The winner of yesterday’s drawing for a copy of THE GIFT OF MURDER is SignLady217. We need your name and address so we can send you the book. Please e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone else, please note that we’re giving away a second copy today! Leave a comment on Liz’s blog and you’ll be entered in the drawing.
If we weren’t all mystery lovers, you might think that I was offering to whack your wife for Chanukah. Off your ex for Xmas. Kill a cousin for Kwanzaa (preferably the rich old cousin who’s about to take you out of his will). Thin out your in-laws for a more cheerful and less contentious holiday season. But no, you’ve already figured it out: The Gift of Murder is a book, and not just any book. It’s this year’s holiday crime anthology from Tony Burton of Wolfmont Press, all profits to benefit a worthy charity, Toys for Tots. This is the fourth annual such anthology, and it’s proven popular with both mystery writers hungry for good markets for their stories and readers happy to plunk down $15 for the combination of a good cause and a satisfying read.
Toys for Tots is a charitable program of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve that collects new, unwrapped toys for needy children in communities throughout the country, backed by a not-for-profit foundation that channels monetary donations to support the local programs. At least one author in this year’s anthology is getting the local Marines involved in an event to publicize and sell the book. All the authors, including me, are looking for creative ways to get the anthology out there between now and the holidays. The project raised more than $6,600 for the Toys for Tots Foundation in its first three years, and Tony Burton is hoping to push the cumulative figure up over $10,000 with sales of The Gift of Murder. Last year’s anthology made the 2008 bestseller list of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA), and I, for one, would be thrilled if it happened again this year.
My story, “Death Will Trim Your Tree,” had already been written when the call for submissions went out. My series protagonist, recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, does what he pleases in my head and tells me what to do about it. In this case, he ordered me to write about his first sober Christmas, which had its ups and downs. Bruce starts out sitting on his friends Barbara and Jimmy’s living room floor disentangling those pesky strands of Christmas lights and cursing, while Jimmy supervises from behind his computer and Barbara, who likes to mix her holidays, makes latkes. And that’s before the murder. In the first draft, I’m afraid Bruce was using the F word—justifiably, as anyone who’s had to get those strings of lights up will agree, I’m sure. But after reading the submission guidelines, I revised it for a family audience.
This year’s editor is John Floyd, a versatile and prolific writer with 300 published short stories in the fifteen years since he retired from his day job. And I’m in great company, with twenty-one authors including Austin Camacho, Bill Crider, Peg Herring, Anita Page, Kris Neri, Randy Rawls, Barb Goffman, Gail Farrelly, and Earl Staggs, among others.
You can buy the anthology directly from the publisher at http://www.wolfmont.com, on Amazon, and wherever the individual authors have signings or can place it. Buy one for everybody on your holiday list: the ones you love, the ones who love reading, and the ones you’ve felt like killing at least once since last year or expect to feel like killing by the time the holidays are over.