Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The New SinC Guppy Anthology: Fish Nets

The Sisters in Crime Guppies (an acronym of The Great Unpublished—GUPs, which turned into Guppies) newest anthology, Fish Nets, now swims the book market. Wildside Press also published the group’s first anthology, Fish Tales in 2011.

When the Steering Committee of the SinC Guppies asked the membership to submit stories about fishnets, I was somewhat befuddled, but I persevered, wrote a story and submitted it for consideration. After the deadline, score sheets were sent to those authors who submitted stories, asked to judge three stories and rate each one.

The top twenty-two stories were chosen for inclusion in the anthology, and some of them were written by WWK bloggers, Kara Cerise, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull and me. It’s an honor to have our stories included. Copies will be available for sale at the Malice Domestic Conference, if you attend, or you can go to: (whatever urls I can find.) I asked the authors to write a paragraph describing the “story behind the story.” Here are their tales. E. B. Davis.

“Cover Story” Elaine Will Sparber                                            
Like Superstorm Sandy, my story resulted from the crashing together of multiple forces. When the Guppies announced their second anthology, I was immersed in plotting a traditional mystery novel featuring a book editor from Long Island who was being forced to do some amateur sleuthing. At the same time, in real life, the local police started uncovering bodies along Long Island's south shore that they speculated were the victims of a serial killer. Throw in the colorful azalea bushes blooming around my neighborhood and, of course, the anthology's theme of  fish nets--any and all kinds--and my story just blew into my mind: Superstorm "Cover Story."

“Dressed For Success” Diane Vallere
In “Dressed For Success” I wanted to create a spin on the classic Philip Marlowe-type character but put her in the fashion world, someone who would be hired to investigate stolen designs, knock-off artists, and other seamy fashion business, and push her further than that by dropping her in the middle of a murder investigation. She has the skills to fly under the radar, but can she figure out the killer before he silences her for good?

“Keeping Up Appearances” Julie Tollefson
In “Keeping Up Appearances,” Nick is basically a decent guy who has made some bad choices—who hasn’t, right? Now he’s dealing with the consequences: Single parenthood. A melodramatic, demanding soon-to-be ex-wife. A strained relationship with his lifelong best friend. And he thinks he’s doing okay, until his wife and daughter disappear and his carefully reconstructed life crumbles. Is he in over his head?

“The White Flip-Flop” H. S. Stavropoulos
I was walking on a beautiful sandy beach in Greece at the end of a glorious day. As the tide hit the beach, I noticed a single white flip-flop being tossed in the froth. When I got to that point on the beach, I kicked it up to the sand. The rhinestones glittered in the sunlight. It fired my imagination. Why would someone leave a flip-flop at the beach? How do you walk away with only one flip-flop? How did it get in the water? By the time I returned to my hotel, a story started to coalesce with a main character, a murderer and the victim.

"Clean" Steve Shrott
Over the years, I've been around some weird, different, and offbeat people (it takes one to know one.) So I thought it would be interesting to write a story that involved that kind of character. Someone who’s driven by strange impulses to do odd things, yet lacks the awareness that what they do is in the least unusual. I always think that stories of this nature are amongst the most fascinating.

“Fishing for Justice” Harriette Sackler
It can take one brief and chance encounter to motivate a writer to create a story. Just such an experience resulted in “Fishing for Justice,” a dark tale of murder. A glimpse of something strange at the Maryland shore got me wondering: What if…..?

“The Girls in Fishnet Stockings” Judith Kerman Smith
When Fish Nets was announced as the theme for the second Guppy anthology, I didn’t think of fishing or bodies of water. Instead my quirky brain conjured up one of those wonderful black and white films of the 1930’s. Dimly lit scenes set in a speakeasy and populated with menacing gangsters and beautiful women flickered in my brain. I even pictured the requisite cigarette and camera-toting gals, both dressed in fishnet stockings under a French-maid tutu-length costume. That’s how I came to write “The Girls in The Fishnet Stockings.”

“The Hindi Houdini” Gigi Pandian
In "The Hindi Houdini," magician Sanjay Rai, aka The Hindi Houdini, solves a locked room mystery at the winery theater where he performs.
Sanjay is a sidekick in my Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. So how'd he end up with a starring role in this story? Because he's a magician, I realized he'd be great at solving locked room "impossible crime" mysteries. I had such fun crafting this puzzle that I'm now writing a series of stories with seemingly impossible crimes.

"Stonecutter" Edith Maxwell

I saw a man walking down a street in a gritty town north of Boston many years ago. He clearly wasn't from here. He looked European, Portuguese probably, from a place where men use fishnets to make a living from the sea. From there I invented a profession for him - a stonecutter - and created his lover and soul mate. I originally crafted my story of middle-aged love gone awry as simply that, a sad love story. But when a crime on O Dia dos Mortos crept in, I couldn't refuse it.

“Netted” KB Inglee
For me the characters usually come first, but in this case it was the setting. Delaware history has fascinated me as long as I have lived here. We started out as the “lower three counties" of Pennsylvania. We are EAST of the Mason Dixon Line but our borders were not finalized until the 1980s. We were one of a few loyal slaves states during the Civil War. So I picked a time when we were struggling to separate from Pennsylvania. I invented a town, and peopled it. A friend showed me how to tie fishnets. Then all I needed was a plot. As always, that was the hard part.

“Fishy Business” Jean Huffman
You never know when an idea from an overstuffed "Story File" will come in handy, as was the case for "Fishy Business."
I clipped an intriguing picture from our local newspaper a few years ago. The photo was that of a restaurateur and his twenty-something daughter side-by-side, frying fish in the kitchen of their popular seafood restaurant. In the accompanying caption, the daughter was noted to be following in the father's footsteps, eagerly pursuing a business degree at a local university to continue the family business.
That visual set the wheels in motion. As I began to ponder the relationship dynamic within my fictional family's restaurant business, the plot for "Fishy Business" was born. My determined mother-son protagonists, Fancy Raeford Hodge and Durham Police Detective Mike Hodge, make their second appearance in this short story, after starring in my first novel.
Fancy and Mike discover that family ties do bind, and sometimes with deadly consequences.

 “Fishing for Murder” Teresa Inge
When driving across the Rudy Inlet Bridge in Virginia Beach, I wondered what would happened to a vehicle if it went over the side. Would it sink? Float? Could someone push a car off the bridge on purpose? Could a barge enter the inlet and pull a vehicle out? Check out “Fishing for Murder” to uncover the mystery.

“Lawn Ballerinas” Beth Hinshaw
All I had to do to gain inspiration for my short story was to walk outside. I love living in the great Northwest with its pristine forests, clear, fast-running rivers and, okay, let's be honest here, rain! Of course, the rain brings forth its own bounty. Our rivers are famous for its prized salmon and steelhead trout, the wily feisty fish that can out-snooker most fishermen.
My husband and I have had a family fishing competition going on since we've been married. I am still winning. When we started our fishing derby, we cleared the slate, so to speak. He grew up in the Northeast and spent every summer on Cape Cod, so it really wouldn't have been fair to do otherwise. So this story is also born of this family tradition. This is just a little slice of domesticity.

“Don’t Take That Chance” Kate Fellows
After seeing on the news that another group of factory workers would split a million-dollar jackpot, I got to wondering: what if one of those workers wasn't really such a team player?
In my story, "Don't Take That Chance", Robin and her employees finally hit it big after years of playing the same numbers. But the winning lottery ticket has gone missing under mysterious circumstances.
Who would dare to take that chance?
Robin must put on her thinking cap to solve this crime by quitting time, and net herself a thief.

“The Runaway” E. B. Davis
I’m a Hatteras Island, N.C. beach fan, and my husband’s enthusiasm for fishing takes us to the marinas in Hatteras Village. When contemplating the topic of fishnets, the Hatteras style charter fishing boats formed an image in my mind and became the setting of my story, in which a teenager stows away. What happens on “The Runaway” makes for a memorable birthday.

 “Reef Town” Kara Cerise
Thanks to my husband, we have numerous salt water aquariums in our house. Without warning, like a scene from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, fish in one tank began disappearing at night. Why? Later, while caring for my sister during her intensive cancer treatments, I continued to mull this question. I also watched cartoons for comic relief. As a result, disappearing fish and cartoons bobbed and churned in my head, then poured onto the page and became my children’s mystery/fantasy short story, “Reef Town.”

 “John Calvin Can Bite Me” Michelle Butler
I spent four years as a church librarian, and did indeed, come in once and find the books rearranged by color, by someone who I can only assume thought he was being helpful.
 “Snared” Warren Bull
In my Fish Nets’ story, the non-law enforcement character (the antagonist) is a composite drawn from actual people I have known at various times and places in my life. I have tried to use different versions of the storyline in other submissions before with a similar character. Feedback in the past has always been that the character seemed unrealistic. That proves the adage that just because something actually happened it does not mean the event will come across as  believable in fiction. 

“Routine Changes” Betsy Bitner
I got the idea for my story “Routine Changes” after going to one too many home shopping parties. You know – those live, in-person infomercials masquerading as social gatherings. I’d just received the electric pie crimper I’d ordered at my friend’s “party” when I discovered I’d already bought one and it was still in its original packaging. I was so mad I could kill someone!
Okay, not exactly. But my protagonist, Julie, realizes the reason for her dissolving marriage is standing right in front of her while at a home shopping party for beauty products. And that’s when things get ugly….

“Inside Job” Mysti Berry
After two decades of watching many people sacrifice their personal lives and sometimes their sanity at fast-paced software companies, only to be cast aside the instant something goes wrong, I wrote "Inside Job." Many software technologists are book-smart, or code-savvy, but they’re not emotionally wise enough to handle the challenges of inventing an industry from the ground up. This is the story of one woman who plays a vengeful game with her CEO, a man who carries blame for much more than her barren personal life.

“The Lure of the Rainbow” Gloria Alden
Fishnets have only one meaning for me – something to use when fishing. Because I know nothing about deep-sea fishing, I decided my story should be in an area I can picture; a cabin by a lake in the mountains. The opening few lines about spring peepers was something that happened to me one night, and I stored it in my memory for a future story. Because my fishing experiences are minimal and never involved trout fishing, I started researching. I got books from the library on trout fishing, and asked several people about making lures including one guy at a folk concert. I didn’t know him, but he had a shirt with fish on it. He was most helpful, and over the months he’d ask me about it when I’d see him at other concerts. I was finally able to tell him my story was included in the anthology and eventually when it would be out. I still don’t know his name, but I’ll start carrying Fish Nets bookmarks with me when I go to concerts.


Gloria Alden said...

I can't wait to get my copy of the book and read everyone's story in the book, Elaine. Hopefully, I'll be able to get many of the stories signed, too. Looking forward to seeing you there.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks, Gloria. I got my books the other day, but then I had them mailed because I needed two copies to put into our charity baskets, which I'll pass off to Hariette tomorrow at the hotel. I'll be there about 1 p.m. if anyone arrives early. Lunch anyone?

Kara Cerise said...

How fun to learn about the stories behind the stories! I am excited to read the whole anthology.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Looking forward to reading the new anthology! Congratulations all!

E. B. Davis said...

We were given a draft of the entire manuscript to proof. I wanted to read everyone's story then, but I was so focused on finding flaws in my own story I never did. Of course, now that I have my copies--I will, Kara. I can't wait to read Warren's, Gloria's and yours!

E. B. Davis said...

I hope you like it Paula. Writing with a fish nets theme was challenging.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Fascinating! Looks like a great anthology! Congratulations to all of you!

Jim Jackson said...

Congratulations to all of the authors. Nice job pulling together the vignettes.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks Jim and Linda. Some of the authors said that they couldn't see the blog again--only the title. Wish I knew why!