Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm going to see the Joey DeFrancesco Trio play. And I'm seeing them at a shitty dive bar. Where jazz shows are meant to be played.

Anybody who likes jazz should check Mr. DeFrancesco out. I saw him once before with Pat Martino at a club in Philadelphia called Chris's and it was pretty super fantastic awesome. That was a place I used to go a lot, saw Chris Potter, Dave Douglas, a bunch of other great shows. I was 18 and for some reason they always kept bringing the pitchers of Yuengling to our table.

The guy editing this video has a little too much fun with it. For some reason there are double mirror images of Joey D. at the end...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flashes of Revenge by Darren Sant

One cool thing about the rise of ebooks are collections of flash fiction. Was anybody doing this before? (I'm sure there were a few small presses, but they never made it to my field of vision.)

Darren Sant's got payback on his mind in Flashes of Revenge (Trestle Press) and comes up with creative ways to approach that subject in this entertaining collection. Violent, fast, and surprisingly funny, this is a collection from a writer who's quickly become a regular contributor to crime fiction zines.

I particularly dug "The Ungrateful Dead," about a music critic who trashes a grunge band. When the band becomes famous, he's got to eat crow and go interview them. But they have other things in mind... Sant captures the bitter, cynical critic very well, and anyone whose been the recipient of a bad review will sympathize with the band.

"Unforgiven" tells the story of an old rivalry that hasn't died. The protagonist's deep resentment stretches through the whole piece, one of the more quiet and grim selections in Flashes.

Check it out at Amazon or Amazon UK, only 99 cents.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The long wait is over: Pulp Modern is here. Looks like a first-class production with work from Sandra Seamans, Edward A. Grainger, John Kenyon, Jimmy Callaway, Lawrence Block and many more.

Get the full story over at editor Alec Cizak's blog.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Anybody keeping up with this zine knew long before it came out that this would be one kick ass collection.

Edited by Keith Rawson, Jimmy Callaway and Cameron Ashley, Crime Factory: The First Shift scorches the earth from start to finish.

I enjoyed every story, but here are a few that stood out...

"Stinger" by Dennis Tafoya. Holy fuck, talk about starting out right. A classic noir tale of a woman who gets dragged down deeper and deeper. And the last paragraph is simply excruciating. Like a third-degree burn, you won't be forgetting this one anytime soon.

"Of Course You Realize, This Means War," by Jimmy Callaway. Any story with a Bugs Bunny reference is good in my book. Callaway is consistently hysterical and he doesn't fail us here. He has a brisk, unique, very readable style that I can't get enough of.

"Ravine" by Steve Weddle. Dealing with how a character changes or fails to change is very difficult. I often find that characters who change too much aren't believable -- in my opinion, people don't tend to change much, so in fiction it comes off as forced. But in this story, Weddle makes a smart move -- he tests a change his character has already gone through. The result is a tight and engrossing piece with a phenomenal last line.

"Budget Cuts" by Dave White. I have particular affinity for this story as I will soon join the ranks of public school teachers. (White is a middle school English teacher in New Jersey.) Paul Brown is a teacher who speaks his mind. This is dangerous when there are Tea Party psychos around who like to do more than just bitch about property taxes. A tense and exciting read.

"Green By" by Chris F. Holm. For some reason, I like reading about stoners. Especially when they have really dumb ideas like breaking into a drug dealer's greenhouse cause they're fresh out of bud. Of course, it's not easy as they think.

And I didn't even get around to excellent contributions from writers like Hilary Davidson, Patti Abbott, Kieran Shea, Ken Bruen, Roger Smith and so many others.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

50 to 1

I have a 50-word story over at 50 to 1.

It's called "Guy with a Barbed Wire Tattoo" and is a little glimpse into the life of an asshole.  

Friday, September 23, 2011


It's no secret to readers of this blog that Ian Ayris writes memorable and unsettling crime.

Up today at TKnC is his "Surf Rider," which also appears in Pulp Ink. Here is Ayris in his element -- the original voice, the unusual and layered characters, and, yes, the madness. Although I've read it at least six times now, the last paragraph's sheer poetry gives me shivers.

