2022 BCW Holiday Event is Dec. 3 (Part Deux)

For the second year in a row since (the plague whose name shall not be spoken), it’s on again: the BCW Holiday Event! At the same place (the Rusty Bucket at 180 Market Street, New Albany, OH)! At the same time (noon – 2:00 p.m., or thereabouts)! Saturday, Dec. 3! With the same people (us)! And since we’re slaves to tradition, we’ll be doing the same stuff, including the short story contest and book swap. Check out the itinerary below:

Vote for Board Members: It’s that time again. Note: You do not need to attend the holiday event to vote, but you must contact us prior to the event to count (feel free to reach us at buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com). And we’re always looking for volunteers so don’t be shy. If you have skills or just want to help out, we’re not as scary as we look.

Upcoming Events for 2023: We had 10 presentations in 2022, including a couple of actual in-person events. The others were Zoom presentations that included participating SIC chapters from around the country and abroad. It’s been crazy busy lately and we’re still working on 2023, but come find out what we’re looking into.

Story Contest: It’s on again, with prizes of dubious value awarded to the wieners. And in BCW, everybody’s a wiener. So you’re virtually guaranteed to win something . . . unless we get like a hundred people, in which case some prizes may be a hearty handshake accompanied with a resounding ‘attagurl/attaboy.’ But if interested, see details below.

Book Swap: Yeah, baby (said in a culturally stale Austin Powers voice). You know the drill by now; each person brings a wrapped book to be swapped with someone else. Note: This applies to all attendees (BCW members, friends, spouses, dates, children, people who wandered into the dining space looking for the bathroom, and those giving us a look-see for the first time). Once the books are distributed the ‘receivers’ will unwrap them, and the ‘givers’ will provide their reason for choosing that particular book (terrific characters, plot with a surprise twist, inspired writing, etc.). And the book swap will be accompanied, per usual, by the hilarious and confusing Right/Left story recitation, in memoriam to our own Carolyn Melvin, a.k.a. ‘Sweet Mama,’ who passed away this summer (and always handled the Right/Left storytelling at past BCW events). So be prepared to give a short summation of your gift, and to receive one in return.

Story Contest rules:

  • 100 words maximum.
  • Must involve the following 5 words: 1) mint, 2) pine, 3) wrap, 4) flake and 5) mug. All 5 words must be included in the story, although plurals and transmogrifications are accepted (e.g., ‘flakes’ and ‘snowflake’). Words may also be used as proper nouns, have more than one meaning, etc. (Be creative)!
  • Participants can be BCW members or anyone attending the holiday party. But you must attend the party to win a prize!
  • Extra points for holiday themes, but keep in mind what we write (mysteries, thrillers, suspense, etc.). Don’t be afraid to let out your inner Kay Scarpetta . . . bwahahaha!
  • Submit entries to buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com no later than midnight, Thursday, Dec. 1. Please include the name of the author. One entry per attendee, please. Top finishers will be presented at the holiday party Saturday, Dec. 3, with awards to be determined.

And there you go. Mark your calendars and start scribbling . . . the 2022 BCW Holiday Event is now official. Like they say on the monster truck commercials, ‘If you’re not there, you better be dead or in jail, and if you’re in jail, BREAK OUT.’ See you there!

Story Architecture: Strategies for Planning Before Writing

Tracee de Hahn

What a great session! Thanks to Tracee for a wonderful presentation. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here. The passcode is Lr@LB0%V

Join us via Zoom from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Nov. 12 as we learn from SinC National Board Member Tracee de Hahn.

Whether you are a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between, your book deserves a strategy. What is your springboard, and where do you want to end? We’ll talk strategy, without sending everyone into a plotter or pantser camp. 

Tracee writes the Agnes Lüthi mystery series set in Switzerland. Born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, she grew up in Kentucky. She currently lives in Virginia. Prior to writing fiction, Tracee began her career in the practice of architecture, using the need to see great buildings as an excuse to travel. After several years in Switzerland and receiving an advanced degree in European history, she turned her hand to the non-profit world, eventually running alumni relations for a west coast university.

Coming in October: The Business of Writing

Ray Wenck

You’ve written a book and gotten it published (traditionally or independent). Now what?

Join Ray Wenck as he talks about his journey and how he views the business of writing.

