Saturday, September 26, 2009

BTAP #43: The Red Ruby Kill by Brian Drake

Jack Dillon's acne-scarred face remained still as the detective pulled the morgue drawer open. The metal track moaned. Dillon looked at the wrapped body as a mist of chilled air touched his cheeks. The detective unzipped the body bag and exposed the dead man's face. Dillon moved more of the bag aside to reveal the jagged lightning bolt tattoo on the dead man's left shoulder. He tilted his head to the side and said: "That's Harry." A slight Irish accent filtered his words.
Read more of Brian Drake's story, "The Red Ruby Kill."

Next week: "The Devil Wears Carhardtt" by Andy Henion

Soon: Sophie Littlefield's "Mortification."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bat Masterson

William Barclay "Bat" Masterson (November 26, 1853 – October 25, 1921) was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, U.S. Marshal, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph. He was the brother of lawmen James Masterson and Ed Masterson. Wikipedia


"New York is the biggest boobtown there is. They will buy any damned thing here."

"When a man is at the racetrack he roars longer and louder over the twenty-five cents he loses through the hole in the bottom of his pocket than he does over the $25 he loses through the hole in the top of his pocket."

"It was as a hunter he won his name of 'Bat', which descended to him, as it were, from Baptiste Brown, or 'Old Bat', whose fame as a mighty nimrod was flung all across, from the Missouri River to the Spanish Peaks, and filled with admiration that generation of plainsmen which immediately preceded Masterson upon the Western stage." (Bat, writing in third person, explains his nickname in his book Gunfighters of the Western Frontier, (1907).

"At the earnest request of many citizens of Ford county, I have consented to run for the office of sheriff, at the coming election in this county. While earnestly soliciting the sufferages of the people, I have no pledges to make, as pledges are usually considered, before election, to be mere clap-trap. I desire to say to the voting public that I am no politician and shall make no combinations that would be likely to, in anywise, hamper me in the discharge of the duties of the office, and, should I be elected, will put forth my best efforts to so discharge the duties of the office that those voting for me shall have no occasion to regret having done so. Respectfully, 'W. B. MASTERSON.'" (Dodge City Times, 1877)

"Every dog, we are told, has his day, unless there are more dogs than days."

"I arrived here yesterday and was met at the train by a delegation of friends who escorted me without molestation to the business house of Harris & Short. I think the inflammatory reports published about Dodge City and its inhabitants have been greatly exaggerated and if at any time they did 'don the war paint,' it was completely washed off before I reached here. I never met a more gracious lot of people in my life. They all seemed favorably disposed, and hailed the return of Short and his friends with exultant joy. I have been unable as yet to find a single individual who participated with the crowd that forced him to leave here at first. I have conversed with a great many and they are unanimous in their expression of love for Short, both as a man and a good citizen. They say that he is gentlemanly, courteous and unostentatious - 'in fact a perfect ladies' man.' Wyatt Earp, Charley Bassett, McClain and others too numerous to mention are among the late arrivals, and are making the 'Long Branch' saloon their headquarters. All the gambling is closed in obedience to a proclamation issued by the mayor, but how long it will remain so I am unable to say at present. Not long I hope. The closing of this legitimate calling has caused a general depression in business of every description, and I am under the impression that the more liberal and thinking class will prevail upon the mayor to rescind the proclamation in a day or two." (Letter from Bat to the Daily Kansas State Journal, June 9, 1883)

"There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I'll swear I can't see it that way." (This last quotation was also Masterson's last words; it was a bit for a column found on his typewriter. He died while typing.)

My Friend Wyatt Earp by By W.R. Masterson

Additional sources:

Ford County Historical Society

Saturday, September 19, 2009

BTAP #42: A Wild and Crazy Night by John Kenyon

Tracy freaked out when her son staggered into the living room with an arrow through his head. Me? I laughed.
What an opening! And you'd be crazy not to read the rest of this John Kenyon tale. Check it out here.

Next week: Brian Drake with "The Red Ruby Kill"

Coming Soon: "One Night Near Hangtown" by James Reasoner

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Spread the word, please! There will be only a few openings, but the first print anthology for BEAT to a PULP is in the works. To round out our usual, diverse array of pulp genres, we are actively seeking war stories, sea yarns and cozy mysteries. 4,000 words or less. The BEAT to a PULP print collection will be released in 2010.

Send submissions to:

*Stories not selected for the print publication still have a chance to appear on our Weekly Punch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday

I've been absent from the TwoFer posting for awhile but am now returning with some lines that will be published in print before year’s end. The title is Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil:
Drawing his Colt, Boland pulled back the hammer with a ratcheting click and fired three shots at the oncoming apparition. Then he pitched to the side, his hat tumbling away, as the legs of the ghostly white horse came crashing down beside him.
I had previously posted lines from this piece in June when it was still a work in progress.


Cornell Woolrich remains a huge influence and since I've been traveling, I've taken the time to really savor the re-publication of Fright. I read just a chapter a day, often re-reading certain paragraphs to allow Woolrich's exceptional prose to really settle in.
He kept his face back beyond her reach. He had a longer arm-span than she, and her hands flickered help-lessly upon his arms, like wriggling snakes trying to clamber up a pair of fallen tree trunks.
The ladies at Women of Mystery can supply you with more Two Sentence Tuesday here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Buster Keaton - Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. is the story of a naive, college-educated young man who must prove himself to his father, a riverboat captain. This silent classic features the famous stunt where a cyclone blows down a wall on top of Keaton who passes, unharmed, through a precisely placed open window.

2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Related links:

Roger Ebert: The Films of Buster Keaton

Reviews of Steamboat Bill, Jr.

AMC filmsite

Combustible Celluloid

Other silent flicks posted on EPW:
The Navigator | A Trip to the Moon | Faust | Sherlock Jr. | The Great Train Robbery | The Iron Mask

Saturday, September 12, 2009

BTAP #41: Cedar Mountain by George Miller, Jr.

Photo courtesy of George Miller, Jr.BEAT to a PULP's Weekly Punch presents a diversion from our usual pulpy tales with George Miller’s "Cedar Mountain." This story had been part of Elaine Ash’s successful writing challenge that also included Keith Rawson and Frank Bill. For personal reasons, G (as he’s known by in the blogging community) had withdrawn his entry, which Ms. Ash thought was well-written, and after reading it myself, I couldn't have agreed more. I contacted G and asked what became of this remarkable piece. He said he had posted it on his blog but was happy to take it down to allow BTAP to publish it. And so, "Cedar Mountain" finds its new home at BEAT to a PULP.

Next: John Kenyon has "A Wild and Crazy Night" in store for us.

Soon: Andy Henion discovers "The Devil Wears Carhardtt."

*Photo courtesy of George Miller, Jr. Enhancements by dMix

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BTAP Stats

US, China, Italy, UK, Canada, Australia, Poland, Japan, France, Singapore, Russia, Moldova, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Romania, Switzerland, Serbia, Montenegro, Egypt, Estonia, Republic of Korea, India and New Zealand all stopped by BEAT to a PULP this week and we would like to say thanks for continuing our ratings streak. 1,236 visitors and 10,122 hits in five days ain't bad.

Hilary Davidson's "Insatiable" is our first story to continually gain more readers with each day. Normally, traffic is heavy the first couple of days after a new weekly punch is posted and then, understandably, it levels off. So thanks to Hilary for such an exceptional story and to our fan base that continues to grow. It is very much appreciated.

With all these countries showing up, I got to thinking how great it would be to read a Romanian Noir or a Western from down under. A high seas adventure from India? Why not? Polish up that submission and send it to Now, there is a vetting process and I recommend reading one of our stories first to see what we are looking for. But, I can tell you, I'm all ears for a Moldova war story or an Italian horror piece. That would be cool, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The importance of labeling

I've recently discovered the importance of labeling artifacts is not to be underestimated. This clay pen holder masterpiece was created by yours truly in 1980. And the reason I know this is because my name and date are etched in the bottom. Now that's foresight! Sadly, this colorful face mask in the picture below is not the same case. I picked it up in either Cameroon or Belize. It seems that it should be obvious because styles can be so distinctive but for some reason, I'm not completely sure. I'm leaning toward Cameroon. Anyone got a good guess?!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

BTAP #40: Insatiable by Hilary Davidson

Hilary Davidson has the spotlight this week at BEAT to a PULP with Insatiable. With Hilary’s new book to be released in 2010, I had a few questions about her writing career that she very graciously took the time to answer.

BTAP: Your debut novel, The Damage Done, is coming out next year. You must be very excited. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

HD: Excited may be an understatement. The Damage Done will be published by Forge in October 2010, and I'm already counting the days. The book is about a woman who has an extremely dysfunctional, and destructive, relationship with her sister. At the outset, the main character, Lily, comes home to New York because the police have told her that her sister, Claudia, has been killed. But as soon as Lily sees the body at the morgue, she realizes it's not her sister's. The dead woman had stolen Claudia's identity, and Claudia -- a heroin addict with a violent history -- has vanished. To the police, Claudia shifts from victim to suspect. Lily becomes obsessed with searching for her, even though she's afraid of what she's going to find. As she goes after Claudia, Lily's own life starts to fall apart.

BTAP: You have been very successful as a writer for magazines like Reader's Digest, Martha Stewart Weddings, Discover and Canadian Living. What made you decide to take the plunge into crime fiction?

