Friday, December 28, 2012

The Big, Big New Years' Promotion

New e-reader for Christmas? Or just weary of the hunt for writing of genuine quality in the ever-growing eBook marketplace?

For two days only, January 1st and 2nd 2013, selected titles from the twelve authors of the Top Suspense Group will be selling for 99c each. That's a dozen proven thriller and suspense titles for less than the cost of... I don't know, something that sells for twelve dollars. But you get the idea.

Click here to see and order any or all of the books you can see below. Favorite Kills is a collection of award-winning and nominated short stories by Top Suspense Group members and includes Number 19 by Naomi Hirahara.

You'll find information on each of the TSG authors and their available works at

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Kingdom of Bones

The British paperback edition of The Kingdom of Bones, the novel that introduces The Bedlam Detective's Sebastian Becker, is published today by Ebury Press.

Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times wrote:
THE KINGDOM OF BONES... shows the occult mystery in its best light. Vividly set in England and America during the booming industrial era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this stylish thriller conjures a perfect demon to symbolize the age and its appetites, an entity that inhabits characters eager to barter their souls for fame and fortune. When met, this demon is residing in Edmund Whitlock, an actor whose life gives us entry into the colorful world of traveling theatricals. When Whitlock passes on his curse to the company soubrette, the troupe manager follows her to America, intent on rescuing her, and runs afoul of the law. Although Gallagher delivers horror with a grand melodramatic flourish, his storytelling skills are more subtly displayed in scenes of the provincial theaters, gentlemen’s sporting clubs and amusement parks where a now-vanished society once took its rough pleasures. 
And this from our own Ed Gorman:
"I read Stephen Gallagher for two reasons. First because he's one of the most entertaining writers I've ever read. And second because I can't read a short story of his let alone a novel without picking up a few pointers about writing. He's an elegant stylist, a shrewd psychologist and a powerful storyteller with enormous range and depth.

"I finished his latest novel The Kingdom of Bones and I was honestly stunned by what he'd done. The sweep, the majesty, the grit, the grue, the great grief (and the underpinning of gallows humor from time to time). This is not only the finest novel I've read this year but the finest novel I've read in the past two or three years."

The Kingdom of Bones UK paperback cover

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Naomi Hirahara

I was tagged by the indomitable Libby Fisher Hellmann (that's my favorite descriptor of Libby -- check out her protagonists on her web site,, and you'll see why).

My next book is the fifth in the Mas Arai mystery series, Strawberry Yellow, coming out on March 5, 2013, but I'm going to cheat a little and talk about the first installment of a new mystery series that I'm currently writing. In fact, this is the last week for me to tweak the changes of the draft that I will be e-mailing my editor next Monday. Giving birth to this baby has been intense. It's been a short incubation period and now it's labor time!

What is the working title of your next book?  
LA Rush.  

Where did the idea come from?
Hmmm. I find this a difficult question to answer. Just threw some things into the bowl of creativity and stirred.

What genre best defines your book? 
Mystery, of course. Subgenre: police procedural meets Bridget Jones meets Grey's Anatomy. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My protagonist, Ellie Rush, is a 22-year-old hapa (mixed race of white, Latina and Japanese descent). Think a younger version of Kristine Kruek of "Smallville." In terms of her aunt, Cheryl Toma, Tamlyn Tomita of "Karate Kid" fame.  And since this is a start of a series, I see this as more of a TV show than movie.

Kristine Kruek

Tamlyn Tomita
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
At the behest of her aunt, an LAPD assistant chief, as well as college friends, a rookie bicycle cop gets tangled in an investigation of a coed's murder, only to uncover secrets that threaten her future and personal relationships.  

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Allison Cohen of Gersh is the representing agent; it has already been sold to Penguin (I guess Penguin Random House). I'll be working with the same editor who edited my Edgar Award-winning novel, Snakeskin Shamisen.  

How long did it take you to write the first draft?
This is the intense part: four months, including outlining. I've never written a novel so fast.  

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It's difficult for me to identify a good comparison. The tone is light for a police procedural and I have many multi-cultural characters who pop up within it. Perhaps a dash of Lisa Lutz's Spellman books, but only a dash.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My students at UCLA last year! Also, I took a citizen's class with the federal agency, ATF, around the same time. That was the first time I've ever shot a gun or automatic weapon, participated in surveillance, etc.

Also, as I was dealing with my father's terminal illness and death in January of this year, I told myself that I needed to work on something lighter and even semi-humorous. And more youthful.  

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
There's a lot of romance and angst. And more to come.

Thanks, Libby, for this opportunity to talk about my Ellie (I was going to change her first name, but it didn't work out).

Next week, December 5, you must go to the following blogs:
  • SJ Rozan -- my basketball buddy and consummate award-winning mystery author. Many of you know her as the creator of the Lydia Chin and Bill mystery series, but she has other projects up her sleeve. Read about it next Wednesday here
  •  Sujata Massey -- how much do I love Sujata and her Rei Shimura books? I know Sujata has a bit of a crush on Mas Arai, which makes me very happy. We need our Sujata fix now, and she be telling you all here
  • Gar Anthony Haywood -- I was reading Gar's Aaron Gunner series before publishing my first Mas Arai novel. Gar is a pioneer and you can find his blog on Murderati
  • Ed Lin -- Ed's a wonderful down and dirty writer. He will have some interesting news to share as well over on his blog
  • Holly West -- She's a colleague with the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Holly has been working on a historical and go to here to learn more about Holly and her debut work. 
Thanks for visiting me here at Top Suspense!  You can stop by my web site in mid-December; we will be doing some renovations.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Bedlam Detective: Kirkus's Best Mystery List

Who can resist a taut thriller set in Victorian England?

Kirkus Reviews could not, as it recognized Stephen Gallagher's The Bedlam Detective as one of its best mysteries of 2012.  Read it here.

With its atmospheric cover, this novel may be the perfect gift for literary lover in your circle.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Harry Shannon

My talented and devious Top Suspense Group colleague Mr. Stephen Gallagher tagged me for this project. I didn't even realize I'd ticked him off. Anyway, it's called a Blog Hop. Here's how it works. You follow this design, answer ten questions on the next big thing that you're working on, then tag five other writers to do the same. This could go on forever and may outlast Twinkies.

What is the working title of your next book?
The Hungry 3: At the End of the World, co-written with Steven W. Booth. The novel should be out in February, 2013. It concerns the further adventures of Sheriff Penny Miller of Flat Rock, Nevada, who is still braving the Zombie Apocalypse.

Where did the idea come from?
The first book The Hungry began as a short zombie story written for a charity anthology. Steven and I had so much fun doing it we continued on and finished the novel version on a lark. It sold very well, so The Hungry 2: The Wrath of God followed in August. We're still not sure if this finishes a trilogy or if we'll feel compelled to do more.

What genre best defines your book?
Zombies, baby! And tongue in cheek horror, I guess.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?
The actress featured on all three covers of The Hungry books is the lovely Ms. Gillian Shure, who co-starred in my micro-budged ode to 80's horror Dead and Gone back in 2007. She has become so connected in my brain with redheaded Sheriff Penny Miller it has become difficult to imagine anyone else playing the part. Our fans tell us Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl on The Walking Dead, has simply got to play her biker friend Scratch.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Sheriff Penny Miller and her friends hide out at a hunting lodge in the snowy mountains of Colorado, hoping to escape the zombie plague. It is not a Merry Christmas.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
All three of The Hungry novels are published by Genius Books, which is owned by my co-author Steven.

