Thursday, April 30, 2009

Issue #6 Of Astonishing Adventures Magazine Is Here!

So let me get this straight, it is John D. Carlucci's birthday and what does he do? He gives all of you a present! How impressive is that? You see? That's why I call him "Johnny Dollars," the dude is money.

So what does the birthday boy have up his sleeve? An epic collaboration with Super Editor Katherine Tomlinson that brings you a pulp magazine full of action, adventure, suspense, mystery, murder, horror, and drama. Think of it as all of your college years and your career, all rolled up into one...minus the bad food and having to bow to the porcelain altar the morning after.

Not to mention you get a story from yours truly called "All The Better To," and here is an excerpt-

Dix’s eyes light up when he spots the old lady. His odd gait picks up speed and purpose, like an odd cross between Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein and an effete dandy. He stops and looms over the old frail. He’s got a sick grin on his face, like a starving dog that’s just smelled some fresh meat. The rat is out to ruin probably the only fun she’s had all month long.

She looks so fragile that I’m afraid Dix’s mere presence is going to give her a heart attack. She winces before she even sees him, I’ll bet his breath got there seconds before he did. When he goes on a bender, forget about asking him to brush his teeth and spend your time looking for a gas mask left over from the Great War instead.

She gets up with her box in hand, but Dix hems her in the corner. His sneer is so severe, that it looks like his face is going to split in two. Thinking it’s great sport, Dix bellows, “Oh, Grandma, what a big chin you have.”

The old frail cranes her neck and looks up at him with one eye. I’m just glad that she’s not smoking or Dix’s 100 proof breath would probably set both of them on fire. “That’s because my chin is big and strong, so that I can stand up to the likes of you,” she says in a high reedy voice.

“And oh, Grandma, look at how much hair you have on your chin…why, it’s as if you are trying to grow a beard.”

“I’m not your grandmother, but if I were? I’d take you over my knee and give you what for.”

Like a punch to the face, that remark breaks Dix’s sneer. He purses his lips and leans over her. “And oh, Grandma…”

All eyes in the room are on them, and there is one huge collective gasp, as Dix yanks the shawl and scarf off the frail elderly woman. Mine is the loudest, because now I recognize her, even though her hands quickly try to cover her face.

Now, here's where this gets real interesting, if you get the hard copy off from Amazon?* You'll get an exclusive story "Djinn," from upcoming author Katt Parrish, a real Scheherazade if there ever was one.

Click here for the digital copy.

*The link for the hard copy is coming soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Best Of: "Cynara"

Soon, the sixth issue of Astonishing Adventures Magazine and...well, you're just going to have to wait until it arrives.

In the meantime, when Aldo, Gerald and Patti get together? They always come up with a great premise and more often than not, even better flash fiction ensues. One day, they'll give Akashic Noir a run for the money and you will recall that you read that here first.

This story is called "Cynara" and you'll have to read it, to understand the origin of the flash fiction challenge, and just who "Cynara" really is. In this story, for a change of pace, you will have the actual and correct William Congreve quote-

Heav'n has no rage like love to hatred turn'd
Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd.

I would bring up a famous Chris Rock quote, but nothing is worse than having the audience fail to make the distinction between the author and the fictional characters that he writes about. So just let me say this of this story's protagonist, you can't spell "lothario" without "l-o-a-t-h." But every story needs a villain and true to noir tradition, trust no one in this story except to do what is best for themselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is "Cynara."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post-Draft Blogpurri

Ante Scriptum- Paulie Decibels reworked "Sleeping It Off" into "Bingo Master's Breakout" and it was just posted on A Twist Of Noir. Now Ladies and Gentlemen, back to the original post-

Do you think that a certain Paul D. Brazill...

...Bares a certain resemblance to Will Durst?

Is it me, or is it a coincidence that you never see both in the same venue, at the same time?

Of course, they are rarely within 5,000 miles of each other, they really don't actually look alike and there is a noticeable fifteen years difference between them, but don't let that get in the way of an Internet-based rumor.

