Little Ms. Weird, Part I

I used to think I wrote for everybody. You know, we all love books. We are are all one.

Then I realized that Code Blues, the first Hope Sze mystery, opens with a swear word.

Code Blues is character-based and contains a sex scene, sarcasm, and a reference to racial injustice before Black Lives Matter. Cue the angry reviews. Cue even more because it’s free at the moment.

Okay! Well, Notorious D.O.C. sticks much closer to the mystery genre. Hope tackles a cold case on psychiatry after a woman asks her to investigate her daughter’s death. Not controversial at all, right?

Shoot. Maybe not everyone wants to read about poo on the first page.

Most readers immediately grasp the gravity of Stockholm Syndrome, where a kidnapper targets Hope and a woman in labour. But I don’t hold back on my description of the obstetrics ward, and one agent told me his assistant almost threw up after reading my first paragraph. I thought that was was pretty impressive considering that the first paragraph is literally two words: Birth smells.

Guess my writing ain’t for everyone after all.

When Kristine Kathryn Rusch first read my stories, she said, “They will have to create a new category for you. You’re so direct, you’re almost scary.” She paused. “You’re not supposed to compare writers, but Bob Jeschonek is the same way, for another reason. If you ask him to write a story about a space ship, he’ll write from the point of view of the space ship.”

Which may explain why I’ve always been fascinated by Robert Jeschonek’s writing. I hoover up stories in all genres, but he always does new things that had never occurred to me. For example, in A Pinstriped Finger Puppet’s My Only Friend, he starts off a section called Tomorrow.

Mind blown. How can you start in tomorrow? But he does wild things all the time, wandering in and out of the R-rated section, constantly inventive and challenging.

That’s why I’m honoured to take part in the Weird Bundle he curated at Storybundle. For once, my strangeness becomes a feature, not a bug.

Pay what you want. If you choose $20 or more, you unlock all the books, including Robert Jeschonek’s exclusive Dog & Pony Show and my own Dog Vs. Aliens, Grandma Othello & Shaolin Monks in Space, and you can contribute to the charity Able Gamers. Only available for 21 more days, right here.

Let’s do this!

Femme Fatale

Are you a femme fatale?

Would you date one?

Could you outwit one?

Will you die from one?

When I think of a femme fatale, I think of an alluring yet dangerous female. Like a black widow spider, only sexier.

I read an anthology of the century’s best mystery stories, and I was struck by the portrayal of women. Most of the stories had been written by men, and an awful lot of the protagonists were males drawn to that mysterious woman who might be the death of them, but they kept walking toward her anyway.

When O’Neil de Noux, a Shamus award-winning writer, invited me to participate in a Storybundle of femme fatales, I felt like the antithesis of a femme fatale. First of all, as a doctor, my job is to heal, not kill. And because I spend so much energy on studying and working, I end up wearing scrubs (“Yay! I get to wear pyjamas to work!” said my friend and fellow ER doctor, Mai-Anh). I usually wear zero makeup. This is not universal—one of my French female colleagues reapplies her lipstick at 3 a.m. on a night shift—but let’s face it, most of the French are much more femme than I am.

Of course, I could react to the sexlessness of medicine by dolling myself up in my off hours and in my fiction, but I don’t. My brain just doesn’t work that way.

O’Neil helpfully sent me two definitions of a femme fatale.

An attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her. -Oxford Dictionary

A beautiful, seductive, and usually evil female character in drama and literature. She is usually shown as a cruel, man-eating seductress. Men fall victim to her beauty and are eventually brought to ruin by her. -Urban Dictionary

O’Neil added, “If she’s a ‘kick ass’ woman going around shooting people, it doesn’t fit.”

Luckily, my characters and I don’t go around shooting people. See “healer,” above.

In the end, O’Neil put together a wonderful group of books, including mine, Terminally Ill.

Here’s the deal with Storybundle. It’s time-limited: you can only buy it for the next 19 days.

If you pay at least five dollars, you get 4 books.

If you give at least $15, you’ll get all 10 books! You can choose to give a donation to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now. It’s an awesome way to grab a bunch of award-winning writers.

I was amused to see that of the four books in the main Storybundle, two of them refer to doctors and medicine in their opening. Check this out:


by Libby Fischer Hellmann



It wasn’t supposed to be this easy, watching life seep out of a body. Knowing you were the cause of it. Standing in the motel room, fingers against the carotid, feeling the pulse dwindle to a weak, irregular tremor. Smiling, as his skin became translucent, a bluish tinge to his lips. Not so hard, now, to understand that doctor who helped people die. And sometimes stuck around to watch. Hadn’t someone said at the moment of death, he’d shout at his patients, imploring them to tell him what it was like?

