Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Bloggery

I was never satisfied with my Halloween costumes as a child. It's not like anyone would really believe I were Spider-Man or Superman or E.T. I have enjoyed decorating my blog, though, so I give you this year's theme:

You can also read and hear The 5-2's Halloween poem, "Apparition" by Chad Haskins.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Falling Out of Love with an Author

Today, Do Some Damage's Scott D. Parker blogged that his taste for an unnamed author's work has changed unexpectedly.

I commented:

What you describe usually happens to me when I've read several of one author's books in a row. These days, I'll only do it if I love the author's work, and with that kind of love, sometimes I have lofty expectations of what the author might do next. I also begin to see the author's go-to turns of phrase and other stylistic tics that pull me out of a story.

My remedy is to take a break from the author's books. I still keep an eye on each new one that comes out, but I don't buy it on the author's name alone. I decide if the plot sounds different enough from what I've already read to make me go back.

The trade-off with ongoing series is that the author has to keep returning readers engaged while delivering the same kind of book overall to keep the series consistent.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jochem Vandersteen reviews FIRST IN, LAST OUT

Sons of Spade's Jochem Vandersteen reviewed my ebook First In, Last Out, concluding, "Gerald edited fiction on the Thrilling Detective site and it shows. The writing is tight and well thought out. Solid, fast read."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Keith West reviews STONES

Adventures Fantastic blogger Keith West has reviewed my ebook Stones, writing in part:

How do the stories stack up? They were a delight to read. The central character, C.J. Stone, is a pilot in the Caribbean in the 1930s, and So does an excellent job of capturing the tone of the era. The stories are short, almost vignettes in some cases. But they work. They were a lot of fun, and I'll be tracking down the other stories about Stone that are mentioned in the author bio.

Thanks very much, Keith.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Today on Jungle Red Writers, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Joelle Charbonneau discuss a reality of every writer's life, rejection. Hank asks, "So how about you? Rejections make you stronger? Or just make you feel--rejected? How do you deal with it? And how have you changed?"

I commented:

Probably true for most writers, the first rejections were the hardest for me. I questioned whether I was doing what I was meant to do. Having kept at it and edited a few projects as well, I see rejection as a necessary part of the game; there's just not enough space to publish everyone.
Rejection only makes you a better writer if it teaches you to read your work more objectively. Then, from all the feedback you receive and all the times you re-read, you'll be able to do what's best for the particular piece, and send it out again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reginald Marsh-Inspired Flash Fiction

Three weeks ago, Patricia Abbott blogged the following challenge: "Write a story in any genre of under 1,000 words based on one of Marsh's paintings."

For each story, Patti is pledging $5 to Union Settlement Association. The stories are set to post today. Links will be on Patti's blog, and I'll gather them below. My story is inspired by Marsh's "Two Girls on Boardwalk" (1934):


by Gerald So

My mother died when I was twelve. It had been a little more than four years since, but it was hard, painful, to remember our time together.

Dad and I lived in a small apartment in the Bronx. Mom had lived there, too, though Dad always told her, "You're too good for this place. Someday, I promise, we'll move."

Mom came from money. She and Dad met when he saved her from a mugger. "No reason for her to give me a second look," Dad said. But she had, apparently giving up her life for his.

Moving day never came, and when she died--just fainted in her chair--Dad's ambition died. He spent every free moment in her chair, with their wedding picture and a bottle of rye, not noticing if I were there.

I felt sorry for him, but more than anything, I swore the same wouldn't happen to me.

Luckily, Mom's money put me in snooty all-girls schools. I hated it, but I say it was lucky because I learned not to sound like I was from the Bronx, and the girls all talked about getting away to Coney Island.

So I knew where I'd go, and I knew how I'd get there. It was just a matter of working up the courage, which by sixteen, looking nineteen, I had in spades.

The farther I walked, the farther the train rolled, the freer I felt. That first time, I didn't remember walking from the terminal down to the shore.

I shimmied out of my clothes, showing off Mom's newest bathing suit.

"Excuse me. Miss?" someone said.

