mindpalaceDecember - January Transition Edition

The Writer-Reader Connection - Walter Forbes and The Dopamine Reward.

Mysterious News takes a mysterious look at what happens in your brain when you uncover the solution of a mystery.

Our Left Coast Crime Nominees. Three of our newsies are up for Left Coast Crime Awards this year. Find out who they are (before they find out who YOU are).

Mahalo! Since Left Coast Crime takes place in Honolulu this year, we say our thank-you in Hawaiian and let you in on our next mysterious journey.

January 27, 2017

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hankphillippiryancroppressNovember Surprise - Get Out the Vote - Triplet Edition

Your November surprise is an inspiring article by Hank Phillippi Ryan for our Mysterious Reader-Writer Connection series: Connecting in Person. She gives some excellent tips on how to get out the vote for books that you love.

Hank will be connecting in person a lot on her book tour for her latest release Say No More. Here she gives us the scoop on how she got that story, then Kathy Boone Reel and friends deliver the verdict. Spoiler alert: Kathy thinks Hank's going to need a bigger award shelf.

Melissa Lenhardt offers up the second book in her Jack McBride Mystery series: The Fisher King, which newsie James W. Ziskin says is "Peyton Place meets The Godfather in small-town Texas. Politics, drugs, money, and sex. Lots of sex."Melissa also tells us how she got her story.

The final book born this week (although they were all born on the same day, November 1 so who knows which was first) is Bruce Cantwell's The Catalonian Candidate. Newsie Paul D. Marks writes, "Enjoy puzzling out who’s who and who’s based on who in this fast-paced thriller that is the perfect read as this election barrels down on us. Enjoyable. Timely. And a hell of a lot of fun."

In Newsie Reviews, Shannon Baker shares her thoughts on Renee Patrick's Design for Dying.

Then, as usual, we close with gratitude for the folks who made this edition possible.

November 4, 2016

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shirleyjacksonSpooktober 2016

Julie Mulhern - Send in the Clowns

Clowns with knives!

Hacking the Craft by Taylor Stevens and Stephen Campbell

A three-part writing tutorial you won't want to miss.

Why to NaNoWriMo, and Why Personal Experience Is the Best Fuel for a Novel by Jess Lourey

Shirley Jackson and the Haunting of Facebook by Art Taylor, Ellen Byron, Bruce Cantwell and Gay Degani

Just plain fun.

Spooktober Gratitude

October 28, 2016

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bloodonthebayouBoucherconfidential 2016


Not all of what newsies did in New Orleans STAYED in New Orleans.

The Macavity-Barry-Anthony-Shamus Awards and The Lou Berney Conspiracy

Allen Eskens - The Heavens May Fall | Kate Pilarcik - The Damp Fedora

Shannon Baker - Stripped Bare | Upcoming Issues

October 6, 2016

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bodyonthebayouEllen Byron - Body on the Bayou and Bouchercon Preview

Body on the Bayou Book Birthday

The timing couldn't be better for Ellen to release her second Cajun Country Mystery as mystery writers and readers from around the country convene in Cajun Country for Bouchercon.

Bourchercon 2016 Preview - Mysterious News Field Guide: How to spot fellow Mysterious Newsians in the wild!

September 16, 2016

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kurtvonnegutThe Mysterious Writer-Reader Connection Issue

How writers find readers and vice versa.

Caught Bread Handed Review

A featured recommendation from The Girl with Book Lungs.

The Handshake

The challenge of writing a thriller that doesn't screw up the culture.

The Catalonian Candidate Finale: What She Wanted

The final confrontation.

August 26, 2016

Read Now

item24The Taylor Stevens Show Edition

The Taylor Stevens Show: Kicking Writing in the Butt One Word at a Time

How I get by (with my writing most of the time) with a little help from my friends.

I Want You to Write a Review

The dirty little secret about online reviews.

The Catalonian Candidate Part Three: The Lady or the Tiger

Things heat up for Senator Guy Morton and Desiree Perez.

August 19, 2016

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hitchcockbateschair1Suspense and Surprise Edition

Julie Mulhern's Bayou Nights

Suspense and Surprise with Alfred Hitchcock

The Catalonian Candidate Part Two: The Trojan Horse

Read Now

August 12, 2016

unclesam2Olympic Edition

Review of Lisa Alber's Whispers in the Mist

Review of Paul D. Marks's latest short story


The Catalonian Candidate Part One: No Good Options

Read Now

August 5, 2016

CamelotbyGustaveDoreTime Out from Politics Edition

Review of Cindy Brown's Oliver Twisted
Highly Recommended Vacation Reading (Actual or Virtual)

Exciting Subscriber News

The Mystery of Why We Write

In "The Personality Myth" episode of the podcast Invisibilia, a neuroscientist grasps at the belief that there might be some early childhood memories that we cannot corrupt through recall because we cannot remember them. He doesn't have any proof of this. All of his proof says that everything about us changes (including our memories). What we think of as our personality is constantly changing. Do you remember when you wrote your first story? Do you remember why you wrote it?

Read Now

July 29, 2016

spotlight1Spotlight and Its Evil Twin Edition

Spotlight and its Evil Twin, Two Oscar winning mystery screenplays.

Cindy Brown's latest madcap mystery set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater with Oliver Twisted.

Stephen Campbell's collection of Reno Hart PI adventures Four Seasons of Reno Hart.

Rebecca Forster launches a new police detective series with Severed Relations.

Jeanette Hubbard continues plucky retiree Claudie O'Brien's adventures in Chasing Nathan.

Julie Mulhern serves up a new Country Club Murder with Clouds in My Coffee.

June 23, 2016

Us and Them Edition

Us and Them

Subscriber News

Absence of Malice (Domestic)

homeland2Us and Them

In the last issue of Mysterious News, we explored a "criminal" desire through Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt and Todd Haynes's film adaptation Carol.

In working on The Catalonian Candidate, I've been exploring a much more mysterious desire. Why in the world would anyone want to be President of the United States?

I watched the documentary Mitt on Netflix, which includes the Romney family meeting where the presidential run is discussed. The documentary The War Room shows the inner workings of the Clinton campaign, including the handling of the Gennifer Flowers incident (a crucial plot point). Best of Enemies speculates that ABC's bargain basement coverage of the 1968 conventions featuring debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal set media coverage on the slippery slope to today's shouting heads. And then, there's the 2016 presidential campaign...


April 14, 2016

February Edition

Patricia Highsmith - Criminal Desire

Left Coast Crime - Lefty Award Nominees

Carol1Patricia Highsmith - Criminal Desire

In the movie-centric noir Last Heartthrob, it was easy to come up with a dozen related mystery/suspense movies.

I haven't really shared many tie-ins for the work-in-progress The Catalonian Candidate in Mysterious News yet, because they haven't fit neatly into the mystery and suspense genres.

One of the main characters in Candidate gets his name from Alfred Hitchcock's film version of Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train. Since the central conflict revolves around the desire for power and how desire can rob you of power, it's time to recommend Patricia Highsmith's second novel, The Price of Salt, and the superb film adaptation which took much longer to make it to the screen. It's all about desire and power, too.?


February 23, 2016

sherlockgatissFive Reasons Not to Miss Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return to PBS and the 1890s in The Abominable Bride.A couple weeks ago, I was excited to learn that a Sherlock special The Abominable Bride was scheduled to air on PBS. [The repeat is scheduled for Jan. 10 on PBS.]

It got me thinking about what I find so enjoyable about this incarnation of Conan Doyle's immortal character.

Listening to an interview with Sherlock's co-creator Mark Gatiss on Masterpiece Studio gave me some clues.

The idea for the series came to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat during a conversation on a train to Cardiff to shoot Dr. Who.

5. Gatiss: Isn't it odd that the first story "A Study in Scarlet" Dr. Watson is invalided home from war service in Afghanistan, and we were currently in the middle of another Afghan war. It's the same war, isn't it?


January 7, 2015

Darcy-ConroySuspenseful Romance and Supernatural New Orleans

Darcy Conroy As Long as She Lives

Julie Mulhern A Haunting Desire

Cynthia Lott's Southern Spectral Series

This week as we continue closing out the year we revisit three summer releases. As Long as She Lives, a suspenseful romance of international intrigue debuted as a very popular serial. Julie Mulhern's A Haunting Desire combines romance, murder and the supernatural in 1902 New Orleans. Cynthia Lott's Southern Spectral Series combines murder with the supernatural in 1970s New Orleans. Is it still a tradition in England to tell ghost stories around the fireplace on Christmas Eve?


December 11, 2015

Cozy Mysteries and Humor

Cindy Brown: Ivy Meadows Mystery Series

Rebecca Forster: Baily Devlin Series

Jeanette Hubbard: Secrets, Lies & Champagne Highs

Julie Mulhern: The Country Club Murders

According to Wikipedia (and are they ever wrong?):

Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as "cozies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.


