Friday, December 31, 2010

Dionne's New Thriller

"Fans of the late Michael Crichton will enjoy Dionne's exciting second ecothriller (after Freezing Point). Philippe Dumas, a Nobel Prize–winning French scientist deeply concerned about the future of life on Earth, agrees to attend an environmental summit in Santiago, Chile.
Summit organizer Rebecca Sweet, leader of the advocacy group Preserve Our Planet, hopes that Dumas's presence will get her conference the publicity she needs. Celebrity volcanologist Max Heat, who's been tipped off by Dumas that Chaitén, a Patagonian volcano dormant for 9,000 years, may soon erupt, hopes footage of the volcano will form the basis for a successful TV special. After Chaitén blows, researcher Sheila Kennedy seeks evidence to link the catastrophic event with some illegal sulfur dumping. Crisp writing keeps the pace fast, and the tight interweaving of story lines bodes well for this author's future efforts." -- Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

OMEX Sacrificed for a Painting?

Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX) was named in several U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks. Some of the released cables suggest the U.S. State Department offered special assistance in the “Black Swan” case to Spanish officials in exchange for help returning a French painting confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, and now held by Spain.

The leaked cables indicate the U.S. Government also provided confidential documentation on Odyssey to Spain, and support Odyssey’s previously stated version of events relating to the company’s activities in Spain, including the HMS Sussex project and the boarding of Odyssey’s vessels.

“While we are obviously concerned about these implications regarding the 'Black Swan' case, we are attempting to obtain additional information before taking any specific actions. I have personally sent a letter to the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, requesting additional information and a review of the position taken by the U.S. in the ‘Black Swan’ legal case,” stated Greg Stemm, Odyssey CEO.

“We’ve wondered why the United States changed its long standing position on sovereign immunity, which prior to this case was consistent with U.S. law, international law and U.S. naval regulations that in order for a foreign country’s ships and cargo to be immune from the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts they must be engaged in military, non-commercial activities,” stated Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. “These released cables do call into question the motivation behind the amicus brief filed by the Executive Branch supporting Spain in the ‘Black Swan’ case.”

Additional cables released support Odyssey’s statements that, contrary to allegations of certain Spanish officials, the company always cooperated with the Spanish Government and that permits from the Spanish government were granted for work on the HMS Sussex project. The cables also demonstrate the obstructionist activities carried out by certain Spanish officials who had personal reasons for trying to prevent Odyssey from working on the Sussex. These obstructions took place even though Odyssey has an exclusive contract for the archaeological excavation of this UK sovereign immune warship (which was on a strictly military mission when it sank in 1694 off the coast of Gibraltar).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Think I'll Go to Mexico

The Famous Author disappeared against last night, and I'm not just sitting around here waiting for him to come back. I'm looking for him where the sun shines, the tequila pours, and the senoritas are friendly. Viva La Mexco!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lorraine Bites the Dust

As already well documented here, The Famous Author has been working on other things besides another story about me, Austin Carr. I'm tired of complaining. I'm sure you are, too. Nataska.
Desert rocks. Weird hit-man tales. Personally, I think TFA's one toke over the line, messing around with all these other projects. He should stick to what he knows -- stupid stockbroker tales.

But no. To view the latest diversion from what he should be writing, click on over to A TWIST OF NOIR for TFA's 632-word story, BOY SCOUT OF THE YEAR. The tiny tale gives new meaning to the phrase, Be Prepared.

Who the heck is Nataska?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mystery Marriage Madness

Who are these people and why did they get married?

I can't help it if we love contests around here. It's just a fact, probably because no one ever enters and we never have to really give anything away. So in keeping with that tradition -- don't you DARE enter and win -- who the heck is the married couple pictured here? That's right, just name these two people and you will win a free book. What kind of book, you ask? What kind do you want? Old, new, auto-graphed. TFA has a Dennis Lehane book of short stories he'd be willing to give up, signed by The Dennis himself. Of course its signed to TFA -- "Good luck with your stupid writing." Still, it is Dennis. How about you pick what book you'd like, and I'll try to deliver.

Who and why, best correct answer wins. I'm the sole judge.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Odyssey Uncovers French Privateer

Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX) yesterday released extensive details about their discovery and archaeological investigation of La Marquise de Tourny, the first privateering frigate to be found in the international waters of the western English Channel. The shipwreck site, discovered at a depth of 80 meters during Odyssey’s ‘Atlas’ shipwreck survey – the most extensive offshore archaeological survey ever conducted – reveals a pile of iron cannon, mystery concretions, ballast and small artifacts, which are all significant clues to revealing La Marquise de Tourny’s fascinating place in history.

“The Marquise de Tourny is one of our most important discoveries in the English Channel”, said Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Odyssey is committed to exploring and investigating deep-ocean shipwreck sites, such as the Marquise de Tourny, as part of our ongoing mission to bring the mystery and history of shipwrecks back to the light of day for the benefit of both the public and academic communities. Our advanced remote archaeological tools and technology allow us to conduct extensive archaeological documentation of sites like this, which sadly have revealed extensive signs of trawling damage and natural deterioration. Unfortunately this type of damage has been common to virtually every site we have discovered in the English Channel, which makes it clear that the policy of in situ preservation of shipwrecks, at least in this area, is simply not practical. It won’t be long before this site will be completely erased from history, which makes it all the more important for the private sector to step in and help with projects like this.”

