Saturday, February 28, 2009

BTAP #12: The Unreal Jesse James by Chap O'Keefe

Jesse JamesI'm thrilled Chap O'Keefe, aka Keith Chapman, has contributed this exceptional story to BTAP. I must give a special thanks to Gary Dobbs who got the ball rolling by passing my email along to him. Keith immediately responded with "The Unreal Jesse James," a story that skillfully mixes the western, sci-fi and romance genres in one deliciously satirical pulpy tale. He says he wrote this piece as a response to the many authors who have claimed to have written about the "real" Jesse James; now, Chap O'Keefe has left his own indelible stamp on the "unreal" legendary outlaw.

To order Chap O'Keefe's latest novel, BLAST TO OBLIVION, click on over to Black Horse Westerns.

Next week: "A Stash of Goods" by Barbara Martin

Coming soon: "In an English Country Garden" by Ray Foster

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends by Allen Barra

While reading about US Marshal Bass Reeves, an unsung American hero, I was reminded of the more celebrated life of Wyatt Earp and what good PR can do. Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends (1999) by Allen Barra demonstrates how a man becomes a legend and morphs into myth. And, as is often the case, the real life revealed is far more colorful. Some highlights:

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral actually took place in Harwood's lumberyard down the street from the rear entrance to the corral. The gunfight itself is portrayed in some movies as going on for several minutes but really lasted only about 30 seconds.

The line spoken in Tombstone by Holliday (Val Kilmer) when one of the Cowboys got the jump on him - "You're a daisy if you do" - is correct, according to eyewitnesses.

Allegedly, dime-novelist, Ned Buntline, gave Wyatt a 12-inch barrel and shoulder stock attachment. This "Buntline Special" takes on mythical status and years later, folks would swear they saw Earp brandishing this weapon. Alas, like the singing sword, it just didn’t exist. (There’s a brief scene in Tombstone where Kurt Russell reaches for the famed weapon.)

On December 2, 1896, "Sailor" Tom Sharkey fought heavyweight Bob Fitzsimmons, "the Freckled Wonder." In the eighth round, Fitzsimmons knocked Sharkey down and appeared to have won the bout. Wyatt, who was acting as referee, disqualified Fitzsimmons and awarded the bout to Sharkey on an alleged foul. The public was outraged and a judge eventually cleared the famed marshal of any wrongdoing even though Wyatt had bet on the game and had an obvious bias.

In this era of revisionism (Unforgiven, Deadwood), Inventing Wyatt Earp fits in nicely. Mr. Barra has stripped the myth down to its barest skeleton by using firsthand accounts and newspaper stories of the time. Unlike some biographers who like to take our heroes down a peg to make a fast buck, Barra obviously respects his subject and provides a fresh take on a well-told tale. Inventing Wyatt Earp is a must for fans of Earp, the old west, and history.

Related links:

Ned Buntline biography

Wyatt Earp and the “Buntline Special” myth

There was nothing punk about Tom Sharkey

Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Pattinase

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Challenge, A Blast, and Some Letters

I'm not sure how she does it, but in addition to all of her other activities, Elaine Ash is starting a flash fiction challenge at Ashedits. She explains:

I’m putting out an open call for short stories, 3,000 words or less, that are either not yet ready for publication, or have been turned down. I will put the selected story (or possibly more than one) up on my blog with gentle but insightful suggestions for improvement, and where I feel the story is “challenged.” The writer will then get busy with revisions, each published in order, until the story is deemed “ready.” Flash fiction is okay too!

Gary Dobbs at The Tainted Archive delivers his first take of Chap O'Keefe's Blast to Oblivion that's being released tomorrow. And another O'Keefe novel, The Sheriff and the Widow, will be serialized on Gary's blog beginning March 2nd to kickoff Wild West Monday.

Sarah Hina has me hooked over at Murmurs with her Letters series exploring a war-time relationship across the miles. Make sure you start at the beginning for this engrossing story.

