More on Publishing during COVID-19: updated

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As New York’s Indie Bookstores Close Their Doors, They Search for Community Online

Big-hearted strangers turn Little Free Libraries into Little Free Pantries.

Bookshop.org to share 30 percent of each purchase with bookstores impacted by coronavirus shutdowns.

All Powell’s Locations Temporarily Closed:

“When we closed our doors, we also closed off the vast majority of our business without any prospect of it returning soon. As a result, we have been forced to make the unthinkable decision to lay off the vast majority of you in the coming few days. Many people have spoken publicly demanding we pay our employees and extend health insurance for the duration. No one can possibly know how much I wish I could make that happen. We are simply not that kind of business – we run on duct tape and twine on a daily basis, every day trading funds from one pocket to patch the hole in another. We have worked hard over the years to pay the best possible wages, health care and benefits, to make contributions to our community, to support other non-profits. Unfortunately, none of those choices leave extra money on hand when the doors close. And when the doors close, every possible cost must stop as well.”

March 2020

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Pardon the slide into politics, but… British man found guilty of trying to steal Magna Carta. Guess he needed the Senate behind him…

And photos of a library to make you drool: Inside the ‘Vibrant Intellectual Ecosystem’ of Larry McMurtry’s Home Library:Bibliostyle_McMurty-p112_B-1

See our old stomping grounds in a photo from 1880 – Cherry Street in the snow

      Serious Stuff

Nambi Narayanan: The fake spy scandal that blew up a rocket scientist’s career 

The art heists that shook the world – in pictures

Police suspected a crime lab technician of murder. Their mistake led him to hang himself, his widow says.

CIA and German intelligence controlled global encryption company for decades, says report

Corruption, Inc.: Andrea Bernstein on the Trumps, the Kushners, and the Age of the Oligarchs

After a night at the cinema in 1986, Olof Palme was assassinated on Stockholm’s busiest street. The killer has never been found. Jan Stocklassa discusses whether novelist Stieg Larsson’s theory can provide any answers. 

Authors Guild releases grim 50-page report on “The Profession of the Author in the 21st Century”

Opening a Pandora’s box of truths about rape kits 

Two teens held on manslaughter charges in deadly California library fire

Did Medgar Evers’ Killer Go Free Because of Jury Tampering? 

Piled Bodies, Overflowing Morgues: Inside America’s Autopsy Crisis

      Words of the Month

ekphrastic: of poetry, words to describe a work of art.    (thanks to Says You!, show 2101)

      Awards

John Le Carre’s acceptance speech upon receiving the Olaf Palme (take the time to read this, it is worth it!)

Nominees for the 2020 Barry Awards have been announced. You can find them here. We don’t recall if they’ve done this before but, at the bottom, are the nominees for Best of the Decade.

Here’s the longlist for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. 

Announcing the finalists for the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize. 

The L.A. Times announces its 2019 Book Prize finalists and a new award for science fiction.

      Words of the Month

griffonage: illegible handwriting     (thanks to Says You!, show 2101)

       Author Events

March 4: John Straley, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

March 6, John Straley, Powell’s, 7pm

March 6: J.P. Gritton, Third Place/Ravenna, 7pm

March 7: Phillip Margolin, Third Place/Ravenna, 6pm

March 8: Michael Christie, Powell’s, 7:30pm

March 12: Anne Bishop, Powell’s, 7pm

March 13: Emily Beyda, Powell’s, 7:30

March 14: Phillip Margolin, Everett Public Library, 2pm

March 16: Anne Bishop & Patricia Briggs, UBooks, 6:30pm

March 17: Matt Ruff, Elliott Bay, 7pm

March 17: Phillip Margolin, Powell’s, 7pm

March 19: Matt Ruff, Powell’s, 7:30pm

March 23: Jason Pintor, Third Place/Ravenna, 7pm

March 24: Matt Ruff, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

      Book Stuff

New Nancy Drew comic celebrates beloved sleuth’s 90th birthday by killing her

Carl Hiaasen: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics


Review: Sam Wasson takes a deep dive into Chinatown

And a sample from the book: How Raymond Chandler and the Tate-LaBianca Murders Inspired the Making of Chinatown

See JB’s section for his review of the book


The Belgrade Book Collection That Survived War, Fascism, and Neglect. One family has kept it going—and growing—since 1720.

