Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Good Times

Make new friends, But keep the old. One is silver and the other gold. **classsic Girl Scout campfire song (for all you classic Girl Scouts)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I found myself humming that today and thought--Huh? And then I realized I was mourning the demise of--no. I wasn't. I was celebrating the life of the fabulous Lipstick Chronicles, knowing I'll miss my blog sisters and all the wonderful people I chatted there with there every day. But we here at Jungle Red invite you for coffee with us, too, if you'd be interested!

You can see who the Reds are in the photo above. And the reds blog works like this: The Reds take turns being in charge for a week, picking the topic, picking the guests, generally trying to outdo each other. Monday, we're all here for a chat--tomorrow's topic, chosen by Jan, is our worst holiday presnet ever. Tuedsay is often True Crime--the wackiest, the starngest, the most poignant--or writing true crime, or being in crime, or whatever. We're flexible. Wednesday is often special guest day. Thursday is Red's choice, and Friday we're all often back to chat, or talk about books or just--whatever. Saturday and Sunday we leave as suprises! We have contests, and gifts, and advice, and generally compare, contrast, communicate, and...sometimes...complain. As our headline says--it's The View--with bodies.

So welcome Tarts! It was my week last week, and I chose a theme: TIME. This weekend we're welcoming two auhors you might know! Yesterday, our own dear William Brendan DuBois. Talking about The Good Times. Which, we, hope, will continue.
By Brendan DuBois

As all writers know, there are always surprises along the way during one’s career. Sometimes the surprises are good, like an unexpected fan letter or a crowded bookstore during a signing. Sometimes the surprises are not-so-good, like books that never get bought, workdays that bring up two or three pages of sludge, and agents that don’t return your phone calls.

And sometimes, the surprises can brighten up your whole day, week or month, like when you get a letter with a return address of Otto Penzler, Mysterious Bookshop owner, editor and raconteur, saying one of your short stories has been selected to appear in his highly-regarded “Best American Mystery Short Stories of the Year” anthology, published by Houghton-Mifflin.

Wow. So this surprise happened to me earlier this year, and I was thrilled to see my short story, “Ride Along,” appear in this year’s edition, co-edited by Harlan Coben.

So how did this blessed event occur? Well, first you have to write a short story, and in this case, I decided last year to write a story about a woman going along on a “ride along,” i.e., a civilian accompanying a police officer while he’s on patrol.

I’ve literally gone on dozens of ride alongs over the years, starting first as a newspaper reporter, and then later, going with a brother of mine who has had a distinguished career as a police officer (he’s now a deputy police chief in a major New Hampshire city). Riding with a police officer is certainly an eye-opening experience and thrilling experience, especially when an urgent call comes in from dispatch and the lights and siren go on, and you get a cool rush, knowing that all those cars and trucks up ahead are pulling over to let you go by!

Your also get to see parts of your hometown that you either don’t know or ignore. Like late night bars that usually produce a bloody fight or two. Or the street corner that attracts drug dealers. Or the crowded low-rent apartment buildings that can be relied upon to have a domestic disturbance or a loud party.

Along the years of doing ride alongs, I also learned a few helpful tips. Cops tend to brake and accelerate in burst of energy, so taking a motion-sickness pill prior to going out is a good idea. Always, always wear your seatbelt, and when you’re going a hundred miles an hour down a narrow city road, just close your eyes and trust in your officer’s experience. And bring along a water bottle; it’s surprising how dehydrated you get while riding in a police car with a handcuffed suspect or two in the back seat.

For all the times when the cop you’re with is pulling over a suspected drunk driver, or responding to a burglary call, or entering a home for a report of a domestic disturbance, there’s also long minutes of drudgery, when the police radio is silent, the streets are empty, and there’s just endless driving around, listening to late night AM radio to stay awake.

Yet no matter what happens, doing a ride along is a fertile area for stories, which is how I came about to write “Ride Along.” It takes place in the fictional city of Cooper, Massachusetts, and features freelance reporter Erica Kramer, going along with veteran police officer Roland Piper. Driving down these mean urban streets, the young reporter clashes with the cynical police officer over various issues, and then there’s a sudden and brutal crime. But who’s the victim? And who’s the criminal, and who --- if anyone --- is innocent?

It was a fun story to write --- made more so by writing as a woman in the first person --- and when it was completed, it was time to send it out. I have a fairly strict protocol when it comes to submitting my mystery fiction. The first market it goes out to is “Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine,” since that’s where I made my first professional sale in --- cough, cough --- 1985. If turned down, then it goes to EQMM’s sister publication, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.”

As chance would have it (and proving again that editors are telling the truth when they say a particular story doesn’t meets its needs), both EQMM and AHMM rejected “Ride Along.” So off it went again, to Andrew Gulli at “The Strand” magazine, who promptly purchased it. And even with scores of sales under my belt, it’s always a delight to sell a new piece of fiction.

And with this delight, a few months later came the fantastic news that Otto Penzler and Harlan Coben had chosen it for the “Year’s Best” anthology.

Pretty cool. But what makes it even sweeter (besides getting paid twice for the same story, hah-hah) was that even after two rejections and eventual publication, it was picked to be named one of the best, out of hundreds of stories published that year.

A good feeling, a good surprise, and nice reaffirmation that maybe you know what you’re doing after all.


Brendan DuBois of New Hampshire is the award-winning author of twelve novels and more than 100 short stories, including his latest book, “Deadly Cove.” His short fiction has appeared in Playboy, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and numerous other magazines and anthologies including “The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century,” published in 2000 by Houghton-Mifflin. His short stories have twice won him the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and have also earned him three Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations from the Mystery Writers of America. Visit his website at


  1. Good for you, Brendan! Congratulations!

  2. congrats Brendan! love hearing the story behind the story!

