Sunday, October 31, 2010


I first started reading Funk at A Twist of Noir, where he had this incredible story about a guy who wrestles an alligator and another about a New Orleans teenager determined to blow up his school. 

He writes both horror and crime, and in this latest story, a blend of the two. In this edition of Crime Factory, Same Case Every Time is about a New Orleans cop, Jari, who takes a case brought to him by a woman called Weezy. Here's the kind of world Jari's operating in:

New Orleans Police don’t sleep and we leave the badge at home. It gets in the way of business, because the streets run with cash and blood, and there’s no telling when you’ll find yourself throwing down on another cop — you have to leave the shield at home but never, ever forget the bullets.

It's a brutal tale featuring a brilliant rendering of the rough side of New Orleans. As always, Funk writes with abundant energy and--as you can see from that quote--a sizzling voice. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Over at his blog, Chris F. Holm has a fun contest going. Write a six-word story in the comments section, winner gets a copy of the brand-new anthology, Beat to a Pulp: Round One.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Jedidiah Ayres:
"Glad it's you watching my baaaa...."

Steve Weddle:
"Holy fucking shit that hurt."

Brian Lindenmuth:
Strange planet. No fuel. What the...

Kieran Shea:
-Scram, honey.
-Who's he, mommy?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Story at Mysterical-E

The fall issue of Mysterical-E came out yesterday and I'm really excited to be a part of it.

Double Bounce is about Leo Digsby, a construction worker and family man who held up liquor stores in a previous life. When two of his old associates are released from jail, they track him down and demand he help them with a job--burglarizing his boss' house.

Things get a little wacky from there and, to answer the question I know everyone has--yes, there is a trampoline.

I'm also psyched to check out the rest of the issue and the new issues of Crimefactory and Back Alley, which also went live yesterday.

Monday, October 25, 2010


The good folks at Untreed Reads have issued a killer anthology with top names and new names in crime fiction. The theme is fantastic--every story has to be tied to Megamart. The loserdom that is big box stores (as a former employee of the Target Corporation, I can personally attest to this) is a subject rife with possibilities for writers of dark crime fiction, and the authors bring a wide range of approaches to this concept.

Highlights include Kieran Shea's sniper story One in the Big Box and Patti Abbott's Loss. A writer new to me, Fleur Bradley, has an excellent contribution with Aubergine, a story of some confused and crafty and teenagers. I'm only about halfway through, and am looking forward to checking out work by Steve Weddle, Byron Quertermous, and Stephen D. Rogers, among many more.

And I like that each story is short and to the point, only about two or three pages. I'd love to see more flash anthologies such as this one with a mix of established and up-and-coming writers centered around an engaging theme. (Personally, I think one about public transit would work really well. Contained setting and timeframe. And all kinds of people being forced to interact with each other.)

What's a theme you'd like to see an anthology based around? 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Submissions Wanted!

Untreed Reads Editor Jay Hartman posted at the SMFS blog recently that they are looking for themed submissions. Here's what he had to say:

Although we have the Thanksgiving anthology coming out, I realized today
that I don't seem to have much in the way of other holiday mystery
shorts in the queue. I do have a few things lined up for Christmas, but
have absolutely nothing for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or even New Year's.

I realize it's sort of last minute, but I'd appreciate it if folks could
help spread the word that we're looking for a few good shorts to add to
the lineup for the holiday season. Submissions should be in DOC format
and sent to with the word "HOLIDAY" in the
subject line.

For those of you not familiar with Untreed Reads, they are an electronic market that pays based on how much your work sells.

Also, there's a new market for flash and short stories, Pulp Carnivale. They will be virtually publishing work in a lot of different genres starting in November.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writing Violence

I've been wanting to post on this for a while and hear what everybody thinks about this subject, cause I think it's a tricky one. What got me thinking about this subject is an essay in "Writing Mysteries," an interesting collection edited by Sue Grafton. This particular essay is by Bill Granger and it's called "Depictions of Violence." (This essay's strengths and weaknesses are sort of emblematic of this book--good information, but really prescriptive.)

Granger makes the case that all violence is anti-climax--that readers are really looking for the suspense, for the lead up to the violence, and once you get there things deflate. I would generally agree. There are a lot of writers who throw in blood and gore and, most of the time, it does nothing for me.

He goes on to say that there are three, and only three, legitimate ways to write violence, and that anyone who deviates from these patterns is "a hack," which is apparently something you don't want to be. Here are the three ways he brings up:

1) Slow it down to the point of absurdity, which forces the reader "into the action."
2) Hide the violence. This lets the reader fill it in with their imagination.
3) Underplay the prose. He uses an example of a rape scene with very reporterly, stark prose that highlights the brutality of this act.

