Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When One Thing Leads To Another

I stopped in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania a couple of months ago and posted about phone booths. A comment about the size of the town got me wondering so I did a quick check of Wikipedia and got sidetracked by this interesting tidbit:

An infamous 19th-century murder in Fort Indiantown Gap resulted in a trial of six defendants who all had blue eyes. They became known as the Blue Eyed Six, given the moniker by a newspaper reporter who was attending the trial. Their murder trial, held in the county courthouse in Lebanon, received worldwide publicity and inspired Arthur Conan Doyle while he was writing "The Red-Headed League". Five of the six defendants were hanged at the county jail. One of the defendants, Franklin Stichler, was buried in an unmarked grave on his family's farm. Another defendant, Israel Brandt, a Civil War veteran, ran a rather seedy hotel along Hotel Road. The murder site along Indiantown Run, Stichler's family farm, and the hotel site were all later encompassed by the Fort Indiantown Gap installation.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

7 Questions: Scott D. Parker

Tell me about the life of a technical writer living in Houston, TX?

When you can find the work, being a technical writer in Houston is fantastic. You have major oil and gas companies here, computer-related companies (HP), and the medical center. Thus, the opportunities to write different kinds of things are omnipresent. Many of these companies are based in places other than North America. As such, Houston has become a major cosmopolitan city. On spring days in the park, you will likely hear at least five languages being spoken.

I work for a small company called Aesbus. It's an out-source firm whose biggest client is HP. I write server documentation. I joke that my job description is this: "I write the books you have to read when the machine doesn't work right." When people find out about my job, they almost always reference the manuals the general public gets when they buy TVs, computers, or electronic devices. The complaint is usually the same: *You* write stuff like this? At which time they proceed to tell me how bad the consumer electronic manuals are written. I tend to agree. I smile and offer to show them one of my server guides. Oddly, they always decline.

I'll admit the only downside to being a technical writer is that it occasionally filters into my writing. I sometimes obsess over where a character is standing in relation to the door or another character. The downside of being a fiction writer for my tech writer self is that my flowery language can sometimes filter into my day job. Clients don't often appreciate how much a downhole oil drill dislikes the men who assemble it and want to do them harm.

How do you balance your day job with family, three blogs, and your own writing?

When you lay it all out like that, I can't help but visualize myself as one of those performers on the Ed Sullivan Show that balances spinning dishes and whatnot on sticks. As adept as the performer is, on one level, he looks ridiculous. Sometimes I feel that way when I look at the time I have available to me and the sheer number of things I want to do.

One thing that has helped the balancing act is becoming more simplified, more minimal in all aspects of my life: family, writing, online computing, reading, eating, and mental health. I have a wife and a son. They take priority. Period. Carving up the rest of my day is where the balancing act comes into play. I'll admit that my fiction writing suffers when other parts of my life (day job, family) takes up more time than is usual. And, honestly, blogging does, too. The irony is that, as of today, I'm known as being a blogger rather than a writer. The one thing about my blogging that helps is that I don't proofread my posts. What you see on any of my blogs is a first-pass, check for spelling errors, and publish effort. I think that's how most folks do it so I'm not alone.

Usually, I like to write at the lunch hour so I can get writing out of the way for the day. Thus, I can give my family my whole attention when I return home. Sometimes, I'll also write at night. In fact, I wrote my first novel almost exclusively at night, from 10pm to midnight. I try to write every day. I don't have a set "way" of writing. I can write anywhere on anything. I carry a pocket Moleskin notebook and constantly make notes on ideas and plot points. I've also created a standing desk so I stand and type and it gives me more energy. I have a MacBook Pro and I take it with me on most workdays. I don't have any fancy and needless special programs to help me write. I use Scrivener to write fiction, MacJournal for the blogs.

Enjoyment is the sole criteria for what I do and how I do it. I enjoy writing, all forms. The blog writing is easy and enjoyable with instant gratification. The fiction writing, as a yet-to-be-published writer is harder since success isn't guaranteed. The one thing that helps me here is my desire for the job of being a full-time, non-technical writer, not the fame. If I could have a career--one that pays the bills and gives me an enjoyable life--without a single mention of my name (i.e., only use pen names), I'd consider myself a lottery winner. It's the life I want; not the fame. The science fiction writer Ted Chiang is the only tech writer I know of that also writes fiction. His track record is extraordinary. He's not prolific but his stories are excellent and usually win awards. If you want a SF story that will stay with you, find his award-winning "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate." Better yet, find the audio verison narrated by James Campanella.