Taking Maigret’s first case in for questioning 

‘No Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition or Mumbo Jumbo’: Dorothy L Sayers and the Detection Club 

Patti Smith pitches in to help burgled Oregon bookshop 

Everyone Can Be a Book Reviewer. Should They Be?

New women’s fiction prize to address ‘gender imbalance’ in North America 

How not to separate your church from your state: Tennessee seeks to make Bible “state book.”

NYC Books Through Bars explains how you can support prison books projects—or start your own 

Printing Novels in the Gulag: How Soviet prisoners turned to 19th century detective fiction to while away the long hours.

Georges Simenon’s remarkable novel manages to make its loathsome protagonist compelling company 

Sophie Hannah on the recipe for a perfect crime novel – books podcast

Heroic Librarians: Unexpected Roles and Amazing Feats of Librarianship 

The Great Los Angeles Crime Novel—And the Women Who Are Revitalizing It 

The strange quest to crack the Voynich code

Not a Cult, a new bookstore in Los Angeles, puts authors of color at the forefront. 

The Books Briefing: A Study in Sleuthing 

Spanish-language newsstand, a 1940s Boyle Heights gem, braces for the end

Who Should Decide What Books Are Allowed In Prison?

Jane Goodall’s next book, ‘The Book of Hope,’ to be released in fall 2021  

The Life and Work of C.W. Grafton: Crime Novelist, Lawyer, and Father to a Mystery Icon

The Cozy Mysteries of the Pacific Northwest

Take a walking tour of Seattle’s liveliest literary neighborhood: Pike Place Market

      Other Forms of Fun

Jodie Foster Set To Direct Drama On 1911 Theft Of Mona Lisa; Los Angeles Media Fund-Backed Film

“Back To The Future” is being rebooted – on stage, not on screen

‘Friends’ to reunite for one-off special

The artistic wizard who brought Oz to life

Tom and Jerry: 80 years of cat v mouse 

Doc Savage: Man of Bronze – Classic Pulp Hero Headed to Television 

These Famous Noirs and Mysteries Were Inspired by Real-Life Crimes 

Juries and Judgement in Hollywood Cinema

Perry Mason returns to TV later this year


Counting Down the Greatest Crime Films of All-Time

Mystery power house Otto Penzler gives his list of the 106 best crime films. You may have quibbles of his rankings as we did (The Fugitive is #54 yet Bullitt is #98?!?) but it’s a fun and informative list. Click on each title to get the skinny!


      Words of the Month

foe (n):  Old English gefea, gefa “foe, enemy, adversary in a blood feud” (the prefix denotes “mutuality”), from adjective fah “at feud, hostile,” also “guilty, criminal,” from Proto-Germanic *faihaz (source also of Old High German fehan “to hate,” Gothic faih “deception”), perhaps from the same Proto-Indo-European source that yielded Sanskrit pisunah “malicious,” picacah “demon;” Lithuanian piktas “wicked, angry,” peikti “to blame.” Weaker sense of “adversary” is first recorded c. 1600. (etymonline.com)

       Links of Interest

January 30: Agatha Christie’s Greatest Mystery Was Left Unsolved

January 31: New Clue May Be the Key to Cracking CIA Sculpture’s Final Puzzling Passage

February 3: The Oxford Professor Who Kept Tabs on His Student—Who Turned Out To Be a Conman ~ The (Mostly Unknowable) Life of a Fraud

February 3: Amazon knows more than just what books I’ve read and when – it knows which parts of them I liked the most

February 4: Never Do That to a Book ~ Sure, you love books. But is it courtly love or carnal love?

February 5: My Uncle, The Librarian-Spy ~ In 1943, a Harvard librarian was quietly recruited by the OSS to save the scattered books of Europe. 

