Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

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Homicidal Holidays Launch—Rounding Out Three New Stories

October 6, 2014

HomicidalHolidaysThis Saturday, October 11, the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime hosts a launch party for the new anthology Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. The fun begins at noon in the party room just next door to the bookstore, and it’ll be a true party with snacks and treats provided for all to enjoy. I’m very pleased to be among that last group with a new story, “Premonition,” set on Halloween night—and pleased too with the great advance review of the anthology by Lynn Farris in the Examiner, who wrote, “The anthology offers a mystery for everyone, there are stories that are funny, sad, terrifying and thought provoking…. This is a great book to give for any holiday.” (The review called my own tale “a master class in how to create tension.” Thanks much, Lynn!) Other contributors include Donna Andrews, Tim Bentler-Jungr, Shaun Taylor Bevins, Carla Kaessinger Coupe, Elaine Davis, Barb Goffman, Clyde T Linsley Jr., Linda Lombardi, Debbi Mack, Rosemary and Larry Mild, Meg Opperman, Shari Randall, and Cathy Wiley, who’s promised to dress like a pirate in honor of the holiday at the heart of her story. Arrr! The stories were selected by Christina Freeburn, John Gilstrap, and Alan Orloff; the anthology was edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley; and Rhys Bowen provided an introduction.

I’ve also had two more stories appear just recently—both available now:

  • Gargoyle 61 features “Precision,” about a safecracker who has tried to put his criminal ways behind him but gets pulled into one more job—possibly his last one. Told from two perspectives, the story delves into the troubled past, tense present, and uncertain futures of two characters with radically different plans for themselves.
  • Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine has published “The Odds Are Against Us” in its November 2014 issue. In this story, an easy chat about old times feeds into fresh conflicts at neighborhood bar. This is one of the shortest stories I’ve contributed to Ellery Queen, but I hope it still packs a punch.

Happy reading—and look forward to seeing folks on Saturday! — Art Taylor

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Short Story Month: Class, Anthonys, Wigleaf & More

May 30, 2014

I haven’t been posting about short stories this month, but I have been reading them, and as Short Story Month draws to a close, here’s a quick run-down of some of my May reading.

Right after winning the Agatha Award (!!!) for my own story, “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants,” I jumped back into the classroom, teaching a quartet of tales to my “Classic and Contemporary Mystery Stories” class—and welcoming three of the authors into the classroom for quick chats via Skype!

  • “Harvest” by Steve Weddle, from his novel-in-stories Country Hardball
  • “Night Stand” by Daniel Woodrell, from his collection The Outlaw Album
  • “Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park” by Toni L.P. Kelner, from the anthology Death’s Excellent Vacation
  • “The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton, from the anthology Down These Strange Streets

Thanks to Steve, Toni, and Brad for talking with my students for a few minutes. A great end to the semester.

After that, I jumped into nearly 40 stories by the students themselves. As a final assignment in the class, each student was tasked with writing his or her own short story, modeled after or inspired in some way by one of the stories from our semester (and the tricky part was having to write a short essay explaining the connections to the model/inspiration). I’ve offered a similar assignment in other classes, and I’m always astounded by the quality of some of the fiction that these students turn in—especially since many of them have never done any creative writing at all. The best of the stories—including one about a female PI (responding to Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky) and another that set a Sherlock/Watson duo in the Gulf War—would easily be publishable with a little editing. It was just a thrill to see what the students did.

From there, I caught up with a couple of pieces by David Dean (one of my favorite short story writers); his stories “Murder Town” and “The Assumption of Seamus Tyrrell” were in the February and March/April issues of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. And while I was in the March/April issue, I checked our Lori Rader-Day’s “Over Her Body” too—suspensful and chilling work from a new friend I met at Malice Domestic (and looking forward to her debut novel, The Black Hour, which is getting stellar advance praise).

After starting catch-up on recent EQMM‘s, I was caught unaware myself by getting an Anthony nomination for “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants”—yowsa! And then read each of other stories on the finalist slate, which featured a wide range of different styles, approaches and lengths:

  • Craig Faustus Buck, “Dead Ends” (Untreed Reads)
  • John Connolly, “The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository” (Bibliomysteries, Mysterious Press)
  • Denise Dietz, “Annie and the Grateful Dead” (The Sound and the Furry, Amazon Digital Services)
  • Travis Richardson, “Incident on the 405” (Criminal Element, The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble)

And today comes good word on a great story by Laura Ellen Scott, a good friend and an amazing writer. Her story “A Picture of a Man in a Top Hat,” originally published in The Collagist, was named to this year’s Wigleaf 50, featuring the top stories of the year. And plenty of other good reading there too, which will help me begin rounding out Short Story Month in style.

And, of course, I’d encourage others to check out these as well.

 

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Joining a New Blog: 7 Criminal Minds

February 7, 2014

In the years since I started this blog, I’ve unfortunately failed to keep momentum on many of the elements I’d hoped to include more regularly—short reviews, author interviews, bits of literary news, etc.—and it’s devolved lately into more personal news. And even that has been irregularly posted at best.

But in January, I joined the good folks at Criminal Minds: A Virtual Panel, a nice compilation of writers who takes turns every other week responding to a shared question, and I’m hopeful that this panel format will get me back on track with some regular posts.

So far, I’ve answered the questions “What’s wrong with asking the question ‘Where do you get your ideas?'” and “How do you know where one chapter ends and another begins?”, and I’ll be chiming in on new questions every other Friday in the future. Hope folks will check in over there now and again!

