Big Easy so you never know!). Still, it’s a good read and I think any author or reviewer can take this post .

Scroll down a bit. Look at a couple tweets, preserved for all eternity, even though they’ve been deleted from the Twitterverse.

Really, Tiffany Reisz? Really?

I haven’t been in the indie business that long, but I’ve submitted enough books for review that I think I can fairly say I have sufficient sample size. Reviewers are readers first. Readers. People who love nothing more than curling up with the written word. How do you dis someone like that? Authors, especially us indies, need reviewers like gin needs tonic (and lime, gotta have lime). They get the word out, they highlight the good. Yes, they also point out the bad, but is that so awful?

One of my reviewers on Amazon said Bloody Murder was the very definition of a cozy mystery. Now if I were a fan of hard-boiled stories like thos of the late Raymond Chandler, or  liked my action seriously gritty and violent like James Lee Burke, I would know to turn away and look elsewhere. It’s an issue of preference, not quality.

When someone points out a flaw, I tend to have one or two of three reactions:

  • I meant to do that. Moving along now.
  • Oh shit . . .
  • I can make it better/more clear in the next book.

Usually it’s the latter two.

With those two comments, Reisz has shot herself in the foot. What reviewer is going to touch her new books now? I can’t see anyone but her loyal fans doing so now. Who wants to be called DumbCunt?

And if a reviewer is a failed author, so the hell what? If they don’t feel they can write, or someone they respect has told them they can’t write, what’s wrong with them making a contribution to the book world in the form of a review. Hell, a failed writer knows just how hard it is to put a story together.

Still just because all poodles are dogs, doesn’t mean all dogs are poodles. Reviewers come in as many flavors as authors do.

and we need each other.

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Life is what happens when you make other plans

Hi everyone.

A lot has been happening in the life of this indie author. I’m not quite sure where to start.

I have finished my Project Management classes. I did reasonably well on the assignments, but there’s s, still one assignment and participation to be graded. I should hear in a couple weeks. The textbook, while extremely dry, I think is the best resource for helping study for the exam.

The exam. I have been studying test questions (there’s an app for that. Actually, there are several), I have a couple of books and I am hoping to be ready to attempt at least the CAPM in March. Wish me luck.

BloodyMurder #3 is on its way to the editor as of Monday. It takes place in January of 2004 and takes Zofia to a few places she doesn’t usually go to. You’ll also find out a bit more about Michael and why his relationship with his dad is strained at best.

I was in the path of Hurricane Sandy, but was extremely lucky. The streets just south and east of us lost power, but we were generally okay. Just to be on the safe side, we put our biggest Rubbermaid plastic container in the freezer for ice, and filled up the tub in the guest bath in case we needed water for flushing. We also at the ice cream, because it might melt.

The week before Thanksgiving, I had surgery, specifically a hysterectomy. I was sent home in a scant 48 hours and have been slowly recovering since. I have a scar that looks like a question mark on my abdomen. I’m not in a lot of pain (yay Percocet!), but that cuts two ways. I keep feeling “all right” and then I move the wrong way. Bending and twisting are not the order of the day, let me tell you. I expect to try and drive again this weekend.

I’ve been neglecting poor Zofia and friends because of narcotic fog and because I am terribly tired all the damnn time. I have made a good start on #5 (#4 is in revision and will be for a while). I have quite a few more stories to tell, and I thank you for sticking with me.

While recovering, I have been doing a lot of reading. I’m back into Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. Lippman writes deeply real characters and has a talent I’m trying to cultivate–making the scene function almost like a character.Chandler did it with LA in the Philip Marlowe books. Colin Cotteril and Tim Hallinan both do it with Thailand and Laos.

Dani Amore has a new Mary Cooper book out. Buy it.

November was great for other new books as well. I polished off the new Harry Dresden book in two sittings and whipped through the available October Daye books by Seanan McGuire. On tap is Kevin Hearne’s latest in the Iron Druid series. If you like sarcasm, there’s plenty of it in the form of an Irish Wolfhound. Trust me.

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