Thursday, September 28, 2006

We'll do the Madison Blues....

Well, we made it.

My tavelling companion, the Unsinkable D.L. Browne (AKA Diana Killian, AKA Mrs. Thrilling Detective, AKA "She") and I have finally made it to another BOUCHERCON. Together.

I've done a Bloody Words or two solo, and she's done Malice, footloose and fancy free, but this is the first crime convention thing we've done together since, um, that ungodly mess in Vegas afew years ago.

It's Thursday morning now, some unlikely early hour, and I'm ready to rumble. Her Highness, meanwhile, is softly sleeping, looking about as beautiful as a new day. I'd disturb her at my peril.

Not that the trip was some huge ordeal, really. A shuttle at four AM to the Burbank airport, a flight to Denver. The much-vaunted security precautions were more amusing than bothersome (I think yesterday's security alert color was fuschia).

In Denver, we ran into an old pal, Art Scott of DAPA-Em fame and the author of PAPERBACK COVERS OF ROBERT McGUINESS, one of my all-time favourite coffee table books. Art, of course, was on his way to Madison.

We landed in Madison, and it did this po boy good to see green again after the never-ending brown on brown of SoCal. Even better, there was that late afternoon autumn glow about the place, a combination of cool air and bright sunshine (and leaves getting ready to turn) that just made me feel all human again and made me remember once again that, despite the Hawaiian shirts and eternal sunshine that I'm still a Canadian boy at heart, locked into the turn, turn, turn of seasons.

I like Madison. I took a wander last night, before going to register at Bouchercon, and I was impressed. The downtown core has more of a real city feel than LA has -- there are people and bars and cafes and restaurants and little bookstores and they're all jumbled together and says "people live here." A lot of pedestrians and, befitting a town with so many students, a lot of folks on bikes. It's all downright civilized.

I registered for both of us -- D.L.had work to do back in the hotel room -- and stopped by the bar in the convention hotel (we're staying a few blocks away, at one of the alternative hotels). The convention hotel bar is conveniently called "The Bar."

Ran into another old buddy (Pay attention! This is going to be a recurring motif.): Jim Winter is the author of the blue collar P.I. workout, NORTHCOAST SHAKEDOWN, that wowwed me a few years ago (Somebody sign this guy up!).

Anyway, we shared a few drinks and a few war stories and then, loaded down with two bulging bags of books, I waddled back to the hotel where we were staying (the one uncivilized thing I've discovered so far about Madison is the scarcity of cabs).

I dumped out the bags on the bed and we checked out the goodies, pored over the schedules, thought the umbrellas included were a good touch (rain's forecast) and then ordered room service and a popcorn flick. We ate, watched X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (lots of action, touches of plot and even an idea or two) and toddled off to Dreamland.

And now I'm wide awake, staring at the slow dawn through a hotel window, waiting for the day to start. In a few hours, this year's BOUCHERCON will begin in earnest. We'll see some old friends, possibly meet some new ones, buy too many books and drink too many beers, attended so many panels they'll start to blur into each other and generally have a great time. We're both on panels this year and we both have a few meetings and assorted business/social functions scheduled, but mostly we'll be in and around the convention hotel.

Like Joni Mitchell once sang (and there's a hard-boiled Canadian chick if there ever was one):

"If you want me, I'll be in the bar..."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Number 40 is in the Box!

After an interminable onslaught of delays, hitches and glitches (many of them bleated about previously right here) the new "issue" of THE THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE is now up, with not one, not two, not even three or four but FIVE new private eye short stories.

Yep, we've got new stuff from Sarah Weinman, Kim Harrington, Russel McLean, Daniel Hatadi and D.H. Reddall. It's an intriguing mix of virgins and those who've been around the block a few times.

Check 'em out. Let us know what you think.

We've also got an excerpt from the pulp classic A DUM-DUM FOR THE PRESIDENT by Brett Martin, featuring Montreal private eye Mike Garfin (also possibly mentioned once or twice here).

