The one where I get to sign a contract

A few months ago, I suppose I could look back and tell you the exact date, but really that’s just an exercise in exactness and I’m anything but organized or precise, I received one of the most flattering emails that a writer could receive, and remember, while I’ve written on an off for 20 odd years, I have yet to put myself out there in a way that markets me as a writer, except for the years of 2010-2011 (really 12 months). During that loose year I wrote several short stories, even got invited to participate in a few anthologies. It really should have been the rejuvenation of my languishing career as a writer. Then life got in the way, and distractions happened (some good distractions), and my writing has been limited. Stagnant and uninspired. Then I got an email.

An independent producer/filmographer of short films contacted me, and over the last couple years he’s held on to this virtual rumpled copy of Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, that in my mind I imaging tucked into his back pocket, dogeared and well read. He was reaching out because he liked the story “The Janitor” that appeared in that collection, which had lead him back to this vary website where he had read more of my stories.

First, I can’t say how gratifying that someone could or would put such weight on a story I wrote 4 years ago that they would reach out. It’s flattering, uplifting, and inspiring. I should write more, and I am working hard to do just that. So for that I am thankful. The ember was almost out, but now there’s a flame again. Thank you.

He was reaching out in a professional capacity. He wanted to adapt “The Janitor” and another story that had only been published on my website. Imagine the grin on my face.

We discussed his process, his previous movies, even the possibility of me assisting with writing the scripts. I really liked his direction for “The Janitor” which has a more action oriented end, something that was already one of the potential directions I had contemplated during the initial writings. So the prospect of seeing the story of crime scene cleaner Mike Banks in search of his missing employee Conny Parker became so much more tantalizing,  inspiring. I may even get to writing the novel that the story was a character exercise pretext.

There are no guarantees and don’t expect me to be able to buy a round of drinks next time we meet, but I wanted to share because the license agreement contracts for the two stories arrived today at my office and I’m about throw down my John Hancock with that big grin. With luck, I’ll be able keep you supporting friends apprised of production status and possibly one day add my name to Internet Movie Database.

Twenty years is a long ride for Dewey Thompson

It would take me some time, effort, to write something as confoundedly interesting as some of the verbose ramblings of Rust Cohle from True Detective, but there are moments when I see my life like that crushed can of beer. Time is not only circular, but flat, that all the moments of our existence are already present, just not experienced and as we attempt to experience all that we are, undoubtedly we are bound to stomp over some of our past and relive those singular moments. Tangentially speaking it feels like I’ve been here before, only younger, and not the least bit wiser.

__This_Is_Your_Life__Dewey___by_NetizenRonBack in 94-95, freshly returned from my moment of freedom in Colorado, now with a new wife and a new child I aspired not to be an office worker, a cog, but an independent businessman. I knew nothing of business, and well the short duration of Enigma Comics is a testament to that. Yes, for a short gleaming moment I was a comic book publisher. Clearly low rent, but I managed to get a rag tag bunch together and we produced a few stories and xeroxed comics. Low rent.

At that time I was teaming with story ideas. It was where my first ideas for the blue gelatinous duo Klik Boom, which would come colorfully to life eight years later in the pages of Digital Webbing Presents, came into frame. It all derived from a drawing I co-opted from one of the creators in my comic group, Jason Arthur. Jason started the drawing and for whatever reason ditched. I finished the initial figure and added three black oily characters (two who would turn blue and gelatinous a couple years later). I may have aspired to be a comic artist, but as evidence shows I was long ways from claiming it as fact. It’s a realization though, a fruition of an idea that grows with each viewing.

From this drawing grew Dewey Thompson, a rockabilly monster hunter with a well quaffed pompadour and an affinity for Elvis Presley. Over the years, Dewey existed in the occasional sketch, a half ass attempt to create a webcomic, and strings of notes for short stories and longer.

So roll down the road twenty years. I’m playing the publishing game again with One Eye Press, my business acuity has maybe doubled but I’m learning, and I’m ready to let Dewey Thompson ride again. This time out Dewey is hunting real life monsters: criminals, hustlers and dealers.

I don’t know where this ride will take me, but hopefully away from all my previous missteps and redundant efforts. I’m geared to see this to the end, and I want to thank Bryon Quertermous of Exhibit A Books for helping me find a moment of focus.

 

Five Broken Winchesters from Zelmer Pulp

914eCxe1ZXL._SL1500_Zelmer Pulp is a handful of writers from around the globe who by fate or consequence have gravitated together to produce a series of genre collections. Their first two collections C’mon and Do the Apocalypse, a send off of the zombie horror genre, and Hey, That Robot Ate My Baby, a dastardly take on sci-fi, were some of my favorite reading earlier this year. And if I have to be honest I have known the Zelmer Pulp crew individually as writers and artists for some time now. I’ve had the pleasure to publish Brian Panowich, Chris Leek, Ryan Sayles, Isaac Kirkman, and Chuck Regan through the Shotgun Honey flashzine. I knew they were talented and crazy, and so I guess like minds attract.

When I heard they were going to tackle the Western next, with their special point of view, I dropped some not so subtle hints I’d like to participate. They were kind enough to oblige, though I imagine they might be kicking themselves for that choice from time to time. The long and the long of it, I managed to contribute my short story called “The Last Shot.”

The collection is labeled weird west, but “The Last Shot” is traditional and a counterbalance to the talent you will find in Five Broken Winchesters. The following is the first part of my story.

The Last Shot

“Marshal? Do you think I’ll hang?”

Hank Markum said nothing at first, taking a sip from his coffee before considering the grave question of his prisoner. He looked across the fire, the flickering light played against the boy’s youthful appearance making him seem younger than his nineteen years. The tremble in Caleb Monroe’s voice only impressed upon the marshal that this was no grown man he was taking to the gallows.

“Son, they already strung up that boy, Oren Canter, and it doesn’t look likely that that judge up in Cheyenne is going to side any different with you,” he replied before taking another sip of his harsh brew. “You and the other killed that man, and took his horses, or perhaps the other ways around. Not that it matters much.”

“I know that man died. I know, but…” the boy began to bluster before falling into silence.

Markum saw the sheen of tears well up along the boy’s eyelids, cresting, capturing the dance of the firelight.

This was the first bit of concern the marshal had seen from the boy since taking him into custody down in Greely two day ago. Any attempt to speak of his crimes or what was to come in Cheyenne was met with silence, sometimes distraction. The boy wasn’t obliged to talk, but Markum was grateful for any conversation on the trail. Most of which leaned toward the boy’s pa, who Markum figured would have been about his own age had he not died when Caleb was eleven, leaving him orphaned, and eventually in the company of Oren Canter.

“Silence isn’t a defense, Caleb,” Markum pressed feeling the boy was ready. “It is not likely to be any help in Cheyenne, but maybe talking will ease your conscience, ease the load, before…before we get there.”

The boy swiped his hand across his eyes, “I didn’t know about Oren.”

The two boys, Caleb had told Markum, had been inseparable since he had found his way to Cheyenne after bouncing from one well-meaning home to another. Canter’s father drove the stage coach, giving the boys more freedom than ought to be had by two so rambunctious. The stories he told of the two reminded the marshal of the carelessness of friendship, and now the hollowness of the boy’s face reminded him of the loss.

“Oren didn’t deserve that, not for that old rancher. They was stubborn, the both of them—the old man for putting up the fight, and Oren for insisting we steal his useless swayback nag from the stable.” The boy balled up his fists and shook his head in frustration.

“Them tugging back and forth spooked an old gray in the next stall. It gave a kick and both got knocked sideways into the mud. Only the rancher didn’t jump back up like Oren. He just moaned, clutching his chest till he didn’t moan no more.”

“Why didn’t you get help,” Markum questioned.

“I wanted to,” Caleb demanded. “Least I might have thought about it if I weren’t scared and Oren weren’t insistent on that horse, and the other two.”

“It were just an accident. An accident,” he pleaded.

“Accident or not, whatever defense you boys had for the rancher’s death was void when you stole those horses.”

Caleb stared across the fire at the marshal, “I didn’t want to steal them.”

“But you did, and they still hang horse thieves.”

The boy’s expression crumpled, and without a word turned away from Markum to lie on the cold unforgiving earth, knowing that was all the comfort he’d enjoy in this life.

Buy Five Broken Winchesters to read the rest.

