I know Amy through our awesome YA Twitter support group #WantYANeedYA. I love how we cheer each other on and offer advice. There are also great author chats and webinars. It’s such an incredible group and I’m so grateful for finding them!
Amy is a former librarian and has written books on autism. She also is a freelance writer for various magazines and online publications. Her debut YA novel Worth It is coming out in 2024 with Wild Ink Publishing! Woot! I’m so thrilled for her and can’t wait to read it! Hopefully one day soon, I’ll have my YA debut out too!
Today is release day for Witnesses for the Dead from Soho Press, edited by Gary Phillips and Gar Anthony Haywood. I’m so excited to be a part of this stellar line-up of authors. All proceeds go to The Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.
The premise is inspired by people who witness crimes and do something about it, most notably Darnella Frazier, the seventeen-year-old girl who recorded George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.
My story “A Family Matter” takes a look at the complicated politics in Taiwan when Vanessa Chu witnesses a stranger’s murder while staying at her father’s home in Taichung. Just before I wrote this story, I had been reading about a bookstore owner who fled Hong Kong during the mass protests in 2019 and opened his store in Taipei. Four days before he was to open his store, unknown assailants threw red paint on him while he sat outside at a cafe. Three men were later arrested. They were upset by the bookstore’s commitment to disseminating democratic ideals and free speech. I was struck by how the bookstore owner wasn’t concerned for his own safety but for the safety of those who helped him open the store.
Here’s the full description of the book:
How does witnessing a crime change a person? This powerful collection of stories by a star-studded roster of contributors examines this very question, with proceeds benefitting the Alliance for Safe Traffic Stops.
Inspired by recent true events, the all-original stories in Witnesses for the Dead are set in motion by the act of witnessing. The characters who populate these pages are not themselves the perpetrators of the crimes they see, but as they grapple with what to do—take action or retreat into the shadows—their lives are indelibly changed.
In “Envy” by Christopher Chambers, a sweet, shy wallflower looks on as something horrific happens in his neighborhood—revealing something horrific about himself. Agatha Award–winner Richie Narvaez’s “The Gardener of Roses” sees a Puertorriqueña college student on the run from the FBI for her accidental involvement in a “terrorist” plot. Anthony Award–winner Gary Phillips confronts police corruption in “Spiders and Fly.” And the protagonist of “A Family Matter” by IPPY Award–winner Sarah M. Chen investigates the murder of a stranger, leading her to question the political structure of Taiwan entirely. Other stories feature a brothel, the film industry, immigrant detention centers at the Mexico-US border, World War II–torn France, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The stories are incisive, unflinching, wry, dark, and, in some cases, terrifying. You’ll ask yourself: If I saw what they saw, what would I do?
Edited by Anthony Award–winner Gary Phillips and Shamus Award–winner Gar Anthony Haywood, the collection includes contributions from NAACP Image Award–winner Pamela Samuels Young, New York Times bestsellers Cara Black and Tod Goldberg, Edgar Award–winner SJ Rozan, Agatha Award–winner Richie Narvaez, and more.
Art Taylor took over the blog series “The First Two Pages” from B.K. Stevens after her death in 2017. This popular series features essays that analyze the openings of short stories and novels – hence the name “first two pages.”
When it came time for me to analyze the first two pages of “Riviera Red,” I had a difficult time initially. Mostly because I had so many stops and starts when writing this story that I had forgotten why I decided to open the story the way that I did. After going through my very early drafts and copious notes and research, I was able to recall “oh yeah, that’s how I thought the story would go but Janice [my eventual main character] refused to stay silent.” Thankfully, I didn’t delete all those early drafts or throw away my notes!
Tomorrow, Sunday, May 15, 2022 is launch day for Low Down Dirty Vote, Volume 3! Esteemed editor Mysti Berry has once again put together an anthology that addresses the attacks on our democracy and voting rights. This volume’s theme is “the color of my vote” and based on early reviews, it sounds like there’s a common thread among the stories: rage.
My story “Riviera Red” features a beach community torn apart by a secession campaign where the wealthy southern part of the city wants to break away from the northern. The wife of the secessionist committee president learns the hard way that remaining on the sidelines isn’t an option.
Peter Carlaftes, the publisher of Three Rooms Press, features an author every month on their website and for the month of May, it’s yours truly! I had fun chatting with Peter who I’ve worked with on several projects, including The Faking of the President anthology and Maintenant 15: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art. Hopefully we will work together on another project sometime soon!
My short story “Grateful Touring” is getting another life with an appearance in the latest issue of Black Cat Weekly e-magazine. Barb Goffman selected it as part of her Barb Goffman Presents short story series. Thank you, Barb!
“Grateful Touring” was originally published in Windward: New England Crime Stories 2016 by Level Best Books. I was so excited because I’d been wanting to be in the New England Crime series for a while. Every year I submitted to the anthology as well as the Al Blanchard Award but was never selected. The anthology launches at the Crime Bake Conference which was one of the very first mystery conferences I went to. It remains one of my favorite conferences. I went to Crime Bake in 2016 even though I wasn’t registered so I could meet the other contributors of the anthology and participate in the signing. I had so much fun and I even crashed a panel featuring Hank Phillippi Ryan (don’t tell anyone).
