Art and Crime

I live with an artist wife, and Sharon never ceases to amaze me. She enters her studio (formerly, our dining room!) in “paint clothes” (of course, she’d be beautiful even dressed in rags!), starts blending different colors, and confidently approaches her easel armed only with a palette knife. Hours later, she emerges, the cutest smudges of paint on her nose and cheeks, and asks me to take a look at the initial phases of the piece she is birthing. (It seems appropriate that what she is painting on is called a “cradled birch panel.”) Her work staggers me. Here’s her website.

The Oxford Dictionary defines abstract expressionism as a development of abstract art that originated in New York in the 1940s and 1950s and aimed at subjective emotional expression with particular emphasis on the creative spontaneous act. Wikipedia says it put New York City on the map, eclipsing Paris as the new hub of art in the West. I don’t know about all that, I only know my wife’s work knocks my socks off. Here she is:

So why have I’ve called my blog “Art and Crime?” I don’t mean to imply that Sharon is in any way a criminal—far from it! But I write murder mysteries. As I’ve accompanied her to showings at the galleries that feature her work, I’ve learned that art galleries are far and away one of the best places to launder money! Oh, I thought, I can use that! And indeed I have.

Gallery of Gangsters is the final book in the Driftwood series (and one of Sharon’s paintings is on the cover!) If you click on the image below, you can read the first chapter. Let me know what you think.

The book will be released on August 24. Pre-order it now for only $0.99—a $5.00 savings. Here’s the link.

Why Read Short Stories?

“A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick—a couple thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.” –Neil Gaiman.

Many people have said things to me such as, “I don’t like reading short stories. I need the depth and the character development that happens in a novel.” Although I can certainly appreciate that, my response is usually something like, “Although I really enjoy a filet mignon Oscar or seared Ahi tuna entrée, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the canapés! Munching a bit of caviar on a dollop of crème fraiche, with a bit of hard-boiled egg and green onion, is a marvelous way to sip champagne!”

So it’s more a matter of “both/and” rather than “either/or.” Each form of writing brings its own special pleasures. Who can argue against falling headlong into another world in a novel that simply transports us countries or planets or galaxies away? How can we not revel in getting to know a character so thoroughly that he or she becomes a living, breathing person who haunts our sleeping and waking moments?

But what about that fine painting or photograph hanging on your wall—the one that captures the light or the emotion or the mind-set of that special day you’ll never forget? A good short story is like that. It gives us a tantalizing glimpse into that other world, seizing a moment in time to which we may return again and again. The mysterious stranger with whom we locked eyes at a party, the extraordinary sunrise that redeemed a sleepless night, the brief but sweet kiss that lingers on the lips—such is the short story.

As a writer, the short story is a way to “cleanse my palate” between forays into novel-writing. It’s my attempt at legerdemain—not a cheap parlor trick but true sleight-of-hand. Can I convince you of the reality of these protagonists and their struggles in ten pages? Can I startle you with an ending you didn’t see coming? Can I provoke a laugh or a tear in the time it takes you to brew your morning coffee?

I found writing my new collection of short stories to be immensely rewarding. I hope reading them will be equally pleasurable for you.

You can pre-order the Kindle version here. It will be released on September 30. The paperback edition will also be published soon.