Review: A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz

A few months ago, I had the great thrill to be offered to blurb a novella from Snubnose Press and I responded enthusiastically to the request. But in true fashion I put off reading the book and things entered and exited my limited consciousness. Shiny baubles. And before I knew it, 2 months had passed and I hadn’t read or blurbed or anything. I’m a horrible person.

So I touched base with Snubnose Press to see if they still needed the blurb. Sure did. I read the story over the weekend and intended to put together my blurb early the next week. That’s when Murphy and Darwin conspired against me and through some stupidly heroic deeds, which I’ve sworn under oath to the Government not to disclose, I broke my right hand, and for those playing along it’s also my write hand. It has some other nicknames, but we don’t need to go into that.

Last Friday, A WIND OF KNIVES by Ed Kurtz was unleashed upon the word sans a blurb from me. A lifetime dedication to procrastination has served me well and bemused many a fellow dependent on my magnanimous promises.

Ed and Brian (and crew) at Snubnose Press, my sincere apologies.

I think I’ve castigated myself sufficiently, let us get on with my opinions.

Over the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure to read stories by Ed Kurtz, from his novel Bleed to his his Sci-Fi / Horror series about the down on his luck detective Sam Truman to stories I’ve had the pleasure to publish myself through Shotgun Honey. One thing I’ve learned to expect from Kurtz is that I shouldn’t have any expectations at all. Each story is an amorphous experience where the rules are unbound. So when I was told he had written a Western, something I had never seen from the Texas native, it was not unexpected.  Still, like with most of his work, it was full of its surprises.

windofknives_A Wind of Knives starts off and hits three major tropes of the Western: Love, Revenge, and Duty.

We find our protagonist, Daniel Hays, staring up along the hills into a falling dusk, a scene that should be a captivating canvas of Texas landscape only to be drawn towards Daniel’s true focus. A hanging man, his ranch hand and his lover Steven. This sets in motion a story, with gender and sexuality set aside, that makes for a riveting tale of revenge, and with elevates the story above a standard Western.

Kurtz tells a story of a man who has loved and lost, not once, but twice in his lifetime. The first his wife Elizabeth who died from sickness and then again with Steven who died, as the story would unwind, from hate. It is from his understanding of Love, removed from the boundaries of gender, that Daniel searches out his lover’s killers despite being no where near suited for the job. His sense of duty would bring him to peril and near death, into the arms of unsuspecting tenderness and ultimately unmask the face of hate.

Knives is more than a Western, and from a writer who comfortably writes terrifying mechanization of  Horror, Kurtz isn’t too far away from his wheelhouse with a story ignited by hate and extinguished with love.

Kudos to Ed Kurtz and Snubnose Press for publishing A Wind of Knives.

Review: The Drifter Detective by Garnett Elliott

1One of the impetuses of creating The Big Adios were the western tales of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles by pulp fictioneer and provocateur David Cranmer. Which have spawn from the short stories he wrote as Edward A. Grainger, who by the way launched TBA with the story “Missing,” to a series of novellas and novelettes. So when I saw a new Laramie story yesterday, I was all in. Only…

Only, this wasn’t Cash Laramie. No this was Jack Laramie the grandson of the famous Outlaw Marshal. Armed with a colt, his granddad’s lucky arrow head and a beat up DeSoto, Jack travels the back roads of Texas looking for snoop work, hoping to save up enough scratch to open his own detective agency and put down roots.

While I got roped into this story with the Laramie name, Jack Laramie stands on his own as a veteran with a hell of an uppercut who’s not afraid to buck system or change the rules as given him. Clocking in at 9,000 words (give or take), The Drifter Detective is a lean, deftly crafted story by a writer I’ve had the good fortune to publish myself, Garnett Elliott. While I’m sold on the series, I’d definitely be fully invested in future Jack Laramie stories by Mr. Elliott.

Go get yourself a copy of The Drifter Detective. Less than a buck, you can’t go wrong with one-two punch of Jack Laramie and Garnett Elliott.