December 4, 2015

authorsNoir Friday Edition!

Mystery Panel


Noir on the Cheap

Cozy Next Week

Mystery Panel

(Photo L-R Cindy Brown, Lisa Alber, Stephanie Gayle, Bill Cameron. Click for larger photo.)

On Nov. 10, Cindy Brown (author of the Ivy Meadows Mysteries Macdeath and The Sound of Murder) moderated a panel of mystery writers at Annie Bloom's books. Stephanie Gayle was in Portland as part of her book tour to promote her debut mystery novel Idyll Threats before heading off to San Francisco and Seattle. Bill Cameron drove up from Eugene, Oregon to talk about his Skin Kadash series and his upcoming YA series (Property of the State: The Legend of Joey will be out in June). Portland author Lisa Alber talked about her County Clare Mysteries Kilmoon and the upcoming Whispers in the Mist.

Stephanie Gayle said that her goal as a mystery writer was to party with fellow writers and discuss the kind of gruesome things that you can't talk about in polite company. After the panel, we all headed next door to O'Connor's for a drink. Mission accomplished. She was right. It was fun.


November 27, 2015

item7NaNoWriMo Daily Inspiration

Since this month I'll be editing a first draft created in a previous NaNoWriMo and publishing a novel created in a NaNoWriMo before that one, I'll be participating in this NaNoWriMo by sharing some writing tips that are particularly applicable to this process. I've added the occasional comment in italics to illustrate certain less-obvious benefits.

1. Start writing today. –– Morgan Gist MacDonald (Word Target: 1667)

This is a special month. It might not seem special yet, but it will. Use it all. You won't regret it.

2. Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman (3334)

3. Embrace your weirdness. Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset. –– Joss Whedon (5000 10% complete!)


November 1, 2015

guaranteedtobleedAnthony Awards Edition

Julie Mulhern - Guaranteed to Bleed

Cynthia Lott - The Feathers on Audible

Paul Bishop - Lie Catchers

Plus: The Anthony Awards Roundup


Julie Mulhern - Guaranteed to Bleed

Published October 13, 2015

Congratulations to Julie Mulhern on her follow-up to "The Deep End."

With his dying breath, Bobby Lowell begs Ellison Russell, "Tell her I love her."

Unable to refuse, Ellison struggles to find the girl the murdered boy loved. Too bad an epically bad blind date, a vindictive graffiti artist, and multiple trips to the emergency room keep getting in the way.

Worse, a killer has Ellison in his sights, her newly rebellious daughter is missing, and there's yet another body in her hostas. Mother won't be pleased. Now Ellison must track down not one but two runaway teenagers, keep her promise to Bobby, and elude the killer-all before her next charity gala committee meeting.


October 13, 2015

soundofmurderTriplet Edition:

Cindy Brown's The Sound of Murder

Melissa Lenhardt's Stillwater

Allen Eskens' The Guise of Another

Plus: Murder Lab report on the Last Heartthrob Serialization Experiment

What is Bouchercon (including Paul D. Marks on the short story Anthony nominees).

The Sound of Murder by Cindy Brown

Published October 6, 2015

[To the tune of "Cabaret."]





Yes, Ivy Meadows is back! And she's appearing in the World Premiere performance of THE SOUND OF CABARET at Desert Magic Dinner Theater. Congratulations, Cindy!


October 6, 2015

doublebookJames M. Cain's Double Indemnity and the Definition of Noir

Paul D. Marks debuts Vortex

Melissa Lenhardt's Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery (Pre-Sale)

Stephen Campbell's interview with Lawrence Block

Clues and Red Herrings

James M. Cain's Double Indemnity and the Definition of Noir

During Paul D. Marks's recent CrimeFiction.FM interview, Steve Campbell asked the Shamus Award-winning writer to explain noir to listeners.

"To me, noir is somebody basically tripping over their own faults: somebody who has an Achilles heel, some kind of greed, or want, or desire that leads them down a dark path."

When Steve asked him for an example, I mouthed the words right along with him: Double Indemnity.

Paul's a Raymond Chandler buff. I lean a little more toward James M. Cain, but the movie Double Indemnity offers up James M. Cain's morally challenged characters, Raymond Chandler's dialogue, and Billy Wilder's German-expressionist visuals. It's as noir as you can get.

