Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eastern Standard Crime Presents... Crooked

Geoff Eighinger's CROOKED has landed. The first issue features stories from Sandra Seamans, Albert Tucher, and Sandra Ruttan among others, and also includes an interview with Charles Adai. Wishing Geoff and Crooked the best for great success in '09.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miles Davis and John Coltrane: So What

This video clip is an amazing moment in music. I love the shot of Miles playing while John Coltrane looks on. Then Miles takes time out for a smoke while Trane is performing. Too cool. "So What" is from Kind of Blue considered by many to be the greatest jazz album. And it's perfect music to have playing in the background while writing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Feb. 2009

Elaine Ash brought to my attention this fantastic opening paragraph in the February issue of EQMM:
Chief Inspector Bozo of the Clowntown Homicide Squad stepped from his second-floor office wearing a fedora between his side-tufts of bright orange hair, hair which had, late in life, turned purple at the temples, giving him a distinguished look. But inside the large painted smile his mouth was grim. Someone had murdered Jumbo the Elephant.
Doesn't this make you want to read the rest of "Clowntown Pajamas" by James Powell? The February issue also contains stories from Loren D. Estleman, R.W. Kerrigan, and one of my favorites, Edward D. Hoch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BTAP #3: Disimpaction by Glenn Gray

I read this stopped-up little story one morning just before breakfast. What a mistake! I’ve always given Glenn Gray high marks for his dialogue, which is first-rate here as well, but it’s his descriptive content that wins out with this contribution to BEAT to a PULP. Dr. Gray proves the "write what you know" school of thought is the best procedure as his day job provides us with this thoroughly vivid tale.

Next week: "A Man Called Masters" by Jack Martin

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

After spending the last several months in the south, it's nice to return home to upstate New York for a white Christmas... although, I had one of those 'be careful what you wish for' moments. My charmer and I went out to do some shopping as a major snowstorm hit the area. Mix one icy patch with a slight turn, and next thing you know, we slid straight into another vehicle. If you look closely at the picture, you may see the bumper is bent a bit, but other than that, my Jeep held up very well. Can't say the same for the Cadillac. Anyway, the good news is that d and I are spending Christmas with family.

* * * * *

Merry Christmas and wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

I received an early Christmas present... Alfred Hitchcock’s 1961 anthology, Stories For Late At Night, which contains contributions from the likes of John Collier, Roald Dahl, Brett Halliday, Robert Arthur etc. It’s the venerable Ray Bradbury’s work I will highlight. From "The Whole Town’s Sleeping":
Lavinia felt her heart going loudly within her and she was cold, too, with a February cold. There were bits of sudden snow all over her flesh and the moon washed her brittle fingers whiter, and she remembered doing all the talking while Francine just sobbed.
Very rarely am I disappointed by this master, nothing short of excellence. Now my humble little rough lines still in progress:
Stir in some falsified but damning evidence, like videotape, a sobbing hysterical daughter on the witness stand and a next door neighbor with a knack for telling stories. As I sit in my cell, I am reminded of an old saying, "You can bend it and twist it, you can misuse and abuse it, but even God cannot change the truth," unless, of course, you have enough money.
Now for some more great lines check out the ladies at Women of Mystery.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

BTAP #2: Hard Bite by Anonymous-9

I would hate to be challenged to a hardboiled laptop duel with Anonymous-9 -- I'd lose. This lady is the hardest of the hard. Somehow I always picture her back in the 1930's writing for Black Mask and knocking out incredible prose for a penny a word. If she had, we would be reading her collected works today. I received a couple emails on how I was going to follow up Patti Abbot's stellar story that launched our site. The answer is by turning 180 degrees and shooting the audience down a long dark alley where A-9 is waiting with Hard Bite.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Maigret and the Wine Merchant by Georges Simenon

When I saw Wine Merchant (1969) sitting on the shelf at Books A Million, I decided it was time to catch up with Simenon's introspective Inspector Maigret in this classic police procedural series.

