Tag: Mystery Writers of America

New Jersey and murder, perfect together

Join me this Sunday in conversation with my good friends Jack Getze and Jane Kelly at the Ocean City NJ library.mwaoc.



MWANY descends on Brooklyn

A few photos from the Brooklyn Book Festival


bbf11Sharon Linnea, Annamaria Alfieri, David Swatling, Dan Greenburg


Scott Adlerberg, Lyndsay Faye, Albert Ashforth

bbf6Joel Gomez-Dossi, Triss Stein, Bill Curatolo

bbf10Liz Zelvin, Sheila York, Alex Segura

bbf12Jeffrey Somers, Tracey Landau

bbf7Tim Hall, Charles Salzberg, Joseph Trigoboff, and, in the back, our fearless leader, Richie Narvaez

bbf9Jeff Markowitz, Lyndsay Faye


“I bet you my mouth is bigger than yours!”

Retrospect and Prospect

On Saturday, I caught a train into Manhattan for a brunch meeting with fellow members of the NY Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. MWA NY is not only a wonderful organization, but its members are among the nicest people I know. So, when I was asked to help out with an event this fall, I jumped in with both feet. More about that, later.

We were eating at the Salmagundi Club (I always feel like I should tip my hat to the hansom cab driver and exclaim, “To the Salmagundi Club, my good man”) and I was chatting with another author about the Pine Barrens. People are often surprised to learn of more than a million acres of pine forests and cranberry bogs located less than 100 miles from Manhattan. Sitting in the Salmagundi Club, on 5th Avenue, it was easy to understand why. But on Sunday, that’s exactly where I was, signing books at Lines on the Pines, an annual celebration of artists and authors in and of the Pine Barrens.

ImageThis week I plan to complete the edits on Death and White Diamonds. Then I have to prepare for my next event. On Saturday, March 22, I’ll be speaking to the Monmouth Writers Group, at the Howell Township Library. Here’s the blurb –

Developing Characters that Readers Care About

Action scenes may hook your readers, but it’s the characters that keep them coming back for more. The ability to develop characters that readers care about is an essential element of the fiction writer’s craft. No matter how compelling your plot, readers will not care about your story if they don’t make a connection with your characters. Mystery writer Jeff Markowitz will discuss and offer tips for developing characters that readers care about.

Jeff Markowitz is the author of the Cassie O’Malley Mysteries, an amateur sleuth mystery series set deep in
the NJ Pine Barrens. “You can usually find me at my computer at 5:30 in the morning,” he says, “plotting
someone’s murder.”  Jeff is a proud member of the Mystery Writers of America.

Usually, my life is not like this, but it was a lot like this, this week

We took the train into Manhattan Wednesday evening for my reading at KGB.  KGB is a great little bar, a second-floor walk-up in the East Village dedicated to whiskey and literature (and Soviet memorabilia).

ImageImageImageImageThere were eight of us scheduled to read on Wednesday night, all mystery writers, all members of the New York chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, a mixture of established and emerging writers, all talented writers with wonderful stories.   For me, it was an opportunity to “go public” with my work-in-progress, the black comedy Death and White Diamonds.  I finished the first draft of the manuscript less than a month ago and will be dealing for some time with edits, but it seemed the perfect opportunity to read a brief excerpt and get some feedback from mystery readers and writers.

ImageI introduced the excerpt as follows –

“I should probably tell you that Richie goes away for the week-end with his girlfriend Lorraine.  One thing leads to another an now she’s dead.  Richie is fairly certain that he didn’t kill his girlfriend, but his memory is a little hazy in spots.  The one thing he knows for sure is that when someone finds out that she’s dead, he’s going to be the prime suspect.  So he decides to dispose of the body.”

I really like Death and White Diamonds and I was anxious to find out whether an audience of mystery readers and writers would like it.  I was gratified to hear laughter from the very first sentence.  “Lorraine was still much too large to be used as bait, but the kitchen in the beach house was well-equipped.”

