.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.

Yippee Ki Yay, or lets talk The Big Adios?

bigadios2OK, boys and girls it’s time to saddle up and dig those spurs in. This here is the first stage launch of The Big Adios. What? You didn’t read about this new project I’m launching in February that’s a mix somewhere between flash and short fiction especially for all my little buckaroos? I’ve mentioned it a couple times on that social networking sinkhole called Facebook and on the Twitters too. So maybe a friend of a friend might have retweeted, reposted, re-something all those little nods and nudges? Still nothing? Hmmm?

Well come February 5th I, along with with a couple good cow pokes going by the names of Ryan “The Walnut” Sayles and Aldo “Doc” Calcagno, am launching this little western fiction site called The Big Adios. A title that I hope evokes western tones as well as nods to the community I’m currently serving with Shotgun Honey. I think the Western shares a lot with Hardboiled and Noir fiction. So it’s not a stretch. At least not for me.

I used to read bunches of it back in high school when TBS would re-air Louis L’Amour based movies staring Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott. And of course well all those Westerns that came before with John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood and dozens of classic cowboy actors. Those Tom and Sam movies, made for TV and based on the works of Louis L’Amour, are what turned me on to reading the paperbacks they were based from. From there, for a while, it was a whole slew of western fiction.

Grainger, Edward A. - 2I’m a sucker for a good western movie or TV show, but reading fell to the wayside. I was exploring other genres. So why the interest in westerns now? I have to throw blame at David Cranmer and his Cash Laramie and Miles Gideon short story collections and novellas written by various authors I’d become familiar with in the crime fiction community. I like short fiction, so once I got the bug from David, I looked for more. Unfortunately, I really couldn’t find a website dedicated to western fiction like there were in crime fiction. So if there is a void, I might as well fill out.

So that brings me to you pardner. Whether your a writer or reader, I’d like to see you give The Big Adios a shot. And for the writers, today is the day to start consternating on your story and getting them polished shinier than a nugget gold.

Let’s set a couple ground rules, before you start putting too much raw thought to digital paper.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for traditional western stories. Stories about whiskey swilling outlaws, gun toting sheriffs, wonderfully wild women and how the west was won.

But, we’re also looking for stories that push the boundaries of the genre and even welcome the occasional genre mashup. Because we believe, at least I do, that there’s a spirit that immortalizes the genre and that it can, if written well, be transported beyond the standard tropes of black hats and white hats, cowboys and Indians. It’s what makes modern lawmen like Longmire and Raylan Givens seem both out of place and right for the present. I suppose the cowboy hats help, too.

What aren’t we looking for?

Just because you dress your protagonist up in a cowboy hat doesn’t make it western fiction. Keep that in mind when you’re skirting from the traditional.

We don’t want romance. It’s sad but when you check the top books in the Western category on Amazon, half are really just romance novels. I guess women folk just like them hunky cowboys. This ain’t the place for that.

No Indian massacres. There are a lot of truths about the American West, hard truths. I don’t think the few hundred words we’re allowing for our stories are adequate to properly tell such a heady story.

What is the word count?

During my tenure with Shotgun Honey we have been open too, and have even published a couple, western based crime stories, but I’ve discovered that 700 words isn’t as adequate to set up and carry out the story as it is for crime fiction. Also from the start I’d like to give the opportunity to accept longer stories, so at The Big Adios we are adopting a multi-format  solution.

Our goal is to publish one story a week in either a single day or a multi-day format. The single day format is 1200 words, the multi-day is serialized over 2 or 3 days for a total of 2400 or 3600 words. The caveat of course is if you go for the longer story it has to have built in breaking points. You have to consider how the story will be serialized.

These are the structured limits, but like with Shotgun Honey if the story is exceptional we’ll willing to bend. Nothing is carved in stone and quality trumps quality. If you go in intentionally breaking the rules, it better be a damn good story.

Do you edit?

No. Your story had better be well edited before we open that attachment.

Will you accept previously published works?

Yes. As long as you hold the current publishing rights and the story fits our modest criteria we are happy to give your story a review.

How do I send you my submission?

Send your submission as an attached word .doc or .docx file to submissions@thebigadios.com with the subject line: Story Title – Your Name – Word Count.

Please do not send us your biography, bibliography or synopsis. These are short stories, we don’t need a hook.

I’ve got more questions, who do you ask?

For now, me. Send any questions to ron@thebigadios.com. I’ll try to answer your questions.

So are you set? Are you excited? Have you gone out and bought a new pair of boots and a Stetson? I hope so. Keep a watch here, on Facebook or on The Big Adios website for future announcements.

The game show, or what you won today.

So you want to be a millionaire? Me too. But it’s not going to happen, sorry.

A couple days ago I gave people a chance on Facebook and Twitter, and the crazy people who follow my site in the glimmer of hope I’ll post something new and interesting, and I did, to win a copy of Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels.

