CrimeFest 2018

I met Martin Edwards at BoucherCon last year, in Toronto, and he convinced me that attending CrimeFest in Bristol this year was The Thing To Do. Mr. Edwards is considered something of an authority on the Golden Age of detective fiction, the sort of thing I’m trying to emulate, so I guess I’m more inclined to listen when he tells me what would be good for my career. It didn’t hurt that my visit to the UK earlier last year only inflamed my latent anglophilia. Cornish pasties ahoy!

Well, I can tell you that CrimeFest is somewhat more intimate than BoucherCon. There’s really a sense of the crime fiction community being like a village where everyone knows everyone else. I was a little worried because I was going into this with no one to depend on for moral support. I knew Mr. Edwards and Cathy Ace to talk to, thanks to BoucherCon, but we’d only just met and hadn’t yet moved any bodies together, as it were. (I was very lucky at BoucherCon to run into Jim Napier on the first day; I knew Mr. Napier from an earlier Crime Writers of Canada event for the Arthur Ellis Awards shortlist, and he was kind enough to take me under his wing.) I suspect I may have come across as something of a creepy spook hanging about the periphery of everybody’s conversations–always wanting to talk but never having anything to say. Maybe once I’ve got my own address in this crime fiction village, and the self assurance that comes with it….

People do seem to agree that the crime fiction community is Really Nice and Friendly. I am pleased to say that, personal creep factor notwithstanding, I have Met People and Made Contacts and all that community integration goodness.

Also, on the second day, I got a twitter notification for a tweet about ME: a picture of my business card, and “Doesn’t hurt that the author (@misericordius) is strolling around #crimefest18 looking terribly dapper in a three-piece suit.”

My twitter handle isn’t on my card, but I guess it figures that crime fiction enthusiasts like to do a bit of detective work on the side. More important is the realisation, that I can never appear at these things dressed in anything else, ever again.

Well, author branding is a thing, and I guess I’ve found my brand. I wonder if I can claim the cost of a new waistcoat in my taxes.

So, what else have I garnered from CrimeFest? I have a stack of books–anyone attending CrimeFest or BoucherCon would be wise to travel light–and I owe Mik Brown a beer. I’ve learnt that apparently I was totally entitled to being on a panel, despite my book not being out quite yet–important thing was that it be in production with an officially scheduled release. Next year, perhaps.

I think I’d like to end with a mention of “Guess Who?” by Chris McGeorge, coming out this September. It strikes me as being a distilled version of exactly the sort of puzzlebox-whodunnit I like, a suspicion bolstered by the fact the guy has a hamster named Agatha Christie.

EDIT: It turns out that “Guess Who?” actually came out on 03 May, and the September thing is (I guess) a second edition. It seems Amazon defaults to the September edition, hence my confusion.

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In glorious spring

As I write this, I am looking at the third or fourth solid day of glorious spring weather: blue skies and cool breezes, and bright sunlight streaming over my terrace. Such a day makes it almost a sin to remain indoors, and it’s just warm enough–more May than April–that I can afford to leave my spring outerwear at home.

One week ago, it was unseasonably cold, practically winter still. I had to put on my winter coat to go out.

Winter was spent deep in intensive edits and rewrites. The final document was “poured” last week, and now it’s being shipped around to various influential people and places for blurbs and reviews. In other words, it is out of my hands, and the weather is almost a reflection of my sudden, new-found freedom.

I’ve attended to the housekeeping, sweeping out three months’ worth of accumulated dust; and I’ve actually cleared out the terrace, which I normally never get around to doing. I might even get around to planting stuff in the pots of dirt I have out there.

But what next? What lies ahead, and where do we go from here?

I think the publication date of 31 July 2018 is pretty certain, now that the vagaries of writing and editing are done. I have a book signing set up at the downtown Indigo for 04 August, and I should arrange more stuff around that time. Some things will be managed on Inkshares’s side, but I still have to uphold my end.

CrimeFest in Bristol is next month. I’m looking forward to Cornish pasties and Bovril.

BoucherCon is in Florida in September. I need to make arrangements.

New business cards will have to be ordered, with the book’s new title, “A Gentleman’s Murder”, and more details about myself. I noticed as I was sorting through all the cards I picked up at the last BoucherCon that I was more inclined to keep the ones with contact information on them; the ones that were clearly only about a book went straight into the trash.

I need to start thinking about a sequel. Ideally, I want a book out every year or so, and I think Inkshares agrees. It’s…very strange and offputting to be starting from scratch now, though. I’ve worked so closely with the world and characters of “A Gentleman’s Murder” that anything else feels unsettlingly unfamiliar, as though I haven’t the foggiest idea what’s what anymore.

In other news, there’s just two weeks left to Spring Thing 2018. I really ought to do some reviews.

And in the meantime, there is light and there is life, and I would be a fool to waste it.

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Story structure: The Merchant of Venice

Sudden epiphany: “The Merchant of Venice” is NOT about Antonio and Shylock and the “pound of flesh” debt, but about the romance between Bassanio and Portia. THAT is the main story; the thing with Antonio and Shylock is, in fact, only a subplot to the main story.

I’m sure someone else somewhere must have come to the same conclusion. If so, I haven’t seen or heard it.

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The Hero Unmasked

I’ve been away for quite a while, and there’s a reason. For the first half of the year, I’ve been buried way-deep into the writing of “The Hero Unmasked!”, a CYOA for Choice Of Games. Well, the game was released on Thursday, and since then I’ve been grinning like an idiot.