How long did it take you to write the first draft?
We do an outline first, emailing back and forth, working out just the key beats of the story in rough chapter form. Once that is set, Steven generally does the rough, I rewrite that and send it back. Once we get going the actual first draft (one pass for each of us) generally takes us about three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I suppose we'd be considered a mix of drama and comedy. We have loads of redneck humor, a touch of Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead, but the satire is mixed with genuinely creepy scenes similar in tone to the zombie work of Jonathan Maberry and Joe McKinney. Joe and Jonathan are friends of ours, and fans of Sheriff Penny Miller. In fact, Joe wrote the introduction to the first book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've always loved zombie lore, particularly the George Romero school and the 1970's classic Night of the Living Dead. I'm from Nevada, and often set stories and novels in that state. When we were writing the charity story, it just tickled me to combine those two and see how a redneck Sheriff in a small town might react to facing a horde of the undead. We began in the jail, in a salute to Rio Bravo, and it took off from there and became a series.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
You can read The Hungry: At the End of the World by itself come February, or buy and read the first two now and start from the beginning. Either way, be sure to make a very, very big bowl of popcorn, dim the lights and be prepared for a mix of laughs on scares. These novels have been a ton of fun to write, and we think anyone who loves shambling monsters is bound to enjoy reading them.
These "Next Big Thing" blogposts are planned to appear every Wednesday. As of now I'm tagging Gene O'Neill, Scott Nicholson, Brian Knight, Steven W. Booth, and Tim Marquitz.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going from noir to Julius Katz

When my story “Julius Katz” (EQMM September/October 2009) was published, it must’ve surprised my readers. Up till then, most readers knew me from my dark and violent noir novels and stories. “Julius Katz” is very different from my noir writing in its gentle humor and endearing characters, and is mostly a bloodless story where the murders take place off screen. My Julius Katz stories are somewhere between pastiche and homage to Nero Wolfe—a mix of hardboiled and traditional mystery where a brilliant but incredibly lazy detective has all the evidence gathered, questions the witnesses, and then points out the guilty party. The hardboiled element in both Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and my Julius Katz stories is represented by a wisecracking assistant who narrates the stories. With Nero Wolfe the assistant is Archie Goodwin. In my Julius Katz stories, the assistant is also named Archie, but there the similarities with Archie Goodwin end, as my Archie is a computer device the size of a tie pin, but with the heart and soul of a hardboiled PI. And with his self-adapting neuron network, my Archie wants nothing more than to learn enough by observing Julius so that he can beat him to the punch in solving a case.

read the rest of this article on Ellery Queen's 'Something Is Going To Happen' web-site:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Noircon 2012 -- the best!

Vicki Hendricks :

“Noir” is a small category in the vast world of crime writing, and I’m the only member of Top Suspense who specializes in it (although Dave Zeltserman has deep noir roots). But after attending the fabulous Noircon in Philadelphia this past weekend, I feel inspired to spread the net for new converts. Noir has never been one of the more popular genres in crime, but its devotees are some of the most fervent. With a better understanding of noir’s characteristics, rather than expecting someone to solve a crime and being disappointed, I believe, more readers would be prepared to enjoy it.

Otto Penzler

The definition of noir has broadened in the last several years with writers of any dark villain or alcoholic detective laying claim to the sophisticated French film term, but real noir devotees, as well as expert Otto Penzler, anchor the meaning with classic writers of the 40s and 50s, such as James M. Cain and Patricia Highsmith. For a novel to fall into the noir category, the narrator or point of view character has to be the criminal. Most often these people are undereducated, born into lower economic groups, and demonstrate warped psychology that winds them deeper into the dirt, from start to finish. No happy endings, no series possibilities. Interviewed for the Philadelphia Enquirer, Penzler cited the characteristics of noir similar to naturalist literature, with the cold, heartless universe turning the screws. But he also stated that the characters themselves are losers, who “through their own moral flaws, create a world in which they are doomed.” Both statements are true, depending where you stop following the chain of cause and effect. Noir is naturalist literature and reflects the Greek definition of tragedy. Reason enough to read it, right?

Beyond that, for me as a reader, the originality of character and plot that flows from trying to understand dark minds so dramatically different from my own and participating as these people frantically claw in the wrong direction, is what won’t let me go. I want them to succeed in murder; I want them to have what they desperately need, no matter what extremes become necessary. In an amoral universe, this universe that exists on paper (or screen), it is their turn. Of course, my stomach clenches and I mouth, “No, no!” as they make fatal mistakes.

As noir writers, we choose our darkest thoughts to blacken them further, and we love the characters we create because somewhere down deep they own our consciousness. They are heroes on our dark sides, punching out emotion at the gut level, more forceful than the logical workings of the brain on a mystery.

I’ve noticed that real people who have led “noir” lives find no interest in noir literature. I think it’s because they have already fought off that part of their brain in order to become the people they are now, to be safe. They want to avoid that place forever, and they are already overly-familiar with the inner workings of the criminal mind, while the rest of us, products of Catholic schools (myself anyway) and/or responsible parents, find psychosis riveting.

Heide Hatry and her video

It is only possible to give a taste of the intriguing events presented at Noircon this year: to start, there was the noir artist Heide Hatry, who grew up in Germany on a pig farm and later converted her expertise in slaughtering pigs into art that exposes the plight of animals. Other highlights were the fascinating and jovial interviews of this year’s award winners Otto Penzler and Lawrence Block. Penzler, obviously in pain, told about his purchase of the rights for all three Steig Larsen books for $30,000, which he then sold to a friend for $30,000 because of the difficulty of getting good translations. Block let out the news that he is finished writing, but nobody believed him.

There was the inspiring lesson from Keynote Speaker Robert Olen Butler, speaking on the genius of Charles Dickens and how to emulate his “film shot” techniques. Megan Abbott moderated a lively guilt-free panel on true crime, and Richard Edwards, on TV series, brought further appreciation for the genius behind Breaking Bad. Also memorable are the knowledgeable musicians and Burlesque performers who brought us further into the understanding of noir in entertainment. “Burlesque now is female empowerment. Women will always be objectified, but in burlesque they are in control of when and what reaction they get,” remarked Lulu Lollipop.

Dwayne Swierczynski and Lawrence Block

There wasn’t a dull panel in the bunch, all geared to an academic level audience and without the hawking of books. As Jonathan Woods, author of Bad Juju and Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem, sums it up: “Noircon was a hoot, from the pigskin artist to Duane Swierczynski’s droll interview of Larry Block; from the twirled tips of Jeff Wong's mustache to Grover Silcox's sterling rendition of Poe's madman in ‘A Tell Tale Heart.’  Wow!  The mind reels.”

The conference that beats all other crime conferences by a mile holds assets that can’t be replicated: Deen Kogan’s Society Hill Playhouse, an intimate venue with tables draped in red and black; the creativity and hard work of Lou Boxer, who puts two years into each Noircon in order to make it fascinating and different, and most of all, the noir writers and readers, a tight group without taint of jealousy or competition. We huddle together gasping, laughing, hugging, in celebration of the wonderfulness of terror, obsession, and murder. We are a small percentage of the crime writing world, but choice.

Lou Boxer and Grover Silcox

Monday, November 5, 2012

Books Do Furnish a Room... a way that DVD or video cases don't. If you're in in any doubt about it, just look at the backgrounds in at-home TV interviews. I think it's something tied in with the physical objects themselves, not just with the intellectual life they represent. A shelfload of shabby old middlebrow novels is way more aesthetically pleasing than one loaded with the finest foreign-language Criterion DVDs.