HD: My dream was always to write fiction, but journalism was and is a pretty terrific day job. When I quit my editing job to write full-time a decade ago, I made the mistake of thinking that I'd have more time for fiction. Instead, I found that after I'd written 2,000 to 3,000 words a day for work, there wasn't much time left for fiction. Also, since I'd write mostly about travel, I was often on the road, which sounds glamorous, but producing 18 travel guidebooks is mostly grunt work. I started writing bits and pieces of the novel that became The Damage Done ten years ago, and set them aside for later. Eventually, my characters strong-armed me into writing the book. I would literally wake up at four in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep until I wrote a chapter. Finally, I had to turn down some paying work -- hard for a freelancer to do -- and carve out time during the day to write fiction. That's when the four a.m. wake-up calls stopped. I can't really say that I decided to do it. It didn't seem like a choice so much as a compulsion.

BTAP: Who would you say has most influenced your writing?

HD: The two biggest influences on my short fiction are Edgar Allan Poe and Harlan Ellison. They share the ability to drop your heart into the pit of your stomach by the time you get to their last lines. While I was working on The Damage Done, I was thinking of work by Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith, Walter Mosley, Dennis Lehane, Anthony Burgess and, strange to say, Edith Wharton. I don't mean that I was trying to follow another writer's style, but I'd think about them as I worked out pacing, perspective, dialogue, detail. They helped me deal with problems I'd run into as I wrote.

BTAP: Do you see yourself ever giving up journalism to write fiction full time?

HD: Writing fiction has become my priority, but in many ways, journalism feeds my fiction. My mantra has been that I'm willing to do pretty much anything for a good story. One magazine actually paid me to learn to scuba dive and then explore shipwrecks in the St. Lawrence river. That kind of assignment is incredible. Travel writing has let me visit places that intrigue me, from Istanbul to Easter Island, and I use those locations in some of my fiction. If I can continue to learn and explore through journalism, I'll keep working on it, too.

BTAP: I see you started a Gluten-Free Guidebook website. Can you tell us a little about that?

HD: In 2004, I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called celiac disease. The only treatment for it is to stay on a completely gluten-free diet. That means no bread or pasta, of course, but also no soy sauce, no beer... no to many processed foods. The upside was that I was suddenly free of some painful health problems. The downside was that it seemed like I'd never eat out again. I didn't want to live like that, so I spent a lot of time researching restaurants and finding ones that could accommodate me. It hit me when I was in Peru in 2007 that I was doing so much research, and yet I was the only person benefiting from it. I started the Gluten-Free Guidebook website after that so I could share the places I've found. The response has been amazing. People from all over the world come to the site, and some of them send me tips or write up entire reports about the places where they live. The site has really taken on a life of its own.

BTAP: I noticed you moved from Toronto to New York in October 2001, right after 9/11. Did this have an impact on your writing?

HD: The timing was accidental. I'd applied for a Green Card and it came through in August 2001. I gave notice on my apartment in Toronto and hired a moving company, then went to a travel writers' conference in Bermuda. I was supposed to come back to Toronto and start packing on September 12th, but ended up grounded in Bermuda in the aftermath of 9/11. While I was there, I thought about canceling, or at least delaying, my plans to move. But by the time planes were flying again, I was feeling angry and defiant, and I made the move in October the way I'd originally planned.

There are some images from my first year in New York that will stay with me forever. My apartment is a few blocks from the 69th Regiment Armory, which was plastered with posters of people who died in the attack. It was a depressing time to be in New York in so many ways, but being there meant that I got to watch the city rebound. It also gave me a different sense of the city, as if it were a living, breathing organism. One of the comments that I've heard over and over about The Damage Done is that the portrayal of New York is incredibly vivid. A lot of the exploring that I did started in the days after 9/11, when visitors avoided the city and below 14th Street was a no-drive zone. In a way, it was such a privilege to be in New York at that time. But I hope never to see it like that again.

BTAP: Thanks, Hilary, and best of success with The Damage Done.

If you have an Insatiable appetite for crime fiction, then you won’t want to miss Hilary Davidson’s riveting tale over at BEAT to a PULP.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Sandra sent me a link to The Western Online. I may just have to submit. It has a very impressive look. Also Gary Dobbs has a well written piece on Johnny Ringo here. And speaking of westerns: Now That´s Rural Silver Screen Cowboy Museum.

*Don't forget to support the genre by ordering Chap O'Keefe's Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Links On The Run

The day job has infringed on my time to enjoy a good book, and with other things like writing and BTAP taking up more of my evenings, I am often turning to the net to find some welcome and pithy diversions. Here are some that I found this week.

Patti Abbott is on a roll. Over at The Back Alley, she delivers once again with "Raising the Dead." Also in the issue is a fascinating look at Frank Norris and his classic noir, McTeague.

Charles Gramlich has posted A Time to Hang Up Your Guns: Part 1. I was totally immersed. A very thought-provoking piece, eloquently written.

In the news: An author's guide to the Google Books flap is helpful. Where do you stand on it? Germany seems to have an opinion. One of my favorite books, Deep Water, is going to the silver screen. I hope they don’t screw it up.

Via Laurie Powers today, I found this fun site, Pulp of the Day.

Oh, and some BEAT to a PULP promotion... Please return in two days when Hilary Davidson delivers one helluva punch.