Long-Listed for the Erbacce-Prize

Ursinus College Commencement Program, “Awards,” taken by me, 18 May 2019.

Not only am I having a great time watching my Parsons (history) Prize winning son graduate from Ursinus College, but I had first Litro (USA) Lab’s podcast of my piece, “The Big Dream,” and now the news that I have been long-listed for the erbacce-prize!

Thanks to the contest administrators and judges. I am honored to be one of the relatively few selected from a pool of almost 8,000.

Mysterious Acceptance from Litro


110 Auckland Road, London SE19 2BY, former residence of Raymond Chandler

In October, 2017, I submitted an audio recording and a manuscript of “The Big Dream,” my second gender-reversed homage to Raymond Chandler, to Litro NY‘s podcast. Today Submittable informed me the piece was accepted. But was it accepted by the podcast? Will it be aired, or are they only going to print the manuscript? When will it appear?

Since I am not actually a female version of Philip Marlow, my only recourse was to inquire of the editor. I hope I will not be sucked into a web of corruption full of wild metaphors, sexy but shady hommes fatals, down-and-out drinkers, small-time thugs, and big-time corrupt officials before I find the answer. 

Stay tuned . . .


Photo credit: Spudgun67. 110 Auckland Road, London SE19 2BY – former residence of Raymond Chandler.jpg. 22 October 2014. CC BY-SA 4.0.


“Café Noir” Is Up on Mysterical-E


My first mystery story, “Cafe Noir,” is in the latest issue of Mysterical-E. You can read it here. I’ve already talked a little about this story in an earlier post on this blog. It’s an homage to Raymond Chandler, and more generally to the noir genre.

I love noir, but it does feature hidebound gender roles, so I thought it might be fun to try to reverse these. My heroine, Marla Phillips, “barista and private eye,” is tough, no-nonsense, and smart. She’s not attached to anyone, although she is in a “strictly don’t ask, don’t tell” relationship with an homme fatal who has an apartment over the coffee shop she manages.

I chose a coffee shop to update the role of alcohol in noir because people just don’t drink quite the way they used to, and they don’t have the same attitudes toward hard-drinking tough guys like Philip Marlowe. His drinking might be viewed today as more of a problem or a weakness.

But we still love our caffeine, and we tend to view people who drink a lot of coffee as either super busy achievers or people who have a tough job that they are going to do come hell or high water, and who needs sleep anyway? So I substituted coffee for alcohol. 

I don’t know nearly as much about Los Angeles and its criminal underworld as Chandler, so I just went with what I do know, and set the story in an academic community. Also, it’s funny. It parodies noir, though never in a mean way. At one point it satirizes a hipster character. And in implementing Chandlerian metaphors I may have exaggerated their humorous aspects. 

Still, as with Chandler, there’s a murder, no one is innocent, and readers should have a fun challenge trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Enjoy!  

Photo credit:

waferboard, “Coffee Steam 2.” CC. https://flic.kr/p/cirujw. Only size has been adjusted.

Different Again: Forthcoming in Mysterical-E

I like to play around in different genres. The mystery seems to me to be one of the hardest ones because you have to be so careful to structure the plot well without its seeming too contrived. About a year ago, after seeing The Big Sleep again and still not really understanding it, I decided to learn from the master and read some Raymond Chandler.

I enjoyed his metaphors so much that I decided to incorporate them in two homages: a gender-reversed noir story, and a sort of noir psychomachia (more on that when I place it). When I finished the gender-reversed story, I wasn’t at all sure about the plot, but rereading it a few months ago, I thought it was OK, and pretty funny. I’m pleased that even such an obviously sexist genre can be reversed, and I like my detective, Marla Phillips. Also, I’m proud of the great metaphors I came up with. They’re all in the spirit of Chandler, but none is copied from him.

All of that is why I’m so pleased that Mysterical-E has accepted my story, “Café Noir,” for an upcoming issue. They have a serious editing process I’m waiting to hear more about, but I’ll be sure to post as soon as I know when the story will be up.