Bubba Goes for Broke

by David H. Hendrickson

Today he’d prove them all wrong. He wasn’t, as The Boss had said on more than one occasion, “the second or third dumbest fuck in the universe.” Bubba Winslow didn’t think he was even in the top twenty.

Redneck Riviera Box Set

by Julie Smith

They popped him in Alabama that last time, and the first thing Forest did when he got out— after he got drunk and laid— was call his buddy Roy. Roy was out in East Jesus, Florida this time— Forest didn’t quite know where, but it didn’t make much of a damn. It was somewhere to go.

Roy was so tickled to hear from him, he hollered at the phone like it was Forest himself. “Hey, ol’ buddy. Get your ass on over here. Where the hell are you, anyhow?”

“It’s where I ain’t that I’m callin’ about. I ain’t in jail in Alabama.”

“Hey, congratulations, ol’. buddy. Where in Alabama ain’t jail?”

Bad Boy Boogie

by Thomas Pluck

She said to meet him in a train station lot. Jay drove there and waited, listening to an AC/DC mix tape Tony had left in the Challenger until a blue Aston Martin DB9 pulled nose to nose with him.

Ramona grinned above the wheel from behind black shades.

On the highway, she winced at the red marks on his nose and cheek. “If I wanted to help you, I should’ve gone to med school.” She weaved through traffic and drafted behind a box truck, the spy-car’s nose to the bumper.

“Way you drive, it’s good you’re a lawyer,” Jay said. “Maybe you can teach me sometime.”

Ramona wore navy slacks and lipstick that gave her the prim air of a strict schoolteacher. “I trained on the Nürburgring,” she said. “Driving here’s easy. Just expect everyone to behave like a complete jerk or a total idiot.”

And the bonus books


by Lawrence Block <–Grand Master. Winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony Awards.

The Perfect Man

by Kristine Kathryn Rusch <–New York Times bestseller. Edgar nominated. Shamus nominated.

Hit Somebody

by Steve Liskow <–two-time winner of the Black Orchid novella award. Stories in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. Has published thirteen novels.

Terminally Ill

by Melissa Yi <–I hope you know who I am. Derringer Award finalist. Writer of the Future. Recommended by CBC Books and The Next Chapter. Recognized nationally on CBC’s The Current.

Death Takes a Partner

by Dean Wesley Smith <–USA Today bestseller. Has published over 100 novels. (Stand aside, Steve.)

Bourbon Street

by O’Neil De Noux <–winner of the Best Police Book of the Year. The Derringer Award. The Shamus Award. The United Kingdom Short Story Prize.

So I hope some of you pick up the femme fatale Storybundle.


As for the questions above, my answers are

Are you a femme fatale? No. Although I could play one on TV, or for Hallowe’en.

Would you date one? If I were single, I’d be open-minded. This is not my usual type, though. I’m not into games, and I hadn’t dated any females before I got married.

Could you outwit one? I think so. Depends how devious she is.

Will you die from one? Hope not. I bet it would be painful.

I’d love to hear your answers, too!

You love NYT bestsellers? I got NYT bestsellers & Edgar award nominees. My Dark Justice StoryBundle homies. For free.

I’m hanging out with celebrities again.

You know Lawrence Block? Maybe you’ve heard of Matthew Scudder, portrayed by Liam Neeson last year in a Walk Among The Tombstones. Now you can buy our books together, along with New York Times bestsellers Rebecca Cantrell and Julie Hyzy, Edgar nominee Kris Nelscott, plus five other cutting edge crime writers, through the Dark Justice StoryBundle. The main bundle is a mere $5. Buy at only until November 19th.

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Like, comment, or share this blog for a chance to win all ten books absolutely free! One winner will be chosen from each of the following lists on Wednesday, Nov. 4th:

1. One commenter right here, on this blog post.
2. One subscriber to my newsletter. Just sign up on the top or bottom of my website. Since I only have a few subscribers, this is a good path. I promise not to abuse your e-mail.
3. One participant on my Dark Justice Facebook post.
4. One commenter on my Sleuthsayer blog.
5. Audience member at Vanier College. Claimed!

For those of you who want to know more:

Q. What the heck is a StoryBundle?

A. Jason Chen, founder: I started StoryBundle because back in 2012, video game bundles and app bundles were extremely popular, and no one had yet applied the same idea to ebooks. When I looked around (because I’m a reader myself) to try and find a way to discover lots of new-to-me authors in genres I already like, it was pretty difficult without spending hours reading reviews and trudging through sales lists. Plus, since these are authors I haven’t tried before, I may be left with hit-or-miss quality. Having curated bundles where quality is guaranteed AND readers can set the price solves both these issues.

Q. Okay. Why should I buy this StoryBundle?

A. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, editor:
The Dark Justice bundle comes as close to crime fiction perfection as possible.
It boasts one Grand Master, several award-winners, bestsellers who’ve hit lists like the New York Times and USA Today with multiple books, household names, and writers who’ve just entered the mystery field—sometimes with a bang.