Writers should understand their reason for writing. If your goal is to profit from your writing, learn how to optimize your business to attain those goals using all of the tools available.

This will be our first in-person meeting in quite some time, and it’s going to be a good one. Please join us from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Old Worthington Library, 820 High Street, Worthington. There will also be a late lunch afterward to continue the conversation, should you so desire.

The cover of Ray’s latest release, Amazon Best Seller, “Fractured World,” is below.

Fractured World/Ray Wenck

On your mark, get Setting…

What a great program! In case you missed it, here’s the recording. The passcode is Y2bUyG#6

And here are some other helpful links that Connie shared:

The Urban Setting Thesaurus

The Rural Setting Thesaurus

Time and Date

Connie’s website

Every novel has a setting, but it’s often relegated to a minor role in favor of the real stars of the show — character and plot. But can an author make setting work harder and accomplish more?

Mystery writer Connie Berry would like you to think of setting in a new way. Join her for Buckeye Crime Writers’ presentation on The Power of Setting. We’re meeting virtually on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 11-12:30 p.m. Email buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com to RSVP!

Sad news from Buckeye Crime Writers

Our beloved co-founder and Board Member Emeritus Carolyn Melvin passed away on June 5, 2022. She will be remembered for her spirited right-left-right shenanigans at our holiday parties, her sense of humor, and her friendship. We are planning a gathering in early August to share fond memories.

Carolyn co-founded what was then known as Sisters in Crime Columbus Ohio in 2008 and served in all officer capacities during her tenure. 

You can read Carolyn’s obituary here. Carolyn Shaffer Melvin Obituary – The Columbus Dispatch. Memories can also be shared below via the comment section.

From Board member Connie Berry: Carolyn loved learning and attended as many classes and conferences as she could fit into her always-crowded schedule. Over the years, we roomed together at Malice Domestic, Crime Bake, Sleuthfest, and Killer Nashville. She was a great “den mother,” keeping me on track and headed in the right direction. I will always remember her intelligence, organizational skills, and calm confidence that things would probably work out fine in the end. I will miss her.

BCW Book Release Interview: Ray Wenck

Ray Wenck

Buckeye Crime Writers member Ray Wenck has published an astounding 13 books in the past two years. In addition, he’s experimenting with new vehicles in publishing, such as Amazon Vella. Eileen Curley Hammond caught up with him recently to get an update on what’s been going on in his writing career. Ray will be presenting in August, so keep an eye out for more details. Ray’s books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, and all your other favorite book sites.

ECH: That’s a lot of writing. Can you tell us some of your history? I believe at one point in time, you were traditionally published. What made you decide to go the independent route?

RW: I wasn’t given much choice. Just when my second novel, Random Survival, hit the top 20 on Amazon, the publisher announced it was going out of business. A second publisher saw the book’s potential and contracted the series. We rushed three more novels out before they too went out of business. Maybe it was my books. I was left with 13 titles that no one else would touch because they had already been published. To get them back on the market, I had to learn how to publish them myself.  

ECH: You also write multiple genres: mystery, thrillers, post-apocalyptic, and humorous YA adventures. What was the appeal of these different categories?

RW: I never started out to write multiple genres, at least not as many as I have. I started writing mysteries with the Danny Roth series. After writing four books, I had an idea for a new series, and Random Survival was born. There are now eight titles in the Danny Roth series, and with the latest release in May, seven in the Random Survival series. The other stories come to me from out of nowhere. They rattle around in my head for a while demanding to be let out. I write them and worry about the genre later. So now I have two paranormal stories, an urban fantasy series, and three different portal fantasies. It may not be the right thing to do, but I write them and figure out where they go later.

ECH: I saw from your bio that you are also a chef. Does food feature in your work? And have you ever thought of writing a cozy mystery?

RW: Food does feature in the Danny Roth series. He finds himself the owner of a restaurant that other people try to take from him.

I have thought about doing a cozy, and maybe one day will, but if I go too far into a story without killing someone, my body begins to shake like I’m in withdrawal. I lose consciousness, and when I come out of it, bodies are everywhere. (On the pages, of course. Well, except for that one time, but that’s another story). I did write one story where no one dies. I didn’t realize it until one of my Betas pointed it out, but so far, that’s as cozy as I’ve gotten.