“Grateful Touring” was inspired by a good friend of mine who is a tour director and does the foliage tours every fall. He’s a big Deadhead like my protagonist Jack. My friend doesn’t smuggle cigarettes on the side, although he agreed that it would be pretty easy to do while on tour so who knows, maybe I gave him something to think about.
Here’s a brief description of my story:
As the director for New England foliage tours, Jack has an easy side hustle smuggling cigarettes while entertaining a motor coach of leaf peepers—as long as he’s teamed up with his driver, Chris. Things get complicated, though, when Bob announces he’s the new driver and Chris is MIA. Fearing the worst and with the trip still on schedule, Jack braces himself for a bumpy ride.
If you’re not a subscriber to Black Cat Weekly (and why aren’t you?), you can pick up the issue here: Black Cat Weekly, #34.
Today is release day for A Bag of Dick’s: a 509 Crime Anthology, edited by Colin Conway. Yes, that’s the title and no, it’s not what you think. Apparently, there’s an old school burger joint in Spokane, WA that’s called Dick’s Hamburgers where you can buy burgers by the bag. Hence the title. So when I was asked to contribute a short story to this, I had to say yes. I mean who wouldn’t, right?
The stories all feature the desperate, the criminal, and the opportunists as they scramble to find a Dick’s bag to earn a Get out of Jail Free card. My story is called “Her Father’s Daughter” and it’s a dual POV with a young woman whose boyfriend isn’t the brightest criminal. She should know because her father used to be one too, but he’s left all that behind him. Or so he tells her.
With scorching tales from Jonathan Brown, Sarah M. Chen, Bill Fitzhugh, Scott Kikkawa, Nick Kolakowski, Debbi Mack, Kat Richardson, Brian Thornton, Sam Wiebe, Jim Winter, and Frank Zafiro.
Detective Jim Morgan just gave Roy Utt the opportunity of a lifetime. What happens next is the stuff of legend.
In an instant, Roy Utt’s life changed, and it happened at Dick’s Hamburgers.
A guy ran from the parking lot with a bag of burgers clutched to his chest. To Roy, it was life on the street—weird things happen, and wondering why is wasted time.
But today is no ordinary day because Detective James Morgan was also there. Unlike Roy, Morgan isn’t in the habit of dismissing bizarre events. Instead, he wants to know what was in the bag, and he’s giving Roy the incentive to find it—a Get Out of Jail Free card.
If Roy knows one thing, it’s that Morgan’s word is better than the dry sandwiches and mushy apples in lock-up.
With the clock ticking on the deal, Roy is already sharing too much information. The allure of a Get Out of Jail Free card attracts the smart, the cunning, and the stupid. An all-out scavenger hunt is underway in the criminal underworld.
Will Roy earn his Get Out of Jail Free card, or will he become a footnote in the legacy of the streets?
A Bag of Dick’s is a collection of twelve short stories from crime fiction’s liveliest voices. Get your copy today and experience the 509 in a way you never expected.
Out now from Three Rooms Press and edited by Peter Carlaftes and Kat Georges is Maintenant 15: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Art & Writing.
I have my first dada piece of writing included in this journal which is really exciting. The theme was “Humanity: The Reboot.” My piece is called “Safe Mode” and it imagines a world in which words go on strike due to human abuse.
Here’s the description of the journal from the Three Rooms Press website:
“A smorgasbord for those who are sick and tired of it.” —Seattle Book Review
The 2021 edition of the world’s premiere journal of contemporary dada writing and art considers humankind past and present with a collection of contemporary dada art and writing driven by the theme “HUMANITY: THE REBOOT.” More than 250 creators from 33 countries establish that social protest can be creatively acheived via risk-taking art. The premier journal gathering the work of internationally-renowned contemporary Dada artists and writers, Maintenant 15 offers compelling proof that Dada continue to serve as a catalyst to creators more than a century later.
The annual MAINTENANT series, established in 2008, gathers work of contemporary Dada artists and writers from around the world. The new issue features cover art by renowned Cuban American artist Edel Rodriguez, whose work has been featured on the covers of TIME, The New Yorker, Der Spiegel, and more.
I’ll be speaking on a short story panel this Saturday, July 17 at 10:00am PST for an awesome literary festival celebrating storytelling. It’s my first event for 2021 and it’s free to register!
I’ll be on with Steph Cha and Nikki Dolson with Ed Aymar moderating.
This discussion will focus on the state of short stories in crime fiction, its past and how social changes are affecting theform. Steph Cha was recently the new editor of the celebrated series, the Best American Mystery Stories, and her stewardship promises to bring forth an exciting new era in crime fiction. And Sarah M. Chen and Nikki Dolson are both celebrated practitioners of short fiction who can discuss the history of the form and what the future promises.