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.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.

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Uncategorized Writing

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.