ECH: Ha, ha. No worries, people get killed in cozies too! Would you like to share something from your most recent release, “Random Survival – A Life Worth Dying For“?

RW: I’m not sure where this series goes from here. Book six ended with a true ‘WTF did he just do moment’ from the reader’s standpoint. Though I dealt with the situation in book seven, the thought has entered my mind to end it or possibly take a break. The spin-off series, Random Survival The Road has taken off. Down the line, the two may meet, but that’s a distance away yet.

ECH: What’s next for Ray Wenck?

RW: Onward and upward. As long as I’m having fun, and readers still like what I’m doing, I’ll keep going. The direction isn’t always up to me at a conscious level. Subconsciously, I have a plan. It’s sometimes not revealed to me until much later. (Yeah, I know … weird.)

Though still writing, I spend a lot more time now on the business side. The books mean nothing if no one reads them. I’m working hard at finding new audiences.

Though apocalyptic works are more what I’m known for, my focus has been on writing a lot more mysteries. I released two books in the Bridgett Conroy series, a character I really like and plan to do much more with, and am writing a new one currently titled Buzz Kill, which I hope to release sometime later this year.

Book three of my fantasy trilogy is scheduled for October. Buzz Kill, maybe September. Stealing Death, another mystery, is set for August. Slicer, Book five in The Road series is set for June. If I can’t get an agent or publisher to bite on When the Cheering Stops, another mystery, I’ll release that possibly in July.

I have promised my readers book three in the Bridgett Conroy series this year, so I’ll have to make time for that at some point.

Now that I see this written out, it’s kind of daunting. I think I need to schedule a vacation. Who am I kidding? The voices in my head will never stand for that.

Random Survival: A Life Worth Dying For

Who you gonna call? Our next guest speaker, Dr. Nancy Tatarek!

Courtesy: Pixnio

UPDATE: What a great meeting! Here’s the link, in case you missed it or want to see it again. Passcode: 1XWQu0#E

UPDATE 2: Nancy talked about a documentary on the Battle of Towton, and some folks were interested in links. Here they are!

Battle of Towton
Wars of the Roses

Original post

A body is found at a wooded site, in a shallow grave by the river. Skeletal remains, no clothing. A hole is in the parietal part of the skull, and the bones could be anywhere from a couple years old to a couple hundred years old. Who are you going to call? The police? The property owner? Your mom? Ghostbusters?

One person you will definitely want to contact is a forensic anthropologist. Maybe that hole was from a bullet or a pickax. Maybe it happened after the person died. Or maybe it was the result of trepanning, a procedure practiced by past societies to remove evil spirits or pooled blood from a head wound. A forensic anthropologist is somebody who studies such things, and we have just the person: Nancy Tatarek, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Ohio University.

We had her as a guest speaker back in March of 2018, and she was such a hit that we’d made plans to have her back again. But then . . . COVID. However, we’re pleased to now announce her return appearance via Zoom. After all, teaching classes with names like ‘Bones, Blood & Violence,’ Nancy is our kind of people. Dr. Tatarek has assisted central Ohio law enforcement for several years, including a stint as the Consulting Forensic Anthropologist for the Franklin County Coroner’s Office. And on Saturday, 6/25/22, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (EST), you’ll be able to listen to her advice on what you may be doing wrong or what you could be doing better. A Zoom invitation will be sent to BCW members, and any Sisters in Crime chapter is invited to attend. We look forward to seeing you!

BCW Book Release Interview: Connie Berry

Connie Berry
Connie Berry

The Shadow of Memory, book four in Connie Berry’s exciting Kate Hamilton mystery series, releases on May 10. Eileen Curley Hammond tracked her down amidst the execution flurry associated with the launch. For where to find Connie, virtually and otherwise, click here: https://connieberry.com/events/.

ECH: Connie, I read on your website that Kate is planning her wedding to Tom. Has her soon-to-be mother-in-law come around, or is she still trying to thwart their plans?

