Friday, December 31, 2010

"Santa Must Die" is up @Do Some Damage, and a cameo

Well, here is the last post for 2010, and...it's a different one.

For the Do Some Damage Christmas Fiction Challenge, I was going in one direction when I was writing the story, and I let the word count influence what direction it finally ended in. Either way, the working title was and is, "Santa Must Die." It's also the last Do Some Damage post of the year, so I might really have to move out of the country after this one (preferably to one without extradition).



In other news, over at Dark Valentine, Paul D. Brazill has the sixth day of Christmas covered, with Roman Dalton. I guarantee that he's a detective unlike any other that you've seen before. There's also a cameo by the biggest bastard that I've ever known, and he plays the bartender.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"The Barbarian's Story," as sung by Steve Perry

So I was over at "Davy Crockett's Almanack," the other day (which is the blog of author Evan Lewis), when what did I see? This cover-



Did you catch it? No, I'm not talking about anthropomorphic personification of that old Saturday Night Live character, the Land Shark. Naw, I'm talking about the author's name on this novel, "Steve Perry."

Wow, who would've thought that the 80's soft rock balladeer would have an inner barbarian? Mmm, probably not. Yes, I realize that the chances of the author and the crooner being the same person are nil, but maybe we should all "Don't Stop Cleaving."

Er, "Believing."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The Big Lebowski," as written by Shakespeare?

So let me get this straight, "The Big Lebowski" as written by...




...William Shakespeare?


Yea, verily.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Isn't Over

Yeah, I relate to "Scrooged" just a little too much...



...mostly because when The Ghost of Christmas Present isn't jabbing my in the eyes, she's kneeing my groin.


Whaddya know, I fell for that, yet again. Well, just because December 25th has come and gone, doesn't mean that Christmas has to end. The folks over at The Do Some Damage Blog have a flash fiction Christmas Challenge still going strong. You already have Patti Abbott, John McFetridge, Richard Godwin, and Daniel B. O'Shea, as well as more strong crime authors still waiting to crawl down your chimney.

As they used to say on the old Ronco commercials, "but wait, that's not all!" The folks over at Dark Valentine Magazine have kicked off "The Twelve Days of Christmas."



That means a new Christmas story every day every day, until January 6th, 2011! You will get tales from Andrew Douglas, Kat Parrish, Nigel Bird, John Donald Carlucci, Christine Pope, Kaye George, and Paul D. Brazill.

Guess who got "Eight Maids-A-Milking?" No, not Danielle Steele. Guess again...no, not Michael Chabon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Streaking For The Shy"


No, it's not this kind of streaking, but if I presented a picture of the other kind? You would probably shine this post on, you, crazy diamond.




Nor am I talking about a streaker of this variety, though this is an image...never mind. The point is, Splotchy did a brilliant short film last spring (which I first found a link to at Freida's), called "Streaking For The Shy," and it is more than worth your time to pop on over to his blog and check it out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Sometimes"

Sometimes...promises are made to be broken. Sometimes “for richer finds” another home and “for poorer” outlasts its welcome like termites feeding on an already-shaky retaining wall. Sometimes for better is as unrealistic an expectation as winning the lottery, and “for worse” is as real and tangible as the air that we all breathe.

Sometimes we don't learn from our mistakes, and we wind up being amnesiacs on a Möbius strip of senselessness. Sometimes we remember that children are not weapons, so the lawyers will seek other means of provocation and waging war. Sometimes we cannot move ahead, because the little children inside of us are too scared of a world that will change and that will be different. Sometimes love is a many splintered thing, and tweezers and antiseptic are hard to come by.

Yet most of the time, I love you no matter what, and that is for always.




Image from artlies.org.

This was done for the Third Session of Icarus' Flight To Perfection and the starting sentence I chose was, "Sometimes, promises are made to be broken."

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Dancing With Myself" Interview @ Nigel P. Bird's Sea Minor

Honestly, I wanted this guy to do it...



...but he's been busy with other things lately.


So, I interviewed myself for the series "Dancing With Myself Interviews" over at Nigel P. Bird's Sea Minor. Pop on over and maybe it will clear up a few things about me...or maybe it will confuse you even more.



If I had a chance, I'd ask the world to dance...

Here's to Paul's 2nd Anniversary!


Please stop by Paul D. Brazill's blog and wish him a Happy Second Anniversary! It was wonderful to see your career at its inception, and here's to your continued success, Sir! Na zdrowia!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Winter Issue of Dark Valentine Magazine is here!

The Winter Issue is here!



With stories from Patti Abbott, Christine Pope and Dale Phillips. Not to mention some outstanding art by Mark Satchwill, Pamela Jaworska, Karyn Lewis, and the amazing cover by Jane Burson.

Don't forget, when you get to the back of this magazine, there is an important ad at the end ; )

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If there's a bustle in your...

...Heathrow, don't be alarmed now. It's just the airport's first "writer-in-residence," Alain de Botton.




My favorite quote from the article, "I would love to run British Airways, and feel I would be eminently qualified for the job. I don't know very much about making money, and nor do they.

However, I am deeply fascinated by the mechanics of getting planes in the sky and around the world -- and that's their area of expertise, too."

Oh, and Alain, nothing is wrong with JFK. It's a perfectly serviceable airport, especially considering the amount of traffic, and the Port Authority keeping it in a perpetual state of (dis)repair. Try being lost in the bowels of LaGuardia or dealing with the expanse and lack of heating in Detroit. You'll be begging for the mild inconvenience of JFK.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Messenger Gets The Ricochet

It was Sunday, and there shouldn't have been a letter in the mailbox, but there was. The last four days had been hell, but Hardy Shepard had a feeling that whatever was in that envelope was going to make everything worse. It was surely lemon juice and salt on the gaping psychic wound which he was already contending with.

***
The Bremer Company was a public relations firm, and it was the epitome of corporate/employee relations until seven years ago. The founder and president, Jeff Bremer, was a benevolent leader and friend to everyone, until he met the girl of his dreams, Emma, who was thirty-eight years his junior.

