The Marshal of the Borgo

Check out my new story in Mystery Weekly!

mystery weekly-feb 2019.jpg

Hey! Long time no…anything. But that changes today. You can check a new short story of mine, called “The Vulnerable Rind,” in the February 2019 issue of Mystery Weekly. The hard-copy issue hits newsstands today, February 1, and digital issues are already available.

"The Vulnerable Rind" is set in Rome, Italy. A young Italian carabinieri officer launches an unofficial investigation into a series of trivial break-ins at a small cheesemonger's shop in Rome, with troubling results. If you know my work, the cop in question is none other than Matteo Scarpone, who appeared in my novel, The Marshal of the Borgo and a short story entitled “Bloody Signorina,” which was a Derringer Award finalist way back in 2013. It’s nice to see that character in print again.

Mystery Weekly is a lovely magazine published out of Canada. You can buy digital issues via the Kindle Newsstand, and print copies via Amazon. You can also snag digital copies via Google Play, the App Store, or direct from their website here. If you want to check out my story, make sure you are downloading the February issue shown here.

Submissions stats: I finished this story sometime in September 2017, but it never found a home until Mystery Weekly bought it in December 2018. They took only 6 days to say yes, and the story is appearing about one month from acceptance. Payment was $60.

Yes, I will someday release an e-book version of of the story, which I’ll offer free to readers on my list. If you’d rather wait for the free copy, please join my e-newsletter.

My story in the July-Aug 2015 issue of AHMM

Look for my short story “Scintilla” in the July/August 2015 double issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (AHMM). The hard-copy issue hits newsstands next Tuesday, May 26, but digital issues are (mostly) available this week.

I consider "Scintilla" to be one of my Italian stories, even though it doesn't feature the detective I introduced in The Marshal of the Borgo. I was trying to duplicate the experience of reading foreign-language mystery stories that had been translated into English. As typically happens with me these days, the story ended up being a paranormal/crime hybrid. I'm kind of surprised AHMM took it, but they sometimes like weird stuff.

You can download a single digital issue via AmazonBarnes & NobleApple iTunesMagzterKobo, and Google Play. Just make sure you are downloading the July/August issue shown above.

Submissions stats: I finished this story sometime in November 2013. I submitted it to AHMM in November 2013, and didn’t hear from them until they bought it in July 2014, eight months later. So it’s appearing ten months after acceptance, seventeen months since writing and submission. Payment was $276, plus an additional $69 prepayment for the right to republish in a future AHMM anthology. That came to a total of $345, or about 7 cents a word.

If you are a fan of the old Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout, you might want to a grab a copy of this issue. It's the annual AHMM that features the winner of the Black Orchid Novella Contest, a competition that challenges writers to emulate the style of the old Wolfe books and short stories.

Yes, I will eventually release an e-book version of "Scintilla," which I’ll offer free to people on my list. If you’d rather wait for the free copy, please join my e-newsletter.

For Your Bouchercon Consideration

The Bouchercon ballots went out Saturday, and it occurs to me that I ought to mention which works of mine are eligible for the Anthony Awards. And yes, I feel icky announcing this to the world, but I’ve seen other authors do it, so why not work with me here for a sec?

Three of my 2014 pieces are eligible for the short story category:

  • "Harm and Hammer," October 2014, Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine - This is the crime story of a lonely young woman who obsessively teaches herself how to play a blacksmith's anvil as a musical instrument, with tragic results.
  • "How Lil’ Jimmie Beat the Big C," May 12, 2014, Shotgun Honey - This is the piece about the incarcerated cancer patient that was just chosen as a Derringer finalist this past weekend. Profanity alert.
  • “Nighthawks,"  April 2014, Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine - My crime story that tries to explain what’s going on in the classic Edward Hopper painting of the same same.

You’ll find free PDFs of all these stories at this link.

Theoretically my novel, THE MARSHAL OF THE BORGO, should be eligible for the novel or paperback original categories because it pubbed in 2014, but it’s self-pubbed; Anthony Award rules are vague on the matter. If anyone knows for certain if it’s eligible, kindly let me know.

