Congrats To Sam Wiebe

rsz_screen_shot_2015-01-08_at_100106_amThe Crime Writers of Canada announced the 2015 Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists for Crime Writing this week. Among the finalists for “Best First Novel” was Sam Wiebe for LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS.

Best First Novel

  • Janet Brons, A Quiet Kill, Touchwood Editions
  • Steve Burrows, Siege of Bitterns, Dundurn Press
  • M.H. Callway, Windigo Fire, Seraphim Editions
  • Eve McBride, No Worst, There Is None, Dundurn Press
  • Sam Wiebe, Last of the Independents, Dundurn Press

imageI met Sam at Bouchercon in Long Beach late last year and read his debut novel shortly after. Here is the brief review I gave it on Amazon:

“What a great debut novel. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. The author clearly understands the rich history of Noir, but manages to update the genre in a truly compelling way. Definitely looking forward to more Vancouver Noir from Sam Wiebe.”

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The Marketing Conundrum for Authors

I’m the new guy. I only just started exploring the publishing universe in the last couple of years. And like thousands of other new authors I am out there mining for as much information as I can uncover about the Big 5, Indie publishing, e-publishing, self-publishing, co-publishing and every other kind of publishing available these days. Not to mention agents, editors, contests and author collectives.

It’s overwhelming, to say the least, but it’s clear to me that the road to enlightenment is lined with snake oil salesmen and false prophets.

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The Shorter They Come

FixMe-Final-Cover-250I am thrilled to announce that my new short story, FIX ME, is up today at Criminal Element. This is one that I am particularly proud of because it took me outside of my comfort zone in terms of the character and perspective. But it also allowed me to write about the Los Angeles I love. The filthy, congested one.

This also marks the first time that somebody else has designed original artwork for a story I wrote. I think it looks pretty awesome, particularly the colors the designer chose to bring this murderous tale to life.

The publication of this short story comes on the heels of getting two other short stories accepted recently—RANGE LIFE will be published over at Shotgun Honey sometime in May, and SCALES will be published by Spelk Fiction toward the end of June.

It is incredibly exciting and a little shocking to have a run of good luck like this. I know it won’t last, but I’m stoked it’s happening right at this moment. So far I’ve gotten one short story accepted for about every five or six I submit.

If you’re a new writer like me, go check out some short story publishers like  CrimespreeFlash Fiction OffensiveShotgun HoneyThuglitSpinetinglerCriminal ElementDark Corners and All Due Respect, to name a few. I strongly encourage you to submit.

It’s a great way to build some chops, get your head around what “short and sharp” means, develop an intimate relationship with rejection, and hopefully see your work published along the way.

Naomi Hirahara: “Grave On Grand Avenue”

Naomi HiraharaToday is the launch of Naomi Hirahara’s latest Officer Ellie Rush novel, GRAVE ON GRAND AVENUE. I was lucky enough to interview Naomi earlier this year. Here is a little taste:

[Naomi Hirahara interview excerpt] You also recently published MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE, the first book in a new mystery series featuring a 23-year-old LAPD bicycle cop. How does that book differs from the Mas Arai books? Was it freeing to write a mystery featuring a different lead character?

While I was finishing my fifth Mas Arai mystery, my father passed away. In a way, it was a blessing to recall and memorialize his Grave on Grand Avenuehistory in his hometown in Watsonville, but I also knew that I needed to embrace a younger character. Around this same time, I taught a creative writing class to UCLA undergraduates and I fell in love with them. I also had been part of the ATF Citizens Academy, and those two experiences — teaching college and law enforcement — led to the creation of a 23-year-old bicycle cop. This series is in first person. It’s a breezy, fun read.  It’s more about a young woman trying to find her place in the world, despite criticism and doubt from her family and friends.  The advantage of writing about someone working in law enforcement is that it’s easier to explain why the character is encountering dead bodies! But my Ellie Rush is a patrol cop on a bicycle, so there are still elements of an amateur sleuth in the series.

Read the whole INTERVIEW


S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Akashic Books, QuarterReads and Crimespree Magazine. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published in 2015. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. You can read one of his recent short stories right HERE.

Interrogation: Johnny Angel Wendell

14092404_John_Angel-135Who: Johnny Angel Wendell

What: An actor/musician/talk show host and writer. He’s been a columnist for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and LA Weekly. His first novel, LOOKING FOR LADY DEE: A PUNK ROCK MYSTERY, was self-published in February.

Where: Los Angeles

I found out that Johnny Angel Wendell was finally writing a book like a lot of other people did—on Facebook.

Having followed Johnny’s colorful exploits on social media, I was excited to watch the process unfold. My curiosity was piqued because Johnny and I are both LA musicians, and because I have recently embarked on a crime/mystery writing career myself. But that’s where the similarities stop.

rsz_1screen_shot_2015-03-30_at_73022_amWhile I took the more traditional approach of publishing short stories, going to conferences, and querying agents and publishers, Johnny skipped straight to self-publishing on Feb. 27—less than two months after he started writing his debut novel.

As of this morning (March 30) the ebook of LOOKING FOR LADY DEE was #4 on the Amazon Best Sellers list under “Punk Music,” alongside the likes of John Lydon, Richard Hell and Henry Rollins.

I needed some answers, so I went to the source.

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Interrogation: Sarah M. Chen

Sarah M. Chen photoWho: Sarah M. Chen

What: Sarah M. Chen has always worked a variety of odd jobs, usually all at once, ranging from script reader to bartender. She continues this trend now as an indie bookseller, transcriber, and private investigator assistant. Sarah’s crime fiction short stories have appeared online and in several anthologies, the most recent being Elm Books’ Death and the Detective with her short story WHITE DEVIL. Her noir novella, CLEANING UP FINN, will be released in 2015 by Stark Raving Group.

