Friday, December 31, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Jonathan Buck Monument

The Legend of the Buck Memorial:

This monument was erected in memory of Colonel Jonathan Buck, founder of Bucksport, who died on March 18, 1795. The memorial, built of Blue Hill granite, was erected by his descendants nearly sixty years after his death.

Sometime after its placement, the outline of a leg appeared on the monument. Making their appearance as well were the stories which became legendary. The variations are many but common elements include Colonel Buck's condemnation of a woman for witchcraft and ordering her death by burning for sorcery. As the sentence is being carried out, the woman curses the Colonel and concludes with ".... so long shall my curse be upon thee and my sign upon thy tombstone." As the flames consume her body, her leg falls away and rolls out of the fire. Her deformed son, rejected by the community, grabs the leg, further insults the Colonel, and flees into the wilderness. The curse is forgotten until sixty years later. The monument is erected; the leg appears. Attempts to remove the sign are futile.

Historians will note the era of Colonial witchcraft and the infamous witch trials in Massachusetts were over long before Jonathan Buck was born. Additionally, there is no record of ANYONE being executed for witchcraft in Maine. Stories that the monument has been replaced are untrue -- this is the original. Stone cutters say it is not uncommon for granite to contain a flaw such as this stain which appears only after cutting and polishing. The outline can be removed but reappears when air oxidizes the iron. (Note, too, the outline of a heart on the upper part of the monument.)

The facts surrounding the life of Colonel Buck are that he was an honorable, industrious man who founded this community and was a leader in its early development -- building the first grist mill, and the first boat. Notably, the "witch's curse" was unheard of before the flaw in the marker appeared.

Jeff Hutchins
Eagle Project

For more history on Jonathan Buck and the legends, visit the Bucksport website.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Matthew P. Mayo

My buddy, Matthew P. Mayo (Needle, Black Horse Westerns, Out of the Gutter), has an interesting interview up at Booklife.

The pic to the right was taken during our famous meeting where Matt revealed himself to be a card-carrying Lee Majors fan.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Could Get Use To This...

Five Top for 2010 by Chris F. Holm recognizes one of my stories.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Little d and I were happily bombarded with many children's books for Christmas gifts and baby showers. Gee, I wonder how everyone knows she's going to be a reader... oh yes, of course. Anyway, we we're reading Harold and the Purple Crayon and it made me think of my favorite books as a tyke which were the Curious George series by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey. d's favorite was a colorfully-illustrated collection of Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

What is your pick from childhood? I'm looking for many suggestions, starting from the pre-reader stage all the way up, to continue building on the kid's section of our library.

Jacques LaRamie

I found the history of Jacques LaRamie absolutely fascinating. It struck a note with me, of course, because of my fictional character, Cash Laramie, who has a similar vague story. If you like 'forgotten history' like I do, I recommend reading old guy rambling’s post.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Jack Martin asked for a Cash Laramie short for his next Wild West Monday. Mr. Martin (aka Gary Dobbs) has been a stalwart force in the western revival and I was more than glad to contribute.

My story, "Melanie," is the tale of an seven-year-old girl who sells flowers and is physically abused by her guardians. You can imagine that doesn't sit well with Marshal Laramie, however, this is the Old West where folks also don't take kindly to the law butting into family issues. Two worlds collide and a little girl is caught in the middle in the ninth story featuring my western antihero.

"Melanie" is coming January 3rd to The Tainted Archive.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wild West eMonday

Over at The Tainted Archive, Gary Dobbs is heralding the latest Wild West Monday and featuring a coming attraction advert of my short story titled "Melanie." The image from iStock was put together by Little d and though she shies from attention, I think it came out pretty well and kudos to her. (She'll cringe at this:)

I'll have more on "Melanie" soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I'm Addicted

To the new issue of Needle. I've already finished top stories from Michael Gonzales, Matthew P. Mayo, Sophie Littlefield and Neil Smith.

Get your fix here, folks.

