Monday, May 30, 2011


There's a new pub on the block, Pulp Modern, which Alec Cizak of All Due Respect is running. Anybody whose kept up with ADR knows that Alec doesn't fuck around and publishes a high-quality story every month. Pulp Modern is a paying, print-on-demand market looking for longish stories (2000 or more words).

Check out the guidelines here.

Also, here's a list of my usual haunts and their submission statuses. Hope it's a helpful!

Thrillers, Killers, 'n Chillers (until July 1)
Yellow Mama
Beat to a Pulp
Flash Fiction Offensive (for a few weeks)
Pulp Metal Magazine (until fall)

Dark Valentine
Shotgun Honey
All Due Respect
Powder Burn Flash
Darkest Before the Dawn

Friday, May 27, 2011

E-book Bargain of the Week: Irregular Creatures

If you've been thinking your reading material is too normal, check out Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig. This nine-story collection is full of wildly imaginative premises, very real characters, and a lot of heart.

Also, this is some weird shit.

Like Dog Man and Cat Bird (A Flying Cat Story). The title kind of says it all. But it doesn't really so you should read the story. Maybe my favorite in the collection, it's the tale of how a suburban dad gets his groove back through one airborne feline.

Of course this has been done before, but Wendig manages to make it new again.

Product Placement is another gem. What would happen if all the brands you knew suddenly disappeared? I think this is what the grad students call post-modern. Though I'm not sure. Anyways, this is also an accurate and hilarious breakup story. And it's science fiction.

As you might be able to tell by now, Wendig really knows how to say fuck you! to the whole genre thing. Or, as he puts it, these stories "drunkenly swerve between fantasy, horror and science fiction--with a dash of humor and absurdity thrown in for good measure."

This is the kind of book I'm thrilled to see in electronic form. It probably wouldn't have had a home in traditional publishing, but it's thriving as a self-pubbed ebook. Anybody who likes expertly crafted oddball stories will love Irregular Creatures.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Well, there's a big ol' internet debate going on at Spinetingler over a review by Ben Whitmer. I don't know if I have much to say about this. It was an overtly aggressive review (although Whitmer has backtracked some in the comments), and I'd be interested to hear a response from Reasoner.

I also have a review of a Jon Breen story  from the same collection (On Dangerous Ground, a collection of Western noir). For many years, Breen wrote The Jury Box column for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and I liked his reviews. Unfortunately, I didn't like this story.

Anyways, I am planning on reading the rest of On Dangerous Ground. A lot of authors whose work I really enjoy in there--Dave Zeltersman, Bill Crider, Gary Lovisi, Ken Bruen, etc.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So according to Nigel's Bird's blog, there's an excellent bargain on the ebook front. From Mr. Block's Facebook page:

'E-book price break! The following titles have been dropped in price and are now widely available for $3.99: April North, Campus Tramp, Candy, Carla, Community of Women, Gigolo Johnny Wells, Random Walk, The Specialists, and Such Men Are Dangerous. This is an experiment, so the price may go back up again. I'm just sayin'. . .'

As Nigel said, by supporting this we can send a message to publishers that, yes, lower prices do sell more e-books. So check it out!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Round the Web

Several top-shelf stories this week at some of my favorite haunts.

Alec Cizak has an outstanding down-to-earth crime story in Katy Too at Beat to a Pulp. Katy is a vacant college girl determined to exact revenge on her promiscuous boyfriend. She knows about revenge cause she saw it on television. Problem is, revenge isn't really like that. Some sharp dark humor in here and very detailed writing.

At Thrillers, Killers 'n Chillers, Copper Smith has a riveting story about a different kind of drug dealer--a priest whose product is forgiveness--in Divine No More. Copper is hilarious, except when he's not, and then he's deadly serious.

Shotgun Honey has scorched the earth since it opened its doors. And their new site looks snazzy. If you find a story grittier than Matthew C. Funk's Nothing To Say I would be very impressed. Also be sure to check out Last Request by Peter Andrew Leonard--he treats the reader like a pinata.

Friday, May 20, 2011


By AJ Hayes

If you like your crazy, wall to wall, profane, unbuttoned, heading for a solid brick wall and don't give a damn 'bout that, then Luke Nineteen Twenty-Seven by Jimmy Callaway and Cameron Ashley in the latest Plots With Guns is right up your gunfightin' fist punchin', shotgun blastin', Tarantino only wishes he'd wrote this, alley. 

Not recommended for anybody with the slightest sense of decency or shred of sanity. (Unless you like your fiction deliberately plotted, tightly controlled and filled with images that will not leave you -- no matter how hard you try to get rid of them -- ever, for the rest of your life.) That said, be warned: This is not for the easily offended.Enter the fire here. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

E-book Bargain of the Week: Terminal Damage

Here starts a new DBK feature--e-book Bargain of the Week. As you may or may not be able to tell from the title, I'll be picking one Kindle text that sells for less than the big publishers want us to pay. I have a preference for short stories and novellas, but I'll probably include novels here as well.

One of the first books I checked out on the Kindle was Terminal Damage (99 cents), a collection of short crime fiction by the folks behind Do Some Damage. All the stories are set in an airport, which works out well and provides some consistency. These stories tend toward the hardboiled, violent side of the genre.

Last Man Standing by Dave White was one of my favorites. The narrator is a depressed teenager about to commit suicide when he spots two suspicious Arab guys. White possesses a natural, engaging voice and digs deep into the narrator's psyche. He's also got a great sense of humor--a nice contrast with the rather bleak subject matter.

In Walkways by Steve Weddle, we get to know Oscar Martello. Here's a guy you don't want to fuck around with--and everyone who does ends up paying for it. A satisfying read with blazing dialogue and creative swearing. (A big plus in my book.)

Perhaps the nastiest of the bunch is Cinnamon's Last Dance by Bryon Quertermous. Ex-stripper Mandy is trying to get back to Florida to visit her dying mother. Of course, JFK is the shitfuck that it usually is and the whole airport is shutting down. Mandy's got a way out, but is it worth it?

The answer is no, it is not worth it.

Overall this is a kickass collection of eight stories. For those who dig the dark side of the genre, it's well worth it.

Want to be part of Kindle Bargain of the Week? Feel free to contact me at if you'd like me to review your book, or--better yet--if you'd like to review a Kindle bargain you've found.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Writing, Reporting, and Me

I started writing fiction a little more than two years ago. I went with that whole "write what you know" thing and started directionlessly banging out a novel about a reporter who uncovers a scandal.

It was fucking terrible, but luckily I didn't know any better and piled up pages. Got into the discipline of writing every day (well, writing that wasn't journalism) and learned not to care what the first draft looked like.

At about, oh, I don't know, page 150 I realized I had no idea of where I was going and stopped. Decided I should write a few short stories. Now that's turned into a lot of short stories, and I have no intention of going back to the long form.

I did keep writing about journalism in the shorts, but all of it stayed on my hard drive. For some reason, I couldn't access it. I kept writing these whodunit things where the reporter is the investigator. Like I was trying to jam my experience into a classic form without any thought as to why I was writing it.

But finally, I got it. For once, perseverance paid off.

The story itself is kind of absurd, but it captures the core of my experience as a local news reporter. The frustration. The comraderie. The futility. The constant battling with sources.

And a shotgun. That's in there too.

If you want to read about, it'll be in PULP INK, coming to an e-bookseller near you late this summer.

Do you have something that you really want to write about but it just isn't working out? Or maybe you finally conquered it?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


By Paul D. Brazill

The Flash Fiction Offensive has some whipcrack stories, some short sharp shocks, some sick stuff, some dark comedy. And Soliloquy and Whatnot by Chad Rohrbacher is all of the above.
It was the title that pulled me in by my lapels and a damn good title it is too. And it's also a damn good story about a couple of low lives in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But it’s the writing that excels, here. The telling of the story is what makes Soliloquy and Whatnot a classic piece of crime black comedy.It's perfectly pitched flash fiction, is what it is.