A friend of mine recently expressed dismay at an LA Times story about an interior designer who'd urged his client to store all his CDs in wallets and discard the cases. But I kiiiiiiiiiind of get what's going on there... I've taken a small step in that direction myself.

Every year I get sent a bunch of awards screeners on DVD. They're produced and packaged exactly like commercial releases but they can't legally be passed on or sold. For the ones I want to keep I discard the cases, number the discs, add the info to my database, and file them. One shoebox-sized container from PC World holds a couple of hundred movies.

Which, of course, frees up my shelf space for books.

The only thing that's kept me from doing the same with the bulk of my retail-bought DVDs is the lingering notion that the packaging is part of the 'value'. But most of the time, it isn't - they're just all-purpose cases with a cheap paper insert, and the only real reason to keep the packaging is for resale purposes. With some DVDs the packaging is a part of the pleasure - my King Kong in a tin box, my Forbidden Planet special edition with a wee Robbie Robot - but 90% of the time, not.

When CDs first came onto the market they sold at a huge premium because those hi-tech shiny discs looked so much like a luxury purchase. But when we started buying blanks and realised that the discs themselves were only worth pennies, I think a process began where in our hearts we started to unshackle digital content from the material of the medium that delivers it.

I'm now thinking that when a suitably capacious storage medium comes along, I can transfer each shoebox of 200 titles onto one disc (or its future equivalent) - 200 unaltered viewing experiences (my TV doesn't care where the data comes from), even more space for books.

I wouldn't apply it to my books. The idea of ripping the covers off to make more room... aieee. It makes my toes curl. For me every one of my books is a "King Kong in a tin".

That's why I have five different editions of The Lost World... a well-handled first, the Pilot and Rodin annotated edition, a '30s Hodder & Stoughton hardcover, a children's paperback, and the Professor Challenger Omnibus in which I first read the tale. If only the text mattered, then any one of those would do. Or I could junk them all and download the words from Gutenberg. But each of them carries a different charge, of association and of the era when it was published. Each one is a different performance of the text.

E-books, though... you download them, you store them on one drive or another, you move them around, you copy them to your device... they never have any physical form at all. The notion of keeping and displaying the cases never arises.

E-books will never replace books.

Just most of them.

More than a decade ago Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine wrote of the entertainment industry's struggle to comprehend that their future was in selling bytes, not atoms. By which he meant that they were all about manufacturing and shipping and had no strategy for handling their product in a non-material form.

It's taking a while. But I'd say we're going there.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pink Wiggly Things

As a Halloween treat here's a short and amusing story about a hungry Ghengi and those delicious pink wiggly things. As an added bonus, the first person to guess correctly (one guess per reader) which cast member of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer burst out laughing at the end of this story during a book store event reading will win an autographed paperback copy of A KILLER'S ESSENCE.



Dave Zeltserman

A rumbling inside made Ghengi nibble halfheartedly on the cotton fiber. It didn't help much to ease his hunger, but it was all he had and he knew it could be days before he had anything else. Ghengi looked at what was left. Thin strands of cotton connected to that foul rubber padding. The cotton would be gone soon, probably before dark.
Ghengi prayed that an insect would haplessly crawl within striking distance. Insects were good. If Ghengi tried hard enough he could imagine they were really pink wiggly things. Of course, they weren't pink wiggly things. They were in fact only a poor imitation. But Ghengi knew they were as close as he could come – as close as he could let himself come –  to those wonderous epicurean delights.
With a start, Ghengi realized he was salivating; he had been imagining the taste of a pink wiggly thing. That was dangerous. If he dwelled too much on it, he would weaken. He wouldn't be able to resist them the next time they came to brazenly challenge him. And as ultimately satisfying as they were, the aftermath was so utterly damnable.
It was always the same, and Ghengi knew it would always be the same. There would be the noise and bright lights and sticks and heavy leather trying to crush poor Ghengi. And sometimes there would be that spray followed by a fetid, sour smell that would make his eyes start spinning and make him bump into things. The only escape from these terrors would be the outside.
He shuddered at the thought of the outside. Cold. Damp. All those creatures with sharp teeth and claws trying to tear him apart. Although, he smiled, none had teeth sharper than his own.
Ghengi stretched his mouth as far as it could be stretched. His body was only the size of a small plum, but his mouth opened to its capacity could encompass a large melon. Inside his mouth were rows and rows of teeth. No bigger than diamond flakes, but sharper than razors. With his mouth opened, they glistened and sparkled.
Ghengi strengthened his resolve about the pink wiggly things. He wasn't going to think about them. Let them taunt him! The price was just too dear. He would have to be satisfied with the occasional insect, the dustballs, and the other crud that came his way. He sniffed at the cotton and tore a strand from it, avoiding the rubber padding.

"Will you leave me alone and take the dog out!"
Miriam's back was turned to Donald and, as she spoke, he silently mouthed her words, violently contorting his lips to the point where the edges of his mouth ached. He had long ceased deriving any pleasure from mimicking Miriam, but he had to do it. Just, as he knew, his wife had to extend her middle finger at him when he wasn't facing her. Sometimes he'd catch her at it, and she'd quickly move her hand back toward her head as if she were straightening her hair. The times when she would unexpectedly turn around, he'd contort his face as if he were about to sneeze.
"I'm not trying to bother you," he whimpered. He knew he was whimpering. It bothered him, but he couldn't keep from doing it. Anyway, it annoyed Miriam. "I can't find my slipper. Where is it?"
"How am I supposed to know?"
Miriam turned around and Donald froze, framing his face into an expected sneeze.
"Gesundheit," she said, her upper lip stiffening.
Donald sniffed a couple of times. "I can't find my slipper. That damn dog of yours keeps taking my stuff and destroying it."
"If you put your things away he wouldn't do it!"
"Look, the past three months I've had six pairs of socks, a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, and two undershirts ruined by him.”  Donald could feel his face flushing. “If he destroys anything else, that's it!"
He turned and walked towards the staircase. He could sense Miriam's right arm stretching out, the middle finger extended to its fullest. "Take Einstein out!" she demanded coldly.
Donald spun around, catching his wife straightening her hair. "You take him out," he said. "I'm going upstairs."

