Monday, April 14, 2014


Hi folks,

I'd like to introduce you to a book and a writer I'm very excited about. Matthew Louis is the founding editor of Gutter Books and the anarchic pulp fiction zine, Out of the Gutter. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 

 And is one helluva writer!

Here's my review of his novel, THE WRONG MAN:

It’s kind of rare to come across a novel as perfectly structured as THE WRONG MAN is. It starts out exactly as it should—a guy trying to live a righteous life and befriend an old pal is suddenly involved by that friend in a race to stay alive and protect himself and his family and before he knows it or can do anything about it, he’s got his back to the wall, in the middle of a shooting war, with the bullets whizzing closer and closer, the bodies falling, and the scent of death everywhere. I read as a writer and believe me, an entire class could be profitably taught using just this novel. The fictive dream is established immediately and there’s no departure point where the reader can leave. Matthew Louis has crafted one of the most interesting, best-paced and plotted novels I’ve read in a long, long time, and I just hope he keeps cranking ‘em out as fast as he can.

If you like your novels to be as dark as the far side of the moon, move like a runaway train with the engineer out from a heart attack, while the hapless passenger left aboard the only one who can keep it from plunging down the mountainside, and who begins to grow into the heroic figure he will become, this is your kind of book. This one’s a winner in every way. Gonna be in my top five of the year for sure. I’ll be saying to everyone I talk to: “You gotta read this.”

You gotta read this.

Check it out.
Blue skies,

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Raves for Rob Boley's first novel, THAT RISEN SNOW

Hi folks,

I take great pride in today's post. I want to tell you about a good friend of mine's first published novel, Rob Boley's THAT RISEN SNOW. I've kind of gone along the journey a bit with Rob and feel a "brotherly" pride in what he has created.

I met Rob a couple of years ago when I was asked to be a presenter at the Antioch Writer's Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This was one of the most pleasurable weekends I've ever spent at such an event and Rob was one of the reasons why. He was part of the writer's group I was privileged to work with (we dubbed ourselves "The Best Writer's Group" and we were...). Every single member of our group was not only a uber-talented writer but the nicest group of people I think I've ever got to hang out with.

Rob and I became instant best friends. We hung out just about every hour except when we were sleeping. Our favorite place was "The Gulch" my kind of bar, along with our other best friend, Amanda Winfield.

Well, each member of our talented group read to the assembled folks at Antioch and Rob's reading tore the roof off the place with the wild reaction it garnered. Just plain laugh-out-loud writing. I saw it immediately as something that should be published and I introduced him to one of my publishers who jumped on it with both feet. At last count, Aaron Patterson of StoneGate Ink is planning on publishing a series of Rob's books of at least eight, I believe. This is the first one and they're all a riot of laughs.

Rob and I have continued our friendship. He's been over to spend weekends with me and my wife Mary and son Mike a couple of times--the last time he also brought his fantastic daughter Annabella. And, she truly is fantastic. I've never seen a warmer and more loving relationship than these two have.

Anyway, without further ado, I want to introduce Rob and his first novel and urge everyone to run right over to Amazon and glom onto an ebook copy. It will also be out in paperback in a couple of months.

For another treat, check out Rob on his blog with his amazing daughter! At

Tell 'em I sentcha!

by Rob E. Boley
Book One of the Scary Tales: A Killer Serial

The zombie sequel to Snow White begins where the classic fairy tale ends, with the Prince’s kiss waking Snow from her cursed slumber. Snow wakes up, but she doesn’t wake up right.

Now a deranged zombie, Snow infects both the Prince and the seven dwarfs’ leader. That leaves the young dwarf Grouchy, who is secretly in love with Snow, to find a cure for her malicious curse. So begins an epic journey that pits the lovesick Grouchy against dwarf-hating human soldiers, Snow’s ever-growing zombie horde, and his own bad temper.

But when Grouchy and his motley crew of survivors escape Snow’s clutches and seek refuge in a nearby human village, he soon finds that her affliction has spread faster and further then he ever could have imagined. Snow is hell-bent on spreading her horrid curse across the land, and it’s up to Grouchy to stop her before it’s too late.

For fans of horror, dark comedy, horror comedy, dark fantasy, zombies, and mashups such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters; Little Women and Werewolves; Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter; Henry VIII: Wolfman; Jane Slayre.