At any rate, on Silents and Talkies, Paul D. Brazill talks about one of the greatest actors of all time and the favorite actor of most of the writers I know, Robert Mitchum.

Patti Abbott takes on a trip On Paladin Road, think what would happen if Scott Wolven met The Twilight Zone, Hitchcock meets Rod Serling.

Last but not least, Google/Blogger gave away Quin's old blog, lock, stock, and barrel. Just like that, no rhyme, reason or warning. In the meantime she has started anew, here at-

Please do me a huge favor and "follow" her blog if you ever loved her Six Sentences or her musings.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Best Of: "Snow And Sacrifice"

Well, that post went over badly, without comment and cue the chirping of the Internet crickets. Here's the same post linked to a different story-

It pains me to read some of my old work, though not exactly for the reasons that you would imagine. I can write with greater economy now and I've gotten better at building suspense, though that is not saying much at all. What really annoys me is that I can't write horror the way I used to. I can't up the stakes with horror in the same manner as I can with crime fiction, and I can't create a twist that I am happy with, and still have the story come out to more than 200 words.

Super Editor Katherine Tomlinson is sitting on a horror story that I wrote for Astonishing Adventures Magazine, that you will probably never read unless I become famous. That story has a strong premise, a decent beginning and not much else. It's all sizzle and somehow the remaining steak turned into really mediocre tempeh. I have an old story that deserves another go, and hopefully you will read it in the next three months.

In the meantime, let this tie you over. It's called "Snow And Sacrifice" and please note, this was originally written back in June, 2006, so some aspects of the story are a little dated.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "Snow And Sacrifice" and please, don't ride the white horse.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Read On, Read On

I'm going on a quick blogging vacation at least until Wednesday, but that doesn't mean that there isn't abundant content to be read.

Keith Rawson won the First A Twist of Noir's Story Contest with "In The Shower, Thinking."

Eric Beetner was in second place with the neo-noir "Past Due."

Kevin Michaels points out why it's not a good idea to flash your cash in "Hard Streak."

Paulie Decibels writes about the horror, the horror, at Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers, with "This Old House." Think more Halloween British style, than Bob Villa.

Last but not least, mi amica, Pyzhan tries to get me and everyone else hip to other hardboiled MacDonald, John. D. If you only saw how big my TBR pile was, Pyzahn, you'd cry like a baby.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beware The Ides Of Roman Literature

The New York Times has an interesting essay by Mary Beard, comparing the authors of Rome with modern authors. Amazingly, in a sense, very little has changed.

Even though they didn't have printing presses and they had to use slaves to manually copy text from one scroll to another, other traditions from that era have lived on.

All the same, there’s a lot in the Roman literary world that seems quite familiar two millenniums later: money-­making booksellers, exploited and impoverished authors, celebrity book launches and career-making prizes.

...most Roman writers knew that the profits of their writing ended up in the pockets of the booksellers, who often combined retail trade with a copying business — and so were, in effect, publishers and distributors too. At best, the author received only a lump sum from the seller for the rights to copy his work (though once the text was “out,” there was no way of stopping pirated copies).

Good gravy, since the Normans had yet to come into existence, I guess you wouldn't have had an author with the name "Nora Roberts" back then. Correction, "Norma was a druidess during the Roman occupation of England and "Norma" is not the feminine version of "Norman." So what would that be, "Nora Roberticus?" Or would it that be "Nora Rigoberto?"

Note that here we go again with adventures in reading and punctuation-

The books they read were not “books” in our sense but, at least up to the second century, “book rolls” — long strips of papyrus, rolled up on two wooden rods at either end. To read the work in question, you unrolled the papyrus from the left-hand rod, onto the right, leaving a “page” stretched between the two. It was considered the height of bad manners to leave the text on the right- hand rod when you had finished reading, so that the next reader had to rewind back to the beginning to find the title page. Bad manners — but a common fault, no doubt. Some scribes helpfully repeated the title of the book at the very end, with just this problem in mind.