While the film Double Indemnity is the definition of film noir, James M. Cain's source material is perhaps the purest distillation of the fatal flaw noir theme in fiction.

I personally think that noir is a great form escapism because while we get to make that wrong decision right along with the protagonists, and vicariously thrill to the dark places it takes them, they have to pay for it in the end. We get to walk out of the theater, or turn off the TV, or close the book, and escape their comeuppance!


September 24, 2015

CountKneelingA Word About Word Count and Why it Matters, Last Heartthrob The Gunshots and the Femme Fatale Extras, This Really is Your Newsletter

A Word About Word Count and Why it Matters

So the standard book contract for a thriller these days is 100,000 words.

I've been thinking about that a lot as I've found several unputdownable mystery and suspense novels I've attempted to read recently to be...well, putdownable.

Here's a conversation that might take place today.

Editor: I like what you've written so far. Give us another 52,906 words and we're good.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Uh, okay, I guess.

A lot of people think The Great Gatsby needed work.

But when it comes to noir, and the mystery genre, I'm not sure where we'd be without these titles. Were these books all too short?

Page count/word count:

Graham Greene: The Third Man, 1950, 160, 28402

James M. Cain: Double Indemnity, 1943, 115, 30072

James M. Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1934, 116, 35000

John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps 1915, 225, 41807


Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:13:21 -0700



CrimeFiction.FM, Rebecca Forster, Reviews, Last Heartthrob and Vertigo

Stephen Campbell's CrimeFiction.FM

If you're reading these words, chances are extremely good that you're already a subscriber to the CrimeFiction.FM podcast.

So I'll just ask, wasn't that a great interview with Tana French? Didn't you enjoy learning about her rationale for writing a series with rotating protagonists?

Wasn't it interesting to learn the story behind Rebecca Forster's Witness series and her shift from traditional to indie publishing?

While the witness in the first book of that series may be hostile, I can assure you that Rebecca is not.


Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:13:21 -0700

hauntingA Haunting Desire, The Irises, Last Heartthrob call for Consulting Detectives

Great Reviews for Julie Mulhern's "A Haunting Desire"

Published July 28, 2015 

Excerpts from Amazon Reviews:

"Come take a trip back in time to one of the most magical places there is, where magic is everyday. This author takes you to New Orleans where murder indeed is afoot and the killer seems to be not of this world.” 5-stars

"This book has to be the perfect paranormal historical romance. Loved the hot hot yankee and madame together. Buildup was just right to the end. Can't wait to read more from Julie Mulhern.” 5-stars

"I absolutely loved this book, the setting, the time period, the legends/mythology, all of it.” 5-stars

Murder in the streets. And passion in the shadows...

New Orleans, 1902

A killer walks the streets of New Orleans, eviscerating men and leaving them in the streets, and for madam Trula Boudreaux, it's bad for business. Trula needs help but she's not prepared for Zeke Barnes, the charming would-be savior who darkens her doorway-or the yearning he awakens. For while Trula knows well the delights of lust, she avoids love at all costs...

Investigating the killer was one thing, but Zeke can't help but be enchanted by the gorgeous mystery woman who runs an exclusive brothel. Caught between his duty to protect the city and his clear-as-day desire for Trula, Zeke sets about capturing Trula's heart-or at least a place in her bed. But with every moment Trula resists, Zeke falls into greater danger.


Thu, 06 Aug 2015 12:35:47 -0700

TaylorStevensNewsTaylor Stevens Newsletter: Compassion, Appreciation, and Candor

When I listened to the latest “unnamed” Taylor Stevens podcast “Myths and Misunderstandings around Successful Books,” her call to action was to tell a friend about her newsletter.

I’ll tell you why I subscribe to her newsletter.

Here are some excerpts from what she shared in one entitled “Soooo.... have you found a publisher yet?”

When I first set out to write a novel and the long lean years drew on, the question I heard most frequently – and annoyingly, I might add – from friends and acquaintances was, “Sooooo, have you found a publisher yet?” Such harmless little words, but I feel pangs of anxiety from the mere mention of them.

Here’s the thing (two, actually) about “finding a publisher”:

1. The manuscript/ story/ book/ must first be finished.

How many people do you know who have at one point said they were planning to write a book? How many have actually started inking that idea into reality? Perhaps you even have a friend, or know a friend of a friend who has been working on an amazing idea for a few years now. But of those, how many people do you know who’ve actually completed what they set out to write? Exactly. That’s why a work of fiction has to be finished before anyone will look at it.


Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:36:55 -0700

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