    And yes we'd love love love to have coffee with the fans of The Lipstick Chronicles. So sorry to hear they are closing shop!

  3. SO funny, Brendan--I've been on so many of those ride alongs. ANd I always learn something. But it is amazing when all the other trtaffic gets out of your way..and you just fly through the red lights!

    Wonder how the police like it with us sitting there, "observing." That might be a fun POV.

  4. What a great story, Brendan. I've never done a ride along, but my neighbor is a Statie and he let me SIT in the cruiser. He parks it in our shared driveway. I was in the process of getting a security system for the house when they moved in.

    Love you selling the story on the third submission. Andrew Gulli knew a good thing when he saw it.

  5. Hi Brendan! Congrats on the short story! I've been wondering if e-readers are going to bring about a resurgence in short stories. (And kudos for you for having sold so many in what has been a very tough market for a long time.)

    And yes, I'm sad to say farewell to The Lipstick Chronicles, but I want to thank all the wonderful contributors for taking the time and making the effort to give us so much pleasure.

  6. Wow! That is some great silver lining coming out of your two rejections! Congratulations,Brendan!

    Thanks once again, Hank,for the gracious invitation to us readers of The Lipstick Chronicles. And thanks for explaining how this blog works. I think I'm going to enjoy coming here each day. I am already a Hank fan,and I realize that I have read - and enjoyed - books by some of the other writers here! Deborah Crombie is the one that I have "known" the longest. Looking foward to getting to know all of the rest of you!(More silver linings!)

  7. Deb Romano, that's so nice of you!

    And yes, silver linings..xoxoo

  8. Hi Brendan,

    Sorry I'm late! Very interested in your writing first-person POV. I have to read it. I wonder, was it fun to do? Really curious about this!

    Hi Hank. xo

  9. Dearest Reine..never too late!

    I wrote my first four books in first person--it's by far the easiest for me (huh, as if any writing is easy..!) Some people feel exactly the opposite.

  10. I had a friend who did a ride along in maybe 1987 in Philadelphia when she was in law school. The thing I remember the most from her story was that the officers told her that any young black male running was a suspect.

    Oh, and I'll repeat this for a few posts, but I'm Josh. My handle on Blogger is a still-used nickname my son (now 21) gave me when he was 2.

  11. YAy, Josh, great to see you here! I had no idea you were Snakeooiler..ah, well we all have secrets... xoxo

  12. Congrats Brendan,
    I went on a ride along only once with a cop, but I was a book about insurance fraud (yesterday's fatal) and we got to witness a guy demand an ambulance for a parking lot bump on the fender. It was great.

    Plus there is nothing as exciting as riding on that front seat with the siren blasting!

  13. Hi, Lipstick readers, and hi, Deb Romano! (Always nice to see another Deb.)

    Thanks for stopping in to visit Jungle Red, and we're really looking forward to getting to know you!

  14. Hey, Josh, I didn't know that you were Snakeoiler, either! Over at The Lipstick Chronicles I never used my last name but I decided to throw caution to the winds and use a first AND a last name here. (It's a pretty common one, anyway!)

    So, Hank, I came back here tonight to re-read how Jungle Red works. I think I'm going to really like visiting here every day. Plus I get to see even MORE authors that I like "up close and personal".

    I have always been intrigued by authors who write from a First Person POV of someone from the opposite sex. Some men do it so well that I would never guess that they are not female.

  15. Late to the party since I've been partying all day...actually baking and feeding hordes of people. I was a lurker - and sometime guest on TLC. Will miss those gals but I'm sure we'll get them to visit here. If I'm not mistaken Nancy Martin will be at a NYC library in a couple of weeks, and I'll see Hank and Harley at the MWA shindig in January.

    Hank gave you the overview of Jungle Red but does anyone know where we got our name? First correct answer gets a free copy of Dead Head!

  16. Ro,

    I'm later than you - today was a youth group fundraising breakfast, then the Christmas pageant, then cleaning up from those activities, then swimming, shopping, cooking.... I wish I had been on a ride-along today!

    Brendan, it's always heartening to hear a success story, especially one that shows how importance attention to detail (and persistence) pays off!

    And let me join the other Reds in wishing a warm welcome to the Lipstick Chronicle backbloggers paying us a call. We hope you'll feel at home here.

  17. So nice to be welcomed here, Hank! Maybe I will be okay. Also, very good not to be the last one up. Well, I suppose this one might be. But hey.

    I was glad to read your comment about first person POV. It seems logical for your books yet something I've imagined might be uncomfortable for a writer. Cross-gender, I think might be very difficult. Now I have to read Brendan, too! Oh poor me. More writers to get to know and read. Lovely.

    Thanks again, Hank. xo

  18. Julia -- see this is so nice! Reds are up late. Oh, maybe that isn't nice for you. But thank you for the welcome, from you and all the Reds.

    Your blog is very different, and I love it, actually. So I might be okay? xxx

  19. Congrats, Brendan! What a great success story!

    I'm late today. Because I did a thing almost unheard of anymore and took the whole day off to spend with my main squeeze, the fabulous Ben. Really a lot of fun, but tomorrow I've got to shove that nose into the grindstone.

    Good night, lovely Reds, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

  20. Night, everyone! Thanks so much, Brendan.. (And we want to meet Ben, please..xoxo)

    See you tomorrow for ..well, you'll have to come and find out....

  21. Ah, Hank, you're sweet. You'll get to meet Ben at Malice Domestic. He's coming with me this year.