Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The One Year Anniversary of this Blog: A Look Back.

One year has passed. I've made 128 posts which work out to be better than one every three days. I've gotten about 24000 hits: not bad.

A lot of effort has gone into these posts (sometimes I feel I could have written three novels for all of the energy I've put into this). It is my philosophy to create posts that are more than just, huh, this is my opinion. My posts involve research. I also strive to make available resources, the kinds that amplify a subject or make your life easier by compiling information you need to know or links you may enjoy.

Below is an informal index highlighting some of the better posts.

First, the literary news. In the past year, I have had two novels published.

Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press, is a thriller set in urban Washington, DC. The premise I began with was this: Instead of a locked-room mystery which made a murder impossible, what would happen if the crime pointed to the one survivor? And then, while the suspect was in jail, the same crime was repeated, this time with the detective being the one person who could have done it.

"The fast-moving plot tells the story of a strong young woman trying to stay true to herself while dealing with powerful, corrupt people and her own conflicting loyalties. This has the makings of a strong series." --Barbara Bibel, Booklist

I'm about 90% finished with the second draft of its sequel.

The cover my then six-year-old son designed (without my prompting).

 (I added the type)

A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing, is set in 1896 Manhattan. The inventor Nikola Tesla fills the role of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle acts as Watson, and Dr. Henry H. Holmes as Moriarty. One of the absolute joys of researching this book is the way the perfect setting always appeared with a little bit of digging. I wanted to find a skyscraper that represented both the growth of the city and the danger of technology. The perfect one popped up. For a moment the tallest in the city, the American Tract Society Building had a colorful history and a way of killing people.

Or else there was the perfect character. Humpty Jackson, a hunchback, poetry-loving gangster who ran his gang from his perch atop a gravestone of a cemetery. (This brings up a good question: are there some real people you shouldn't write about in fiction because readers will think they are too made-up?)

Looking Back: Top Subjects.


I analyzed the the nature of the mystery novels voted all-time best by the Crime Writers' Association of Britain, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Mystery Writers of Japan. Here are the novels which made all three lists.I have also tried to divine which are the most acclaimed mystery novels that have come out after these lists were produced.

Short novels predominated, the writers were mostly men, a plurality of the protagonists were amateur sleuths, and many were written by authors in their fifties, sixties and seventies. Here I present the top novels ranked by word count, fewest to most.

I suppose I undertook the word count analyses because I don't know if I can write a long novel (I've yet to break 65,000 words). My writing style cares little for extraneous material or diversionary subplots. I love those short punchy mystery novels of yesteryear.

I analyzed the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers from 1960 to the present. Male authors once dominated, now female authors are in the lead. I looked at ages of the authors. The word count of the books have changed over time. It peaked in the 1980s and now it is not unusual to have short bestsellers (especially due to James Patterson and Janet Evanovich). I also looked at what genres predominated.

I also analyzed word count advice for middle-grade fiction and found it is a bunch of crock. Part One. Part Two.

I compiled an extended series of lists from mystery writers who selected their favorite books. Here is the 13th entry in that series but, by scrolling down, you will find links to the first twelve.

I performed an analysis which looked at how often writers followed Elmore Leonard's ten rules of writing. Part One and Part Two.

I assembled links to the all of the stories (over 100) available online from the Best American Crime Reporting series. This is the last entry, but has the other pages linked.


I researched slavery to a fair degree when composing my epic, sixty-two page long poem, Two Mistakes. I include some of that research online, dispelling some myths about slavery. (Although I titled the series Ten Myths. I didn't comment on all ten presented. Something to do.)


Mystery Short Stories, Audio.

I made a post that has links to the podcast of mystery short stories in Alfred Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazines. In contrast to their webpages, this has the audiocast in order of author.

Best Short Stories.

I made a link to 39 out of 40 short stories that were available on-line (legally) from the book which Stephen King declared to be his all-time favorite. I rescued one of these from a poorly scanned version.

I also ran a two part series on the history of short stories and looked at those included in a 1914 New York Times article as being selected as the best short stories in the English language.

Historical Research.

I've undertaken a fair bit of research regarding the inventor Nikola Tesla, the author Arthur Conan Doyle, and the multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes. These three individuals are characters in my recently released A Predator's Game.

The most effort has gone into researching Tesla. While I have some esoteric information interesting for Tesla addicts only (such as a comprehensive list of his business addresses), I have also produced some general interest topics.

My posts regarding the murderous career of Dr. Henry H. Holmes is less topic-driven and tells a complete and, I believe, fascinating story.

Conan Doyle has had fewer posts. In my defense, I did write a scholarly piece about him which I have sent off for publication. Here is a brief look at his 1894 American speaking tour.

Arthur Conan Doyle Versus the Evil Holmes

And, for all of my wailing about opinions, here is one post, Men Are Hormonal, that I am proud of, but it is opinion.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my thriller, A Predator's Game.

A Predator's Game is available in soft-cover and ebook through Amazon and other online retailers.

A Predator's Game, now available, Rook's Page Publishing.


Back page blurb.

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. Its sequel, set in 1890s Manhattan and titled A Predator's Game, features Nikola Tesla as detective.


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