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200px-edgar_allan_poe_2.jpgYep, you guessed it - Edgar nomination time…and the fur is already flying.  But then, you’re not surprised, are you?  I’m sure as hell not.    

And - as usual - some of the whiners haven’t a brain between them, and trying to detect some logic in their complaints is like fighting with a one-armed man.  Naturally, it’s the same old story line - favorite’s  weren’t nominated and should have been, yada, yada, yada.  People seem to forget that the Edgar’s is not a popularity contest.  But the major bitch - again - and this was in several places - was that of the fifteen slots in Best Novel, Best First Novel, and Best Paperback Original - only three women were nominated.  Oh, please.  I mean, can’t we get past this?  Isn’t it time to stop with this nonsense and lay off the judges?  I mean, come on here - it should be obvious by now that judges are acutely aware of the ’gender bias’ screaming that would ensue.  Don’t you think they all felt that swinging sword hanging over their heads as they read over 500 submissions?  Can you imagine what that felt like?  If you’ve ever been a judge, then I know you do.  If you haven’t, then don’t cast stones, okay?  I guarantee you they worked like hell to be fair and objective, and deserve a vote of thanks for giving up damn near a year of their free time. 

And how - you may ask - do I know this to be true?  Easy.  I was one of the judges…one of eight for Best Novel.  So if you still feel a need to complain, you know where to find me.  And I’m also an ITW judge this year for Best First Novel.  When that list comes out - you may not like that one either.  So, like I said…you know where to find me.  But not yet, okay?  We’re not even ready for a short-list.

Something else to keep in mind - judges have their favorite writers and books just like you…so your favorite writers didn’t make the cut?  Well, maybe some of our personal favorites didn’t either.  Ever think about that?  What it all boils down to is that the books are eventually short-listed because of their excellence…voice, originality, execution and plot.  No agenda, no smoke-filled back room, no politics, no cliques, no diabolical plots, and no playing favorites.    So, like my pal, F. Paul Wilson said when we discussed this very issue at the first Thriller Awards banquet (when we were both judges) - “It’s what’s between the pages, not between the legs.”    

The new story, at least to me, is how many members of Dorothy L and 4MA had never heard of many of the Edgar nominees!  Now, these are a pretty savvy group of readers - 4,000+!  Many of whom are reviewers, authors, indy booksellers and librarians.  That alone tells me all the Edgar judges did a hell of a job in selecting books based on what they deemed merit and not author popularity, gender, or promotion buzz.

So - let’s just wish all those nominated our congratulations for being singled out by their peers…and remind them…and everyone else…that win, or lose, the nomination alone is a great honor and they should all take a bow. 

And so should all the judges for a difficult and time consuming job.

What’s more important than complaining about who was, or wasn’t nominated - is that we should be concerned about the health of Mysteryville.  With folks worried about the economy - book sales are already plummeting, indies are closing shop and print reviewers are dropping like flies.  Looks like a stormy year ahead for the book biz, kids.  So if your sales are down, don’t take it personally, don’t scream at your publisher, your agent, your dog - or doubt yourself - it’s just life right now.  Will the boom days return?  Hell if I know. 

Publishers Lunch said they reported 6,500 new deals in 2007!  Granted, that figure includes non-fiction, and, no doubt, new contracts for established writers, but when you include the slew of new writers joining the fold every day (don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing) - you gotta wonder just how much of the pie is left, huh?  Methinks the slice days are over - so grab what crumbs you can, tour where the cost won’t kill you, and keep a smile on your face.  It could be worse.  Yeah, it could - folks might go back to watching TV instead of reading. :)

ANYWAY… 

I was going to add a ‘GENTS I LIKE TO DRINK WITH’….but I changed my mind. Purely selfish reasons.  If I told you who they are, there might not be room for me at that cozy table in the bar.  So you’ll just have to find out on your own. :)

And - no LADIES YOU’D LIKE TO LUNCH WITH this month.  I’m on a diet.

I’LL BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW DEPT:

monkey.jpg Got this from the latest Smithsonian - Marmosets display ‘unsolicited prosociality‘.  This means they give without expecting something in return.  Kinda nice, huh?  And this can also be exhibited by humans now and then.  Think Patry Francis.  Several of her writer gal pals did a mega blog blitz on January 29th talking up her debut book - THE LIAR’S DIARY.  Patry, as most of you know, has been seriously ill and unable to get out and promote.  So, kids - give her a try, okay?