These cumbersome rolls made reading a very different experience than it is with the modern book. Skimming, for example, was much more difficult, as was looking back a few pages to check out that name you had forgotten (as it is on Kindle). Not to mention the fact that at some periods of Roman history, it was the fashion to copy out the text with no breaks between the words, but as a river of letters. In comparison, deciphering the most challenging postmodern text (or “Finnegans Wake,” for that matter) looks easy.

(insert inappropriate joke about a "period" of your choice, right here). The rest of Mary Beard's essay is in its entirety right here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blood Will Spill

Please, I need you to know that no matter what, I love you very much.

Accusations will fly like a hundred courtrooms all merged together.

Things will be said that cannot be taken back. Blood will spill.

All is fair in love and war, but all bets are off when there’s too much liquor at a family reunion.

Oh no, Uncle Chaz has gotten into the Jose Cuervo again, may God have mercy on us all!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Ever Efficent Flan

Flannery is a super wife and supermom. She dominated the online game The Bad Lieutenant's Wife like she created it herself and now she pays a little homage to Mel Gibon's movie and marriage career.

What a birthday present, and everybody else gave me coal!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


She is my numerological exception.

Like a number, she is irrational and few can understand her, much less explain her without a chalkboard.

And like mathematics, you could lock me in a room with all the tutors in the world and I'll never understand her, because I have dyscalculia.

Or look at us this way-

XX + XY= Confusion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Art Move-oh"

Laura and Jacques take in the painting before them, and each has a decidedly different reaction, judging by their expressions.

“Isn’t Raymundo amazing?” chirps Laura. “He is just teeming with potential and I’ve invested a small fortune into him.”

Jacques moves around, but there doesn’t seem to any angle on Earth that will improve upon this work. The palette suggests a color-blind Hieronymus Bosch. The splatter-style of the brushwork makes Jackson Pollock look like a steady-handed Impressionist pointillist in comparison.

Jacques chews on the end of his sunglasses, the way so many do when they are trying to convey deep contemplation.

“He is on the verge of changing the very perception of art as we know it,” Laura chimes with her arms raised as if she is being moved by the Holy Spirit. “He is on the vanguard, he is an iconoclast and eventually, they will create a whole new movement around him.”

Jacques nods brusquely and says, “Yes, absolutely, and I believe it will be called the ‘bowel.’”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Get Out The Vote!

Get out the boat!, that's not quite right.

Get out the robo-goat!

No, that doesn't quite work either. Where did I go wrong?...Hmm...

Oh, yeah, get out the vote!

So as I said before, if you haven't already done so, please vote for Nora O'Sullivan and if you tried before and couldn't get through, they've fixed the problems.

Quin battles to be Lord of Six Sentences for March. You can vote for the other five submissions and plunge the world into chaos and ruin. Pulling of hair, gnashing of teeth, Republicans and Democrats living together, etc... Or you could vote for Quin and bring harmony to the's up to you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Now That's Writing Style

So last week I read Charlie Huston's "The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death" and...

...let me preface this by saying, I'm learning to put some distance of a few days, before I comment about a book. That way the initial euphoria that I might have, can dissipate.

I still like this book, hell, I love it. Your mileage may vary. First, you have to love crime fiction and second, you have to have a strong stomach. Any casual readers will shriek and run like The Missus did at the altar, some seventeen years ago.

The protagonist cleans up death and crime scenes, and the scenes in the book are just a tad stronger than your typical CSI episode, rendered more vivid because Huston engages all of your senses (as opposed to just the video and audio of TV).

The jobs that Mike Rowe does on that Discovery Channel show are a very close second to the labors that protagonist endures, but the book's hero wins the "ugh, hells (sic) no!" competition, easily. Mind you, this isn't a book review, I just wanted to talk about the writing style that Charlie Huston uses, which forces you to really pay attention to the dialogue-

The guy with the fauxhawk showed me his blade, a slight crust of dry blood gummed at the hilt.