"You Don't Get Three Mistakes" has been one of our most popular stories at BEAT to a PULP. Where did that character spring from?

I'm about to give an answer I'd hate reading from another author to whom I posed the same question: I don't know. I can name two things that played a factor. One was my reading of a book my grandfather had, William Colt MacDonald's Mascarada Pass. It's a novel featuring Gregory Quist, a railroad detective. Westerns were my grandfather's favorite genre and I wanted to read one of his books. Liked that book a lot (not so the second one I read). The other thing that comes to mind was a visit to the local Houston gun show. I went for research into modern weapons but became enamored by all the historical guns and paraphernalia. I saw a Texas and Pacific Railroad Special Police badge and, thinking of Quist, bought it. That's probably where the seed of the idea to write a story was born. Another seed was to write a story my grandfather would have liked.

As to the story itself, I've pored over all my files, paper and electronic, and can find no trace of any notes I made prior to the writing of the tale you published. The story was written in one session, pretty much as it was published, with nips and tucks here and there based on Elaine's suggestion. Heck even a writer friend of mine suggested the title. (Original working title: "Job Interview") I have notes written afterwards when I realized how much I liked the story and the chances that I might have a character on which I could hang a few more yarns. Interestingly, his original first name was Caleb and I had no last name. When I came time to submit the story to Beat to a Pulp, I still had no last name. I scanned my writing room, searching for a name. My eyes landed on Max Allen Collins' first Hard Case Crime novel, Two for the Money. But, as you can see from the previous sentence, I didn't want a character with an "s" in his last name. Somewhere, Carter popped into my head. As for the first name, again, no dice. But I have a number of volumes of the collected Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. Perhaps it was then that the name "Calvin Carter" wedded themselves together.

I love the old "Wild Wild West" television show and all the gadgets Jim West had at his disposal. I also liked Artemus Gordon's ability to impersonate anyone. I enjoyed the Gregory Quist book and I was reading the first Doc Savage novel. I had just met Charles Ardai at Murder by the Book in Houston and he had given us a preview of Gabriel Hunt. All of that swirled together and out popped Calvin Carter and his first tale. I'm proud of the story and thankful that you and Elaine liked enough to publish it. All the praise I've received in the last year has been gratefully received.

Tell us about your involvement with NEEDLE?

Steve Weddle asked if I'd mind doing a little editing on the side. In my critique group in Houston, I enjoy reading other writers' stories and offering my take on the tale's strengths and weaknesses. I had a similar partnership with a fellow writer back in 2005-06 when we were both writing our first novels. Needless to say, when Steve asked, I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I've had an idea of working in a magazine/publication for a long time. The Needle opportunity came at the right time. I'm looking forward to more good stories and to see how far this ink-on-paper magazine will go. I've already ordered my copy (at and eagerly await its arrival.

Recently, in your 10 Most Influential Books, The Bible headed the list. How important is faith and The Good Book in your daily life?

Faith is fundamental to who I am. Growing up an only child, I got to see my parents and four grandparents have their own distinct relationship with God. For some, it was personal, like Jesus was sitting in the chair in the room. Others, it was more abstract. All, however, had an unswerving faith. It infused me at an early age, something I'm only coming to realize in these last ten years.

I'll admit that I veered from church but never from my faith and belief in Jesus and God. My mother worked in the church and my dad always helped out. Thus, from an early age, the curtain was unfurled and I got to see the mechanics of church, the politics, the non-magical part. Kind of skewed my outlook to where I became unmoored for a few years. After a personal epiphany where Jesus literally came rushing back into my life, the importance of faith in my life *as an adult* was made abundantly clear. I started reading the Bible and other Christian writers like C. S. Lewis. In addition, I volunteered to go on a mission trip to Guatemala with my parents' newer church. One of the team members was my future wife. Now, twelve years later, we are married and have a son.

Reading the Bible allows me to understand many aspects of human nature. Whenever my son frustrates me, I think back to the Old Testament and how the Israelites constantly kept running afoul of God's law. And, yet, He still loved them. My job as a dad is to keep in mind that, no matter the frustrations, love is still the core value. Of all the books in the Bible, I re-read the Psalms (for nice, short poetry written by humans who were experiencing incredible joys and heartbreaks; they help to keep things in perspective) and the epistles (for when I want to really ponder the sacrifice Jesus made). The history part of me enjoys Acts and the later books of the Old Testament.

Faith has made me optimistic. I'm joyful, often ecstatic about life. The best part about the day, for me, is waking up, especially since I had no guarantee the previous night that I would wake up. My writing talent is a blessing from God. He gave it to me and I'm thankful to be able to shine a little of God's gift through my writing.

Your love of history shines through on your blogs. Would you ever consider writing non-fiction?

In a word: absolutely. And, in truth, I already do. All my blogs--especially my reviews and, increasingly, my Do Some Damage posts--are non-fiction.

When in graduate school, I was aiming to become a history professor. Didn't pan out that way. What never left me, however, was my passion for history. What bugs me the most about our modern public schools is how many (notice I did not say "all") of the history teachers are coaches (not dogging coaches here, either) or some other teacher for whom history is not a first love. What results is a dry rundown of names and dates without any context. It's no wonder modern students don't have a love or, at least, appreciation of history. History is the story of living people faced with choices and having to live with the result of those choices. Folks who don't think history is exciting should just watch "Saving Private Ryan," "Amadeus," and even movies like "To Kill a Mockingbird" which give a clear-eyed glimpse into the past. On the book side, historians (notice I didn't use the word "popular") like David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose, and Joseph Ellis write true accounts of events that are as gripping as fiction. Heck, I'd say more so than fiction because of the stakes.

In order to earn my MA, I had to write a thesis. I wrote about the 14th Texas Infantry in the Civil War. I had to incorporate statistical research in addition to the day-to-day retelling of the 14th's story. Needless to say, I enjoyed the narrative part of the thesis much better than the statistical part. But I learned *how* to research history and what is involved in crafting a piece of historical analysis. I never tired of learning new things about the 14th and pondering how different pieces of information applied or didn't apply to that regiment. I bring that type of ability to my blog reviews. I knew that, had I become a professor, I would have enjoyed both required aspects of the job--publishing and teaching--equally.

The sheer joy in analyzing a problem, doing research, and writing down the results while adding my personal analysis of a subject appeals to me quite a bit. It's one of the reasons why I enjoy reading a multitude of polical columnists like David Brooks and E. J. Dionne. They ask a question, do research, and write their conclusions. I also enjoy longer, creative non-fiction pieces like the Mark Bowden feature on General David Petraeus in Vanity Fair. One of my dream jobs--aside from being an author of fiction--is to work for a publication where I could do investigative research. Recently, my Do Some Damage columns have become focused on ebooks and the future of reading.

I won't say non-fiction is easier to write than fiction. But I will say that I love writing non-fiction and, if I could have a career doing only non-fiction, I'd jump at it in a heartbeat.

Tell me a Scott Parker pet peeve and why.

As I mentioned in the non-fiction answer, non-history lovers teaching history in schools is a big peeve of mine. But I don't lose sleep over it.

I am an optimist. Life is so, so precious. It's something to be cherished every single day. The worst day of your life is still better than the alternative. The little stuff is really just that: little. For example, I live in Houston. There is traffic. Period. I see people every day getting irritated about traffic. Hey. That's Houston. Suck it up or move. What's the point about getting mad about something you cannot control.

My wife thinks I'm too carefree. To some extent, I have a right to be. I have a wonderfully blessed life. I just don't let stuff I can't control bother me. What's the point? It can only get in the way from what truly matters.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

BTAP #71: Contact Shots Are Bad Like That by Derek Kelly

"Do not think God will intervene on your behalf," I say. A snarl. "He might not like me per se, but I have noticed He stays out of my way. God is in all things but not this street alley. Not tonight."

He starts crying again, his shame surfacing. Our every word a cloud of ice dying in the freezing, rank air. Every one of those clouds containing secrets.

Read more of Derek Kelly's gritty, uncompromising story here.