I have no problem with any of these. They all work. But I also think there's a million other ways of writing violence. And it really depends on your characters--if you have a character who is new to crime, showing them committing the crime and continuously reacting to it (do they find it horrifying? exhilarating?) would be a good way to go. Or if you have a sociopath and you want to demonstrate the joy they take in violence that can work too. I've seen other writers use these and many more methods of writing the nasty stuff.

Though perhaps each of us settles into a few ways of writing violence (these are apparently Granger's ways) that work for us. I tend to leave it out--have it happen off stage or at the very end, so you only get a taste of it, which I guess is Granger Point #2.

How do you write violence? Do you think there are certain techniques that are better than others? Are there some widely used techniques that suck?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It's your weekly installment of bad people doing bad things at Beat to a Pulp.

You know things aren't going to go well when there's three scumbag, amateur criminals, a broken down car, and a locked box of cash. The setting plays a big role in this, too--the forbidding salt flats of Utah. This is the first time I've read Bates, and he fits right in at the esteemed BTAP. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more of his work.

The Halloween issue of Yellow Mama is out with some seriously creepy and awesome results. Check out the flash piece Three-Way by Thomas Sullivan for some seriously disturbing, absurd crime.

And Kenneth James Crist has one of the weirdest tales I've read in a long time, The Mushrooms Shall Inherit the Earth. One thing's for certain--this edition of Yellow Mama is anti-boring!

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Stories For All!

Bunch of top-notch stories posted recently. Here's just a sample:

Jimmy Callaway blows up number 600 with Six Hundred at A Twist of Noir. I could read Callaway all day--the dialogue is effortless and the plots are tidy and satisfying. And he's really funny. He kicks off the 600-700 series in which each story's word count will match up with the entry number.

Also at ATON, AJ Hayes burns shit up with Savant. You don't want to fuck with this kid.

At Thrillers, Killers and Chillers, the always excellent Jim Harrington is up with Frienemies and Ian Ayris has a chilling, raw tale in Stars--no twists here, just gritty, awful reality.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

THICK AS THIEVES by Cindy Rosmus

At Media Virus, Cindy Rosmus has a badass story about a long first night working at the bar for Tina as a cast of awful people from her past come back to haunt her.

She weaves in Tina's past with deft precision--using every last bit to propel the story forward. And she simultaneously manages to convey the essence of a lot of characters in minimal time. It's a great read.

Christopher Grant really says it all about this piece, "As usual, (Cindy's) prose is dark chocolatey goodness that melts in the reader’s mouth and nearly their hands, too."

I gotta go. I want chocolate now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FFO, Dark Valentine

Flash Fiction Offensive is back, with Byron Quertermos at the helm.

The first entry is a bitchslap from Kieran Shea called Spanish Lesson. I love stories about average people stumbling into the world of crime either through their own stupid decisions or just plain, dumb luck. Here our narrator pops into a convenience store on one of those long cross-country drives and quickly discovers that he should've waited until the next exit.

The description in the first paragraph about the endless seas of green that are the Midwest is phenomenal. Like the main character, I'm a New Englander currently displaced in the Midwest, and there's still something vaguely terrifying about being in the middle of all these corn and soybean fields... Where the fuck are the trees and the buildings to hide behind?

Anyways, it's the kind of high-octane fun we've come to expect from Mr. Shea and you should check it out.

You also might want to pop over to Dark Valentine Magazine. The first two issues have been great--phenomenal artwork and stories by Nigel Bird, Jim Harrington, Paul D. Brazill and many, many more. It's one of the few magazines successfully printing multiple genres--some great dark fantasy, horror and crime fiction. And this month they're putting up a story every day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


At Spinetingler Magazine, they've posted reviews of every short story in the fascinating and fun new collection REQUIEMS FOR THE DEAD. The collection is tied around crime stories based on Irish myths and attracted some heavyweights, like Ken Bruen and Stuart Neville.

I had the pleasure of reviewing two of the entries--Garry Kilworth's HATS OFF TO MARY and Tony Bailie's DRUID'S DANCE.

Friday, October 1, 2010

EVEN SVEN by Mike Toomey

All Due Respect's fourth edition is out, featuring a blistering story by Mike Toomey.

So far this newer publication has focused on the raw stuff--and this startling piece is no exception. The narrator--a former petty crime guy gone semi-straight--receives a call out of the blue from an old connection, Sven, who was recently released from prison. Sven needs him for a job, to help him get even with the guy who plea bargained and put him away for many years. Since Sven now walks with a limp, he needs some back up, someone to stand around and look tough. Turns out this standing around job is harder than it would first appear.

Outstanding dialog carries this sharp story. Toomey might be the smoothest dialog writer this side of Robert Parker. In short, punchy back-and-forths with no tags, he tells you everything you need to know--what the characters are like, the setting, the details, the stakes--everything.

And there isn't a single twist in the story. It's just unflinching, haunting. Sven's humanity was stolen from him in prison--and Toomey fleshes out this part with rich back story--and now he's going to take it back.