Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

About mbaconauthor

Mystery writer and journalist; former newspaper police reporter.

A new mystery book—sort of     

0

Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words was published more than seven years ago—about the time I started this website—and I decided to take another look at the book.  The result of this look is a new edition.  I edited and revised some stories, deleted others and added about a dozen new stories with twist or mystery endings.

Can a 100-word story have a surprise ending? Yes, it’s part of the challenge. As I wrote in the introduction to the previous edition of the book, the challenge to tell a complete story in exactly 100 words is the lure of this genre.

Here is the Amazon link for the ebook:   https://amzn.to/2mIfC0s   It will soon be available at barnesandnoble.com and the other places.

Extremely short, tiny, miniscule bits of fiction have been around for a long time.  Aesop’s fables are a good example. Written in the sixth century BCE, Androcles (and the Lion) contains only 265 words, and The Ant and the Grasshopper uses only 150 words. Ernest Hemingway reputedly wrote a six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Welcome to flash fiction.  Books and a broad variety of online literary magazines and some print magazines feature these short-shorts. Actually short-shorts is not an appropriate description  as it often refers to short stories of a few pages or more, not a few paragraphs or a few sentences. Flash fiction seems to be the most commonly used name for these snippets of creative writing, although some online magazines refer to micro fiction, nano fiction, sudden fiction, or quick fiction.

As to the best length for flash fiction, there’s little agreement. Even though the 100-word limit is common, a variety of print and online magazines and published anthologies restrict flash fiction stories to 1,000, 2,500, and even 5,000 words. Compared to a 100-word tale, the longer stories could hardly be read in a flash. Wikipedia does little to establish a common length saying, “flash fiction is a fictional work of extreme brevity.”

Journals such as 100 Word Story and 101 Words need no explanation. Some other online publications are looking for what Wikipedia calls twitterature, that is, stories of 280 characters or less. Everyday Fiction sets the limit at 1,000 words but encourages writers who can tell a story in 50.  

Before publishing the first edition of this book I published stories in a variety of online flash fiction literary magazines, including my favorite, 100 Word Story.  Editor Grant Faulkner says the 100-word limit is an arbitrary marker that “forces the writer to question every word.”

It’s a good discipline. A number of years ago a friend of mine told me his writing group was working on an exercise in which they had to tell a story in just 100 words.  I had never heard of flash fiction before and was intrigued.  At first I wrote cop stories, then branched out into the variety of genres represented in the book.  More than half the stories in the new book have to do with detective work, crime, or general law enforcement.  The balance include humor, speculative fiction and a little romance.

Yes, each story contains exactly 100 words.  And you have to know the rules.  Hyphenated words count as one word and titles are not included in the word count. Numerals, even those separated by commas count as one word. The counting function on MS Word seems to have its own rules, so I count by hand as well.

I agree with Faulkner.  This genre makes you question each word.  But now that I’m spending most of my time on novel-length mysteries, I still try to remember the value of each word.

Here’s a sample story from Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words:

 On the House

Starting her workday baking before sunrise always made Sophie’s concentration sag by 9 a.m., but looking across the counter at a gun barrel got her immediate attention.

“Gimme the money,” the gunman said.

Sophie glanced over the man’s shoulder, moved toward the cash register—then ducked.

The cop standing behind the robber threw him against the counter, as another officer grabbed the gun.

“You gotta be the dumbest crook I ever met,” said the first cop. “Okay, maybe you didn’t see our car in the lot, but really…”

“Thanks, Kelly,” Sophie said. “From now on, doughnuts are on the house.”

—————–

“…it is rather remarkable that the author is able to introduce a cast of characters, set a stage for them to act upon, and play out a scenario—sometimes involving cops and crooks—in which something unexpected happens, all in exactly 100 words.”
MysteriousReviews.com

My personal plates….and today only, a free book

1

Turn on your Kindle or Kindle Fire and go to Amazon to download a free copy of Death in Nostalgia City.  This is a one-day sale that ends tonight—Aug. 30—at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time.

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Nostalgia-City-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07V1Y23FM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1412464218&sr=1-1

Personalized plates

I’ve always been interested in personalized license plates.  My previous car was a Mini Cooper and my plate said TEA REX.  I was proud of that one.  The tea represented, in part, the car’s manufacture in England.  The T-rex angle was intended to be a reverse take on the size of the car.  A Mini with the name of a dinosaur, get it?  And since I drink tea rather than coffee you could call me the tea king.  There you have it.