February 7: Why Avocados Attract Interest Of Mexican Drug Cartels

February 9: Identification 95 Years After Ship’s Disappearance Puts Mystery To Rest

February 10: Whitechapel mural will celebrate the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims

February 10: Stolen Art, Nazis, and the Eternal Search for Justice

February 11: How the Earliest Crime Scene Investigators Identified Murder Victims

February 12: ‘Trust your dog’: extraordinary pets help solve crimes by finding bodies

February 13: Objects Made by Prisoners in the United States

February 13: Rebels of Black History: The Life and Legend of Madam Stephanie St. Clair

February 14: Bookshop burglary foiled after prosecco distracts raiders

February 14: The Legend of a Cave and the Traces of the Underground Railroad in Ohio

February 14: How a Trashed Italian Manuscript Got Sewn Into a Sweet Silk Purse

February 14: The Lancashire hideaway of an Italian mafia boss

February 14: In 1933, two rebellious women bought a home in Virginia’s woods. Then the CIA moved in.

February 17: Facial Recognition Technology Is the New Rogues’ Gallery

February 18: The Best James Bond Themes that Never Made it to the Screen

February 18: PenguinRandomHouse Makes Progress in Green Initiatives

February 18: Neanderthal ‘skeleton’ is first found in a decade

February 19: Compassion fatigue is taking its toll on librarians.

February 19: How to Murder Harry Potter ~ In “deathfic,” writers of fan fiction find unexpected comfort in killing off their favorite popular characters.

February 19: Date night couple foil attempted armed robbery

February 19: The NYT Spelling Bee Gives Me L-I-F-E by Laura Lippman

February 20: How a stolen safe changed a burglar’s life

February 21: Romulus mystery: Experts divided on ‘tomb of Rome’s founding father’

February 21: Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson once beat a murder charge by translating some Latin.

February 23: Brockport book shop makes plea to customers and community

February 24: People v. Gillette: How an Obscure Execution in the Finger Lakes Inspired Generations of Storytellers

February 25: France rock riddle contest gives meaning to mysterious inscription

February 25: The unbelievable history of con artists ~ The neuroscience of why we believe hucksters has made fraud a steady business over the centuries.

February 26: The Best Gifts for Writers, According to Writers (From John Waters to Jeremy O. Harris)

February 27: Don’t Pick Your Nose, 15th-Century Manners Book Warns

      R.I.P.

Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103 on February 5th. There will have been a yuge number of articles about him, his life, career, and personality. They’ll have written about Sparticus and on and on. We’d like to narrow our view to one timeless, classic performance – badman Whit in Jacques Tourneur’s 1947 film noir masterpiece Out of the Past. Along with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, the triangle at heart of this clash of love and power is the epitome of noir. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and see it. ~ JB

February 8: Robert Conrad died at 84. We remember him for his 1959 TV show “Hawaiian Eye” and, with “West, James West”, bringing James Bond to “The Wild, Wild West” in 1965. Great theme song, great opening credits, great train full of gadgets.

February 13: Charles ‘Chuckie’ O’Brien, who called himself Jimmy Hoffa’s ‘foster son,’ dies at 86

February 18: True Grit author Charles Portis dies aged 86

February 19: The Computer Scientist Responsible for Cut, Copy, and Paste, Has Passed Away

February 20: Frank Anderson, former CIA spymaster in the Middle East, dies at 77

February 23: Walter Satterthwait, dead at 73

February 24: Katherine Johnson: Nasa mathematician dies at 101

February 26: Creator of New York City subway map Michael Hertz dies

February 26: Clive Cussler: Dirk Pitt novels author dies aged 88

       Words of the Month

fustigate (v.)”to cudgel, to beat,” 1650s, back-formation from Fustication (1560s) or from Latin fusticatus, past participle of fusticare “to cudgel” (to death), from fustis “cudgel, club, staff, stick of wood,” of unknown origin. De Vaan writes that “The most obvious connection would be with Latin -futare” “to beat,” but there are evolutionary difficulties.

       What We’ve Been Up To

   Amber

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Finder of Lost Things

I’m working furiously and I’m nearly finished writing Season Two of Finder of Lost Things! Then comes editing and photography so I’m hoping it will be out in the next month or two! I’ll keep you guys posted.

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Golden In Death – J.D. Robb

I’m not going to go into a synopsis of the mystery as this is quite literally the fiftieth installment in the ‘In Death’ series.

Suffice to say there’s a murder in New York and Eve’s on the case.

Despite hitting this landmark installment number, don’t look for this book to get mired in nostalgia for Eve and her crew. Golden In Death is a very mystery-centric story uncluttered by unnecessary parties, conflicts, and dramas (aside from the whole murder thing). All of our favorites Mavis, Leonardo, Trina, and Nadine (and her new rocker boyfriend), Peabody’s family – are all included – but in a nebulous and natural fashion. Giving us just a glimpse of what they’re up too, without losing the momentum of the case at hand.

Even better? The standard boilerplate descriptions of Eve and Roake have been rejiggered and reworked, so they feel fresher to the well-indoctrinated eyes of Eve Dallas fans!

I really enjoyed this book. The mystery is one that I found interesting and relevant to this milestone installment. (Which, truth be told, is the real reason why I didn’t write a synopsis – as I did not want to spoil a single twist in this book!) I thoroughly enjoyed reading each page and stayed up well past my bedtime in order to finish it – as once again – I couldn’t help myself.

BTW – if you haven’t started this series yet, because you’re intimidated by the sheer length and breadth of it, never fear. You can start with this book and be just fine. Though if you want to avoid spoilers and giveaways, I’d suggest going back, after finishing Golden In Death and start with Naked In Death. I know there’s a lot of books in between these two – but having read them all already – you have at least two hours* of fun ahead of you!

(*Which is only a rough estimate as I’ve no clue how long it would take to read this series – and I love you guys – but I’m not going to time myself to find out!)

   Fran

Truly Devious

And the mystery is solved! Do you know who did it?

We first met Stevie Bell in Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious, where we learned about the famous Ellingham Academy – what would you be accepted for? – and the troubles that happened there back in the 30’s. Stevie’s determined to solve the mystery of whatever happened to young Alice Ellingham, but trouble besets her in her current life.

In The Vanishing Stair, things get even more complicated. Stevie’s not even supposed to come back to Ellingham, but fate conspires in her favor. Still, now she has more mysteries to unravel.

Finally, in The Hand on the Wall, Stevie figures things out. But what’s the price? And does she really see a moose?

In this trilogy, Maureen Johnson has created a fabulous homage to the Golden Age mystery writers, especially Agatha Christie, but she’s put a decidedly modern twist on it, and it works perfectly. And of course the Dorothy Parker style poem adds flair! But it takes a special talent to combine the subtle clues and genteelly labyrinthine story with modern day complexities, and there’s no one quite like Maureen Johnson, who takes on this challenge and not only makes it work, but keeps it riveting and thought-provoking.

These are considered young-adult novels, but trust me, you don’t need to be a tween to enjoy this trilogy, and I promise you that you will!

   JB

My love of Chandler, my adoration of Chinatown, 9781250301826and my interest in history and true crime smash together in San Wasson’s The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood

The basics of the book are the story of the movie – the initial conception, the years of work to get it in filmable shape, filming, and its reception. But the book is jammed with so much more.

The story told contains the sense of LA at the time, the impact of the Manson murders on LA and Hollywood, where the various participants came from, and how they came together to make this remarkable movie. It then tells the story of the movie making and how each participant moved on from there. And, really, how this was the height of a creative period in Hollywood that was supplanted by the era of the blockbuster and the takeover of the studios by money people interested more in return than film making, than in “art”.

Overall, this is a melancholy book, itself a story that ends badly, like all noir must. There are Robert Towne’s battles to get the thing written and then seeing it overtaken by Polanski. There are Polanski’s experience of horrors – the loss of his mother in Auschwitz and the murder of his wife. There are Robert Evans’ battles with those above him who wanted something different, something better, out of the movies he was producing. There was Nicholson who was dealing with personal nightmares throughout the period and whose dream of a fabled trilogy of Gittes films never came to pass.