And a special shout out to editor extraordinaire and all around good egg Col Bury for helping us out with Pulp Ink promotion.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Short Fiction Matters Group

Gerald So is starting a message group that I think could be very helpful for writers searching for markets.

Here's what he has to say about it:

I attended a couple of panels at Bouchercon that mentioned the scarcity/difficulty finding quality markets for short fiction. After a chat with multi-genre author R.T. Lawton, I decided to create a discussion list to help writers, editors, and publishers spread market information, including anecdotes of specific markets' editorial taste.

This list will tap into members' experience sustaining and submitting to markets. Announcements of published stories will be allowed not for self-promotion, but to show what types of stories a market accepts.

I want to emphasize that this new list is *not* for fans. It's for writers, editors, and publishers looking to share market insight. It also covers all types of short fiction, not just crime/mystery.

If this no-nonsense approach sounds good to you, join Short Fiction Matters at

Monday, September 19, 2011


Check out this Pulp Ink contest from Jodi MacArthur. Cash prizes plus all the bubblegum featured in her wildly imaginative story "The $5 Mil Hak." This is a whole bucket of awesome!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


R. Thomas Brown has a piece up at Powder Flash called "Hurt" that pushes all the right buttons. I really like how Brown creates a world almost identical to our own, but where violence is acceptable, or even healthy. With precision, he paints a character who we all know, and then shows how she changes. Very well done.

And Court Merrigan has a nice, slow burn over at PANK Magazine with "The Cloud Factory." A hardboiled tale about  crank dealing, a car crash, and a whole lot of money. The story's set in Wyoming and Merrigan does a great job using vivid details to make it come to life.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Top writer and all around good bloke Luca Veste has put together a ridiculous lineup for his collection called OFF THE RECORD. Julie Morrigan, Steve Weddle, Paul Brazill, Ian Ayris, Ray Banks. Damn. Check out the details at his blog.

I'm thrilled to be part of this collection. Each writer is naming their piece after a song and I've picked "Shadowboxer" by Fiona Apple. We'll see how that turns out!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two by Matt Funk

There aren't many writers of crime short stories more prolific and consistently excellent than Matthew C. Funk.

He has two out right now that you shouldn't miss. "Real Fucking People" at Dirty Noir is a different breed of crime story. Stagger has found Hunter Moseley at the world's most depressing strip club in Tennessee. Now he has to convince Hunter not to use that gun sitting in his lap. The dialog in this one is sizzling -- on the surface, you might think these two guys are talking past each other, but they're actually fumbling toward a real connection.

Funk is back in New Orleans with "Silas' Good Run" at Beat to a Pulp. Silas is a dude with an AK-47, a bunch of drugs, and no fear. As Pamila Payne puts it, "No one does feel-good hardcore like you, Mr. Funk."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pulp Ink + Beat on the Brat = Victory

I think this is what those corporate folks call synergy... (that word makes me shiver...)

Anyhow, if you're thinking of buying Nigel Bird's rad collection Beat on the Brat (Amazon US, UK, Smashwords) you will now find at the end of that collection a code to get Pulp Ink for 99 cents from Smashwords.

Two short story collections that will sock your knocks off for under two dollars or two pounds.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

CIENFUEGOS by Chris Deal

The 100-word story is mighty tough. Sure, short stories are tough and so are novels, blah blah blah, but the 100-word story seems particularly difficult to master. Do you try to cram a whole story into that tiny space? Do you tell just one little corner of a story? I've seen a few very good examples of this length and a lot of adequate ones that often rely too much on punchline endings.

Chris Deal's Cienfuegos is the best collection of microfiction I've seen. Each is a gem -- crafted with care, every word critical to the story. Deal explores different genres and styles, yet the collection has a remarkably cohesive feel.

This is writing that's alive. No punchline endings here -- each piece is lyrical and expressive, driven by a strong sense narrative. You get the sense that you've taken a very brief journey with each of these characters. You get only the essence of their full story, only the most important part and nothing else.

Cienfuegos is available as a free download from KUBOA Press, a new venture by Pablo D'Stair. KUBOA Press also has free downloads of work from other excellent authors like D'Stair, Nigel Bird, Mel Bosworth and others, and you would do yourself a favor by checking it out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday Reads

Great stories around the web today...

