Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Blog at Pattinase

Patti Abbott invited me to blog about how I wrote two poems featured in BEAT to a PULP's first-ever week of poetry.

Looking Back at Tom Gregory

My next ebook, First In, Last Out, should go on sale for Kindle and Nook tomorrow: three stories of ex-Marine sniper Tom Gregory for 99 cents.

Here's my afterword:

In my first semester of college, I took Intro to Film Appreciation and befriended a classmate who, after high school, had served four years in the United States Marine Corps. He dropped out of college after a year-and-a-half, telling me he kept staring out the window, wishing he were out there. He kept in touch, though, with handwritten letters from Alaska, Rhode Island, Connecticut. And he'd call me whenever he was back on Long Island, and we'd take in movies. The last one I remember was the truly awful Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions. Last I heard he had become a substance abuse counselor. Tom Gregory is based on him, a wanderer.

I drafted the first Tom Gregory story, "Home", for an issue of Dave Zeltserman's Hardluck Stories guest-edited by Charlie Stella. That draft was rejected, but Charlie was kind enough to look at a revision before I sent it to Sarah Weinman at Shots, where the story was ultimately published.

I thought "Home" would be the only Tom Gregory story. I didn't want to write the typical badass hero who doled out his own brand of justice story after story and got off with a slap on the wrist. The two subsequent, shorter stories were written more from guidelines than inspiration, but it was a fun challenge to see if I could bring Tom back convincingly. Each time, his past actions followed him.

I don't know when there will be more Tom Gregory stories. I don't know when I'll hear from my friend again. Should I be so lucky, I would welcome both.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My next ebook, on sale September 1:

Breaking Back In

Late last week, FOX announced a 13-episode midseason order for Breaking In, the caper sitcom it previously narrowly canceled. While its longterm survival is still a question, two seasons are better than one, and a renewal of this sort is almost unheard of.

Breaking In co-star Odette Annable has landed a regular role on the eighth season of House, but is open to doing both shows if possible.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

As hoped, Hurricane Irene weakened by the time it hit us late last night. The power stayed on, which is more than can be said for a lot of people on Long Island. We only have minor basement dampness from an existing leak.

I want to thank officials across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the level of preparedness they showed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

BATMAN: YEAR ONE by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli

I bought the 2005 trade paperback on sale last month in preparation for next month's animated adaptation. It tells the concurrent stories of Jim Gordon's first year in Gotham City and Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman, having returned to Gotham after martial arts training.

Most of the focus is on Gordon, keeping Batman a mysterious figure. We all know he becomes a great hero, I suppose, so that story didn't need to be told. Still, I would have liked more Bruce Wayne/Batman. Overall, I thought Miller did a better job rebooting Daredevil. His success there led to his being asked to reboot Batman. Then again, I find Matt Murdock/Daredevil easier to empathize with than Bruce Wayne.

Miller does succeed in bringing his hardboiled sensibilities to Gotham, and Christopher Nolan used many of his touches in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I wonder if readers picking up the TPB for the first time will find it as I did, too much backstory/establishment a la Star Wars I-III or Enterprise.

The comics run leaves a lot for the animated movie to fill in; I'm still curious to see it.

New Video for STONES

Featuring excerpts from reviews of Stones and a Latin drum loop:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seth Harwood Reviews My Ebooks

My friend, Jack Palms author and CrimeWAV host Seth Harwood, reviewed my two ebooks on Amazon.

About my poetry collection We Might Have:

These short, bright poems provide the quickest of glimpses into lives, capturing characters' greatest defeats and triumphs the moment they happen. Definitely my kind of poems. These tend toward narrative and humor, with good measures of heartbreak and lost love thrown in as well. Read and enjoy!

And about my three-story collection Stones, Seth writes in part, "These will entertain you and send you heading back to ask for more."

Thank you, Seth.


We on Long Island felt the effects of yesterday afternoon's 5.9 Washington DC-area quake. I forgot the safest place during a quake was in a doorway, but to be fair, I didn't know it was a quake at first. My brother worked from home yesterday, and the TV and sound system in his downstairs room usually vibrate through the floor of my bedroom/home office. When I heard our chandeliers shaking, I thought the central air unit or water heater had exploded.

Anyway, I survived my first quake. I'll take that trip to Vulcan now. Or maybe Shadow, home of Mal Reynolds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stone Rolls On

My latest C.J. Stone story, "Partners", will appear at Pulp Pusher in a few weeks. It takes place six months after the events of "Senora", from my ebook Stones. My thanks to editor Tony Black.

