The Book Hunt

It started with a tweet, the book hunt did.

Ebooks are OK, but eventually a person gets the urge to feel the real thing, smell the ink and old paper, to riffle through pages like a deck of cards and listen to the slap-slap-slap, fast or slow or both, again and again.

On a nicer day I would have ridden my bike, but today I took the Prius the quick eight miles to Inkberry Books in Niwot. I walked in the door with two paperbacks I’d grabbed from the cart out front. A buck each.

I told Gene I felt like I was stealing from him as I dropped a faded Nero Wolfe on the desk. Prisoner’s Base by Rex Stout is older than me by a year. The real steal, though: The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction from 1987.

Successful hunting

Gene rang them up before I knew it. $2.16.

“I’m not done yet, Gene,” I said. I told him it was a great start but I was on a hunt. I wanted more crime fiction, the classic stuff. He pointed the way.

I soon latched on to The Case of the Blonde Bonanza, a hardback Perry Mason by Erle Stanley Gardner. Continuing down the shelves I passed by my own Detective Red Shaw novels, two copies of each. Then Micky Spillane caught my eye: The Goliath Bone, a Mike Hammer novel that Max Allan Collins finished after Spillane died in 2006.

Small world.

Max led a week-long mystery writing workshop I attended in Iowa City way back when I’d only written the first draft of a couple of chapters of my first crime novel. He encouraged me to keep going, as did some of the other writers. He chided us all one day for being so polite in our critiques of each other’s work. Nobody cried. He took us all out for ice cream downtown the last day.

Years later he autographed his Road to Perdition graphic novel for my daughter and me at Barnes & Noble in Cedar Rapids.

Nice guy. Helluva writer, prolific as they get.

Bonus: One of his stories is in the anthology I stole from Gene.

Read on, my friends. Read on.

B.J.

Advice for writers: Don’t call yourselves something else

A documentarian is someone who makes documentaries, right?

That’s what I’ve always thought and my favorite dictionary agrees with me, which makes it an excellent dictionary.

Some time ago, however, I came across a group for writers called Write the Docs – a “global community of people who care about documentation.”

Just a suggestion…

The people call themselves documentarians.

I get their monthly newsletter and that word bugs the hell out of me. (I know what Wiktionary says on the topic, but I don’t care and neither should you. It’s Wiktionary, for crying out loud.)

I’m sure WtD is an otherwise fine organization that meets the needs of some thousands of humans who write and edit documentation and so on. The website has lots of links that various types of writers will find valuable.

What I don’t see on the site under the “Job listings” heading are any jobs for documentarians. That use of the word may catch on more widely someday, and even land in my favorite dictionary, where you can already find documentalist.

My advice? Don’t use either of those words on your résumé if you want to find a job.

Write on,

B.J.

What I want for Christmas: a satellite, a force field, peace…

Someone asked what I want for Christmas, so here’s a list:

photo of satellite
Eye in the sky, image by PIRO4D from Pixabay 
  • My own spy satellite.
  • A force field around my bicycle to repel motor vehicles. (Two if you can swing it. One for me and one for Mrs. Smith.)
  • Peace on Earth.
  • A massive worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020.
  • A non-criminal POTUS.
  • Everyone to know the difference between tenet and tenant.
  • An end to the senseless arguments about Harvard commas, which we all know are just regular commas that are often used when they’re unnecessary.

Please be sure to reply to all so everyone knows what you’re getting me. I don’t want two satellites and no Peace on Earth.

Write on,

B.J.

Love your indie bookstores

It’s been my good fortune to be able to do some readings and talk about crime fiction in three terrific independent bookstores in the past several months.

Places like Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa; Inkberry Books in Niwot, Colorado; and Trident in Boulder each have their own special niche and unique identity.

If you’re lucky enough to be near any of them, stop in and see for yourself. Buy some books while you’re there!

If you have your own favorite indie bookstore, I’d love to hear about it.

Read on,

B.J.

A private conversation

Keira looked at what he was typing even though she knew better.

“It’s like eavesdropping on a private conversation,” he said, snapping the laptop lid shut.

“A private conversation with yourself?” She smiled at him.

He snorted. “I guess you could say that.”

“I just did say that.”

He snorted again and turned away. “I have to get out of this stupid airplane seat and find the men’s room. If you read what I’ve been writing, I will know you did it.”

Keira watched as he stepped into the aisle, set the computer on his empty seat, and disappeared toward the back of the darkened cabin. She didn’t need his password because she’d read everything before he noticed.

“Keira looked at what he was typing even though she knew better.”

Backlit keyboard

What’s this about bicycle noir?

Someone asked me what this picture is about. A not-so-subtle clue to that little mystery is in the photo caption.

From a customer review of North of Grand: A Detective Red Shaw Novel.

It also has to do with writing what you know, something I’ll be talking about November 16 at Inkberry Books in Niwot.

See you there?

B.J.

Let’s talk crime fiction: November in Niwot

Let’s talk crime fiction!

Join me at Inkberry Books in Niwot, Colorado, at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 16. What to expect: some words about writing what you know, a little reading, some Q&A, some book signing, and an author reception.

FYI, Niwot is a cool little place with friendly people who love music and serve some great food, coffee and craft beer. It’s conveniently located about halfway between Longmont, where I live, and Boulder, where I work. I stopped in at this independent bookstore recently while riding my gravel bike on the LoBo Trail and I’m looking forward to being there again soon.

If you’re in or near Boulder County on November 16, let’s meet at Inkberry Books.

Read on, my friends. Read on.

B.J.