And then I jumped right into a scene where Richie turns his girlfriend into bait for a fishing expedition.  “In one end of the sausage maker, I fed Lorraine parts and from the other end the machine extruded ground Lorraine.”

Later, on the boat, Lorraine bait is packed into a chum cannon and “the next thing I knew, little bits of Lorraine were being sprayed out across the water, a graceful arc of ground Lorraine, shimmering in the late-morning sun.”

But there was still far too much Lorraine to dispose of on a fishing excursion.  “At this rate, it would take a month of such excursions to say good-bye to Lorraine.  I hate long goodbyes.”

And, if that weren’t problem enough, by the end of the excursion, Richie had two more dead bodies to deal with.  Richie was philosophical.  “My attempt to dispose of Lorraine had not gone according to plan.”

I left KGB late Wednesday night exhausted and gratified and perhaps just a little bit tipsy and in the ensuing twenty-four hours, sales on my other three books all spiked.

And that would be plenty to call it a good week (no, in truth, to call it a great week) but Thursday afternoon, I was back on the road, heading south to the Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville NJ.  The Noyes is a wonderful little museum bordering the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

ImageImageWe were there to compete in a chili cook-off to benefit the art museum.  I made a Raspberry-Chipotle Smoked Turkey Chili.

ImageI knew that I was taking a chance using four pints of fresh raspberries to make a pot of chili ( a very big pot to be sure, but  four pints of raspberries was still an unconventional ingredient).  Would people like the chili or would they be off-put by the raspberries?

ImageApparently, people liked it.  Here we are, in our team t-shirts (It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Chili) receiving the ceremonial bowl and spoon, as the People’s Choice Winner at the 2013 Chili Fest.

So in the last forty-eight hours someone called my new manuscript “hilarious” and someone else called my chili “divine.”  And I almost forgot.  I got an email last night that the new paperback edition of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Murder should be available in time for Christmas.

Usually my life is not like this.

If things go according to plan (and we know from Richie’s experience they often don’t) I intend to do absolutely nothing for a couple of days.

Mark your calendars

October is going to be busy, but I want to draw your attention to two particular events coming up later this month that should be a lot of fun.

On Wednesday evening October 23, I’ll be in NYC for the Mystery Writers of America (New York Chapter) Reading Series at KGB Bar.  I will be one of eight mystery writers reading at the bar on 4th Street in the East Village.   I plan to read an excerpt from my just-completed manuscript, a stand-alone mystery with the working title, Death and White Diamonds.   It will be the first public event for the new book (which will be released sometime in 2014).

And then the very next night, Thursday evening October 24, I’ll be in Smithville, NJ competing in a Chili Cook-Off to benefit the Noyes Museum of Art.  Last year, my Smoked Pork-Black Bean Chili took third place.  This year, I’ll be back with a Raspberry Chipotle, Smoked Turkey Chili and I’m gunning for the gold.


It is perhaps, a cliche, this thing about writers and whiskey, but there is something very special about doing a reading in a bar.

Until now, my favorite reading was at The Apple Barrel, on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, back in 2009.  But I think that’s going to change because I have arranged a reading this fall at KGB Bar.

“In the years since it opened in 1993, KGB has become something of a New York literary institution. Writers hooked up in the publishing world read here with pleasure and without pay to an adoring public over drinks almost every Sunday evening (fiction), Monday evening (poetry), and most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The crowd loves it. Admission is free, drinks are cheap and strong, and the level of excellence is such that KGB has been named best literary venue in New York City by New York Magazine, the Village Voice, and everyone else who bestows these awards of recognition.” (kgb bar)

So you will understand how very pleased I am to have been selected to read at KGB this fall.  It’s still four months off, but on Wednesday evening, October 23, I will be one of several MWA (Mystery Writers of America) members who will be reading at KGB.  Located in a second-floor walk-up in the East Village, KGB Bar is the preeminent literary bar in NYC.


I’ve added a page of Events and Appearances with information about this and other upcoming book events.  All of the events are going to be fun, but if you can only get to one, this is the one to put on your calendar.

I’ll be easy to recognize.  I’ll be the one sipping Scotch.