We also have a lot of diversity here. Our investigators include an African American detective, a Canadian doctor of Asian extraction, a disabled stockbroker and a group of retired cold case detectives. Throw in a few amateur detectives, a disgraced ex-cop, a female bounty hunter, and the famous Matthew Scudder, who has appeared in film (most recently A Walk Among The Tombstones), and you’ll encounter the full range of characters the mystery genre has to offer.
I’ve read and loved the work of each and every one of these writers. Some of them I’ve read since I started reading mystery and some I’ve read since before they ever had a book published. In one of my other incarnations, I’m an award-winning editor, so believe me when I tell you that if there were some kind of Kristine Kathryn Rusch Gold Seal of Approval, the books in this bundle would receive it.

Q. All right, but how does StoryBundle work?
A. Kris: For those of you who have never purchased a bundle from StoryBundle before, welcome! StoryBundle makes ordering and downloading these books spectacularly easy.
The initial titles in the Dark Justice Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
Cold Call by Dean Wesley Smith
And Then She Was Gone by J. Daniel Sawyer
An Eye For Murder by Libby Fischer Hellmann
Code Blues by Melissa Yi
A Fatal Twist of Lemon by Patrice Greenwood
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus these outstanding books:
Fatal Destiny by David DeLee
Playing With Matches by Julie Hyzy
A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott
The Night and the Music by Lawrence Block
The World Beneath by Rebecca Cantrell

Q. How did authors get in that StoryBundle?

A. Kris Rusch: I’ve curated a number of bundles, and I’ve found that I am better off partnering with writers whose work I love. I can sincerely tell readers to buy the bundle because the works contained herein are great. I’ve been in bundles (not curated them) with writers whose work I’m unfamiliar with, and I can’t issue that blanket “I love this” statement. When I curate a bundle, I make sure I’m a fan first and an editor second.

Q. Yeah, but Melissa, did Kris really like you? Or were you just kind of an add-on?

A. Hey now. She liked me enough to write this:

Code Blues by Melissa Yi

When I first met Melissa Yi, she was a resident emergency room physician with dreams of becoming a professional writer. Her writing, including her award-winning short fiction, has always had power, but she has truly found her niche with the Hope Sze mystery series. Drawing on her personal experiences in the ER in Canada, Melissa has created medical thrillers that shine with authenticity and are impossible to put down.

Another first book in a series (like others in this bundle), Code Blues provides the perfect introduction to a world we often experience, but rarely understand.

Q. What about the other authors? Do they have any words for other readers and their fellow writers?

Rebecca Cantrell: For writers: read all you can, write all you can, and enjoy the journey! I think that writing should be fun—a giant extravaganza of imagination and joy. Sure, it’s not like that all time, but I always reach for that. For readers: Thank you. I’m so grateful to you.

David DeLee: Don’t stop. Don’t stop learning, don’t stop practicing, don’t stop trying new and different ways to write, if you’re an outliner, write a seat-of-your-pants story and see what happens, or vis-a-versa. Don’t stop writing, and most importantly, don’t stop believing in yourself.

Julie Hyzy: Writers: If anyone can dissuade you from writing, let them. This is a tough business and not for the faint-hearted. If, however, you know that nothing can keep you away from the keyboard, then turn your back to the naysayers and pay no attention. Never stop writing. Find a way to celebrate every win, whether it be a glass of wine because you made your daily word count, or a dinner out when you type “The End.”
Readers: I hope you’ll take a chance on this non-cozy novel. I think Riley is a lot of fun and I’d love to continue her stories. Let me know what you think!

Kris Nelscott: Actually, I have a word. Enjoy. I hope you enjoy what I do.

Patrice Greenwood: For writers: Don’t worry too much about perfection. Just write. Write a lot. Experience will serve you better than obsessive polishing. For readers: Thank you for giving my work a try! It gives me great pleasure to know that I can make a reader laugh, or keep them up too late reading.

Melissa Yi: Readers: Whenever I start to despair over the world, like environmental destruction, I cling to the idea of smart, creative people who can turn the tide. Readers tend to think outside the box with a sense of humour. I heart readers!
Writers: Never surrender. Someday, someone will love your stories. One of my stories was just published twelve years after I wrote it. My own brother told me, “You’re a doctor, Mel. Why not just be a doctor?” Now he says, “That’s a good book cover.” Hey, baby steps. You can do it!

Q. How do I buy this bundle again?

A. until November 19th.

Like, comment, or share this blog for a chance to win all ten books absolutely free! One winner will be chosen tomorrow.

Subscribe to my newsletter and comment on my Facebook or Sleuthsayers. Quadruple your chances by doing all four! ‘Cause I love you and reading makes you a better person.

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