Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gift of Murder Makes A Great Present

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 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.

Elizabeth Zelvin

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, 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.


Edith Maxwell said...

I look forward to reading your story, Liz! (And finding out how he got through his first sober Christmas...)


Rosemary Harris said...

Off your ex? Whack your wife? I love it!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

To whom would YOU like to give "the gift of murder"? Or better not to ask! Writers do it between the covers. ;) (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Barb Goffman said...

The holidays really can inspire murder, Liz. Untangling the lights. Seeing the in-laws. Struggling through crowds at the mall. That's the beauty of being a mystery writer - everything is inspriration!


Lover of Books said...

This sounds so funny. Yes, untangling lights are a pain in the butt. Such a worthy cause, you guys rock!


Helen Kiker said...

This is a very worthy cause so I hope you will sell a ton of books.

Mu granddaughters always donate to the Toys for Tots. Thay have learned to give as well as receive.

Helen Kiker

signlady217 said...

I am so excited that I won a copy of "The Gift of Murder"!!! I can't wait for it to arrive. Of course, that means when it does, nothing else will get done until the last page is finished. (HEHEHE) My mom was excited for me, too.

Hey, Barb, I never got boxed goldfish, but I think that was because mom was pretty practical about what could be wrapped safely.
But I have heard (and read) stories of gifts that slosh, so who knows, that goldfish may find me yet! I was trying to think of things that actually might slosh and here are a few that popped into my head: perfume, whiskey, flavored cooking oils, liquid coffee creamer, milk, photo developing fluid, artists' masking fluid, paint, rubbing alchohol, India ink, hydrochloric acid (HCl), insulin, and there are probably a zillion more items we could add to the list. Maybe one of these will spark a story idea for someone.

And BTW, my first name is Angela (yes, I know I'm an "angel", but like I tell my friends, my horns knock my halo off quite frequently!) Have a great day!

Gail Farrelly said...

Nice post, Liz. I'm looking forward to signing and discussing our stories in The Gift of Murder at the Eastchester Library in NY on Monday, Nov. 30, 7 to 9 p.m. We'll have a good time.


Barb Goffman said...

Hey, Angela. Congrats on winning yesterday's book. It'll be in the mail either tomorrow or Saturday.

And thanks for those sloshing suggestions. My thinking cap is already on!


pennyt said...

I always try to read a "seasonal mystery" during the holidays - this collection sounds like a great choice for this year.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like fun! Not that any of us want to kill our relatives at the holidays, of course. ;)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Readers have a few more hours to post a comment to be eligible for the drawing. I'm assuming authors who are in the anthology are out of it, as is Angela, who won yesterday, so the odds look pretty good for the rest of you. :)

Kris Neri said...

Great blog, Liz. It really is a super anthology, and it's not often you get to buy a terrific book and help a super cause at the same time. And let's face it, there are always people who irritate us during the holiday stress season, and we can channel that anger into these stories.

Carol M said...

I would love to read this book! Your story sounds good. I love mysteries and would love to read the other stories, too. Some of these authors would be new ones for me. Thank you for the giveaway!
mittens0831 at aol dot com

frankenpsych said...

Dear Liz--I was very impressed by your first mystery and looking forward to the second. I am a psychiatrist and I feel like I am learning a lot from your characters.And writing for a fund raise volume seem like it fits in perfectly with the way your characters approach the world.

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