Friday, September 15, 2017

PLAY-ing at Murder: Speed City Chapter Collaborates on First-Ever Sisters in Crime Play

Collaboration or Conspiracy For Murder
By B.K. Hart
    We shuffle in, pushing tables together at the local Barnes and Noble Café. The conversation sometimes start with – Why are we killing this guy – How do we kill him – What do we do with the body? We aren’t the only group that meets Saturday mornings in the coffee shop so I often wonder what the other patrons think we are doing. Our Sisters in Crime group started with about 15 people. Our goal was to work on a one-act play, learn proper formatting and technique, and create a production, which will provide support to our chapter in the future. It is a learning experience. My personal hope is that I might take away useful ideas for my own writing adventures.
            We perhaps should have called this the – And, then there were none – group. We expected a little attrition over time. It happens with every workshop. We began in May and have lost about one person each month. The winner is going to be the last man standing, I think. Each month some of the basic details for the play, hashed out the month before, have changed. I must suspend expectation each time I sit down at the table and look at the meeting as a fresh new start on the play. As a writer, this is very difficult. One of the techniques I use to complete a novel or short story is to pull on the consistency of what I have built when writing the previous scenes or chapters. In writing a play, it has been scraping all progress to create something better than we had before, then dragging back in the parts that worked from the prior meeting.
            My forte is dialogue. So, I have written dialogue for about three different versions of how this play is developing. One of the strong points we have covered is how to open your play and what the audience needs to know right up-front. Sometimes this means that you must include the person’s name in the line. In a short story / novel, I would drop the name. In real life, I don’t call you Bob every time I speak to you. I simply say, “Hey, how’s it going?”  I wouldn’t normally say, “Bob, how’s it going?” unless you are kind of a stranger to me. In a story, you add the tag as in “I say to Bob, “How are you doing?””
            Another aspect we covered in some detail was how to set the stage. What do you want the audience to see when as soon as the curtain comes up? You can imagine for a Sisters in Crime group some of the suggestions that might have been presented for that scenario. It’s an important question because it can set the tone for your entire production. Do you want the audience to know right away that this is a drama or a comedy? How you open can do this for you.
            The third and final aspect that I found most helpful is determining how many characters you need to make your play work. The key here for the writer is to keep in mind that each actor needs to get paid. The more characters you have in the writing, the more money it will take to produce. And, since our chapter is paying to produce this, we have decided to keep this to a two or three actor/actress play. It means the writing has to get tighter because you don’t have the luxury of adding a character to impart information. You have to do that with what is already present in the scene, or through dialogue.
            So while we are shouting at each other “Hit him over the head with something?” or “How do we get rid of the blood?”  I sometimes find my eyes drifting to the remedial reading group gathered at the tables next to us and wonder if they think we are collaborating, or conspiring.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June Meeting Features Author Larry Sweazy

Speed City Sisters in Crime Saturday will hold it's June meeting this Saturday, June 24, at the Barnes and Noble bookstore at River Crossing Boulevard in Indy's north side. Here's the schedule:

9 a.m. -- Play writing workshop
10 a.m. -- Critique group
11:30 a.m. -- Business meeting
12:30 p.m. -- Speaker

As always, Guests are encouraged and welcome.

This month our speaker is local author -- and chapter member -- Larry Sweazy. An accomplished writer, Larry will be sharing about his writing, getting published and his job as a professional indexer. 

Larry has won the WWA (Western Writers of America) Spur award for Best Short Fiction in 2005 and for Best Paperback Original in 2013.  He also won the 2011 and 2012 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for books the Josiah Wolfe series. He was nominated for a Derringer award in 2007 (for the short story "See Also Murder"), and was a finalist in the Best Books of Indiana literary competition in 2010.  

Larry was awarded the Best Books in Indiana in 2011 for The Scorpion Trail. In 2013, Larry received the inaugural Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year for The Coyote Trackerpresented by the AWA (Academy of Western Artists). 

He has written 13 novels — Where I Can See YouSee Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine MysteryA Thousand Falling CrowsEscape from HangtownSee Also Murder: A Marjorie Trumaine MysteryVengeance at SundownThe Gila WarsThe Coyote TrackerThe Devil's BonesThe Cougar's PreyThe Badger's RevengeThe Scorpion Trail, and The Rattlesnake Season

 In addition, Larry has served on the faculty for the Midwest Writers Workshop and as a faculty member for the Indiana Writers Center, and conducts writing workshops at libraries and other locations throughout the Midwest. And in his spare time, he has written indexes for 875 non-fiction books in many different subjects. He and his wife, Rose, live in Noblesville.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 Anthony Nominees Announced

If you're looking for a great book, you could do worse than pick something off the 2017 Anthony Nominees.  Named for famed critic and writer Anthony Boucher, the winners will be announced at the 2017 Bouchercon, a gathering of mystery writers and fans.  This year's event is October 12-15 in Toronto. Registration is open to the public.