But it is a story of lightning in a bottle. That all of these figures came together at this time and managed to create this singular movie is a demonstration of the odds against such a thing happening at all.

Wasson’s book is  well crafted and informative, and never fails to surprise and never fails to show the entire period with all of its faults, ugliness, astonishments, and creativity. And, like all true noir, no one leaves the story unmarred. In the end, we are all left with a stunning work of art, a movie that shows what can emerge out of human minds, out of human suffering.

 

Buy Local ~ Support Local

Let’s Play A Game!

Okay, here we go. Are you ready?

I’m going to list a series of authors, and you have to match them to the titles of the short story they wrote. The only clue you get is that it all revolves around the band Steely Dan. The anthology is called Die Behind the Wheel, and it was edited by Brian Thornton.

Here we go:

David Corbett                                            Black Cow

Nick Feldman                                             Dirty Work

Bill Fitzhugh                                               Do You Have a Dark Spot on Your Past?

Linda Joffe Hull                                         Green Earrings

R. T. Lawton                                                Haitian Divorce

Cornelia Read                                            Harley Quinn is Dead

Stacy Robinson                                          Home at Last

David Schlosser                                         Josie

Brian Thornton                                         On Your Knees Tomorrow

Sam Wiebe                                                  Pretzel Logic

Simon Wood                                               Show Biz Kids

James W. Ziskin                                         Your Gold Teeth

Plus there’s a forward and an introduction, which you really should read, although no one will blame you for jumping into the stories. And let’s face it, the music of Steely Dan just screams crime story, doesn’t it?

Except – and there will be another quiz later on – there’s a second anthology that deals with science fiction topics – A Beast Without A Name, again edited by the wonderful Brian Thornton. Wanna cheat on that one? Buy it now, and then you can smirk at knowing all the answers before the quiz!

And I don’t wanna hear the only refrain, “But I don’t like short stories.” You’ll like these, pinky swear!

SPECTRE: the battle never ends

Did Amazon Throttle My Sales After I Criticized Them in the New York Times?

Danny Caine on the Transparency and Responsibility of the World’s Largest Bookstore

and, by

In Amazon’s Bookstore, No Second Chances for the Third Reich

The retailer once said it would sell “the good, the bad and the ugly.” Now it has banished objectionable volumes — and agreed to erasing the swastikas from a photo book about a Nazi takeover.

From the UK:

Concerns over safety at Amazon warehouses as accident reports rise.

Why Amazon Knows So Much About You

On “Frontline”:

“Amazon Empire” is PBS’ frightening look at Jeff Bezos’ relentless capitalist success story


 

To read through our earlier posts on SPECTRE from our old blog, click on that link. The posts started on June 22, 2011 and went to June 21, 2017. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the tiny arrow to move backward through the earlier posts.

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Hello, Booksellers!

Booksellers! Apply for an International Bookselling Fellowship

See the World Through Bookselling Without Borders

Bookselling Without Borders is a global partnership of independent publishers that supports travel to international book fairs and residencies for booksellers. It is currently accepting applications for 2020 fellowships.

BWB connects booksellers to the international book community through all-expenses-paid trips to the world’s premier book fairs. This year, the program is expanding to include the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair and the Bogotá International Book Fair, in addition to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Turin Book Fair, and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Participating booksellers will be treated to customized itineraries of specially developed panels, meetings, seminars, and receptions with publishers, authors, and other booksellers.

Booksellers interested in diverse and international literature and in fostering relationships with the international literary community are encouraged to apply. The application period ends February 16.

See the article in Lithub for the full story and details!

The Queen of Suspense

Mary Higgins Clark died on the evening of the last day of January, too late to be included in our February newzletter. But that’s ok. She deserves her own post.

Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins was born on Christmas Eve, 1927, in The Bronx. Her father owned an Irish pub and things got tighter as the Depression ground on. Things got far harder when her father died in his sleep when she was 12.

