Monday, August 30, 2010

7 Questions: Alyssa Goodnight

Congratulations on the wonderful news of your two-book deal with Kensington. The first is called AUSTEN IN AUSTIN. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Thanks so much, David! Honestly it still doesn't feel completely real. (I'm still reeling from landing an agent back in October.) In fact, the one thing that does feel real is the the 'two-book' part of the deal--the fact that I'm expected to turn something out in a timely manner! But none of that was part of your question, so let me get back to that.

To describe AUSTEN IN AUSTIN, which, I've been told, is a temporary title, I'm going to re-use the blurb paragraph I used during my agent search. It garnered me one loyal fan...

What do you do when you don’t believe in magic but your life has just been liberally sprinkled with fairy dust? Suck it up, vacuum optional.

Nicola James is a left-brainer with a carefully finessed life plan, a plan that doesn’t include an enchanted journal or an interfering fairy godmother. But when Nicola discovers her first journal entry has been mysteriously whittled down to a few select words that read like a snippet from a Jane Austen novel, she’s freaked first, skeptical second, and finally downright curious. She can’t help but keep writing, dueling really, with a two-dimensional fairy godmother she doesn’t totally believe in. But when the odd little excerpts start coming true, screwing with her plans, her head, and her life, nudging her towards an impossible—and impossibly seductive—romance with a man who’s inarguably wrong for her, she’s torn, trapped between a life that makes sense and a man who doesn’t. With a fairy godmother wedged in the middle. A fairy godmother who just happens to be the spirit of Jane Austen herself.

When did you first decide you wanted to write romance novels?

Honestly, it started as a lark. I was visiting my sister with my then eight month old son, and I think one of us was reading a romance that wasn't living up to expectations. This prompted the two of us to comment that between the two of us we could write a better book, and out came the paper and pens. We had fun with our little project for the duration of the visit and agreed to keep things going long-distance. I'd write a bit and send it off to her, and then she'd edit what I'd written and tack on a bit more. It went back and forth like that for a little while until she got tired of it. I, on the other hand, was totally and completely hooked and kept at it, writing pretty much every day while my little boys napped. The final result was UNLADYLIKE PURSUITS, my self-pubbed Regency historical novel.

What is it about Jane Austen that keeps us coming back to her work 193 years after her passing?

Personally, I think a big part of it is that she published so few novels. Most readers probably get introduced to Ms. Austen via Pride & Prejudice, and they so enjoy the storyline, the characters (Mr. Darcy chalks up the adoring fans...), and the author's light, sardonic wit, that they immediately go in search of another novel, and then another. But there are only six complete novels. So as devoted readers, we either have to reread those six or branch out to reading spin-offs, hoping that they'll capture some of the magic of the originals. So authors keep writing, hoping to appeal to that audience, and at the same time, capture a little Austen magic for themselves.

Beyond that, each of Ms. Austen's novels are compulsively readable. These were popular fiction at the time of their publication, rather than highbrow literature, and they remain completely accessible to readers today. The themes are still mostly relatable and the characters are much beloved.

Why do so many romance novels seem to be period pieces. Is it because romance is lacking in today's society?

Most historical romances are set in either eighteenth or nineteenth century Britain or in the early American West. Certainly there are romances set in other times, some featuring Vikings, pirates, and Medieval warriors, no doubt because readers are curious about the lives, cultures, and customs of those periods in history. Not to mention their romance lives.

I started reading Regency romances when I was a teenager, and I think what appealed to me was how very different life was in that time period. A girl my age would already be having to think about getting married off--yikes! Luckily, given we're discussing romance novels, the heroine always ended up with the right guy, and the story ended with a happily-ever-after. In a typical Regency romance, the characters tend to be upper class and so a good bit of the storyline revolves around balls, walks in the garden, and invitations to country houses. There is witty banter and flirting. The seedy side of humanity tends to fade into the background--or else the villains are soundly routed by the hero (possibly with help from the heroine). Men are men (breeches don't leave much to the imagination), and women are innocent...until page 275. Seriously though, It's an escape to another time, glossing over mistresses and brothels, and resolving all romantic problems within 300 pages.

I wouldn't say romance is lacking in today's society. Maybe it could maybe use a jump start.

How do family and friends support your career?

Honestly? They are so supportive as to be almost pesty. But in a good way. I almost dread the initial pleasantries after seeing someone after a long absence. They invariably pose the question, " you have a new book out yet?" Little do they know that not only am I a S-L-O-W writer, but the publishing industry itself is notoriously slow. Admittedly, if I'd decided to self-publish my second book, I could have had it in their eager hands long ago, but I chose to pursue traditional publishing this time around. Now I can tell them proudly, "I finally have a new book coming out!" but then I'll have to admit it won't be available for at least another year. Still, I'm thrilled that they're interested, I just wish I could promise a better response time.

My husband and sons are tremendously supportive--it was my husband who suggested I give self-publishing a shot, and my older son is constantly keeping tabs on how many reviews I have up on Amazon and how many pages I've managed to write between check points. It's sweet.

What activities does Alyssa Goodnight enjoy outside of writing?

Definitely reading--that's a big one, as it is for most writers. For me reading is the perfect break, a magical little escape. Other than that, I have fun keeping up with my kids and all the things they're doing and saying. Last week my older son was watching TV (while I was reading a book) and he says to me, "Mom, it's your kind playing basketball." I thought he meant the University of Texas was playing, or maybe even Ohio State. Nope. He meant girls were playing.

I like romantic comedies, long lunches, browsing the bookstore or the library, lazing outside in the spring or fall, and all the hype associated with holidays...although I'm adamantly opposed to Christmas decorations before November.

Which side are you on in the Angelina Jolie vs. Jennifer Aniston war?

I find this question hilarious coming from you, David. And I must admit that I can't claim to have an experienced opinion on this matter. The limited information I have gleaned has come from National Enquirer headlines quickly scanned at the supermarket checkout counter. Then again, maybe that makes me as experienced as anyone else here.

I think I have to side with Jennifer Aniston for these reasons:
1. Angelina Jolie is coming off as somewhat of a hussy. (And honestly, I think she's running with that.)
2. Jennifer Aniston has a girl-next-door vibe about her, whereas A.J....hussy.
(It's just now occurring to me that they have the same initials, just backwards.)
3. From all appearances, Brad Pitt is a wishy-washy bozo--I think Jennifer Aniston doesn't need that dragging her down. (Nor does she need to be associated with a couples' nickname like Brangelina. Gag!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The USA's love affair with...

Sandra sent me the link to this captivating article titled The USA's love affair with legendary criminals. I'd be interested in what folks think of the article and the photo claiming to include Wyatt Earp, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Teddy Roosevelt and Judge Roy Bean, among others.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BTAP #89: Gunpoint by Fred Blosser

"At no place in the United States is a lower value placed upon human life than in Fayette County, West Virginia."—Cincinnati Enquirer, May 15, 1904.

This is a story they still tell in the mines and hollows of West Virginia—about two enforcers for hire in the coal camps of the early 1900s, a dealer in spirits from New York named Torrio, two Hatfield boys, two Pinks, and the day they all met at gunpoint....
Read more of Fred Blosser's explosive Gunpoint.

Next: Chris F. Holm's THE DAME, THE DOCTOR, AND THE DEVICE kicks off our thrilling A RIP THROUGH TIME saga

Soon: Chap O'Keefe's "Outback Gothic"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- NEEDLE

Going to the mailbox was damn special today. My contributor's copy of NEEDLE arrived.

Have you gotten a copy for yourself yet? All the cool kids are reading it.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Manhunter 2070

2070 -- In the short space of one hundred years -- man has conquered space! Planted his colonies on the planets of his own solar system -- and with the invention of the Bridwell Space Drive has reached out to other galaxies...
I had to buy this comic because it was published in June 1970, a few months after I was born. And with any luck, I will be able to read it on its centennial anniversary sixty years from now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PastPosts * Ava Gardner Museum

Some photos from a trip to the Ava Gardner museum in Smithfield, NC in November 2006.

She is buried a few miles away from the museum. This is the family headstone with Ava's marker in front (AVA LAVINIA GARDNER / DEC. 24, 1922 / JAN. 25, 1990)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pulp Extract: Skulls in the Stars

He saw nothing, but he knew - he felt - that other eyes gave back his stare, terrible eyes not of this earth. He straightened and drew a pistol, waiting. The moonlight spread like a lake of pale blood over the moor, and trees and grasses took on their proper sizes.
- From Robert E. Howard's "Skulls in the Stars" featuring Solomon Kane first published in Weird Tales, January 1929.

I'm having a religious experience with THE SAVAGE TALES OF SOLOMON KANE. I have read Mr. Howard before but not the Kane series from beginning to end. What an amazing group of stories.

Latest 7Q: Keith Rawson

Keith Rawson reveals Crimefactory's print anthology line-up and much, much more.

Click here for today's essential interview.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm a Fool to Kill You

From Robert J. Randisi:
After 4 books with St. Martins Press the series has moved to Severn House. I'm very pleased with the move. Since Severn is a Britain-based house, the books will be published in both the U.K. and the U.S. For this reason there are two pub. dates. In the UK it will be a September book. In the US, a Jan. 2011 book. However, it will be available for preorder, and will carry a 2010 copyright date. As you can see, the book features the Rat Pack and Ava Gardner. And, or course, Eddie G. and Jerry.

I've enjoyed Mr. Randisi's Rat Pack mystery series and am especially looking forward to I'M A FOOL TO KILL YOU that features Ava. I'm a card carrying fan of the lady and will post some photos of my visit to her museum soon.

The Western Fictioneers

Today, I'm banging the promotional drum again with a few new insights into the Round One project like the ever-elusive release date and highlighting a few more aspects of the beast. I appreciate The Western Fictioneers allowing a greenhorn like myself to hang out and push my wares. So, please click over and leave a comentario.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

BTAP #88: The Worms of Terpsichore by Garnett Elliott

Garnett Elliott has written about pirates in "The Redemption of Tom Chatham" and Hollywood detectives in "Studio Dick," (in the forethcoming Round One antho). Heck, in a few weeks, he takes up boxing right here in these pages. But where is this talented writer at the moment? Running for his life from "The Worms of Terpsichore."

Next: Gunpoint by Fred Blosser

Then: The Simon Rip adventure begins with Chris F. Holm's A RIP THROUGH TIME: THE DAME, THE DOCTOR, AND THE DEVICE.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Secrets Revealed

Ok, I know you don't really need a list of reasons go back for part two of Rich Prosch's interview with me, but here it is anyway. For starters, there is a picture of me squinting -- could it have been from all the paparazzi flashing bulbs and demanding to know when Round One will be released, or perhaps it was just the sun. Two, I mention the other writers in addition to Chris Holm who are involved on the until-now-super-secret Simon Rip project. Plus I get personal and talk about the Cranmer home life and my passion -- for writing, that is. Please stop by and leave a comment. There are only six Q&As left.

Say goodbye to the bad guy

"They tell lots of lies about me," he complained. "They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, it ain't true, I only killed one man for snoring". -- John Wesley Hardin who died on this day in 1895.

Hand Gun Trick of Gunslinger John Wesley Hardin | Johnny Cash sings Hardin' Wouldn't Run | Eclepto Funk Americana's John Wesley Hardin | Discovery: Wild West's Most Wanted | The outlaw's weapon | and John Wesley Hardin & The Shootist Archetype.

"I never killed anyone who didn't need killing."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Have Read, Reading or Will Read

I grew up a hardboiled kid reading Chandler, Hammett, and Parker. Now I spend most days on the range writing western fiction. Point being, I've never read a romance novel but had no qualms about picking up Unladylike Pursuits by Alyssa Goodnight. I've said before a good story is a good story regardless of whether it's about worms on Terpsichore (there's some BTAP foreshadowing) or early 19th century romance. What jumped out at me with Ms. Goodnight's book were the rich descriptions and the ease of the storytelling. My first romance perhaps, but not the last.

Fellow-blogger friends Alec Cizak and Brian Drake have books out. I haven't read either yet, but I'm looking forward to both. Also, a few of you may have missed the latest Charlie Byrne grind. Head over to ATON to check it out.

Super duper congrats to Paul Brazill for being included in The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime.

Also, another friendly reminder about the second issue of NEEDLE mag which happens to have a story of mine, "The Sins of Maynard Shipley."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The DC Interview Part One

Ah, you know you want to know more, don't you? C'mon click over and please don't forget to leave a comment. The interviewee toiled hard over these answers.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rhythmic Gyration

Patti recently posted Ann-Margret dancing from the film Viva Las Vegas and Rita Hayworth in the noir classic Gilda. My vote for this generation's most memorable rythmic gyration artist comes from a music video. Ms. Shakira in Whenever, Wherever. Who would be your pick?

BTAP #87: New Boyfriend by William Blick

Vinny had lots of friends. People always calling, dropping off packages. He would take Mom out to these fancy restaurants. You know the ones where you had to call ahead. Only Vinny didn't call, he and Mom just showed up and ate.