Merry Christmas

For those who celebrate, Denise and I wish you a Merry Christmas. We're spending the weekend dogsitting. Just John the Bassett Hound and Charlie, a golden doodle, and us, thinking of how everything will change in such a wonderful way next year.

Here's my favorite traditional Christmas song performed by Bob Seger.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Silhouette, I

An early morning shot (hence the "Alfalfa" hair) with an interesting distortion that gives a slight Peter Pannish look.

PFF is the creation of Leah J. Utas.

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Jugger

Perfection. That's what Richard Stark's 1965 novel, THE JUGGER, is: perfection. For those who love crime novels (though The University of Chicago bills it as a mystery), I recommend this book without reservation.

I prefer today's short stories to full-length modern novels that pad to hit a required word count. With Stark (Donald E. Westlake) every sentence is tighly constructed and no word wasted. Brilliant.

What novel would you consider flawless?

Another Round One Giveaway!

Head on over to Laurie's Wild West for the details.

Two Sentence Tuesday: Bugs

Two sentences from Richard Stark's The Jugger (1965):

The voice was a centipede, a long twisty bug with needle-sharp feet running back and forth on the left side of his face, driving its needle feet into the bone beside his eye and into his cheekbone and into the bone above his ear. His face hurt like fury; it hurt every time the voice sounded, and the voice sounded all the time.


In keeping with the creepy crawler theme. Here are two three lines from my short story, "The Wind Scorpion."

Cash looked down at the black-and-tan creature with its slender body and multiple long legs. Beady eyes centered on the top of a large head stared straight up at him and large pincher-like jaws opened and closed tightly on the twig that Mary had thrust in front of it. "Is it venomous?"

For more Two Sentence fun click over to my good friends at Women of Mystery.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Number One

Bill Crider has received more hits (think stats and not assassination attempts) in the first two days than any other story we have featured at BEAT to a PULP. If you haven't read "The Quick ... and The Dead" I highly recommend you do. Nigel Bird summed this dark tale up quite nicely by saying "That is really a story built up in layers to perfection. A dark and difficult subject well handled and I really felt the pain and the torn loyalties."

Rounding out BTAP's top five most successful:

2. A Rip through Time * Chris F. Holm

3. Insatiable * Hilary Davidson

4. The Instrument of Their Desire * Patrica Abbott

5. Miles to Go * Edward A. Grainger

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I finished the rough draft on a little fart named Luther. This guy cracks me up because he is the most worthless piece of mierda I've ever had the joy of writing. This is what happens when you read back to back books about serial killers and assassins. From my Word document:

BON TEMPS aka LUTHER F. HUDSON by David Cranmer (Little d and I came up with this idea on November 24, 2010 as we drove between Maine and Westfield Mass. The inspiration is Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley (and a little of Max Allan Collins’s Quarry) but I wanted to present an absolute amoral killer with lower aspirations. I began writing it over the Thanksgiving holiday in New York. I finished the rough draft on December 2, 2010 in Maine at 4:30 ish in the morning. Working title was Lucky Hudson or Albany Hudson) 2,243 words.
What is the most vile, bankrupt character you have created and take pride in. And why?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Death by Killing Review

Chris Rhatigan reviews Bill Crider's "The Quick ... and The Dead."

BEAT to a PULP is Unstoppable

But don't take my word for it. Here is Mr. Cullen Gallagher.

BTAP #107: The Quick ... and The Dead by Bill Crider

Every story I accept at BEAT to a PULP I view as a winner. Even among these gems, certain tales soar to the top with an additional gifted element that is hard to nail down and characterize. After you read it, you sit back and say, “That baby was hit clean out of the ball park," which is how I see our final Weekly Punch of 2010 by Bill Crider.

I’ve enjoyed the author's entertaining Sheriff Dan Rhodes stories for years and approached him about being the year-end story for us. He sent “The Quick ... and The Dead.” Ah, you are thinking western because he is known for his oaters as much as his mysteries. Nope, Mr. Crider sent me a horrific zombie-ish story. And I would have been pleased as punch with a typical blood-and-guts romp, however, Mr. Crider elevated his story to that next level I mentioned, and he came up with a tale that'll stick with you for a long while.

