Who loves late August? Anyone? It's hot and sticky, the best holidays are either long past or months in the future, and every movie at the cineplex sucks (because any half-way decent ones came out in May, June, and July). On top of all that, late August is the Sunday evening of summer. You know -- the time when it begins to sink in that the fun's almost over and real life's about to kick in again and the next summer/Friday night is far, far away. My birthday's August 17, so I could never whole-heartedly enjoy it as a kid. A birthday party one week meant getting dragged off to the mall for the JC Penny back-to-school sale the next. (There was only one thing I hated more than back-to-school sales, and that was going back to school.)
Case in point: I have a story in a cool new anthology that's out this week. Though it's called Kwik Krimes, it doesn't revolve around the murder of a chocolate milk-loving rabbit. Instead, the theme is brevity. Editor Otto Penzler has rounded up 81 crime stories, all of them under 1,000 words long. I'm proud that my story "A.K.A." made the cut, especially in the light of the company I'm keeping. Other contributors include the great Ed Gorman, the wonderful Reed Farrel Coleman, the fabulous Lyndsay Faye, the legendary Loren Estleman, the equally legendary Joe Lansdale, the perhaps-not-legendary-but-just-give-him-time David Corbett, the classy Rhys Bowen, the beloved Bill Crider, and the Tyler Diltsian Tyler Dilts. (I'm afraid Tyler's one of the contributors I don't know well. But now I -- and you -- have a fun new way to get to know them all!)
More good news: The Crime City Central podcast is conducting a poll to determine the best story of its first year, and I've got a horse in the race. My story "Fred Menace, Commie for Hire" was read on the podcast last October, and now it's one of five finalists for the "Best Of" nod. The competition is stiff -- I'm up against stories by the prolific Dave Zeltserman, the talented Beth Groundwater, the just-as-legendary-as-Loren-Estleman-and-Joe-Lansdale Lawrence Block, and the mysterious Ellen Kuhfeld. (I say Ellen's "mysterious" because I'm not familiar with her and I chose not to Google her. I didn't want to spoil the mystery.) If you feel like voting in the poll -- you know, for whichever story you like best, cough cough -- go here. (And if you want to sample some of the other readings of my stories that are available for free online, you could always go here, here, or here.)
And a final bit of good news, though it's hardly a surprise: Quirk Books just sent me a copy of Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab, the middle-grade mystery I've written with "Science Bob" Pflugfelder, and it's a thing of beauty. Quirk's books always look great, but they've topped themselves this time. It's the coolest-looking thing I've ever been lucky enough to have my name on. Alas, y'all won't be able to get your hands on it until November 5, but that's O.K. By then, you'll no doubt be deep in your annual post-Halloween doldrums, and a new book from moi will be just the thing to get you through to Thanksgiving.
UPDATE: This morning my late August got even less back-to-school glum thanks to the invaluable Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts. Jen just gave the audio book version of Dear Mr. Holmes, my Holmes on the Range short-story collection, a great review. You can read it here.
Wow -- all this good news has me feeling mid-December cheerful!