The noises upset Ghengi. There were many of those noises here, Ghengi thought, but at least they weren't the intolerable kind. Since he arrived he had only had to suffer through the intolerable noise a few times, and it never lasted more than a minute. Of all the things Ghengi despised, the intolerable noise was the most awful. The squeaking and squealing, the pounding and shaking as if his world were about to collapse on him. Thinking of it made him dizzy. He was thankful that he found this place. This one had far less of the intolerable noise than any of the other places Ghengi had nested in.
He knew he couldn't give in to the pink wiggly things. If he did he would have to leave. He would be forced outside. And it could take months before he was able to find another nest.
Those wonderful pink wiggly things. He wished he hadn't thought of them before. They were haunting him now, torturing him. It had been so long since he had tasted one, and the desire was growing, dangerously mixing with his insatiable hunger.
He looked at what was left of the cotton. At best, it would dull his hunger, but it wouldn't stop it. It always seemed to be this way; where after a while nothing could truly satisfy the hunger but a pink wiggly thing.
Ghengi swallowed another strand of cotton. It was tasteless to him. He ran his mouth over what was left of the slipper, hoping to find one of those translucent slivers. He had found one before and it had driven him into ecstasy, reminding him of those wonderful pink wiggly things. No such luck this time.
He went over it again. In his desperation he even endured the foulness of the rubber padding. There was nothing to find.
A dull thumping noise approached Ghengi. He knew it came from one of those monstrous creatures; a Guardian, the ones who brought about the terrors. They were the protectors of the pink wiggly things.
Ghengi could sense it was close. He started to see its awful face, and in an instant compressed himself against the wall. Under the shadows of his home, Ghengi knew he'd be safe. The creature would think he was only an imperfection in the plaster.
Ghengi sniffed. The pink wiggly things were near. The Guardians always foreshadowed their arrival, and he could now smell them. He pulled himself from the wall and saw that he was right. They had come. Five of them. They always came in groups of five. Wiggling towards him. Tempting him. Oh, they were so bold! Ghengi noted that these ones were thicker and plumper than other pink wiggly things he had encountered. Or maybe it was the hunger playing cruel tricks on his eyes.
They weren't worth the terrors. Ghengi repeated that to himself. Or at least one pink wiggly thing wasn't… but five? If Ghengi moved fast enough he could possibly snatch all five of them. He had never thought of that before. Maybe, just maybe…
A harsh, scratching noise froze him. It was followed by a soft thud. From beyond the pink wiggly things, a small sphere rolled towards him. It smelled of dog saliva and leather. Well, it wasn't a pink wiggly thing, but it also wouldn't bring out the wrath of the Guardians. Ghengi snapped back to his senses. He blinded himself to the pink wiggly things that were tempting himself so and instead let the sphere roll into his mouth, and then he started gagging, the sphere dropping from him.
A trick! A despicable, vile trick! It wasn't leather, but nasty rubber made to smell like leather. Foul, most foul taste! Pain immobilized him, and at the same time the hunger within him grew into something unbearable. He had to get that vile taste out of his mouth, and just as importantly, he needed to satisfy his hunger. Desperately, he looked around and saw that the pink wiggly things were gone. And to add insult to injury they had stolen what was left of the slipper. If Ghengi had tearducts he would've cried.

Donald studied his shredded slipper, then nodded grimly at Einstein, who sat in the doorway, tongue hanging out, panting.
“Proud of yourself, are you? Another nineteen dollars and ninety-nine cents, plus tax, down the toilet."
Einstein barked.
Donald looked at the dog and then at the open window. The bedroom was on the second floor. "You want to play ball, is that it?" he asked. The dog barked again. "If I throw the ball out the window, you'd be stupid enough to chase after it, wouldn't you?"
Einstein wagged his tail.
"You would, wouldn't you." Donald nodded. He got up and walked over to the dog. He scratched it behind the ear. "You are that stupid. You'd be only too happy to jump out the window and break your neck." His hand moved from behind the ear to the dog's thin neck. He felt the bone.
"Okay, then." Donald half-smiled. "Let's play ball. Go get your ball, stupid."
The dog didn't move. A long strand of drool fell from his mouth. Donald studied him. "You want me to get it, huh? It's okay for you to drag my things under the bed and rip them apart, but you won't go under there for your ball, is that it?"
Einstein gave a thin whine.
Donald compressed his lips into a tight smile. He moved back to the bed and lowered himself onto his knees. "Okay, Stupid, I'll get your ball and then we'll play." He pressed his head against the bed and reached underneath it, feeling for the dog's rubber ball. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of Einstein studying him, and it startled him. The dog had a weird look on his face, a look that Donald had never seen on a dog before.
Of course, it was only a look of amusement. After all, look who was calling who stupid. If Einstein had any pink wiggly things, he certainly wouldn't put them anywhere near a hungry Ghengi.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Writing Crime Fiction

Are you a crime fiction writer? Are you a crime fiction reader?

If your answer to either question is yes, you've got to have Writing Crime Fiction, the latest book from the award winning authors of the Top Suspense Group!

From Joel Goldman's advice and tips on "going indie" to Vicki Hendricks secrets to sizzling sex scenes, Writing Crime Fiction is the must-have how-to for crime fiction writers and readers.

Wondering what it takes to start and finish that first novel? Stephen Gallagher and Ed Gorman tell you how to get it done.

Dreaming of turning your crime thriller into a TV series or movie? Let Hollywood veterans Lee Goldberg and Paul Levine show you the way.

Dying to ratchet up your book's suspense, whether set in today's world or in years gone by? Libby Hellmann and Max Allan Collins will tell you how to make it happen.

Ever wonder what the heck "noir" means? Dave Zeltserman has the answer.

Wish you could create the perfect amateur sleuth? Naomi Hirahara gives you all the clues you need.

Like your thrillers with a dose of zombies? Harry Shannon will show you how to bring them to life.

Want to know the secrets to writing more than a hundred thrillers? Bill Crider spills the answers.

Writing Crime Fiction has it all!

Get it now and get started on your next bestseller!

And don't forget the Top Suspense Group's red-hot anthologies, Top Suspense and Favorite Kills and their knockout short story, Die Lover Die!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Publishing Revolution by Bill Crider

You know about the publishing revolution, don't you?  The one that was going to change the face of publishing as we know it?

It was great.

Writers hardly anyone had ever heard of suddenly started selling millions of copies.  They couldn't get their books published by conventional means, so they went the new route, and the public couldn't get enough of them.

The old-line publishers thought it was crazy.  They thought it would never work and that if it worked in the short term, it would never last.

They were wrong.

They were wrong in spite of the fact that the writers didn't get reviewed anywhere, not at first, anyway. Newspaper and magazine reviewers ignored them. It was as if they didn't exist, except that they were selling all those books.

The publishers got worried. They got even more worried when established writers started getting in on the deal. They didn't know how to respond, and some people thought they'd be run out of business. After all the new method of publishing was producing books in big numbers, and it was producing them for a lot less than the big-time publishers were charging.

Some people said the books were cheap in other ways, poorly written and full of sex and violence. Even after some reviewers started to mention them, the hoity-toity ones pretended they didn't exist. The books kept right on selling and selling and selling.

What I'm talking about here, by the way, isn't the digital revolution. It's a revolution that happened over 60 years ago when publishers like Fawcett got into the paperback original market. It might seem odd today, but some folks were sure that the sky was falling and that paperback originals would be the end of hardcovers.

It didn't work out like that. Hardcovers continued to sell, and paperback originals continued to grow in respectability.  Writers like John D. MacDonald, Charles Williams, Jim Thompson, and Harry Whittington, Vin Packer, and dozens of others produced work of lasting value for the paperback market.  We got some swell covers out of it, too.

Which writers of e-books will be remembered 50 years from now? I don't know, but I'd like to think that the members of the Top Suspense Group are among them. Maybe someone reading this can write about it in whatever form of communication that's around then. I hope someone will.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Telling the Story by Harry Shannon

I grew up with my nose buried in a book. Bet you did too. For me, Tom Swift and Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys were followed by the seminal SF of Robert Heinlein, A.E. Van Vogt, Richard Matheson, and of course Ray Bradbury. When I was in my early teens I discovered some Shell Scott and Donald Hamilton mass-market paperbacks under my Grandfather’s sink on the ranch. (Okay, I found some girlie magazines there too but that’s a story for another day). Those Gold Medal paperbacks also hooked me instantly. I collected them for years. I still own every Travis McGee book written by the great John D. MacDonald, and most of his other sixty-odd novels as well. My home is filled with books, as is my office.