The wreckage covers 35 x 25 meters from a frigate heavily armed with 25 iron cannon up to 3.2 meters long, some incised with French fleur de lis symbols. The Odyssey marine operation’s team painstakingly recorded fragments of blue glass French bottles, patches of lead hull sheathing and 13 massive concretions holding around 600 iron ingots. The star find was the ship’s bell, a crucial piece of information that names the vessel in Latin as La Marquise de Tourny and gives its launch date as the year 1744. The bell is lavishly decorated with a Cross of Calvary, a dolphin and three royal French fleur de lis.

Historical research by Odyssey shows that La Marquise de Tourny was a product of the War of the Austrian Succession, a great colonial struggle for control of maritime trade in the Caribbean, Americas and Europe between England, Spain and France that lasted from 1739 to 1748. The ship was a 460-ton frigate of Bordeaux named in honor of the wife of the Marquis de Tourny, Louis Urbain Aubert de Tourny, the royal administrative appointee who transformed Bordeaux into the most beautiful city in France.

The frigate was built for privateering, a legal form of piracy in which governments gave individuals a ‘letter of marque’ to attack enemy vessels and seize and sell their cargoes. La Marquise de Tourny was quite successful in her career as a privateer, having captured a number of English vessels among her prizes, including the Mortimer in 1747 and both the Finey and Charleston of Liverpool in 1746. Her final voyage likely took her from Bordeaux up the Channel to the French ports of St. Malo, Cherbourg, Dunkirk or Calais when she was lost in the late 1740s or early 1750s. The wreck of the Marquise de Tourny is the first privateer to be found off the UK.

According to Dr. Sean Kingsley, Director of Wreck Watch Int., who consulted with Odyssey on the research of the wreck, “Other than two French privateers found off Canada and France, the Marquise de Tourny is the only other corsair of this age known in the world. It is a rare symbol of the mid-18th century need to fuse business with warfare at a time when naval fleets were small. Many sea captains dreamed of finding enemy ships stuffed with treasure and becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams. In reality, the art of privateering was fool’s gold. In the war of 1739 to 1748 our new research shows that while the English seized 3,316 enemy ships, the French and Spanish in turn captured 3,493 English vessels. This was ultimately a lose-lose situation for the economy of Europe that ended in a political stalemate.”

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) is engaged in the exploration of deep-ocean shipwrecks and uses innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to conduct extensive search and archaeological recovery operations around the world.

Since its inauguration in 1994, Odyssey has mapped more than 10,000 square miles of seabed and discovered hundreds of shipwrecks ranging from 3rd century BC Punic sites to U-boats and Colonial warships. Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of the SS Republic® in 2003 and recovered over 50,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site nearly 1,700 feet deep. In May

2007, the Company announced the historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named “Black Swan.”

In February 2009, Odyssey announced the discovery in the English Channel of Admiral Sir John Balchin’s HMS Victory, the greatest warship in the age of sail. Odyssey also has an exclusive agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom for the archaeological excavation of HMS Sussex, an English warship that sank near Gibraltar in 1694.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Redhead of the Week Gets Under Your Skin

Tattoo artist Kat Von D, or Katherine Drachenberg, has been in the news lately for dating some guy named Jesse who used to be married to to some big actress. Apparently, Jesse saw Kat on the television show LA Ink, had to have an image of Sandra Bullock tattoed on his ass, and flew out to meet Ms Von D. Or maybe not.

Anyway, Kat, 28, born in South America, moved at age 4 to Colton, California, where the Famous Author used win drag racing trophies. Lot of cement factories in Colton. Kat worked on TV's Miami Ink for the first three seasons, but was asked to leave. According to Wikipedia, Kat has said she hasn't spoken with members of Miami Ink since her departure.

I don't think she's really a redhead, but we found the photo, and that's good enough around here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Odyssey Finds Another Treasure

If you want to know who or what OMEX is, catch up with the previous post. I don't have time to explain. In their earnings press releases last week, Odyssey Marine Exploration talked about a hundred things before they got around to this paragraph, buried near the close:

"Based on preliminary results, there is evidence suggesting that at least one of the 'Robert Fraser Project' target shipwrecks has been located. Additional analysis and investigation is currently underway."

The lawyers don't let OMEX say things like that unless they're pretty darn sure. How big is it? Where is it? Can we bring that bad boy up and sell the hell out of her gold coins?

The stock went down a little, probably because it's doubled already this year. I'm not the only investor expecting big things.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

OMEX Wins Hearing on Appeal

Hot Off the Wires: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. has been notified that the Company's Request for Oral Arguments in the "Black Swan" case has been granted. The hearings are tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of February 28, 2011.

Generally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where this case is pending, hears oral arguments in approximately 25% of all appeals cases. Odyssey is appealing the district court's dismissal of the "Black Swan" case based on the district court's finding of lack of federal court jurisdiction.

"We are looking forward to presenting oral arguments in the 'Black Swan' case to the appellate court. We believe the district court incorrectly dismissed the case based upon clearly erroneous factual findings and flawed legal analysis of basic admiralty principles and the concept of sovereign immunity," said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. "In addition, Odyssey and the other claimants in the case were denied their right to due process because the district court failed to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the disputed issues of fact."