Going to LOVE IS MURDER?  Got some advanced scoop for ‘ya.  Be sure to check out what will probably be one of the funniest damn panels ever devised - ‘FRIENDS OF DAVE’.  Yep, you read that right.  David Montgomery will be moderating what I’ll bet is gonna be a hilarious roast.  Oh, the friends?  Well, how’s Barry Eisler, Paul Guyot and Lee Child?  Okay, you guys - I’m expecting photos from that panel for the March column!

People are talking about Amazon’s Kindle.  And so is Consumer’s Report.  They aren’t crazy about it at all.  If you’re thinking about laying out $400 for one,  I suggest you pick up a copy.

This one cracked me up - and Allison Brennan will probably hit me over the head with her new lap top for telling you - but Ballantine is promoting her as “Thomas Harris meets Julie Garwood”.  I love it because it’s true.  She’s that good.

SPOTLIGHTING…

michale-palmer-photo.jpgmichael-palmers-new-book.jpgThe one and only Michael Palmer.  Why did I say ‘the one and only’? Because he is not just another NYT writer who keeps us glued to his books - he’s a rare man who, besides giving us thrilling plots  - still finds time to work part time for the Massachusetts Medical Society as an Associate Director of their physician health program, helping doctors put their lives together as they suffer with  physical and mental illness - and - sadly - substance abuse.  A round of applause, if you please, for a dedicated humanitarian

Michael’s latest - THE FIRST PATIENT - is out now and you’ll never guess who gave him this blurb:  “An exciting thriller that is full of surprises and captures the intense atmosphere of the White House, how the medical system works, and how the 25th Amendment could be brought into play. I thoroughly enjoyed it!”  Give up?  Bill Clinton.  Yep, you read that right.  Not bad, huh?  But then, neither is Michael.

smallcjlyonsmd-lifelines-photo.jpg

cj-lyons-book.jpgAnd then there is C.J. Lyons - yet another angel of mercy.  Besides working full time as a pediatric ER doctor, C.J.’s debut book - LIFELINES - finally comes out March 4th.  Admid all of this - I still don’t know where C.J. found the time to chair the first ThrillerFest in Phoenix.  Talk about a workaholic!  Best wishes to you, C.J.!

sharan-newman.jpgsharan-newman-book.jpgOne might call Sharan Newman an ‘angel of mercy’ as well.  I mean, if you read the Da Vinci Code. :)  Thanks to Sharan’s best seller - THE REAL HISTORY BEHIND THE DA VINCI CODE - a lot of misinformation was finally cleared up.  The book is ingeniously in encyclopedic format and gives information on various topics mentioned in DVC.  And now, Sharan - who is a medieval historian, a Macavity and Bruce Alexander award winner - has a new page turner for us - THE SHANGHAI TUNNEL.   Oh, what you’ll learn about Portland, Oregon’s history!

INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER’S CORNER…

Vicki Lane generously gave me a list of her favorites…of course, you need to be in North Carolina to drop in…

Malaprops, 55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC

Accent on Books, 854 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC

City Lights, 3 E. Jackson Street, Sylva, NC

Osondu Booksellers, 184 N. Main Street, Waynesville, NC

AND CONGRATS TO…

Nick Stone - KING OF SWORDS is gonna be a movie!! TA DA!! This really is one hell of a book.  Just remember to keep the lights on when you go to bed.

Carl Brookins - the first book in his new series - BLOODY HALLS - is out now, and is based on his years of working in academia. Ouch.

Barbara Fister - finally, this terrific writer has a new book coming out in April - IN THE WIND.  I’m telling you about it now because I want you to be sure to make a note to buy it.  And, well…my office is a mess and I might lose the note. :)

Evil E’s Interrogators - Julia Spencer-Fleming is joining our intrepid team!

Steve Brewer - whose birthday is…TODAY!  Happy Birthday, Bubba!

AND NOW…FOR THE SERIOUS STUFF…

We left our team deciding there was no point in BEATING THE BABUSHKA, so instead they trode on IN COLD PURSUIT of DEADMAN’S SWITCH hoping to catch up with ROBBIE’S WIFE who would, they thought, reveal WHO IS CONRAD HIRST?  But some of the team held little hope - feeling certain they were in for a series of HEAD GAMES.  Nonetheless, with THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHING, they knew THE STAKE was worth their efforts and they’d do what was necessary.   Even in THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT - they knew ALL SINS FORGIVEN would be something to hang their hats on.  By nightfall, they found MOTHER BRIMSTONE who pointed them to ANGOLA SOUTH - and that was one hell of a RUDE AWAKENING!  All this time - and they’d been going in the wrong direction?  No!  It was impossible!  Man, these guys were ready for THE SCREAMING ROOM about now - but - tough as they were - and not ignoring this latest reality check - they still felt as if they’d been hit with a SUCKER PUNCH even though THE SCENT OF BLOOD was still fresh.  THE COMMISSION must go on, and while the road ahead was dangerous with DRY ICE, they had THE HUNTER’S MOON to guide them, on this, THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR.

