If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


July Interviews













7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets


Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson

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Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!


Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.


KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.


Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."


Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.


Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Mystery with a Splash of Bourbon by Susan Bell and Elaine Munsch


Corralling 22 authors in four different states to write 18 short stories and 19 articles over the course of ten years and compiling all this into one anthology with only bourbon as the guiding principle is . . . not as simple as it sounds.

In 2008, our Louisville-based writing group, Derby Rotten Scoundrels (DRS), had already published two Kentucky Derby-themed anthologies in quick succession (2004 and 2006, respectively). Feeling confident, maybe even cocky, we decided to jump back into the anthology pool, only this time we would make liquid libation the central theme: bourbon – what’s more Kentucky than that? And the research that would be required for this project appealed to us.

Writers set about creating their stories, the only guiding principle being: it must be a crime story, it must involve bourbon somehow, and it must be 5,000 words or less. Others began research on the non-fiction articles we would use as transitions between each story. These articles would cover historical aspects of bourbon distilling in Kentucky, profiles of distilleries, and a glossary of bourbon terms (angels’ sharedevil’s cutrick housewort, etc.). We didn’t have to twist any arms to get volunteers to visit distilleries for research. Some of us did our research at home, sampling various brands of Kentucky’s finest spirit to truly immerse ourselves in the topic. The mashing of content began (the gnashing of teeth came later).

As the months progressed, authors brought their work before our group for critique. Stories and articles were reworked and re-critiqued. New stories were submitted. And critiqued. And reworked. New writers joined, eager to participate in the Bourbon Anthology. And so it went, month to month, year to year.

We made progress. Stories and articles were finalized and approved by the group. We had one person who collected all these final versions (in engineering, this is known as a single point of failure). Then life outside our group began to intervene – spouses became ill, some authors became ill, two passed away, and the project fell into a limbo of “one of these days we’ll pick it up again.”

Much research had been consumed when “one of these days” arrived. Slyly, one of our authors invited us (Susan Bell and Elaine Munsch) to lunch, during which lunch we were told “you have a moral obligation to complete this anthology - how can we drop the ball on this project that so many have participated in, sweated over, dreamed about?” Though we weren’t the presumptive leaders of the project, Elaine, being of Catholic disposition where guilt is up there next to Original Sin, agreed to see what we could do. We deemed the first step toward revival would be the purchase of more bourbon, for research.

We then went into detective mode, hunting down a record of who had written what and just where in the world were these hearty souls and where was the final version of their work? Elaine searched the internet, scanning obituaries (we are not a young group). We had to contact every author and ask, somewhat sheepishly, “Hey, remember that bourbon anthology we were working on years ago? Are you still interested in being included, and can you send us your final version if you do want to be included?”

It took another year for us to gather the final stories and articles and to compile all that into one cohesive manuscript.  We breathed a sigh of relief. The next step would be easy, we told ourselves: find a publisher. Because fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

We decided to submit to one publisher at a time. We got good feedback from that first publisher submission, but after waiting two months for a response, the answer was “sorry, this doesn’t fit our catalog at this time.” We tried a second, then a third publisher, and watched as the months dwindled away again.

After our third “No, thank you”, we finally got our “Yes”, from Mystery and Horror, LLC, a small, independent publisher out of Florida. We were ecstatic!

With a publication date set for June 2020, Elaine and I began marketing preparations – where should we have the release party, where can we do signings? We applied to the Kentucky Book Fair. We were very excited.

Then the Publishing Gods stepped in and said, “This has all been too easy for you, so we are going to drop a Global Pandemic on your head.”

So here we sit, self-isolating, our writing group not meeting out of virus fears, large events on hold or cancelled. But our book is published and is available via Amazon or Barnes and Noble. We are still waiting for word from Kentucky Book Fair – were we accepted? We don’t know yet. Will the book fair even take place this year? We aren’t sure. The only thing we know for sure is: we find, through extensive research, that Kentucky bourbon is awesome!

Elaine Munsch grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, but has made Louisville, KY her home for several decades. An avid reader, bookselling seemed to be the ideal profession, which she has practiced for over forty years. She is the author of the Dash Hammond series: The Price of Being Neighborly, The Cost of Kindness and The Expense of Family.

Susan Bell was born in coastal California, then proceeded to travel the country in her role as daughter of a Naval officer. She learned to walk in the Mojave Desert, to swim in Virginia Beach, and to read in Washington State. She fell in love with Dr. Seuss and hasn’t stopped reading since. She combined her love of reading, writing and arithmetic and became a technical writer, working in the defense, aviation, and telecommunications industries. With deep roots in the Bluegrass State, she now calls Louisville home.

4 comments:

Kait said...

My husband collects bourbon - I know what is going under his Christmas tree!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your release!

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

Congratulations. I know firsthand how challenging it is to compile a multi-author anthology. You might want your publisher to submit a copy to Otto Penzler's The Mysterious Bookshop Presents: The Best Mystery Stories of the Year. Here are the details:

New York, July 13—Otto Penzler, the president and CEO of Penzler Publishers, announced today that the Mysterious Press will launch an annual series of anthologies titled The Mysterious Bookshop Presents: The Best Mystery Stories of the Year, beginning in October 2021. The editor of the first volume will be Lee Child, the internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series.

Penzler had been the series editor of The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the past twenty-four years.

“The Mysterious Press series will continue to seek the best mystery, crime, and suspense fiction published in America but will expand its scope to include English language stories published anywhere in the world,” said Penzler.

Michele Slung, the first reader for BAMS for its entire history, will continue in that role for Best Mystery Stories of the Year. “Each annual volume would take five years with any other reader,” said Penzler. “She is the fastest and smartest reader I’ve ever known and looks at literally thousands of stories a year, passing along only the best for me and the editor to read.”

Submissions of any story published in the 2020 calendar year should be sent in printed form to Otto Penzler, 58 Warren Street, New York, N.Y. 10007.

The Best Mystery Stories of the Year will be distributed by W.W. Norton, which also distributes Penzler Publishers’ other imprints, Scarlet and American Mystery Classics.

KM Rockwood said...

I love anthologies! I love to write short stories for them, I love to read them (I usually read one short story a night just before bed) but I don't know that I'd love all the work that has to go into actually creating one.

Best wishes on the new release.