"Miss?" he said again.

I turned to see he was an artist.

"Do you mind?" he asked and gestured with his pencil.

"Not at all," I said.

"And may I ask your name?"

"Kate," I said quite naturally, though the name just came to me.


More Stories in the Challenge

Chad Eagleton, "The Letter"
Peter Rozovsky, "Smithers Should Have Listened"
Caftan Woman
John Norris, "Laff in the Dark"
Marylinn Kelly, "Lifeguards"
Gill Hoffs, "The Creature in the Coal"
Dana King, "Tugboat"
Rob Kitchin, "The El up 9th Avenue"
Sandra Seamans, "A Whistle and a Prayer"
Thomas Pluck, "High Yaller"
Rosemarie Keenan, "Window Dressing"
Katherine Tomlinson, "A Friend in Need"
Daniel Moses Luft, "Usherette"
Patricia Abbott, "The Ohrbach Girl"
Ron Scheer, "Geraldine"
Yvette Banek, "White Dress, Red Buttons"
Todd Mason, "Off Season" and "Slow Thursday Night"
William Morgan, "Sleeping"
Kieran Shea, "Reversed"
Loren Eaton, "Old Man Smith"
Seana, "The Normandie"

Monday, October 17, 2011


My story for Patti Abbott's latest flash fiction challenge, inspired by the works of painter Reginald Marsh, posts tomorrow. See you then.

Balance This!

Today on Murderati, Pari Noskin discusses the myth of balance:

The Balance Paradigm: If I could just find the sweet spot, I’d be able to: work, write, get enough exercise, sleep, eat well, stay in touch with friends, be supportive to people I care about, be a good mom, find fulfillment -- and it’d all flow beautifully. 
...Balance, for more than a moment, is impossible for any living creature. Do you hear me, people? It. Doesn’t. Exist.

I commented:

I agree that perfect balance is a myth. No way I can do as much of everything I'd like to do. For me, it's a question of what I'm willing to sacrifice versus what I'm not. For example, I'd like to buy and read every book that catches my eye, but if I did, I'd have less time to write. I've given up a lot of leisure and social activity in favor of writing, especially as the economy has declined, but writing is still most important to me. 
I think anyone who has committed to calling him/herself a writer, lawyer, doctor, baker, mother, etc. is willing to devote the bulk of time to it, giving up other pursuits. The pace of people's lives reflects what they are most committed to doing.
That said, it's impossible to commit all your time to one pursuit and keep doing it well. The mind and body need to rest. Exactly how much downtime we need varies from person to person, but if "balance" means "a little of everything", I don't think we need it to be happy. We need to find the time to do what's most important to us.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Working on her second book in a new series, Do Some Damage's Joelle Charbonneau today ponders how to work in backstory.

I commented:

Backstory works best for me when it applies to the main story, when it seems to come up naturally. I find backstory less obtrusive in the middle of the main story. At the beginning, the writer is more obviously filling in the blanks. The exception, of course, is if the second book picks up right where the first left off, but I haven't read many tightly continuous series. I prefer the kind I can pick up at any point or get back into without much fuss.

I do cut writers some slack using the same information/description in multiple books. I understand that they have to court new readers and keep returning readers engaged. And after all, if I haven't read about the series protagonist in a year or more, it helps to have a reminder how she looks, how she sees herself, and where she is in life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Psyched Up

The sixth season of USA Network's Psych premiered last night, and my coverage at Boomtron continues.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

LASSITER by Paul Levine

After a fourteen-year hiatus—during which he wrote for TV's JAG and penned the successful Solomon vs. Lord series of romantic comedy legal thrillers—Levine returns to Miami Dolphins linebacker-turned-tenacious defense attorney Jake Lassiter.

In Lassiter, on sale September 13, Ohio insurance investigator Amy Larkin approaches Jake, believing he was the last person to see her sister Krista before her disappearance eighteen years earlier. Jake is reluctant to tell Amy the whole truth, regretting the night he spent with Krista and what he hadn't done for her the next morning.