Connie: No, Liz Mallory has not come around. If the wedding does take place and the rector asks, “if anyone has just cause,” etc., all eyes will definitely be on Tom’s mother. Actually, the “plans” for the wedding aren’t getting very far because Kate has yet to face the thorny problem of where the couple will live. She is perfectly happy to move to England. After all, her mother is now happily married, and her children have lives of their own. Even her antiques business rests in the capable hands of her best friend, Charlotte. But Kate has no intention of moving into Tom’s house in Saxby St. Clare. The lovely period farmhouse comes complete with a thatched roof, an inglenook fireplace, an Aga cooker, a beautiful garden, and a resident mother-in-law, Liz, who is still planning her overthrow. Liz can’t afford to buy a place of her own, and Tom isn’t going to put his mother out on the street, so this is a dilemma. How will it be resolved? That remains to be seen.

ECH: We know you love antiques; are there any special connections to ones you are featuring in this book?

Connie: Since my parents were dealers, I grew up with antiques — in our house as well as in the shop they owned. My father loved Chinese antiques and antiquities. My mother loved oil paintings. That’s why a recent article on art forgery caught my eye. In 2010, a gorgeous Frans Hals painting, “Portrait of a Man,” was sold by Sotheby’s to a collector in New York for $10 million. Subsequent scientific testing proved the painting was a forgery, connected to a French art collector, Giuliano Ruffini. Ruffini is connected to a least four other forged “old masters” as well: a Venus attributed to Lucas Cranach the Elder, a copy of a Pieter Bruegel, and now a painting of St. Jerome, attributed to the circle of Parmigianino. Dozens of other forgeries by the same unknown artist may hang in private collections and galleries around the world. The question that interested me is what would someone do to own such a painting, and what would someone do to conceal the fact that it is a fake?

ECH: The Shadow of Memory dips into Vivian Bunn’s past. What made you decide to center the book around a sixty-year-old mystery?

Connie: A theme in all the Kate books is the impact of the past on the present. In Vivian’s case, her past has returned to touch her here — and threaten her life. First, she is reminded of the few brief days she spent in 1963 with young Will Parker, now a retired criminal inspector found dead in the church graveyard in Long Barston. Since Parker had a paper with her name and address on it, it’s clear he had come to the village to see her. But why? Was he killed to prevent that meeting? But second, Vivian learns that the abandoned house they explored in 1963 held a deadly secret — if only she can remember what that secret was before she becomes the next victim.

ECH: Sounds fascinating. Would you care to share a preview?

Connie: Love to.

The Shadow of Memory/Connie Berry

Kate is back in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, contemplating her future (if she has one) with D. I. Tom Mallory. Meanwhile, Kate and her colleague Ivor Tweedy have been asked to auction off a fine collection of antiques at Netherfield Sanatorium, a former Victorian insane asylum on the Suffolk coast, currently being converted into luxury townhouses and flats. Among the antiques is a fifteenth-century painting attributed to the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate suspects the halls of the sanatorium housed more than priceless art.

Kate is surprised to learn Will Parker was her friend Vivian Bunn’s first boyfriend. They met in 1963 at a seaside holiday camp near the sanatorium when they, along with three other young teens, explored an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had been found dead under bizarre circumstances. Now, when a second member of that childhood gang dies unexpectedly, and then a third, it becomes clear the teens discovered more in that abandoned house than they realized.

What was the deadly secret they unwittingly found? When Kate makes a shocking connection between sixty-year-old murders and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she realizes that time is running out for Vivian — and anyone connected to her.

Coming in May: A noir panel!

Update: What a fantastic panel! Thanks to Andrew, Dan and Jacob for sharing their insights. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here. Passcode: v^0z0CQ&

Mark your calendar for Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST for a virtual meeting via Zoom. RSVP to buckeyecrimewriters@gmail.com.

Join panelists Jacob Klop and Buckeye Crime Writers’ members Dan Stout and Andrew Welsh-Huggins as they talk about their spin on noir, moderated by Eileen Curley Hammond.

Noir as a genre often eludes definition. For some, it conjures up flawed characters with a mysterious back story (and a questionable dame in the background), ranging from Humphrey Bogart as a hard-bitten detective in 1941’s “The Maltese Falcon” (based on Dashiell Hammet’s 1930 novel) all the way to the humorous “Guy Noir” of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show.  For others, it encompasses any dark or violent book or movie, such as the Mel Gibson film Payback based on the Donald Westlake Parker books. For still others, noir is what happens when characters make questionable decisions in misguided attempts to better themselves — think James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. A crime novelist Laura Lippman puts it, noir is ”When dreamers become schemers.”