I wanted you to post a weird comment, and well they weren’t really weird, except the one from my Father-in-Law who suggested I divorce his daughter. Boy after 19 years, that joke never gets old. Leon, you know you’ll get one, you’re family. (Just be warned, I didn’t write anything for the anthology)

Weird or not, it was more successful than my last book give away. So I need to chose from one of you lucky 7. Well actually, just one of you is lucky.

So hand in hat, fingers wiggle around, and the lucky bastard is…

Mystery Dawg!

I’ll be contacting you soon, Aldo.

So unfortunately you other 6 aren’t winners, but to make it up to you and the multitude of followers, that’d be … oh, just the 6 of you. Anyway, today is the launch day for my buddy and co-editor Chad Rohrbacher’s Karma Backlash from those good people at Snubnose Press. And you can buy it now on Amazon for just $4.99. A steal. Want some more incentive, read the virtual dust jacket.

His name is Derby Ballard and he’s a worn-down blue-collar gangster in a white-collar world. While studying the worn picture of his ex-girlfriend his best friend Reece tells him to move on, get over it, quit whining; he’s the smart one and always has good advice. Derby’s on the verge of taking Reece’s recommendation and shoving his hefty nest egg in a suitcase and flying out to a place with warm sun and soft sand. He thinks he’ll drink beers with lime wedges while listening to waves.

And then Reece’s head explodes in front of him.

It’s amazing what a murdered friend can do to a directionless man, the passion and anger it can stoke, the sadness it fires into a body, the need for good old revenge it nurtures.

Searching for his best friend’s killer, Derby uncovers the beginning of a complicated mob war that threatens to bring down the whole city.

Even as the cops lean on him to stop the impending violence, rumors swirl that his own boss killed Reece for being a traitor to the family.

Of course, being attracted to his boss’s daughter doesn’t simplify matters.

To find the answers he needs, Derby tries to stay focused: Find the killer. Clear his friend’s name. Stop a war. Don’t fall in love.

He traverses Toledo, a city that grows old with him, unearths secrets his boss and his boss’s daughter don’t want exposed, and hopes to find that man he used to be before his mid-life crisis becomes the last crisis he ever experiences.

KARMA BACKLASH is literary crime thriller in the vein of Victor Gischler’s GUN MONKEYS jammed with fast action, dark humor, and intrigue.

So, give Chad’s book a chance. He promises that Jamie Farr hasn’t been injured in any way within the pages of Karma Backlash. I can’t say the same for Derby.

Shotgun Honey – What a Blast!

Late March of 2011, Kent Gowran, a writer and fellow lover of crime fiction, who I barely knew, spawned an idea to start up a new webzine called Shotgun Honey. My closest friends will tell you I’d been playing with the idea of a webzine myself, each of them discouraging me against taking on such a project. They wanted me to write. And to be honest, I’m a great starter, but I have problems with follow through. But you know what, if I wasn’t going to start my own webzine, then maybe I’ll ask this stranger if he needed any help. Damn it, if Kent didn’t take me up on my offer.

We posted the first story on Blogger, April 6, 2011. You might remember it, “Two-Phones” by Dan O’Shea. It was a Wednesday. We followed it up with the Spinetingler nominated “Disney Noir” by Peter Farris on Friday. The next week would bring “Fucking Liars” by Allan Guthrie on Monday, “Herman Dog Digs” by Anthony Neil Smith on Wednesday and “Treacherous Road – Part 2” by newcomer Anthony Schiavino on Friday.

Monday. Wednesday. Friday.

We posted stories like that for a majority of the year, missing a couple holidays or during a handful of weeks where we only published two a week.

I’ve read so many great stories, shorts, all mostly under 700 words. Yeah, crazy short, flash fiction. Lean, mean and oh so clean.

We’ve been honored to publish over 150 stories from more than 90 different authors, from all around the world.

I’m personally honored to call many of those authors my friends. And my fellow editors — Kent Gowran, Sabrina Ogden and rookie Chad Rohrbacher — are practically family. Truth. I know more about that trio than I do my own sister.

Somewhere during the last year, I decided it’d be cool to interview some of these contributors, and some writers I wanted to be contributors — which I’m batting a big fat zero on. So periodically I throw down a “How’d You Get the Gun?” interview. Have some interesting prospects coming up with Nigel Bird, Heath Lowrance, Frank Wheeler Jr and Peter Farris. They will be joining the ranks of Dan O’Shea, Frank Bill, John Rector, Matthew C Funk, Ray Banks, Anthony Neil Smith and Chris F. Holm. And I’m sure there will more.

It’s been a blast of a year helping Kent, Sabrina and now Chad run and maintain Shotgun Honey.

What could year two bring? How about an opportunity for our authors to go bigger? Way BIGGER!

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be producing, with plenty of support from Kent, Sabrina, and Chad, the first Shotgun Honey Anthology to be released this Fall in print and e-book. It will be big, and those of you who fear the 700 word count will have a chance to go bigger, up to 5000 words. More details to follow on Shotgun Honey. So keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks for reading, contributing and supporting Shotgun Honey.