THE ORPHAN SCRIVENER -- ISSUE # NINETY-THREE -- 15 JUNE 2015

Sticky summer heat has settled honey-like over much of the country and we've been as busy as the proverbial bees organising this latest issue of our newsletter. What's the buzz from Casa Maywrite? Read on....


MARY'S BIT or DEFINE IN TWELVE WORDS OR LESS, AFTER THE FASHION OF THIS TITLE

And now a question for subscribers: how would you define a pleasant afternoon in twelve words or less? Today at least my answer would be fresh coffee and a good book, preferably of Golden Age vintage.

A couple of lines do not an essay make, so I threw the question open to our fellow Poisoned Pen and Poisoned Pencil authors. Their responses are certainly a varied and interesting selection and here they are, listed in no particular order along with a note of their most recent or next to be published titles.

Priscilla Royal [Satan's Lullaby]
Singing birds, cuddling cats, cheese and fruit, a good book.

Mike Kahn [The Sirena Quest]
Mike's contribution is St Louis specific:
A stroll through Forest Park ending with a picnic on Art Hill.

Jeanne Matthews [Where The Bones Are Buried]
Quaffing kir and people watching in a Parisian sidewalk café with Sid.
Editorial note: Sid is Jeanne's husband.

Catherine Winn [Beyond Suspicion]
Enjoying iced tea and hilarious antics of birds at the full feeder.

Warren Easley [Never Look Down]
Coming across a shady fern-choked glade while hiking in the Northwest

Donis Casey [All Men Fear Me: An Alafair Tucker Mystery]
Defining a pleasant June afternoon in Arizona:
Floating in the pool, big hat, lots of sunscreen, a Mai Tai.

Triss Stein [Brooklyn Secrets]
Spring day, flowers blooming, walking around my neighborhood with my toddler granddaughter.

Frederick Ramsay [The Vulture]
Rain on the roof, fire in the fireplace, and a good book.

Charlotte Hinger [Fractured Families]
Sunday. Early communion. Dinner with family. Dozing in the sun with NYT.

M. Evonne Dobson [Chaos Theory]
Water condensation on cold drink glasses, children's laughter, lilac scented summer day.

Tammy Kaehler [Avoidable Contact]
Warm breeze, sparkling water, good book--with the day's writing done.

Dennis Palumbo [Phantom Limb]
A lounge chair under a shade tree, lemonade and a new book.

Gin Price [On Edge]
Animals depicted in clouds, wind petting sun-kissed skin, water rhythmically slapping aft.

B. K. Stevens [Fighting Chance]
Humming along to Billy Joel while rolling out cookie dough.

J. M. Hayes [The Spirit and the Skull]
Playing with the dogs as I plot my next crime.

The contribution from Jeff Siger [Sons of Sparta] refers specifically to June 15th, not only the date of this newsletter but also commemorating another notable event:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JEFFREY

Being as it's his natal anniversary we'll finish the song for him, celebrating the gladsome day in a fashion I shall now announce in twelve words or less:

I'll play the accordion and everyone sing along ... aone annatwo annathree ....


NECESSARY EVIL or THE BSP TICKER

It's been a busy couple of months since we last graced your in-box and the ticker is clickety-clicking quite fast as we compose this section.

ONCE AGAIN, MURDER IN MEGARA or NEWS OF E-ARCS

In the last Orphan Scrivener we mentioned electronic ARCs would be forthcoming for Murder In Megara. We've just heard these are now available at Net Galley for those who wish to review John's latest adventure and prefer that type of advance copy. Look here for the e-ARC relating how John, living on his estate in Greece, extricates himself from accusation of murder. It is a task he must accomplish alone far from Constantinople. Will exile turn into execution?

https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/66105

WHO IS ERIC REED? or THE GUARDIAN STONES

May we introduce Eric Reed? No mystery as to which pair of inkstained wretches lurk behind the nom, although a mystery in the written sense is involved. The Guardian Stones, slated for publication by Poisoned Pen Press in January 2016, is set in a Shropshire village during the Second World War. It's a dark book, quite different from anything we've written hitherto. The titular stone circle broods above the village of Noddweir, where distressing events begin to unfold just before the arrival of Edwin Carpenter, a retired American professor and widower with a great interest in folklore and ancient remains such as the Guardians...more about this venture into new territory for both Edwin and ourselves in the next Orphan Scrivener.

ERIC AS LITERARY CRITIC or IT'S AMAZING!

The spotlight now swings around to shine on Eric M, whose blast from the past -- a review of sf writer Robert Silverberg's 1953 fanzine Space Ship -- was featured in Graeme Cameron's Club House column in the 5th June issue of Amazing Stories. Here's the skinny

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2015/06/clubhouse-fanzine-reviews-not-sure-hates-not/

ANOTHER GAD REVIEW or WHAT HAPPENED IN NUMBER SEVENTEEN?