It's a pleasure to say Bill Crider is at BEAT to a PULP with The Quick ... and The Dead.


The BEAT to a PULP webzine will return January 16, 2011 with "Serenity" by Brad Parks.

Also congrats to Sandra Seamans, Patti Abbott, and MysDawg guessing correctly in our Guess Who and Win a Free Book Contest. (MysDawg please e-mail your address to

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day Labor Post

Keith Rawson posted a top ten at the Crimefactory blog. I personally would have switched the #6 pick in favor of Mr. Rawson's own "Life on the Mesa." Still, I'm deeply honored to be included with such top talent on the list and also for the opportunity to be a part of All Due Respect. I recommend clicking on some of the stories you may have missed from Rawson's list--I know I will with a few that slipped by.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Interview and Presents

Clare from the the top Women of Mystery site has an interview with yours truly and she was able to unearth a few new tidbits from the old fossil. Jump over and leave a comment and you could win a free copy of BEAT to a PULP: Round One.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Owl at My Window

I decided to take a break from pecking away at the keyboard this afternoon, walked over to the window, and spotted this majestic-looking creature. A little research revealed that this bird is most likely a barred owl. The wings stretched out an impressive width when he flew away, and sure enough, the wing span can reach 45 inches wide.

Different Light

Ron Scheer is a damn fine reviewer. He had me looking at my own book in a different light. Check it out here.

Final Clues in the Guess Who and Win a Free Book Contest

This writer lives in Texas and is also a musician.

Contest details.

Clue 4 of the Guess Who and Win a Free Book Giveaway

This author has written over fifteen mysteries featuring a series regular character who is known for his/her (I must be vague there) laconic, laid-back detecting style.)

Contest details.


Clues for the Guess Who and Win a Free Book Giveaway: This writer is a member of the Blogger community and lives in the US.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guess Who and Win a Free Book

We have the year-end story coming up this weekend at BEAT to a PULP, and it's brilliant and disturbing all at once. A powerful piece of storytelling. A sample from "The Quick ... and The Dead" --

The virus, the radiation, whatever it is that animates them continues to enliven the body parts.

The solitary foot hops across the road, the hand pulls itself along by the fingers, even the eyeballs roll along, gathering dirt on their slimy surfaces.

But these are not the things that interest her.
Later in the week, Women of Mystery is giving away several copies of BEAT to a PULP: Round One and I thought it would be fun to join in on the giving spirit. So, this is my idea for a giveaway here -- if you think you know who penned the lines above, leave a comment on this post with the author's name. The first three people to guess correctly will win a free copy of Round One. Only one guess per person. If no one guesses correctly, then I'll post a clue each day until we have three winners. You can enter a new guess with each new post. Oh, and I know I have mentioned who it is to a couple of you, so, yep, you can't play. Sorry. And that goes for the writer and her/his family and family pets too.

So, who is it?

Needle - Magazine of Noir (Winter Issue)

I will be ordering my copy today.

New fiction by Graham Powell, Matthew C. Funk, Sophie Littlefield, Graham Bowlin, Michael Gonzales, Kieran Shea, Richard Godwin, Anthony Neil Smith, Matthew Mayo, Matthew McBride, and Libby Cudmore. And featuring PART ONE of the new novel by Ray Banks -- WOLF TICKETS.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Farley's Bookshop Review of Round One

Farley's Bookshop wrote a nice review of BEAT to a PULP: Round One in their most recent newsletter.