Lassiter is full of people keeping secrets from each other. As many secrets as he reveals, Levine keeps enough in store for a great ending. When a writer returns to a series character after such a hiatus, I look for signs of age or the writer working his way back into the character's voice. Having recently read the previous Lassiter novel, I can tell you there are no such signs in the new one. Jake is as present as ever. I hope it's not another fourteen years before we see him again.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

THOR (2011)

The first time I tried to watch Thor was at a cousin's house just before my road trip to Bouchercon. I fell asleep in minutes. This weekend, Thor arrived from my brother's Netflix queue, and I gave it another go.

I know Thor comes from Asgard, but I found most of the Asgard scenes unnecessary, cutting into what otherwise might have been a well-paced movie. Chris Hemsworth looked the part of Thor, and I bought into his learning humility from his time on Earth, which could have been even more meaningful if the movie didn't keep shifting back to Asgard.

Thor's opposition lacked something. The Frost Giants were your run-of-the-mill monsters/orcs/Dark Riders. Loki was more whiny than threatening, and the robot Destroyer that came closest to killing Thor was simply programmed to do so.

I did enjoy Jeremy Renner's cameo as Hawkeye. I hope the Avengers plot gives Thor something more worth hammering.

Here are my Twitter updates throughout the movie:

Saturday, October 08, 2011

What? No Championship?

I grew up a Yankee fan and I still am, but many of the players I grew up watching have retired: Graig Nettles, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, David Cone. I can't watch younger players the same way, so I've come to enjoy the regular season more than the postseason.

And anyone who tracked the regular season knew the Tigers had better pitching than the Yankees. Consider that our projected rotation going into the season was C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia. Burnett started well, but tailspinned for most of the year. Sabathia faltered late. Phil Hughes had a dead-arm issue most the year (Innings limits, hah). Everyone expected Colon and Garcia to tire, and they did.

Going into the playoffs, our rotation was basically Sabathia and standout rookie Ivan Nova against Detroit's proven Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer. One wrinkle, like Game 1's suspension due to rain, and the Tigers would have even more of an advantage.

No surprise at all. I am surprised the Red Sox collapsed and the Phillies lost to the Cards. It could be the Tigers' year, but I give the edge to the Texas Rangers.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

In My Prime (Again)

Per a personal tradition, I'm awake in the wee hours of my birthday to ponder the passage of time. There is no significance to the age I turn this year, not like 18 or 21 or 30, except it's a prime number. I don't hit another one for four years. Enough clues for you?

Everyone I've known or met has shaped my life in part. I try to recognize and encourage the best in whomever I meet, the individuality that can improve the collective good.

Presents? I'd love it if you read my work and told me what you thought, but then I'd love that any day.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Why a Poetry Ebook? Part 2

The Lineup: Poems on Crime was always well received. Unfortunately,'s high printing and shipping costs limit the reach of our print issues, which contributed to our no longer publishing new issues. The cost to Lulu customers tops out at $12 ($7 base cost + $4 shipping + $1 sales tax) for our final, most ambitious 52-page issue. Some chapbooks printed elsewhere are also priced at $12, but how many of them sell, I wonder.

The co-editors and I had always considered ebooks of our print issues to reach as many readers as we could. It was equally important, though, that any e-conversion preserve poetic lines as written. Having finally found a way to do this, I can offer The Lineup #4 without printing cost, shipping cost, or sales tax for $2.99.

Fall 2011 Mysterical-E

The Fall 2011 issue of Mysterical-E went live recently, including my TV/film column on actors going from well-known roles to brand new ones this season. Thanks as always to editor Joe DeMarco.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Lineup #4 Ebook Now Available

After eight months of research, programming, and testing, I'm proud to bring The Lineup #4 to Kindle and Nook.

Again, the ebook is formatted to preserve the integrity of the poets' original lines as written. Original lines as written begin at the normal, unindented position. If a written line does not fit on a single line of your screen, the rest of the written line will continue indented on the next line of your screen. This practice is seen in print when a poet's original line would exceed a book's required margins.

Lines as written

Same lines enlarged by e-reader