Best Novel
  • You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott [Little, Brown]
  • Where It Hurts – Reed Farrel Coleman [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
  • Red Right Hand – Chris Holm [Mulholland]
  • Wilde Lake – Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
  • A Great Reckoning – Louise Penny [Minotaur]
Best First Novel
  • Dodgers – Bill Beverly [Crown]
  • IQ – Joe Ide [Mulholland]
  • Decanting a Murder – Nadine Nettmann [Midnight Ink]
  • Design for Dying – Renee Patrick [Forge]
  • The Drifter – Nicholas Petrie [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
 Best Paperback Original
  • Shot in Detroit – Patricia Abbott [Polis]
  • Leadfoot – Eric Beetner [280 Steps]
  • Salem’s Cipher – Jess Lourey [Midnight Ink]
  • Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty [Seventh Street]
  • How to Kill Friends and Implicate People – Jay Stringer [Thomas & Mercer]
  • Heart of Stone – James W. Ziskin [Seventh Street] 
Best Short Story
  • “Oxford Girl” – Megan Abbott, Mississippi Noir [Akashic]
  • “Autumn at the Automat” – Lawrence Block, In Sunlight or in Shadow [Pegasus]
  • “Gary’s Got A Boner” – Johnny Shaw, Waiting to Be Forgotten [Gutter]
  • “Parallel Play” – Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning [Wildside]
  • “Queen of the Dogs” – Holly West, 44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul and Payback [Moonstone] 
Best Critical Nonfiction Work
  • Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life – Peter Ackroyd [Nan A. Talese]
  • Letters from a Serial Killer – Kristi Belcamino & Stephanie Kahalekulu [CreateSpace]
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Ruth Franklin [Liveright]
  • Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker – David J. Skal [Liveright]
  • The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer – Kate Summerscale [Bloomsbury/Penguin] 
Best Children’s/YA Novel
  • Snowed – Maria Alexander [Raw Dog Screaming]
  • The Girl I Used to Be – April Henry [Henry Holt]
  • Tag, You’re Dead – J.C. Lane [Poisoned Pen]
  • My Sister Rosa – Justine Larbalestier [Soho Teen]
  • The Fixes – Owen Matthews [HarperTeen] 
Best Anthology
  • Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns – Eric Beetner, ed. [Down & Out]
  • In Sunlight or in Shadow – Lawrence Block, ed. [Pegasus]
  • Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens – Jen Conley [Down & Out]
  • Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 – Greg Herren, ed. [Down & Out]
  • Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by the Replacements – Jay Stringer, ed. [Gutter] 
Best Novella (8,000-40,000 words)
  • Cleaning Up Finn – Sarah M. Chen [CreateSpace]
  • No Happy Endings – Angel Luis Colón [Down & Out]
  • Crosswise – S.W. Lauden [Down & Out]
  • Beware the Shill – John Shepphird [Down & Out]
  • The Last Blue Glass – B.K. Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2016 [Dell]

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Meet Your Favorite Speed City Chapter Authors at the Tipton Library's Authorama May 13

Several Speed City Sisters in Crime will be at the Tipton Public Library's Authorama this Saturday, May 13.  The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Tipton Public Library, 127 E Madison St in Tipton.

An author panel beginning at 1:30 p.m.

This is a great opportunity to meet authors, discuss their writing, and pick up a signed copy of The Fine Art of Murder or the chapter's other short story mystery anthologies.  

Several Chapter members will also be present with their own books.

For those unfamiliar, Tipton is located about an hour north of Indianapolis on Ind. 28, just south of Kokomo. It is the county seat of Tipton County.