Emma blessed Jeff with three children, and that was three more children than she intended to raise. As Emma dedicated her time to shopping and spas, Jeff became both father and mother. The more time he spent away from his company, the more he decided that he really didn’t need it after all. Jeff figured he would be better off if he simply sold the company, but he didn’t want to pay out any would-be bonuses or severance packages. He also decided out that he would keep the money for himself and let the company flounder a bit, and then he could sell it off for cheap.

The thing was that Jeff didn’t want to deal with each and every employee during the execution of his plan, so he needed a hatchet man to deliver the bad news as the company was pared down. He thought he had found that hatchet man in Hardy, when he overheard a remark that he made. When an employee’s car was towed for parking in one of the handicapped spaces, Hardy notified the employee long after the fact and was met with a barrage of cuss words.

Hardy replied, “Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger.”

Jeff noticed a gleam in Hardy’s eyes at that tidbit, and he knew that he found a low-rent Judas. And he had, though the first couple of times were difficult for Hardy. The young would-be executive decided that he would find resolve by using slights his fellow employees had wrought upon him...both real and imagined.

Dennis, who ate everyone’s food in the refrigerator? Oh, that was the icing on the cake. Ava R. had never done anything wrong to Hardy, so he simply called her "Avarice" in his mind before he told her the bad news. Ava G, however, was tipsy at last year's Christmas party and she pawed at him in front of his girlfriend Dani. Dani believed that Hardy was cheating on her, and he wound up spending Christmas and New Year's alone.

But Mort never did anything wrong to him...hell, Mort helped Hardy move, and he even helped him install his home theater when such devices needed a degree in electronics and a contractor’s license. It didn’t take long for Jeff’s hatchet man to become a pariah, which only made Hardy relish giving his fellow workers the shaft even more. The more he was shunned, the more he began to savor being the villain.

The Germans have a word for what he was feeling, “schadenfreude,” which is the feeling of enjoyment in seeing the misfortunes of others. Hardy stopped going to the few company parties and picnics that the Bremer Company bothered to throw (everyone had mistakenly chalked the reduction in festivities to the economy).

Alas, when Jeff personally let his attack dog go last Friday morning, Hardy didn’t see it coming at all. He thought all along that he was going to be rewarded handsomely for doing the dirty work, but his prize ultimately was being left to do the walk of shame in front of the ten remaining people. Unlike all the others he had given termination notices and layoff slips to, no one made any effort to console Hardy. They wouldn’t have urinated on him if he were on fire.

So here this envelope has been sitting by the front door, the unopened white elephant in the room. He picks it up, cuts an end open with scissors and slides out the contents. In it he finds a letter that shows it was sent from his former fax machine right back to the same machine. A little opening salvo that was delivered, no doubt, from whomever escaped the bloody axe that Hardy used to wield. The first page is a list of everyone that he had to give the bad news to, and there are more people than the former hatchet man can initially remember, though they were all let go by him.

The second and last page is a low-res picture of Hardy when Jeff gave him notice. Hardy Shepard has cried all of three times since he turned fifteen. The first time was when his favorite aunt passed painfully and quickly from cancer. The second time was when the Chicago Bears lost the Super Bowl in 2007. And the third? Well, Hardy’s reaction is all too clear despite all pixilation; that of a child who has had his sand castle stomped, dropped his ice cream cone in the sand, and has been slapped.

Hardy decides to take a shower, where no one will see or would notice tears that can’t seem to stop.

The End


This was written for the Second Session of Icarus' Flight To Perfection. There were three starter sentences to chose from and I went with, "It was Sunday, and there shouldn't have been a letter in the mailbox, but there was."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For your perusal, "The Silver Wraith"

Though Blogger has had the Page Feature for some months, I have yet to see anyone actually use it. How does that work into this post? Keep reading.


My story "The Silver Wraith," was originally intended for Astonishing Adventures Magazine, but it really didn't mesh from a tonal standpoint (IMHO, not the Editorial Staff's). It's a little too long for Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers, so at this blog is right where it will stay. If you go to the top of the blog, it's the tab in the middle, right underneath the header.




So, if you add one part crime fiction + one part pulp + one part horror = "The Silver Wraith."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallow's Reave

Here is Halloween, in all of its terror, and by "terror," I mean adults in costumes that fall under the category, "things you cannot unsee." To take your mind off of that, we at Cormac Informercials™, have the second story in Katherine Tomlinson's NoHo Noir Series, "Wrong Turn." Check the Mark Satchwill illo-




Plus, you get horror from across The Pond. Lewis J. Peters has a short one up on his blog called, "The Horror of Halloween."

Oh, and call me lazy, but I will repost "Succuba," yet again. But if you call within the next five minutes, I'll even add "Introductions Are In Order," at no extra cost. Just pay shipping and handling. So call now, operators are standing by.

Monday, October 25, 2010

NoHo Noir @ Patch.Com

NoHo? Where in the world is "NoHo?"





Who is this woman? And who is she talking to? Who does these dynamite illustrations? All will be revealed in Katherine Tomlinson's tale "House Blend," which can be found at Patch.com.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Bebe"

This is for the inaugural session of Icarus' Flight To Perfection, which is the new blog that I am co-moderating with the mighty Nicole Hirschi. This story is also a semi-sequel to "Strawberry Quick; same narrator, similar situation, different day."

7:43 on a Monday morning and I’m stuck with this Chatty Cathy of a mug in a minivan, in a suburban parking lot. We are packing a shotgun, a crappy Glock-knock off, and a ski mask apiece. He may have gotten me this gig, but if he doesn’t shut up soon, I’m going to empty all four of our guns into him and call it a day.

“Uh, I like to get mentally ready with some silence,” I offer, leaving him the chance to shut it. “I need to focus, ya know?”

“Well, it’s just that…” he trails off. His sad face turns even more forlorn and oh, Lord, please tell me he doesn’t want to cry on my shoulders.