Hardin vs. Webb Gunfight

Other John Wesley Hardin links:
Hardin biography | Hardin's death gun | Wild West's Most Wanted (Discovery vid) | Hardin Wouldn't Run (Johnny Cash) | John Wesley Harding (Bob Dylan)

*Don't forget next Monday is WILD WEST MONDAY, for more information click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Doc Holliday

"I found him a loyal friend and good company. He was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long, lean blonde fellow nearly dead with consumption and at the same time the most skillful gambler and nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever knew." -- Wyatt Earp speaking of Doc Holliday

"There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man and yet, outside of us boys, I don't think he had a friend in the Territory. Tales were told that he had murdered men in different parts of the country; that he had robbed and committed all manner of crimes, and yet, when persons were asked how they knew it, they could only admit it was hearsay, and that nothing of the kind could really be traced to Doc's account. He was a slender, sickly fellow, but whenever a stage was robbed or a row started, and help was needed, Doc was one of the first to saddle his horse and report for duty." –- Virgil Earp, The Arizona Daily Star (May 30, 1882)

"Holliday seemed to be absolutely unable to keep out of trouble for any great length of time. He would no sooner be out of one scrape before he was in another, and the strange part of it is he was more often in the right than in the wrong, which has rarely ever been the case with a man who is continually getting himself into trouble." -— Bat Masterson, from Gunfighters of the Western Frontier, 1907

"I said to him one day, ‘Doctor, don’t your conscience ever trouble you?’ ‘No,’ he replied, with that peculiar cough of his, ‘I coughed that up with my lungs long ago.’" -- Colonel Deweese, Attorney for Doc Holliday, via The Denver Republican

'Big Nose' Kate, his long-time companion, remembered Holliday's reaction after his role in the O.K. Corral gunfight. She reported that Holliday came back to his room, sat on the bed, wept and said, "that was awful — awful". [Doc Holiday Bio]

"This is funny." -- Doc Holliday's last words, according to witnesses by his bedside. Just before he died, he asked for a glass of whiskey, sipped it down and smiled looking at his bare feet, because he'd always expected he would be killed someday with his boots on. Doc Holliday of Spalding County

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday

I just finished reading The Lawman by Robert J. Randisi, a western tale that clips right along at breakneck speed. I’ll be heading back to the store to pick up, the first title in this remarkable series, Double the Bounty, recently reviewed by Bookgasm.

Two thrilling lines from The Lawman:

He staggered back, clutching his throat as blood continued to pour from his mouth, and then he fell over. Decker picked up his gun and walked over to where Ramon was lying, Jose close behind him.

I'm reluctant to follow on the heels of Randisi with my two lines, but I'll couch it in the fact that it's a work in progress:

A black and blue goose-egg swelled on Shorty’s forehead and blood had begun to cake around it. He came to, mumbling, his body stiffened when he felt the hard steel of Laramie’s colt on his forehead.

The ladies at WOM have more Tuesday thrills.

*A friendly reminder that Wild West Monday is fast approaching. I will have western themed posts for the remainder of the week heading into WWM.

*Don’t forget to check out Short Barrel Fiction leading the way with some new yarns from Susan McQueen and Corinne J. Brown.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

BTAP #11: No Blood, No Foul by Bill Raetz

This week's punch is an excerpt from Bill Raetz's new spy thriller, No Blood, No Foul. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his writing.

Bill, if you don’t mind, maybe we can start by explaining to those who haven’t read your books, what is the World Espionage Bureau?

The World Espionage Bureau (WEB) is an agency I created as a stage for my books. I wanted to take spy fiction in a slightly different direction without repackaging 007 or Mission: Impossible. The WEB Command Center is headquartered in Las Vegas, which plays well with the mystique surrounding Area 51, and allows me to work in some of the glitz and glamour of Sin City.

I’m reading The Lie Detector right now and have noticed a few similarities to Ian Fleming. Has Fleming had a particular impact on your writing?

That’s quite a compliment, thank you. I suppose I do owe my obsession with espionage to Mr. Fleming. I began by writing techno thrillers, but I’ve shifted gears recently and have been packaging contemporary spy fiction as pulps. While espionage is still my forte, I think of myself mostly as a pulp writer.

Who are some of your other inspirations?

Without a doubt, Lawrence Block. He is a master. I also very much enjoy reading James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler. Outside of the hardboiled genre, I’ve been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since I was about eight years old.

The plot for The Lie Detector is wonderfully detailed, and, as a writer, I’m wondering how much plotting you do before you crack your knuckles and start typing?

I do a fair amount of outlining, mapping out all the characters in play. I also put together a flow chart to sequence the main action points, but I leave myself plenty of wiggle room in case a new twist comes to me as I’m rolling along.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

I remember—I must have been eight or ten—sitting in front of the typewriter and hammering out fan fiction of something I’d seen on television the night before. I always kept writing, in one form or another, mostly to entertain myself. It was about nine years ago that I became serious about writing spy fiction and growing my idea for the World Espionage Bureau. I don’t ever remember actively choosing to be a writer. Instead, I feel as though writing chose me.

Are you already working on a follow up to No Blood, No Foul?