The story begins when a wine merchant is shot and killed outside the house where affluent men discreetly meet with their lovers. Maigret quickly learns that the merchant had many enemies, including the mistresses he treated with contempt, a former friend he had belittled and financially ruined, and even his wife who knew of her husband’s dalliances and apparently indulged in an affair with one of his colleagues.

A crime of passion? Probably, but who’s responsible?

An unidentified man begins calling Maigret and sending letters, condemning the inspector’s labored efforts to bring the killer to justice. After all, if everyone despised the smarmy merchant, then shouldn’t the killer be congratulated instead of hounded?

More subtle than Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct, Maigret tends to be interested in the psychology behind the crime rather than the clues and forensics. The police aspect of this story is balanced nicely with the inspector’s home life. Mrs. Maigret fusses over her husband in a loving way and this makes Maigret’s musings on the ‘whys’ of murder more meaningful.

The ending may seem a little far fetched to some but I appreciated the fact that instead of a cliché shoot out, the book lived up to the promise of getting inside the killer’s noggin and explaining the motives behind the murder.

Georges Simenon effortlessly delivers a superb study of crime. It’s a book I hope you'll find time to search out.

Head on over to Patti Abbott's site for more forgotten books.

Monday, December 15, 2008

OOTG #5 Review

Bookgasm has a review of Out of the Gutter's Revenge issue and Rod Lott called my degenerate pulp offering, "...nauseating yet entertaining."

Me gusta!

12/16 update: I just received OOTG #5 in the mail. I've only just begun reading it and the stories by Bruce Cooper, Matt Louis, Cindy Rosmus, Glenn Gray, and Nolan Knight are all first-rate.

I would also like to thank Victor Gischler and Anthony Neil Smith for choosing my story as one of the award winners. From these two distinguished writers, that's capped off a nice week for me.

BTW the great pulp art featured on the cover is by Jim Rugg.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

BTAP #1: The Instrument of Their Desire by Patricia Abbott

Well, BEAT to a PULP has debuted a little early. I believe all the kinks have been worked out and I’m hoping you will like the final product. My goal was simple: focus on the stories and make the site easy to navigate. I'm confident that’s been accomplished.

First, the site. I think in this day and age with so many distractions and limited time, one story a week is ideal. There will be a couple of exceptions because I have a novella or two that I will spotlight in the coming months along with our featured story, the Weekly Punch. Each time a new story is posted, the older one will be moved to the sidebar where it'll stay for several weeks until it makes it way into the archive.

Second, and most important: the stories. I live and breathe hardboiled. It will always be the foundation of my reading and writing. However, as my Mom always says, “Too much of anything is good for nothing,” so I decided to mix things up with diverse offerings in the vein of Lester Dent, Louis L’Amour, Harlan Ellison and Robert E. Howard. That’s what I believe we have done at BTAP, though I will let you be the judge. Over the next few months we have a western from Jack Martin, sci-fi and fantasy from Sandra Seamans and Barbara Martin. And nasty, sweaty hardboiled from Stephen D. Rogers, Anonymous-9, Glenn Gray, Charles Gramlich, Albert Tucher, Paul Bishop and Kieran Shea.

And there’s our debut story. I couldn’t be more excited, starting off BEAT to a PULP with Derringer Award winning author, Patti Abbott. When I approached Patti about submitting a story, she sent “The Instrument of Their Desire” saying that it may be too literary and not hardboiled enough. She said if it didn’t fit, she had another one that would. A few paragraphs into it, I realized I’d be remiss to pass on this amazing contribution. The story grabbed me with a terrific opening paragraph and didn’t let go all the way through to the electrifying ending. Patti, you have set the bar high; “Instrument” is a masterpiece and I can’t thank you enough.

I would like to thank two great collaborators for their indispensable support: DMix for designing the site and Elaine Ash who proofed the submissions making gems shine even brighter.

Most of you have my email so please drop me your opinions. And most importantly send your stories... enough blabbing on my part, here is BEAT to a PULP.