Where: Los Angeles

You started publishing mystery fiction in 2007 and have published several short stories since then. What happened in 2007 that made you want to break into writing? 

I’ve always wanted to write since I was a little girl, actually, but it’s hard to pursue that dream when you have parents who don’t think writing is a legit career. So I did the college and graduate school thing and worked in the entertainment industry for many years as a script reader. I even tried writing my own screenplay which is still at the bottom of a drawer. But I took a creative writing class in grad school and my professor really loved my short story. He encouraged me to try publishing it but then I stuck that at the bottom of my drawer too. It wasn’t until I got divorced in 2006 that I got back into writing. I guess all the frustration and angst from being married was pent up inside and I needed to let it out!

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Interrogation: Scott Adlerberg

Scott Adlerberg PhotoWho: Scott Adlerberg

What: Scott Adlerberg grew up in the Bronx and a wooded suburb just outside New York City. His debut novel was the Martinique-set crime novel SPIDERS AND FLIES. His short fiction has appeared in THUGLIT, ALL DUE RESPECT, and SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE. Each summer, he hosts the Word for Word Reel Talks film commentary series in Manhattan. In 2014, his novella JUNGLE HORSES was released by Broken River Books. It’s his second longer work that has to do with the Caribbean, a place where he spent a good bit of time.

Where: Brooklyn

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just read your novella JUNGLE HORSES and was really blown away by the mix of Noir and Magical Realism. How did you come up with the idea for this story?

Well, I’ve often found that the best story ideas come from linking two unrelated ideas you have kicking around in your head. They could be ideas that came to you weeks, months, even years part. You make a JungleHorsesconnection between these different ideas, and you may just have the seed for an intriguing tale.

JUNGLE HORSES developed like this. It began as a story about a guy in London who’s addicted to horse race gambling. I knew how it would start and where it would go up to a point. He’s middle-aged, this guy, tired, not much energy in him, and his best friend is his wife’s lover. He sees his life change because of his betting fortunes. But the change doesn’t happen as he’d hoped or expected. Then what would happen? I wasn’t sure. But at some point something clicked in my head and I thought of another story idea I had. This one had to do with a sinister island in the Caribbean. Certain weird phenomena were happening there. Would it be possible to send my struggling London guy to this island for the second part of the story? If so, what would make him take this trip? Why would he go there? I had to think about that for awhile and eventually I came up with an answer. I found a reason to send him to the tropical island. So the second part of the story would unfold there, far from the guy’s familiar surroundings. And he would have to deal with very different horses there, not racing thoroughbreds like he bet on in London. They’d be a mysterious breed and would impact on him in a big way.

But, yeah, the London part of the story was realistic and the island part, as I imagined it, fantastic. What to do about that? I decided “blend them”, just go with it, especially because the fantastical part would and could happen in the new environment. It’s an island, self-contained, and what happens there transforms his character.

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Interrogation: Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts Photo 2Who: Tom Pitts

What: Tom Pitts received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. His novel, HUSTLE, and his novella, PIGGYBACK, are available from Snubnose Press. His new novella, KNUCKLEBALL, will be released by One Eye Press on March 24th. He is also an acquisitions editor at Gutter Books and a co-editor of the Flash Fiction Offensive.

Where: San Francisco

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

HUSTLE dealt with some pretty dark subject matter, but I found myself cheering for most of the tragic characters. Why did you decide to tackle junkies/hustlers in this novel? 

I was tired of reading characters who were drug addicts whose habits didn’t ring true. You know, junkies who had a needle in their arms when it was convenient to the story, but would then forget about having to shoot up as the plot unfolded—or never experienced withdrawal symptoms. That’s just not the way it is. In reality, there aren’t too many guns out there on the street, because street people sell ‘em for drugs. Nobody has a car, they don’t even have bus fare. Street life is miserable. It’s a desperate kind of lifestyle and I see it get misrepresented all the time. I wanted to throw my two cents in and show a different side to what people think of as the underbelly.

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Interrogation: Todd Robinson

Todd Robinson 2Who: Todd Robinson

What: Todd Robinson is the creator and Chief Editor of the multi-award winning crime fiction website THUGLIT.COM  His short fiction has appeared in Plots With Guns, Needle Magazine, Shotgun HoneyStrange, Weird, and Wonderful, Out of the Gutter, Pulp Pusher, Grift, Demolition Magazine, CrimeFactory and DangerCity. His writing has been nominated for a Derringer Award, short-listed for Best American Mystery Stories, selected for Writers Digest’s Year’s Best Writing 2003 and won the inaugural Bullet Award in June 2011. His first collection of short stories, DIRTY WORDS is available exclusively on Kindle. THE HARD BOUNCE, his debut crime novel, was released by Tyrus Books in January 2013.

Where: New York

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

THE HARD BOUNCE was a real page turner with surprisingly lovable characters who populate an unforgiving world—especially “Boo” Malone. How did you come up with the plot and setting? 

The-Hard-BounceI worked at the Rathskeller in Boston for a number of years. And if you never heard of it (it shut its doors in 1998), it was a rock & roll club of legend, a real bucket of blood kind of joint. Every day in that place was a story inspiration.

As for the plot, we used to do Sunday all-ages punk shows. I was fascinated by these kids, their lives. I got to know a few, talked to them about their day-to-days. I remember thinking how bold they were, at such tender ages, to find community in their personal damages (and they all had them). I was impressed that these kids chose to stick out at an age where most would do anything to fit in.

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