Book Highlight: Beat to a PULP: Round One

We love anthologies around here. What better way to be turned on to a host of different writers, styles, genres or ideas? What better way to find writers you've never heard of? Some of the best discoveries that we've made, either poets, artists or writers, have come out of anthologies that we have in the store. This year we were blown away by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash's "Beat to a PULP: Round One" anthology. In the past few years Cranmer's "Beat to a PULP" webzine has been leading the neo-pulp revival that's been happening. We can see some of you balking now: "Pulp?!" Yes. Pulp. Perfectly crafted, tight story writing. Nothing better. In fact, the best writing out there right now has been happening in the margins, far away from The New Yorker. The "Beat to a PULP" anthology is a prime example of this. Everything from westerns to crime fiction to sci fi all gathered under one cover; all of it new and burning. There isn't a dud here; every story is a page turner. For the still reluctant reader of this highlight: there were some employees here who balked at reading "pulp" too. This is the anthology that permanently changed their opinions about that. And about what "pulp" actually is: damn fine writing.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BTAP #106: Believe by Lina Zeldovich

Nadya looked outside again. It was dark, the snow was sticking and the street looked like the winter landscapes in Grandma's books. She had to hurry. She needed to sneak out and mail the letters before Grandma woke up. Sometimes Lunesta didn't work and Grandma stayed up in the middle of the night, reading.

"I only want one thing," Nadya re-read her last sentence. She brushed her sand-colored curls away from her face, took the pen out of her mouth and finished both letters.

"Santa, can you bring my Mommy back?"
Read more of Lina Zeldovich's "Believe" here.

Bio: Ms. Zeldovich is a bilingual writer who grew up on the classics of Russian literature, started writing at age five and switched languages at twenty-one. Since then she has published over a dozen short stories and more than thirty theater reviews, and won three Writer's Digest fiction awards, including first prize in the memoir genre. Her latest works are scheduled to appear in Ellery Queen and Writer's Digest Collection 2010, and her recent stories were published in Murder to Mil-Spec, A Shaker of Margaritas and Deadly Ink anthologies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ellery Queen Mysteries

Christmas came early for little David. Ellery Queen Mysteries! I've been waiting quite awhile for this classic TV series starring Jim Hutton. Who was my secret Santa you ask? Well, sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands, don't you?

Producer William Link video clip | EQ opening theme.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Story of a Story

Nik Morton: The story of a story.

Under the Sun (and a Question)

I'm very pleased with the short story I just finished writing with Sandra Seamans. From my Word document:


By Edward A. Grainger (I began writing this story on June 12, 2010 in Maine. I had a vague idea of wanting to present Cash and Miles in cameo appearances and to center a story around a strong female character. Little d and I fleshed out the idea on our Sunday drive the following day ... I continued working on this in the Balkans on September 19, 2010. On November 21, 2010, Sandra Seamans agreed to collaborate with me and finished a rough draft on 11/30/10.) 3,054 words
I always enjoyed the old Gunsmoke episodes where Marshal Matt Dillon was the bookends to the show and the episode centered on another character in Dodge. I decided to do this with one of my Cash & Miles stories revolving around a character named Delilah Murphy. I had written a good chunk of the story when it came to a screeching halt. Enter Sandra Seamans, who amazingly enough had part of an unfinished western with a similar plot. With some tweaking and great ideas from Sandra, the two stories gelled seamlessly. It was quite the pleasure working with her.

How about you? Have you collaborated on a story and how was the experience?

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" | "Under the Sun."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Western News & Links

The NY Times has a good article on the new True Grit film | Screenwriter Roberto Orci talks Cowboys and Aliens tone and script compromises | Some exciting news Gary Dobbs has been heralding, and I'm looking forward to, is the release of several Black Horse Western novels in eBook form |
The Warrior's Way tasty blend of samurai, western (features trailer) | "Buffalo Bill" Cody: Wild West legend began career here | Hell Paso: A town hero pulled from history’s dustbin, onto comic pages | Gene Barry's children sue for wrongful death | Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves honored | When Billy The Kid Met Bloody Sam [Peckinpah].

Artwork of Cash Laramie by Michael T. Pizzolato.