Tackling the definition of noir old and new are three mystery writers who juggle their own versions of the genre. Andrew, author of the Andy Hayes private eye series featuring a former football star with the weight of the world on his shoulders, also shepherded several noir stories as editor of the Columbus Noir anthology. Dan writes a noir/fantasy mash-up in The Carter Archives series set in the fictional city of Titanshade, which follows a homicide detective (Detective Carter) and his non-human Mollenkampi partner. And Jacob Klop writes noir/science fiction with his book Rusted Lies, in which the detective is a genetically modified human with an estranged family.  

Among other topics up for discussion:

  • What is the definition of noir? Is it simply dark and violent, or do a character’s motivations come into play?
  • Which tenets of the noir genre do our panelists adhere to and how have they stretched the boundaries to fit their stories/worlds?
  • How did they decide on their protagonists’ backstories?
  • Their philosophies on the women in their stories.
  • How they keep their dialog true to noir.
  • And more.

If you’re a fan of noir no matter how it’s defined, or are considering writing in that style, you won’t want to miss this informative session.

Jacob Klop

Jacob Klop lives just outside Toronto, Canada, with his wife, two kids, and a friendly cat. An accountant by trade, Jacob has been writing in some form or other throughout most of his life. Jacob has three published novels: two stand-alones, and his latest, Rusted Lies, is the first in a planned series. Jacob has also released a horror anthology, Crooked Souls, and his work has appeared in several other anthologies. Jacob’s website: https://jacobklop.wixsite.com/home

Dan Stout

Dan Stout writes noir with a twist of magic and a disco chaser. His prize-winning fiction draws on his travels throughout Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim, as well as an employment history spanning everything from subpoena server to assistant well driller. Dan’s stories have appeared in publications such as “The Saturday Evening Post,” “Nature,” and “Mad Scientist Journal.” His most recent novel, Titan Song, is the third volume in The Carter Archives from DAW Books. Dan’s website: https://www.danstout.com/.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Andrew Welsh-Huggins, a reporter for the Associated Press, is the author of the Andy Hayes private eye series, featuring a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned investigator, and the editor of Columbus Noir. Andrew’s short fiction has appeared in “Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,” “Mystery Magazine,” “Mystery Tribune,” the anthology Next Time For Sure, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book, No Winners Here Tonight, is the definitive history of the death penalty in Ohio. Andrew’s standalone suspense thriller, The End Of The Road, arrives in 2023 from Mysterious Press. Andrew’s website: https://www.andrewwelshhuggins.com/.

Our next guest: Jodi Andes

Jodi Andes

If you missed it, never fear: Here’s the recording, for a limited time only!

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/BUpVm5UPuGC22Q8HVySnms9VQkXyvoGyJihSYihXm_R3sOGJNamwayLPjr6SKyv7.a3ZWbTE5UI5I1KRQ

(Use the passcode h1ZC$&a9 to access it.)

There are times when truth is stranger than fiction . . . and then there are times when truth makes what crime fiction writers do look like an IRS audit of a Girl Scout troop’s cookie-selling profits in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This is one of those times; meet John Donald Cody (a.k.a., Bobby Thompson), a globetrotting conman with a Harvard law degree who spoke three languages, once worked with military intelligence and eventually defrauded $100 million from U.S. veterans and others, via hundreds of fake I.D.s, disguises and political donations that got him influence and photos with several national political figures, including one U.S. president. 

With addresses in several states, Mexico and the Philippines, he was eventually caught, tried and convicted in Ohio in 2013, where he was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment in Ohio’s Mansfield Correctional Institute.  The prosecuting Attorney General Richard Cordray once referred to him as the ‘Bernie Madoff of charity scams.’

And someone who wrote a book on this ordeal will be BCW’s special guest in April: Jodi Andes. Jodi was a newspaper reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, became a licensed private investigator, worked on an investigative team for Columbus WBNS-10TV news, and was also a senior investigator for the Ohio Attorney General’s office on the John Donald Cody case. 

Her true-crime book “Master of Deceit” covers the background and investigation of the case, and Jodi has graciously offered to be our speaker for April 23, 2022, from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (EST). So if you’ve got a character who lies, cheats and steals, and you’re looking for more insight and details to really make them memorable (or you just need a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon), this meeting is for you. Looking forward to seeing you in April!