Book Review: Perfidia by James Ellroy

Book Review:  Perfidia by James Ellroy
Reviewed by Stephen Terrell

Recently on this blog, author and playwright Crystal Rhoades reviewed Face of the Enemy by Jo Anne Dobson and Beverly Graves Myers. The novel was set in New York City in the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Perfidia by James Ellroy is set in Los Angeles during the same time frame.  But that is where the similarities end. It is as from Face of the Enemy in style and tone as New York is from L.A. -- maybe further.
Ellroy is most known for the L.A. Quartet, a series of novels of violence and corruption set in post-WW II Los Angeles. Those novels – “The Black Dahlia,” “The Big Nowhere,” “L.A. Confidential” and “White Jazz” -- became the basis for the movie blockbuster L.A. Confidential, one of the best police movies ever made.  In Perfidia, we meet many of the characters that populate the L.A. Quartet novels.
Ellroy’s style is unique. He writes in staccato sentences, with many phrases repeated throughout the story to capture the inner thoughts and demons of the characters – and these characters have demons a-plenty.  Those offended by vulgarity, profanity and racial epithets should probably steer clear. Even considering the time frame that Ellroy captures, the wave of references to Chinks, Japs, Wetbacks, and a variety of vile names for blacks,  homosexuals and Jews liberally pepper each page.
The novel opens the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor when corrupt Detective Dudley Smith and Japanese crime technologist Hideo Ashida, the only  Japanese employee of the LAPD, investigate what appears to be the ritual suicide of the four members of the Watanabe family. But Ashida finds evidence that the family was murdered.
The next day, Pearl Harbor is attacked and Los Angeles devolves into a fearsome place for the Japanese community (including Ashida). Japanese citizens are brutally rounded up and jailed by the L.A. Police.  But for some, it is a time of opportunity.
As with the other Ellroy novels, the reader is dragged into a world of violence, corruption, theft, beatings, shootings, greed, drugs and sex. The Watanabe murders lead to uncovering plots to exploit the war and coming Japanese internment for enormous financial gain, “fifth column” subversives and nazis, planted evidence and coerced confessions.
Ellroy also mixes in real life characters to give the novel a sense of authenticity. And he doesn’t treat them with kid gloves. Bette Davis is portrayed as a self-centered hard-edged, promiscuous woman who sleeps with Dudley Smith, among others. Jack Webb of Dragnet fame is portrayed as a cop-wannabe hanging around like a puppy waiting to be thrown a bone. Carey Grant and Barbara Stanwyck are dismissed as "homos." Real-life iconic L.A. Police Chief William Parker is portrayed as a drunk and religious zealot.
This novel isn’t for the faint of heart. For my taste, the constant dark view of a world without any redeeming grace wears on me. The last third of the book seems to drag, and the more I read, the more I felt I needed to wash my hands every time I put it down.

Nonetheless, Perfidia offers a raw glimpse as a very different time in America, a time that I hope we never relive. Maybe we need to read it to be reminded of the evil that lurks when we lose our moral compass.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


The 2017 Agatha Mystery Awards were recently named.  If you're looking for something to add to your reading list, here are the winners.

Best Contemporary Novel
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Novel
The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel
The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn (Henery Press)

Best Nonfiction
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats by Jane K. Cleland (Writer's Digest Books)

Best Short Story
"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

Best Children/Young Adult
The Secret of the Puzzle Box: The Code Busters Club by Penny Warner (Darby Creek)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review: Face of the Enemy

Face of the Enemy

Reviewed by Crystal V. Rhodes

I like the old black and white, fast talking film noir mystery movies of the 1930s and 40s that I’ve occasionally run across on TV.  I like the sense of urgency, and the sense of style they convey, but rarely have I found a book that captured the feeling of that film genre, that is until I read Face of the Enemy, by Jo Anne Dobson and Beverly Graves Myers.

Set in December 1941, shortly after Japan bombed Pear Harbor, Face of the Enemy sheds light on America’s racial paranoia during that period of time, especially its bigotry toward people of Japanese descent.  Even more interesting is the fact that this novel doesn’t take place on the West Coast where there were mass government incarcerations of people of Japanese ancestry. Instead, Face of the Enemy takes place on the East Coast, in the glitzy art world of New York City.

When the murdered body of an art dealer is discovered in his gallery, the authorities suspect artists, Masako Fumi, an avant-garde Japanese immigrant, married to a university professor, who is American and who is gravely ill.  Although there are other suspects and even a lead detective who is skeptical about her guilt, the FBI is anxious to turn the talented artist’s case into a political coup, especially since she’s the estranged daughter of a high official in the Japanese government.  It seems that Masako’s only hope for redemption is her husband’s nurse, an unassuming Southern bell named Louise Hunter, who fervently believes in the woman’s innocence and vows to help her.

The twists and turns in Face of the Enemy are a mystery lover’s delight.  The characters are vivid and the dialogue is snappy.  As for the story line, it contains historic references about an era about which I knew little.  Face of the Enemy wasn’t merely entertaining, but educational as well.   

C.V. Rhodes is a member of the Speed City Sisters in Crime chapter and co-author, with L. Barnett Evans, of the Grandmothers, Incorporated cozy mystery series.  Visit their website at www.grandmothersinc.com

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Join Author Ross Carley for Book Launch of New Wolf Ruger Mystery: Formula Murder

The book launch party for Speed City Chapter member Ross Carley's latest novel, Formula Murder, will be Saturday, April 29 at Porter Books and Bread, on the grounds of Fort Benjamin Harrison at 5719 Lawton Loop E Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46216.  Ross will be signing books from 10 until 2.

Formula Murder is the second Wolf Ruger mystery by Ross Carley. Private Investigator Wolf Ruger, returning Iraq vet with PTSD, tackles high-stakes high-tech crime and elusive murderers in the fast-paced world of Formula racing, undeterred by beautiful women and organized crime. 

Ross Carley is a cybersecurity and electronic warfare consultant, with experience as a military intelligence officer, an engineering professor, and CTO for a defense contractor. He authored several nonfiction technical books before writing his first Wolf Ruger mystery, Dead Drive. He is a member of Sisters in Crime and lives in Indianapolis.
If you can't make the book signing, Formula Murder is available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. 

You can visit www.RossCarleyBooks.com  and www.Facebook.com/RossCarleyBooks for more information.