Yes! There is much more pulp/spy action to come from the World Espionage Bureau. Look for an announcement this summer!

No Blood, No Foul will be released on March 1st. In the meantime, enjoy a sneak peek with Chapter 1 at BEAT to a PULP. To order a copy of Bill's new book, click here.

Next week: "The Unreal Jesse James" by Chap O' Keefe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Religion of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes

I love the opening quote to The Religion of the Founding Fathers.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” (L.P. Hartley)

How true. I bet if you were to ask any school kid, heck, even most adults, about the country’s founders’ religious views, they would be reasonably fuzzy. After reading Mr. Holmes informative book, I’m no longer scratching my noggin.

The author looks at six Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe), most of whom had been born and baptized into “the church of Virginia.” But as the future leaders began their college studies, the philosophy of deism had gained ground among the educated classes of England and France and this would become a major influence in the formation of the principals of America, and in particular, the First Amendment.

Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that recognizes the existence of a supreme God based on human reason without reference to revelation.

Mr. Holmes writes:
The six Founding Fathers surveyed in this study appear to have been neither wholehearted deists nor orthodox Christians. They maintained their formal affiliations with Christian denominations, though none who were Anglican seemed to have become full church members. In the spirit of the times, they questioned doctrines that they believed could not be reconciled with human reason. As a result, they rejected such Christian teachings as the Trinity, the virgin birth, the resurrection, and the divinity of Jesus. Yet all these six Founders believed in a guiding Providence and—with the possible exception of Monroe—in a life after death. These affirmations separated them from the radical deists of their time.
The Religion of the Founding Fathers is a slim 156 pages but packs a wallop of enriching information. If you have an interest in history and religion, then this book is worth reading.

Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Pattinase

Saturday, February 14, 2009

BTAP #10: The Toll Collectors by Chris F. Holm

Chris Holm delivers our first horror story and it creeped me the hell out. "The Toll Collectors" takes place in the Northeast US, an area that I've travelled through many times which only added to the story's eerieness, but, regardless of where you’re from, you will feel the chill. If you picture Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling standing along a stretch of abandoned road, narrating this extraordinary piece, I'm right there with you, and you'll be glad for the company.

Next Week: Finishing off the month of February will be an excerpt from Bill Raetz’s spy novel, No Blood, No Foul, set for release on March 1st.

In BTAP News: The piece that kicked-off our webzine, “The Instrument of Their Desire,” will be featured in an upcoming anthology from Ed Gorman. We couldn’t be more pleased for Patti Abbott on the success of her captivating story ... congratulations!

Yellow Mama #12, February, 2009

The latest Yellow Mama from Cindy Rosmus is up. This issue contains contributions from Cory Stevens, Ryan Bradford, Marty Keller, Rob Crandall and Cindy herself, among others.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

Vacuum salesman turned hesitant secret agent, Wormold is MI6’s man in Havana, a man who accepts a covert government mission mainly to support his daughter’s lavish tastes. Using Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, Wormold files bogus reports to London and passes off vacuum cleaner designs as military installations and weapons. When headquarters sends a female agent to assist him, he fears his cover is blown. Soon though, his fabricated stories and make-believe agents take on a life or their own, and the "other side" comes to the conclusion that Wormold is a spy and they attempt to kill him.

Our Man in Havana is an excellent satire, poking fun at the pervasive incompetence of political and military leaders in the reckless games they play. You can’t read the 1959 Graham Greene novel without thinking about the debacle of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. In Our Man’s introduction, Christopher Hitchens comments on Green’s topical writing: "As with his setting of The Quiet American—in Viet Nam just before the critical battle of Dien Bien Phu—or with his decision to locate The Comedians in the midnight of ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier’s Haiti, Greene seemed to have an almost spooky prescience when it came to the suppurating political slums on the periphery of America’s Cold War empire."

Our Man in Havana is an exciting, fun read, still relevant fifty years later. Though it may have taken thirty some years for me to read my first Greene novel (seen the movie The Third Man countless times), it won’t take nearly as long to read my second.

Related Links: Greene Bio | DVD Talk on the 1959 film

Click here for more Friday's Forgotten Books on Pattinase

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bizarre Joaquin Phoenix Interview

"So what can you tell me about your days with the Unabomber?"