For that matter, if you have a story, book, nonfiction/critical work that is elegible this year, kindly leave a comment below or shoot me a note via my contact page, if you prefer to be more discreet. A handful of us authors from the Asheville area are all going to the conference, and we’re looking for great books and stories to nominate. Help us do our job.

There. I’m done. That wasn’t so bad, now, was it?

The Marshal of the Borgo now on sale

It’s a long story, but when we were first married Denise and I lived overseas in Italy, where she worked covering soccer for sports organizations like ESPN. We first lived in Rome, then moved to a small town an hour north. The countryside was exactly what the travel magazines depict: olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye could see, and quaint thousand-year-old villages filled with fascinating characters.

One day, as we were talking with one of our neighbors, he cautioned us about thinking we had landed in paradise. “The town isn’t exactly squeaky-clean,” he said. “Some of our kids have died of drug overdoses. Mostly heroin. That’s why we just got a new marshal. He’s supposed to clean up the town.”

In small towns of this size, the police function was performed by the carabinieri, Italy’s colorfully dressed paramilitary force. The word marshal in their tongue is maresciallo (MAH-ray-SHAH-lo).

Needless to say, our neighbor’s news came as a shock, but in due time I began imagining a story around these meager facts. The result is The Marshal of the Borgo, the book I’m releasing today. I set out to write a mystery novel, but things took a turn toward the weird and paranormal, just as they did with The Mesmerist. The result is a blend of two or three genres.The book is now available on Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Smashwords. (Kobo coming soon.) I hope you enjoy it.

Here’s the pitch for the book:

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THE MARSHAL OF THE BORGO: Matteo Scarpone is a man more sinned against than sinning. Once a cool-headed logician and the pride of Rome’s carabinieri, he’s devastated when disaster rocks his world. He’s a lost man: Beaten. Shaken. HAUNTED.

Shunned as an embarrassment, he is exiled to a tiny village in the sticks—a hamlet, a burg, a borgo. But in this land of vineyards and olive groves, life is far from idyllic. Murder, witchcraft and hate taint the soil once tread by the Etruscans. Now the young captain must unravel a series of murders that pit him against a cynical evil and force him to use a power that he has long denied.

The Marshal of the Borgo follows in the tradition of Italian mysteries by Magdalen Nabb, Andrea Camilleri, and Donna Leon—but with a powerful twist.

Part whodunit, part ghost story, The Marshal of the Borgo makes for a very unusual paranormal mystery by a recent Derringer Award finalist.

Italian detective Matteo Scarpone first appeared in a short story in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

Available:

Amazon (US) ebook & paperback

Amazon (UK) ebook & paperback

iPad

Nook

Smashwords

 

"Bloody Signorina" in Hitchcock's!

Look for my short story in Hitchcock’s Mystery Mag!   I have a short story in the September 2013 issue of  Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (AHMM) , on newsstands now. Can’t believe I got a cover mention!  Truth is, I’m a little surprised how this story, “Bloody Signorina,” turned out. I’d call it an experiment. It doesn’t sound like my voice at all. It sounds like me pretending to be Jane Austen, an Italian Jane Austen, or something. Anyway, check it out and let me know. The detective who makes a brief appearance in this short goes on to bigger and more horrifying things in my next book,  The Marshal of the Borgo.  More on that book soon, I hope.  You can find a hard copy version of   AHMM   wherever magazines are sold. (My local B&N tends to carry it.) Failing that, in a few days you can download a single digital issue via  Amazon ,  Barnes & Noble ,  Apple iTunes ,  Zinio ,  Magzter ,  Sony , and  Google Play . Just make sure you are downloading the September 2013 issue.  (BTW: I’ve been reading and downloading these magazines via the Magzter app on my iPad, and it’s been great. Good customer service, too. Highly recommended.)  * * *  Speaking of magazines, my  piece for Plots With Guns  got a  little mention on a blog by Andy Henion , who is always “searching for the perfect sentence.” I hope the other sentences in the story added up to something equally enjoyable!

Look for my short story in Hitchcock’s Mystery Mag!