GETTING OFF by Lawrence Block (writing as Jill Emerson)

Block, known for the hard-boiled Matt Scudder books, the comedic Bernie Rhodenbarr books, the adventurous Evan Tanner books, et cetera, et cetera, also wrote erotic novels under various pseudonyms including Jill Emerson. He returns to the persona of Emerson for his latest book, one of Hard Case Crime's most provocative.

I've always admired how easily Block hops from one protagonist's head to another, zeroing in on what will make readers care about each one. Introduced to sex by her father at a young age, Katherine Anne "Kit" Tolliver becomes incredibly proficient yet desensitized to the act. Though she's slept with countless men by age twenty-three, to her mind, only six "got to her". As that number becomes clear to her, she sets out to kill each one and reduce the number to zero.

I think of Getting Off as a revenge fantasy sex thriller. It delivers plenty of all four, sometimes—pardon the pun—more than I could swallow. But part of the point of this type of book is to titillate and shock. Frankly, if Block hadn't made me flinch, I would have been let down.

If this doesn't sound like your kind of book, it probably isn't. If you think you're ready for it, you probably aren't, but you may be ready to give it a try.

The Measured Response

Last week was a good sales week for Stones; this week began with a one-star Amazon review.

If the review puts you on the fence about buying Stones, I invite you to read "Gypped", one of the collection's three stories, in the archives of Thieves Jargon. If you like the story, by all means, buy the book.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Tonight is kinda special."

You may remember the entry title from a commercial for Michelob beer. It was also a catchphrase of mine in college, not because I drank Michelob, but because I helped found Hofstra's student literary magazine, Font. All of us on staff knew how special it was. We wanted the magazine to last well beyond four years, and it has, as have our friendships.

This brings me to yesterday's Do Some Damage post by Scott D. Parker. Having read my ebook Stones this past week, Scott writes, "So's C. J. Stone stories are so evocative of the 1930s that it led me to a question: do you think the adventurers of the 1930s knew they were living in a seemingly special time?"

I commented:

Thanks for the compliment on Stones, Scott. I wasn't around in the 30s (another illusion shattered forever), but I think anyone who gets to be part of something new (starting a new publication, flying a new airplane or space shuttle) knows how special it is. At the same time, C.J. isn't a larger-than-life hero in my mind or his own. He does what he has to do to get by, as people of any time might.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Defending Writers Who Tweet

With his main laptop recently in the repair shop, Jay Stringer had spent less time writing and more time tweeting. Yesterday, he posted to Do Some Damage about the dangers of revealing too much on Twitter and recommended that writers take the same less-is-more approach to tweeting that they do to their bread-and-butter writing.

I commented:

I agree with your sentiment, Jay, but I have to say I cut writers on Twitter a healthy amount of slack. They are by far more interesting and better spoken than celebrities and sports stars who take to Twitter.

Writing is a solitary task, and to me, writers' tweets are like characters' internal monologue, distinct from dialogue. They are putting it out there, but it will probably only be read by people who do value their thought processes. It's strangely encouraging to know that my favorite writers have the same random thoughts and songs playing in their heads that I do.

I agree that one should always keep in mind what to put in and what to leave out, be it formal or casual conversation, but it's difficult for me to get overloaded on Twitter when there are only 140 characters per tweet and I can't possibly read every tweet from everyone I follow on any given day. Tweets are, as Hemingway might say, glances at the tips of the icebergs that are people's lives.

Three years ago, I was reluctant to join Twitter myself. I'd had this blog for four years at the time and didn't see the need to join a micro-blogging service. I didn't use a cell phone day-to-day (still don't), so I couldn't report from intriguing locations.

My brother, who quickly gave up traditional blogging, claimed Twitter's brevity was perfect for him. I wasn't convinced until I learned I could link my blog's RSS feed to Twitter and reach a whole new audience.

Both of us are still on Twitter today. It's not for everyone, of course. The trick is knowing whether it's for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's So Funny?

I'm not about to define for you my own brand of funny. (Get it?)

Seeing as some of my writing has been called funny, I thought I'd comment on a post made yesterday by my friend Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Beyond Borders. Pointing out that true crime is no laughing matter, Peter asks, "How do your favorite authors maintain the balance between the comedy and the crime?"

I commented:

I agree with those who've pointed out that humor is subjective. Humor tends to work in crime fiction because of how often crime fiction uses the subjective POVs first-person and limited third-person.

With these two POVs, stories can become more about following the protagonist than presenting the crime. In my opinion, this doesn't trivialize crime so much as make it a palatable subject for fiction. As realistic as we want our stories, we sometimes forget they are fiction, that we're meant to be able--even to enjoy--reading them beginning to end. As realistic as we want our stories, the crime element is often there to help authors make larger points.

I never begin with the idea that a piece of writing should be funny. If the humor occurs naturally, I go with it. If it doesn't, I don't drag it out.

By the way, my entry title is also the title of a book by Donald E. Westlake, who wrote the comedic Dortmunder novels under his own name, but also the hard-boiled Parker novels under the pseudonym Richard Stark.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

James Reasoner on STONES

The prolific Reasoner bought Stones upon reading Bill Crider's review, and this morning posted a review of his own, calling the collection's three stories "short and punchy and funny" and citing their homage to Tales of the Gold Monkey.

Thank you, James.

Dalton, Jack of Lies

In recent posts, I've discussed some of the influences on my 1930s flyboy character, C.J. Stone, protagonist of my ebook collection, Stones. Another influence was Jack Dalton (Bruce McGill), a childhood friend of MacGyver's, who first appeared in the Season 2 episode, "Jack of Lies".

In the episode, Jack steals all of MacGyver's belongings to rope him into flying to South America to rescue fellow friend Mike Forrester (Patricia McPherson). Dalton was like a big kid, thrilled with adventure but always in over his head. He was also an inveterate liar, but Mac could always tell when he was lying because his left eye twitched.

C.J. is more mature and a better liar, but he still prefers adventure to boredom, as seen in the BEAT to a PULP story "Artifacts".

Jim Winter's ROAD RULES Coming to Kindle and Smashwords

Road Rules is something of a departure for Jim Winter, best known for creating gritty Cleveland P.I. Nick Kepler. It's a crime novel, involving a stolen car and the disappearance of a chest of bones priceless to the Catholic Church, but it's also a road novel, with unexpected detours and good-natured humor.

I had the privilege to read Road Rules as Jim shopped it for publication, a winding road recounted in the ebook's introduction. The characters appeal to me most: how they become entangled in the theft and resolution, and the idiosyncrasies they show along the way.

Reading the novel again brings to mind discovering a book I hadn't heard about by a favorite author, not a series book, but a standalone in which the author stretches himself creatively. It's the kind of novel you may not have gotten to read before ebooks, precisely the kind I download in a snap.

Jim is publishing Road Rules in September, just in time for that last drive of the summer. Enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine

83-year-old poet and professor Philip Levine has been named the new U.S. Poet Laureate. I was introduced to Levine's work in a graduate poetry workshop years before I committed to being a poet. The poem we read was "What Work Is", and it stayed with me because it was poetry about factory work. Not a subject I thought could be made poetic and yet Levine had done it.

Four years later, I was teaching remedial composition at Hofstra University when I heard Levine would be reading there. One of my favorite spots to sit was an old bench next to the English Department office, and I happened to see Levine an hour before the reading, walking with two faculty members showing him around. They didn't acknowledge me, which was good in that I got to observe Levine without imposing on him.

He wore a Detroit Tigers cap (road orange) and his pace was neither rushed nor labored. At the reading, he talked about books coming soon. "Soon," he added, was "two or three years away." Again, I got the sense he was completely at ease with the pace of time, neither nostalgic nor anxious about the future.

It was this outlook that helped me commit to poetry, the feeling that whatever I wrote from that moment on was enough. Thank you, Professor.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can you describe him?

John DuMond describes my 1930s flyboy character C.J. Stone as "kind of a cross between Indiana Jones and Han Solo."

Bill Crider writes, "I can see Bogart playing Stone in a B&W movie in my mind."

How close are they? C.J. was first inspired by Stephen Collins in Tales of the Gold Monkey, but Harrison Ford was also an influence. As I drafted my first C.J. story, playing in my mind was the Temple of Doom scene where Willie (Kate Capshaw) discovers the pilots are gone and says, "You know how to fly, dontcha?"

To which Indy replies, "No. You?"

Bogart wasn't a direct influence, but I'm too much of a Maltese Falcon fan to say he was no influence.

I can't imagine bumping into my characters on the street. To leave something to readers' imagination, I don't give very detailed physical descriptions. Robert Crais takes a similar approach with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. He believes, as I do, that readers collaborate with an author to create characters in their minds' eyes. To protect this collaboration, Crais refuses to sell Elvis and Joe to Hollywood.

