Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Society Members' News

The following members sent in publication news this month:
  • John M. Floyd, “North by Northeast”, Woman's World #22 (May 30, 2016)
  • Barb Goffman, "Stepmonster", Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press, April 2016)
    • "The Best-Laid Plans", Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional (Wildside Press, April 2016)
  • Vy Kava, "Mama", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (July/August 2016)
  • Deborah Lacy, "A Christmas Miracle", Mystery Weekly Magazine (July 1, 2016)
  • B.V. Lawson, "And Down We Go", Blood on the Bayou Bouchercon 2016 Anthology (Down & Out Books, September 2016)
  • Terrie Farley Moran, Read to Death (Berkley, July 2016)
  • Alan Orloff, "The Last Loose End", Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (July/August 2016)
  • Josh Pachter, Discover a New Author ebook collecting four EQMM stories (Wildside Press)
  • Jacqueline Seewald, "The White Stag", New Legends: Castle, Caster, Creature (Visual Adjectives, May 2016)
  • Mary Sutton, "Three Rivers Voodoo", Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon 2016 Anthology (Down & Out Books, September 2016)
    • "The Far End of Nowhere", Fish Out of Water: The Fourth Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)

Email news for next month's post to incoming SMFS president Kevin R. Tipple (KEVINRTIPPLE at VERIZON dot NET).

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Society Celebrates 20 Years: Jim Doherty

In the first week of April 1996, the members of shortmystery-l-digest voted to become the Short Mystery Fiction Society, with goals of better representing mystery & crime short stories in the public eye.

In honor of the Society's establishment and our twenty years increasing publication and regard for the form, President Jan Christensen has invited members' reflections on joining the Society and why they've remained members and fans of the form.

From Jim Doherty:


This genre we all love, crime fiction, comes in many forms, but the most important, historically, and, arguably, the most perfect artistically, is the form this organization celebrates, the short story.

Historically, the importance of short mystery fiction is beyond dispute. It was, after all, introduced in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by the literary figure who was, perhaps, the staunchest advocate of short fiction in the history of prose, Edgar Allan Poe.
And in that story, and in two sequels featuring the same lead character, C. Auguste Dupin, "The Mystery of Marie Roget" and "The Purloined Letter," and in two non-series tales, "Thou Art the Man" and "The Gold Bug." Poe worked in almost every variation on crime fiction possible.

The series detective, the narrating sidekick, the gifted amateur sleuth outdoing the official police, the Macguffin/quest object, the master criminal who’s the hero’s arch-foe, the fictionalization of a real-life case, the least suspected person turning out to be the villain, the courtroom thriller, the use of codes, all of these and more in just five stories, all of them short, all of them readable in a single sitting. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would later note that Poe, in those five stories had, "...covered [detective fiction's] limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own."

And of those who came after, look how many, even if they wrote novels, seemed to specialize in short fiction. So many of the great fictional detectives who came after Dupin, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (particularly in his early years), Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op, Michael Gilbert's Patrick Petrella, Lawrence G. Blochman’s Dr. Daniel Coffee (fiction's first forensic pathologist), Jacques Futrelle's the Thinking Machine, and every series character created by Edward D. Hoch, all appeared, primarily or exclusively, in short fiction.

And even those detectives best known for their appearances in full-length novels, Raymond Chandler's Phil Marlow, Ed McBain's 87th Precinct, Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter, Ian Fleming's James Bond, or Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn, all made short story appearances.

As for the perfection of the form, that's clear just from the concision that makes the modifier "short" necessary. The brevity, unity, and clarity possible in the short form give it the potential for an impact that is simply not possible in a novel.

Don't get me wrong. I love novels. But even a shortish novel, something between 40,000 and 70,000 words long, will be discursive, and perfection of style can never be achieved, total satisfaction with the finished product never be reached. As someone else (I don’t recall who, at the moment) once said, short stories can be finished, but novels are abandoned.

And given his arguments in favor of short stories over novels, one wonders how Poe would feel about the most famous award given in the genre he created, the award that's actually named for him, has no less than six categories for novels, but only one for short stories (two if one counts the Bob Fish Award, which really isn't an Edgar).

And since short mysteries are important, it follows that SMFS is important. It keeps the short story at the forefront of attention in the mystery world. It awards writers of short stories in several different lengths because we know that it takes a different set of muscles to write a short-short or a flash, than it does to write a novelette.

It also uses current communications technology to form an organization that anyone with an email address can join without paying costly dues. That's the kind of ingenuity we expect from short story writers.

And all of these are just a few of the reasons I'm proud to have served as an SMFS officer. I've been in "lurk mode" for some time (major drama at my day job, and even more in my private life, not the place to go into details), but I'm still getting the digest every day, and still seeing what;s going on with you all. I imagine I will for as long as SMFS and I both continue to exist.

Career law enforcement officer Jim Doherty served as SMFS vice president 2008–10. Also a member of Mystery Writers of America, Jim has published several short stories and articles on the mystery genre.

To join our twentieth year celebration, email your reflection to Gerald So (G_SO at YAHOO dot COM).

SMFS Members among 2016 Macavity Award Nominees

The Macavity Awards are nominated and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends and supporters of MRI. Awards will be presented at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in New Orleans, LA at the opening ceremonies September 15.

Nominated for Best Short Story are SMFS members Megan Abbott (“The Little Men”, Road); Barb Goffman (“A Year Without Santa Claus”, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January/February 2015); Travis Richardson (“Quack and Dwight”, Jewish Noir, PM Press), B.K. Stevens (“A Joy Forever”, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, March 2015); and Loren D. Estleman, 2013 recipient of the SMFS's Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer (“Sob Sister”, Detroit Is Our Beat: Tales of the Four Horsemen, Tyrus).

In addition, nominated for Best First Mystery are the SMFS's Chris Holm (The Killing Kind) and Art Taylor (On the Road with Del & Louise).

Congratulations and good luck to all.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

SMFS Members among 2016 Shamus Award Nominees

Via Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare, the Private Eye Writers of America's 2016 Shamus Award nominees include the SMFS's Robert S. Levinson for Best Private Eye Short Story ("The Dead Detective") and O'Neil De Noux for Best Private Eye Paperback Original (The Long Cold).

The winners will be announced at the Shamus Banquet during Bouchercon 2016 (September 15–18). Congratulations and good luck to all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

2017 Candidate for Derringer Awards Coordinator - Dan Persinger

As far as my "vision" for the Coordinator job, I have none beyond my well-known advocacy of including self-published works in the competition. Apart from trying to put that to bed one way or the other by year's end, before the next Derringer cycle begins, I see the Derringer Coordinator's job, certainly during the competition, as mainly a secretarial one that I'm sure I (and a lot of other folks hereabouts) can handle in a capable and reliable manner.

Dan Persinger