Steve Weddle

Hilary Davidson Always Tells

 hilary davidson, Steve Weddle  Comments Off on Hilary Davidson Always Tells
Apr 162015

By Steve Weddle

Hilary Davidson has been a guest, a subject, or a topic at DoSomeDamage 836 times in the last five years. That’s not surprising, of course, as she has a hardback or paperback book dropping every three months.

Hilary’s debut novel, The Damage Done, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the Crimespree Award for Best First Novel. The book was also a finalist for a Macavity Award and an Arthur Ellis Award. The novel’s main character, Lily Moore, is, like Hilary, a travel writer. While their personal lives have little in common, they do share a few things, such as a love of vintage clothing, classic Hollywood movies, and Art Deco design. The second book in the series is The Next One to Fall (Tor/Forge, 2012) and the third is Evil in All Its Disguises (Tor/Forge, 2013). Read the reviews. Hilary’s first standalone novel, Blood Always Tells, was published by Tor/Forge in April 2014 and released as a trade paperback in March 2015.

On the occasion of the paperback publication of Blood Always Tells, Hilary took a break from racing across the airport to answer a few questions.

DSD: You’ve had hardbacks and ebooks and paperbacks and anthologies and magazines come out with your name in them. How is a paperback release different from the others? What makes it special?

Hilary Davison: I get excited over any book release, but paperbacks are near and dear to my heart because that’s what I grew up reading. Part of that was convenience — from the time I was 12, I had at least two hours a day of commuting time, and I spent it reading. The other part of the reason was financial: why buy a hardcover when I could buy two or three new paperbacks with the same amount of money? So when a book of mine comes out in paperback, I feel like it’s reaching an entirely new audience. I’ll buy paperbacks by authors I’ve never heard of, just because they sound interesting. Hardcovers, no. More than anything, I’m excited to get the book into more readers’ hands.

DSD: You just did a Noir at the Bar recently. By my count, you’ve done 87 of these. Do you find them much different than when you read by yourself in a bookstore? How are these different?

HD: I love doing events with other writers. I know it’s not the same as musicians jamming, but there’s a similar collaborative spirit behind it. Everybody brings something to the table, and you never know what’s going to happen, or how it will all turn out. It’s different from doing solo bookstore events, because those don’t change much from town. At a Noir at the Bar, I can read whatever I want because I’m not trying to sell anything!

DSD: We’re coming up on crime fiction conventions and conferences from now until, heck, December, it seems. What kind of panel would you most like to see and what sort of authors would you want to see on it?

HD: I was just at Left Coast Crime, and I love that conference’s mix of serious panels and fun ones. I was on one panel about violence in crime fiction, and another that was basically a game show. Both were great. One change I’d like to see is more genre-mixing on panels. By that, I mean don’t put all the cozy writers on one panel and the hardboiled/noir ones on another. One of my favorite panels at LCC was the Cozy-Noir Summit that Katrina Niidas Holm moderated. Mixing it up is a great way for readers to discover new authors, and it makes for lively conversations. Also, I think audience members should be able to throw things at panelists who set their books in front of them. It’s a panel, not an infomercial.

DSD: Do you start with a scene and work out? Do you start with an outline and follow it? Are there points you want to hit – a climax at the end of act two, for example.

HD:  All I’ve learned from writing my books is that I can’t outline. The upside is that the endings of my books are a surprise to me as much as anyone. That’s also the downside. It’s a tough way to write, stumbling blinding in the dark until I hit on something that makes sense. Honestly, it makes for a lot of false starts and wasted words. The one thing I hold onto is knowing the emotional arc of the story. I know what my main character is struggling with, and what demon s/he will face. That was definitely true of BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS. I knew the words Desmond Edgars was going to say in the last scene, even though I had no idea how I was going to get him there.

DSD: Do you feel as if you have become a better writer throughout the Lily Moore series and would you have done things differently in the early books?

HD: I think writing is one of those jobs where the more you do it, the better you get. I know there are exceptions to this, but it’s generally true. What I struggle with is wanting to do new and different things with each book, so I feel like my learning curve is steep. The standalone I’m finishing now is largely narrated by a man who killed his wife. I’ve told plenty of short stories from a villain’s point of few, but it’s much tougher with a novel.
There’s probably nothing I would change about the characters or the emotional arcs of my early books, even though I’d love to go back and clean up the writing. The ending of THE DAMAGE DONE will always break my heart. The first part of BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS has the same effect. There are legit reasons for certain characters to die, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about killing them.

