Sunday, November 28, 2010

BTAP #104: Don't Drink and Drive by Nik Morton

He scoured the motorway and sky. Pristine flyovers, curvaceous intersections, grubby middle-distance fields, unsightly hedgerows, and the myrtle haze of the false dawn. Safe. He fished out a whisky tablet.

Sliding the lozenge onto his furry tongue, he let the saliva dissolve it. Within seconds, his brain soared giddily with the fiery alcohol.

Conscious of motorway camera-eyes, he automatically checked the night sky and also his rearview picture screen on the dashboard. No police in sight. Just as well, he was very near the forty-milligram limit. Forty milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood didn't leave much leeway.

Still, not far to home and Jane, his wife.
Read the latest BTAP sci-fi tale from Nik Morton, "Don't Drink and Drive."

Next: Ian Ayris is "By the Dim and Flaring Lamps."

Soon: "Believe" by Lina Zeldovich.

Don't forget BEAT to a PULP: Round One makes a terrific Christmas present.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Wayne Dundee Interview Part Two

What is your routine when it comes to writing?

I hate to admit it, but I'm probably the sloppiest, least disciplined published author you could ever find.

Up until a year or so ago, when I retired from my full-time job in the real world, my writing was strictly catch-as-catch-can --- i.e., weekends, holidays, late evenings after work, early mornings before work ... whenever I could find a spare half hour or hour or whatever. When you want to write badly enough, especially when you've got a story really cooking, you find/make time. I used to (and still do) carry a steno book in my car and sometimes when I was waiting for my wife to do some shopping I'd sit in the car and scribble down ideas or passages. Sometimes when we were driving somewhere and I had some specific wording sounding just right in my head and I wanted to get it down before I lost it, I'd dictate and Pam would write it down. At one point she bought me a little tape recorder so I could dictate as I drove back and forth to work, but I felt too dorky doing that so it never really worked out.

Now that I'm retired, I have a sort of routine that I follow, but I still can't claim to stick to it religiously.

On weekdays I get up around 6 - 6:30 and help get the grandkids off to school. Once they're on their way, I sit down and check the day's news and e-mails and do correspondence. After that I brew a fresh pot of coffee, get washed up, then sit down to do some writing. After lunch I take a break and read or watch TV for a while. After dinner I write for another hour or two. Then I finish off the night with some more reading or TV. I find that if I write up until I'm ready for bed, then I risk lying there with the story rolling around in my head and getting in the way of falling asleep.

I write in a large basement room on a huge old library desk, surrounded by bookcases and stacks of books. (Since Pam passed away I've moved a small bed into one corner and so the space serves also as my bedroom.) I am not a fast writer. In the course of a week, allowing for lags and spurts and family obligations/interruptions, I average 8 to 12 pages of fiction, discounting correspondence, blogging, and the occassional book review.

Is the PI/detective novel still relevant?


For a number of reasons.

First and foremost as pure entertainment. I believe the world is always seeking heros and, stripped down to its most basic core ---despite all the "tarnished knight" labels, despite flaws that might range from being somewhat psychotic (like Mike Hammer) to a drunken lost soul (like Matt Scudder and numerous others) to physical ailments or wounds to the psyche from various past traumas --- that's what the PI of popular fiction represents. A hero, however unlikely from the outside, often as a last resort.

A person who knows that sometimes the wrong thing is really the only right thing to do. A person who may not be completely "good" because often the only way to get the job done is to be "badder" than the bad guys. A person who --- in this insanely PC world where the threat of litigation smothers all common sense, where cops have their hands tied by the restraints of ever more ridiculous rules, where corruption and greed reign at the highest levels, and where self-serving political manueverings are the only interests at stake --- seeks to mete out a measure of justice that may not always be complete or perfect, but is the best there is to be had. All of this goes straight to the "rug-ged individual" heart that still beats within people, certainly most Americans. And the private eye is, of course, a direct extension of that most mythic image of rugged individualism --- the American cowboy.

Secondly, hardboiled crime fiction (including - but not limited to - private eye mysteries) has over the past decade or so held up as accurate a mirror to our changing society as you're likely to find anywhere. With the exception perhaps of Andrew Vachss's Burke series, I'm not claiming that any of this had an impact on changing society, but the imagery and indicators were there nevertheless. You want to know about things ranging from popular slang to fashion to the political climate to the changing face of organized crime to what have you ... you can find it all accurately represented in hard-boiled crime fiction, private eye mysteries always prominent in the mix.