I wallowed in the style, the drama, the rapid pace of pulp fiction, hell, novels of any stripe. The spy novels of the sixties, the horror of the seventies and eighties, historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers, you name it. The point it, like most of us, I’ve always loved to read—and thus always dreamed of becoming I writer. I started writing early, and could soon hammer out a pretty good sentence. Eventually I even had a style, mostly likely just a loose combination of bits and pieces from every author I’d admired, but it was mine. So I kept on writing…and getting rejected. It turns out that one thing nagged me constantly, held me back and rarely failed to trip me up.

Structure gave me fits.
I can write the story, I thought, but how do you tell the story?

The answer turned out to be simple, though not necessarily easy. You study structure, at least for a while. Look, I’m not going to sit here and recommend that everyone interested in writing go get an advanced degree, or even suffer through reading Robert McKee’s pretentious tome Story, but I did learn the hard way that a working understanding of structure is essential to becoming a half way decent writer. I applied these principles to my first Mick Callahan mystery Memorial Day, and it did quite well.

In a nutshell, what I learned back then is this. Aristotle said a good story must inevitably consist of three parts, a beginning, middle and end. Thus we have the classic (and overused) three-act screenplay structure, with an inciting incident beginning the tale, a first plot point creating the second act—generally about fifty percent of the piece—and a third plot point creating the final act, i.e. the last quarter. A smart person will also soon learn to divide the middle act into three distinct smaller acts, and thus push the tale forward with ever more momentum. Oh, and as the middle of most novels has a tendency to sag, it’s smart to plot a key event or reversal of some kind and drop it in there to keep the reader from losing interest.

There you have it, more or less. You may already know all about this stuff, but I figured I’d mention it anyway.

I found the concept of story structure quite illuminating. It led me to an interest in mythology and comparative religion. I treasured Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and can also recommend the book The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler, which lifted from the work of both Carl Jung and Professor Campbell. See, Jung noted that great stories have been with us forever, and most have certain predictable elements which tend to be arranged in a specific order. Joseph Campbell carried those concepts further, eventually applying them to mythology and religion as well as folk and fairy tales from around the globe. I think it was James Joyce who dubbed the basic story the “Mono Myth,” i.e. one of separation, initiation into some form of rarified knowledge, and then return, usually to share that knowledge, even if only by example. Think of Prometheus and the fire, or Icarus and his rapidly melting wings.

Once you learn to apply these basic thoughts to your mystery or thriller, the pacing will improve and the story will probably feel easier to knit together.

Obviously one can overdue this stuff, and end up feeling rigid and predictable, but for me, not planning at all feels to me like painting a room without prepping it, or building an office complex without a blueprint. In summary, it is my humble opinion that we need three primary things to write well (a) good characters (b) a readable style, well presented and (c) at least a good, working grasp of story structure. The more we write, the less many of us seem to need to plan out in advance. I suspect the mind learns these basic tricks over time. One hopes. After all we do ultimately learn to write by writing.

Speaking of writing, I’d better get back to work. I have a fifth Mick Callahan novel to plot out.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Six Reasons to Write Short Stories

By Libby Hellmann

One of the reasons I love being part of Top Suspense is that all twelve of us write short stories as well as novels. I believe short stories are an essential part of an author's tool kit. In fact, I believe they can only make us better writers. So, in keeping with our emphasis on craft, I offer this post which was also on my individual blog recently, SAY THE WORD.

A writer’s journey often takes them to unexpected places. I know mine has. Like many beginning writers, I decided I could write a novel fresh out of the gate. So I did. Funny—no one wanted it. At the time I was irritated. Why not? I’d just spent four months working on what I thought was going to be a NY Times Best Seller.

The answer? I didn’t know what I didn’t know: that I hadn’t learned the craft of fiction, that I was getting in the way of my characters, that the plot was unbelievable, at times even (horrors!) trite. I joined a writers’ group, and slowly my process started to gel. In fact, sixteen years later I’m still in the same group.

Nonetheless, writing my first short story, “The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared,” was pretty much an accident. My son was about to be a Bar Mitzvah, and one of his gifts was a pictorial history book called The Jews of Chicago. As I flipped through it, some of the photos grabbed me. They were taken in Lawndale during the Thirties, which, at the time, was a thriving Jewish community in Chicago.

After staring at them for days, I ended up writing a short story set in that time and place. I had no idea it would win two contests, and would turn out to be the prequel to my Ellie Foreman series, which itself is the prequel to my Georgia Davis series. (BTW, Miriam is forever free on Amazon, Apple, and Kobo.)

Since that time I’ve written over 20 short stories. I’m hooked on them, and I’d like you to be as well. Short stories are magic—and they’re great for your career. Here are 6 reasons why.

#1: They’re short.

People say it’s tougher to write short than long. Don’t believe them. The best thing about short stories is that they’re short. I like to say that a novel is like a marriage, but short stories are like an affair. I can get in and out of one in 6 weeks. During those 6 weeks, I’m full of passion, awareness, and energy. Then it’s over, but unlike an affair, I have something tangible to show for it.

#2 They deepen your craft.

Short stories help you master the elements of craft. Every word counts, and that includes setting, character description, and action. In fact, the entire narrative (and dialogue) has to be crisp, concise, and meaningful. If you can do it well in short form, there’s no reason you can’t expand it to a novel.

#3 Experimentation

My favorite reason to write short stories is to explore new characters, plot lines, voices, even genres. Often in the middle of writing a novel, I’ll get an itch of an idea that won’t leave me alone. Writing a short story lets me scratch that itch. Plus, it gives me a break from my novel, and I come back to it refreshed. The first hard-boiled piece I wrote was a short story, and several times I’ve tried out historical time periods that I later expanded to a novel. “The Whole World is Watching”, for example eventually developed into Set The Night on Fire. And who knows? I'm even thinking of writing a historical short story that has no mystery at all.

#4 Name recognition

I published 2 short stories before my first novel came out. When it did, readers had seen my name around, and I like to think they realized I was taking my writing seriously. That recognition gave me an advantage when An Eye For Murder was released.

#5. Filling in the series/Starting a new one

Most novelists publish a new book once a year, but what happens to your characters inbetween? Short stories are a great way to fill in. I wrote several Georgia and Ellie stories just to remind my readers they were still around.

They’re also a wonderful way to answer questions for your readers. The Murder of Katie Boyle explains how Ellie and Georgia first met, and War Secrets, which will be out in an MWA anthology next year, answers one of the questions I deliberately left hanging in A Bitter Veil. Plus, you never know when a story (like Miriam) will propel your career onto an entirely unexpected path.

#6. Recycle Ability (that should be one word, don’t you think?)

Most short story contracts bind you for one or two years, but after that, the story is yours to do with what you wish. I’ve offered reprints to other anthologies, bundled them into collections, and have seen audios produced. In fact, a short story is the gift that keeps on giving… indefinitely.

Enough reasons? Start writing.

In case you’d like to investigate further, you can find 15 of Libby’s short stories in NICE GIRL DOES NOIR here and here, and on Audible.

And, of course, Top Suspense has published two short story anthologies, as well as a fabulous and outrageous round robin story.

Burl Barer comments:

I love reading short stories, and I love writing short stories. I find them great fun, and it gives an author the opportunity to explore different forms and voices - yes, it is akin to having an affair or a fling, yet with honest affection.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Best Time to be a Writer by Lee Goldberg

It’s news to no one that the publishing industry has undergone a massive paradigm shift in the last twenty-four months that has changed everything about the business for authors, booksellers, and publishers. But there's one thing that hasn't changed, the most important thing of all, and sadly too many authors aren't paying enough attention to it.