DSD: You recently won a Derringer Award for your short fiction. What’s it like to be a winner? (asking for a friend)

HD: Winning the Derringer meant so much — in no small part because writing short fiction is my true love. Novels break my brain and cause me no end of angst. They’re satisfying when they’re done, but until that moment, late in the game, they’re actually kind of hellish. Stories are different. Writing short stories is more like a game of “What if?” I have the opening scenario in mind when I start writing, and then I follow it wherever it goes. The genesis for “A Hopeless Case,” the story that won the Derringer, is awful: when I was in high school in Toronto, I walked down to a subway platform just as a woman jumped in front of an incoming train. But writing about a person in that scenario makes me process it differently. Instead of being horrified by what happened, I’m creeping under the person’s skin, trying to understand them. Even when the subject matter is dark, it humanizes it.


Hilary Davidson’s Blood Always Tells is a twisted tale of love, crime, and family gone wrong, by the multiple award-winning author of The Damage Done and Evil in All Its Disguises.

Porochista Khakpour on inspiration and The Last Illusion

 Porochista Khakpour, Steve Weddle  Comments Off on Porochista Khakpour on inspiration and The Last Illusion
Apr 022015

By Steve Weddle

Porochista Khakpour‘s book SONS AND OTHER FLAMMABLE OBJECTS was one of those rarities in our line of work — a book worth all the hype.

Her newest one, THE LAST ILLUSION, recently came out in paperback.

“An audaciously ambitious novel that teeters along a tightrope but never falls off.” (Kirkus, starred review)

From the critically acclaimed author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects comes a bold fabulist novel about a feral boy coming of age in New York, based on a legend from the medieval Persian epic theShahnameh, the Book of Kings.

In an Iranian village, Zal’s demented mother, horrified by the pallor of his skin and hair, is convinced she has given birth to a “white demon.” She hides him in a birdcage for the next decade. Rescued by a behavioral analyst, Zal awakens in New York to the possibility of a future. A stunted and unfit adolescent, he strives to become human as he stumbles toward adulthood. As New York survives one potential disaster, Y2K, and begins hurtling toward another, 9/11, Zal finds himself in a cast of fellow outsiders. A friendship with a famous illusionist who claims-to the Bird Boy’s delight- that he can fly and an affair with a disturbed artist who believes she is clairvoyant send Zal’s life spiraling into chaos. Like the rest of New York, he is on a collision course with devastation.

In tones haunting yet humorous and unflinching yet reverential, The Last Illusion explores the powers of storytelling while investigating magical thinking. Its lyricism, inventiveness, and examination of otherness can appeal to readers of Salman Rushdie and Helen Oyeyemi. A celebrated chronicler of the 9/11-era, Khakpour reimagines New York’s most harrowing catastrophe with a dazzling homage to her beloved city

Here she talks about the influences that brought her to that book — or that book to her.

During this period, I also began teaching American experimental literature—which seemed influenced by the Latin American school—and it was through David Markson, Lydia Davis, Kathy Acker, David Foster Wallace, and many other innovators in fiction that I kept faith that the strangeness of the book would in the end only help it find its audience. >>

Crime fiction panel

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Crime fiction panel
Mar 192015

By Steve Weddle

Next week I’ll again be teaching a short story class over at LitReactor. We read short stories, talk about how they’re crafted and why they work, and work on putting our own together.  I have not gotten a notice that it has sold out, so you’ve still got time to register.

Speaking of me and short stories, Art Taylor was kind enough to include me in his brilliant discussion of novels-in-stories over at the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine blog. If you have a few minutes, you should check out his take on the subject.

As you know from Holly’s post yesterday, last weekend was Left Coast Crime, a crime fiction convention in Portland, Oregon.

This week is the Virginia Festival of the Book, which is held each year in Charlottesville. On Saturday, I’ll be moderating a panel for crime fiction — Crime Wave: Private Eyes & Ink-Stained Wretches. (Sat. March 21, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm; Omni Hotel – Ballroom C; 212 Ridge McIntire Road, Charlottesville, VA)
Hear authors Reed Farrel Coleman (Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot), Brad Parks (The Player), and Andy Straka (The K Street Hunting Society) share stories of their private eyes and journalists caught up in crime.

I met Reed at NoirCon 2010 in Philly and had the chance to hear him opine on noir finding itself coming back to early twentieth century Los Angeles, even by authors who are writing at the moment.

I met Andy when I moderated a panel a few years ago at the state library in Virginia.

