Want to win some #takeout on me?

Take-Out is here.

This is a funny collection. It started as a joke—haha food noir—that turned into a real thing and now it’s an actual book you can hold in your hands and read.

The stories in this collection represent some of my better short story work. Two made honorable mention in Best American Mystery Stories, and one made the final cut. One got nominated for a Derringer Award. One was accepted for publication the first time I read it to an audience, before I even left the microphone.

But it’s more than that, too. I’m a big believer in the way food unites us. Every culture has signature dishes and customs of hospitality. Every person has a favorite dish. Food is the thing that binds us across cultures and continents. And it’s a place where passions can collide—just like crime fiction.

To celebrate the release, I want to treat you to some take-out.

Specifically, three of you who will win $20 GrubHub gift cards.

How do you win? Simple. Help me boost the signal. Share this link on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever. Tell your friends and family I’m nice. Take a selfie at your favorite restaurant. Use the banner at the bottom of this post if you feel like it. Whatever! Have fun. Just be sure to use the hashtag #takeout and tag me so I see it.

As long as you help me spread the word, you’re in it to win it. PLUS! Every social media post counts as an entry. Hit the Twitter-FB-Insta trifecta? That’s three entries. Twelve tweets? That’s twelve entries. What I’m saying is: the more you shill for me, the higher the chance I’ll end up buying you a burrito, or some Chinese food, or whatever the hell you decide to order…

Anyway, Friday at noon EST I’ll pick three winners (from the US only, and if you’re not in the range of GrubHub, we’ll figure something out).

And if you were thinking of coming out to the release party on Jan. 23 at The Mysterious Bookshop (where I’ll be appearing with Miraculum author Steph Post), you might find more chances to win…


Delivery of TAKE-OUT is imminent

Take-Out-CoverTake-Out, the food noir collection I have been threatening you with for years, hit stores in a week. As such, here are some things worth knowing:

Publishers Weekly liked it, saying that: “Hart’s first story collection offers 16 winning food-themed tales, three previously unpublished… The varied settings and story lines effectively showcase Hart’s versatility.”

It was listed as an anticipated book by sites like CrimeReads and Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Speaking of CrimeReads, I wrote a food tour of New York City’s crime world for them, which took quite a bit of research but was really fascinating. Check that out here.

On Jan. 23, I’ll be appearing alongside Steph Post at The Mysterious Bookshop at 6:30 p.m. Steph will be promoting her new book Miraculum, which I was lucky to get an early read on and it so damn good. We will have food and booze. If you haven’t bailed on Facebook yet, here’s where you can RSVP.

The one thing I remember from Bouchercon

(The title of this post is not a joke about how much I drank this weekend but it very well could be…)

Hahaha ok seriously though.

This past weekend, Kellye Garrett won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel for Hollywood Homicide. Attica Locke won Best Novel for Bluebird, Bluebird, and The Obama Inheritance, edited by Gary Phillips, won Best Anthology.

It was pretty incredible to see three major awards go to black authors—especially when the awards are a popular vote by the convention attendees.

(UPDATE: I can’t believe I missed this, but I’m also so thrilled that Kristen Lepionka, who is part of the LGBT community and is a hell of a writer, won Best First Novel in the Shamus Awards!).

But there’s something I’ve been dwelling on since Saturday night, and it’s what Kellye said during her acceptance speech.

She referenced the dismal state of representation, highlighted in this list at Sisters in Crime. It lays out, in a pretty stark way, how unbalanced the crime and mystery field is (and this is just crime and mystery).

There are less than 200 people here who are traditionally-published and not straight and white. Just 81 black writers, 22 Latinx writers, 9 Native-Americans writers, 19 Asian American/Asian writers…

Seriously, give it a look.

Kellye said something important during her acceptance speech: “We need to stop treating diverse writers as a trend and start treating them as the status quo.”

I understand and appreciate the need for diversity, and recently talked about the importance of reading diverse books (both as a writer and as a person). But Kellye’s speech and this list really take the issue and underscore it and highlight it and string it with Christmas lights. It makes the whole thing a little less theoretical and a lot more tangible.

In a large sense Bouchercon was a fun weekend. I was glad to see a lot of folks and a lot of people got to meet my daughter and that was nice. I was going to write a rundown of some of the cool stuff that happened, and the lessons worth sharing… but I keep thinking of standing there in the ballroom, listening to Kellye’s speech, happy as hell for her because she is super cool and it’s a great book, and how I wished more people could hear it, because there are a lot of people in the community who were not in that room.

So, that’s the memory I wanted to share.

Go follow Kellye. She’s a smart and strong advocate for this issue. Bookmark that list and the next time you’re looking for a new book to read, or you’re setting up your own event, recognize it as a resource that is both very valuable but something we should also be sad about.

And congrats to all the Anthony winners. It was a good year.

A brief guide on how to be a cool guy at a conference, and not a dumbass

It’s almost time for Bouchercon, the biggest crime and mystery convention of the year. As such, there will be a lot of socializing, a lot of drinking, and a few dumb assholes saying or doing inappropriate things.

That’s what happens when you shove a ton of people into a hotel for a few days and add a generous helping of booze. That doesn’t make it okay.

I’ve seen other authors sharing tips and survival guides for conferences—many of which are very good (seriously, stay hydrated).

What I haven’t seen is something that shouldn’t be necessary but is probably necessary: a quick guide on how to be a cool dude and not a dumbass.

