Behind the Short Story: “First Rodeo”

If you were around a century or so ago, and you knew him well, you might call him Bill. On a legal document, William Sidney Porter. If you read any of his 300+ published stories, you knew him by his pen name: O. Henry. The name now commands a prestigious short story award, but more than anything, his work effectively trademarked a device: The twist ending, the literary tie that binds. When you or I try it, the reader calls it an O. Henry twist.

I don’t set out to write twist endings, although it is known to happen. I go for resonance, a finish that hopefully keep the reader’s creative chords humming. With “First Rodeo” I started Continue reading Behind the Short Story: “First Rodeo”

Taxes Can Be Murder: A Giveaway

Taxes Can Be Murder

Update, 4/17: Congrats to  Round One winner Mary Lou Holhouser. Terrie and I had such fun we’re giving away a second double-dose on Tuesday, April 21! Keep the comments here and on Facebook coming.

Two authors.

Two signed issues.

One tough tax deadline.

One killer magazine.

Your chance to win “Taxes Can Be Murder.”

Rewind: so it’s February, the run-up to Murder in the Magic City / Murder on the Menu. It’s my great fortune to land on a speaker’s panel with supercalifragerrific–and Agatha nominatedTerrie Farley Moran. She emails me a hello, says tell me about yourself. I say hey, I have a story coming out in Alfred Hitchcock, and she says hey, me too, and we both say hey, whaddaya know.

Fast forward: Terrie says fate decrees we should do a joint giveaway, what with back-to-back appearances, and I say “Does Wetumpka have a crater?” She says it’s tax time and you’ve crunched a number or two, let’s make it a tax theme. I’m on that idea like boxes on a 1040.

And here we are, wanting to share our stories and plenty of other great work — this is Alfred Hitchcock, after all — with you. Want in? All you have to do is find me on Facebook, and you’re entered to win one signed copy of AHMM’s April 2015 issue with her brilliant “On Target” and the May humor issue with yours truly’s “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson.”

The particulars on entering:

1) This is free stuff. Seriously. Just message me at Robert Mangeot Author or post on my wall. Maybe you say how much you’d like to win, how much you’ve enjoyed our stuff or how cool AHMM is, or toss us a fresh cocktail idea. Anything socially acceptable.

2) Look, Terrie is lovely and wouldn’t mind hearing from you, and you should totally buy her books, but if you message her then you’re not entered to win. She’s the busy novelist. I’ve got the entry-keeping. We’ll do the drawings together, on that you have the word of two crime fiction writers.

3) No immediate family is eligible to win. Please come on by, but not this time, folks.

4) The winner will be drawn Thursday April 17, 2015, at or around 8pm EDT / 7pm CDT. We’ll send the winner a Facebook message and ask for the details on shipping to you.

Terrie and I sincerely hope you jump in with a message. Your interest in our stuff is an absolute honor, something the IRS will never ever say to you, but unlike them, Taxes Can Be Murder doesn’t come with an extension. File now!

Behind the Short Story: “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson”

Fleur de lisViolet Celucci is a better angel and an inner demon. A frigging genius is how Vi might describe herself, a bastion of sanity in a disorderly world, a process improvement-seeking missile. An over-obsessed stickler for efficiency is how she’d never describe herself. Sorry, Vi. The truth hurts, and so can life. Tough as you are, I see the breaks in your armor.

I can write Vi because over the years I’ve worked with my share of consultants and industrial engineers. You know the folks I mean: big-brained and unapologetic process nerds committed to life by timetable. And we need those folks. Process folks dream up boxes that fit our mail-orders just so; they reduce plant emissions and build supertankers; they took our rover to Mars. This month Vi took my story “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson” into Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine’s May 2015 humor edition. The company she and I are keeping there is humbling.

AHM515-finalcoverOkay, I can also write Vi’s craving for order among chaos because some days, at some level, it is also my own. 

We have a Venn diagram overlap, she might say.

Vi sprung from a high-caliber question: what if those big-brained engineers lived every livelong moment the way they worked their flowcharts and daily operating reports? How they shopped, for example, or how they cooked, how they sought–or didn’t–friends and lovers. Surely in the end that kind of quest would make life more difficult. Extra balls juggled, needless battles fought, friends and family distanced. That’s Vi. Her obsession demands she take the hard road to make it more efficient next time. And it might work, if immovable reality ever played along. Continue reading Behind the Short Story: “Two Bad Hamiltons and a Hirsute Jackson”