Thursday, July 26, 2012

If you're ever in Philadelphia….

You might want to stop in at the Whodunit? bookstore.  It's at 1931 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.  Inside in tight, somewhat haphazard-looking shelves, you'll find an assortment of mostly used books, mostly paperback.  I'd say mostly mystery or crime fiction—they were specialists when they started—but now I'd say half-and-half, half mystery, half general interest.

The great strength of stores like this is they have a broad selection for the aficionado of hard-to-find, out-of-print, and even rare books.  Let's face it, no matter what my tastes are, the world of popular books is more aligned to Fifty Shades of Harry Potter than to David Goodis.  (I bought his classic, Black Friday.)  Or more comfortable with werewolves, vampire hunters, ghost walkers, and horse whisperers than with Seven Slayers (I also picked up the Paul Cain collection by that name.)
A weakness is that at any given time, stock is more hit and miss than Amazon.  For example, I'm looking for The Chill by Ross MacDonald, but I settled for The Far Side of the Dollar, the most interesting-looking Ross MacD. on the shelves.  (I suppose a wag might argue all Ross MacDonald novels are the same anyhow.)
Another nice thing about this store is that you might meet one of the principals and share a few minutes of conversation about a common interest.  I met Henry Reifsnyder, as nice a fellow as you're liable to run into in Philly, and we talked a little about P.I. novels, and mid-century American noir.  Henry was great, steered me to a couple titles I might have overlooked, and gave me a tip on an agent. 

If you're ever in Philadelphia, stop in at Whodunit?  Online at or 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

Writing consists of words and every writer has to commit words to either paper or a word processor.  I love the anecdote I read once about James Joyce.  He was struggling daily with his current project and a friend dropped by his garret. 
                "How's the writing, James?"
                "Terrible," said Joyce.  "I worked all day and I only have seven words to show for it."
                "Seven," said the friend.  "Well, you've always worked at a deliberate pace.  That's not bad for you."
                "Yes," said Joyce, "but I don't know what order they go in."   

I have read that Graham Greene wrote 500 words a day, and I think that's a reasonable target for me.  Jack London wrote 1,000 a day.  I'm not that prolific.  I decided in June it was time to write a new story.  I sat down to it June 19, and finished a first draft July 3.  That was 8,392 words, and I worked ten days, 839 words per day.  Fifteen days elapsed, five of which, for one reason or another, I didn't write.  So one could argue my daily output for the period was really only 559 words per day. 
I went back through the work this week and finished the second draft.  "Joe's Last Scratch" (working title) is now 8,607 words, and I've invested 22 days, so I'm down to 391 words per day.  A short story in three weeks.  Not bad at all. 
Now I need someone who is not family, and ideally, not even a mystery fan, to read it and tell me what he or she thinks.   

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Going to Bouchercon 2012?

The folks at Bouchercon 2012 have asked me to mention the conference on my blog.  I don't have too much to say about it--it's my first Bouchercon, which is a conference of mystery and crime writers.  I'm looking forward to it.  Seems like the place to be for P.I. novelists.  And, it's in my home town of Cleveland!  Bouchercon: