Friday, May 29, 2009

BTAP #26: Maintenance by Kieran Shea

Woman doesn't even look half-human anymore...."

I studied the photographs—a side by side before and after comparison of the former Mrs. Stafford. The man wasn't kidding. The woman's once subtle easy lips were now as thick as canned Vienna sausages and her face should I put this? Intense.

"Maintenance" is Kieran’s second masterful contribution to BEAT to a PULP and showcases New Jersey private investigator, Charlie Byrne. Another Byrne adventure will be featured in an upcoming issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in a story called "The Lifeguard Method."

Next week: Chad Eagleton with our second sci-fi offering, "Six Bullets For John Carter."

Coming soon: "The Devil's Right Hand" by Jack Martin.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Star Trek: Season One Remastered

In the 1980s, when Star Trek was first released on VHS, a good friend and I began separately purchasing individual episodes at $20 a pop which was a lot of money for a teen and, come to think about it, highway robbery. But I made sure I got my money's worth. I savored classic episodes like "Mirror, Mirror" and "The City on the Edge of Forever" more than a dozen times each.

During the Next Generation run, I finally burned out on everything Trek. I even gave up the original and haven't watched the show in fifteen years. I was certain I was finished with the adventures of Kirk and Spock.

Well, once a Trekkie always a Trekkie it seems. I just purchased the enhanced Season One set for fifty bucks... a bargain compared to the 80s. The series has been remastered and the 1960s special effects have been replaced with computer-generated imagery giving new depth to models of planets, alien ships and the Enterprise as well as to the matte painting backdrops. I'm sure some purists are annoyed with the tinkering, but I feel it's a much needed make-over and I'm impressed how the new effects fit right in with the rest of the show. I imagine it's now the way creator Gene Roddenberry would have done it if he had had the funds the first time around.

For fans who know the show by heart, like me, you'll be crying out during each new scene, "That's new!" or "Look what they did there!" to the newbies. And for first-time viewers, this is a logical place to begin and you'll see what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

James Arness

One of my heroes turns eighty-six today. I was looking to post my favorite Gunsmoke episode, Mannon, where Steve Forrest gets the drop on Matt Dillon. Couldn't find it but TV Land has several fine episodes here. And The official James Arness Website has some interesting offerings and a place to leave him a message. Anyway, Happy Birthday Mr. Arness.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BTAP #25: Vengeance on the 18th by David Cranmer

I originally wrote this story for Out of the Gutter's Revenge issue but it required a rewrite that I wasn’t prepared to do so instead I submitted the award-winning “Blubber” (ok, it's a second place win but, dammit, it's my only prize for writing and I'm going to own it!). I put “18th” on the back-burner for awhile until I could finally face it again. I think this version is stronger and with a more potent ending. And the Editor-at-Large for BEAT to a PULP gladly accepted my story (don’t laugh, Ms. Ash is no more easy on me than she is with any other submission that rolls in). A big thanks to Elaine for her considerable assistance. Here’s "Vengeance on the 18th".

Next week: Kieran Shea gives us some "Maintenance" with a character that will be featured in an upcoming issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Btw, Kieran's brilliant piece of prose was suppose to be featured at BTAP this week but I didn't have the guts to follow this modern-day Hammett.

Coming in June: Paul Brazill's “Tut” and “Y Not” from Travis Erwin.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wild West Monday: Seraphim Falls review

The Tainted Archive is a daily must-read and its founder, Gary Dobbs, is—to borrow a line from Anthony Quinn—a one man tango. He single-handedly began a western revival with his Wild West Mondays of which I’ve been fortunate to be a part. WWM #3 is coming up soon so he’s asked different writers to contribute a piece of their own choosing on books, films, Old West history etc. Click on over where I’m reviewing Seraphim Falls.


James Reasoner mentioned this film today and I remember it was the action film of the moment for us twelve-year-olds. I just may have to watch it again. It looks dated but in a good way, if that makes any sense.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 150th birthday

Yellow Mama's Cindy Rosmus has a new post on Sherlock's creator at Amsco Extra titled “Elementary, My Dear Sir Arthur . . . and ‘Happy Birthday!’ "

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Good Con

From The Last Match by David Dodge:
I am in prison, sentenced for bankruptcy, and I wish to know if you are willing to help me save the sum of $285,000 U.S. Cy, which I have in bank bills hidden in a secret compartment of a trunk that is now deposited in a customhouse in the United States.

As soon as I send you some undeniable evidence, it will be necessary for you to come here and pay the small expenses incurred in connection with my legal process so the embargo on my suitcases will be lifted.
Curly, the protagonist of Match, comments on this scam:
Too obviously a con? It’s been worked successfully for over a century, and it will go on working successfully as long as there people around who are venal, greedy and dumb.
So I’m checking BEAT to a PULP’s submissions, deciding if I should or shouldn’t accept a horror story from S. King, when I read this in my junk mail:
Abidjan Cote D'Ivoire.