I wouldn't go that far. If any of my characters make it to movies or TV, I'll look at them as other readers' images, as valid as mine. When you go back and read my work, nothing on the page will point to X Hot Actor.

Bill Crider on STONES

Bill's review of my 99-cent three-story ebook concludes:

Stone's an entertaining character with a sense of humor and an eye on making a buck one way or another. These stories are high adventure with a grin, and I can see Bogart playing Stone in a B&W movie in my mind.

Thanks, Bill. Here's looking at you.

Don't Call It a Comeback

As previously announced, the departure of two Lineup co-editors has suspended publication of new issues indefinitely. However, I am seeking unpublished poetry in the tradition of The Lineup for a weekly website that will publish its first poem Monday, September 12, 2011.

The Poetic Justice Press site will be headquarters, and all of The Lineup's online content will be retained. Back issues of The Lineup will remain available from, and ebook versions are still planned for sale on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook, beginning with Issue 4 in October 2011.

The new weekly format, The 5-2, will include audio and video clips and a glance at how each poem was written. Each year's worth of content will be collected for 5-2 ebooks. All interested are welcome to submit.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"If You Only Knew" by John Stickney

The wry story "If You Only Knew" by Lineup #4 contributor John Stickney—inspired by fellow contributor Mary Christine Delea's poem, "If You Only Knew How Easy It Is To Break Into My House"—appeared in BEAT to a PULP this past week.

As I move on from The Lineup, I'm gratified to know it inspired John and many others over the years. It was expensive to produce, but we were proud to showcase poetry about crime in print.

I hope you'll submit to my new weekly crime poetry site, an effort to keep poetry on readers' minds year-round.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dave White on STONES

The creator of Jackson Donne, author of the popular ebook thriller Witness to Death, and longtime fan of C.J. Stone, weighs in with Stones' second Amazon review:

If you're looking for old school action/adventure stories, look no further than the CJ Stone stories you find here. They're a throwback to the old school swashbuckling pulp adventures of the past. CJ makes his way through all three stories found here with a grin on his face, no matter how dangerous the challenge. Great, fast reading here. Looking forward to more CJ Stone!


Lineup co-editors Sarah Cortez and Richie Narvaez have decided to step down as their own projects and day jobs have gotten busier. The departure of two editors changes The Lineup's signature editorial process such that I don't know if or when it will continue. Richie was also responsible for the journal's interior layout. If The Lineup were to continue in print, we would need someone with similar expertise.

If this is the end of The Lineup, our editors, contributors, booksellers, and readers can be proud of four years and four volumes of crime poetry (soon to be released as ebooks). For now, as before the first Lineup, I'm testing the waters, seeing if there's enough steam to make something happen.

Here's what I have in mind.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

To make a long story short, the end.

Today on Do Some Damage, Dave White again voices his displeasure with Lost's finale, and asks:

What do you look for in an ending? Can an ending completely invalidate a story for you? Can it completely redeem a story for you? What are some of the best and/or worst endings you've read?

I commented:

Over the years, I've paid less attention to TV series finales. I don't think you can know the ending of a TV series from the start because the show may be cancelled anytime, and if so, the ending you had in mind won't come to fruition. John Rogers, co-creator of TNT's Leverage, writes every season finale as a possible series finale.

By contrast, a lot of TV writers try to squeeze as much closure as possible into a series finale because viewers may have tuned out for a few seasons and only tuned back in for the finale. Readers can't tune in and out of a novel.

I can't say an ending has invalidated or redeemed a story for me, but at times I've wished a novel wasn't just another in a series but the last. Some novels and series would resonate all the more for it.

I prefer muted endings that allow me to focus on the emotions of the final moments, that don't get caught up in fireworks. Recently, I thought Liquid Smoke by Jeff Shelby ended well.

John DuMond on STONES

The first Amazon review of Stones comes from Nobody Move! blogger John DuMond.

He concludes:

I like the CJ Stone character. He's kind of a cross between Indiana Jones and Han Solo. He's a good guy who can usually be counted on to do the right thing, but he's always on the lookout for a way to profit from the situation. I enjoyed this collection, and I hope we see more of CJ Stone in the future.

