…and to all…


(c) 2017, Soho Press. All rights reserved.

I don’t as a rule like holiday-themed works of art. There are exceptions. Christmas Is a Special Day, an album of Christmas songs by Fats Domino, remains a favorite (in part because it was gifted to me by The Man himself, but that’s another story). I also listen repeatedly to Come On Christmas to Dwight Yoakam, and read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and “The Gift of the  Magi”  by O Henry a few times as well. Those are the exceptions to the rule, however.

I added one more holiday item to the list this year. It can be found in a recently published anthology titled The Usual Santas which is published by Soho Crime. I was immediately struck by the concept of the collection, that being to take the imprint’s roster of authors and commission Christmas-themed crime and thriller stories from them. It’s a wonderful collection from beginning to end. There is one story that stands out, however, that being “Chalee’s Nativity” by Timothy Hallinan. Tim writes a memorable series about Poke Rafferty, an expatriate American living in Bangkok, which is where “Chalee’s Nativity” is set. Rafferty does not poke his nose under the story’s tent, but Hallinan’s ever-keen eye for observation is fully and accurately street-tuned in this story about two orphans swept up onto the rough and dangerous streets of Bangkok at Christmastime. I have read this story every single day since I first encountered it in October, and will probably continue to do so long after this Christmas has passed. I won’t say that I haven’t complained about anything since I first read it, but this account of mind-numbing poverty, ill fortune, and charity of spirit has renewed my appreciation for what I have, from the moment when I wake up in the morning to the time when I close my eyes in the evening. If you get a chance in the run-up to the holidays please find a copy The Usual Santas and read it (as well as the other stories in the collection). You will be thankful.

Since we are talking about appreciation for what we have, please know that as we wind down 2017 that I appreciate you, and you, and yes, you for coming by this page and spending a few minutes with us here at TKZ and, if you are so inclined, commenting. It means a lot, more than you probably realize. I hope that all of us will continue to make your visit worthwhile.

Best wishes. See you in 2018, if the Good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise.


18 thoughts on “…and to all…

  1. I’d love to hear the Fats Domino story, Joe. He was one of my all-time favorites. And thank you for all your wonderful posts this year. Going now to check out The Usual Santas.

  2. PAtricia, you are welcome, and thank you for your kind words. Next year…first post of mine will describe my visit with Fats!

  3. Good morning, Joe

    Thanks for all your posts this year. I appreciate your expertise and knowledge, and always enjoy your updates on the ever-changing landscape of the business of publishing.

    Thanks for the tip on The Usual Santas and Timothy Hallinan’s story.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, and to The entire Kill Zone family. This is my favorite writers blog.

    • Good afternoon, Steve! You’re welcome, and thank you for all of your comments here and elsewhere on TKZ as well as your deep and kind friendship. They all mean so much.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours as well!

  4. Essays like this one makes stopping by at TKZ worthwhile. Thank you for not only this one but all the things I’ve learned each day. Looking forward to Crossed Double in January.

  5. Brian, you are welcome, and thank you so much for the high praise. We’ll all try to continue to earn it in 2018!

  6. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to all our TZK brethren out there. Ditto what Joe said, that we so appreciate you guys showing up and giving us life.


    • You’re welcome, BK, and thank you for being there all year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

  7. I know I’m late in the day responding. (I overslept.) But I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

    Your writing makes us happy. (My wife says I often have a smile after I read your post.)

    If you don’t ever read this, I understand. I slept so late that I think they’re getting the horses ready to ride down the path to the Saturday night dance at the villages in some South American Countries.

    See you next year.

    • Jim, you are not late because we. never. close. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you! And if I bring a smile to your face, my job is done. Thank you!

    • MG…thank you. You are way too kind and give me too much credit, especially today, given that I’ve had my hair set on fire over the past few hours. Your words are a reminder that I need to do better. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  8. I’m sure there’s a story in the hair set on fire day. I hope the lingering smoke doesn’t prevent you from reading my appreciation for another year of encouraging, funny, educational posts from you and the entire TKZ team. Thanks for your generosity in sharing and supporting writers everywhere. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your readers.

  9. You’re welcome, and thank you so much, Suzanne! My hair state is just a combination of Christmas and my daughter’s graduation today from THE Ohio State University. I’ll be fine by Christmas. Of next year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  10. Joe, I’ve also been a Fats Domino fan for many years, so sorry to see he passed away in 2017. I’d love to hear your Fats Domino story also. And I chuckled because you used one of my favorite sayings, “Lord willing and the creek doesn’t rise.” I look forward to the TKZ postings, so much valuable info for writers on all levels. Happy Holidays to all.

    • Frances, thank you for your good wishes and Happy New Year to you as well. The account of my meeting with Fats Domino will ring 2018 in!

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