My Dear,
I am Miss Cellina --, from Ivory Coast, I need your honest assistance to transfer Usd$9Million Dollars from here. Please reply with your direct phone number if interested. I await your quick reply and i will give you the full details.
That gave me a chuckle. Curly and P.T. Barnum was right--a sucker is born every minute if this con or a variation is obviously still working.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

BTAP #24: Oral Eruptions by John Weagly

This is one interesting submission for me. I read it. Chuckled. Read it again and laughed out loud which is rare for me. The talented John Weagly may have presented us with our second WTF story. And if you haven't read our first, click here.

Next week: One of our finest and most humble pulp writers working today.

Coming soon: Gerald So is in the Amazon with "Artifacts" to spare.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Way Some People Die by Ross Macdonald

He let me know he had a gun, he thought he’d throw a scare into me. I didn’t tell him I was handling firearms before his dam dropped him on the curb and kicked him into the gutter. He wanted to think he was smooth and sharp and I let him go on thinking it.
Mrs. Samuel Lawrence pays detective Lew Archer fifty dollars (one day’s salary) to find her wayward daughter, Galatea. Galley, as she's known, is beautiful, crazy for men and was last seen with local small-time hood, Joe Tarantine. Archer’s investigation begins in his stomping grounds of Southern California and a lawless trail leads him across country to Palm Springs.

Macdonald’s psychological insight into the motivations of his multi-layered characters coupled with stunning writing led The Chicago Tribune to accurately point out, “Ross Macdonald gives to the detective story that accent of class that Raymond Chandler did.” Amen. I defy anyone to turn to a page in this book without landing on a passage of poetic prose:

I caught occasional glimpses of the sea, white capped and desolate under a driving sky. The unsteady wind whined in the corners of the cut-banks and fell off in unexpected silences. In one of the silences, under the drive of the motor, I heard Galley crying to herself.
If you need to shake things up a bit after reading your dog-eared copy of Phillip Marlowe for the eighth time, then I'd suggest giving the heir of Hammett and Chandler, Ross Macdonald, a go with The Way Some People Die.

For more FFBs, check Patti Abbott’s site here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hard Bite Announcement

Almost a year ago I read “Killer Orgasm” by Anonymous-9 over at Yellow Mama and left a fan comment. Since then we have become good friends and have corresponded continually and, of course, she supplied me with "Hard Bite" which just won Spinetingler’s Best Short Story on the Web. Anyway, almost a month before the Spintingler win, she expressed interest in finding a co-writer for the novel version of "Hard Bite." I started throwing out names of writers who would be suited to the project and she very politely rejected each one until practically reaching through the phone, knocked me over the head, and said “David, I’m talking about working with you on this.” Needless to say I was honored to be offered the opportunity and beginning a few days ago started some preliminary research on the east coast—while on the west, A-9 began knocking out that incredible hardboiled prose that she’s known for.

I'm thrilled to be a part of "Hard Bite" the novel, and if any agents are reading this with interest, please go ahead and drop us a line.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Costs of the Transporter

My charmer and I are currently apart due to work and we recently had a conversation about how easy (albeit not happy) we have it compared to, say, John and Abigail Adams. When John A. was the ambassador to France, he was away from home for several years at a time. They relied on letters to communicate and quite often the messages didn’t make it through. Hell, the trip on the high seas was risky enough. Our conversation fast-forwarded to the 23rd century and we pondered how nice it would be to beam-in for supper nightly. But how long would it be before we complained about how miserable it is to see each other for only a couple of hours? Then a more interesting question popped up. How much would it cost to take a transporter? Would it be a flat-rate deal to anywhere in the world or would a domestic transport be less expensive than going to another country (can you just imagine the customs nightmare with people beaming in every few seconds... I'd hate to get caught mid-stream if there was a back-up)? In any event, you can bet your cuddly Tribble that it’s not going to be free.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

BTAP #23: Spend It Now, Pay Later by Nik Morton

We’ve been honored at BEAT to a PULP to feature Black Horse Western writers’ Jack Martin, Chap O’Keefe and Ray Foster. This week we have another to add to the impressive line up: Nik Morton. Writing as Ross Morton, Nik's published work includes Death at Bethesda Falls and Last Chance Saloon, and later this month The $300 Man will be released.

For the Weekly Punch, Nik ventures into the not so distant future with a Twilight Zone style story where Emma James spots an ad:


If it seems too good to be true, read "Spend It Now, Pay Later" to find out why.