Additional appeals have been filed by groups who have presented documentation indicating that if Spain is correct, and the recovered cargo originated from the Mercedes, they are descendants of the owners of Mercedes' cargo and have legitimate property rights. Those claimants have recognized Odyssey's archaeological recovery efforts and have acknowledged Odyssey's right to a salvage award. Their pleadings focus on the Eleventh Circuit's recent opinion in the Aqua Log case (Aqua Log, Inc. vs. State of Georgia, 594 F.3d 1330, 11th Cir. 2010) which requires a sovereign to have possession of property in order to claim that the property is immune from the jurisdiction of the court. They also point out that if the court does not have jurisdiction, it has no authority to transfer possession of the property to anyone but Odyssey which had possession prior to the litigation.

In May 2007, Odyssey announced the discovery of the "Black Swan," a Colonial-period site located in the Atlantic Ocean which yielded over 500,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold, and other artifacts. Odyssey completed an extensive pre-disturbance survey of the "Black Swan" site, which included recording over 14,000 digital still images used to create a photomosaic of the site.

The coins and artifacts were brought into the United States with a valid export license and imported legally pursuant to U.S. law. Odyssey brought the artifacts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court by filing an Admiralty arrest action. This procedure allows any legitimate claimant with an interest in the property to make a claim.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX) is engaged in the exploration of deep-ocean shipwrecks and uses innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to conduct extensive search and archaeological recovery operations around the world. Odyssey discovered the Civil War era shipwreck of the SS Republic(R) in 2003 and recovered over 50,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the site nearly 1,700 feet deep. In May 2007, Odyssey announced the historic deep-ocean treasure recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial era site code-named "Black Swan." In February 2009, Odyssey announced the discovery of Balchin's HMS Victory. Odyssey also has other shipwreck projects in various stages of development around the world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some Things Never Change

Two o'clock in the morning. Drunken screaming. Call the cops. Hotel room. Naked man. Woman hiding in bathroom. Oh. Hi, Charlie.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Sherlock Series Tonight

The first of three new SHERLOCK episodes runs tonight on PBS Masterpiece Mystery. A contemporary take on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, SHERLOCK is said to be a thrilling, funny, fast-paced adventure series set in present-day London.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as his loyal friend Dr. John Watson, Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade, and most of the important details from Doyle's original books are in tact. The two heros live at the same address, have the same names and, somewhere out there, Moriarty is waiting for them.

Tonight, in "A Study in Pink", Holmes and Watson meet for the first time, according to Omnimystery News. Watson is back in modern-day London after serving in the war in Afghanistan. His therapist, convinced that Watson is plagued by violent memories, urges him to express himself in a blog. But nothing much ever happens to Watson, and it's not that he's haunted by the war — he longs for it. Enter an eccentric roommate — one Sherlock Holmes. He plays the violin when he's thinking, sometimes doesn't talk for days, and has a dubious career as a self-described consulting detective.

When what appear to be serial suicide cases surface in London, a desperate Detective Inspector Lestrade reluctantly consults the freakish Sherlock. To Sherlock, a crime spree is like Christmas — only made better by the possibility that these crimes may be the work of a devious serial killer. The game is on, and before it is over, Sherlock will put his life on the line — all to keep from being bored to death.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Hot Tip That's Working (So Far)

Two months ago (August 26th), I told you the stock market could be ready to turn.

"Hey, I could be wrong. But experience tells me ... 1999 was the time to sell, 2010 is the time to buy. For long term investors, 50 or younger, it's time to bet on the future again. Play it safe and buy SPY ($105 a share) -- an index of the nation's top 500 companies. Or take a shot with TFA and buy OMEX ($1.50 a share). He thinks they're about to discover another $500 million treasure.

OMEX hasn't reported any new treasure yet, but the stock's up over 40% since then. Nice looking chart, eh?

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (OMEX) is engaged in archaeologically sensitive exploration and recovery of shipwrecks worldwide. It employs advanced technology, including side-scan sonar, magnetometers, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and other advanced technology that enables the Company to locate and recover shipwrecks. It's wholly owned subsidiaries include Odyssey Marine, Inc., Odyssey Marine Services, Inc., OVH, Inc., Odyssey Retriever, Inc. and Odyssey Marine Entertainment, Inc. In November 2009, Odyssey acquired a 25% interest in SMM Project LLC.

Oh, yeah, it's a gamble. And I'm a fictional character.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Redhead of the Week a Mystery!

Okay, we need some action around here! A contest! One of our regular visitors here sent me this picture and suggested this lady would make a great Redhead of the Week. But who is this beautiful redhead? Where does she come from? Be the first to leave her correct name in the COMMENTS section and you will win a free book -- a brand new hardback release, an old classic -- anything you want that's available on Amazon.

Ann, you can't play!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tales of Revenge

Thanks to an ungrateful (or just thoughtless) writer, The Famous Author got his editor's dander up a few months ago, complained to his boss Sandra Ruttan, and Spinetingler Magazine's "Pay the Bitch Back" contest was born. Spinetingler readers were invited to write a short story of less than 5,000 words about revenge.

Man, did those boys and girls get into it! Revenge seems to be a common gene running through all human blood.Go check out Spinetingler's contest winners and three honorable mentions, among them Patricia Abbott, Stephen D. Rogers, and Copper Smith. Some really great fast fiction.

I know why the guy who owned the car cheated on her, do you?
(She can't spell.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Elmore's New One, DJIBOUTI

From Elmore's own website: Dara Barr, documentary filmmaker, is at the top of her game. She's covered the rape of Bosnian women, neo-Nazi white supremacists, and post-Katrina New Orleans, and has won awards for all three. Now, looking for a bigger challenge, Dara and her right-hand-man, Xavier LeBo, a six-foot-six, seventy-two-year-old African American seafarer, head to Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, to film modern-day pirates hijacking merchant ships.