Oh yeah, and he kept a pistol under my mom's bed. I would take it, wave it in front of the mirror with a necktie on, trying to be cool like Vinny.

But then things changed
Read more of Mr. Blick's flash piece here.

Soon: BEAT to a PULP: Round One print anthology edited by Elaine Ash and yours truly. This collection of 27 hard-hitting tales will feature the writing talents of Ed Gorman, Robert J. Randisi, Charles Ardai, Nolan Knight, Chap O’Keefe, Stephen D. Rogers, Jedidiah Ayres, Nik Morton and many others.

On the way: The Simon Rip adventure begins with Chris F. Holm's A RIP THROUGH TIME: THE DAME, THE DOCTOR, AND THE DEVICE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Murder in the Air

I've finished reading MURDER IN THE AIR. Publishers Weekly says, "Few will be able to resist Crider's brand of broad humor, eccentric characters, and murder." I wholeheartedly agree. Mr. Crider delivers another thoroughly entertaining mystery in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. Highlight for me was Rhodes stumbling ass-backwards into a rock pit that has been converted into a pond, discovers a clue, and then unintentionally becomes involved in a little episode known as noodling. Top fun and a fine read.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Jodi MacArthur read my short story "The Great Whydini" and mentioned how much she enjoyed magician tales. That, in turn, reminded her of this old Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode titled "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" starring Brandon de Wilde and Diana Dors. I hadn't seen this episode before and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story was written by the incomparable Robert Bloch.

Part 2 | Part 3

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Needle Magazine, Summer Issue, 2010

Needle Magazine is hardboiled, lean and mean. No silly reviews. No poetry. No advertising. Nothing but hard hitting stories. In your face and busting up your kiss-maker. Kapow. Fiction from Ray Banks,Nolan Knight, John Stickney, Frank Bill, Julie Summerell, Nigel Bird, Sarah Weinman, Allan Leverone, Chris F. Holm, David Cranmer, Stephen Blackmoore, and Mike Sheeter.

Order here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Great Whydini

The submission guidelines at All Due Respect read:

We are interested in crime fiction. That means fiction about crime. Not solving crime. Not bemoaning crime. Fiction about people who are criminals and maybe a little bit about why they are criminals, so long as you don't go Dr. Phil on it.
Well, I've had a tale collecting dust that met the criteria. ADR editor Alec Cizak mentioned that this story of mine, "The Great Whydini," reminded him of the old EC Comics. I've been immersed in EC of late and took it as a great compliment. This pithy story involving a marriage gone wrong, shackles, and a lack of oxygen is pretty straightforward but I believe it turned out well. I'm appreciative Alec chose it as his second story at All Due Respect and please drop by and leave a comment for or against. Ladies and Gentleman, the man being lowered to his possible death, "The Great Whydini."

Evan Lewis reviews Whydini here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

EPW Pony Express

The latest Black Horse Extra has landed with all kinds of up to the minute news including a snippet on BEAT to a PULP's print anthology... Don't miss What Am I Today by James Reasoner... Part two of Richard Prosch's interview with Charles Gramlich at Meridian Bridge... Hud actress Patricia Neal dies at 84... 'Cowgirl' bank robber sought in Sacramento heist... Alamogordoan uses steam to mold cowboy hats... Wild West lives again in Mackinaw Valley... Report: John Wayne among 'scariest' airports and David Crystal asks Who’s John Wayne?... Train robbing is still a profitable gig in India... The West took over Maine for action shoot... and trouble in "Horsetown USA."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Affair of the Wooden Boy, Boss's “Coercion," and Reindeer Love

I’m reading Mel Odom’s The Affair of the Wooden Boy. The plot is best described from Mr. Odom’s own website:

Dead things are drawn to James Stark, Lord Gallatin. His beautiful wife Mina knows this is true. But that doesn't stop him from pursuing supernatural evil throughout their city, and Mina will never leave her husband's side.

The night that a small wooden boy came knocking at their door and told them his body had been stolen, James Stark immediately took up the investigation. His quest takes him to the brink of death, and Mina is only one step behind.
I’m three chapters in and thoroughly enjoying the read. Mr. Odom has also been nice enough to comment on ROUND ONE and BTAP here.


Chris Rhatigan has some kind words to say about Mark Boss’s “Coercion” that BTAP published earlier in the year. If you missed it, after reading Mr. Rhatigan’s kudos, I’m betting you will want to check it out.