Thanks initially to the introduction of the Kindle, and Amazon opening up their storefront to authors, it’s no longer necessary to have a publisher in order to reach readers.  Authors now have options they never had before for getting their books to a national audience. Being dropped by a publisher, or having your books go out of print, are no longer the kiss of death. On the contrary, they present perhaps more profitable opportunities to exploit your material. 

For new authors, it’s no longer necessary to go through the struggle of finding an agent who will then sell their work to a publisher, an odyssey than can take years…if it happens at all. Now it’s the publishers, editors and agent who are struggling ....desperately trying to reinvent themselves in a radically changing business. 

Self-publishing is no longer the realm of vanity press vultures preying on aspiring, naïve and desperate authors…nor is it the complicated and outrageously expensive gamble, with pitiful chances of success, that it once was. It’s now possible to publish your book, both electronically and in print, with a mouse click, with little to no upfront investment…and to have your book  on the virtual shelf on equal footing with the likes of  James Patterson and Nora Roberts, at the Amazon and Barnes & Noble storefronts. 

Writing careers are being born and, in the case of mid-list authors, reborn. 

Now whenever authors get together, we are no longer discussing how we write, or problems with our editors, or tales of life on the road. The talk today is inevitably about reversion of rights letters, book scanning, copyediting, e-book formatting, the nuances of cover art, manipulation of metadata, e-pub vs. mobi, pricing, giveaways, marketing and publicity, social networking, blogging, tagging, liking, tweeting and pinning.

For established, professional writers, coming into self-publishing after years in the “legacy” publishing world, that isn’t such a bad thing.  They’ve learned and perfected their craft (or maybe I am just trying to excuse my own obsession with those aspects of the business). But I’ve listened to new writers at conferences or while lurking on writers’ boards and the newbie writers seem obsessed with everything except what matters most: the writing.

I believe it’s that misguided obsession that s leading to the ethical scandals we’ve been seeing lately… like John Locke who hired people to buy his books and write fake reviews (to artificially boost his rankings and acclaim) to establish himself... and Stephen Leather and RJ Ellory who both used “sock-puppets” on Amazon and social media to generate false buzz and fake reviews to boost their popularity and attack their "rivals."

What authors need to remind themselves is that all of that formatting, pricing, tweeting, social networking, etc. is meaningless if you don’t know how to tell a good story, create compelling characters, develop a strong voice, set a scene, establish a sense of place, or manage point-of-view. 

I rarely hear writers anymore talking about the pluses and minuses of out-lining, the importance of an active protagonist, the different kinds of conflict, or the elements of structure. The craft of writing has taken a backseat to the business of publishing. 

That’s one reason why the members of Top Suspense, have put together a book called WRITING CRIME FICTION, that will be published soon.  We want to get the dialogue started again… to bring writers back to the one thing that will never change, even as the publishing business reinvents itself. 

People want a good story. 

That’s why writers write and readers buy books. Good stories. Great characters. That's what matters. Not whether you should write an erotic novel to cash in on FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY... or maybe focus on a YA novels since the HUNGER GAMES series is so hot.  

Writers have been handed a great opportunity in the last twenty-four months. We now have tremendous control over our creative and financial lives as writers that we never had before. We now have choices that simply didn’t exist before.

It is, without a doubt, the best time to be an author in decades.  

Don’t blow it. Don’t become so focused on the business that you forget the craft. Take advantage of the freedom, and the opportunities, and the new choices by focusing on telling great stories.  Hone your craft, Find your voice…focus and less on how the story is packaged, sold and promoted. Help us shift the balance back to where it belongs...


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Past and Future of Publishing

There's a worthwhile article over at on where we've been and where we're heading in publishing today.

One of the more interesting statements is this:

There is enormous pressure in the market to solve the 'drowning in bad writing' issue with indie publishing. It's hard to imagine that a solution won't emerge in the next 12-18 months."

We're waiting.

You can read the entire article here. And you should.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Different Kind of 'MONSTER'

WBUR on MONSTER: Zeltserman keeps the action moving relentlessly forward with minimal padding, either in terms of plot or prose. The action is tight and there’s no shade of purple in his style, but there’s plenty going on thematically.

Click here to read WBUR's thoughtful critique on MONSTER, as well as MONSTER's first chapter.

Thursday, August 2, 2012



Victor Frankenstein. Marquis de Sade. Witch burnings. Vampyres. Devil worshipers. Depraved London sex clubs. Street gangs. Vengeance. Obsession. Damnation.

"imaginative and grotesque... This is juicy material for Franken-fans, and Zeltserman is just faithful enough to the original that his many fresh contributions feel entirely normal.Well, abnormal, to be accurate, but deliciously so".-- Daniel Kraus, Booklist (*Starred Review*)
"This reworking of Frankenstein is chilling and captivating! A tale of justice, true love, and ultimate forgiveness, this gruesome novel is perfect for fans of Stephen King and similar horror stories".-- Foreword Magazine (*Pick of the Week*)

"I flat out loved it... a graphic, brutal story with heart and soul" -- Crimespree Magazine

"A masterpiece of originality, beauty, ugliness, eloquence, wisdom and power". -- Ed Gorman

"When awards season rolls around, this one's going to be a major contender." -- Bill Crider

"Brilliant reimagining of Frankenstein: faithful enough to delight lovers of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, but wonderfully inventive as it takes the monster on a bloody quest for vengeance" -- Roger Smith

"Dave Zeltserman continues to expertly explore the depths of darkness with MONSTER" -- Paul Tremblay

Buy today from Amazon
Buy today from Barnes & Noble

Monday, July 23, 2012

No Ordinary Book Club

As some of you know, I just got the e-rights back to my Ellie Foreman mystery series. (Yay! And thank you, Poisoned Pen Press)

To celebrate, I'm posting an article on SAY THE WORD that was originally published in 2005 by CrimeSpree Magazine. It was about my visit to a women's penitentiary in Racine, Wisconsin. To this day, I've never had such a moving experience. I was talking to them about my third Ellie Foreman mystery/thriller, An Image of Death.

Please click here to read the article.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Free this week from Top Suspense

Free Kindle ebooks this week from Top Suspense

Double Header by Lee Goldberg will be free from Monday - Tuesday
One Angry Julius & Other Stories by Dave Zeltserman will be free from Tuesday to Thursday

Also free all the time:

Behold The Child by Harry Shannon
The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared (Elle Foreman Series Prequel) by Libby Hellmann

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ellie's baaacckkk!

Now you can read (or re-read) the award-winning suspense series featuring Ellie Foreman, a single mother and video producer in the Chicago suburbs. Meet Ellie’s father Jake, her daughter Rachel, her boyfriend David, Fouad, Susan, and others. Think “Desperate Housewives” meets “24.” With the emphasis on "24." Heavy on suspense and quite dark, none of the four novels are cozy. 

All are now available on Amazon and other e-tailers, and AN EYE FOR MURDER will go free on Amazon soon. So start here instead. It's my favorite of the Ellie books (but don't tell the others.) 

Best of all, the short story prequel to the series, "The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared" is FREE now! On Amazon and Kobo.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

ALA recommends The Caretaker of Lorne Field

The Caretaker of Lorne Field: A Novel from RUSA on Vimeo.

Bad Reviewers and Bad Reviews

"In truth," writes Adam Gopnik in the BBC News Magazine, "there are only two subjects that we authors, in my experience, actually talk about in private with any real zing from the heart.