She began writing stories in grammar school and was encourage by the adults around her. She submitted her first story to a magazine at 16. It was rejected. Her first job was as a secretary but she was known for her beauty as well and did modeling – once with a young Grace Kelly. She was recommended to Pan Am and took the job as flight attendant because it paid more than modeling. She was introduced to Warren Clark at the night of her farewell dinner before she took off. She had known of him and he was immediately smitten with her and told her they’d marry in a year. She flew international routes for 1949 but did give it up to marry Clark two days after her 22 birthday.

She went back to writing to occupy herself, she studied at NYU, joined a writer’s group and learned to look through the newspapers for ideas. Finally, in 1956, after 40 rejections in 6 years, she sold a story to a magazine. In that time she also had 4 children and, after that first story sold, she began to regularly sell her fiction.

Starting in 1959, Warren Clark began to have health problems. A series of heart attacks left him unable to work by 1964. To be able to support the six of them, Mary asked a friend to get her work writing scripts for radio. On the day she was given her first job, her husband suffered a fatal heart attack. Her mother-in-law, upon finding him dead, herself dropped dead.

She kept writing though the short story market had nearly vanished. She kept writing for the radio. She turned her radio scripts – about George and Martha Washington – into a novel. It sold for a very modest amount and was, as she later joked, immediately remaindered. Soon after it was published, her own mother died. She kept working. She kept pressing her children to work at their education to ensure their financial health. She decided to show them by example. In 1971 she entered Fordham and, in 1979, graduated  summa cum laude with a BA in philosophy.

This was a woman who could not be stopped.th

Through more heartache and death and school, she kept writing and, finally, in the Spring of ’74, Simon & Schuster bought her novel Where are the Children? for $3,000. Three months later the paperback rights sold for $100,000. Her financial worries were over. Two years later, her second novel sold for $1.5 million.

We’re not even going to try to list her novels or even count them. There are the novels, the short fiction, the Holiday stories. And then there were the accolades. From wikipedia:

“Higgins Clark won numerous awards for her writing. In addition to those previously referenced, she won the Horatio Alger Award (1997) and the Passionists’ Ethics in Literature Award (2002), as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University Spirit of Achievement Award (1994) and the National Arts Club‘s Gold Medal in Education (1994). She was awarded eighteen honorary doctorates, including one from her alma mater, Fordham University. Her success was also recognized by groups representing her heritage. The American Irish Historical Society granted her the Gold Medal of Honor in 1993, and in 2001 she won the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. She was named a Bronx Legend (1999).[52]

Mary Higgins Clark served as the Chairman of the International Crime Congress in 1988 and was the 1987 president of the Mystery Writers of America. For many years she served on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America. Simon & Schuster, which have published all of Higgins Clark’s novels and in the late 1990s signed her to a $64-million, four-book contract,[30] have funded the Mary Higgins Clark Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America to authors of suspense fiction.[3][55] The announcement that an award would be given in her honor was made at the 55th Annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards, where Higgins Clark was inducted as a Grand Master.[55]

Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, and was honored as a Dame of Malta and a Dame of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.[30] The Franciscan Friars gave her a Graymoor Award (1999) and she was awarded a Christopher Life Achievement Award. She served as a board member for the Catholic Communal Fund and as a member of the Board of Governors at Hackensack Hospital.[56]

Higgins Clark was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in March 2011.[57]

In 1981, by happenstance, she was in DC the day President Reagan was shot. Again, from wikipedia,Because she had a press pass she was able to join the media waiting to hear the President’s prognosis. When the doctor finally arrived to start the press conference, Higgins Clark was one of the few people chosen to ask a question.[9]”

In 1996, she married John J. Conheeney, a retired CEO from the financial industry, and they lived in a number of homes her books afforded her to own. She died at one of them in Naples, FL. She was 92

Her website gives more details, as well as a number of videos.

Alas, she was one of the authors we never had the honor of hosting for a signing. We did get to have her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, back in the early 2000s.

R.I.P. Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Conheeney

 

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