Years ago when we moved from Southern California to Nevada, my new (Nevada) plate read: ADIOS CA.   At the time, we’d become weary of the congestion and traffic of the greater LA area.  A number of drivers in Las Vegas, obviously California expats, gave me the high sign or honked when they saw the plate.

Several years later when we returned to Southern California, however, a clerk at the DMV took a look at my Nevada plate and said, “Welcome back.”

We’ve lived in Reno for many years now.  (It was home to my Mini.)  But when I retired the English car, I leased a new VW.  I was tempted to get a plate that hinted at the car company’s emissions scandal: NO SMOG, BREATH, CLN AIR, EXHAUST.  I opted for something more personal.

It stands for private investigator.

My old copywriter friend Jane Gorby had a cool license place in So. Cal for years: EZ WRTR.  I loved that and was tempted to copy it here in Nevada.  But that was her idea, not mine.  Also, I happened to see the movie again and it didn’t match its reputation.  But Jane’s plate gave me an idea.  You can see the results.  Most everyone gets it, although someone asked me if it had to do with pie.

How many Mark Bacons can there be?

Email addresses is another challenging topic, specifically finding one that is not being used.

I’m trying to transition from my ISP’s email to gmail.  The latter I’ve found to be more reliable.  The problem is, gmail covers almost a billion users and, apparently, a number of them are named Mark Bacon. 

The gmail addresses Mark.Bacon, MarkBacon (no dot), MBacon, Mark.S.Bacon, MarkBacon2, Bacon.Mark, BaconMark, BaconM, are all taken.  The gmail program has suggested several variations that are not taken, but they are all followed by three numerals.  That doesn’t look professional to me.  I could use my web address for email, but Mark@baconsmysteries.com is too big a mouthful.  

Suggestions are welcome.

Publishing news, free books, reviews and surprises to come on this blog

0

Welcome mystery fans.  It seems I took an extended hiatus from writing in this space.  I can explain.

Launching a new book takes time.  So does switching publishers. I was in the middle of the former but am now neck-deep in the latter, or maybe both.

All three Nostalgia City mysteries are available again on Amazon, both e-book and print.  They will soon be available elsewhere, although for the time being the e-book versions of two of the mysteries, numbers 1 and 3, are exclusively with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.

Each of the three Nostalgia City mysteries has a new international standard book number (ISBN) used to identify and locate books and identify the publisher.  As a result, some website links, if they’re older than two months, may not connect you to the books.  The easiest way to find them is to go to Amazon and type in the title.  Details and links are also always available on this website.

Articles (posts) in upcoming weeks will be book and movie reviews, observations about readers’ particular interest in authors, offbeat and background information on (my new book) The Marijuana Murders, hints about mystery #4 that I’m working on and a few surprises.

As you may have noticed, Death in Nostalgia City was recently–for two days– on sale for free.  Does that qualify as “on sale?”   I dunno, as one of my characters would say, but thousands of people snapped it up.  If you missed the sale, Death in Nostalgia City will be offered for free again on Amazon.  Stay tuned.

Free book:

Right now you can register to win a print copy of The Marijuana Murders. Kings River Life magazine is giving the book away. To be eligible, simply comment on the reviewer’s article about my book or simply send him an email.  Details here:  https://www.krlnews.com/2019/08/the-marijuana-murders-by-mark-s-bacon.html

Writing a novel is easy.  As you can see, I nailed it on the first draft.

I’ve been meaning to share this picture.  Many authors’ protracted blog explanations about the task of writing to the contrary, I don’t think many readers are interested in how we create a story.  Does it make a story more meaningful if you know, for example, it was written on a Mac, on a yellow pad or an old fashioned typewriter? 

So, I’ll make this brief.  Although I compose and edit on my computer, every so often I need to print out my latest chapters and go over them with a pencil. When a complete manuscript is finished, I redo things.  Several times.  Critique groups, beta readers and an editor all contribute to draft after draft.  Then it’s done.

Actually deciding it’s done is one of the most difficult tasks in writing a novel.  Thus my stack of drafts gets taller.  I usually save the drafts until the book is in print—sort of like a cloud backup, only this paper backup is recycled when the job is done.

%d bloggers like this: