Friday, January 6, 2012

Five You Can't Miss: Ron Earl Phillips

Ron Earl Phillips is a multi-talented dude: He's editor of the flash fiction site Shotgun Honey and co-editor the charity anthology The Lost Children. He's also recently had stories in Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, and in the charity anthology Off the Record. Here are his five and I would agree with his assessment of 2011...

I may be myopic, short sighted, being an editor and avid reader of short story crime, all the same 2011 seemed to be a really good year with a lot of new and veteran writers stepping up their game, putting their best work out there. So it's hard, but here are five can't miss stories of 2011.

Carrrrleeee by Naomi Johnson (A Twist of Noir)

In 2010, Christopher Grant started an interesting project, the 600-700 story word challenge, where a writer would take a story number and use that as the exact word count. The challenge is still winding it's way to 700, at 670 words Naomi Johnson's Carrrrleeee was one of my favorites from the 2011 stories. So much fear and hopelessness packed into those 670 words, Naomi had the reader running right along side Carlee.

I also recommend following Naomi's blog, The Drowning Machine.

A Small Thing at the Devil's Punchbowl by Kent Gowran (Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled Anthology)

Love is a funny thing, you may not be looking for it, but sometimes it finds you. In A Small thing at the Devil's Punchbowl, Kent takes us on a quirky little tale searching for a lost son, what's found isn't what's expected. This is just one of several good stories in David Cranmer's Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled Anthology, but Kent's story alone is worth the 99 cent price tag times ten. Kent promises more stories in 2012, so I'm looking forward to that.

Oh, and he is the founder and co-editor of Shotgun Honey and has a snazzy new blog

Choppers by Matthew C. Funk (The Flash Fiction Offensive)

I'm not sure when I first discovered Matthew C. Funk's Desire, a small, broken, corrupt Parrish of New Orleans. It was Choppers that solidified my desire to read more about Desire, the community that struggles in a post Katrina New Orleans. And would of course introduce us to Funk's defining protagonist, Det. Jari Jurgis. Choppers is an aside story, a story that builds the structure of Desire and its denizens.

Choppers is a fantastic introduction to Matt's work, but I recommend you dig into his impressive and growing short story bibliography.

Bleed Out by Trey R. Barker (Thrillers, Killers & Chillers)

Trey's been around a while, but absent in recent years. So his re-emergence on short story crime scene this year is my first experience with his work. I'm sold--hook, line and sinker--Trey has the goods. As recommended earlier Trey's 6/8 which appeared on Shotgun Honey is probably my favorite story of his to date. Being an editor of Shotgun Honey, I felt odd tipping the hat to one of our own stories (oops). Bleed Out is easily nearly shoulder to shoulder and was published earlier this year at Col Bury's Thrillers, Killers & Chillers. Trey writes a hellava cop story, but what I love about this story is how the hopelessness bleeds out like a melancholy melody. Much of Trey's work has a poetic, musical cadence.

Give Trey's website a visit: Bullets and Whiskey.

Black-Eyed Susan by Thomas Pluck (Powder Burn Flash)

Tom's the new kid on the list and is making quite an impression this year with stories at just about every online venue. If you haven't read him yet, where the pluck have you been? This New Jersey boy is a burning fire of fiction that I'm not sure anyone can contain. Black-Eyed Susan starts off with a bad joke that finishes with a horrifying punchline. This story also appeared in the Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled Anthology.

Aside from writing like a demon, Tom helps me moderate Flash Fiction Friday from which he spawned the The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology. You can find his full hit list at his blog, Pluck You, Too!

That's my list, but I also recommend all the great offerings from Chris' Five You Can't Miss series. Thanks for having me.