Frank Bill giveaway

donnybrookA week ago, I did a write up of Frank Bill’s debut novel DONNYBROOK and having a couple extra copies on my hand I offered someone in the audience a chance to win one of those copies. What was entry fee for such a reward? Simply give me other books to read while I’m cooling my heals for the next Frank Bill novel. Given I’m not the fastest of readers, that would still be a considerable void to fill if we’re lucky enough to get another book within 18 months. The wheels of publishing are a slow and bitter beast.

I reached out as best I could and got the following suggestions to keep the tide of anxiety away.

Ryan Sayles offered up his own novel from Snubnose Press, THE SUBTLE ART OF BRUTALITY. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. You should know I support my own and I’ve already read it. The title really does say all that needs to be said to sell the book.

Erik Arneson recommended, and I give a strong second, THE LAST CALL FOR THE LIVING by Peter Farris. Alas, I already own Pete’s book and equally look forward to his next release.

The towering Seth Harwood throws me a fresh author, Russell Banks and his short story collection TRAILER PARK. I will be adding that to my to read list. Thanks Seth, and for those who are looking for a good action series go and read his Jack Palms series, JACK WAKES UP and THIS IS LIFE, as well as his new thriller IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.

The mondo bearded and plaid clad Brian Beatty recommends Barry Hannah’s YOUNDER STANDS YOUR ORPHAN saying that this Faulknerian tome is bleak and bolder than Hannah’s earlier works.

Paul von Stoetzel offers up WINTER’S BONE by Daniel Woodrell, as well snuck in Scalped comic series and Jed Ayres’ FIERCE BITCHES. All which are in my possession (or soon will be as Jed’s book is ferrying itself from Australia at this very moment.)

So the bottom line here is I need to figure out which of you deserves to win. I’m sorry, but I have to mark off Ryan, Erik and Paul since their recommendations are already in my library. I know, you’re not psychic or have access to my bookshelves. Thanks for playing.

So that leaves Brian and Seth who suggest not only works I haven’t read, but authors I was unfamiliar. I suppose I’ll flip a coin. Heads for Seth and tails for Brian. *flipping*

TAILS!

Sorry Seth. I will be looking into Russell Banks.

Brian, I’ll contact you on Facebook to get your address.

Review: Donnybrook by Frank Bill

frankbillI know I’ve mentioned this a time or two, but my first introduction to Frank Bill was an excerpt of DONNYBROOK that appeared on Do Some Damage almost three years ago. I had just filtered my way into the crime fiction community, discovered flash fiction, and DSD was my gateway to enumerable sites and authors. It was that excerpt that sent me on hunt for more Frank Bill, and the discovery of many stories that appeared in his debut short story collection, CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA.

For my entertainment value Frank has done good by me, DONNYBROOK was no exception.

“I don’t make threats. I offer moments to reconcile one’s shitty choices”

donnybrook-ukTowards the end of Frank Bill’s novel, Chainsaw Angus, a retired bare-knuckle brawler turned meth user/dealer, utters the quote above and it stuck out. It just buzzed in my ear and to my reading encapsulated the entire book’s tone. DONNYBROOK is a series of interwoven characters, each who come from troubling circumstances, leading them to make shitty choice after shitty choice. The only reconciliation for these characters is to keep punching forward through the consequence of those choices, to beat and batter their way towards their rightful reward. And for Chainsaw Angus, the bombastic Liz, the double-crossing Ned and the morally skewed Jarhead Earl that leads them to the three-day fight festival known as Bellmont McGill’s Donnybrook. And not far behind are Deputy Sheriff Whalen looking for revenge and the exotic Fu Xi seeking to collect a debt.

DONNYBROOK is all at once a high octane juggernaut of violence and destruction, while also being a reflective commentary on the disintegration of Southern Indiana wrought from meth addiction and economic poverty. A moral decay blights a lost Orange County, and our protagonists—if there are any, because there are no heroes here, only survivors—choose to forge their way with busted knuckles and spent bullets to each their deserved reward.

For a book I’ve waited nearly three years to read, Frank Bill served up the social canvas he laid down with CRIMES and then gave it an unhealthy bump of meth-fueled adventure. Like I’ve said before Frank Bill doesn’t disappoint, and I wouldn’t pass on my thoughts just to build him up. I enjoyed DONNYBROOK from cover to cover, and look forward to what Frank cooks up next because I’ve already got the itch.

donnybrookSo while I’m miserable for the next Frank Bill, I thought I might make you miserable as well. I’ve found myself with two copies of DONNYBROOK, one red and one blue. I don’t need both, even though they look mighty pretty on my bookshelf, so I’m going to give one away. The winner can choose the color. So what do you have to do?

It’s going to be a wait until the next Frank Bill release, so here’s what I want. I want you to fill up the comments with recommendations of new, old and not released novels and collections to keep pangs away, to feed and fill me up with comparable material. So drop me one title by whoever and sell me on the plot. Recommend as many as you like, each in their own comment. I’ll pick my favorite and send the winner a copy of Frank Bill’s DONNYBROOK.

Losing time with Sam Truman

Just under 11 months ago horror writer and publisher, Ed Kurtz, released the first in a series of novellas featuring a downtrodden and disgraced PI named Sam Truman, who attempts to meek out an existence in an LA-esque city where his only friend is an unfriendly hash slinger named Clu. The framework for any number of stories filled with PI tropes, and in Sam’s case a beeline for the bizarre. You wouldn’t expect a horror writer to present us a straight PI case, would you?

cmksmallKurtz kicked off the chaos with CATCH MY KILLER. Penned by Kurtz himself, the first book sets the tone for the series and introduces us to Sam Truman and Clu the begrudging friend and owner of the hash house, Ralph’s. We learn quickly that Sam is in dept up to his eyeballs and out of cash, and he can’t find a straight gig because of his tarnished name and lost license. His only saving grace is service served with a frown along with a cup putrid coffee and overdone hash compliments of Clu. So when Clu gets held up, Sam tries the make the most of the situation, maybe gain favor of Clu, and save the day. Of course it goes sideways turning into a tale dead women and body snatchers. While things get their worse for Sam and Clu, Sam manages to get by on his wit, a generous portion of luck and a relentlessness to get the job done. And he does.

CATCH MY KILLER is quickly followed up by THE LAST INVASION by Brandon Zuern and SOFT KISS, HARD DEATH by Tobin Elliott. THE LAST INVASION has Sam looking for a lost girl, chasing a serial killer and finding aliens, and not the kind that come from south of the border. Elliott’s SOFT KISS, HARD DEATH Sam suddenly finds himself flush with money only to find himself destined for a deadly date with a creature who’s just trying to figure herself out. Sam has her number and does the figuring himself.

the_last_invasion_cover rsz_soft_kiss_hard_death_cover

The first three are very compatible, Sam cracks wise and manages to get by, even though he rarely has any control he seems confident enough that he can manipulate the situation to his benefit. The fourth novella in the series is somewhat of a departure.

rsz_bound_by_jade_cover_s_1BOUND BY JADE written by Adam Cesare takes Sam out of his comfort zone. Instead of heading into danger of his own choice, he wakes up right in the middle and as the story goes you get a sense he’s been dragged along for the ride just like the reader. Of course there is a purpose to this change in direction as it relates directly towards the mystery at hand, Sam is bound not only by his natural white knight fatalistic tendencies but bound to the artifact he has been asked to protect.

The Sam Truman series evolves and never takes the same turn. That is the strength of a novella series like this, where each is written by a different writer who add both to the mythos and piece of themselves while staying true to what came before it. And with each chapter this series gets stronger.

To be honest, forthright, I have worked with Ed Kurtz in the past, publishing his stories on Shotgun Honey. I’ve enjoyed much of his work and despite knowing him and reading his work, I hadn’t read any of the Sam Truman stories until just over a week ago when I discovered CATCH MY KILLER on my Kindle when I was looking for something different to read. So I did, which prompted me to buy, download and machine gun through the next three books, over two days, roughly 8 hours. I don’t do that. Not anymore, with the reading load I have editing and managing multiple short fiction sites. So if you want to know honest opinion on how I felt about the series? I read one and then I read them all.

I also read THE PALE MAN by Nate Southard, a talented horror writer I first discovered through Brian Keene. Ed was kind enough to send me a copy in advance. I suppose I may have begged for it, maybe? I read it over a lunch and a break, with just a little to finish off while I made dinner.

palemanSouthard’s installment in the Sam Truman Mystery series for me is my favorite. Building on the prior stories, Southard brings back the confident, wisecracking Sam, at least for a little bit. Sam is looking for a missing person who has stolen a family heirloom, and the heirloom must be found at all cost. And all cost, apparently, includes Sam’s sanity and anyone who succumb to power of THE PALE MAN. While the previous stories touched upon the bizarre and paranormal, with a dash of horror, Southard’s THE PALE MAN kicks it up a notch leaning a little more towards horror taking Sam from a confident to a horrified, albeit persistent, man.

From hard-boiled to sci-fi to horror, along with Sam’s deftly delivered wisecracks, any genre fan will read this novella series and find something to enjoy. I like a little mix-mash and trust me, the Goulash is good. I look forward to the next Sam Truman Mystery and wonder which genre and adversary will he defy?

To give you a little more 411, I asked Ed a quick trio of questions. This is what he had to say.

1 – What was the inspiration for Sam Truman and the series?

I’m a longtime fan of “men’s adventure serials” in fiction, the sort of thing wherein a generally macho antihero leaps from adventure to adventure in each volume with nary a scratch on him, and as a horror and crime writer, I wanted to create something that combined all of these elements. Sam Truman is a classic mid-20th century P.I. existing in a supernatural underworld most people don’t know about. Ebooks have made serial fiction something people can really enjoy again, so it’s definitely time for a revival, as we’ve seen with other series like Lee Goldberg’s The Dead Man.

2 – Sam manages to get by on persistence and very little luck, what keeps him going when the world is against him?

Sam is terribly fatalistic and doesn’t give much time to thinking about how the things he sees and investigates could happen, much less why they happen to him. He’s a man of action, always pushing forward to the next thing, barely hanging on by a thread but the thread is enough. It’s possible he might give up if he ever had a chance to catch his breath, but there’s always something else about to menace him right around the corner.

3 – With 5 books in, what do you take away from doing a novella series? And I know this is a cheat, but would you consider doing future series?

It’s been tremendous fun working with so many terrific authors and watching how they take this character and make him their own. Though there aren’t any plans in motion right now for another series apart from Sam Truman, it is certainly a possibility…

Saddle Sores and Wagon Trails

big-badgeI can’t really pinpoint when I first considered the idea of The Big Adios–I think it was sometime around the 1st anniversary of Shotgun Honey. It is safe to say it was somewhere just under 10 months ago. The first granules were formed well before that when I wrote The Greenhorn for a writing challenge put on by Chuck Wendig. It was a simple wordlist challenge, but the words immediately charged me with a story about a US Marshal riding into a lawless town to either free the townsfolk of tyranny or die trying. It was a faux Western, and if you read it you’ll know why. One of the words on that magic list required me to take the story in quite a different direction.

But the idea for US Marshal Brady Hawkes, an Easterner from Charles Town, WV, born to privilege and lineage who shuns it all to become his own man in the Colorado Territory, the idea called to me. There was more to Hawkes and the raucous mining town of Prosperity, CO. There were many more Buck Godot’s for Hawkes to face. So as I jotted down notes, I looked for venues.

gunfightwide

There are a few periodicals, but online was a wasteland. Not one site dedicated to the Western, and only one stood with any prominence to support the genre. David Cranmer’s Beat to a Pulp. He has his own inclinations towards to the genre, but BtaP is great for all kinds of genre bites, both flash and short stories.

So the idea was, Hey, I could put together short fiction site for the Western genre just like Shotgun Honey. How hard could it be? And the idea started solidifying about 6 months ago and loosely announced 3 months ago. The days have whittled and behold, tomorrow is the day of Launch.

Where did the time go?

tba-sneakI do have to ask myself that, because as of Friday I didn’t have a clear or concise idea of how I was going to design the site, how it would be presented? Aged, rustic and western, that’s all I knew for sure. I may have had an idea of the palette? So I fired up photoshop and browsed the web for texture and design ideas. Find things I like, motivators. I needed to get some paint on this blank canvass.

Two days straight, taking a break for food substances and to watch a movie and 3 episodes of Justified. I needed some inspiration, and wouldn’t you know it all started with a badge. Amazingly for the detail of the design–to paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy–I got’r done!

So tomorrow is the big day and we start off with an exception story about Marshals Cash Laramie and Miles Gideon by Edward A. Grainger aka David Cranmer, kicking off 8 weeks of scheduled fiction, some of it firmly in the saddle and others bending the genre, every Tuesday.

It’s up to you as readers and contributors to keep us going.

I hope to see you there: http://www.thebigadios.com

.44 Candles

dirtyharry

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? -Harry Callahan

Growing up in a generation where Clint Eastwood epitomized the tough and rugged man, full of machismo, wielding a gun as handily playing a western outlaw and an urban cop, it’s not hard to fathom I would gravitate towards fiction with little redemption and less remorse. My generation has embraced the ambiguity of the bad cop and the good crook.

Clint was three years younger than I am today when Dirty Harry released to limited showing in December 1971, broad showing ’72 with a critical success. He was already a star despite studios not wanting to throw Robert Mitchum money at him for the role. And despite knowing it would be years later that I would actually watch Dirty Harry, I guess I wasn’t much of a fan in my terrible-twos, it seems I grew up watching the movie, grew up watching Eastwood.

I don’t mean to talk of the man in past tense, he hasn’t left us, and when he does I will mourn. It’s more a reflection of a small bit of my past that makes me who I am today, what makes me tick and think the way I do. What makes me me. Clint Eastwood is my favorite actor, whose stoic tough as grit characters who do what’s right despite the immeasurable consequence imbued a sense of guidance, a template of what a man could be.

I’m reading Robert B. Parker’s LULLABY by Ace Atkins. I admire Atkins writing style, his historical crime fiction, his short Nick Travers series, and being a fan of the late Parker’s Spenser series I had to know what Atkins would bring to the character. I have to say it’s like stepping into a pair of old shoes. Comforting. I’m enjoying the book so far. Thinking about others’ opinions on the legacy book, I stumbled onto an interview with Atkins about him doing the book. It was mentioned that Atkins had a personal tie to Spenser, like I do with Eastwood’s on screen characters. He had discovered Robert B. Parker and Spenser during a critical period after losing his father, and he felt Parker’s Spenser not only laid the path for his career but taught him lessons he missed from his own father.

I’m not a gun toting, hard as nails, sitting tall in the saddle guy. I’m rather pudgy around the middle, I slouch more than I’d like to admit and I don’t even know what muscle tone is. I am stoic, soft spoken, I speak my mind only when it’s necessary and if you’re my friend or in need I’ll offer help in spite of myself.

I’m impetuous, sometimes I go in with guns blazing. Let God sort out the rest. You have no idea how many ideas have ignited in my mind this last year, that I’ve managed to snuff out before opening my mouth to someone.

The Big Adios was one of them, and I unleashed that stray thought to a couple people and before I knew it, I had to follow through. We’ve got a big launch on February 5th with a fantastic story from Edward A. Grainger. A new Cash Laramie, so I hope you don’t mind if it exceeds our standard policy. I, of course, leaning on my generation, like to break the rules for the better of my fellow man… um, reader.

We all need more Cash Laramie, right? Plus the following 5 weeks worth of wonderful stories will encourage more submissions. It’s living experiment that I hope will coax more western tales and enthusiast.

One of the bright moments of last year was the release of Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels, With spectacular support from co-editors and some prideful contributions, I was hoping we’d break even by the time I announced open submissions for  Both Barrels: Reloaded. Maybe there will be an uptick in sales over the next 6 weeks. Just saying.

Because it’s my birthday, I often reflect on the year to come, how to make it better than the year before. I guess having a January birthday, the closeness to New Years day and thoughts of resolutions. Aside from a couple bright spots, which mostly has to do with publishing so many good stories and meeting so many emerging writers like myself, it’s not going to be hard to beat 2012, a year of death and debt. My goals are simple though, attainable with a little effort.

I want to be more like Clint Eastwood, empty chair excluded. As well as a myriad of father stand-ins over the years, my grandfather for one who passed last summer. I can’t get taller, but I can get leaner and cleaner, maybe a little meaner. I can share more stories of many talented writers, perhaps a few of my own as well. Work hard, be harder. Seems like a plan.

In advance, thank you to all my friends and acquaintances who made 2012 bearable for the birthday wishes.