Next: Wayne Dundee's Apache Fog.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- I Spy

December 2006. I was leaving North Carolina when I snapped a car tailing me. The secret agent on my trail? Why Little d, of course.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Lying on his side, he lifted the Colt and thumbed off two fast shots. The man dropped his rifle and clutched at his throat as at least one of Fargo's bullets ripped the flesh open. Blood spouted between the wounded man's fingers in a crimson arc. He swayed in the saddle for a second, then toppled sideways and crashed to the ground.
--The Trailsman: Riverboat Rampage #335, by Jon Sharpe.

Western Fiction Review

The Trailsman bio

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday

THE WATER ROOM by Christopher Fowler contains these two horror tinged lines:

By the time she was able to gently lift it free, the cat was dead. Kallie glanced back at the little terraced house, its interior darkened, its brickwork retreating from sight under cover of rainfall, as if the property was disassociating itself from her palpable distress.

This is my first Bryant & May mystery but it won't be the last. Top read.


My short story, "The Wind Scorpion," featuring Cash Laramie is coming up later this year.

There was no way of knowing how far he’d have to wander to find a stream, and, in his weakened condition, without a gun, he’d be no match for the treacherous Wyoming terrain and wildlife. He knew he must stick to the road that eventually would lead to Vermillion, water, and, hopefully, the men who left him to die.

For more TwoFers, click on the Women Of Mystery.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

BTAP #70: Doggy Day Care by Richard Prosch

The last customer had barely cleared the door when Alan Dinkle thumbed the neon pet store window sign to read "Closed," locked the doors, and turned to face me. "You know something's wrong, Mindy. Mrs. Schmeckpepper would never forget Sir Leonard."

I spaced the next ten minutes of Alan's diatribe because I was obsessing about the heart shaped tattoo I'd gotten on my left calf. I hadn't told my parents yet and I'm thinking what a moron, right? To get inked in plain sight like that. Why didn't I go for somewhere under the skirt, like my friend Dana?

Richard Prosch shares an interesting tale with man's four-legged best friend in Doggy Day Care.

Next week: Derek Kelly shows us "Contact Shots are Bad Like That"

Coming soon: Spend some time with Patricia Abbott in "Cafe Sybarski"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Jennings, LA Train Mural

This photo was taken by d in Founder's Park, downtown Jennings, Louisiana (May 12, 2008 with our ever-relaible Nikon Coolpix E4200). This train scene is one of five which depict the cornerstones of the town's history in a 40-foot x 138-foot mural. Jennings claims to be the "Cradle of Louisiana Oil" being the first town in the state to tap an oil well in 1901.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Benefit of Hotel Living

Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used.
--William Shakespeare

My complimentary bottle was a Plantaze Vranac pro corde 2007.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Missing Husband of Mildred Malloy

If you get a chance, I’d appreciate you stopping by A TWIST OF NOIR and letting me know what you think of "The Missing Husband of Mildred Malloy."

Thanks to Christopher Grant for publishing it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

BTAP #69: The Show Must Go On by Mark Robinson

"How's Kristen doing, doc? Ready to go, again?" The producer watched the huddle around his leading lady split revealing her bloated red body.

The doctor removed the stethoscope from his ears and turned to face him. "She's had a type-one reaction to the peanut butter. Any further exposure could lead to anaphylaxis."

The producer hissed a breath through his teeth. That was the whole idea.

Read the rest here.

Next: Richard Prosch's "Dog Day Care"

Coming soon: A Joe Hannibal story by Wayne Dundee.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

7 Questions: Dave Lewis

In both “Skyler Hobbs and the Rabbit Man” (EQMM Feb, 2010) and “The Pride of the Crocketts” (A Fistful of Legends), you display a knack for comedic flourishes. Were you inspired by a funny uncle or are your influences literary in nature?

Hm. It’s sort of a chicken or egg question. Does my mind work that way because that’s what I like to read, or do I like reading that stuff because my mind works that way? I do know I had a fondness for The Three Stooges and Heckle and Jeckle before I encountered any funny fiction. But as soon as I started reading I was drawn to Mark Twain. Later, my idols were guys like Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and my favorite writer for the past 30 years has been Robert B. Parker. I can read the Spenser books over and over and still laugh out loud. “The Pride of the Crocketts” is the result of prolonged exposure to Robert E. Howard’s Breckenridge Elkins. Bottom line? I’m not trying to be funny. It’s just happens.