And in the meantime, I’ll continue posts here on that very irregular basis. — Art Taylor

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Agatha Award Nomination: “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants”

January 31, 2014

“The Care and Feeding of Houseplants”—which originally appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and is available online here—has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story of 2013. The other finalists include Barb Goffman (two stories nominated!), Gigi Pandian, and Barbara Ross, and the winner will be announced at Malice Domestic on Saturday, May 3.

Here’s the full slate of this year’s nominees, with all the other nominated stories linked as well:

Best Contemporary Novel:
Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur Books)
Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Clammed Up by Barbara Ross (Kensington Books)
The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)

Best Historical Novel:
Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Death in the Time of Ice by Kaye George (Untreed Reads Publishing)
A Friendly Game of Murder by JJ Murphy (Signet)
Murder in Chelsea by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)
A Question of Honor by Charles Todd (William Morrow)

Best First Novel:
Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz (Berkley)
You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa (Pocket Books)
Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn (Henery Press)
Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero (Kensington)
Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker (Henery Press)

Best Short Story:
“Evil Little Girl” by Barb Goffman, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even (Wildside Press)
“Nightmare” by Barb Goffman, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even (Wildside Press)
“The Hindi Houdini” (PDF) by Gigi Pandian, Fish Nets (Wildside Press)
“Bread Baby” (PDF) by Barbara Ross, Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold (Level Best Books)
“The Care and Feeding of House Plants” (PDF) by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013

Best Nonfiction:
Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester (Source Books Inc.)
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova (Viking Penguin)
Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea: An Interesting & Entertaining History of Malice Domestic’s First 25 Years by Verena Rose and Rita Owen, Editors (Wildside Press)
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel:
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery by Kathleen Ernst (American Girl Mysteries)
Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower (Zonderkidz)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books)
Code Busters Club: Mystery of the Pirate’s Treasure by Penny Warner (Edgmont USA)

Art Taylor

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Upcoming Event: Northern Virginia Writers Club Workshop

July 22, 2013

This coming Saturday—July 27—from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.—I’ll be leading the workshop “Bring Life to Your Characters and Shape to Your Plot” for the Northern Virginia Writers Club. The workshop distills a number of lessons that I’ve used at times for my semester-long fiction and creative nonfiction workshops at George Mason University: the benefits and drawbacks of character inventories; direct and indirection presentation of character; the direct relationships between character and plot; stories as conflict versus stories as connection/disconnection; linear versus modular storytelling…. While it’s likely going to be a lot to cover perhaps, my plan is to introduce concepts and idea for folks to both work on during the sessions themselves and then to develop later on their own. We’ll see how it goes!

Please note that the workshop is free for members of the Northern Virginia Writers Club, the regional chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, but registration has already closed. — Art Taylor

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New Fiction: “Ithaca 37” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

July 9, 2013

img004I’m thrilled to have had two stories appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine this year—the second of which has just been published in the September/October 2013 double issue. “Ithaca 37” takes its title from one of the guns that Michael Caine’s character used in the film Get Carter—a gun that this story’s narrator and film aficionado tries to put to good use as well and for some of the same reasons (or at least that’s what he thinks). This story is the first time I’ve tried to work pretty comprehensively with a less than reliable narrator, and I hope that the whole thing holds together straight through to the end.

I’m also pleased to be sharing space in this issue with some extraordinarily talented short story writers, including Doug Allyn, Dana Cameron, David Dean, and Brendan DuBois. Just got the chance last night to read David Dean’s contribution, “In a Dark Manner,” and it’s another terrific tale of his—marked both by keen suspense and sharp surprises and by the sense of moral weight that’s such a hallmark of his work. Looking forward to reading the rest of the issue soon too. — Art Taylor

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Macavity Award Nomination: “When Duty Calls”

July 4, 2013

My story “When Duty Calls” has been very good to me—as have the members and supporters of Mystery Readers International and the subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, who have just named the story a finalist for this year’s Macavity Award for Best Short Story. I’m stunned, thrilled, and humbled by the honor—and by the generous response overall to this story, which earlier this year won a Derringer Award and was a finalist for the Agatha. And so nice to see fellow Agatha nominees Barb Goffman and B.K. Stevens joining me on the same ballot again, along with Jeffrey Deaver, Jim Fusilli, and Karin Slaughter. Good luck to all!

Here’s the complete list of this year’s nominees:

Best Mystery Novel: 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
The Black House by Peter May (Silver Oak)
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Other Woman by Hank Philippi Ryan (Forge)
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin Books)
The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S. Winter (Hard Case Crime)

Best Mystery First Novel: 

Low Country Boil by Susan M. Boyer (Henery Press)
Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Minotaur Books-Thomas Dunn) 
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House -Bantam)
The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown)
The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

Best Mystery Non-Fiction: 

Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke (Simon & Schuster – Atria/Emily Bestler)
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French (Penguin)
In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero, edited by Otto Penzler (BenBella/Smart Pop)

Best Mystery Short Story: 

“The Lord Is My Shamus” by Barb Goffman in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder (Wildside)
“The Unremarkable Heart” by Karin Slaughter in Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance (Little, Brown – Mulholland Books)
“Thea’s First Husband” by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2012
“When Duty Calls” by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder (Wildside Press)
“Blind Justice” by Jim Fusilli in Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance (Little, Brown – Mulholland Books)
“The Sequel” (a novella) by Jeffrey Deaver in The Strand Magazine, November-February 2012-2013

Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award: 

A City of Broken Glass by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge)
Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House-Bantam)
The Confession by Charles Todd (HarperCollins)
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd (HarperCollins)
Elegy For Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins) – See more at: http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2013/07/macavity-award-nominees-2013.html#sthash.UijDskcU.dpuf

And the awards will be presented during the opening ceremonies of this year’s Bouchercon in Albany, NY. — Art Taylor

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