“What’s…what’s wrong?” Did I just say that?

“I’ve got a terminal disease.”

Shit, what the hell do I do? I wouldn’t hug a friend of less than five years over something like this. I certainly don’t want to embrace a near-stranger. What does he have? Cancer? ALS? Maybe the big disease with the little name? He gets his wallet out, opens it, almost shows me a picture, and then quickly pockets it.

“What?” I ask, and I’m beginning to suspect that this disease is really some kind of dementia.

“That’s not right, ‘disease’ isn’t the word. It’s more like a ‘condition.’ Do you watch Bugs Bunny cartoons?”

“Sure,” I reply. Should I plug him right here? I mean, my fingerprints are all over this stupid minivan. I can’t simply walk away and risk him getting caught in this vehicle, knowing that they will check for prints after. If I plug him now, it’s an unnecessary murder rap and I’ll have to torch this, but maybe it would be better than walking into a situation with this unstable nut ready to go off the rails.

“Well, it’s like the one with Elmer Fudd and Humphrey Bogart,” he says with the assurance that he just told me everything. The only thing he has really told me, is that I should be contemplating just which kind of accelerant is the most effective in destroying evidence.

“How does a cartoon relate to your ‘condition?’” Gawd, listen to me. If we get caught and sent up for a long stretch, maybe I should become a jailhouse shrink.

“It’s the one where Bogie tells Elmer that he better serve up a fried rabbit, ‘or else.’!”

I mull it over for a few, and then it comes to me. “Yeah, yeah,” I reply, “Bogart says, ‘Why did you hit me in the face with a coconut custard pie with whipped cream?’”

“And then, when Bogie says, ‘Baby will just have to have a ham sandwich instead.’ What does Bug do?”

It’s been years, but it comes to me as if it is after school again, and I’m sitting in front of the TV, eating graham crackers. “He comes out of hiding, jumps on the plate right in front of Lauren Bacall, and he says, ‘Remember, garçon the customer is always right! If it's rabbit Baby wants, rabbit Baby gets!’”

He holds his arms open with a grin, and me? I’m left to fill in the blanks again. I chew it over, and my mind still draws a blank.

“You see, that’s my problem; what Baby wants, Baby gets. If I showed you her picture, you’d get my predicament right away. Fuck Lola and “Damn Yankees,” that cartoon “Slick Hare” came out almost eight years before the Broadway show. For the purposes of this conversation, let’s call her “Bebe.” When we watch a TV show and they mention some kind of exotic shoe brand or $1,000 handbag, she’ll ask me for it and that’s what I’ll get her. I dropped $2,800 on three pairs of shoes for her the other day.”

“So you’re saying that some piece of ass has you pulling heists, so that she can keep up with the Joneses?”

At this point, I have to ask myself, who’s the bigger chump? Is it me for letting a friend of mine talk me into becoming a substitute stick-up man for him? Or is it the moron sitting next to me? When will it end for him? Will he wind up having to steal everything in the world that isn’t nailed down, just to keep this woman happy?

“She’s not some piece of ass, she’s “Bebe.” She is the piece of ass. Helen of Troy might have been the face that launched a thousand ships, but if that whole thing was about Bebe? All of those stupid Trojans wouldn’t have waited on the ships to be built and they would’ve swum in their armor and full gear.”

“She’s all that to you, huh?”

He doesn’t answer, and he goes blank as a TV with the cable disconnected. This mutt is gone; he’s got it worse than any junkie or gambler I’ve ever worked with. And by “mutt,” I mean that this guy is dog-ugly, so I’m guessing she isn’t all that hot. Money can only change so much, and I doubt that there is enough of it to make him appealing enough to the woman he described.

He apparently loves her, though I wouldn’t call what they have “love.” Either way, he’s got it bad and he’s probably right about this being a terminal thing. Hopefully, we’ll get the money, get out of here without getting caught and I’ll never have to deal with his whipped-ass again.

“Hey, are you ready for this, Romeo? Or do you want to back off and try this another day?”

“I’m good, and when it comes to jobs, I always have my head on straight. I’ve been trying to keep her happy for two years straight, and it’s worked beautifully…so far.”

“Okay,” I mumble with a nod. I look the minivan over and mention, “We need to roll down the windows, because fogged-up windows will draw the wrong attention.”

“No, take a quick peek at the other cars that have been sitting here and you’ll see it’s okay. He won’t be able to see in. Our windows have the same condensation on the outside as the other cars that have been left here overnight.”

I rub the window a little bit and see that this is the first thing that he’s gotten right. The other cars, including a few that have been left here with for sale signs, have the same watery buildup. I also see a BMW 5-series pulling into the parking lot, and it’s definitely the bank manager’s car. I duck back down and I nod to him.

He pulls the mask over his face and he whispers, “C'mon, Baby needs a new pair of shoes.”



The End

Friday, October 15, 2010

Best Of: "Let Them Eat Cake"

This was from Patti Abbot/Aldo Calcagno/Gerald So's Fifth Flash Fiction Challenge-

"I’m not a bridezilla!”

You’re absolutely not a bridezilla!

“What have I ever asked you for, Dad?”

You never asked him for a thing, Tammy. If anything, he’s always borrowing money from you.

“Honey, I’m sorry. I know you’ve never asked for much, but I gotta keep a strike fund ready…look, your uncle could get us the basement at the Elk’s Club for cheap.”

“Oooh!”

Damn, Tammy, you slammed that door so hard, I think you tore it off its hinges!

“What am I going to do? If I don’t come up with the rest of the deposit by Wednesday, we’ll lose the wedding hall!”

Not to panic, not to panic. Let’s go shopping.

“Why?”

Inspiration, Tammy, inspiration.

“To the mall?”

No, let’s go to Downtown Los Colinas.



***


“Okay, we’re here; now what?”

That’s it.

“What’s it?”

That’s it.