--Say that again? Say it. About to go Bruce Lee on your ass here, you keep talking about my moms.

I put my back to the door and shifted the carrier of cleaning gear so that I held it in front of me.

--Hey, no, all done, I'm not saying anything.

He took a step, twirled the knife.

--I fucking thought not, asshole.

--Did it hurt?

He stopped walking, the knife stopped twirling.


I spoke very slowly.

--When. You. Thought. Did it hurt? Like because you're not good at it, I mean.

That's it. No quotation marks and often no references as to just who is talking. It is annoying as hell at the beginning and some of the dialogue exchanges will not make sense unless you read it twice. The beauty of this method is that the dialogue is king and there's absolutely no way around this.

You have to re-read, you have to measure the words of each and every character, or you'll get lost like a GPS that has been hacked by your work rival. There's no speed reading with this book, there's no page skipping and I imagine, the manuscript must have burned out an editor...or five.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rewrite, Regroup, Reuse

There is no crying in writing...

...Ahem, I said, "there is no crying in writing."
So, I have no choice but to harden my exterior...

...maybe I'll torch the old story.

Probably not, I'm happy with the way it is.
That which does not kill us, makes for better stories and thus, better writers.

Hey, what the hell did I just say??? There is no crying in writing, cowboy up!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Question IV

Question, are you down with?...

Andrew Upton: Oi, Cormac Bastard, I told ya to stop looking at me wife! Do it one more time and I'll fling you off that bridge there!

You down with OCD?

Um, I'll have to get back to you on that after I clean...oh my God, your blog is filthy!

You down with LEDs?

Jah, you know mee.

Who's down with OPP?*

Hopefully, all of the ladies.

*This is not meant as an endorsement or encouragement of "OPP." Any actual mention of "OPP" will leave me "D-E-A-D" and if I get within twenty feet of Cate Blanchett, The Missus will fling me off of a bridge faster and with more fervor than Mr. Upton ever would.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nora O'Sullivan Slices And Dices

Well, thanks to you, Nora O'Sullivan is a finalist in the Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors Spooksmodel Contest!

Now here's the trick, I said "finalist," when I should be saying "winner" and only you can make this happen. Click on this blood red link and vote for Nora, or I'll go quadruple Benicio on your a**!

And if that don't put the fear of voting into ya, I'll go quadruple Benicio on your a**, replete with mumbling (à la "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" and "The Usual Suspects")!

Oh, and I forgot, please? There with the magic word and everything.

Not Only Do I Post Here

Not only do I post here, but I post here as well.

We're talking arts.

We're talking entertainment.

We're talking bacon.

Let's not talk about Crocs, though.

Really, let's not, I've had a really bad week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Best Of: "Same Circus, Different Town"

Well, spring is finally here and as I promised, "Best Of" has returned. Today's selection was from the good old Tribe days. Tribe is an author out of Ohio and he used to have crime flash fiction site that was the precursor to Powder Burn Flash.

It was just like Powder Burn in that you had fine crime fiction and undiscovered writers, and we are very fortunate that Aldo Calcagno decided to pick upcarry that torch and carry it onward. Still, I'd like to thank Tribe for providing the first true venue where every writer was on equal footing and he or she could stand on their own merit.

The odd thing about this story's title was I asked a German native/American citizen coworker how he was doing and instead of the standard, "another day, another sixty-two cents after taxes," or "same sh*t, different day" that had become standard at my job, he responded with the phrase that would become this story's title. As a matter of fact, I had to disguise the lightbulb that went off over my head, because I knew right then and there that I had to build a story around this right away. When lunch came around, I jotted some notes on a paper towel.

In wake of the current financial scandals, "Same Circus" has taken on a different light and some of the narrator's words ring truer than ever. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "Same Circus, Different Town."