The DEAD DON’T LIE was an UNSPOKEN truth between them, so they headed back toward THUNDER BAY and CHILLWATER COVE in hopes THE WIDOW’S MATE was still hanging out by WRECKER’S KEY.  They found the ACCIDENTAL SLEUTH instead.  He was living in REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES, so they gave him some SPARE CHANGE for THE DEATH LIST he’d snitched from THE CHINESE ALCHEMIST, and then headed back to their REFUGE in MAGIC CITY to regroup and make up a new plan of attack and a better RECIPE FOR TROUBLE.  Alas, and alack - as they rode the current DOWN RIVER, they saw THE ALIBI MAN on the shore waving his arms and shouting about a DEEP STORM heading their way.  It was too late to turn back by then - THE FIRST WAVE had already hit them.  Their only chance of survival was hoping THE NAVIGATOR could steer them to THE EDGE, and hope to hell they could avoid THE DROP EDGE OF YONDER.  Luck was with them when…

AND NOW - OUR PERSON OF INTEREST!

 A slight change this month…thought you might get a kick out of a few snippets from ’On The Bubble’ interviews I did some months ago.  Just for the hell of it, you know?

jlw.jpgI asked this of JLW - aka James Lincoln Warren - who is, you no doubt know - one of the most talented short story writers out there.

“My spies have reported that your plans to take a production of “The Full Monty” to Bouchercon this year is on the back burner now that Paul Guyot has dropped out.  I mean, this stellar production has legs!  Have you found a replacement yet?”

And he said…

“Nothing could replace Paul.  I mean it.  Nothing is the absolute perfect replacement for Paul.  The biggest problem I’m having with casting is that all my friends at mystery conventions, quite naturally, are sublimely attractive women and no matter how hard I try to convince them otherwise, none of them want to play skanky male strippers.”

180px-ianrankin.jpgIan Rankin was one of my first guests at On The Bubble - and was a great sport to play along with the off beat questions I posed…

Especially this one…

“Is it really true that Rebus’s chair has been stolen and the thief is threatening to list it on eBay unless you write him into the next book as the hero who saves Rebus’s life?”

And he said…

“If Rebus’s chair were stolen, the lazy sod would lie on the floor rather than go buy a new one.  Me, too, come to that.  But I do write real people into my books all the time.  Problem is, they have to pay charities for the privilege.  Stealing my mate’s chair isn’t going to make me write anyone into my book.  And if they don’t like that, well, they can sit on it…and rotate.”

tess-gerritson.jpgTess Gerritsen has got to be one of the loveliest ladies around - and it was great fun having her ‘On The Bubble’ - this is one of my favorites…

So, Tess, I asked…

“Everyone has a Walter Mitty dream, what’s yours? ”

And she said…

“Brad Pitt decides Angelina Jolie just isn’t hot enough for him anymore, and then his gaze meets mine across the room, and… No, honestly, I’m already living my Walter Mitty dream.  I still can’t believe I’m getting paid so well just to make stuff up.”

There are many more - and maybe every now and then I’ll throw a few in just for the hell of it.  Jim Rollins was a hoot, Dylan Schaffer drove me nuts, Gayle Lynds was a riot, and then there’s Barry Eisler, Cara Black, P.J. Parrish, Alex Kava, Donna Moore, Jim Born, and so many more great sports, so - like I said -I’ll add one or two on occasion.

NEXT MONTH’S PERSON OF INTEREST - ON MARCH 3RD - WILL BE THE ONE AND ONLY OTTO PENZLER.  I GUARANTEE YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE! :)

So, before I leave your wonderful company - I’d like to offer a few scintilating quotes…

Josh Billings (1819-1885) said… “About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.”

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) said…”I was working on the proof of one of my poems all morning, and took out a comma.  In the afternoon, I put it back again.”

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) said… “The world is overstocked with people who are ready and eager to teach other people to write.  It seems astonishing that so much bad writing should find it’s way into print when so much good advice is to be had.”

See you next month…or not.

Until then…stay safe, stay warm and be nice to one another.

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