There’s been a lot of discussion about convention harassment policies, and those are all good discussions—it’s paramount on conventions to create and enforce a safe and respectful atmosphere—but there are some specific behaviors I think it’s worth talking about.

So, I submit for consideration, a brief guide on how to be a cool guy, and not a dumbass:

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. Seriously. Just take a second. Say it in your head. Pretend you have to say it to you mom, instead of the woman you barely know standing in front of you. Think about how your mom would react. Hopefully then you’ll realize that anything worth considering so much is probably not a thing you should say.

MANAGE YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE. If you know you tend to lose control of yourself after you have five drinks… have four. Even better, three. Or, if you find this is something you have a difficult time controlling, maybe it’s time to have a long hard think about your relationship to alcohol.

MIND YOUR HANDS. Once, at a publishing party, I saw a man reach up to brush the hair out of the eyes of a woman he just met. He thought he was being polite and did not notice her entire body freeze. After she quickly excused herself, he seemed genuinely taken aback when I told him that what he did was inappropriate. This should be an easy one, but I guess it’s not: Handshakes, cool. Hugs, sometimes cool if the person is a friend. A gentle, intimate caress? No!

SPEAK UP. Guys, it is paramount that we speak up when we see something bad happen. If you stand by and let it happen, or worse, if you create excuses for someone, you’re complicit. Full stop. It’s not fun to call out a friend or colleague. You know what’s also not fun? Being subjected to unwanted physical and verbal advances.

STAND UP. At this coming Bouchercon, badass author extraordinaire Christa Faust is spearheading an anti-harassment posse—folks who will wear little silver stars on their badge or elsewhere, indicating they are there to help anyone who feels like they are being harassed. Being mindful is good. Being proactive and part of the solution? That’s even better.

KNOW WHEN TO PACK IT IN. Maybe you did or said something inappropriate. Maybe you want to apologize. This is not necessarily a bad instinct. But it can turn bad real quick when you hound the person you offended so you can “properly” apologize. Because then it’s less about the apology, and more about you wanting to be absolved, which is basically putting the responsibility of your harassment on the person you harassed. Sometimes you have to know to accept you were wrong, say sorry, walk away, and find some new folks to talk to.

THE RULES HAVE NOT CHANGED, THEY ARE JUST BEING ENFORCED. You hear this a lot, mostly from rotten people—”everyone’s different now, you can’t do this, you can’t say that, now you get in trouble.” No, it’s not that we all sat down and came up with a list of words and actions that are now off limits. It was always shitty to say and do those things. It’s just that now people are emboldened to call you on it. Now there are consequences. Stop pretending like your behavior is a right you’ve been denied, and realize that what’s really been denied is the safety and comfort of other people, by you.

I’m looking forward to a good time down in St. Pete’s this weekend! I know in my heart that the overwhelming majority of the people going are in it for a good time, and that good time will be had, despite the presence of a few bad apples. And I think with a little personal mindfulness, and a little vigilance, we can pare down that bad bunch even further.

Writing Advice Sucks #7: How to navigate the publishing industry like a poker player


There’s this analogy I’ve been working on for a little while. It started off as a chess analogy but then turned into a poker analogy, at my wife’s suggestion, because poker relies more on the winds of chance than chess. She is so goddamn smart.

I think this analogy gets to the root of how publishing works, and how to successfully navigate it.

But hey, that’s for you to decide.

Here goes: Continue reading

Writing Advice Sucks #6: Read everything, read constantly


A long, long time ago (looking on Amazon I see it came out in 2003 and holy shit that was fifteen years ago) I read a book called The Contortionist’s Handbook. It was a noir-as-fuck debut novel by a dude named Craig Clevenger, about an uber-talented forger who constantly reinvented himself to avoid the authorities.

It was one of those formative books for me—I read it and I was like yes, this, this is what I want to do, I want to do things like this. So I tracked down Clevenger’s e-mail and I sent him a message, asking him if he had any advice.

He came back with a bullet list of ten points, and it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I was very, very lucky to get it at the beginning of this journey, and reading it now reinforces how much of it informed my writing DNA.

That list is still, to this day, taped to the wall over my computer.

I’ve been thinking about the first point lately, a lot. Enough I think it’s worth breaking into its own post.

Continue reading

It’s almost time for Bouchercon! And here’s where I’ll be…

N@BBCSP_B.jpgYesterday I wrote about the quantum state of conferences—how they’re worth it and not worth it at the same time, and really it comes down to your definition of “worth.”

Which is a pretty good segue into some news about Bouchercon, which is taking place in Florida this year. I will be there! I will be doing stuff!

First up: Noir at the Bar on Thursday night. Will you just look at this line-up? It’s madness. Sheer madness, and I feel extremely lucky to have made the cut. I’ll try to come up with something good to read…

I’ll also be appearing on two panels. They are:

Friday, September 7th, 1 p.m. — Remington Steele Goes Digital? — Writing the Modern PI Novel. I’ll be joining Rebecca Swope (moderator), J.D. Allen, Kristen Lepionka, and Paul D. Marks

Saturday, September 8th, 1 p.m. — Yin and Yang — Cozy and Noir. I’ll be moderating this one, which features Donna Andrews, Ed Lin, Melinda Mullet, Robert Randisi, and Jim Doherty.

Otherwise, I will be wandering the conference hotel. If you want to find me, the hotel bar is a good bet, followed by the pool.