"One is the size of our - or their - advances. The other, what to do about your - OK, our - bad reviews."

After examining the usual responses available to an author - the icy silence of the moral high ground, the self-damaging and ineffective letter of riposte - Gopnik offers an ingenious and satisfying solution.

Read about it on the BBC's website, here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Ellie Foreman Mysteries

by Libby Hellmann

Hi, all. Some great news here. As of last week, all the Ellie Foreman mysteries are now on AUDIO at For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, Ellie is a video producer and single mother in Chicago, who stumbles onto crimes and conspiracies that need to be solved. And she does. Although Ellie is an amateur sleuth, the books are not cozies. They are full of suspense and fairly dark. There are 4 books in the series:

You can find EYE here.

GUILT is here.

IMAGE is here.

And SHOT can be found here.

While you're at it, don't forget the PREQUEL to the series -- THE DAY MIRIAM HIRSCH DISAPPEARED. An award-winning short story, it's set in 1938 in Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood, and it was recorded by the fine people at You can find it right here.

Enjoy the listens -- they're perfect for those hot summer days. FYI, as for the ebooks, I just got the rights back from Poisoned Pen Press and am re-converting them even as we speak. They should be back up in a few weeks.


Cast in Dark Waters

This was written and published two years before Johnny Depp's Pirates of The Carribean in a Collector's Limited edition. Now it's on Cross Press - Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc - FOR ONLY $2.99.

Here's a review by Mel Odom:

"This jim-dandy little novella is just begging for a sequel, and I don’t want to be kept waiting. Cast in Dark Waters seems like it just came out of nowhere, but it has a history as a limited release hardcover book from Cemetery Dance. I missed it then, but I’m glad I caught up with it now.

This is old-school pulp writing, folks, and it reads like something that would have come from the typewriter of Robert E. Howard or one of his contemporaries. The story is set in the Caribbean in the 16th century and feels like a pirate movie from the heyday of when Hollywood did them big and did them right. I love the current Pirates of the Caribbean stuff that’s going on now, but I still remember watching Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk and being blown away.

The opening of the story is immediately intriguing, but it’s the female sea captain, Crimson, that steps onto center stage and owns the show. She comes in swinging, too, in a wild bar brawl that is a sheer pleasure to read and made me feel all of ten years old again discovering the pulp stories that shaped me into the man I am now. Growing up in southeastern Oklahoma meant there was a lot of cowboys architecture in my male role models, but thanks to the reading material I had at hand there was a lot of pirates, private eyes, and science fiction as well.

The relationship Crimson has with her father (although no one dares suggest to either of them that they’re related) is at once absorbing. Tangled relationships are great fiction fodder, and the one between Crimson and Welsh is a great one. But Gorman and Piccirilli don’t stop there. Crimson’s husband, Tyree, has gone missing on the island of Benbow, which is believed to be the home to nightmares and bloodsuckers. In this first story, we think we know what the truth is, but we don’t receive the final answer. And in that, the authors have us snared. I hope to see a sequel soon.

The seafaring action and the fights on the island are very well done. I felt like I was staying in step with Lady Crimson when she set sail and when she set foot on the island. The mythology of the things she’s hunting is very well laid out and I enjoyed the “almost knowing” everything that was involved. After all 16th century pirates don’t know everything we know these days.

The atmosphere is very well done and the Caribbean landscape and the lifestyle of a pirate are marked on every page. The authors did some good research and blend it seamlessly into their pirate-horror-adventure concoction.

You Can Write a DEAD MAN Novel

How would you like to become a PUBLISHED AUTHOR...and win $1000 in cash and prizes?

Now's your chance to win a $500 advance, a $500 Amazon gift card, and a publishing contract to write your own tale in the hugely popular DEAD MAN saga... to be published in early 2013 by Amazon's 47North imprint.

The acclaimed series, co-created by Top Suspense author Lee Goldberg, and written by him and many other authors, including Top Suspense members Joel Goldman, Bill Crider, and Harry Shannon, is published monthly in digital, print and audio editions and distributed worldwide.

To win a publishing contract to become one of the DEAD MAN authors, all you have to do is write a sample chapter and a brief outline of your story, complete the entry form and sign the release...and email the whole package to us at by August 1, 2012... or before we receive 500 entries... whichever comes first. Each entry will be judged by a group of current writers of THE DEAD MAN.


The contest rules are below. Please read them carefully to make sure that your entry meets all of the eligibility requirements before you submit.

Good luck!



Please read these Official Rules before entering the Write a “Dead Man” Novel Contest (“Contest”). By submitting an entry, entrants (“you” or “your”) acknowledge that you are eligible to enter the Contest and have read and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and our and the judges decisions related to the Contest. We will select one winner who will receive a full, work-for-hire publishing contract to write a 25,000 word novel in “The Dead Man” series of books, commissioned by Adventures in Television Inc. (the “Sponsors”) and published by Amazon Publishing.

1. ELIGIBILITY You are eligible to enter the Contest if you are at least 18 years old at time of entry and a legal resident of one of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (excluding the Province of Québec), China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States (the 50 states and D.C.), or the United Kingdom. You are not eligible to enter the Contest if you are (a) an Amazon employee or independent contractor or an employee or independent contractor of any of Amazon’s affiliates; (b) a family member (spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and grandchildren) of an Amazon employee or independent contractor; (c) a family member (spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and grandchildren) of an employee or independent contractor of any of Amazon’s affiliates; (d) an individual living in the same household as Amazon’s employee or independent contractor; (e) an individual living in the same household as an employee or independent contractor of any of Amazon’s affiliates; or (f) a judge involved in the Contest.

2. HOW TO ENTER We must receive your Contest entry between June 1, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. (U.S. Pacific Standard Time) and August 1, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Pacific Standard Time). We will stop accepting Entries after we have received 500 submissions. You must download the entry form and the Release & Non-Disclosure Form from You must then follow the instructions on the entry form and email to us, at, the following attachments (1) a sample chapter of your proposed book in the “The Dead Man” series (“Chapter”) of up to 4,000 words, (2) an outline of your proposed book of up to 1000 words (“Outline”); (3) a signed release and non-disclosure form and (4) the personal information required on the entry form. (1-4 collectively, an “Entry”). We will not accept or review any Entry that does not comply with these Official Rules.

3. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS You must be the only author of your Chapter and Outline. Any Chapter and Outline submitted as an Entry written by two or more authors will not be eligible. Your Chapter and Outline must: (a) be your original creation; (b) be fictional; (c) be in the English language; (d) be of interior black and white text without images; (e) not currently or previously have been the subject of a publishing agreement with any publisher. Additionally, you must submit your Chapter and Outline digitally in Microsoft Word .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt format. Any entry that we determine, in our sole discretion, to meet these requirements will be considered a “Valid Entry.” You may be represented by an agent on the condition that you - not your agent - agree to comply with these Official Rules. Our servers and clock will be the official clock for all phases of the Contest. You will not receive any notice that your entry has been received. You will only be contacted if you are the Winner. You may only submit one entry.

4. CONDITIONS OF ENTRY By submitting an Entry, you represent and warrant that your Entry: (a) is your original creation; (b) has not been copied in whole or in part from any other work; (c) has not previously been published as described in Section 3(e) above; (d) does not violate or infringe any copyright, trademark, privacy or publicity right, or other proprietary or intellectual property right of any person or entity; (e) is not defamatory, libelous, obscene, or otherwise illegal; and (f) is your sole and exclusive property. You further represent and warrant that you have complete, worldwide distribution rights in and to your Chapter and Outline.