They learn soon enough that almost no one in the Middle East is who he seems to be. The most successful pirate, driving his Mercedes around Djibouti, appears to be a good guy, but his pal, a cultured Saudi diplomat, has dubious connections. Billy Wynn, a Texas billionaire, plays mysterious roles as the mood strikes him. He's promised his girlfriend, Helene, a nifty fashion model, that he'll marry her if she doesn't become seasick or bored while circling the world on his yacht. And there's Jama Raisuli, a black al Qaeda terrorist from Miami, who's vowed to blow up something big.

What Dara and Xavier have to decide, besides the best way to stay alive: Should they shoot the action as a documentary or turn it into a Hollywood feature film?

October 12 is the drop date.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's The Matter With Him?

"When you meet someone and you immediately dislike them, always remember you are seeing a reflection of yourself -- there is something you don't like about yourself that you're not owning up to. When you see it in someone else, then you don't like that person, but in reality you are being displeased with yourself. Always remember that."

-- Bear Heart, aka Marcellus Williams

Monday, September 20, 2010

Redhead of the Week Top-Heavy with Talent

Christina Hendricks, 35, is the Tennessee born actress best known for her role as Joan Holloway in the AMC cable television series Mad Men, and as Saffron in Fox's short-lived series Firefly. Hendricks was named "the sexiest woman in the world" in 2010 in a poll of female readers taken by Esquire magazine. According to Wikipedia, Christina is known for her "distinctive acting, sometimes bawdy humor, and voluptuous figure."

Hendricks was born in Knoxville and raised in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she began her acting career with Junior Musical Playhouse Company. In 1989 her family moved to Fairfax, Virginia, where Hendricks appeared in several Fairfax High School plays and local community theater.

In her best-known role -- Joan Holloway on the award winning Mad Men -- Hendricks' character is the office manager of advertising agency, providing mentoring to a group of women who must deal with the come-ons and callousness of professional advertising executives.

She is set to appear in a new action-thriller called Drive. She will star alongside Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling.

In July 2010 Hendricks' hourglass figure was highlighted as a positive influence for women by UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone who said "Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous...We need more of these role models.

Hendricks commented in September 2010 that the media is too focused on women's bodies and not their actual talents. "I was working my butt off on the show (Mad Men) and then all anyone was talking about was my body."

Sorry, Christina. We can't help it. It's in the genes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Need a David Thompson Writing Prize

From two years ago, an "On the Road" piece TFA did for Liz Clifford.

HOUSTON, TEXAS -- Beside me is a friend, a writing chum, but I’m still nervous, apprehensive. Murder by the Book on Bissonnet Street here is rated one of America’s top mystery book stores. EVERYbody comes here. Michael Connelly, Carolyn Hart, Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, Anne Perry, and--today only--Jack Getze. Gulp.

Thanks to some fancy gab by PJ my PR Lady, I am talking today about my new novel at the center of American Mystery Fiction.’s a big, famous store, anyway. And The Big Stage is certainly what it feels like, shaking hands with storeowner David Thompson, and my co-author at today’s event, Baron Birtcher.

“Tell me you had Chinese for lunch,” Baron says. “Because if that’s not a noodle on your beard, I don’t want to know.”

My gaze finds an intimidatingly large stack of books David has pre-ordered for this event. A fine sheen of moisture dampens my collar. Hopefully, I’ll sell a few books for the store, get a few new readers for myself. My business plan calls for early round losses. I’m not worried about making money yet.

Good thing.

I wander toward the table where Baron and I will blab about our new releases. First time ever, there are more than 10 people gathered. Baron must be a hit.

“I loved your first book, Big Numbers,” a man in the front row says to me. Baron and I aren’t even seated. “I can’t wait to read this new one. Big Money. It’s a great series.”

I swoon. The store’s floor-to-ceiling racks of multicolored books swirl in a blurred jumble. The floor rolls like a Jersey Shore amusement ride. Baron has to grab my shoulder.

“It’s a fan, dude,” Baron says.

When it’s over, I’ve sold and signed more books than I’ve ever sold in a bookstore. Ever sold anywhere, really, except for the kickoff I threw, where purchase of the book was the price of admission to a cruise ship, with steak and lobster dinner, all-you-can-drink open bar, and a live concert by Madonna.

I did well at Murder by the Book, but I didn’t entirely deplete that stack of pre-ordered books.

“Sign what’s left and send me some bookmarks,” David says. “Why don’t you have bookmarks?”

“I thought they were like, for collectors. Not much good, really, there being so many other bookmarks around.”

He hands me the book I’ve just purchased, Megan Abbott’s Edgar winner, QUEENPIN. “Look inside,” he says.

Oops. Now I get it. Bookmarks with enticing blurbs about Megan Abbott’s other two books are stuffed between the pages. Duh! Bookmarks are a great form of one-on-one advertising--for the bookstore, AND the author.

“When a customer buys a book by another funny mystery author, I’ll stick one of your bookmarks inside,” David says.

My knees tremble. I almost pass out for the second time in an hour. “Expect a box next week.”

David Thompson was the nicest book store owner we ever met. Our whole genre suffers with his passing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Author Revealed as Betrayer!

No, no, no, not that. He's too old and ugly to be unfaithful to his wife. I'm talking about ME! I know for a fact The Famous Author spent the last few days previewing a new novel to a large room full of college-educated, middle-aged women -- that's right, folks, the people who buy at least two-thirds of all fiction.