I have a short story in the September 2013 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (AHMM), on newsstands now. Can’t believe I got a cover mention!

Truth is, I’m a little surprised how this story, “Bloody Signorina,” turned out. I’d call it an experiment. It doesn’t sound like my voice at all. It sounds like me pretending to be Jane Austen, an Italian Jane Austen, or something. Anyway, check it out and let me know. The detective who makes a brief appearance in this short goes on to bigger and more horrifying things in my next book, The Marshal of the Borgo. More on that book soon, I hope.

You can find a hard copy version of AHMM wherever magazines are sold. (My local B&N tends to carry it.) Failing that, in a few days you can download a single digital issue via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Zinio, Magzter, Sony, and Google Play. Just make sure you are downloading the September 2013 issue.

(BTW: I’ve been reading and downloading these magazines via the Magzter app on my iPad, and it’s been great. Good customer service, too. Highly recommended.)

* * *

Speaking of magazines, my piece for Plots With Guns got a little mention on a blog by Andy Henion, who is always “searching for the perfect sentence.” I hope the other sentences in the story added up to something equally enjoyable!

Cover reveal: The Marshal of the Borgo

Here’s the cover of one of my next books. Hope to get it out before the end of the year. It will feature a character that will first appear in a short story of mine next year in  Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.   The book’s an urban fantasy. (Some would even call it a paranormal whodunnit — a mash-up of a straight mystery with elements of witchcraft and ghosts.)  As always if anyone would like to review the book,  contact me  and I’ll send you a free copy when I’m ready to release it. I don’t ask for anything more than an honest review.  Here’s the pitch:   ***    In an ancient chapel in an ancient land, an old woman screeches a warning:    “Beware the touch of Job—he’s cursed!”   Matteo Scarpone is a man more sinned against than sinning.  Once a cool-headed logician and the pride of Rome’s carabinieri, he’s devastated when disaster rocks his world.  He is a lost man. Beaten. Shaken.   HAUNTED.   Shunned as an embarrassment, he is exiled to a tiny village in the sticks—a hamlet, a burg, a  borgo .  But in this land of vineyards and olive groves, life is far from idyllic. Murder, witchcraft and hate taint the soil once tread by the Etruscans.  Now the young captain must unravel a series of murders that pit him against a cynical evil and force him to use a power   —A GIFT    — A CURSE   that he has long denied.  * * *   THE MARSHAL OF THE BORGO   A full-length urban fantasy by the author of   The Mesmerist.    Cover by   Jeroen ten Berge

Here’s the cover of one of my next books. Hope to get it out before the end of the year. It will feature a character that will first appear in a short story of mine next year in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

The book’s an urban fantasy. (Some would even call it a paranormal whodunnit — a mash-up of a straight mystery with elements of witchcraft and ghosts.)

As always if anyone would like to review the book, contact me and I’ll send you a free copy when I’m ready to release it. I don’t ask for anything more than an honest review.

Here’s the pitch:

***

In an ancient chapel in an ancient land, an old woman screeches a warning:

“Beware the touch of Job—he’s cursed!”

Matteo Scarpone is a man more sinned against than sinning.

Once a cool-headed logician and the pride of Rome’s carabinieri, he’s devastated when disaster rocks his world.

He is a lost man. Beaten. Shaken.

HAUNTED.

Shunned as an embarrassment, he is exiled to a tiny village in the sticks—a hamlet, a burg, a borgo.

But in this land of vineyards and olive groves, life is far from idyllic. Murder, witchcraft and hate taint the soil once tread by the Etruscans.

Now the young captain must unravel a series of murders that pit him against a cynical evil and force him to use a power

—A GIFT

— A CURSE

that he has long denied.

* * *

THE MARSHAL OF THE BORGO

A full-length urban fantasy by the author of The Mesmerist.

Cover by Jeroen ten Berge

I don't get you, you leaf-obsessed monkeys!

This time of year gets me thinking about seasonal buying patterns. We live in a tourist town and I notice that tourists drop off in September and return in force in October. It’s as if the shock of the school year is just too much for mom and dad. They need to completely withdraw from public life for a month to deal with making lunch, getting kids up, and getting them hooked on extracurricular activities. But then, what? They get four weeks under their belts and they’re out in force at the drop of the first leaf?