It’s about a year and a half since I first read Soliloquy and Whatnot and it’s stayed vividly  in my drink addled mind since then.
And if you pop over to Chad Rohrbacher’s tasty blog you’ll find links to more of his top stories.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

this letter to Norman Court -- part seven

With us today at DBK is Pablo D'Stair...

this letter to Norman Court is a novella consisting of 22 sections (each between 1000 and 1250 words) I am releasing by way of the following experiment: I am trying to serialize the piece across blogs, by reader request.  If you read and enjoy the section below and have a blog the readers of which you think would enjoy a selection, as well, please get in touch with me to be an upcoming host.  A little hub site is set up at that has a listing of the blogs that have featured or will feature sections—please give it a look, get yourself all caught up if the below piques your interest.

It is my simple hope to use this as a casual, unobtrusive way to release this material to parties interested.  There is some suspense, in that if a new host does not appear after each posting, the train comes to a halt (back tracking to previous hosts is not an option in this game).  So, if you enjoy what you read and would like to host an upcoming selection, please get in touch with me via  I welcome not only invitations, but any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.


Pablo D’Stair

this letter to Norman Court
Pablo D’Stair


More than half drunk, managed to get the late commuter train, thing packed until almost half hour in—miserable situation, I just stood against the wall, duffle hugged tight to me. 
I suddenly couldn’t think why was I in such a hurry. Herman was back in town tomorrow, but who knows would he go in to the office and even if so, guy’d paid me to deliver the letter couldn’t expect me to be there, the very first moment when already these extra days were his fault for not knowing about some whatever conference it was Herman was out at. 
-Better just to get it all done, I mumbled, touching at my nose, raw from it’d started running awhile back, I’d been using napkins I’d swiped from the bar to clean it.
My thoughts were sloshing gently to the rhythm of the train, the sooner I was done with Herman, the sooner it was all done, the sooner I’d slip away more than a few bucks richer for my trouble. 
But where did Lawrence live? 
I rubbed at my eye with a thumb knuckle. 
Had I been thinking I had his address, got it mixed in my head with Klia’s old place? 
Seat freed up, so I sat, knees impatient. No, this wasn’t a good idea—no need to abandon ship, scurry back as already here I was on the train, but certainly I needed to sober out, get a handle on what was what. 
Lawrence had his number listed, so probably his address was in the directory, or probably I could track it down through the number—anyway, there was L.S. Glass Plumbing, which it’d be a bit much of a coincidence that had nothing to do with him, guy named Lawrence Stephanie in the same town as an L.S. company shared his surname. 
It was well past dusk by the time I got out at Darcy, stomach a mushy knot, in no shape for anything but a trip to the toilet yielded nothing but making me cramp worse from the effort, then a fit of sneezing made me feel a wrung rag. 
Town was still operational, for the most part—some bookstores, smaller coffee places were closed up, but a convenience store got me some cold and allergy tablets and a number for a taxi, had to walk back to the station for a public phone.  I smoked even though it was a lost cause, swallowed the soiled phlegm that kept either rising up from my gut or else slimed down my nostril back, told the cab Take me to any motel in Horton and asked what was the matter with the air it was turning me inside out. 
-Take a stiff drink before bed, clear you right out. 
-That’s what to do about it, yeah? 
-I didn’t used to believe it, but some rum, it’ll sort you. 
-Rum’ll do that? 
-Rum, bourbon, vodka—make you sleep warm, too, good hard sleep, you’ll wake up like there’s never been anything the matter with you in your whole life. 
I nodded, not wanting to get too chummy, feel pressured into leaving the guy a tip for medical consultation on top of the climbing fare, asked a final Where’s Horton, anyway? slunk my soggy head to the door window, vibration helping things. 