“I already have my engagement and wedding ring sets.”

I know. Look next door, what do you see?

“A CPA’s office.”

And?

“And what?”

Do I have to spell it out for you? Think like your cousin Charlie.

“Why…would…I…ever, do a thing like that?”

Because you’re going to need Charlie’s help, as well as your fiancé Larry’s tools.

“I don’t follow.”

Think like Charlie. What do you see, Tammy? One of these things is not like the other.

“Don’t mock me…oh…Oh! There’s no visible alarm on the CPA’s office.”

Exactly. We’ll double-check around back, but I doubt that there’s an alarm. Identity thieves would rather get the information via trash, mail or online. Now comes the hard part. You are going to make nice with Charlie and invite him to your wedding.

“For God’s sake, why?”

Because you don’t know the first thing about tools, theft or anything that comes afterwards. And what are you going to do, research this on the Internet so that you leave a trail for the police to follow?

“But he’ll get drunk and ruin the wedding.”

There won’t be a wedding or a reception if you don’t make nice with Charlie. Do this right and everybody will come out happy, plus you’ll be able to afford a honeymoon.

“And how are we going to pull this off?”

What does Larry have that can cut through all of this, as if it were a slice of wedding cake?



***


“I’ll stay in the car, Charlie, and radio you if there are any cops.”

“Oh, no, I’m staying out here and you two will go in.”

“Charlie, let’s be realistic for a second. How much safe-cracking experience do you think I have?”

“Um…none?”

“And you know what kind of a thief I am. I shoplifted that one time when we were twelve and I got caught. Now, how much experience do you think I have with tools?”

“Fine, I get your point.”

“Why should we even cut her in, Charlie?”

“Hey, asshole, did you scout this place?”

“No bitch is going to talk to me—"

“Look, Myron! I’ll talk to you the way I like! I came up with the plan, I scouted this place and these are my fiancé’s tools! If anybody is a “bitch” around here, it’s you begging Charlie to cut you in on my job! Got it?”

“…Yeah.”



***


“Oh, man, look at this! There must be over $250,000 in loot!”

“Don’t open that bag until we’re out of here!”

“Yeah, sorry. Hey, Myron, don’t you have something to say to my cousin?”

“I’m sorry I disrespected you.”

“It’s all copacetic now, Myron.”



***


That was a beautiful wedding, if I say so myself. The reception is going to be a breeze, especially without Charlie there.

“I’m worried. Where is he?”

“Who are you talking to, Tammy?”

Shut up, Larry!

“Shut up, Larry!”

Uh-oh.

“’Uh-oh,’ is right. The cops.”

Three squad cars? Charlie or Myron gave us up, probably Myron because he really did strike me as a bitch. Have the driver stop behind the catering truck before the cops see us.

“Driver? Please pull up behind that truck.”

“What’s going on, Tammy?”

Don’t forget the passports and the money!

“Just get the suitcases out of the trunk, Larry.”

Tell me the keys are in the ignition.

“They left the keys in there, yes.”

“Tammy, who are you talking to?”

Shut up, Larry!

“Shut up, Larry and put the suitcases in this truck!”



***


“Honey, where are we going and why is that police car chasing us?”

The cake, it’s the only way.

“No.”

There’s no choice.

“Larry? Open the back door and dump the wedding cake in the road.”

“But, honey, are you going to slow down?”

“Fine.”

Yes, look at them spin! Let them eat cake and canyon!

“Why do I even listen to you? When have you ever been right about anything?”

Beats me, what do I know? I’m just a voice in your head and if you took your medication like you’re supposed to, I wouldn’t have to listen to me either.



The End


Patti got the idea from a book of short stories that centered around a wedding cake in the middle of the road. A long time ago, I was going to do a story based on real-life drunken bride that went pugilstic on everyone in sight. Her "inner voice" that steered her wrong was retained, and I added that to a real life jewel heist that happened on The (San Francisco) Peninsula in 2008.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Introductions Are In Order" is up at Dark Valentine Magazine's October Frenzy

The magnificent Molly Brewer provides this wonderful illustration...



...and I provide the words. Check out my story "Introductions Are In Order" at Dark Valentine Magazine's October Flash Frenzy. It's dedicated to all the fathers who have daughters.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming soon: Katherine Tomlinson's "Just Another Day In Paradise"

Life in the big city is not for the faint of heart. Shadows lurk in sunlight; blood spills on floors; hope and dread are just two sides of a neon sign; and loneliness is a paper cut on the heart, an invisible wound that eventually kills. In these stories, Katherine Tomlinson explores the dark heart of urban living. It is what it is...Just Another Day in Paradise.




Coming soon, the anthology "Just Another Day In Paradise" by Katherine Tomlinson.

P.S. It's here, click this for the details.

Monday, October 4, 2010

You might be a writer

Over at Thomas Pryce's Unnatural Selection blog, he has a whole list of symptoms that show, "you might be a writer."

Some of my favorites are-

If you are sometimes hesitant to even refer to yourself as a writer…..you might be a writer.



If the word rewrite brings you a tinge of panic…..you might be a writer.

If you’d rather be writing even more than you’d rather be fishing right now…..you might be a writer.

If you’ve ever searched through the phone book to find the perfect name for a fictional character…..you might be a writer.

If you feel that Hallmark should make a sympathy card to send to friends suffering from writers block…..you might be a writer.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dark Valentine Magazine's October Flash Frenzy still has some spots available



Editor Katherine Tomlinson says, "I thought I'd mention that there are five (5) open slots left for the October Flash Frenzy. I prefer flash at this point (under 1200 words) because I need time to read and edit and assign So if anyone is feeling frenzied, they should submit to us at: submissions@darkvalentine.net."

Friday, October 1, 2010

The October Flash Fiction Frenzy has begun!



Thirty-one days.

Thirty-one stories.

Thirty-one illustrations.