Thanks very much, John.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Befriending and Rediscovering Characters

Today on Murderati, Pari Noskin discusses picking up her series protagonist, Sasha Solomon, after a three-year hiatus. Mentioning she'd like to have a friend like Sasha right now, Pari asked:

Who, of the many characters you've read, would you most like as a friend right this minute?


Writers: Have you happily rediscovered a character you thought you’d abandoned?

I commented:

I'm not in the habit of imagining characters to the point I'd want to befriend them, but if I had to pick two right now, they would be Bill Cameron's Skin Kadash and S.J. Rozan's Lydia Chin. I like that Skin has seen a lot in his life yet retains a sense of humor, however dark. I also like how persistent he is. He's someone who would stick by a friend. Lydia I like because her upbringing and attitudes are similar to mine. If she were real, I think we'd enjoy hanging out.

I recently published an ebook of three stories featuring a 1930s flyboy character I created in 1994. Originally I had only planned to reprint my existing stories, but I figured as long as the stories were out of print, I may as well revise them to my current sensibilities. As you said about Sasha, I don't know how commercially viable the character is, but I know I was meant to write him. I can't say I ever abandoned him, but not knowing where to take him after each story, I took breaks from him and wrote other stuff. It's good to be back.

A Writer's Moral Responsibility

Today on Do Some Damage, Sandra Ruttan discusses a writer's moral responsibility, citing a commentator's opinion that if Amy Winehouse hadn't won a Grammy for her song "Rehab", she might be alive today.

Sandra writes, in part:

As authors, we're entertainers. Some of us may write more obvious entertainment, and some of us may write things we hope inspire people to think about serious matters at times. But in determining the best book of the year, or best song, or album or short story or movie, our primary focus can't be on the message.

It's when we get sidetracked on secondary issues that we lose focus on the real issue; great writing. I don't know that I would have agreed if I'd watched the Grammy Awards the year Winehouse won, but that doesn't matter either. What matters is that the committee should use the criteria for evaluating the music, and determine the best contender in each category. The awards weren't set up with the stated objective of making a moral statement or setting a certain type of example.

I commented:

I disagree (slightly) only because I don't think text can be completely separated from its message. On some level, we evaluate text by how effectively it delivers its message. Isn't concern for message part of what separates great prose/poetry from good? Are we truly more entertained by writing that has no purpose/message/goal but to elicit our gut reactions?

I don't know Winehouse's music, either, and I don't know what criteria they use to judge the Grammys. Music does seem to have more elements than text--melodic composition for one--so it's possible to separate melody and performance from text.

This much said, like you, I don't think it would have changed things had Winehouse not won.

Plan B('con) 2011

Bouchercon 2011 organizers Ruth Jordan and Judy Bobalik have published this year's list of panels. Here's my plan of attack:

I'll probably arrive midday Thursday, September 15th, but if I get there early, I'm definitely interested in:

8:30 A.M. – 9:30 A.M.


Comedy in crime fiction.
Jerry Healy (M), Gary Alexander, Alan Ansorge, Jack Fredrickson, Alan Orloff, Robin Spano

1:00 P.M. – 2:00 P.M.

NEW WORLD IN MY VIEW-Landmark 5,6,7

Characters dealing with contemporary issues.
Janet Rudolph (M), Reed Farrel Coleman, Alison Gaylin, Sophie Littlefield, John Lutz, Jason Pinter

4:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.

MURDER BY S.O.P.-Majestic A,B,C

When your operating procedure isn't standard at all. (Derringer Award presentation)
Gary Bush (M), Dale Andrews, R.T. Lawton, Debbi Mack, Mike Wiecek

9:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.

BAD SEED-Majestic A,B,C

Sex, Violence, and Everything That Makes A Book Great
Craig Montgomery (M), Christa Faust, Chris Holm, Craig Johnson, Scott Phillips, John Rector, Benjamin Whitmer, Jonathan Woods


10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.

STRANGE LOVE-Landmark 5,6,7

Why do we love murder?
Brett Battles (M), Tasha Alexander, Tracy Kiely, Lynne Sheene, Kelli Stanley, Lauren Willig

1:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M.

SHADOWS RISING-Landmark 1,2,3

Movies for the crime fiction fan
Jeremy Lynch (M), Megan Abbott, David Corbett, Russel McLean, Todd Ritter, Wallace Stroby

2:30 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.


Getting Critical: A chat with Mystery Scene
Kate Stine (M), Oline Cogdill, Bill Crider, Dick Lochte, Brian Skupin, Art Taylor


8:30 A.M. - 9:30 A.M.


When your hero isn’t a nice guy
Anthony Rainone (M), Rob Byrnes, Jodi Compton, Chris Ewan, Joseph Pittman, Jason Starr

10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.


Rumors of the private eye fiction’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Ali Karim (M), Max Allan Collins, Barbara Fister, Robert J. Randisi, Linda Richards

11:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.

CRANKY STREETS-Landmark 1,2,3

What’s so funny about murder?
Peter Rozovsky (M), Eoin Colfer, Colin Cotterill, Chris Ewan, Thomas Kaufman

4:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.

A HOLE IN THE HEART-Landmark 5,6,7

Crime Chicago style
Libby Fischer Hellmann (M), Michael Black, Sean Chercover, Michael Harvey, Clare O’Donohue, Michael Wiley

That should leave plenty of time for frolic.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


Three college friends and I saw the movie last night. I was a tad drowsy from four slices of pizza at Bertucci's, but it wasn't the fun summer romp I thought it would be. Harrison Ford's character was gnarled and unlikable a la Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. Daniel Craig's character was a taciturn loner; many actors can play a taciturn loner.

I did buy into the romance between Craig's and Olivia Wilde's characters, but the overall tone of the movie was too straight, making the funny moments seem odd. The aliens, as in the movies Stargate and Independence Day, had no personality, only a sufficient gross-out factor.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Bill Crider reviews WE MIGHT HAVE

Knowing Bill, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, was also a poet, I sent him a copy of my poetry ebook We Might Have. His review concludes, "[M]y favorite in the group is "Paperback Lover," a clever take on a subject dear to my heart. The poems are all short and insightful and most of them made me smile. Check 'em out."

Thank you, Bill.

"Computer...Hello, Computer."

Today on Do Some Damage, Jay Stringer discusses the role of computers in his writing process and how he's had to adjust to some time without a computer.

In conclusion, he asks, "How has technology changed the way you write? And what do you think you'd find about your writing process if the machines went away?"

I commented:

I was a slow longhand writer as a child, when I was required to write cursive. I often worried that my written notes wouldn't keep up with classes. I also typed slowly on a typewriter, was prone to typos, and didn't want to waste paper.

Computers solve all those problems for me. I'll never be the fastest typist, but I'm well past having to look at the keys.

This much said, my best projects have always started with a pen and memo pad to brainstorm ideas. No longer required to use a style of writing or note-taking, I can just take notes that make sense to me. So when a computer isn't available, I'm comfortable going to pen/pencil and paper.


Discount Noir, the ebook anthology of forty-two flash fiction stories, including my "Need a Hand", now sells for $4.99 from Untreed Reads.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


I'm glad to be reading much more with my Kindle and Nook apps. Jack Palms in Triad Death Match pays homage to kung fu movies of the 1970s and 80s, but it's also the moving story of an honorable fighter whom Jack and Jane Gannon befriend. I first heard this novella in five episodes of Harwood's CrimeWAV podcast, but it's easily readable in one sitting.

Having read Harwood's debut, Jack Wakes Up, I enjoyed seeing Jack in a new adventure with some exotic flavor. If you haven't read Harwood yet, Triad Death Match is a fine taste of his characters and perceptive writing style.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Who is C.J. Stone?

Stones, my ebook of three C.J. Stone stories, goes on sale today, so I thought I'd tell you a bit about how I came up with the character. For one season in 1982, ABC aired a series called Tales of the Gold Monkey. Created by Don Bellisario, it was set in 1938, and concerned the exploits of former Flying Tiger Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins). We didn't own a VCR at the time, but Tales stuck with me on a subliminal level until I drafted my first C.J. Stone story in 1994.

Tales finally came to DVD last year, thanks to Fabulous Films and Shout! Factory, and watching it again, I realized many of my early characters resembled Jake's friends. By the time the first Stone story was published in 2002, C.J. had begun to distinguish himself. For one thing, he's not as noble as Jake, who aspired to be a knight saving damsels in distress. C.J. is more likely to pick your pocket than pick a fight, to talk his way out of trouble, and he's fine smuggling contraband.

My first two Stone stories have been reprinted twice. Each time, I've added to them as C.J. might add to them. I've learned he's not the most reliable narrator, but, boy, can he tell a story. And, as seen in "Gypped", he's just as prone to fall for one.

Again, Stones includes the previously out-of-print "Faith", the almost-all-new "Señora", and "Gypped"—for 99 cents.