I met Brad Parks in the parking lot of the Levittown Flea Market, where a vendor was selling Italian ices and Taylor Swift tickets.

All of these guys write series characters, which is what we’ll mostly be chatting about.

Whether you’ve been to 20 crime fiction panels or none, you’ve probably got something you’d want to know from talented writers such as these. If you’d like to drop a question in the comments, I can see what we can find out from these guys on Saturday. Or, if there was a great panel question you heard recently, feel free to share.
Either way, I hope to see you in Charlottesville this week for the book festival.

Write without distraction – AlphaSmart keyboards

 Steve Weddle  Comments Off on Write without distraction – AlphaSmart keyboards
Mar 112015

By Steve Weddle

Once you’ve done your research, gathered your notes, and you’ve put your butt in your chair, does the internet keep you from writing?

You just have to look up a street name REALLY QUICK and before you know it, you’re looking at Travelocity and daydreaming about a trip to a Greek island in five or six years.

Well, how would you like to write easily, without distraction?

Handwrite in notebooks? But then you have to type that sucker up, right?

 (But, wait, there’s more. Um, actually, no. There’s less. Which is better. Trust me.)

Instead of using your laptop or tablet and running one of those BLOCK THE INNERWEBS apps, what if you could just type up the words and then load them into your document when you’re done? Kind of a NaNoWriMo experience year-round. Just write. Without distractions.

Well, Laurance Friend has been posting about AlphaSmart keyboards.

Read about his experience here.
And, as Mr. Friend suggests, you can find out more over here at the AlphaSmart discussion page.
Is there a video of someone using one? Sure. Here you go:
Get off the internet and write. Good luck.

Time to vote

 Steve Weddle  Comments Off on Time to vote
Mar 052015

By Steve Weddle

Looks like it’s awards season for the crime fiction community? How do I know? I have a Facebook account. And an email account. And Twitter.

Turns out, 83 of my 96 online friends have books eligible for some sort of award. That’s great. Heck, I’ve read a large number of those books and liked quite a few. And there are more awards and nominations coming.

The list goes on and on.

Seems as if everyone I know is nominated for an award named after one dead white man or another.

The presumption, of course, is that winning an award is useful to a writer’s career. If you win the award, then you can add that to your bio. If you don’t, you can hope again next year or swear the awards off as too political or a popularity contest, of course.

Having that award helps you stand out from folks who don’t.

James Jimjam, Edgar-winning author of THE FUNAMBULIST’S DAUGHTER’S CONSPIRACY, will be reading tonight at the Booke Shoppe on Main Street.

Sometimes the problem with being a professional writer is less with the writing and more with the acting professionally.

A few years ago, I was somehow nominated for something and unsure how to, um, well, you know, get people to notice so they’d think I was cool? As Joel McHale would say, ANYWAY, someone suggested using the old “Congratulations to my fellow nominees” construction. Which is great. You draw attention to yourself, but it looks as if you’re congratulating other people. Flawless.  Who could fault you for that? I didn’t give it much more thought.

OK. Let me take a second before we go further to give some space to the usefulness of these awards. To me, the awards you don’t have to explain are awesome. He won the Pulitzer. She won the Nobel. Then you have the other awards, the ones you have to explain. She won the William T. Nulon Award, given annually to outstanding work in the field of microbiotics. His novel was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. She spoke at the Roundhouse Colloquium, a group of philanthropists devoted to conserving soil in south Alabama.

Different awards carry different weight, I suppose, but each award is a way to separate yourself from other books (the losers) and a way for people who might not see your book to notice it.

You see, there are those lists that come out with the awards. Here are the six books that made the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize, they’ll say. Some people may see a list like that and buy books based on it. Or they may track down a book simply because it won a prize. I don’t, but some folks might.

Also, some awards come with money. You can have all the book cover stickers — the circle ones with all the points — that you want. Those are great. Hand me an award with a check.

Hang on. Before we get much further (GAWD, how much further is there?) I should say something about the folks who work their asses off getting these awards together, sorting and reading through everything. Thanks to them. They’re the ones who have to run back and forth to the post office to pick up the books your publicists sent. They’re the ones who have to collate a billion emails, who have to set up spreadsheets to keep vote tally straight. The people who run these awards work as hard getting this stuff done as we do writing the books. And there ain’t an award given out to the people who do all the award work while we’re sitting in our fancy clothes waiting on something glass to put on the shelf. So thanks tons to those folks.

Can winning award help your book’s sales? I’ve heard some people saw a slight bump, while others saw nothing. You know what helps a book’s sales? Being a good book sometimes helps, though not always. Having the movie based off your book win an Oscar? That helps a book’s sales. There’s the award you want, pal.

