Monday, August 31, 2015


© by Gerald So | | 1:00 A.M.

Working as a private investigator in Florida, retired New York cop J.W. "Doak" Miller is hired to pose as a hitman so the local sheriff can catch Lisa Otterbein plotting to kill her wealthy, older husband, George.

As fate would have it, however, Lisa matches a fantasy Doak has had for years. He decides to make the sheriff think she's changed her mind about the murder while hatching a plot of his own to get away with her.

The premise is classic pulp, so it may surprise you The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes is set in the present day of Web searches and burner phones. There's no one better than Block—steeped in genre tradition, yet as in touch with today as can be—to show the two can work together.

The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes is due out September 22.

At The Five-Two: Paul Hostovsky

© by Gerald So | | 12:30 A.M.

The Five-Two's fourth year of poetry ends at the transfer station, "which we used to call / the dump":

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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Negative

© by Gerald So | | 4:00 A.M.

This week the 7 Criminal Minds bloggers discussed how they deal with bad reviews.

My feeling is, when I submit my work for publication, I voluntarily open it up to everyone who can read. And of course, not everyone is going to like it.

If I were writing just for my satisfaction, I'd write stuff, read it, smile, and put it in a drawer. I write for publication because I want to give others the enjoyment I get from reading. I'll never hear from everyone who enjoys my work, but it's enough to hear from a few. The enjoyment I try to give, the connection I try to make, is personal after all.

And let me distinguish bad reviews from negative reviews. Bad reviews fail to address my work, as bad light bulbs fail to light. Bad reviews are easily spotted and dismissed upon reading, but they unfairly and unfortunately count in a glance at numbers.

Negative reviews, on the other hand, are fair. They genuinely address my work and find it lacking.

Not everyone is going to like what I write. That doesn't stop me from writing.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Writers' Responsibility

© by Gerald So | | 3:00 P.M.

In the aftermath of another incident of gun violence, Steve Weddle pondered whether fiction writers have a responsibility in their depictions of violence.

I commented that fiction, even at its most realistic, is to be understood as separate from reality. I've heard it argued that violent fiction, movies, video games, etc. perpetuate violence. It can also be argued that imagined violence is cathartic and prevents real violence.

Though writers mostly write by themselves, they don't write in a vacuum. They write from the influence of other writers and add to genres of reading that will outlive them. That's where their first responsibility is.

Other responsibilities go beyond being writers. I hope that no matter how many humans want to kill, there are at least that many who value the lives of others as they do their own.

Monday, August 24, 2015

At The Five-Two: "A Fall into Grace"

© by Gerald So | | 12:01 A.M.

Elizabeth Lash returns with a poem showing that with true crime, as opposed to fiction, we often don't get "the whole story":

Friday, August 21, 2015

3 Minutes From Live

© by Gerald So | | 9:00 A.M.

As a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, I recently pitched the idea of live readings of mystery & crime short fiction, Short Mystery Fiction Socials, hosted by local members, along the lines of the popular Noirs at the Bar.

Wondering who and what establishments might be open to such events, I realized I could also host readings virtually. 3 Minutes From Live is one more venue for writers and their work.

Monday, August 17, 2015

At The Five-Two: "Mortal Terror" by Sarah Stockton

© by Gerald So | | 12:30 A.M.

Voice of The Five-Two Sarah Stockton returns with a poem inspired by the controversial use of lethal injections to carry out the death penalty:

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Ace Atkins Interview in Crimespree #60

© by Gerald So | | 3:30 A.M.

In April, Crimespree Magazine's Jon Jordan asked me to interview Ace Atkins about his fourth Spenser novel, Robert B. Parker's Kickback. The interview ran on the Crimespree site in May, but there's nothing like being in print. Pick up the July/August Sean Chercovered issue.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thank you, Steve Kowit

© by Gerald So | | 7:00 A.M.

I looked in on last night and was saddened to learn poet and teacher Steve Kowit had died, in his sleep on April 2, 2015, according to his website.

A few years out of graduate school, Kowit's In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Worshop showed me how to revise a flash of inspiration into a poem more people than just I might get, and how to conjure inspiration for a poem in the first place.

I never met or corresponded with Kowit, but his friendly voice comes through in his work and his website. Long may they draw audiences.

Monday, August 10, 2015

At The Five-Two: "Boo Coo" by Charles Rammelkamp

© by Gerald So | | 4:00 A.M.

August 15, 1973 was the date set by Congress for the end of direct U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia. Of course, the Vietnam war's effect on the American people goes well beyond that date, as Charles Rammelkamp's poem attests:

I'm now accepting new poems for the early part of the Five-Two's fifth year. Submit today.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Justice League: Gods and Monsters

© by Gerald So | | 5:00 A.M.

The latest Warner Bros. Animation direct-to-DVD DC Comics movie is by far the edgiest. Unlike The Flashpoint Paradox, Gods and Monsters doesn't present hard-to-swallow, dark versions of Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Diana. It challenges us to warm to new characters with different origins.

General Zod killed Jor-El in Krypton's final moments and replaced him as DNA donor before sending the rocket to Earth. As a baby, Superman (Benjamin Bratt) was found not by the picture-perfect Kents, but by migrant workers who raised him on the fringes of the American Dream.

Batman is Kirk Langstrom (Michael C. Hall), who, hoping to cure his cancer, took an experimental vaccine laced with bat venom that turned him into a vampire.

Wonder Woman is Bekka (Tamara Taylor), Highfather's granddaughter, whose marriage to Orion sealed the treaty between New Genesis and Apokolips, though as soon as the marriage was official, Highfather's forces turned and slaughtered Darkseid's.

Establishing these origins in flashbacks, Gods and Monsters mainly involves the murders of top U.S. scientists by shape-shifting robots whose technology mimics the Trinity's powers. The thing is, this Trinity is the sort we'd believe might suddenly grab power. And yet, their harder paths help us sympathize. Their heroics are less expected, their hero labels harder earned.

Incidentally, the trinity of Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, and Geoff Johns came up with this ground-breaking story, and a featurette on the Blu-ray details how they did it.

Monday, August 03, 2015

At The Five-Two: "Bite" by Catherine Wald

© by Gerald So || 5:00 A.M.

This week, our second animal-inspired crime poem in a row:

If you are inspired to write about the recent hunting deaths of lions Cecil and Jericho, please do submit. Poaching is a crime.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Series Continuation Titles

© by Gerald So | | 7:00 A.M.

As I wrote last week, I'm open-minded about series continued after their original authors die. One thing about continuation novels that did bug me, though, was how some were titled. The examples that hit closest to home were the continuations of Robert B. Parker's series, such as Robert B. Parker's Lullaby: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins.

This bugged me because, while the major characters are Parker's, the plots of the continuation novels come entirely from their authors, not Parker. The one unfinished novel Parker left was the Spenser holiday novel, Silent Night, finished by his agent and literary executor Helen Brann, and credited as Silent Night: A Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker with Helen Brann.

Then, yesterday, I was cataloging the latest continuation titles for my Parker discussion group, Spenser's Sneakers, and ironically found the "Robert B. Parker's" in the continuation titles a quick way to distinguish them from those Parker himself wrote. No other parse of the title information is as simply cataloged as the original author's name being in the main title (not the subtitle): Kickback: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins, Kickback: A Novel of Robert B. Parker's Spenser by Ace Atkins...The most acceptable runner-up, still a mouthful, is Robert B. Parker's Spenser in Kickback by Ace Atkins.

Another interesting case are the Tom Clancy continuation novels. Some years before his death, he was already employing co-writers or ghostwriters, but the titles released since his death in 2013 are listed on his website as "Tom Clancy [Title]: A [Character] Novel by [Continuation Author]. Unlike the Parker spinoffs, the Clancy continuation novels don't use the phrase "Tom Clancy's" so as not to be confused with series he co-created and the fact he sold his name to Ubisoft for video game marketing purposes.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

"Shambleau" by C.L. Moore

© by Gerald So | | 3:00 A.M.

I've become interested in C.L. Moore's Northwest Smith stories recently, learning Smith was an inspiration for Star Wars' Han Solo. Yesterday at Nasty. Brutish. Short., I reviewed the first Smith story, "Shambleau".