Well may subscribers ask. They can find out by glancing over M. E. Mayer's latest review, this time of Louis Tracy's Number Seventeen. Featuring Winter and Furneaux, a favourite pair of squabbling detectives, the plot includes numerous twists and turns involving, among other things, an American tourist, a motorcycle chase, kidnappings, shots through windows, pea-sized ivory skulls, and a grey limousine. Not to mention MEM provides a link to an etext of the novel. Can't beat that for being helpful!

http://memayer.blogspot.com/2015/06/review-number-seventeen-by-louis-tracy.html

A MEMORY OF SUNBEAMS or DAZZLING BEAUTY

Deep-Set Eyes and a Perfectly Shaped Head was the title of Mary's 18th April contribution to the Poisoned Pen Press blog. Its focus was notions of feminine beauty as revealed by male writers in older novels. Read it here

http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/deep-set-eyes-perfectly-shaped-head/

A Compound of Cherries and Cream and A Memory of Sunbeams suggest copy for an advertisement promoting holidays in Devonshire, although if any fortunate subscribers happen to visit the county they should be sure to try the famous Devon toffees and cream teas! It was in fact the title for Mary's 18th May follow-up to her April blog. On that occasion she glanced at female writers' descriptions of beautiful characters in books published some while since. Point your clicker here

http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/compound-cherries-cream-memory-sunbeams/

HANDSOME IS AS HANDSOME WRITES or A LONG INTELLECTUAL FACE AND A GOOD NATURED BULL

Once again older books provided material for Mary's next blog, which continues on the previous theme with a look at male writers and what they considered constituted handsome fellows, or at least in their fiction. That blog will appear on the following link on June 18th.

http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/a-long-intellectual-face-and-a-good-natured-bull

As always, if this topic is not a reader's cup of tea, cream or otherwise, the site hosts musings from numerous Poisoned Pen authors on a wide range of topics. Reach those that appeal via links at

http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/category/news-and-blog/


ERIC'S BIT or BEHIND (WHAT WILL BECOME) THE SEENS

We don't often talk about our publisher Poisoned Pen Press (PPP as we refer to them). I know that when I read a book I don't care who put it out. However, if it weren't for the efforts of the good folks in Scottsdale, Arizona, I wouldn't be talking to you right now since you probably would never have seen the mystery novels Mary and I write.

I mention this because self-publishing is all the rage. At least amongst writers. We hear about wild successes like Amanda Hocking and E. L. James. Who needs a publisher when you can do it yourself?

Well...in the first place how many runaway self-published bestsellers are there from authors who are not young and Internet savvy? Building a social media presence seems more important than writing ability. The former certainly not our forte.

One of the most important things PPP does for us is alert readers and booksellers to our work, by sending out review copies for example. Next, the press makes sure those who might be interested can get hold of the books. A complicated task. PPP books are distributed by Ingram Publisher Services, and are available through wholesalers including Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Brodart. Different wholesalers can reach different markets. Baker & Taylor, for example, is responsible for our books being in hundreds of libraries.

A publisher takes care of all the details, from buying that ISBN number you see on all commercially released books, to formatting our novels for Kindle, Nook and all the other electronic flavors I can't even keep track of. PPP has the books printed, and digitized, and even recorded. They appear in hardcover, trade paperback, large print, numerous e-versions and, for the last few, in audio.

PPP also edits our work rather than sending us out into public with dirt on our chins. Even after Mary and I assiduously rewrote and copy-edited the newest novel our editor, Annette, found a number of, shall we say, infelicities. You simply cannot edit your own words. They are too familiar.

Then there are the covers...PPP's production guy, Pete, discussed what we wanted, suggested an artist, whose work we loved, then sketched out a design based mostly on the title, a big trend today, but one I wasn't aware of until he pointed it out. Sure, we could have done our own cover. And as cover designers...well, we're good writers.

If you're with a publisher, professionals do everything but the writing for you. If you self-publish you either have to pay professionals or do things which are outside your expertise -- and probably do them poorly.

There's a lot more PPP does, for instance publicizing its books in various ways, such as attending trade shows and offering writers advice and support on promotional efforts. No doubt there are plenty of services I've forgotten or don't even know about.

Sure, there are novels and circumstances where self-publishing is appropriate but despite what you might read on the Internet lately, with rare exceptions, publishers remain as important to writers as writers are to publishers.


AND FINALLY

James Thurber once characterised the past as an armchair located in an attic. The present he represented as an ominous ticking. As for the future? Anyone's guess, according to Thurber. However, for subscribers there need be no guessing on one coming event at least, since the next issue of Orphan Scrivener is slated to arrive in subscribers' in-boxes on August 15th.

See you then!
Mary R and Eric

who invite you to visit their home page, to be found hanging out on the virtual washing line that is the Web at http://home.earthlink.net/~maywrite/ There you'll discover the usual suspects, including more personal essays, our bibliography, the Doom Cat interactive game written by Eric, and our growing libraries of links to free e-texts of classic and Golden Age mysteries, ghost stories, and tales of the supernatural. There's also the Orphan Scrivener archive, so don't say you weren't warned! Intrepid subscribers may also wish to visit Eric's blog at http://www.journalscape.com/ericmayer/ or pop over to our shadow identity M. E. Mayer's blog (largely devoted to reviews of Golden Age and classic mysteries) at http://memayer.blogspot.com/ And just for the heck of it, we'll also mention our noms des Twitter are @marymaywrite and @groggytales Drop in some time!


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