*My wife and I are still on the go, packing up our apartment in Virginia and as a result still don’t have immediate access to Internet. As a matter of fact, I had to go to Kinko’s to upload BTAP. Hopefully in a couple of days, things will be back to normal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reading habits

Ok, I'm on the road (just stopped for the night in Chattanooga, Tennessee) and these are the books I brought with me. And yes, I'm reading all of them. I can't seem to read just one at a time. My charmer has called my reading habits schizophrenic... I pick up a book, read a chapter for about ten minutes, put it down and start a chapter from another book almost immediately. To me, it's the equivalent of flipping channels during commercials. But that's not to say I'm not getting all that I can from each book. Somehow I manage to take it all in. When it comes to the anthologies, I've been waiting several weeks between stories to really savor them.

Does anybody else have bizarre reading patterns or read more than one book at a time?


--The Man Who Went Up In Smoke (A Martin Beck Mystery), Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
--The Goliath Bone, Mickey Spillane
--Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
--Serenity: Those Left Behind, Whedon, Matthews and Conrad
--Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
--Maigret And The Wine Merchant, Georges Simenon
--High Profile, Robert B. Parker
--Coronado, Dennis Lehane
--A Hell Of A Woman, Edited by Megan Abbott
--Texas Sheriff, Eugene Cunningham
--The Playboy Book Of Horror And The Supernatural

*I might not get a chance to make my usual rounds in the blogosphere this week. I'm traveling and also preparing Beat to a Pulp for Monday's debut.

Monday, December 8, 2008


My good friend, Boh Cyprain, recently traveled to the northwestern section of Cameroon where he snapped this picture of a rather interesting motorcycle. He writes:

Hi Dave, that motorcycle you see is the invention of one guy from Bamenda, my region; it actually works they way you think it does. Look critically and you will also notice that the gear selector is intact and works very well too.

I'm trying to picture Steve McQueen in The Great Escape outrunning the Nazis on this one.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Golden God

Editor Christopher Grant has been kind enough to post A Golden God over at A Twist Of Noir. It's a flash piece of mine about an assassin and an ill fated birthday party.

Update: Eastern Standard Crime has reviewed my story.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

BEAT to a PULP Link

Ok folks, here’s a sneak peek at BEAT to a PULP. Only the home page and the guidelines page are available until the entire site goes live December 15th. Our new email address for submissions is given on the guidelines page. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

I also received the following message from Elaine Ash:

Hello Fiction Writers! As David explained, I’m the new Editor at Large for Beat to a Pulp. Once you submit a story, David makes his decision regarding acceptance and then sends it to me for review. It’s a rare writer who sends in something without the occasional misspelling. The correction is bolded and then sent back to you, the writer, for approval. Of course, sometimes words, particularly in dialogue, are purposely misspelled to convey an accent or mental state of the character. That kind of misspelling is left alone. (Do I hear a collective sigh of relief?)

Sometimes, although a story has already been accepted for publication, I have an opinion on word usage or plotting, and I’ll put forward a suggestion. Writers are always free to debate my suggestions and politely decline. Most of the time, however, they see the benefit of running the story past a “fresh pair of eyes” and are happy to make a small change if it improves their work.

Finally, sometimes suggestions can be made by email. Other times, I need the benefit of the telephone to get my point across. If a writer wishes to keep their phone number private, I’m happy to give out my business phone number so the writer can call me at an arranged time, and block their number, ensuring privacy.

Keep writing, and I look forward to reading your work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's Meme Time

I GOT MEMED! Brian Lindenmuth challenged Patti Abbott who in turn named yours truly. I need to list writers I’ve read who were new to me this year and then tag some others. This is easy because I’m sitting on a bunch of submissions for Beat to a Pulp (shameless plug), so I’ll name a few of these and then several gone but not forgotten authors.

Kieran Shea’s "Backing the Stakes" will be featured in mid-January in BTAP. His writing is sharp and concise. No words wasted. His hard boiled yarn hits you with both barrels center mass.