Plus over 300 new or updated files (and more on the way), just to show there's more to my life than painkillers and THE ROCKFORD FILES, and a couple of new non-fiction essays, including Max Allan Collins' MICKEY SPILLANE: THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL.

In the P.I. Poll, I address the slowly dawning realization that doing the site is like pushing one big boulder uphill all the time -- and that we (or mostly me) need help. But I'll be discussing that with you guys in the next little while.

In the meantime, thanks, as always, to two-fisted fiction editor Gerald So, Max Allan Collins and Lynn Maguire (who graciously allowed us to use one of her father's great pulp fiction illustrations for our "cover") and all our other contributors for making our fortieth issue something worth clicking to.

As always, your comments and suggestions (and nitpicking) are appreciated. And eagerly anticipated.

Monday, September 04, 2006

My patience is eroding...

Rant, rant, rant.

One of the joys of doing the Thrilling Detective Web Site is when I get sneak peeks at upcoming books, films, TV shows, etc. It's always a buzz when a shiny new author or an old pro drops me a line, and asks me to mention some new project or offer me a review copy.

Then there are the self-published guys...

Don't get me wrong -- some of these guys and gals know who I am, know what the site's about, and can write clear and concise letters that show a certain familiarity with who I am and what I do, and then proceed to tell me about their latest private eye-related project. Just like grown-ups.

That sort of politeness and professionalism bodes well for their books -- and their careers. Some of them won't be self-published for long.

And then there's the rest, the mouth-breathing morons who will be POD forever, and will blame it all on everyone else in the world. They bombard me with unsolicited spam touting their latest piece of dubiously published excrement which usually has nothing to do with me, my site, private eyes or even crime fiction. They've just bought my name off some dubious list or found it on the internet somehow (without actually checking out the site), and have proceeded to dumping message after message in my mailbox, chronicling every sordid highlight of their "writing career."

Harriett gave me four stars!
Another new chapter is available on-line!
A new, rave review is on my site!
It's now available on!
I sold a book to a non-relative!!!!!!

Why these POD Weenie Wagglers think I'm interested in their poorly written screeds about their "blazing new paradims (sic) of serial killer fiction," their "no-holds bard(sic)" take on world politics or their "erotic techno-cyber-noir adventures" featuring "Birk Bludgeon of the Intergalactic Multi-Climactic Space Corpse (sic)" is beyond me.

Some of these mouth-breathers actually have alleged "publicity agents" working for them -- one of them even had a "branding manager." Weird thing, though -- these people (if they are people) invariably write as poorly as the authors they purportedly represent.

I used to try to respond to each and every entreaty, trying to be as tactful (but honest) as I could, but half the time I got responses that called me short-sighted (or other, less flattering words) for not appreciating their (or their client's) genius (even though, often, the book was completely out of my range of interest).

Then I tried just trashing the stuff, ignoring them, but lately they've been sending follow-ups. "Hi, did you receive..." and "Just in case you missed it, Bullshit Publishers are proud to Present..." and other similiar come-ons.

Like, my non-response isn't a big enough hint?

But the latest gimmick seems to be subscribing me to automated Google and Yahoo mailing lists. I'm not sure how they do this, but they do. And I've received far more info about their books than I want to. What was once an annoying message or two has become four or five messages a week for months on end.

And when you have twenty or so of these turkeys each plugging away at a time, your inbox fills up mighty quickly.

The promotion for one book in particular has really gotten under my skin recently, so I've sent a fairly nasty message off to the author's mailing list, in the vain hope they will unsubscribe me and cease and desist. My first attempts met with so little success, I can only hope a more blunt approach will work.

If that doesn't work, I'll surrender, and give this (so far unnamed) pipsqueak enough publicity to choke on. Just glancing at his web site shows me we could all have a lot of fun shredding him into little literary pieces.

My patience is eroding and a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Stay tuned.

(Portions of this message were altered so as not to protect the names and identities of the guilty)