5. GRANT OF RIGHTS By submitting an Entry and if you are selected as the winner, you grant Adventures in Television the exclusive first publication rights to your Entry. By submitting an Entry, you grant us and our respective affiliates and agents permission to use, without charge, portions of your Chapter and Outline, along with your name and stated reason for writing the submitted Entry (if provided) for any purpose in connection with this Contest. You also grant us the right to edit the formatting and display of your Entry, and to create literary or any other types of effects in respect to your Entry without compensation or approval. In addition, to the extent that any moral rights (for example, the right to attribution and the right to integrity) apply, you waive (and to the extent that these rights may not be waived, agree irrevocably not to assert) your moral rights in your Entry for purposes of this Contest, including, without limitation, our use of excerpts from your Entry in connection with this Contest. You represent that you have received the consent of any person (or parent or legal guardian if such person is a minor) whose real and actual name or likeness is used or featured in any Entry that you submit. If you fail to obtain the consent, your Entry will be disqualified. We have the right at any time during the Contest to request proof of consent, and to disqualify your Entry if you cannot provide the requested documents. Excerpts, along with the your name, city, and state of residence, and portions of your Entry which relate to the submitted Chapter, may be posted on any website owned or operated by us or any of their affiliates (“Our Site”), any other website or other online point of presence on any platform through which any products or services available on or through Our Site are described, syndicated, offered, merchandised, or advertised. Our decision to post an Excerpt or any portion of an Entry on any one of Our Sites does not mean that the selected Entry has been selected as a winning Entry. Furthermore, you acknowledge that your Entry is based on copyrighted characters, concepts, and other creative elements belonging wholly to Adventures in Television Inc. and that “The Dead Man” logo is a registered trademark of Adventures in Television Inc. and that you may not publish, or otherwise publicly disseminate or repurpose your Entry in any media or format, regardless of whether or not you win the contest, without the written consent of Adventures in Television Inc.

6. COLLECTION/USE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION We are collecting personal information primarily to process Entries, to contact you if necessary, or for marketing and other purposes. By participating in this Contest, non-U.S. resident entrants are authorizing the transfer of personal data to the United States for these purposes. By entering the Contest, you agree that we may share your information, in our sole discretion, with third parties that have a need to know the information, such as the judging panel or third parties that we retain to assist in administering the Contest; however, those third parties may only use the information for purposes related to this Contest.

7. GRAND PRIZE If you are selected as the Winner in a category, you will receive a $500 Amazon gift card and a standard work-for-hire publishing contract with Adventures in Television Inc. to write a novella, of no more than 25,000 words, in “The Dead Man” series and to market and distribute your final manuscript as a published book. Upon the full execution of the publishing contract, Adventures in Television will pay the Winner $500.00 USD (in addition to the $500 Amazon gift card). The $500.00 payment is an advance against the royalties to be earned by the Winner under the work-for-hire publishing contract. The approximate retail value (“ARV”) of the publishing contract is $500.00 USD for the advance. You will receive half of the advance on signing the contract, half on delivery of the final manuscript. Adventures in Television will determine the royalty rates to be paid under the work-for-hire publishing contract, which will depend on the format in which the book is published and the projected print run. You may not negotiate the standard work-for-hire publishing contract with Adventures in Television, and you must sign it “as is” upon receipt of the executable contract if you wish to enter into the publishing contract being awarded. The work-for-hire publishing contract will be governed by the laws of the State of California.

8. DISQUALIFICATIONS If your Entry is disqualified for any reason, you will not receive a notice or explanation describing the reason for the disqualification.

9. WINNER NOTIFICATION AND REQUIREMENTS If you are selected as a potential Finalist, we will notify you by phone or e-mail starting on or before Sept 1, 2012. You will be required to sign and return a work-for-hire publishing contract with Adventures in Television, which Adventures in Television will countersign only if you are selected as the Winner. We must receive the signed publishing contract by Oct. 1, 2012. If any documentation is not returned by the specified dates, we may invite an alternate Finalist, chosen by the Adventures in Television judging panel to replace the original Finalist. If notification to the alternate Finalist is returned as undeliverable, we will invite the next eligible alternate Finalist, and so on. Prior to awarding a prize, we may require you to sign additional documents we believe are necessary to confirm your eligibility, to obtain a liability and publicity release, and to award any prize.

10. ADDITIONAL TERMS The Contest and all accompanying materials are © 2012 by Adventures in Television, Inc. All rights reserved. The Contest is void outside the eligible entry jurisdictions and where prohibited by law. You agree that our decisions related to the Contest are final and binding in all matters. We reserve the right, to the maximum extent permitted by law, in our sole discretion, to change these rules or cancel the Contest at any time. We may also modify, terminate or suspend the Contest if any viruses, worms, bugs, unauthorized human intervention, or other causes beyond our control corrupt or impair the administration, security, or fairness of the Contest or submission of Entries. If you use the name or likeness of an individual in your Entry, you agree to be solely responsible for that use. Amazon is not a sponsor of or involved in the judging of this Contest. You agree that we, Amazon and our and their respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, along with any officers, directors, agents, employees and representatives of any of them (collectively, “Released Parties”), will not be responsible for any action brought by a person whose consent you did not obtain. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (a) any human or other error that may occur in the processing of the Entries; (b) any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, theft or destruction, or unauthorized access to or alteration of Entries; (c) or for technical, network, telephone, computer, hardware or software, malfunctions of any kind, which may occur in connection with this Contest, including, without limitation, any errors or problems related to the administration of the Contest, the processing or judging of Entries, the announcement of the prizes, or the Contest-related materials. Released Parties are also not responsible for: (y) inaccurate transmission of, or failure to receive, any entry information on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Web site; and (z) injury or damage to you or any other computer resulting from downloading any materials in connection with the Contest. We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to disqualify any individual found to be tampering with the entry or voting process, the outcome of the Contest, or the operation of the Contest or Web site; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules; or to be acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any other person (including actions by you individual to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of the contest may be a violation of criminal and civil laws, and if such an attempt is made, we reserve the right to seek damages or other relief (including attorneys’ fees) from the person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

11. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY The released parties are not responsible for the unauthorized use of any entry (or any portion of any entry) by any third party. you agree (for yourself and your heirs) that the released parties, to the maximum extent permitted by law, are not responsible for any liability, loss, injury, or damage to property or to person. you also agree that we are not responsible for any reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs directly or indirectly related to your participation in the contest, or by reason of your acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the prizes (including any travel or activity related to a prize). nothing in these official rules will limit any released party’s liability for death or personal injury caused by that party's negligence, a breach of these official rules, or fraudulent misrepresentation.

12. GOVERNING LAW/DISPUTES This Contest is governed by the laws of the United States and the State of California. As a condition of participating in this Contest, you agree, to the extent permitted by law, that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or in connection with this Contest, will be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Los Angeles County, California. Further, in any dispute, under no circumstances will you be permitted to obtain awards for, and you hereby waive all rights to claim, punitive, incidental or consequential damages, including attorneys' fees, other than entrant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. costs associated with entering) you further waive all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

13. RIGHTS OF PUBLICITY By participating in the Contest, you consent to the worldwide use of your name, biographical information, photographs, videos or likenesses in any manner and in any medium now in existence or later invented for any purpose in connection with the Contest without additional compensation, notification or permission, except where prohibited by law.

14. SPONSORS’ ADDRESS Adventures in Television, Inc, P.O. Box 8212, Calabasas, CA 91372