Jack Martin's’s "A Man Called Masters" is in the tradition of western giants like Zane Grey. A wonderful story and I will be looking forward to his full length Black Horse western coming out next year.

Charles Gramlich and I ‘met’ through James Reasoner’s blog. After we both survived Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, I decided to drop him a message on the Razored Zen. I was impressed with his horror offerings in October and still think he should start a monthly magazine. I contacted him about a story for my e-zine and he delivered "Whiskey, Guns, and Sin." Great title and extraordinary pulp. If you have never read his work before, you’ll be hooked after this.

And for the golden oldies: Luke Short, Eugene Cunningham, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Will Eisner.

And now, I hope they don’t mind. I'll pass the torch on to Scott D. Parker and Chris, The Louis L’Amour Project, if they would like to give it a try.

Elaine Ash, Editor at Large for BTAP

I've lucked out at Beat to a Pulp with Elaine Ash coming onboard to edit stories. Elaine owned a publishing company in Toronto, Canada, and has worked with writers and directors in Hollywood for a decade, including names like Terry Gilliam, Mike Figgis, Lars Von Trier, Roland Joffe and more. If you have submitted a story to BTAP, you will probably be hearing from Elaine over the next few months.

I can personally attest to Elaine's editing skills as she is the one who gave me initial guidance on my story "Blubber" which won second place in the 10 Minute Read fiction contest in the current issue of Out of the Gutter.

In other news, our BTAP home and guidelines pages will go up this Friday. I made a slight mistake by not having a set of guidelines in place before our announcement of seeking submissions. The cart was put ahead of the horse so to speak. So, come back in two days for the link, and you'll be able to take a look at what we're looking for and, at the same time, get a sneak peek of the website.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Two Sentence Tuesday

I'm taking my time reading The Goliath Bone to really enjoy it since it's chronologically the final Mike Hammer novel. So far, it's tops. Spillane has a stylistic approach all his own as our favorite detective deals with Islamic terrorists, Israeli extremists, and the alleged preserved femur of one Biblical giant. I decided to highlight some of his descriptive text:

He wore no topcoat—he’d gone from the phone call from me straight to his limo and here. In his early sixties, he looked like what the guy in the old Arrow Shirt ads might have aged into, movie-star handsome with steel gray hair but black eyebrows over green eyes that could eat you alive and the kind of quietly regal demeanor high officials assume when they wear the robes of office.
To think that Phillip Marlowe had been pounding the pavement for years when Hammer first appeared on the scene in I, The Jury in 1947. Marlowe 'soon retired' to Poodle Springs, but not Hammer and Velda. They are in New York still fighting the good fight in 2008. That makes for a good feeling.

My two pitiful lines come from a story that has been idle for more than a year, and I can see why. It doesn't hold a candle to the fine words of Spillane but maybe if I keep working at it. Here's something from "The Suitcase":

After the drug had worn off the confined denizen, the sound of a latch sliding open inside the suitcase resonated throughout the empty diner. A small figure stepped free from the leather prison, stretching his muscles and yowling.
Yowling? That probably gives away our confined denizen. And denizen? Ha! Back to the drawing board as they say.

For more Two Sentence Tuesday, check out the Women of Mystery...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Border Guns by Eugene Cunningham

The front rank stopped. What Ross told them was all too true. He was a dead man if any chose to flip back a Colt-hammer-but two, or three, or four in that front rank would surely be as dead. Those behind pushed upon those in front. But the men directly before those muzzles dug in their heels and upon their faces showed the beginning of a change in emotions-the breaking of their savage determination to rescue their lieutenant from the jail, and settle this unpleasant personage with the shotgun; some thought of the gaping wounds left by buckshot....

I enjoyed this 1935 western. Guns is well-plotted with thrilling action and exceptional dialogue. For more info on Cunningham, check out The Handbook of Texas. Next to Luke Short, Cunningham is a writer whose work I will collect. Thanks to J.R. for recommending him.