This will be an October to remember. Starting today, October 1st, Dark Valentine Magazine will post a new story a day. The frenzy begins with a real chiller, “Animal Lover” by Kat Parrish. It's illustrated by Mark Satchwill, and the frenzy will end with a Lovecraftian tale by Barbara Emrys, also illustrated by Mark Satchwill. You won’t want to miss a single story.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get Plugged In #10

chuffed [chuhft]

–adjective British Informal.
delighted; pleased; satisfied.

"Chuffed?" That I am, but you'll have to get to the bottom of this post to see why.



Today? I have more plugs than The Hair Club For Men, and not only am I the President of Cormac Brown's Plugs For Writers, but I'm also a member!

Aldo Calcagno has scored a major coup for Darkest Before The Dawn, with the first three chapters of Hilary Davidson's new novel "The Damage Done!"

Richard Godwin has interviewed Pamila Payne and in it, she gives us some wonderful insights into the supernatural and goings on of The Bella Vista. Richard also can type out a mean tale, and "Nowhere Man" at A Twist of Noir, is no exception. He lights a fuse under some dynamite prose and I guarantee that after you read it, you won't look at the outside world the same way.

At Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Sandra Seamans can make a bright sunny day turn dark in ways that most of us can't imagine.

Nigel P Bird has taken all the spotlights out of Hollywood, and shifted them to the crime writing community, with his "Dancing With Myself" interviews.

He has noir great Kelli Stanley!

My fellow AAM alum, Chris Dabnor.

Paulie Decibels, who I will touch upon later on in this post.

The King of Crime Poetry, Gerald So.

The legendary Eric Beetner (where's JB?).

My crime writing Dad, Christopher Grant.

The Godmother of noir, Patti Abbott.

And with Steve Weddle, who was nice enough to plug me twice. Say even one semi-cross thing about the man and I won't eat your children, but I will make your ears look like some kind of odd hybrid between Evander Holyfield's and Vincent Van Gough's.

So what am I so proud of? Well, it's whom. A one Mister Paul D. Brazill has made it into the Premier League, with a story in The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. It even made his hometown newspaper, The Hartlepool Mail.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Take the plunge

It's the same, yet it's entirely different...



...because this time, Nicole is running the show. I'm glad to have her around, and that she is steering the ship. This time, there will be three sentences, instead of one. This time around, it will be a once a month prompt.

Go ahead and take the plunge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Best Of: "Hot Ice And Cold Blood"

A couple of projects loom over the horizon and I have more plugs to give out than a dozen Hair Club For Men franchises put together. In the meantime, the following story should tie you over. "Hot Ice And Cold Blood" appeared at the original Powder Flash Burn blog. A lot of us owe our writing and our readership to Aldo Calcagno, so I ask that you visit the Original PFB, the New PFB and Darkest Before The Dawn.

Right after you do that, pop back over here and click the paragraph below to read some more Neo-Noir-




Image from http://www.artquotes.net/masters/hirst/diamond-skull.jpg

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Asimov kicks off yet another Writing Quotes

"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster."

- Isaac Asimov


The following quotes came from The Creative Screenwriting Weekly Newsletter...

"The role of the writer is not to say what we all can say, but we are unable to say."

- Anais Nin




"Every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end...but not necessarily in that order."

- Jean-Luc Godard


"The writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master - something that at times strangely wills and works for itself."

- Charlotte Brontë

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Johnny's Trattoria

The Trattoria di Gianni was a warm and small restaurant. Though it had the capacity for twenty-four people, it was never that full. Yet it was never empty, either, and it had small, but steady and loyal clientele. The enthusiasm of Giovanni Calvo, the love and quality in the ingredients of his food, and the intimate setting kept the people coming back.




He was the first chef I ever worked for, and I apprenticed under him some twenty-four years ago. Over the last twenty years, I would fill in for him at his restaurant when he would take his annual vacation back to his hometown of Ascoli. Unfortunately, two years ago on his last trip, Giovanni simply never came back. His niece came by the trattoria on the day he was due back and said that he had had a major heart attack. While he survived the coronary, he was left weakened and couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time.

Giovanni’s niece, Eleanora, asked me if I could take over the restaurant in his place, as she believed that if it closed, it would kill him. So, I reluctantly gave notice to the restaurant that I had been grinding away at for the last two decades and took over the trattoria.

What a difference it was between running this joint for a couple of weeks, and running it even a day beyond that. It was an exhausting endeavor. Attached to the back of the eatery was Gianni’s green house, where he kept his large garden. In it were fresh basil, fragrant rosemary, bright red tomatoes, Italian parsley, chard, garlic, eggplant, and three different kinds of onions. Even though he had a fairly simple drip system feeding water to the plants, the garden still required a fair amount of maintenance.

Gianni also insisted on grinding his own sausage and he made his own bread, and the latter was the bane of my existence. I can cook virtually anything you ask me to, but I cannot bake to save my life. The customers were not happy with the salty or cardboard-like results, and I wound up having to buy bread from a bakery. That was the last straw for a few of our regulars and they stopped coming altogether.

Still, things went smoothly for the most part, but trying to be all things restaurateur to all people took its toll on me. It was debilitating and my health began to suffer. My empathy for Giovanni must have increased three times over, and I wondered how much longer it would be until I wound up like him. In the meantime, Eleanora suffered a few financial setbacks and she desperately needed money. She asked me if I would buy the trattoria from her and I told her that I really couldn’t afford to.

His niece went to Italy and explained to Giovanni that she couldn’t afford to keep the restaurant open, and that it might be better if they sold it. I imagine that he reluctantly agreed, though I don’t know because I wasn’t there. I didn’t find out about this until a couple of days after she got back to The States. She didn’t even have the heart to tell me directly that the place was for sale. She cryptically said, “I want you to cancel all food orders for next week, because we will be remodeling.”

Our meat wholesaler was actually the one to break the bad news to me. What could I say to her? I didn’t have a partnership with Eleanora, so she could do whatever the hell she wanted to do with trattoria. I tried to throw a nice farewell fete, but a couple of inebriated customers ruined it. The less said about that, the better.

