The Short Sheet

When, early in 1987, editor Bob Randisi cut the amount of space he was willing to devote to my "Short Sheet" column in Mystery Scene, I decided to take the column out of the magazine and turn it into an independent newsletter.

Each of the eight monthly issues featured reviews of the newest mystery magazines and anthologies, plus news relevant to the field, contests, guest reviews, letters to the editor, original fiction (by Robert L. Fish Award winner Mary Kittredge in May and Michael Avallone in July/August), interviews, and other bits and pieces ("The ABC's of Murder" in July/August," "The Death of Miss Allison Appleby" in October, "The Adventure of the Cat's Meow" in November).

This was way before page-layout software, so I meticulously typed up each page on my trusty Apple IIe, printed them out on my dot-matrix printer — pages I wanted to appear in multiple columns required multiple passes through the printer! — had them photocopied, then sat at the kitchen table for hours folding the issue together and stuffing it into envelopes for mailing. And that doesn't even count all the reading I had to do: magazines, anthologies, submissions. (Oh, by the way, I was living in Germany at the time, providing full-time care to my one-year-old daughter during the days and teaching for the University of Maryland in the evenings!)

It was way too much work, and my subscriber base — though appreciative — wasn't large enough to allow me to make a dime off the project. So I fulfilled the commitment I'd made to stick it out through the end of 1987, and then I closed up shop and wrote a novel, instead....

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