You had Hammett and Chandler leading the pack in the Twenties and Thirties, then Spillane revitalizing the whole genre in the Forties and Fifties, Ross Macdonald and John D. (although McGee wasn't officially a private eye) achieving a new level of status in the Sixties, Robert B. Parker's Spenser revitalizing things all over again in the Eighties (and still going strong right up until his death earlier this year), the aforementioned Andrew Vachss ... and a host of others continuing to write very powerful stuff, often making the best-seller lists ... Yeah, I think the private eye is still damned relevant.

Will the Joe Hannibal novels be available in eBook form at some point?

We're working to make that happen sometime in the first part of 2011. I've got some re-formatting to do and some new illustrations to commission, and then should be able to kick it off. I also plan to compile a collection of Hannibal short stories, complete with introductions and at least one original story, which will then become available as an e-Book.

What's next for Wayne Dundee?

Wayne Dundee will keep writing until --- to paraphrase a popular quote from the NRA gang --- they pry my cold, dead fingers off the keyboard.

I have the next Hannibal novel done (in search of a publisher), and am actually started on number eight. Events at the close of THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY foreshadowed that Joe, with his life sort of turned upside down during the course of that book, was on the brink of making some big changes and probably ending up reloacted to west central Nebraska (following in the footsteps of his creator). Well, as detailed in the next book (tentatively titled GOSHEN HOLE) and some subsequent short stories that have appeared, Joe is now living in Nebraska at No Name Bay on the shores of popular Lake McConaughy. Although he took out a PI license upon moving to the cornhusker state, as much from habit as anything, he doesn't activiely solicit investigative work these days but rather is operating a successful private security patrol serving homes and business around Lake Mac. As you might expect, however, trouble still has a way of finding him and ... well, you get the idea.

Additionally, I have just signed a contract for the publication of my first Western novel, DISMAL RIVER, due out in 2011. I'm pretty excited about this as I have long wanted to write in the Western genre. I've done a few short stories (and plan on doing more) but I think DISMAL RIVER ranks as one of my best works and I certainly hope to follow up with more novels as well. Ideally, I would like to alternate a Hannibal novel with a Western novel every ten months or so ... but it remains to be seen if the publishing gods allow that to happen.

Finally, I also have a crime/horror novel --- hit man vs. vampire --- submitted for publication. I don't see myself doing a whole lot in the horror genre, but this idea came to me from somewhere and it was fun to write. I actually had about a third of it completed several years ago but let it lag ... then, with more free time on my hands since retirement and the whole vampire thing having so much momentum, I decided to finish it off and see if I could find a home for it.
In the meantime, I will also continue doing short stories --- Hannibal and otherwise. It's an exciting time for short fiction, what with the wide range of excellent webzines as well as other outlets. There's a wealth of fresh talent out there for readers to enjoy, but I hope to show 'em that a few of us old geezers can still cut the mustard, too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Wayne Dundee Interview, Part One

How did Hardboiled Magazine come to be?

Hardboiled was created for two very basic reasons: 1.) To provide an outlet for the kind of tougher, grittier short stories which at that time had very few places where they stood a chance of getting published; and 2.) To promote my own name and stories.

In the interest of full disclosure I never made any bones about the latter --- yet at the same time I sincerely felt (and still do feel) that I was providing a service to the whole genre by giving a stage (albeit a small one) to these stories and the authors who wanted to write them. This was in the mid-Eighties, remember, long before the internet and the webzines which are aimed at doing exactly the same thing Hardboiled set out to do 25 years ago. At that time, the only regularly-published short story outlets were Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine --- both of which were publishing good stuff, but it was all rather PG-rated and much "tamer" than the kind of thing I welcomed at Hardboiled. (Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine was also still around during this time, but folded in the late Eighties; a new version of The Saint Magazine came out somewhere in that same time period but only lasted for two or three issues; and Spiderweb Magazine - aka Skullduggery - where I'd placed my first story, also folded earlier in the decade.)

The actual small press concept for Hardboiled was the result of my exposure to two pretty disparate influences: The first was a subscription periodical of the time called The Not So Private Eye, which was photocopied and stapled, nothing special in appearance. Nor did it contain any fiction. But it was chock full of news, articles, interviews, all things related to private eyes --- and it attracted the attention of numerous fans as well as fairly big names writing in the genre at the time. Secondly, I was exposed in that same time frame to things called "chap books" via Todd Moore, a local poet I'd become friends with. In addition to being a poet, Todd was a big fan of hardboiled fiction --- in fact, his poetry could definitely be described as hardboiled. So anyway, the idea of a photocopied/ stapled product being devoted to all things hardboiled --- including fiction --- was born. Todd agreed to be co-editor. Bob Randisi and Max Allan Collins, who I'd gotten to know through PWA, were supportive early on. And Andy Jaysnovitch --- founder/editor of The Not So Private Eye --- agreed to provide me with his mailing list as a means to reach out to potential readers/subscribers.

All the pieces came together and our first issue came out in the summer of 1985. It had fiction stories, articles, reviews ... and some of Todd's special poetry. It got a favorable reception, did all the things I'd hoped (except make me rich - which was never really part of the plan, anyway) and we stuck around for 12 issues before it started to overwhelm me ... At which point, I'm happy to say, Gary Lovisi --- with a little prodding from Andrew Vachss --- agreed to take it over. Hardboiled continues to be published today, still fulfilling the role I envisioned way back when. It's encouraging to note that today there are numerous webzines also carrying on that tradition --- in all genres, not just hardboiled --- making it a truly exciting time for old and new writers alike.

Hardboiled will always be a special memory for me. I can't really comment on it without mentioning what an important part my late, beloved wife Pam played in making it possible. First, by allowing/encouraging me to go ahead with it when it was little more than a crazy notion. Second, by all the hours she put in helping me photocopy, collate, staple, and mail the issues. All of this was before home computers, remember. I re-typed the manuscripts for the first couple issues on a manual Smith-Corona typewriter; I did most of the illustrations for the first issues; and then Pam and I would walk 'round and 'round our ping-pong table in the basement, collating the pages, and then stapling them into the finished product. Pam would then seal the envelopes, lick the stamps, and do the mailing. A more supportive wife --- and I'm talking in ways far beyond just Hardboiled --- no man ever had.

Would you mind sharing with us a little more about Pam?

Pam was, simply put, the great love of my life. The term "soul mates" probably gets overused, but I think it truly would be applicable in our case. Our marriage/relationship, over time, became the benchmark by which friends and family members tended to measure their own relationships. Which isn't to say we didn't have our differences and squabbles over the years, we surely did. But deep love, devotion, and respect always won out, even if we ended up agreeing to disagree.

We married not long after graduating high school. We attended different schools but met while working together during our senior year on a 4-hr evening "student shift" at a nearby Admiral TV factory. (Yeah, that was back when they still made TVs in the USA). We both were dating others during most of the school year, flirting a bit and taking notice of each other (certainly me of her) all the while. We finally started going out around May or so, and were married in October. She was the most beautiful bride you ever saw --- with the most incredible big brown eyes and a smile that could literally light up a room. I lived in southern Wisconsin where you needed parental consent to marry at eighteen; she lived in northern Illinois where you could marry on your own at eighteen. My folks were okay with us getting married, hers weren't --- so we ended up eloping as far as her parents were concerned. The fact she was willing to cross her parents was the first true test of her love for me, because up until then she had been the consummate "good girl" who seldom said or did anything out of line ... So in the beginning I guess I kinda corrupted her, but the subsequent success of our marriage and the years we spent devoted to each other proved out in the end.

Pam was the first person to truly, deeply believe in and support my desire to be a writer. When we first got married, we didn't have the proverbial pot ... We were essentially living on love, eating with plastic forks and knives because we couldn't afford silverware, and surviving on ring baloney and macaroni and cheese. But you know the first "big item" we purchased on time payments? ... A brand new Smith-Carona portable typewriter for me to do my writing on. (Up until then I'd been pecking away on a huge old black Royal upright that my parents had bought for me at an auction.) That's the way Pam was, totally devoted to me and what would become our family. She was an "old-fashioned" girl who only wanted to be a wife, mother, and eventually grandmother (the biggest role model in her life was her own grandmother). This was in the late 60s/early 70s, remember, when women's lib was really getting muscle and any woman who only wanted to be a wife/homemaker was almost looked down upon. Pam was actually made to feel a bit guilty for her low aspirations by some of her friends and a couple of her sisters ... Her goals were justified when, years later, she had become a grandmother and the real core of our family --- while many of those who'd chided her were divorced, unhappy, and trying to hold together broken families.

Pam suffered a bout with rheumatic fever when she was a child and was always a bit physically frail. But she was strong-willed and had unshakable faith. She had very simple tastes, but what demands she did make she held fast to. Over the forty-one plus years I was privileged to walk through life with her, she undoubtedly changed me more than I did her --- and I was the better for it. In my eulogy to her, I likened her to "the quiet trickle of water that carves a groove in granite". In the end, her frailties caught up with her. After a series of illnesses and then a bout with breast cancer which included enduring chemo and radiation, she struggled with pneumonia and then finally her brave little heart just gave out. She died literally in my arms. I tipped her face up and all the vibrancy was gone from those wonderful, beautiful brown eyes I described above. I knew in that instant she was gone, even though I did CPR on her until the paramedics arrived and they continued on all the way until we'd gotten her to the hospital ... but it was over.

A great friend of mine once said, "If love died with death ... living wouldn't be so hard." And that really says it all. So I continue on ... emptier, less than what I was, but managing to endure. As long as my love for Pam is alive, then part of her is still alive. That much will never change. My job now is to finish out my own time, not give up, fulfill the obligations Pam would want me to ... until I can rejoin her again some day in a better place.

Where did the idea for Joe Hannibal come from?

I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I entered high school. By two big inspirations at that point --- the guys who's work made me know that I wanted to try and write something some day that would cause other readers to feel the same way I did --- were Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mickey Spillane. Spillane won out, as far as influencing the direction my own writing would take (although I still go back and read Burroughs and Robert E. Howard once in a while and in a far-off corner of my brain there simmers the urge to still try something in the fantasy adventure genre some day).

All through high school and into my twenties (by which point I was married) I tinkered with writing contemporary crime/mystery fiction featuring some sort of "tough guy" protagonist. Part of this was in the 60s, remember, when James Bond and spies of various stripes were all the vogue. (Hell, even Spillane abandoned Mike Hammer for a while and wrote four books about counter-spy Tiger Mann.) So part of the time my protagonist was a spy (Bond influence). Part of the time he was a government assassin (Matt Helm influence). Part of the time he was a rogue criminal (Richard Stark's Parker influence). Sometimes he had no particular affiliation but was a guy who just got involved in righting criminal wrongs (Travis McGee influence) ... until Robert B. Parker and Spenser hit the scene and revitalized the whole PI genre, then it was back to square one --- my guy would be a private eye. At various times in various incarnations my character had names like: Lew Torrent; Ward Houston; Dan Houston; Dan Cash; Joe Dancer; Dan Hannibal ... until I finally settled on Joe Hannibal. Joe came from "average joe" and from one of the nicknames I had for awhile as a kid; Hannibal came from a mixture of the Carthagean general who threatened Rome and Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri ... overall, I thought it carried a kind of strength and power yet at the same time a ring of basic Americana.

Once I had the name, a couple final pieces of influence that anchored Joe and made him the character he eventually would be come were the writings of Max Allan Collins and Dan J. Marlowe. Both wrote stuff set in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin --- right in the Midwest area where I lived. Up until then most of the writing I'd been doing (bits and pieces of novels and stories that I seldom ever finished - yet all the while I was writing, honing my skills) had settings like New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami --- hell, I thought the kind of stuff I wanted to do needed to be set in larger, better-known metropolitan settings. Once I decided Hannibal could operate right out of Rockford, Illinois --- the "small" city (pop. roughly 250,000) where I lived, the remaining pieces of Hannibal fell easily into place.

In the initial Hannibal short stories he was pretty stereotypical --- basically a sock-and-shoot "Mike Hammer wanna-be" with a smaller-city background. As I got into the novels, I fleshed him out much more completely and gave Joe, I think, some distinctions of his very own. He's basically a very middle class, blue collar kind of guy. Decent, compassionate - tough, even ruthless if/when he has to be. Without ever intentionally meaning to do so, I realize, looking back, that I have given him many of my own traits as far as tastes, biases, and so forth ... I moved to west central Nebraska, Joe has now relocated here; I drive Honda automobiles, so does Joe; I love thin crust pizzas and Chicago-style hot dogs (which are damn hard to come by in Nebraska), so does Joe (and he's having trouble meeting his cravings, just like me); I have a bum knee, Joe (as a result of events in the last novel, THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY) now has a bum hip ... and so on.

When I started writing Hannibal stories I was in my thirties and I pictured him being in his forties, a little older than me. Now I've moved into my sixties and I picture him a little younger than me; I'll probably "freeze" him in his late fifties, not ever being specific but using phrases like "looking back on the half-century mark" or "with fifty quite a ways back in the rearview mirror", etc. So he's grown a little older, a little slower, a little thicker through the middle and frayed around the edges ... but he's still not a guy to be messed with, and definitely not one you'd want to back into a corner.

The second part of this interview will be posted Tuesday.

BTAP #103: Taking a Line for a Walk by Nigel Bird

Nigel Bird seems to be everywhere these days with not only his innovative Dance With Myself interviews but also his dark thought-provoking stories.

The latest such tale is "Taking a Line for a Walk" at BEAT to a PULP.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Latest

While I'm working on a story, I leave little notes in the Word document for my own history's sake. This latest one reads:
Cash Laramie and the Painted Ladies
By David Cranmer writing as Edward A. Grainger

(I began writing this as a flash fiction piece on June 9, 2010 in Maine and finished the initial rough draft in 24 hours. I continued to work on it in Montenegro before finally finishing back in Maine on 11/19/10. Cleaned up of the raunchier aspects with the idea this could be sent to AHMM or EQMM.) 2,198 words.
So now I will send PAINTED LADIES off to a whiz-at-editing friend and wait for the results. How about you? Do you make notes on your story's history? And, do you send them out for a second opinion or maybe just fling them into orbit?

The Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles stories thus far: "Cash Laramie and the Masked Devil" in A Fistful of Legends | "Miles to Go" | "Kid Eddie" | "The Bone Orchard Mystery" (out for submission) | "The Wind Scorpion" in the Round One anthology | "Justice Served" | "Cash Laramie and the Painted Ladies."

Chris La Tray: Great Reads from Questionable Folk

Thank you, Chris.

Photo-Finish Friday -- Fire

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~William Butler Yeats

About the pic: A few weeks ago, a friend and I felt like starting a fire for no reason. So we did and kept it going all day. Made sense at the time.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday

I have previously mentioned my short story titled "Justice Served" and my reluctance to let it go. Well, yesterday, I did just that and it will be appearing in the outstanding Dark Valentine's Winter issue. Two lines:

A word from Cash to the saloon owner had gotten Misun the job and the much-needed money to keep his family from starving. He was an honorable man who didn’t deserve to be shot in the back by a hateful, rich kid like Brant Macy.
This story is pithy clocking in at 1,200 plus words but is pivotal in the Cash Laramie canon. Why? Well, you will have to check out the DV issue. I'll keep you informed when it has been released. Thanks to Charlie Whipple, Scott D. Parker, and Little d on this one. Special thanks to Katherine Tomlinson.


As soon as I arrived back in the states, I picked up a copy of Chris F. Holm's 8 Pounds: Eight Tales of Crime, Horror, & Suspense. Mr. Holm is one of the finest writers around and this short story collection deserves a huge following. Here's a paragraph from "The Toll Collectors."

As he walked, though, he began to sense something, something at the periphery of his awareness. Elusive, disquieting. The trees gathered tight to the road, splitting the edges of the pavement and encroaching on the night sky above. And from somewhere within them, he sensed... attention.
I've had a hell of a time with jet lag this past week and 8 Pounds kept me going with its edge of the proverbial seat tales. C'mon check it out. It is only $0.99! You will not be disappointed.

And head over to check out the Women of Mystery and more TwoFers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BTAP #102: Pretending by Richard Prosch

When Lee Vance came back to Hazelwood, the high plains were smothered under a flat pillow of snow, the moon and the stars hidden by flurries. The new company car carried him along the south edge of town, around the dark shell of the old auction barn. Like a ghost he floated by gray houses he knew, trees broken and bent by generations of ice. Lee Vance grew up here, but after tonight, he promised himself, he'd never come back.
I'm pleased to feature Richard Prosch's "Pretending" at BEAT to a PULP.

Soon: Lina Zeldovich's "Believe."

The BEAT to a PULP: Round One anthology is available at Amazon.

AC on The Talented Mr. Elliott

Garnett Elliott shows us all how it's done once again...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"One in the Big Box"

Kieran Shea's inspiration for "One in the Big Box":
"I once heard the phrase "one in the box" referencing chambered ammunition, and somehow it always stuck with me. So, that's where the title comes from..."one in the box" plus "big box store" equals "One in the Big Box". Anyway, with a short story I've always felt you needed to drop into the action like a blade and with flash fiction even more so. I like the idea of immediate suspense, that there is no time, that the clock is running out. I also wanted to set something where the reader would feel out off breath...something set with no resolution, through the eyes of one who must face the worst we, as human beings, can offer. I think this story works. We hear news like this all the time, the hostage standoffs--the mass shootings--the horror, and I wanted to face that and address our calloused sanitizing of all the carnage. Really, how do we tolerate this?"
Discount Noir featuring "ONE IN THE BIG BOX" is available here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Original Artwork

The cover for The Bruiser looks quite familiar* and it reminds me why I wanted original artwork for Round One. As a frequent user of iStock here on the Pulp Writer blog, I will be the first to admit it's wonderful. But after seeing many identical or similar covers, I'm glad we approached James O'Barr for a unique piece.

The Rap Sheet has covered copycat covers.

*See BTAP's home page

I.J. Parnham is Beaten to a Pulp by a Pulp Beating Monster

Mr. Parnham's post title gave me a chuckle earlier this morning.

Thank you, sir.

Photo-Finish Friday -- Working On The Story

Photo of me (courtesy: D.B.) working on a short story titled "Miles in Between" on Sunday, October 3, 2010 at a hotel in Podgorica, Montenegro.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BTAP #101: First Man Falling by Garnett Elliott

We have a double feature at BEAT to a PULP this week. In a boxing blitz, Garnett Elliott follows Kieran Shea, who graced BTAP with its 100th story, with a tale of egos and retaliation in First Man Falling.

The BEAT to a PULP: Round One anthology is now available at Amazon.

Nik Morton on BEAT to a PULP: Round One

Ex Royal Navy, Ex IT, Expat living in Spain. Editor and writer. And all around great guy Nik Morton on BEAT to a PULP: Round One.

Thanks, amigo.

Boston: My First Nude & Political Post

Logan International and my first full body scan. I'm not sure how I feel about that and haven't fully processed it yet. Tired, tired. But since I'm in Ben Franklin's birthplace it seems like I remember a quote from the great statesman that went something like "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither." Well, there you have it my first political post and first nude photo and it is not even 8 am. Where's the coffee?

8:21 addendum: Everyone on their cell phones. An old rant here but good lord I'd love to jam every signal. So annoying with everyone talking loud enough to hear two terminals away.

8:44: Saw a young man with both legs gone wearing an Army shirt and being pushed in a wheelchair. Damn, these guys and gals have given so much for us. I wish I could have bought him a drink or breakfast but he was on his way to catch a flight.

8:52: A bird is flying around in the terminal. The US Airways clerk says the feathered flyer has been here for two weeks.

9:02: Ok, I am going to close the computadora down for awhile and read a little Stephen King's On Writing. Then >>>>>>>>

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

London Town

The home of The Beatles, Stones, and Mrs. Peel. I love this city but why technical difficulties! Of course, I hope they take their time fixing it.

4:00 pm addendum: London Pride is a darn fine brew while you are waiting.

Addendum 2 (thirty minutes later): The second and third London Prides are even better. But being stuck when you want to get home sucks.

5:51 pm random bubly induced thought: what is the greatest airport film ever. Or maybe just the greatest scene in an airport. My quick pick is McQueen's Bullitt.

6:31 pm Patti Abbott has me looking at everyone's shoes. So far I'm spotting a lot of extreme pointed shoes. I can't say I like the style.

7:38 pm Chaos is close: Student protesters run wild in London, storm Tory HQ.

7:40 pm I've been told the plane will be ready soon. >>>>>>>


In case you were wondering Vienna is scenic as hell and quite cold. Another day, another airport terminal. Won't be staying long>>>>>>>

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jack London Excerpt & Quotes

Jack London (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone

Excerpt from MARTIN EDEN (1909):

It was the rejection slips that completed the horrible machine likeness of the process. These slips were printed in stereotyped forms and he had received hundreds of them—as many as a dozen or more on each of his earlier manuscripts. If he had received one line, one personal line, along with one rejection of all his rejections, he would have been cheered. But not one editor had given that proof of existence. And he could conclude only that there were no warm human men at the other end, only mere cogs, well oiled and running beautifully in the machine.

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

"There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive."

"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."

"I write for no other purpose than to add to the beauty that now belongs to me. I write a book for no other reason than to add three or four hundred acres to my magnificent estate."

"Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over? Where is the reverse gear?"

"I wrote a thousand words every day"


Special thanks to Matt Mayo for bringing to my attention Wolf: The Lives of Jack London. A terrific bio that is highly recommended.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Noircon Photos Plus

Patti Abbott is featuring some photos taken at Noircon. Of course, one stands out to me above the others. Thanks, Patti!


Also More on Round One from Alec Cizak.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Captain

So I slammed the doors they slammed at me

I remember first hearing this on The Sopranos and then later on a street corner in Lake Charles, Louisiana where the girl singing the song couldn't have done it prouder. I remember her smile when a well-dressed, elderly man tossed a rose her way as he passed by.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

BTAP #100: The Takedown Heart by Kieran Shea

Kieran Shea on this week's story:

When David suggested I come up with a Charlie Byrne fight story for BEAT TO A PULP this past summer, I’d already decided a long (if not permanent) break from my hapless Atlantic City p.i. character was going down. I mean, Charlie? My Charlie? In a short fight story? Come on. I know less than nothing about pugilists and their art. But David was insistent. He lamented that no one had submitted a single fight story to BTAP even though the ‘zine’s masthead practically dares one to do just that. He had a vision about rings, disreputable ladies, and assorted goons orbiting the scene. Perhaps he had a Richard Widmark “Night and the City” itch that needed scratching. Anyway, I obliged…but I swear…that’s it…no more Charlie Byrne tales for a good long while, honest. Thanks to all those I ran the story by for detail and thank you again, David, for the continued faith.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 100th BEAT to a PULP story: "The Takedown Heart".

Next: "First Man Falling" by Garnett Elliott.

The BEAT to a PULP: Round One anthology is now available at Amazon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jake Hinkson's MAKER'S AND COKE

A review of Jake Hinkson's MAKER'S AND COKE at Death by Killing.

Photo-Finish Friday -- Stray

This stray was wandering the site where I work. It did have a brother or sister who has since stopped coming around. We gave the puppy a few handouts to keep it going and now another worker looks like he's going to adopt it.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Garnett Elliot is at All Due Respect.

11/3 addendum: ADR's ed reviews Mr. Elliot's "Studio Dick" that appears in ROUND 1.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Interview with Frank Bill and Elaine Ash

Frank Bill is the first but by no means the last short story writer initially supported by BEAT to a PULP who has landed a 2-book deal with a major publisher. just broke a story on Frank’s newly minted success, along with his mystery-writing agent Stacia Decker.

“Acting Out” is an 18,000 word novella written by Frank and featured in BEAT to a PULP: Round One. We snagged it long before Forbes Magazine and the world found Frank. Lord knows, we could never afford him now! The following is an interview with Frank Bill and Elaine Ash about the process that went into the acquisition and editing of “Acting Out,” plus an outline of Frank’s process from online short story writer to the majors.

David Cranmer: Tell us the story of how BTAP found “Acting Out”?

Frank Bill: Go back months and months before I’d gotten an agent. Ms Ash, you’d decided to have a workshop for writers who’d written a story and couldn’t get it right, and offered to help fine tune the struggling writer’s writing. I had my first novel, Acting Out, it was a transgressive story. I told you about it. You wanted to see it for the challenge, I emailed it to you and apparently it grabbed your attention. And after you read it, you wanted to see my query letter. As you stated, it was the worst letter you’d ever read.

Elaine Ash: As I remember Frank, you had Acting Out gathering dust in a drawer. You had sent it out to agents and there hadn’t been a bite. You had actually concluded that the novel was too “edgy” and you’d toned yourself down in your second novel. I hadn’t seen Acting Out, but I was suspicious about it being too edgy. I didn’t buy that. So as I recall, although it was too long, as a novel, to qualify for the writing challenge I was running at the time, I asked to see it. As soon as I read it, I contacted David and told him it had some great stuff in there and would make a great novella for the print anthology that was a gleam in his eye, at the time.

FB: I’d sent Acting Out to like 50 agents. No one wanted it. I’d let the hard copy sit in my closet while the other went from one hard drive to the next for about 5 or 6 years, I actually finished it sometime in 2003. Over that time my writing changed quite a bit. I found my niche. Forgot about it and then my stories started getting accepted. And I worked with you and David, created a long lasting friendship. Writing is a long process just like life. I’ve learned a lot and still have a lot more to learn.

DC: Why did you write it?

FB: I wrote it because I wanted to write a novel that hit you like the early work of Chuck Palahniuk and Jason Starr. They were early influences. But then, so was Larry Brown. Only, I didn’t think I could write about what I knew the way Larry did, and make things interesting. I thought a writer had to do tons of research. And I did. I wrote about an accountant. I knew nothing about accounting. But I also wrote about all these crazy ideas my buddy and I used to think up on night shift at our factory job. Just guy humor with elements of crime. But what I really did was find my way. Writing that novel lead to a second novel about things I didn’t research and a third that required a small bit of research. And my short stories started to blossom. It didn’t happen overnight. What I’ve learned, when you find your voice you’ll draw from everything you know in life, past and present. People and places, feelings tapped and untapped. Writing is a culmination of knowledge known and knowledge you’ve yet to learn. You gotta read, you gotta write and you gotta interact with other people. Sometimes just watching. Never judging, just paying attention to details.

DC: How did the novel go from 50,000 words to 18,000?

EA: It wasn’t easy. First, I had to read through and make some very tough decisions about which subplots were going to get excised and even some characters that were going to go. The main character’s girlfriend, who played a medium-sized role, ended up going. Her appearance in the final scene was taken over by a woman where the protagonist worked. Even though the story was cut majorly, Frank’s humor and verve was retained in the story. His fresh voice, and the restructured plot which I edited to move fast and furious, makes it hard to put down. I put months of work into the piece. Frank, bless him, is one of the easiest writers to work with in the world. He just said, “I trust you,” and let me do my thing. An editor’s dream.

DC: Tell us the latest regarding your 2-book deal with Fararr, Straus, Giroux, and a little bit about how you made the leap from webzine writer to book-deal author.

FB: I just signed my contracts for the two book deal with FSG. They’ve published Flannery O’Connor, Joan Didion, Johnathan Franzen and Michael Cunningham, to name a few. I’m currently working on edits with my editor for the first book.

A good Editor gets you and your body of work. They understand how to make things stronger, not by changing the story but by asking questions you might've missed. The extra detail to character, the why and how the character functions in his/her environment and how that environment makes he/she function. Basically a good Editor makes an unbelievable story believable. That's their job. That's why they're editors. And every writer needs an editor. I enjoy getting input. It pushes my work to a stronger level. I want to write prose that when you pick up my book, they clutch your hands and make your eyes bleed. I want it to be an experience that makes you say, dammit why doesn't everyone write like this. And I'm getting close to doing that, I think, but I couldn't have done it without my agent and my editor(s) we're not there yet, but boy are we close.

DC: Can you detail the process of going from webzine writer to contracting with a major publisher?

FB: The leap was more about me believing in my work and making connections with other like- minded writers and editors. Long story short, Lady D at Thuglit liked my short "Old Testament Wisdom." But it needed some editing. She helped me edit and fine tune it. Published it. Then Neil Smith over at Plots With Guns liked my short "Rough Company." He helped me edit it and pointed some things out. After that, you and Elaine had gotten a few of my polished shorts. I knew I had to write lean and to the point. And I did. Got your all’s attention. BEAT to a PULP did two of my shorts back to back. A first.

Then I began a third novel. Got invited to read with Neil Smith, Scott Phillips and Jed Ayres in St. Louis at their first Noir at the Bar. Neil and Scott recommended an agent. I queried her with some of my material, she dug it. I finished my next novel. Went to the 09’ B-Con in Indy, met my agent, Stacia, hung out with her, Neil Smith, Greg Bardsley, Kieran Shea, Jed, John Rector, Dan O’Shea, Victor Gischler and Joelle Charbonneau.

After that, Stacia and I went through a few rounds of edits. Brainstormed some ideas. She sent the manuscript out and someone was interested in it.

DC: There you have it. Thank you, both.