Seven months later, I’m on my feet again at a fairly nice place that almost cares about their food and menu as Giovanni did. As this is a very-close knit industry, ugly rumors would pop up every known and then, like the earwigs that loved the basil in Giovanni’s garden. I went by the old joint one night to see if they were true. Gone was the subtle “Trattoria Di Giovanni” sign and in its place a giant, cold logo. You know, the kind that people pay companies and focus groups to come up with.

I went inside and even though there were plenty of employees, there was no one at the front to greet me. I picked up a menu, looked it over and it was like a sucker-punch to the gut. There before me was the Americanized version of Italian food, and a quick glance at the tables confirmed it. Everything that wasn’t canned, came from a deep freezer or looked dubious at best. All of the fresh herbs and spices were replaced by the sawdust that passes for Parmesan and mozzarella that must have come from cows that grazed on Astro Turf.

The seating was expanded and the garden in the greenhouse was paved over. All the better to seat you, my dear, as we serve you processed and microwaved mystery foodstuffs. Unlike before, there was little space between the tables and the diners were wedged against each other. The waitstaff loomed over the customers like vultures, swooping down on their plates before people were finished, and giving them the checks while they were still eating dessert. I felt a tear welling up and I had to leave, before I became the chef version of that old TV ad with the Native American chief surveying the polluted land.

I’d like to tell you that the plastic clone of Trattoria Di Gianni closed down, but it’s going somehow. Remember this, though; food without quality, care and love, is merely sustenance. It’s an oxymoron of the definition of the word “substance.” If you feed your soul nothing but the ersatz and the empty, it will remain unfulfilled.


The End

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raymond, we hardly knew ya around here

Wait a minute, let me get this straight...Raymond Chandler was living in San Francisco, some three years before Dashiell Hammett? This wonderful tidbit was discovered by novelist, Mark Coggins.





Honestly, I don't think Chandler ever set a story here, and I cannot even remember a specific passage where he even bothered to mention San Francisco in passing. It's just as well, Los Angles, I mean Angeles is the city the Brit is associated with most.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"A Snapshot Of The World"

"I got your dozen or so messages, Wynona. What are you so fired up about that you had to blow up my cell phone with all those messages?"

"Then you still don't know, Nadine?"

"'Know what?'"

"I’ll venture that you and Clint must have been part of the two percent that weren't affected. You didn't at least listen to the radio?"

"You know damn well that Clint insisted we spend one whole week off the grid, talking about how it was going to make our lives stressful. Well, I can't tell you how worked up I am, wonderin' if the DVR recorded all of my stories and how on Earth am I ever going to catch up?"

"Well, Nadine...you missed out on a bunch...a whole bunch. Edgar left me."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Don't be, I'm not sure I am exactly sorry. That ain't the big news anyway. The big news is that for fifty-two hours, your mom, my mom, everyone's mom was right!"

"Stop speaking in riddles. What happened?"

"Well, Nadine, I'll try and explain it the best I can, though the USA Today or The Times- Picayune can certainly explain it better. You know how scientists have been bringing up theories about those solar flares and how they're going to disrupt cell phones and everything that has a plug or a battery?"



"Are you gonna stop taking these side trips to Tangent Street and steer us over to Relevant Avenue, Wynona?"

"Well, there was a great big solar flare and it somehow affected the neurological systems of 98% of the people in the world. Remember how your mom used to say that if you keep making that face, it will get stuck that way? Well, for fifty-two hours, that's exactly what happened to everyone. Beyond the two percent exception, that was every man, woman and child.

On TV, they called it ‘The Flare.’ And I don't know why the animals got away scot-free, but they did. You know I would've loved to see the lions down at the Zoo with their faces stuck like the MGM Lion on freeze-frame."

"I don't believe you."

"Shit, you don't have to; change the channel to CNN."

"Oh…my Lord, you're not kidding."

“Can you imagine that, Nadine? The people that were asleep when The Flare struck, couldn’t open their eyes. They were effectively blind for every minute the phenomona-”

“Phenomenon.”

“-Phenomenon took place. And you remember that perky little Bree Croque from high school? The one that never stopped chattering like a chipmunk and smiling all the time? One can only imagine what she was up to when The Flare happened, because I saw her down at the Piggly Wiggly and she looked like she was weaned on a pickle when she was born.”

“You’ve seen her husband; wouldn’t you make that face all the time, too?”

“Speaking of strange faces, Nadine. They say that everyone that was having sex at the time, was too scared to leave their houses. You can imagine how many people got caught doing what they weren’t supposed to be doing.”

“That, or surely more of them claimed that they were asleep, than there actually were. Speaking of which, Wynona, is that what happened with Edgar and you?”

“Well, I was at work down at the bank, and I was so distracted by watching the expressions of everyone else, that I didn’t see Edgar come in. He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk.”

“What photograph?”

“He took one of me before I left for work, and he used my damn Polaroid. He knows I’ve been saving that for special occasions, and you can’t even get the film for it on eBay anymore.”

“Again, you’re steering us away.”

“He asked me, ‘why weren’t you smiling when The Flare happened?’ I told him that I was contemplating something. Then he said, ‘you always look like this…all wistful-like. What do you have to think about? I put a roof over your head, I provide for you and that’s all you really need.’”

“Oh no, what did you say to him? Tell me you didn’t let a good man get away.”

“I told him the truth, Nadine. He does a lot of things for me, but he doesn’t make me happy. I wasn’t going to lie to him, I couldn’t…it was all in the picture. By the time I got home from work, he had everything out of the house. I can’t say I miss him much, but I can say that I’m happier. If it wasn’t for The Flare, I probably would’ve been stuck with him until one of us was in the grave.”


The End


For Friday Flash Fiction #41, The Professor came up with the starter sentence, "He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nigel P. Bird's Interviews

Over at Sea Minor, Nigel P. Bird came up with a unique idea. Why not let people interview themselves and he would post it?

He has already put up some fine ones with Keith Rawson and The Drowning Machine's Naomi Johnson. Not to mention that ones with Jedidiah Ayers and Megan Abbot are forthcoming. Today, he is one with writer, columnist and super editor, Katherine Tomlinson.



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing Quotes helps you to be good to yourself

The first quote I thought was written by somebody else, but Walter "Red" Smith apparently was the first person to have it directly attributed to him-



"There's nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

- Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith


"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury


"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than write for the public and have no self."

- Cyril Connolly

"I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter."

- Blaise Pascal


The above quotes came from The Creative Screenwriting Weekly Newsletter.


"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with."

- William Faulkner

Monday, August 23, 2010

Für Elise



5:57 PM

She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again.

5:48 PM

Osvlado has had more than a few drinks, and this is not a new development. He enjoys a cerza (beer) or two with his desayuno (breakfast), a snort of tequila in his cup of coffee on the drive to work, and a generous pour of more tequila before lunch. The problem from two weeks ago, is the same as today's. Osvlado can't seem to stop drinking when he's supposed to be working, and he can't seem to be able to do the balance of his drinking at his own home.

12:30 PM, fifteen days ago

Chester Brock is patient; at least, that's what he believes himself to be. This...this, however, this would be too much even Job. Or even for Jesus. He doesn't mind if the gardeners are not constantly working, but that asshole Osvaldo spends more time sitting on his butt and not-so surreptitiously sipping from his flask, than doing anything that involves his job. Now, Osvaldo is urinating all over Chester's yard...and no, he's not even bothering to do it behind the bushes. In these trying times, no one should be out of work and yet...oh, great, now Mrs. Addison across the street sees this spectacle, too!

Wonderful, on top of everything, Chester is going to get an earful from Mr. Addison when he goes into work tomorrow. No, no, screw this, it's time to call Miguel up and let him know what kind of employee he has. This dickweed can work anywhere he wants, but he definitely won't ever work in Chester A. Barraza's yard again.

5:59 PM

Once the butterfly has emerged, it can't go back into the chrysalis, right? The butterfly can't go back to being that ugly, woolly, crude thing that crawls on the ground, and devours what tasteless foliage it can find. That is, the butterfly gets to sail on the wind and feed from the sweetest nectar. Such is Nora's dilemma.

She is in the front bedroom of Chester's l-shaped ranch-style house. She moved into his house over two years ago, but she still doesn't quite feel at home, so he lets her have the spare bedroom as her own little oasis from him. That crazy drunk that Chester got fired two weeks ago, is threatening Chester and she knows that Chet doesn't see the huge hunting knife that the angry asshole has hidden behind his back.

Nora clutches a simple little jewelry box. It's poorly lacquered and while she knows that it's not balsa, the wood that it is made of doesn't seem that much stronger. If you open it up, it plays "Für Elise," and if you lift the poorly disguised compartment below it? Well, no one wants that, especially Nora.

3:30 PM

Osvaldo was happy with his job and while Miguel wasn't happy with his drinking, he tolerated it as long as Osvaldo showed results. It's been two long weeks since then. Two long weeks where no one will hire Osvaldo, because Miguel has told everyone at all of the local garden nurseries about the whole incident. Yes, two long weeks where Osvaldo's money has dwindled down to nothing, and he has had to choose between drinking and eating.

At night, he has walked by Chester's house and seen this pinche cabrón living well, while Osvaldo starves. For reasons that baffle Osvlado, Chester's beautiful girlfriend actually wants a man whose hands are softer than hers. Osvaldo has twice the Spanish blood as this Indio, yet works harder everyday, than this puto has ever had to in his entire life. So, Osvaldo has called on Arturo, who always seems to have a bottle of liquor, a spare knife or two lying around...and the same itch to stir things up.

6:00 PM

Nora clutches the jewelry box as if it was a long lost relative, and in a way, it is. Osvaldo is shouting at Chester and Chet shouts back in the few words of Spanish that he knows. She knows that Chester still hasn't registered the hunting knife that is waiting for him, and that he also hasn't seen that a man has just stepped on the porch. It looks like Osvaldo is trying to lure him out and then, the other man will attack Chester from the side or from behind.

Nora opens the box, then the compartment. Inside there is a piece of red cloth with white and black spots, wrapped around something silvery. She takes the cloth out and wastes precious time touching in it to her forehead, because everyone has their own rituals.

6:01 PM

Chester steps off the porch. His first instinct is to just go back into the house and call 911, but this isn't high school anymore, and he will not be bullied. The two months of judo that he had taken almost six years ago, has given him an undeserved sense of bravado. If the adrenaline and testosterone had not clouded his sense of reason, then maybe he could remember that he couldn't even wrestle the TV remote from Nora two nights ago.

Arturo is about to let Chester's kidneys taste the steel of his switchblade, when he feels something cold poke the back of his neck. He hears the distinct sound of a slide going back and a bullet being chambered. That sound is the universal language of "don't move a fucking muscle, behave!" A woman whispers in Arturo's ear and he drops his knife, which clatters on the porch. This grabs the attention of both Osvaldo and Chester.

That woman is Nora and the red cloth is a bandanna that is tied tight around her forehead. It is pulled tight like a headband, just above her eyes, in the old Pachuco-style and Arturo seems to fear what she is whispering more than the gun that is jabbing him. He runs past Chester and grabs Osvaldo, who is about to take a run at Chester with his knife. Chester hears Arturo screech in Spanish the letter "m," and his both of his would-be assailants flee as if Nora is three jaguars.

Chester turns around and even he's not so sure that the nice girl he knew hasn't become some kind of creature. She has a fierceness in her that he's never seen in her, much less any human being. She's angry and she doesn't even see him, her focus is completely on the retreating duo. Suddenly the things that Chester took for granted or really didn't bother with follow-up questions, have taken on a meaning.