But was this novel about me, Austin Carr, Branchtown stockbroker and hero of my own mystery series?

No, it was not. TFA obviously has betrayed me and is considering some new project. The little bitch. A spy within the room says I wasn't even a character in his new manuscript! Oh, gads, my life spins before me!

The spy also sent me two pictures. Nataska the Black Ogre and Three Very Smart Writer-Ladies. More later on where he was and what he did. I'm going to pin him down when he stops writing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Fiction from TFA

Check out The Famous Author's short story over at A TWIST OF NOIR. If you can figure out what's in this picture, you'll have a great clue to the ending.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Big One for Cee Lo Green

The eternal message of Cee Lo's hot number may go unnoticed by some -- people offended by four-letter words, for instance -- but we think Cee Lo packs a punch with this story/song, F*** Y**

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Screw You, Vince

Careful and/or long-time TCOAC readers will note a significant change today. Our three-and-a-half-year effort to drag a certain actor into the fold comes to an end. Like our President with Iraq, however, we will leave a few hardened troops behind, just in case the bozo who wasn't interested in playing me in the movies changes his mind. You never know with actors.

Meanwhile, a new actor adorns our blog today, and perhaps forever more. The redhead I met at the beach yesterday says this guy is even more popular with women than the last one. But does he read mystery blogs on the internet? I doubt it. Still, I'm betting it's a good kharma thing. Plant the idea in someone's cloud computer and maybe it will grow into a six-month option. TFA could use the cash, and I need some publicity.

The weird thing will be getting used to this new face in the mirror.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Take a Stock to Lunch

Just over ten years ago, a health aide gave The Famous Author a stock tip. Buy AOL at $400 a share, he said. Being the contrarian he is, TFA immediately ran to his broker and wanted to short the entire NASDAQ market. If taxi drivers, health aides, and drugstore clerks were touting stocks, it was time to get out of the market.

TFA was early back in the fall of 1999. The stock market still had a few more months left to soar as individual investors (that's us, people, the little guys) poured their savings into the stock market. That watershed marked a record level of individual involvement in stocks -- close to 150 million Americans owned equity in corporations -- if not individual companies, then in mutual funds and 401K holdings.

In short, the little guy's interest peaked just before the crash of 2000.

Now it's a decade later and guess what? Individuals hate stocks. They've never hated them more. In fact, they just did something they've never done before. So far in 2010, small investors have liquidated $33 billion worth of stock mutual funds. Back in 1999, every month saw a billion going in. Now, the little guy is scared. He's pulling out completely. He thinks the stock market is headed to zero.

Hey, I could be wrong. But experience tells me TFA is dead right. 1999 was the time to sell, 2010 is the time to buy. For long term investors, 50 or younger, it's time to bet on the future again. Play it safe and buy SPY ($105 a share) -- an index of the nation's top 500 companies. Or take a shot with TFA and buy OMEX ($1.50 a share). He thinks they're about to discover another $500 million treasure.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Joe Pike Novel In January

Just received this flash news from Robert Crais headquarters: The new Joe Pike novel, THE SENTRY, will be published in the US on January 11, 2011, and in the UK on March 17.

Select excerpts will be available in November.

Oh, boy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Buzz Babe of Bouchercon

Though appealing, her long brown hair disqualifies her for Redhead of the Week, so we're coming up with a whole new category for Hilary Davidson. Yes, ma'am, the author of THE DAMAGE DONE, due for release September 28, Hilary is our first ever Buzz Babe of Bouchercon.

Hilary's short stories have been winning awards and attracting attention for several years. And by the time crime and mystery writers gather October 14th in San Francisco for Bouchercon, Hilary's debut novel from Forge could be among the hot topics, especially of the engaging plot keeps drawing rave reviews. How's this for a set-up:

Lily Moore, a successful travel writer, fled to Spain to get away from her troubled, drug-addicted younger sister, Claudia. But when Claudia is found dead in a bathtub on the anniversary of their mother’s suicide, Lily must return to New York to deal with the aftermath.

The situation shifts from tragic to baffling when the body at the morgue turns out to be a stranger’s. The dead woman had been using Claudia’s identity for months. The real Claudia had vanished, reappearing briefly on the day her impostor died. As Claudia transforms from victim to suspect in the eyes of the police, Lily becomes determined to find her before they do.

Is Claudia actually missing, or is she playing an elaborate con game? And who’s responsible for the body that was found in the bathtub? An obsessive ex-lover? An emotionally disturbed young man with a rich and powerful father? Or Lily’s own former fiancé, who turns out to be more deeply involved with Claudia than he admits?

As Lily searches for answers, a shadowy figure stalks her and the danger to her grows. Determined to learn the truth at any cost, she is unprepared for the terrible toll it will take on her and those she loves.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Other Man

Say hello, and goodbye, to a man named Chris Gulker.

As too many of us already know, maybe the worst, enduring wound of divorce is losing part of your children's life. After the screaming, fighting, and legal issues are done, emotional wounds heal over time and we get married again. So do they. Our children become part of another family.

I've seen some terrible stepfathers, and it was a frightening thing to turn my son over to another man 30 years ago. But as I told 150 people at "our" son's wedding twenty-seven years later, Chris Gulker probably did I better job raising my boy than I could have. Chris was always calm, patient, and understanding. Using only love and positive reinforcement, Chris taught our boy responsibility and courage, gave him love and self-confidence, and stood by him when the teenage years turned ugly.