You should go check it out. This is the link to the CoG catalogue.

So far, the reviews on Google Play have been overwhelmingly positive. There are a few justified criticisms over on the CoG forum, but I expected that. There’s a bunch of stuff I think I’d have done differently were I to do this again. But a discussion of that, I think, should be saved for a post-mortem some time after the dust has settled.

Right now, I’m too busy grinning like an idiot.

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Your Very First Book

Watching the projects come and go on Inkshares, I’ve noticed a number of projects being pushed as “Book One of a series”. Now, it’s only my opinion, but this seems like a very bad idea. Let me explain why.

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So what happens now?

I submitted my manuscript on the 9th, so now it’s just a matter of waiting for an editor to be assigned to me. This could take a while; I know it was four or five months before “Too Many Controllers” got any stirrings of activity–bad news on that front, but more on that later. Let’s focus on the good news of “Murder at the Veterans’ Club” and the Peterkin franchise.

A sequel is in order, of course. But with the publishing timeline being somewhat longer than I expected, and with the additional time required to properly fund a campaign … plus the sheer chutzpah it would require for me to begin asking for orders on a second book before the first book is even in anyone’s hands…. If I plan on getting the Full Publication deal on something, I think I should probably not start the funding campaign until after the launch of MatVC, which means it could be two years or more in between books. That seems … likely to result in an overall loss of interest.

So, I’m toying with a couple of ideas.

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A new year and a new beginning

Happy new year!

Well, I’ve made the top three on The List, which essentially means that I get the prize of the Full Publication deal without having to worry about hitting the full 750. The contest ended on the 30th–or maybe it was the 31st. Things are a little hazy there, but luckily the race wasn’t so close that it would have made much of a difference.

Much gratitude is owed to all the people who have pre-ordered. And now, on to the production phase! When will the books come out?

I’ve been saying that books will probably be out around November 2017, and that was a conservative estimate back in March when I started. But the volume of books going through Inkshares of late means that the production process is longer now than it used to be. Here is what Inkshares has to say about the production process. According to this, it could be twelve to eighteen months from the moment I submit my manuscript before the book comes out. In short: between January and June 2018.

I admit to being just a little dismayed. But it’s still miles better than not getting it out at all, so it’s still a cause for celebration and I’m going to party like it’s 1925.

I expect to receive the questionnaires about how to handle this property very shortly. Everything’s ready for this next step. The manuscript is done, and I’ve got a new and improved floor plan for the Club:


It’s all systems go from here on. A great way to start a new year.

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The Arthurian link in MatVC


It is now one week to Christmas, and a bit under two weeks to the end of The List. On the 30th, we shall see how our pre-order volume measures up against everyone else’s–I’m expecting a bit of jump in everybody else’s pre-order volume over the Christmas holidays as they meet up with distant relatives they haven’t spoken to all year, so nothing is for certain just yet. Anything can happen.

Competing in The List … well, that puts one in mind of a certain sport, doesn’t it?


Except the jousting in this List is done with pages. (And did you know that the official state sport of Maryland is jousting?)

Eric Peterkin, the hero of “Murder at the Veterans’ Club”, doesn’t joust, but he does have dreams of Arthurian chivalry. The novel compares him to Sir Pellinore, one of King Arthur’s knights of the round table: according to legend, Sir Pellinore’s primary hobby was the pursuit of the mythical Questing Beast, a creature with the head of a snake, the body of a leopard, the feet of a deer, and a constant sound in its belly described as like “thirty brace of hounds a’questing”–hence its name. (Apparently the verb “to quest” once meant “to bark”. Think of that the next time you read of heroes gone a’questing.)

The comparison is rooted in Eric’s Quixotic need to go chasing after something–anything!–and, in the novel, his “Questing Beast” is the identity of the murderer. Just as Sir Pellinore isn’t happy unless he’s out chasing his Beast, Eric won’t be happy unless he’s doing the same. Not that he’d ever admit it, of course….

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“Murder at the Veterans’ Club” has been selected for The List. This is a contest for book projects on Inkshares that have caught the eye of the Powers That Be–unlike other contests, participation is by invitation only. On 31 December, the three book projects with the most unique readers will win the Full Publication deal … you know, that thing that normally only happens when you get 750 orders.


It means that on 31 December, if “Murder at the Veterans’ Club” is still in the top three–it’s currently in second position–it can go into production with the Full Publication deal right then and there. It means people could get their books a month earlier than expected. It means the current focus is no longer on the great 750, but on maintaining a position at the top of the heap.

It means that people think “Murder at the Veterans’ Club” is a book worthy of note, in case anyone had any doubts before.

But wait! Starting out in second place is nice and all, but does that mean I can sit back and relax and just wait for this to fall into my lap? NO! A handful of the competition is starting from zero, which means they are blank slates with unknown potential; the first few weeks of any campaign always see a spike of orders, and these young turks are fresh and full of beans. Any one of them could pole-vault into first position and force me back, and back again, out of the top three. The competition is not to be sneezed at!

I feel a sense of invigoration–I hope it’s more than merely momentary. I need to get out there and get more people in. Get friends to get their friends involved. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

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IFcomp 2016: Eight characters, a number, and a happy ending

Last on my IFcomp playlist is “Eight characters, a number, and a happy ending”. And that’s it! I might have to go back and change a couple of breakfast orders (just did it for “500 Apocalypses” and “Inside the Facility”) after having digested them some more, but that’s all 58 IFcomp games done this year. And what’s this last one?

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