It always struck him strange that she has saved absolutely no pictures of herself, from ages thirteen up until she turned twenty-one. And the scars on her hands that she claimed were just burns from a cooking accident? Chester now knows that those must have been gang tattoos that she had removed. She puts the gun's safety on and she goes into the house. Chester hesitates several moments, before he follows her in.

Nora didn't want this, she wanted safety and boredom. She wanted to leave her old life behind and to find a nice guy to settle down with, where she could just stay in the background and relax. She wanted to go back to school and now? Now that's gone, and this isn't the first time.

Nothing can be as it was, and now she can't blend in, as she has become the alpha of the house by default. Even if Chester won't initially be scared like the others, how can she stopping being her old self now? Nora beckons Chester to follow her into the kitchen.

She sits down at the little breakfast nook and puts her feet across the table, as she slides into a comfortable, but tough stance. She pulls the bandanna down until he can barely see the whites of her eyes and Chester leaves the kitchen. He comes back with the music box and he opens it, Beethoven's familiar song begins.

Chester pulls the bandanna off of her forehead and kisses it, and then he kisses her on the lips. Chester remembers that in the myth of Pandora's Box, the one thing that remained in the box was hope.



The End



Note- this is part of Friday Flash Fiction #39, and Randal came up with the starter sentence, "She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again." The "Nora" in this story is nobody that you know, but my variation of Pandora.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy 90th, Ray


Happy Ninetieth Birthday, Ray Bradbury!



While I must admit that other than "The Illustrated Man" (which I finally read in its entirety, two summers ago), I haven't read a lot of your work. You are certainly both a brilliant and prolific author, and hopefully you will live well beyond the century mark. You are also not only a great author, but a prophet as well. We don't always agree, but hey.

And as long as we agree to disagree, you were mostly right...



...except, who needs 451 degrees? When we have the idiot box, which can bake a book reader's mind from within (including mine).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Noir and San Francisco

The Rap Sheet asked author Kelli Stanley to name her Top Ten Movies set in San Francisco. She came up with an amazing list and I agree with most of it, though my favorite is-



Not what would you expect for such die-hard Hammett fan, right? You would've guessed I would have chosen "The Thin Man" or "The Maltese Falcon." Well, neither has as many exterior shots of my favorite city in the world, as "Dark Passage."


And neither film had Lauren. Both "Dark" and "Falcon" had Bogart, though "Maltese" had the better Bogie performance. I am not, nor will I ever be a Mary Astor Fan, and as great as John Huston was, I prefer shot-for-shot, Delmer Daves direction. Before you get angry, I said I "prefer," as in it's a personal preference. Put the lead bird down.

The Rap Sheet also has a Top Ten Books Set In San Francisco List by Janet Rudolph, and J. Kingston finishes it up with the Top Ten TV Series.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Issue #2 of Needle Magazine is here!

Yeah, Sterling?




Stay on the line, I might need you to swing by here and set some people straight.

Well, you see, I've got some folks that don't know when they've got a good thing going. They don't realize that Steve Weddle and crew have done it again, with another outstanding issue of Needle Magazine!




For just seven bucks, they will get a line up of: Ray Banks, Nolan Knight, John Stickney, Frank Bill, Julie Summerell, Nigel Bird, Sarah Weinman, Allan Leverone, the novella "The Hitter" by Chris F. Holm, David Cranmer with "The Sins of Maynard Shipley," Stephen Blackmoore, and Mike Sheeter! Why, you can't even get an E-book with that kind of roster for an Abe Lincoln and two George Washingtons!






...maybe you could make them see things my way, if you get my meaning. Oh, and while you're at it? I wouldn't go out to dinner with that Michael Corleone kid. What's that? Uh, just call it a "hunch," on my part.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Was that correct, back then?

So I was reading Paul Cain's "Murder In Blue," which is the second story in "Los Angeles Noir: The Classics," when I saw this-

"Mr. Winfield reached up into the pockets of the dressing-gown, fished out a cigarette, matches. He lighted the cigarette, leaned back in the water, sighed."

Did you see that? In case you missed what I'm talking about, it popped up a few pages later with-

"They were silent for awhile and then Halloran lighted a cigarette and stood up."

If you still don't see it...

"The girl lighted a cigarette, sipped her coffee."

No, I'm not talking about all the smoking, that was par for the course back then. The "lighted" part instead of "lit." Mind you, "lighted" wasn't just for the cigarettes-

"The room was large, bare: somewhere around thirty-five by four. It was lighted by a single green-shaded droplight over a very large table in the center: there were other tables and chairs stacked in the dusk of the corner."

All right, I understand that back in 1933, it was acceptable to write "okay" as "okey" or "oke." I've also seen "girlfriend" written as "girl friend" or as "girl-friend" in more than a few stories from the first half of the 20th Century, but when was it ever okay to substitute "lighted" for "lit?"



Now, I know that you see this error.

Oh, and yes, "lighted" is a word.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Can't get enough of Lots of Pulp

Brian Solomon delves deep into history to bring you the original pulp art from Pulp's Golden age, at Lots of Pulp. Please, do me a huge favor and drop by his blog to praise him for his efforts.




Say what you will about Heather Graham's acting abilities, but you can't question her bravery. I mean, who else will swim in deep cold waters buck-naked, and slap sharks at the same time? Not you, Bucky.



Now you can see why I hate my job. This is what I had to go through just to get a vacation form, and even H.P. Lovecraft couldn't have conceived of what lurks near the fax machine.



Not that our vacation was that much better. People claim that Times Square is too safe now...The Missus and I, beg to differ.



Methinks they have the title juxtaposed. The "all new sock stories" on the cover just confirms it.



Trust me that when Kirk Douglas says he's "Spartacus," you damn well better call him "Spartacus."



Actually, Marlon Brando was no better, after he had a few too many.



Just between you and me, let's just say that some unusual steps were taken this time to rehabilitate Lindsay Lohan while she was in jail.


Don't let anyone kid you, it's tough being a writer.