Thank you, Chris. I love and will miss you always.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crimes on the Internet

We still can't find The Famous Author, but who cares? We found lots of interesting stuff to read while he's gone, including these hot items currently tickling mystery and crime readers on the web.

Over at The Rap Sheet, author Timothy Hallinan talks about the background of his new Poke Rafferty Mystery, THE QUEEN OF PATPONG. See if this doesn't grab you: "The room is small--a bed, a couple of chairs, a table stacked with mismatched dinnerware," Tim writes. "The only light comes through a window that’s been covered in wax paper against the rains. Sitting on a metal stool in the middle of the room, her back bent into the letter C as though the weight on her shoulders were too heavy to allow her to straighten her spine, is a Thai girl of 16. At the moment the picture was taken, she had just learned that her grandmother was planning to sell her into prostitution."

David Cranmer's The Education of a Pulp Writer features the new cover for BEAT to a PULP's first anthology. Just about all of your favorite short-fiction crime writers appear. Check out the list over there.

Finally, Spinetingler Magazine offers a new feature, the Community Bulletin Board. You'll find links like these about new books, authors, and interviews.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Famous Author Missing

The weather in New Jersey is so hot and humid, Mexico sounds good. But we have a hunch The Famous Author might have gone to San Diego. Tucked up against the Pacific Ocean, at the border with Mexico, San Diego enjoys 70-72 degree weather about 300 days a year. Go check out the current five-day forecast -- 70-72 in the middle of summer -- and the old wooden and glass bar at the Hotel del Coronado.

Then again, there's his favorite bartender Luis and all that great food in Puerto Vallarta. Yeah, he'd have to wear Number 80 suntan lotion in bed at night, but he'd probably just stay in the bar.

A dark horse in the "Where is TFA?" contest could be Miami Beach. He was in a dancing mood last week as his short story was posted on BEAT to a PULP.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hot Crime Fiction News

We thought we'd offer readers links to some of the places we've been hanging out this weekend. Lots of interesting stuff.

Over at Mystery Book News, Tess Gerritson writes about the source of her latest book and offers MBN readers an opportunity to win a copy. "The best plot ideas sometimes come from real life misadventures," writes Tess. "One such misadventure happened to me a few summers ago in upstate New York, when my husband and I were driving to a rustic bed and breakfast. Since we didn't know the area, we'd brought along our GPS and programmed it to take us in the most direct route possible."

A wrong turn forms the basis for Tess's new thriller, ICE COLD.

At David Cranmer's blog, Education of a Pulp Writer, author Timothy Hallinan talks about living in Thailand half the year, and how this influences his writing. Also, Tim talks about his unusual new thriller due next month. It's a thriller with a huge, separate backstory stuck in the middle. "And then we're in a new section of the book – the longest section by far – in which we go back twelve years to meet Rose as a 17-year-old village teenager named Kwan, which means “spirit,” but who is nicknamed “Stork” because of her extraordinary height," Tim tells Cranmer. "In one day, her entire world falls apart and she finds herself bound for Bangkok, in the company of an untrustworthy companion, to enter the world of the bars. And we stay with her for 45,000 words as she is transformed into the woman Poke met in the King's Castle Bar on Patpong. For I don't know how many pages, the nominal hero of the book isn't even in sight. It's like a novella squeezed between the beginning and the end of a thriller, because when Rose's interlude is over, the thriller is back with a bang."

Incredibly, The Famous Author has a short story published on the web this week at BEAT to a PULP.

And finally, here's a link to my favorite fiction webzine, Spinetingler. They just announced really big news: Mystery Writers of America will now consider short fiction published in Spinetingler for its annual Edgar awards.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Writer's Life

A friend of The Famous Author asked to guest blog anonymously today. We said okay, as long as it wasn't about his new book.

There’s a numbness on my skin this morning, a sheet of self-pity thick and gooey between me and the world. I haven’t been anywhere and I’m not going anywhere. Everything’s finished before it began. Nothing anyone says can help. Nothing.

Of course I feel this way every morning at 4 a.m. I’m a writer. Half the day I put words on paper, the other half I seek people to read them. The competition is worse than fierce. It’s mind-scrambling. There are twenty-four million people writing fiction today in the English-speaking world alone. There’s another twenty-million in Scandanavia.

I think my agent represents half.

But coffee helps, so I make a 10-cup pot and watch it brew. There’s nothing else to do. My world cannot continue until I change this mood, trust me. But with one cup down, mixed with lots of special ingredients, and another coming, this old boy is beginning to feel the sun. It’ll be up in another half an hour, too.

Pretty soon I’m tweaking yesterday’s copy and working on the new scene, advancing my plot, hiding character and secrets inside the dialogue, smiling to myself with excitement when a “what if” moment blossoms into wonderful.

I’m a writer. And nothing anyone says can help. Nothing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Skilled Storytelling on Display

The internet offers crime and mystery readers hundreds of free short stories, some okay, some great, some examples of the very best in storytelling. Here are links to places The Famous Author and I regularly check out, including Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, Thrillers, Chillers 'N' Killers, and Spinetingler.

And here's a link to a prize-winning story by Chris F. Holm called Seven Days of Rain. It's a story every short story writer should read. It has everything -- character, tension, and a masterful weave of past and present making both tales explode at the end. It's a wow.

Chris is well known for his short story skills. We bet the novel in progress is going to be a big winner, too.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Redhead of the Week a Spy!