So, let’s say you want an award for your book and you need to get nominated or voted on. What are you to do?

Well, sending out an email to everyone in your list probably isn’t the most subtle way to go. A couple of years ago, there was a bit of a discussion about someone who emailed out a “Vote For My Book Because It Is The Best” blast to everyone, including other people who were nominated in the same category. That didn’t go over too well, but I understand the idea of wanting people to know that they can vote on the thing and that you’re eligible. I mean, we want good thing for our friends.

Here’s what I’ve found, though. You’re in danger of preaching to the choir with your tweets and status updates. And, if you’re stuck doing the “I hate to mention this and I hate self-promotion, but” thing, then you’re probably not going to get too much traction. Look, everyone hates self-promotion. Many countries have banned it. But if you’re going to do it, I have a suggestion which you can take or leave.

1) Make a thing people can share
2) There’s no 2.

You can make an image. A song. A flier. Whatever. If you post a status update on your Facebook wall, your friends will see it. Maybe they already voted for you. Or maybe they’re voting for themselves. (Many of my friends are assholes like that.) So, you probably want to reach your friend’s mother or proctologist or high school pal. Make a thing that can get shared. Show your book. A blurb. Say it’s been nominated and how to vote for it. If you care enough, make an advertisement for your book and get people to share it.

See, the thing is, you want to reach outside your circle — and you never know what’s going to catch on.

The other day, The Atlantic posted a thing on Facebook about cats, so I made a throw-away joke. I tweeted it, which maybe two people who follow me retweeted. I think I mentioned on my own Facebook wall, which a few people probably saw. And I made a comment on the original post on The Atlantic’s Facebook page.

More than 100 people I don’t know liked my comment and some replied. If I engaged with those replies, I guess there’s the chance the response would grow even more. Now, 100 likes isn’t the point here. I’m saying that, in my experience, reaching outside your circle for new people is generally your better bet when you’re looking to increase coverage.
Another thing to do would be to promote our fellow authors instead of ourselves. I mean, you can do what you want. You don’t need me to be your conscience (seriously, I’m a jerk and you don’t want that), but I’d be much more likely to vote for James Jimjam if Becca Mason told me why his novel was great, wouldn’t you? I say we make an effort to do that. Now, for me that’s easier than for some of you. I’m not nominated for squat, so I don’t lose any self-promotion time by promoting others. The time you spend helping others is — and always will be — up to you.
Anyway, here’s to the best books winning the best awards. 

A Shocking Series

 Dave White, Jackson Donne, Jason PInter, polis books  Comments Off on A Shocking Series
Feb 262015
Series characters are tricky.
When Dennis Lehane finished Prayers for Rain, he said that Patrick Kenzie’s voice went away from him.  He didn’t hear Kenzie and because of that he moved on to other ideas—Mystic River, Shutter Island, and so on.  Eventually he came back to Kenzie—or, rather, Kenzie came back to him, and Lehane wrote Moonlight Mile.
Back in 2007, I was working on the Jackson Donne series.  Jackson Donne started out as the typical private eye, someone mourning the death of his fiancée Jeanne.  She drives the series, motivates Donne and some other characters. 
The first Donne novel, When One Man Dies, was about to be published and I was working on the sequel The Evil that Men Do—which would be published in 2008.  I was deep into Donne by then, his voice throwing ideas at me left and right.  And then, just weeks after Evil came out, my publisher dropped me.
I needed to reboot, try something new.  I wrote Witness to Death, a book set in the same universe as the Donne series, but with nary a mention of Mr. Donne.  I moved on to other things, and even briefly considered leaving writing—focusing on my teaching career.  I got married, had a kid,  and went back to grad school for a while.
Jackson Donne didn’t stop talking to me, I stopped talking to him. 
Somewhere in there, I self-published Witness to Death and it did quite well.  And for while, I thought about what I would do next.  I’d start a short story and stop it.  I’d scribble some novel ideas down.  Things weren’t going anywhere.  Occasionally, I’d think about Jackson Donne, and wonder if the series was over.  I had no ideas from him.  I was different now, much different than when I wrote about him.
Series characters are tricky, and it’d hard to surprise readers form book to book.
One afternoon, I sat down to watch Doctor Who.  It was during Matt Smith’s second season.  I remember this very, very clearly—mostly because Steven Moffat, the writer of the series, surprised the hell out of me.  He took a character that had been around for 50 years and managed to do something that I didn’t expect.
Steven Moffat killed the Doctor. 
An astronaut came out of a lake and shot him dead, on screen.  Now, we all knew that the Doctor wasn’t really dead.  That somehow, Eleven would find his way back to life somewhere over the course of the season.  But that particular moment came out of the blue. 
And that’s when I really started to think about Jackson Donne again.  About series characters, and about how to surprise readers.  Suddenly, I had it.  The moment that would turn the series on its ear. 
Jeanne wasn’t dead.
I sat down and wrote a chapter.  Then another.  Then another.  I mentioned the idea to Jason Pinter—my original editor at Random House, and now the founder of Polis Books.  He loved Jackson and he loved the idea.
And, as I wrote the book, Donne himself started to surprise me.  He was no longer the typical private eye—actually wasn’t even typical in When One Man Dies.  He’d grown, changed, and evolved in the years since I’d wrote about him last.  He was talking to me, and I was talking to him.
Now, after a 7-year absence, he’s back in Not Even Past, trying to find out why and how Jeanne is still alive.  I’m talking to Donne again.
Yes, series characters are hard—because each book has to be the same, but different.  However, if you’re willing to dig deep and try something different, you can mine new angles and still be shocking.