*You may have to give the vid a few seconds to load.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday

I’m reading Crime & Punishment, a graphic novel based on the Dostoevsky classic. Alain Korkos and David Zane Mairowitz vividly update this psychological thriller to present day Russia. Two lines:
You think I’m depraved. But there’s something eternal in depravity, a fire burning in the blood, which can’t be extinguished.
Straight from a rough draft of mine:
Only seconds before, her face glowed in deep pleasure, and now, it twisted into a grimace of pain as bullets plunged into her back. Ethan quickly cleared his weapon from its holster and pegged Doig in his left shoulder.
There are more 2-4-Tuesday thrills over at WOM.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

BTAP #9: Caveat Venditor, Caveat Emptor by Todd Robinson

First, congrats to Todd and everybody at Thuglit, for the Edgar nomination of “A Sleep Not Unlike Death” by Sean Chercover, from their Hardcore Hardboiled collection. Hardcore is packed full of brutal, nasty, well-written tales we have come to expect from Big Daddy Thug and crew. I’ve read several in this collection and all are equally riveting. Todd has been kind enough to supply us with our ninth Weekly Punch at BTAP that’s an adrenalin rush to the end. Enjoy.

Next Week: "The Toll Collectors" by Chris F. Holm

Coming in March: "A Stash of Goods" by Barbara Martin

*We are looking for stories to fill the month of May at Beat to a Pulp. A harboiled yarn of a time-traveling cowboy who finds himself fighting Blackbeard on the high seas -or something pulpy like that- would be most welcome.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Book Review Club: High Profile by Robert B. Parker

Controversial talk-show host Walton Weeks is found dead, hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Paradise, Massachusetts. The body of his pregnant mistress is discovered in an alleyway soon after. Police Chief Jesse Stone has his hands full as the national media descends on his little ‘sleepy’ town for the headline of the year.

To add to an already hectic scene, Stone’s reporter ex-wife, Jenn, shows up in hopes of landing the murder scoop, and she further complicates the situation by claiming she’s been raped. Stone, who’s still hung-up on his ex, puts his budding relationship with Sunny Randall to the test when he asks Randall to stay with Jenn to provide security while he solves the murders (btw, if you’re new to the Jesse Stone series, it may be of interest to note at this point that the Paradise police chief is an alcoholic who sees a psychiatrist on a regular basis).

As Stone investigates, he peels away the layers of undisclosed and tangled relationships involving three former wives, each of whom have a stake in the host’s media empire, all while trying to put the pieces of his own personal life in order.

This book was an enjoyable read, and the interplay between the characters is well-developed, especially Stone’s conflicted ties to Sunny and Jenn—the reader can only speculate why Stone doesn’t kick his ex’s cheating a** to the curb and take up with the much more deserving Ms. Randall.

If I had to name just one gripe with the Jesse Stone series, and this is one that shares a common thread for all Parker franchises, it would be the endless psychiatric discussions. Heck, even Sunny Randall is seeing a shrink ... Susan Silverman who is Spenser’s longtime girlfriend. Talk about obsessive!

In short, High Profile is a good place for first time readers to jump on the Parker train or for old fans looking to return.

Thanks to Barrie Summy for inviting me to participate in The Book Review Club. For more reviews, check Barrie's blog for a complete round-up.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Amy Dickinson

My last My Town Monday post highlighted syndicated advice columnist, Amy Dickinson, who hails from my hometown of Freeville, New York (population 505, from the 2000 census). USA Today interviewed Ms. Dickinson in conjunction with her newly released book about her family and Freeville ties.

It's nice to see she is getting some well-deserved buzz for her book and even nicer to see she has put our little village on the map.

Two Sentence Tuesday

I've been reading Thuglit Presents hardcore hardboiled edited by Todd Robinson. This collection features stories from Ken Bruen, Victor Gischler, and Duane Swierczynski among many others. Sean Chercover's "A Sleep Not Unlike Death" has been nominated for an Edgar and here are the first two lines from this fine story:

Gravedigger Peace was already sitting up when his eyes opened. It had been years since the nightmares, but his face and forearms were clammy with perspiration and his heart was racing, so he assumed there’d been one.
Todd himself will have next week’s punch at BTAP with the captivating title of "Caveat Venditor, Caveat Emptor."

I’m going to pass on my own two lines this week but no need to be faint of heart... the ladies at WOM will supply you with more two-fer Tuesday thrills.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thuglit Issue #29

Man, I haven't even had a chance to read CROOKED #2 that I just printed off and I see THUGLIT Issue #29 is out. This one features Gerard Brennan, Tyler Midkiff, C.G. Bauer, and Albert Tucher to name a few. Speaking of Thuglit, I'll be highlighting a snippet from Big Daddy Thug's (Todd Robinson) hardcore hardboiled for tomorrow's Two Sentence Tuesday.