Why does that American folk hero, frontiersman, and politician from Texas/Tennessee still captivate us one hundred and seventy four years after his death at the Alamo?

I know why he captivates me. As presented by Disney, he was a hero with a grin, great one-liners and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Plus he had the coolest theme song ever. Like Davy’s grandson in “The Pride of the Crocketts”, I have the old guy stuck in my head. “Be always sure you’re right,” he tells me, “and then go ahead.”

Outside of reading and writing, what occupies Dave Lewis the most?

Sleeping is number one, which seems a shameful waste of time. TV and blogging vie for second place. The rest is devoted to such thrilling pursuits as cooking, eating, walking the dogs and cleaning the cat box. My wife and I enjoy traveling when time and money permit. We like cities with plenty of history (our favorite so far is London) and most recently explored New Orleans and Philadelphia.

When it comes to blogging, do you feel that takes up too much of your time?

Absolutely. It’s addictive. I’m trying hard to limit myself to one post a day, but many of those take longer than they should. Still, all the great people I’ve “met” through blogging make it time well spent. My main problem is incompatible technology. The photo processing programs I use most are on my old Windows 95 computer, and won’t work with Windows 7, and only the Windows 7 computer is connected to the internet. I’m crawling under the desk several times a day to move the monitor plug back and forth. I’m thinking of getting knee pads.

Why the pen name of Evan Lewis?

Evan is my middle name. I’ve never liked David Lewis and Dave Lewis seems too common. Evan Lewis ain’t great, but it’s easier for me to picture on a book cover. I envy folks born with cool and distinctive names.

What are you reading right now?

For pleasure, I’m digging my old hardboiled hardcovers out of storage and rereading Jonathan Latimer, Norbert Davis, Richard Sale, Cleve F. Adams and others. Pulps, too, though they’re harder to hold in one hand while I reach for my coffee or fend off dogs and cats. Before I sit down to write I read a chapter of one of Parker’s Spenser novels and a scene or two from one of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon books (the first book of that series, which I highly recommend, is The Last Kingdom). Which leads to the next question . . .

What's next?

I have four novel projects going. Two historical adventures are done in polished second-draft but need plot-juggling. I wrote a third, shorter historical during NaNoWriMo, but it’s still pretty sloppy. The fourth book is a contemporary mystery, maybe two-thirds done. The one I’m trying hardest to finish and get out of here is a first-person historical, hence the ritual reading of Parker and Cornwell. I’m striving for a style somewhere between the two. I’m eager to write a couple of Skyler Hobbs novels, too, but I’m trying to make myself send one of the old ones out before staring something new. (Except, of course, for the western another blogger and I are considering collaborating on . . .)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Sanibel Island, Florida

I photographed this great blue heron on Bowman's Beach (Sanibel Island, Florida) on December 7, 2007 using a Nikon Coolpix E4200. The top of the bird's wing appeared to be injured but that didn't seem to stop him as he casually walked up and down the beach looking for food.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Book Review Club: THE GUILT EDGE

He was lying on the floor of one of the stalls, and had obviously been kicked to death by a horse. His head was bleeding, and the blood had soaked into the straw and dirt around him. I went into the stall and bent over him, but there was nothing for me to do. I didn't touch him, or move him. I got out of there, feeling slightly sick. It's not every day you see somebody's brains scattered about. -- "The Girl Who Talked To Horses" from THE GUILT EDGE by Robert J. Randisi.

The above passage is from one of fifteen short stories that comprise Robert J. Randisi's THE GUILT EDGE and features five protagonists (Henry Po, Val O'Farrell, Truxton Lewis, Bat Masterson, and Timothy Webster) crime fiction revelers have come to love over the last twenty-five years.

Highlights, for me, are the O'Farrell/Masterson tales that imagine Bat still fighting the good fight and mentoring real life O'Farrell as late as the early 1920s.

Michael Connelly has stated "Robert Randisi has long been held as a master of the genre.... He's one of the best."

I agree, and THE GUILT EDGE shows why.

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@Barrie Summy

Saturday, April 3, 2010

7 Questions: Christopher Grant

Who is Christopher Grant?

Christopher Grant is 32 years old, has been a writer in one form or another for at least half his life, has blue eyes and brown hair (at least that which is not turning gray) and loves Spaghetti Westerns.

Gotta ask. Which Spaghetti Western is your favorite?

There are still some essentials that I haven't seen, such as The Great/Big Silence, A Bullet For The General, The Hellbenders and Cemetery Without Crosses.

I'd say it's a toss-up between Once Upon A Time In The West (with my favorite scene being the introduction of Frank and his men; the scene is uber-cool) and Django, due, of course, to the cool and calculation of Franco Nero in the title role.

Some might have thought I'd say The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or For A Few Dollars More or even A Fistful Of Dollars but, to me, those are the Spaghettis that everyone says, sometimes because they haven't seen anything outside of these three (which, by the way, is not their fault, as the market in the US really doesn't push Corbucci or Sollima or Questi or Damiani or anyone else).

Corbucci's early stuff is horrendous (with parts of Minnesota Clay pretty decent) but he got it right with Django and, I think, from there on out.

Leone's masterpieces are seemingly limited to the Dollars Trilogy but I think Once Upon A Time In The West is a beautiful love letter, not just to the end of the West (via the railroad coming through) but also to the Western, which was starting to be replaced at that time by the crime drama.

See? It all connects back to crime, doesn't it?

How did A Twist Of Noir get started?

A couple years back, I was searching for crime fiction sites on the net simply to read and not necessarily write for. I came across a couple that I really liked a lot, DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash and Powder Burn Flash, which Aldo Calcagno does a yeoman's job on.

If you'll note, I have taken on the colors of Muzzle Flash and the style of Powder Burn Flash and applied them at ATON.

I liked both so much that I decided, why not attempt my hand at crime writing, despite never having written anything in the genre (I was more of a speculative fiction writer up until then). I quickly wrote two stories, GETAWAY and THE TOOTH, and fired them off to DZ and had both accepted and got encouraging comments from all involved. I, of course, then sent something off to Aldo and got that accepted, too. And the rest is history.

The evolution of A Twist Of Noir came about when DZ and a few other sites (Demolition Mag, for example) decided to close up shop. I owe a lot to Chris Pimental, in that respect, as he was restarting Bad Things and sent out a mass mailing to announce it.

And, as with the writing aspect, I shrugged and said, "Why not?" and piggybacked on that mass mailing a couple days later, announcing that I was opening my own site.

I figured that the more sites we had, the better results we would all get. The writers would have more access and exposure, the editors would have great original material (or reprints of excellent stories) and it would be a win-win for everyone.

My approach has been that we all should help each other get to the next level, whatever that level is. Why make enemies when you can make friends (and perhaps even a few bucks in the process)?

The Deaf Guy assassin is a hit with readers. Was it hard to allow other writers to roll with a character you created?

Not at all. I'm intrigued by what Jimmy Callaway and Joyce Juzwik and Chad Eagleton have come up with, building upon what was basically a five hundred word story.

When I wrote the story for Dan O'Shea's Church Challenge, I honestly thought that it would be a one-off and, while people would probably enjoy it (he said modestly), it would just be one of the handful of characters that I've written about.

Eric Beetner is the first person that said that I should start writing more about this character or someone would probably snap it up and run with it themselves. A couple days later, Jimmy sent me his story. Joyce enjoyed it so much that she said she'd like to see more and I encouraged her to write her own Deaf Guy story. Chad sent me his story a couple days after Joyce.

I have no problem whatsoever with anyone using one or more of my characters for their own stories, whether in a leading or supporting capacity. What I would ask, however, is that they send me the story before they send it anywhere else, if only so that I might see what they've done with said character. And, of course, if they wish to have it published at ATON, all the better.

People are always asking me how long I can keep BTAP going, so I'll toss that your way and expand on it by saying, what's the future of ATON?

The future of ATON is bright, as evidenced by my inbox yesterday and this morning, with nearly ten stories that need to go up in the next couple days.

Beyond that, I think, nearly every single day, about putting together an anthology and there have been talks with another editor about doing just that.

I would prefer the anthology to be original material, as opposed to taking material off of ATON and putting it in a book.

