Monday, May 21, 2012


The winter 2012 issue of Needle is chocked full of very sharp crime fiction.

And a guy on the cover who reminds me of Dennis Duffy from 30 Rock.
The return of Kieran Shea's PI Charlie Byrne is alone worth the price of admission. In "Paying it Off," Byrne's up to his usual, dealing with the low-lifes and the lower-lifes as best he can. Nobody writes New Jersey quite like Shea and this one's overflowing with grimy atmosphere.

Jen Conley is a new name to me and she's got a corker here with "Finn's Missing Sister." Bobby is trying to escape old ties as best he can, but he gets sucked back in when an old flame disappears. Conley astutely captures the desperation of her characters. Soon after I read this one, I saw her name pop up again at Shotgun Honey with a vicious short, "Hatpin."

I loved Chris La Tray's take on Midwest suburban sprawl in "A Dog Named Buddy." Things get fucked up in unexpected ways when one homeowner gets tired of the neighborhood dog that's always shitting on his lawn and takes matters into his own hands.

Plenty of other excellent fiction in this issue from William Dylan Powell, BV Lawson, Matt Funk, Benoit Lelievre, Kent Gowran, and many more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trevor English at All Due Respect

I'm proud of every story I've published at ADR, but this one is something special.

Last year, Pablo D'Stair released three novellas about small-time crook, Trevor English. These are some of my favorite books. D'Stair is an original writer with a distinctive style. He devises fascinating premises and simply lets the stories grow from them. And he's an expert at exploring the paranoid psychology of his narrators.

This issue of ADR heralds Trevor's return in the fourth novella of the series, the Akerman Motel/Apartments per week. If you dig what you read there, head over to, where you'll find all the Trevor novellas for free.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Closed for Submissions

All Due Respect is closed for submissions. Need to work through a backlog that extends into the first weeks of 2013. We have a fantastic slate of stories coming up.

I will probably open submissions again at the end of the summer or early fall.

Recent Good Stuff

Writing's a bitch, eh? You sweat your ass off producing what you think is quality material, then you get a bunch of rejections or some asshole who downloaded your book for free gives it one star.

But once in a while all that hard work pays off and that's what's happening for me right now. Here's what I've got in the pipeline:

-- "You're Welcome," a story about a guy who decides he's going to murder a stranger he sees in line at the grocery store, will appear in the next issue of Pulp Modern. This one was inspired by this bit by the brilliant comedian Louis C.K.

-- "Creator/Destroyer" will appear in a future issue of Needle: A Magazine of Noir. This one's huge for me--I've devoured every issue of Needle and it's taken me a while to come up with a piece that fits in with this magazine. "Creator/Destroyer" is about a boring, suburban dude who is jealous of the picture-perfect family across the street. Things go all haywire in this one early on.

-- "Lucky Convenience" was published at A Twist of Noir a while back. Now Editor Christopher Grant has submitted it to be considered for an anthology of online crime fiction edited by none other than Otto Penzler. Big thanks to Mr. Grant! Whether or not "Lucky" makes the cut, this is a huge honor.

Feel free to share your good news in the comments!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Teaching is a strange career.

I just finished student teaching at an eighth-grade history class in rural Iowa. It was a very challenging, engaging, trying, rewarding semester. The highs and lows of teaching are more severe than other jobs I've had. Feeling even partially responsible for the development of 82 teenagers is a lot of pressure.

Joe, the narrator of Nigel Bird's new book, In Loco Parentis, is a teacher who, shall we say, doesn't deal with the stresses of the career particularly well. He uses all the traditional stress relievers (drugs, alcohol, and sex). But the grind of teaching gets to him and eventually his chemically induced haze isn't enough.

Especially when he discovers something that every teacher dreads--that one of his students is being abused.

I can't blame Joe for how he reacts. I might do the same thing. But his actions have consequences, and Joe is quickly dragged down into a world of shit. Despite all of his awful decisions and his base weaknesses, Joe is a very likable character. I rooted for him til the very end of his spiraling journey.

This book features all of Bird's trademarks, especially his talent for crafting remarkable characters. Not just the narrator, whose voice Bird captures with perfect pitch, but all of the supporting cast as well. Two in particular: Joe's friend, the neurotic, clingy, very memorable Wolf; and his on again, off again lover Emma, a married woman and parent of one of his students.

If you've read any of his short work or his novella, Smoke, you know that Bird is a noir poet whose work is complex yet immediately satisfying. He follows up on that brilliantly in his first full-length effort. Be prepared: In Loco Parentis is a rare and devastating book.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Re: Book Blurbs

Over the last six months or so, I've been asked by a few writers to provide blurbs for their books. This is cool because I get to read the manuscripts before everyone else (bwu-ha-ha-ha!) and I get to show my support for great writers in a way that might help them sell more books. (Emphasis on might!)

Anyway, I spend a lot of time toiling away at these quotes, writing and rewriting them. It's a deceptively difficult thing to do... You want to simultaneously:

1) Tell people why they should read this specific book instead of doing a million other things 

2) Praise the author without going over the top

3) Give the reader some hint about the kind of book it is

4) Share your own experience reading the book 

5) Make sure it sounds good (book blurbs being a genre of writing in and of themselves)

As I find the best blurbs tend to be three or four sentences (or fewer), I can't get around to accomplishing all of these goals, but I do try, and I tend to rewrite them a dozen times. But I do find them a fun challenge.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Surreal. Grotesque

There's a new kid on the block publishing some mean bizarro--Surreal. Grotesque.

Few gems in their first issue. I particularly liked Joshua Dobson's "The Smut," in which porn and pollution collide in futuristic fashion. Nathaniel Tower has a darkly funny tale with "The Ugly Husband."

Add in gorgeous art and more fiction by the likes of Bradley Sands and Richard Thomas and this is an issue you won't want to miss.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

At All Due Respect...

Chris La Tray is up at ADR with "Molotov," a whip crack of a story set in his current home, Missoula, Montana. Go check it out or perish!