Friday, September 25, 2020

Six-Word Story Contest and New Books

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. ” 
Enter a 6-word story contest.

 Writers who can boil down a mystery into a half-dozen words are encouraged to enter the fourth annual Six-Word Mystery Contest sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA). The contest opens September 15, 2020; entries must be received by midnight, Oct. 31, 2020. 

Six-word “whodunits” can be entered in one or all five of the following categories: Hard Boiled or Noir; Cozy Mystery; Thriller Mystery; Police Procedural Mystery; and/or a mystery with Romance or Lust. The Six-Word Mystery Contest is open to all adults 18 and over. No residency requirements. This year’s judges include Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Editor Linda Landrigan; New York Times bestselling author Anne Hillerman; award-winning author, lawyer and activist Manuel Ramos; BookBar Denver store owner Nicole Sullivan; and literary agent Terrie Wolf, owner of AKA Literary Management. 

Last year’s winning entry by Jeffrey Lockwood was “36D, 44 magnum, 20 to life.” Another previous contestant, Kathleen O’Brien, said her entry landed her a literary agent. 

The contest entry fee is $6 for one entry (just $1 per word); or $10 to enter six-word mysteries in all five categories. The grand prize winner will receive $100 in cold, hard cash. Winners in all other categories will receive $25 gift certificates, and all winners and finalists will be featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, on the RMMWA website and in their newsletter. 

For more information about the contest rules and how to enter, please visit 

According to legend, the first six-word novel was born in the 1920s when Ernest Hemingway at New York’s Algonquin Hotel or Luchow’s restaurant (depending on whom you ask) won a $10 bet by writing a six-word story. His dark and dramatic submission was: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Urban legend or no, memorable, heart-breaking and sublime six-word stories have been penned ever since.


Arte Público - September 30, 2020

[from the publisher]
Willie Cuesta, former Miami Police Department detective turned private investigator, is relaxing at a beachfront hotel when he receives a call from an immigration attorney about a case. He's reluctant to leave the view-of the sea and several bathing beauties-but Willie can't afford to turn down work. 

He agrees to travel to central Florida to search for Ernesto Pérez, an undocumented farmworker who has disappeared. His family is worried sick because, though he had been calling and sending money home regularly to Mexico for years, he hasn't been heard from in three months. In Cane County, Willie discovers a healthy agricultural industry, a large migrant population picking the crops and a heavily armed, anti-government militia. 

Willie quickly discovers Pérez isn't the only undocumented worker to go missing; several have disappeared, though their illegal status means no one has bothered to investigate. As he digs into the case, several suspicious characters surface: Narciso Cruz, who is responsible for smuggling in the undocumented workers willing to do the backbreaking labor for minimal pay; Quincy Vetter, a local landowner who has imposed his anti-government sentiment county wide; and Dusty Powell, a drug dealer who has contributed to several heroin overdoses in the area. And there's the very beautiful daughter of a farm owner who wants salsa lessons ... is someone setting him up? 

When people he talked to start turning up dead, Willie knows he's onto something big and dangerous. But is it related to the local drug business? Or the anti-government lunatics? When his investigation leads to a piece of property near the Everglades, Willie Cuesta finds himself playing cat-and-mouse with several armed men intent on putting an end to the case and him!


To Live and Die in El Valle

Oscar Mancinas
Arte Público - September 30, 2020

[from the publisher]
Many of the young people in this haunting collection of thirteen stories grounded in Arizona don’t have the luxury of being dreamless. Some are compelled to leave their hometown: “I knew early on that I didn’t want to die in El Valle. Nothing could be worse than being stuck somewhere you didn’t belong.”

Those that manage to get out often find themselves in awkward situations. One young man, a student at a New England college, is surprised to receive a call from the admissions office, asking him to give a tour to a Mexican family. He agrees to help, but the interaction only reinforces the unease he feels about his place on campus and his Mexican identity. Not all want to leave. Kino vigorously resists his friend’s constant encouragement to apply to schools out of state. “You think you won’t be a wetback to people out there? You think I wanna be your lil’ Indian sidekick on the East Coast? You think you’re better than all of us here?”

Others live with the daily fear of deportation or the loss of family members. Fernanda adjusts to a new life as an undocumented person in El Valle, where she takes comfort in the familiar ritual of baseball. Roach’s mother has steadfastly refused to talk about her father, until through drastic measures she learns he was deported before her birth. And on their long drive to college, Melissa’s father finally talks about the death of her would-be older brother.

Vividly depicting working-class communities, Oscar Mancinas creates lives shaped by circumstances beyond their control, from migration for a better life to centuries of systemic racism and settler-colonialism. His characters frequently struggle with a sense of belonging, and their stories eloquently illuminate Hispanic and indigenous experiences in the Southwest.

Xavier Garza
Arte Público - October 31, 2020

[from the publisher]
Another family has moved into the house at 666 Duende Street across from Vincent Ventura’s, and once again there’s something mysterious going on. There’s a boy who constantly argues with himself. “You can’t tell me what to do,” Vincent hears him say, but there’s no one around. Who could he be talking to? When Vincent sees a green creature with glowing red eyes and needle-sharp teeth terrorize the boy into vandalizing a neighbor’s car, he knows there is another monster mystery to solve!

His cousin, Michelle, is one of the smartest kids around, and she quickly finds information in a library book on Latin American monsters. She’s sure the creature Vincent saw is a duende, which is similar to an evil troll or gnome. Is Sayer Cantú really a target of these wicked beasts?! Everyone at school knows he’s a troublemaker to avoid. Could duendes be forcing him to misbehave?

Once again Vincent Ventura recruits his cousins and gathers his monster-fighting tools—crosses, holy water, packs of salt, silver metal beads and slingshots—for the upcoming showdown. This bilingual book for intermediate readers, the third installment in Xavier Garza’s exciting Monster Fighter Mystery series, also contains the author’s black and white sketches of the creepy creatures. This spine-tingling short novel introducing Latino creepy creatures to kids ages 8-12 is sure to thrill a new generation of readers!



Manuel Ramos is bunkered and hunkered in Denver as he finishes his latest Gus Corral novel -- Angels in the Wind.

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