-Horton’s no place, that’s right where Horton is.  I’ll take you to the Super Eight, though, I don’t like any of the others. 
I made an affirmative noise, eyes closed, getting my head back to Lawrence.  Nothing to do for the night except maybe have a look at the plumbing shop, whatever it was, hope my medicine did the trick.  This was no state to get a couple thousand dollars off some guy, fact that I could hardly motivate myself to blow my nose more than enough proof of that. 
-Or is it allergies? the driver asked me, asked again when I guess he thought I hadn’t exactly heard him. 
-What’s the difference, it’s cold or allergies? 
-Just that rum won’t do anything for allergies, nothing does anything for allergies. 
-I took some tablets, I said, asked could I smoke a cigarette and were we almost there. 
The light had gone away outside when we came up on Horton, it was just an odd cut in the midst of nothing, Super Eight’s raised sign the tallest structure around. 
-Jesus Christ, is this a place? 
The driver laughed, told me Good luck about my allergies, if they were allergies. 
The motel lobby was air conditioned despite the weather, got signed into a room no trouble, made sure the clump of buildings up the way was Horton, proper. 
-You know L.S. Glass Plumbing? 
-Sure.  That’s by the movie theatre. 
I nodded, took my key, started to walk across the lot right away, ten minutes to the city and it was impossible to tell how I felt, was it the come down from my drunk, the medicine getting on me, or just the next phase of my head clogging up. 
Place was a store, sink fixtures, toilet fixtures on display in the window, been closed since five o’clock even though there was a glow looked like someone’d left a portable television on at the cashier’s desk.  Place’d open next day, eleven o’clock, which was fine with me—I could sleep in, take care of things, hopefully take the last commuter train out of Darcy.  But this seemed off—train’d leave Darcy early, that made sense, but I wondered how often did it head out, again after that? 
I tossed my duffle on the bed of my room, stripped naked and shut off the air conditioning that’d been blowing hard since last time the room’d been let, it seemed. 
How much was this jaunt costing me? 
Train, room for the night, cab, cab again, tomorrow, then the train back, if there was a train back that time of night.  Worse case, I’d have to stay in Darcy, get the train day after next, letter off to Herman, but that’d be another room, lots more headache. 
Clock showed eight-fifteen.  Local directory was right in the drawer with Gideon’s, I recognized the number I’d dialed for Lawrence before, was practicing what’d I say to get past his wife she answered again when a man said Hello. 
-This Lawrence? 
-Who’s this? 
-This is someone needs to talk to Lawrence, rather do it on the telephone than I have to come knock on his door.  This Lawrence? 
-This is Lawrence. 
-Need you to come out the shop, talk a few minutes about Klia, if that’s alright with you. 
I ran the hairs of my forearm over my dripping nose through a pause. 
-I don’t know why there’s thought involved in this for you, Stephanie, I’d honestly save us both the hassle of making this a house call, unless Klia’ a particularly happy subject with your old lady. 
He apologized, voice hushed, but enough normalcy I guessed his wife was near enough he had to make a play pretend who he was speaking with. 
-We’re putting the kids down, right now. 
-I’m happy to let you do that, you tell me when’s a good time you’ll be out here, tonight though. 
He sighed, seemed pathetic how he was unsettled trying to keep his act up, explained he didn’t know could he get away just then. 
-How about we say by eleven, then? 
-What am I supposed to tell Emily, I’m ducking out on a Thursday night?
He said that maybe like to sound he was talking to a pal was inviting him for bowling. 
-It’s I’d be more concerned what I’m supposed to tell Emily, that’s how I see it. 
I sneezed three times into my elbow, wiped my face into the raised shoulder of my free arm. 
-Make it before eleven I said, hung up, another fit of sneezing, to the sink where I popped three more tablets on my tongue, swallowed them with a mouthful from the tap.