Next: “Oral Eruptions” by John Weagly

Coming soon: More Black Irish Blarney.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

BTAP's 2nd Published Story Wins Best Short Story on the Web

"Hard Bite" by Anonymous-9 wins Best Short Story on the Web from Spinetingler Magazine. Back when BTAP was just a gleam in my eye, I "passed the hat" to get stories from talented writers. They had nothing to go on other than my word that I was going to create and run a worthy site. Anonymous-9 had been sitting on a hardboiled story for around 8 months, and based on nothing but trust, sent "Hard Bite" over. It ran as BTAP's second story, following Patti Abbott's "The Instrument of Their Desire" which has already been scooped for publication in an anthology. If we keep going like this, who knows what will happen next!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday

I knew David Dodge wrote TO CATCH A THIEF but had read little else by him. Thanks to the fine folks at Hard Case Crime, I can now add THE LAST MATCH to my list. I do a fair amount of traveling and the protagonist’s wandering spirit--Monaco, Brazil, Tangier, Peru, etc--spoke to me as a fellow gypsy of sorts. Though, I'll stick to the on-the-level profession of writing and not turn to crime as Dodge’s character does. Two lines:

They wanted the cutter and its load, not prisoners or corpses they would have to account for. But they kept machine-guns chattering at us, and I could feel the cigarette cartons at my back jerk, flinch and wince, or thought I could, as the slugs went into them.

What great prose! And there’s also a really touching afterward from David Dodge’s daughter which led me to a website where I gathered a few more titles to be added to my collection in the near future. A really engaging writer and rip-roaring story.


My two lines (plus a bonus line) are from “The Sins of Maynard Shipley.” The rough draft came together in less than a day which was a welcomed first for me.

It’s two o’clock in the afternoon and I’m pushing the book cart from one geriatric’s room to the next. Chekhov, Hemingway, Joyce? I mean, for the love of Pete, half of them can’t remember they’ve shit their pants and I’m offering them Ulysses.

I'm a natural stickler when it comes to my yarns so who knows when it will see the light of day as I polish, re-polish and then triple shine. Until then, check out more TwoFers at Women of Mystery.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

BTAP #22: The Hard Sell by Jay Stringer

Jay Stringer made an offer that BEAT to a PULP couldn’t refuse. With low-lifes, kissable rich girls and old scams done anew, The Hard Sell is a rousing read. Enjoy.

Next: "Spend It Now, Pay Later" by Nik Morton.

Soon: Yours truly with a tale that flaunts a glass eye on the green, all in the name of vengeance.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Big Knockover by Dashiell Hammett

"You speak only of money," she said. "I said you may have whatever you ask."

That was out. I don't know where these women get their ideas.

"You're still all twisted up," I said brusquely, standing now and adjusting my borrowed crutch. "You think I'm a man and you're a woman. That's wrong. I'm a manhunter and you're something that has been running in front of me. There's nothing human about it. You might just as well expect a hound to play tiddly-winks with the fox he's caught."

--From "The Gutting of Couffignal" by Dashiell Hammett.
I just finished THE BIG KNOCKOVER and now I can say I’ve read every published Hammett story, which leaves me rather sullen. I've stretched out finishing up his body of work as long as possible because it's disappointing to know that there'll be nothing new to read from this master.

I’ve included KNOCKOVER here as a FFB only because it's a little off the beaten path from the more familiar THE THIN MAN and THE MALTESE FALCON. Most of the short stories in this collection feature The Continental Op, who, of course, is the prototype for countless tough-guy detectives that followed. The Op isn't as renowned as Hammett's other stellar creation, Sam Spade, and I'm not sure why. Maybe because the name doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as Spade or Chandler's Marlowe or MacDonald's McGee. Regardless, this private investigator for the San Francisco office of the Continental Detective Agency is a complex character. From Wikipedia:
The Continental Op is an amoral master of deceit in the exercise of his profession. In "$106,000 Blood Money", for instance, the Op is confronted with two dilemmas: shall he expose a corrupt fellow detective, thereby hurting the reputation of his agency; and shall he also allow an informant to collect the $106,000 reward in a big case even though he is morally certain — but cannot prove — that the informant has murdered one of his agency's clients? The Op resolves his two problems neatly by manipulating events so that the corrupt detective and the informant get into an armed confrontation in which both are killed.
A big bonus of this anthology is Lillian Hellman’s introduction that offers a glimpse into her relation with Hammett and his work ethic:
I had known Dash when he was writing short stories, but I had never been around for a long piece of work. Life changed: the drinking stopped, the parties were over. The locking-in time had come and nothing was allowed to disturb it until the book was finished. I had never seen anybody work that way : the care for every word, the pride in the neatness of the typed page itself, the refusal for ten days or two weeks to go out for even a walk for fear something would be lost.
Hammett. Hellman. The Continental Op. One outstanding collection. How can you go wrong.

For more FFBs click over to Patti Abbott's site.