By TOM HAYS and CRISTIAN SALAZAR, Associated Press Writers

NEW YORK – Anna Chapman has been called the femme fatale of a spy case with Cold War-style intrigue — a striking redhead and self-styled entrepreneur who dabbled in real estate and mused on her Facebook page, "if you can dream, you can become it."

Chapman's American dream, U.S. authorities say, was a ruse.

The 28-year-old Chapman, they say, was a savvy Russian secret agent who worked with a network of other operatives before an FBI undercover agent lured her into an elaborate trap at a coffee shop in lower Manhattan.
Though the U.S. has branded the operatives as living covertly, at least in Chapman's case, she had taken care to brand herself publicly as a striver of the digital age, passionately embracing online social networking by posting information and images of herself for the world to see.

Prosecutors have charged Chapman and 10 other suspects with following orders by Russian intelligence to become "Americanized" enough to infiltrate "policymaking circles" and feed information back to Moscow.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz has called evidence against Chapman "devastating." She is "someone who has extraordinary training, who is a sophisticated agent of Russia," he said.

Her mother, who lives in western Moscow, said she is convinced of her daughter's innocence.

"Of course I believe that she's innocent," Irina Kushchenko told The Associated Press. She refused to comment further.

Chapman and nine others accused of being ring members were arrested across the Northeast and charged with failing to register as foreign agents, a crime that is less serious than espionage and carries up to five years in prison. Some also face money laundering charges. An 11th suspect was arrested in Cyprus, accused of passing money to the other 10 over several years.

Prosecutors said several of the defendants were Russians living in the U.S. under assumed names and posing as Canadian or American citizens. It was unclear how and where they were recruited, but court papers said the operation went as far back as the 1990s. Exactly what sort of information the agents are alleged to have provided to their Russian handlers — and how valuable it may have been — was not disclosed.

The FBI finally moved in to break up the ring because one of the suspects — apparently Chapman, who was bound for Moscow, according to court papers — was going to leave the country, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.
The court papers allege that some of the ring's members were husband and wife and that they used invisible ink, coded radio transmissions and encrypted data and employed methods such as swapping bags in passing at a train station.

Farbiarz called the arrests "the tip of the iceberg" of a conspiracy by Russia's intelligence service, the SVR, to collect information inside the U.S. The arrests raised fears that Moscow has planted other couples.
Such deep-cover agents are known as "illegals" in the intelligence world because they take civilian jobs instead of operating inside Russian embassies and military missions.

Russian officials initially denounced the arrests as "Cold War-era spy stories" and accused elements of the U.S. government of trying to undermine the improving relationship between Moscow and Washington. But the White House and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that the arrests would not damage ties between the two nations.

At a court hearing Monday in federal court in Manhattan, where Chapman was jailed without bail, her attorney called the case against her weak. He said she had visited the United States on and off since 2005 before settling in Manhattan to start a business.

Chapman took an apartment a block from Wall Street and began using online social networks, including LinkedIn and Facebook, to develop business contacts and to market her skills. On her LinkedIn page, Chapman is listed as the chief executive officer of PropertyFinder Ltd., which maintains a website featuring real estate listings in Moscow, Spain, Bulgaria and other countries.

Biographical information on Chapman on the website said she was the daughter of a Russian diplomat, who at one time worked in Kenya. It said she moved to Britain after marrying a Briton whose father was Europe director for Auchan, the French supermarket chain, which operates many stores in Russia.

"Love launching innovative high-tech startups and building passionate teams to bring value into market," Chapman's LinkedIn summary says.

She lists previous jobs at an investment company and a hedge fund in London. The summary also says she earned a master's degree in economics at a Russian university in 2005.

In more than 90 photos posted to Facebook, Chapman is pictured in various countries, including Turkey, where she is in one of the rooms of the luxurious Hotel Les Ottoman, in Istanbul. There are also what look like family photographs from Russia and photographs of her dressed in a student uniform.

Her Internet footprints also include a photo of her posing with a glass of wine between two men at the Global Technology Symposium at Stanford University in March — it cost more than $1,000 to attend — and video clips, speaking in Russian about the economic opportunities in her adopted home.

Media reports quickly branded her a femme fatale, and tabloids splashed her photos on their front pages.
An acquaintance, David Hartman, owner of a New York real estate company, described Chapman as "pleasant, very professional, friendly."

"There's nothing too crazy about her that I knew of," he said.

A criminal complaint alleges that, unbeknownst to her business contacts such as Hartman, Chapman was using a specially configured laptop computer to transmit messages to another computer of an unnamed Russian official — a handler who was under surveillance by the FBI.

The laptop exchanges occurred 10 times, always on Wednesdays, until June, when an undercover FBI agent got involved, prosecutors said. The agent, posing as a Russian consulate employee and wearing a wire, arranged a meeting with Chapman at a Manhattan coffee shop, they said.

During the meeting, they initially spoke in Russian but then agreed to switch to English to draw less attention to themselves, the complaint says in recounting their recorded conversation.

"I need more information about you before I can talk."

"OK. My name is Roman. ... I work in the consulate."

The undercover said he knew she was headed to Moscow in two weeks "to talk officially about your work," but before that, "I have a task for you to do tomorrow."

The task: To deliver a fraudulent passport to another woman working as a spy.

"Are you ready for this step?" he asked.

"S---, of course," she responded.

The undercover gave her a location and told her to hold a magazine a certain way — that way, she would be recognized by a Russian agent, who would in turn confirm her identity by saying to her, "Excuse me, but haven't we met in California last summer?"

