Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Travel and Gardening Mysteries You'll Enjoy

A COUPLE OF MYSTERY SERIES YOU MIGHT ENJOY. Maddy Hunter is an Agatha Award-nominated author of the Passport to Peril mysteries. Emily Andrew is an Iowa-based tour guide whose overseas trips are filled with murder, madcap and, of course, Emily’s love interest, European detective Etienne Miceli. Emily is a cross between a Stephanie Plumb and Buffy Coyle. The series is enjoyable and available in paperback.

The Garden Mysteries are set in Charlotte where Peggy Lee, a detective’s widow, botanist and owner of a gardening center finds herself involved in solving local mysteries รก la Murder She Wrote. Another fund read, the series is written by Joyce and Jim Lavene and, as a bonus, includes gardening tips.

Don’t forget, I’ve posted the first couple of pages of Murder Most Holy on my MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/mikemanno.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ames, Iowa GOP straw poll winner

FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE, not Mitt Romney, was the big winner in last weekend’s Iowa Republican straw poll in Ames.

If you aren’t familiar with the way Iowa’s GOP straw poll works, it is simple. The Iowa Republican Party hosts a giant all-Iowa party in Ames the year before the Iowa caucuses. All the presidential candidates are invited to attend and the party holds a straw poll of those in attendance. But it is more than a straw poll and political rally, it is a fund raiser; it costs $35 to vote in the poll.

Candidates criss-cross the state campaigning for support in the January caucuses. As they identify supporters they will offer to transport them to the Ames poll and pay for their ticket so they can vote. Mitt Romney spent millions competing here – he is on the air almost constantly – to finished first with 31.5% of the vote. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback spent thousands wooing Iowans and was hoping for a second place finish behind Romney. Huckabee spent virtually nothing and jumped from near obscurity to nudge Brownback from the second spot (18.1% to 15.3%).

In a contest where candidates run against expectations as much as each other, Huckabee was the clear winner. This should be a big boost for his campaign, especially if it signals, as I think it may, that the conservative Evangelical vote is starting to coalesce around him.

One caveat: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson did not compete but did receive votes. It is also worth noting that anti-war Texas Congressman Ron Paul received 9.1%.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A good character study . . .

HERE’S ANOTHER GOOD BOOK, but this one is not a mystery, but does contain some murder. It is “The Space Between,” Kali Van Baale’s award-winning first novel. It is, unfortunately, right out of today’s headlines. It deals with the aftermath of a high school shooting and follows the life of the mother of the shooter who also killed himself. If you are looking for a good character study, check out Kali’s book. Her web site is: www.kalivanballe.com.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Good Writers’ Resource

I HAD LUNCH THIS WEEK with my good friend Jerry Hooten. If you are a mystery writer, or just a mystery fan, you ought to know Jerry. He’s a former federal lawman and weapons consultant who has been advised some of the biggest names in mysteries. One of Jerry’s frequent authors is Michael Connelly who acknowledged Jerry in his latest book, Echo Park, by naming a FBI sound tech after him! Do writers really do those things? Yes.

Anyway, Jerry has put his knowledge of crime, police procedures and writing into a useful site for mystery writers. He also publishes a monthly E-zine for writers. It’s fee; to sign up for it go to Jerry’s web page: http://www.jerryhooten.com/. While you’re there, check out his book, “Don’t Talk to Strangers.”

On an unrelated sad note, as I write this word is coming through of the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. I have many friends in the Minneapolis area, including the three mystery writers who make up the Minnesota Crime Wave, Carl Brookins, Ellen Hart, and William Kent Krueger (http://www.minnesotacrimewave.org/). Naturally, all our prayers should be with the good folks of the Twin Cities.

Don't forget to check out my latest poll. This week it has some political overtones.