Monday, December 6, 2010


It started early this morning and is falling at a pretty good clip now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BTAP #105: By the Dim and Flaring Lamps by Ian Ayris

I pull open the curtains. This bed. This day. The sun floods in. I close my eyes and breathe in the light. Birthday candles and long ago summer days. A glimmer of hope in the darkness that consumes me.
We have Ian Ayris at BEAT to a PULP with "By the Dim and Flaring Lamps."

Next: Lina Zeldovich's "Believe."

Then: The final story of the year, "The Quick... and the Dead" written by, well, you just have to wait and see.

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cash Laramie at Dark Valentine Magazine

The Macy men studied Cash who stood in the center of Mill Street, feet spread shoulder-wide, hands hanging naturally at his sides. The cold blue eyes staring from under the brim of a black Stetson pulled low. A flint arrowhead hanging from a leather thong around his neck. Square jaw. Thin cheroot that no longer smoked. Colt Peacemaker at the ready.

"Spread out,” Mike said, holding his voice to a loud whisper.
Cash Laramie returns in "Justice Served" (written under my Edward A. Grainger pseudonym). I hope everyone gets a chance to drop over to Dark Valentine Magazine and let me know what you think. The tale is a pithy one but when The Adventures of Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles is eventually released many years from now, Cash's actions in "Justice Served" will be a turning point for my oddly named anti-hero.

Special thanks to Katherine Tomlinson and all the superb talent at DV for making my story look so good.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mystery Scene

Mystery Scene arrived in the snail mail today and, good lord, this issue is jam-packed full of all kinds of informative interviews and reviews. Thanks to Bill Crider for spotlighting Round One in his Short & Sweet column. He also reviews the latest Needle: A Magazine of Noir and my contribution, "The Sins of Maynard Shipley." Of course the issue also features some lesser-known writers with names like Dennis Lehane, James Ellroy, and Stieg Larsson.

If you don't subscribe you should. A must.

Night Forms by Francis M. Nevins

Perfect Crime Books presents another fine offering with this anthology of twenty-eight Francis M. Nevins short stories that first appeared in publications such as Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. A two time Edgar winner, Mr. Nevins has been delivering top-notch tales for more than forty years featuring series characters like lawyer Loren Mensing, cop Gene Holt, and, my personal favorite, criminal Milo Turner.

A big highlight of this omnibus is Mr. Nevins' introduction in which he writes about his friendship with Frederic Dannay, one-half of the famous Ellery Queen team. A fan of mystery and suspense tales shouldn't miss this one.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Book Blog Catalog

Thanks to Jodi MacArthur I was able to include Round One in Erin Cole's terrific Holiday Book Blog Catalog. There are some wonderful gift ideas here you do not want to miss.

Big thanks to Erin and Jodi.

The Book Review Club: Ripley Under Ground

Then came the stretch of jammed-together Victorian houses that had been converted into small hotels with grandiose names in neon lights between Doric doorway pillars: MANCHESTER ARMS, KING ALFRED, CHESIRE HOUSE. Tom knew that behind the genteel respectability of those narrow lobbies some of the best murderers of the present day took refuge for a night or so, looking equally respectable themselves. England was England, God bless it! -- RIPLEY UNDER GROUND (1970)
It's six years after the events of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Tom Ripley is living with his pharmaceutical-heiress wife in a French villa. Ripley’s lifestyle is supported by Dickie Greenleaf's fortune (inherited after he murdered Dickie in the previous novel) and Derwatt Ltd., an art forgery scheme that begins to unravel when an art collector suspects someone is duplicating the paintings of a famous recluse artist. Ripley invites the suspicious collector to his villa where he attempts to persuade the man to drop the investigation. When the collector refuses, Ripley takes matters into his own hands by giving the man a tour of the wine cellar where... well, you can imagine what follows.

Ripley Under Ground isn't on the same creative level as the classic The Talented Mr. Ripley because of some implausible situations--Ms. Highsmith concocts stuff that will surprise and stretch the believability factor. Still, I found the continuing adventures of the con artist and serial killer's supercilious actions quite entertaining. I'm looking forward to the next three books in the Ripliad.