But Chapman was leery, prosecutors said.

"You're positive no one is watching?" they say she told the undercover agent after being given the instructions.
Afterward, authorities say, she was concerned enough to buy a cell phone and make a "flurry of calls" to Russia. In one of the intercepted calls, a man advised her she may have been uncovered, should turn in the passport to police and get out of the country.

She was arrested at a New York Police Department precinct after following that advice, authorities said.
In a video clip on a Russian website focused on investment in hi-tech start-ups, she talks about her ambitions to create a venture fund that would invest in projects in Russia and discusses the business opportunities offered by New York.

"Nothing has excited me more in life than the number and level of people I have met here. This place is full of ideas," she said, according to a translation from Russian.

"I'm trying to create a project that would connect two capitals — New York and Moscow — the two most important cities for me in the quest for ideas," she says.

Asked how someone new to business can meet the right people in New York, she says, "America is a free country, and it's the easiest place in the world to meet the most successful people. ... Here you can go out for dinner with your neighbor and meet a top venture capitalist."

Authorities say the undercover's parting words to her had been, "Your colleagues in Moscow, they know you're doing a good job. So keep it up."
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Pete Yost in Washington, D.C., and David Caruso and Eva Dou in New York and Nataliya Vasilyeva, David Nowak and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Deadline Passes, TFA in Twit

The Famous Author's been married a few times; it took him two decades to sell my first adventure; and his agent has been out there pitching Austin Carr #3 for more than a year. Let's face it, TFA should be used to rejection. But now that he's been writing short stories, sending out submissions, the man has turned into a whining baby.

"I can't believe they didn't like that story," he said this evening.

Some online crime ezine said no, I guess. He didn't explain. Or maybe it was because he was whining and sobbing so loud I couldn't understand him. The jerk.

"Did you look at it again?" I said, "maybe try to figure why they quit reading?"

TFA stared at me. Obviously, the answer was no. The turkey was too busy feeling sorry for himself. I made him open the short story file and read the story outloud to me. I stopped him halfway through.

"I can tell you right now why that story was passed on," I said. "I mean, besides the fact it wasn't about me."


"The hook was in paragraph five. The editors never got that far."

"Are you sure?" he said. "I thought the bit about -- "

"Trust me, TFA."

I'm pretty sure TFA's going to spend the weekend moving up the hook and resubmitting that particular story somewhere else. Let's hope he learns his lesson, too: Do not send out material until it's ready -- let stories stew for a while and look at those words again.

All is not rejection, however. Remember TFA's first short story in 30 years is getting readied for online publication in July. Thank goodness TFA's tale isn't following the current offering at BEAT TO A PULP, an awesomely crafted piece by Edgar-winner Megan Abbott's mom, Patricia.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sookie, Sookie, Fangs for the Memories

Actually, The Famous Author and I both thought the first two episodes slow. Still lots of fun, the season-three premiere of Charlaine Harris's TRUE BLOOD series drew over five million viewers last week on HBO. The Hollywood Reporter says the sexy, violent, bloody show already has been renewed.

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd, "We're looking forward to more chills from Alan Ball and his gifted team next year."

"I am beyond thrilled to be able to continue working with this amazing cast and crew," creator Alan Ball told Hibberd. "This is the most fun I have ever had."

The Hollywood Reporter says "ratings for Sunday's episode are not yet available, (but) last week's third season premiere drew 5.1 million viewers -- up 38% from season two's opener. Season four will debut next summer. HBO has ordered 12 episodes, same as this year."

Fangs to Hollywood and Charlaine for making it all happen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kobe Wins His Fifth Ring

Yes, I know this is not a photo from the finals. But then I would have had to show those green gomers from somewhere in New England. Apologies to the East Coast Posse, but TFA and I have been rooting for The Lakers since the lineup included Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jerry West. And that means, like all Laker fans, we hate green.

Special hat tips to Ron Artest for the five steals, Sasha Vujacic for the clutch, last-second free throws, and Coach Jackson for trusting Sasha cold off the bench. But honestly, I think the green gomers would have won last night if Perkins had played. Without his size and presence, Gasol and Kobe killed the boards. 33 rebounds between them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two New Books to Read

So The Famous Author opened one of those mass-marketing letters from American Express the other day. He must have been really bored. But instead of the usual promotions for insurance or travel deals, there was $140 worth of Amazon gift certificates. Wow! A home run. Now TFA can buy even more books to add to his TBR pile. Actually, it's more like a whole room. But anyway, just so you know, here are his first two purchases, both brand new:

First off, our former Redhead of the Week, Sophie Littlefield is out with her second novel, apparently a strong follow-up to A Bad Day for Sorry, which garnered more awards and medals than Napoleon. Of the new one, Publishers Weekly says: "When a tornado uncovers a mummified woman buried at the Prosper, Mo., fairgrounds, the police suspect Neb Donovan, whom (our hero) Stella Hardesty once helped kick an OxyContin addiction. Littlefield wields humor like a whip, but never lets it dilute the whodunit." Oh, boy, I'm gonna grab this one before TFA.

Another easy pick for TFA was Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman. TFA knows (unike a lot of people on Amazon) that E.J. Copperman is a nom de plume for one of the best, easiest-reading mystery writers around, Jeffrey Cohen. The premise sounds interesting -- Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter, but her new Victorian fixer-upper is haunted -- but it's the writing of Cohen that brings TFA to this brand new novel.

Sophie's much better looking.