Pablo D’Stair is a writer of novels, shorts stories, and essays.  Founder of Brown Paper Publishing (which is closing its doors in 2012) and co-founder of KUBOA (an independent press launching July 2011) he also conducts the book-length dialogue series Predicate.  His four existential noir novellas (Kaspar Traulhaine, approximate; i poisoned you; twelve ELEVEN thirteen; man standing behind) will be re-issued through KUBOA as individual novella and in the collection they say the owl was a baker’s daughter: four existential noirs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Gone Bad is 18 ball-busting tales of nefarious and otherwise unseemly deeds from the warped mind of Julie Morrigan.

In an interview, she gave a three-word description of this collection: "sweary and violent." I agree. And that's how I like my fiction.

At times hilarious, at times wrenching, and always moving at the speed of a cheetah on crank, this is a fun and freaky read. Each story is about (or at least includes) someone who's gone bad--thieves, rapists, murders, tranny-beating arseholes, etc. They're all there and ready to make someone else's life a living hell. Morrigan's also got a gift for the ironic ending, which she uses liberally and to excellent effect.

This is the first book I bought for my Kindle (yay!) and it's a great find--99 cents well spent.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Pablo D'Stair's this letter to Norman Court is a novella that he's releasing in short sections on various blogs. (Click that link to see where he's been and where he's going.)

He started over at Nigel Bird's Sea Minor and today he's at Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine with part six in the series.

Not only is this a fresh idea in how the piece is released and read, but it's a brilliant work. What sets D'Stair apart is his distinctive voice. While many writers these days (including myself!) are tending toward short, clipped sentences, he writes languid, flowing sentences, connected by a lot commas, unafraid to mimic his narrator's strange thought patterns.

The plot is deceptively simple and filled with mystery--not the "whodunit" kind of mystery but the "what the hell is really going on?" kind of mystery. He builds a quiet yet furious intensity, and by the end of each chapter I found myself desperate for more.

He'll be here on Wednesday with Part 7 (the first fiction published at DBK!) and I'm proud to be hosting.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Fantastic Weekly Punch over at BEAT to a PULP, Jed Ayres' Down, Down, Down, Burns, Burns, Burns.  

This is intergalatic, action-packed sci-fi at its finest. Ayres brings this world to life with vibrant details and nutty dialogue. Add in a cast full of fatalist characters, weird drugs, and sex for a pulp adventure you shouldn't miss.

Also out recently is the new Plots with Guns, with a design that looks fucking phenomenal. Check out Schuyler Dickson's Shoot Me in My Horn, which proves to be thick 'n nasty noir, but with a surprisingly likable narrator. It's that old "innocence to experience" story you got back in high school English--except that this time it rocks and people rob gas stations.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This is one of those writing rules you hear all the time: You have to grab your reader by the collar and shake the fuck out of them or they're going to give up and go back to watching Celebrity Apprentice.

In a novel, it's allegedly got to be in the first page. In a short story, it's supposed to be sooner than that--in the first paragraph or even in the first sentence. Because we have attention spans equivalent to that of fish or, um, another animal with a short attention span.

To me, if you haven't already guessed, this is all a bit nutty. I'll read at least two pages of a short story before deciding it's not worth it. With a novel, if I'm not into it by page 50 or so, then it's probably not happening.

In those first few pages of a short story, there's got to be something that sets the story apart from all the others--an interesting voice, a quirky character, a strange setting, or just old-fashioned suspense. So maybe I do want a hook but have a very liberal interpretation of what that means.

But this isn't carte blanche. I (started to) read a story the other day at some esteemed literary journal and the first two pages were all setting. And the setting was a coffee shop. Not a single character or even a hint of what it would actually be about. Some nice turns of phrase and amusing observations, but I gave up on this "story." Why the editors liked it I'm not entirely sure.

Guess I should stick with reading genre fiction.

Do you give up on a story and do you plow through? Do you think hooks are necessary or just another stupid rule?