At Powder Burn Flash, Court Merrigan busts shit up with "Dogs at the Door." This is a really impressive effort -- tight writing and a terrifying premise. I also like how all we get from the frightened child who is the story's narrator is action and random thoughts -- Merrigan never overplays his hand here.

Many know Sabrina Ogden from her top blog My Friends Call Me Kate. She has her first story up at Pure Slush called "Excuse Me. Have You Seen My Shirt?" -- and it's as good as its title would indicate. A fun, imaginative dream tour that will make you laugh.

And at Pulp Pusher David James Keaton wades into the speculative as well with a very creative revenge story, Burning Down DJs. Keaton possesses a strong narrative voice and a good ear for dialog. Here he burrows deep into the psyche of a cuckolded fella.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

AJ Hayes

There are a lot of awesome stories in Pulp Ink. One of my favorites is by Mr. AJ Hayes and he is at The Flash Fiction Offensive today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pulp Ink Reviews

Julia Madeleine with a sparkling review of Pulp Ink. Luca Veste was also kind enough to weigh in with his thoughts. It's heartening to see the book getting a lot of support from some great writers.

Shorts for You!

At All Due Respect, CJ Edwards has one hell of a debut with "The Peeper." Edwards definitely has the patience of a seasoned veteran -- picking really sharp details and taking his time with each scene. The result is a creepy, sad and realistic vision of a killer.

Thomas Pluck emerged on the crime scene several months ago (or at least that was the first time I saw him) and since then he seems to have a blistering story pop up every week. He's at Powder Burn Flash today with the very satisfying "Black-Eyed Susan."

And I'm at Shotgun Honey today with "Skinny Latte." This story actually sprung from this documentary I saw about advertising geared toward women and the absurdly consistent emphasis on being thin. But I didn't want to get too grim or preachy with this one so I went for funny/disturbing. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Most of you who read this blog know about Mr. Cizak from his excellent short stories and from his publications, All Due Respect and Pulp Modern. He's also the author of Manifesto Destination, a modern dystopic tale about corporations run amok.

The book follows alcoholic/photographer/ex-cop/investigator Elmore. His ex-girlfriend, Felicia, is the publisher of an independent newspaper and asks him to tail a CEO's daughter and see what dirt he can find. Things get very complicated for Elmore after that, as he stumbles upon a corporate plot to enslave the good people of Indianapolis and beyond.

It's a fast, hardboiled read made for fans of noir and conspiracies alike. Cizak manages to create a plot that's simultaneously realistic and ridiculous, complete with a mad scientist, a strip club, a "rehab" clinic straight out of Brave New World, and plenty of dark humor. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 2, 2011

PULP INK: 99 cents this weekend only!

So you've been thinking about Pulp Ink. Thinking about those 24 stories of noir goodness, but you haven't pulled the trigger yet...

But now it's freaking 99 cents. Where else can you get stories from the likes of Allan Guthrie, Reed Farrel Coleman, Gary Phillips, Hilary Davidson, Ian Ayris, Richard Godwin, Chris F. Holm, Patti Abbott and many more?

I'll tell you where: nowhere, this is it.

Check it out at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Smashwords.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

THE CHAOS WE KNOW by Keith Rawson

When I reviewed the first release from Snubnose Press, the six-story anthology Speedloader, I said it was a truly dark and gritty collection, even for noir.

Keith Rawson's collection follows right where Speedloader left off. These stories are plain nasty. And I don't just mean brutal or grim, I mean literally nasty -- almost every story has an abundance of piss, shit, vomit, snot, blood and sweat.

From front to back, Rawson's collection is a stunning, detailed portrait of drug addicts, crooked cops and sexual deviants -- a wide-ranging tour of the vast underbelly of the American Southwest. He gets deep into the minds of his characters and unearths their disturbing lives in vivid prose.

"The Blood, the Shattered Glass and All the Rest" stands out as a prime example of Rawson's powers. A cop is trying to kick his drinking habit at his wife's insistence, but the pressures mounting on him are simply too much for himto handle. When the title returns to smack you, the reader, over the head, the result is horrifying and believable.

The Chaos We Know is the kind of collection that every fan of the dark side of crime fiction will devour. $2.99 at Amazon.