And, just like Doctor Who surprised me, I hope Not Even Past will surprise new and old readers alike.

‘Sycophants and Vultures': Former Monroeville Resident Weighs in on the Harper Lee Controversy

 harper lee  Comments Off on ‘Sycophants and Vultures': Former Monroeville Resident Weighs in on the Harper Lee Controversy
Feb 062015
Guest Post

A few days ago I saw a Facebook post from a high school friend, Kristi Weldon, about the Harper Lee novel imbroglio. Turned out she had lived in Monroeville for a few years and thus had more insight than most–some interesting details I had not seen elsewhere, as well as an opinion worth hearing.

Lein Shory: How did you end up living in Monroeville? How long were you there?

Kristi Weldon: I did a two-week internship at Vanity Fair Mills over Christmas of 1992. In spring of 1993, they called me about an opening in that department. I accepted the position and moved down when I graduated from Auburn in June 1993. I relocated to NYC in January 1996, as part of a company reorganization then came to Atlanta Metro North with the company in February 1997. (The company was bought by a competitor and no longer exists.) I lived in Monroeville for 2 1/2 years.

LS: How much contact did you have with Harper Lee’s sister Miss Alice, who passed away a few months ago?

KW: We went to church together (Dr. Thomas Butts, cited in a Vulture articlelast year, was our minister at the time) and were both on the board. We saw each other every other Sunday (I commuted to Auburn every other weekend to see my fiancé) as well as at special events, board meetings, and once a month at supper club for a year.  

LS: So what did you think when you read the news that Harper Lee had a new book coming out?

KW: I was appalled because I knew it wasn’t her idea.

LS: Do you still have contacts/friends in Monroeville? What do you think is the general sentiment in town about what’s going on?

KW: Yes, I still have friends there. I even have friends here who are Monroeville natives and have family there. They are the ones who are sharing these articles which I have every reason to believe to be true.
Citizens not only respected Nelle’s (pronounced “Nellie”) privacy but also went to lengths to protect her. For example, if you wanted to get a signed copy of TKAM, there was only one way to get it: she signed a relatively small number of hardbacks which could only be purchased through a local gift shop at Christmas. Once they were sold out, that was it until the next year. And nobody–I mean nobody–discussed her or the characters/events which inspired the book. My mom (it’s her all time favorite book) went “fishing” when she came to visit me and was completely shut down.

LS: There have been several statements from Lee in the last few days, and her international rights agent has said he’s visited with her and she’s fully on board with the publication. Has any of this news changed your mind about what’s really going on?

KW: I have yet to see a statement actually from Miss Lee. I have seen them from her agents, lawyer, publishers, etc., but I have not seen one directly from her. Every statement I have seen in support of the book release has been from someone who will likely have significant financial gain, not to mention the cache of bringing the book to market. So no, I don’t believe it. No one has access to her to get the statements in the first place, just like they haven’t had access to get signed copies of her books. Think about that.

They “found” it. If she wanted it released, why didn’t she tell anyone where it was?

When a person has a stroke then suddenly has a falling out with the sister she has trusted to protect her interests for her entire life, that’s a red flag to me (brain injury). When it’s to the extent that they are in different nursing homes (and it’s not like there’s a plethora of them in a town of 6,000 people), I find that extremely disturbing–especially when the sister she trusted practiced law until age 100. And then there’s a lawsuit out of the blue against a not-for-profit museum that’s been around for over a decade? It tore me apart to read about this happening in Monroeville. 

