ANTHOLOGY GUEST POST FEATURE – Fatally Haunted
DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to SHANNON MUIR’S THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF by one of the authors from the FATALLY HAUNTED anthology. The website administrator is a member of the board of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles, and is donating this opportunity for publicity. No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.
About the Book
Haunted. This word lurks within our deepest emotions. It’s a fear we can’t let go of, or that won’t let go of us. It’s a place we dream of going, or a place we can never leave. An LAPD detective is haunted by the case she never solved. A Century City financial advisor is haunted by the greed he cannot escape. A bridge is haunted by ghosts of despair.
In a city of 10 million people, the haunted could be the man waiting to cross the street, or the memory that keeps you awake at night.
Fatally Haunted, a Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles anthology, includes original stories by Julie G. Beers, Julia Bricklin, Roger Cannon, Tony Chiarchiaro, Lisa Ciarfella, Cyndra Gernet, B. J. Graf, Mark Hague, A. P. Jamison, Micheal Kelly, Alison McMahan, Peter Sexton, Gobind Tanaka, and Jennifer Younger.
Edited by Rachel Howzell Hall, Sheila Lowe, and Laurie Stevens.
How to Purchase
Get it at independent bookstores like Vroman’s and Mysterious Galaxy, or from other major booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Also, be sure to check with your own local bookseller, as they may be able to stock it or order it for you!
Guest Post by Author A.P. Jamison
I had the great fortune to attend The LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 13th just as the Sisters In Crime’s latest anthology – Fatally Haunted – had been released. My scheduled time to sign books for the new Anthology coincided with Shannon’s time slot. We hit it off immediately and now here I am writing this guest blog.
They say that life is linked together by happy memories and I have to say that Saturday was a very joyous day indeed. I was seeing my short story: Death of the Hollywood Sign Girl as well as 13 other amazing stories, in print for the first time ever.
Many mystery readers stopped by our booth and purchased the Anthology and for that we are all very grateful. But what I learned that day, aside from getting there early and bringing good cookies I didn’t bake, was the secret writing passion many of the readers had…
Not only did they love a great mystery, but they too dreamed of becoming a published author. So if you are among them, this blog is for you too!
As I have said before, I have been laboring over my first novel for, let’s just say, longer than it takes to birth five African bush elephants. But the game changer for me was the encouragement I received when I finally decided to put on the old, awkward, ill-fitting bathing suit framed in my head, take a plunge in the ice cold writing waters and craft a short story for the Sisters In Crime anthology’s contest.
So if you are passionate about becoming a writer and the idea of a novel is just daunting because it IS, then I encourage you to take a smaller bite of the story pie by writing a short story.
Remember, it is much easier to do a 100-piece puzzle than a 1000-piece one.
The rules for many of the short story contests are usually simple:
- The story usually needs to be written in New Roman’s 12-point font.
- The word count is usually around 5000 words and that is on average about 15-20 pages.
- The story should have a murder.
- The story should have a solution to the murder.
- The story should have an awesome twist.
Now why is the limited word count so helpful?
First, writing 20 pages versus 300 or 400, which is the average length of a murder mystery novel, is one big reason. It’s harder to get lost in your plot or structure in just 10-20 pages. The light comes sooner at the end of a 20-page story tunnel than it does a 500 page one.
Second, the capped word count also requires a writer to learn to edit. Yes, edit. Words become precious and we want to be precise in every single sentence we craft, but sometimes writers become attached to a word or a phrase or a sentence – yes, it is perfect prose – that doesn’t support the story.
We fall in love with these sentences or words or phrases and don’t want anyone to touch them, much less delete them, but by having to murder a few darlings, okay it can be a word or sentence slaughterhouse, you might be finally able to see the dear diamonds that now make the page shine.
My friend, John McMahon, whose first novel, The Good Detective, just came out to a near perfect rave review in The New York Times Book Review said, “A short is simply a character study with a big twist and a little murder.”
So I start with a “what if”: What if and then think of a cool twist.
For example: What if a detective was hired to protect a woman from being murdered and it turns out that she is the actual killer.
For Death of the Hollywood Sign Girl, I thought, what if a young man is fatally haunted by a story he remembers while hanging off of the “H” of the Hollywood Sign. Yes, that H.
Now for you future writers out there or for you writers that are feeling overwhelmed by your novel to the point where you just want to use it to build a big beautiful bonfire, I strongly encourage you to try tackling a short story.
Come with a great idea; develop a cool character, and think of a terrific twist. Then beat out the scenes and write a draft…I know this sounds so easy but it isn’t, so read a few short stories to get the idea, study their structure and then give it a try. If you want support, there are online classes and books to help you get started.
Just remember you build a story word by word. And you can’t edit what you haven’t written.
I was recently asked what is the biggest difference between the short and the novel, and I said simply, “It takes fewer pages to finish the story.”
Yes, I can hear you from here telling me all of your valid excuses – BUT you can do this!
Finally, I can tell you sitting at the Sisters in Crime table and seeing my story in print for the first time was a thrill that will never go away… and I would like for you to experience that same joy.
Life is short, so what are you waiting for?
About A.P. Jamison
A.P Jamison, a former banker, received her MFA from Columbia University in 2013. She is currently completing her first novel – a mystery set in an investment banking training program during the crazy cocaine and cash-fueled 80s where working on Wall Street really could be murder…
About Sisters in Crime
Sisters in Crime is an organization with chapters throughout the United States made up of women and men dedicated to “promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers” in the field. You can learn more about the National chapter at https://www.sistersincrime.org
Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles is one of the largest local chapters in the organization, with only the New England chapter being larger as of the time this went to press. You can find out which organization is closest to you from the National site above. Learn more about the Los Angeles chapter at http://www.sistersincrimela.com