I think about it this way: if someone wants something that used to be on your site but is now in a book and not available for free, what are the chances that they're going to go out and buy said anthology? Further, what are the chances that they're going to be able to get their hands on it in a store?

On the other hand, what if they've already printed the story out before it's been taken off the site? Then they already have the story and have no need to buy the anthology.

And finally, it's an aesthetic thing. Who wants to a see a site that has a message for ten to twenty stories (and more if there are subsequent anthologies) that reads, "Go buy the book"? To me, it's like a beautiful woman that you meet and you can see she's missing teeth when she smiles. She might be a nice person and maybe you can be friends but you don't want to take her home to Mom.

Besides the zine, what are you currently working on?

My own writing, of course. I just pulled a story out of mothballs that had only seen the light of day on my own blog before I opened ATON and sent it to a print journal so we'll see what happens with that. I still want to get Col Bury and Matt Hilton at Thrillers, Killers 'N Chillers some more stuff. I'd love to write for BEAT To A PULP but, as I consider it to be almost like a temple (that's not smoke I'm blowing; I really mean it), I want to have those stories be just right. Same for Thuglit.

There have been talks about collaborations between a few writers and myself and hopefull those come off.

I'd love to write comic books but need to find an artist for that. I can't draw to save my life!

Deserted island scenario. Which three books and movie starlet would you prefer to be stranded with?

The three books are going to be the hard one, I think. I can think of any number of movie starlets that I'd LOVE to be stranded with but the books are the most difficult.

Let's see.

Books would be:

December 32nd, which is the first two parts of what was supposed to be a trilogy but I think is actually a quartet of a graphic novel story by European master Enki Bilal. I love that book for so many reasons that, if there was a fire and I had to grab one book and go, I'd be grabbing that one.

10,000 Ways To Die by Alex Cox, which is about, of course, Spaghetti Westerns and is the book I'm currently reading so, if I'm dropped on that island today, I want that with me to finish it.

And American Skin by Ken Bruen. If you've read it, you know why. If not, you have no idea what you're missing. This story moves like a stream, turning into a rapids, into a raging river.

As for the starlet, I'd go with Summer Glau. Loved her on Firefly and then in Serenity (which is what helps in qualifying her as a movie starlet, as opposed to a television personality).

Loved her on The 4400. Thought she could have chosen better than The Sarah Connor Chronicles so we'd have that to discuss. Plus, she seems extremely intelligent and, if we're going to get off that island, I want someone that knows what they're doing along with me.

And it doesn't hurt that she's beautiful as hell.

So Summer Glau and those three books and I'm set.

BTAP #68: Fetish by Hilary Davidson

Hilary Davidson’s "Insatiable" was not only a ratings juggernaut for BTAP, but now this hardboiled adrenalin kick has also snagged a nomination for a Spinetingler award. We couldn’t be happier for Hilary and are looking forward to her forthcoming appearance in the latest Thuglit anthology as well as her debut crime novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, coming out in October of this year.

While we're anxiously awaiting, BTAP is proud to present her latest short story, "Fetish."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Fillmore Glen State Park

Fillmore Glen State Park, New York

Thanks to Leah J. Utas for allowing me to join in her Photo Finish Fridays. The above picture was taken at Fillmore Glen State Park by dMix on October 6, 2006 with a Nikon Coolpix E4200.

This state park is one of the many stunning gorges in the Finger Lakes region and is named after the 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore.

Friday's Forgotten Books: The Illustrations Of Frederic Remington

THE ILLUSTRATIONS OF FREDERIC REMINGTON (1970) is a striking coffee table book containing over two hundred black and white sketches of familiar western themes such as cowboys, Native Americans and the U.S. Calvary. Plus there are pictures of unexpected subjects like football and polo. ILLUSTRATIONS comes with a biography by Marta Jackson and a commentary by Owen Wister of THE VIRGINIAN fame.

Related links:

Frederic Remington website


Click here for more FFBs courtesy of Patti Abbott.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


BEAT to a PULP has received two Derringer award nominations for "The Hard Sell" by Jay Stringer and "Identity Theft" by Robert Weibezahl. Congratulations to both and thanks for entrusting BTAP with such marvelous stories.

Also, kudos to Dave Zeltserman for being nominated in the novelette category for "Julius Katz." This was one of my favorite new detectives of last year that I mentioned here.