In totally unrelated news: Deer Steals Man's Wife is the funniest and most disturbing video of the week.

BTAP #86: Dress To Die by Elizabeth Zelvin

The invitation said, “Dress to kill.” When Marnie first joined the mystery writers’ organization, she had been a nervous wannabe, thrilled to brush knuckles with a favorite author over a tray of hors d’oeuvres. Now she considered herself an established writer, with an agent and three paperback originals in print. She would be able to greet the locals among the party-goers, if not all the best-selling guests of honor, without having to peer at their name tags.
Well, how cool is this! Elizabeth Zelvin has our Weekly Punch. For the few who may not be familiar with Ms. Zelvin, she is a two-time Agatha Award finalist for Death Will Clean Your Closet and Death Will Trim Your Tree. Her most recent short story success was "The Green Cross" in the August issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. She blogs regularly on Poe's Deadly Daughters.

We are very proud to present Ms. Zelvin's "Dress To Die," in BEAT to a PULP.

Soon: BEAT to a PULP: Round One print anthology edited by Elaine Ash and yours truly. This collection of 27 hard-hitting tales will feature the writing talents of Ed Gorman, Robert J. Randisi, Charles Ardai, James Reasoner, Sophie Littlefield, Frank Bill, Patricia Abbott, Kieran Shea and many others.

On the way: The Simon Rip adventure begins with Chris F. Holm's A RIP THROUGH TIME: THE DAME, THE DOCTOR, AND THE DEVICE.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Arapaho Camp

This photo of an Arapaho Camp circa 1870 was taken by William S. Soule (from the National Archives and Records Administration, ARC Identifier: 518985) and is now in the public domain. I ran across this stark photo while doing some research for a novel with my character Cash Laramie who was raised by Arapahos.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe website can be found here.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Friday's Forgotten Books

I miss paricipating in FFBs and thought I would post some old reviews.

The Crime of Colin Wise by Michael Underwood

The Hidden Stone Mystery by Fran Striker

Odds Against Tomorrow by William P. McGivern

Wolf To The Slaughter by Ruth Rendell

The Camera Clue by George Harmon Coxe

Through Indian Eyes (The Untold Story of Native American Peoples)

The Way Some People Die by Ross Macdonald

What Really Happened by Brett Halliday

Click here for more of Friday’s Forgotten Books courtesy of Patti Abbott.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


As a kid, I watched Gunsmoke faithfully every chance I got, and out of all the episodes, there was one in particular starring Steve Forrest that stood out. Forrest played Will Mannon, a ruthless gunfighter who shows up in Dodge during Marshal Matt Dillon's absence and paralyzes the townspeople. For most of the hour, the suspense built around Mannon's fast draw, just about the fastest anybody had ever seen, and it seemed that as quick as Matt was there was no way he'd be able to take down Mannon. When Dillon finally shows up in the closing minutes, well, ...

Anyway, I see TV Land is showing the "Mannon" episode until August 9th. I hope it's as good as I remember. Wish my dad was here to watch it with me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Decker looked at the figure on the poster the sheriff handed him. Ten thousand dollars. He unfolded the poster and stared at the picture. The Baron had been plying his trade as a hired killer for more than seven years without ever having made a mistake that Decker knew of. He guessed that the old saying was never more true.

There's always a first time.

Amazon order | An overview of The Bounty Hunter series from Western Fiction Review

Needle Magazine Summer Issue

John Hornor has done an excellent job with Needle Magazine's Summer Issue. My story "The Sins of Maynard Shipley" is featured and look at that, I'm on the cover!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm Versatile

Thanks to David Barber for passing this award to me. Dave is an up-and-coming writer who we'll be seeing more of in the future. If you haven't, I recommend stopping by his site and saying hello.

68 Friends And Growing!

Well, isn't this here a fabulous kick in the head. Super thanks to Hilary and Patti and I'll do another post related to it soon.


Make no mistake about it that Thuglit is as important to the world of webzines as Black Mask was to print. I'm very surprised and saddened to see them go and will keep my fingers crossed that it is not permanent.

It's before ten in the morning here but I raise a Sam Adams toast to you Mr. Robinson and crew, and say thank you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The BEAT to a PULP: Round One Cover!

There is still one small design element to finish, but this is it -- the cover to BEAT to a PULP: Round One. We couldn't be more excited about the outstanding artwork by James O'Barr and sensational cover design by John Bergin. Click on it to enlarge.