How does that impact books sales? Damned if I know.

I use Novelrank to track my sales across the board, saving my Novelrank RSS to Google Reader. So now I know what Amazon is selling of mine almost to the hour, or whenever Novelrank updates. It’s sobering. I didn’t used to check my ebook sales everyday because they’ve been so piss-poor. Now I see their sales (or rather the lack of them) every time I log into Google Reader. I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

But it is interesting to see the fluctuations. Certain books sell well on weekends; others Tuesdays. I know that the secret hand of Amazon weighs heavily in this equation but it’s still fascinating to behold. My ebooks were up in September, my trad books down. The reverse is the case for October.

What the hell are you people doing?

Did you surf and buy ebooks during your September hibernation but you saved your dollars for impulse buys of “real” books in October? Are teachers suddenly figuring out that they need stuff for class in October as opposed to September? Is that why they bought my math and picture books in droves in October but not in September?

I don’t know.

One thing we discovered when we do book signings is how easy it is to trigger people to buy. Seriously, it’s easier to sell six books than it is to sell one. No one wants to buy when no one’s at your table. But if you’ve got three people hovering around the table, you are likely to get three more people come over. Once one person asks you to sign a book, five others want you to do the same.

Granted, I don’t think this is a universally human impulse, but I do think it’s universally American. Americans must be the most easily triggered buyers on the planet. They want whatever everyone else is buying. Amazon’s figured that out. I’ll bet a lot of business owners never do.

Also in October:

* I’ve been working on two ghostwriting books this month. Both have reached the copy-edited stage and we’ve seen covers from the publishers. The clients seem happy, if a little nervous. Everyone always gets nervous at this point in the process, when they realize that their words are going to be read by the world. There’s an instinct to retrench, to delete what might be construed as inflammatory.

* I’ve finished a second draft of The Marshal of the Borgo. Happy with it but still tinkering with the voice. I set it aside to deal with my work-work projects, work on a couple of short pieces, and fine-tune a collection I hope to publish before the end of the year. 

* Discovered I can read mags on my phone. Not optimal, but it beats reading them on my B/W Kindle.

* Denise got her galleys and her ARCs this month for The Girls of Atomic City. The galleys go to long-lead magazines, the nicer ARCs will be sent to booksellers and used for giveaways.

Ghosting while ghosting

I’m waiting on edits on two books I’m ghosting for other people, so I’m using the lull to get a good first draft together of my new novel, “The Marshal of the Borgo.”

The book’s set in an unnamed nation that’s suspiciously very much like Italy. “Borgo” is Italian for burg, as in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Clevesburg. The anglicized version of the word is borough. Americans also use that term. I grew up in a town in New Jersey that used the abbreviation boro on their official stationery and town seal.

Until this week, I was having trouble describing the book’s genre. Then I ran across this post by mystery writer Elizabeth Zelvin, who talks about the stigma of introducing elements of magic into otherwise straight mysteries. She describes a recent short she did of this type as a “paranormal whodunit.” I’ve never heard the term before, but Google tells me that it certainly is out there.

I don’t know if I’m writing one these books yet. I’ll see how it turns out. I do know that I’m playing straight with the murder investigation in the book. It’s just that the detective has some unresolved issues in his past that can only be dealt with via the paranormal route. You might well ask, “Why can’t you just drop that magic crap and give us a straight mystery?”

Two answers to that: One is, the book doesn’t want to be a straight mystery. The second is, straight mysteries just don’t interest me much anymore. 

More later as I sort this out.

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News:

* My short short story, “Even,” should be running Monday on Shotgun Honey, barring last-minute schedule changes. I’ll post a link when I have it. I hope you’ll check it out.

* The domain of this website is now officially daggyland.com. Your RSS feeds will continue to work, no problem, because it’s still a Tumblr blog under the skin. If you’re a stickler, you might want to save the new address to your reader: feed://daggyland.com/rss