Regarding “sound mind and body,” if that’s the case, why does anyone have a power of attorney for her?

Finally, who am I going to trust–friends and family of 20+ years who have a history of protecting Harper Lee the way she consistently wanted as I experienced firsthand or a sudden slew of press releases from sycophants and vultures?


After a marketing career in the corporate world, Kristi Weldon became a technical writer and served as associate editor for Apparel Industry Magazine. She writes small-town contemporary romance as Kristine Bria and erotica as Kristi Hancock.She just completed her first novel. Award-Winning Contemporary Romance Contemporary Erotica Technical Writing

Time to start a gang war

 Steve Weddle  Comments Off on Time to start a gang war
Feb 052015

By Steve Weddle

In keeping with Holly West’s “I posed a question on Facebook” idea,

 here’s mine:

What’s a good way for a third party to start a war between two crime families?

I’ve gotten Dashiell Hammett’s RED HARVEST, as suggested, and am diving into that.

So, you want to get the two families fighting. You make one think the other one did something. Went to the cops. Cheated. Killed the wrong person. Is about to combine forces with another family or group.

From the Romulans to the Corleones, this has been a big factor in crime fiction.

So you kill a Hatfield and blame a McCoy and let them fight it out. I’m thinking, if you’re plotting this out in a story, you would have your protagonist come into conflict with a Hatfield, then have a situation in which he/she kills the Hatfield. Then blame a McCoy, That moves things along nicely. You can raise the stakes after a bit by having the McCoys begin to figure out that your protag is really to blame. Or maybe the Hatfields start to figure that out. More killing!

OK. Red Harvest is a good example of groups going against each other. If you have other examples or suggestions, let’s hear them.

How to get rid of a dead body

 Steve Weddle  Comments Off on How to get rid of a dead body
Apr 032014

So here’s what I asked:

What tips do you have for disposing of a body? A dead one, preferably.

I mean, if it weren’t dead, step one would be “kill person.” So let’s just go with disposing of a dead body. I think dismembering it is key, as is speeding up the decomposition. If you’re trying to protect yourself from detection/prosecution, you either want to remove anything that could be a “clue” or plant clues that would lead elsewhere. 

I’m thinking you’d want to disassemble the jaw, making sure to crack all the teeth in order to prevent identification. 

You’d want to peel off the skin of fingertips, too. What else? Is burning the body a rookie move?

Acid? Not too popular. Sinking the body? Yes and no. Mushrooms?

Here. Check for yourself. I’ve made the post public:

How to get rid of a dead body

Popular suggestion: Reading DEAD PIG COLLECTOR from Warren Ellis.

Of course, wood chippers and soylent green are favorites, too. 

I’m still considering lye vs acid, too.

And if you’re going to transport the body, put down some tarp. Do it!


Mar 202014

To honor the memory of the recent loss of writer AJ Hayes, we announce the first AJ Hayes Memorial Writing Contest.
AJ was a no-nonsense crime writer who flourished in the field of short stories and flash fiction. His goal was to get to the essence of a story without wasting a word. His dedication to the writing community and his stalwart support of other writers is what inspires a contest in his name. AJ would have loved the idea of people writing with him in mind and probably would have been first in line to submit a story.
The rules are this: 
– Flash fiction (under 1000 words)
– Crime fiction, mystery, noir, suspense are all accepted
– AJ loved to write poetry, so that’s good too
A panel of writers and agents will read the stories and award prizes. 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
Winning stories will be published at Do Same Damage and Thrillers, Killers N Chillers and the winning story will appear in print in the next Needle magazine.
One more rule – as many of you may or may not know, AJ was a pen name for Bill Hayes. So your story must feature a character named Bill. Doesn’t have to be the main character, doesn’t even have to appear on screen in the story. But Bill has to be a presence in the tale, just as he was a presence in so many of our lives, whether we met the man in person or not.
The deadline is June 1. Send your completed story in Word format, along with a bio and a memory of AJ if you have one (not a requirement) to
So get to writing, and when the stories are out, tell someone to read them like AJ would have. Go be tireless promoters for our genre and be good to each other. Let AJ Hayes be an inspiration on the page and off.
To fund the prizes we are seeking donations. Any amount will do. Payments can be made via the donation button below.  Anything we receive over the $200 will be donated to Bill’s family.
Donate Button with Credit Cards