“Part delicious dream, part nightmare, That Risen Snow is an aberrant fairytale that is just as much a horror story. Boley has a knack for dark comedy and witty prose, and he blends it with a nearly-hardboiled voice uncharacteristic of (and therefore pleasantly unique in) dark fantasy fiction. It’s a story you’ll want to tear ass through but will equally want to slow down for, so you can savor the prose.”
—Brady Allen, author of Back Roads & Frontal Lobes

“In 1912, the Brothers Grimm published an old German fairy tale they titled Snow White. Little did they know that a guy named Rob Boley would come along a hundred years later to reveal the ‘true’ and adult story of Ms. White, or ‘Snow’ as she was known in real life… No one could have possibly foreseen what would become of Snow in the hands of a diabolical, maniacal imagination like Boley’s… Such a nice boy… with such a fevered mind. Read this with the lights on and a baseball bat or shotgun handy… you’re gonna be glad you did. This is a Snow White you ain’t gonna find in the middle school library… Get it, read it, and try to keep the screaming down.”
—Les Edgerton, author of Hooked, Just Like That, and The Bitch

“That Risen Snow and That Wicked Apple make a deliciously diabolical tale—part Walking Dead, part turned-on-its-ear fairy tale. Rob Boley strikes the perfect balance of depth, drama, and dark humor to keep readers devouring the pages and leave them hungering for more.”
—Linda Gerber, author of the Death by Bikini Mysteries

That's it, folks! 

Blue skies,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Hi folks,
I just ran across a couple of blogposts that I wanted to share with you guys. The first is from author Lisa Fernow, who made my day when she talked about my newest novel, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, a black comedy crime caper coming out in August from Down&Out Books. This book is my personal favorite and I’ve been writing a sequel to it for some time. KIDNAPPING began as a short story published in The South Carolina Review and then I wrote a novel based on it and then a screenplay. The screenplay was named a Finalist in both the Writer’s Guild and Best of Austin competitions. The novel has a German publisher in Pulpmaster, and the owner of that press, Frank Nowatzke, liked it so much, he took it to Berlinale, the European film festival that is a sister festival to the Frankfort Book Festival. Frank received great responses to it he told me, but all see it as a movie that would have to be filmed in the U.S. and not Europe. Hoping it attracts some attention here when it comes out!

Anyway, here’s what Lisa had to say about it:

The Genuine Imitation Plastic Kidnapping

I happened to be reading Publishers Marketplace, the industry rag that lets you know what books are being sold to publishers by various agents, and I came across a book that made me laugh so hard I nearly wet my pants.
Here is the description: Les Edgerton’s THE GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING, in which a couple of two-bit hustlers come up with the bright idea of kidnapping a crime boss’ fake hand, and hold it ransom for some serious money, to Eric Campbell at Down and Out Books, by Chip MacGregor at MacGregor Literary.
I just had to write to Les. Turns out he’s quite a guy. We’ve been writing back and forth, and I plan to buy this book as soon as it comes out. You might like to read his blog in the meantime.
Why am I telling you this. If you like someone’s work, write to them and tell them so. It really makes their day.  And sometimes it makes yours, back.

Thanks, Lisa! Any time a description of one of my books causes someone to laugh so hard she nearly wets her pants, my day has been made. (And, PW got part of this wrong--it's not a "fake" hand but his real meathook that gets whacked off.)
And then, I came across a blog I visit regularly, Col’s Criminal Library, and saw a really cool shout-out of my novel, THE BITCH.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014


March provided a decent month of reading, without me finding that book that was truly stand out and memorable. I had a slow start to the month with the Hunsicker book, which has made me decide, as much as possible to avoid long books at the start of the working week as I just get bogged down. Better to save them for a holiday or a weekend start when I can eat a big chunk up and make some progress. My enjoyment of The Contractors probably suffered as a result, though a mark of 3 appears generous.

Book of the month!
9 books were read in the month, which is 1 shy of my goal of 10 to achieve 120 for the year. I have yet to hit that magical figure in any month in 2014 - hopefully I will catch up later in the year.

All 9 books were authors new to me, (18 from 26 so far in 2014 - I've decided to count Agatha Christie as a new author last month),

4 of the books were debut novels and I would happily read more from all debut authors - Kirschman, Veste, Harvkey and McCrary.

2 were by females (making 5 from 26 for the year - 19% go me! Double last year's % but could still do better)

5 were Net Galley books (God, I really went overboard on there didn't I?), 2 were received from the author, 1 from the publisher and 1 book was actually bought, though it subsequently transpired it wasn't even a whole book, just a portion of it.

7 were US authors - no surprise there, 1 from Australia, 1 from the UK.

In the course of the month my reading took me to Sydney, Liverpool, Cincinatti, Texas, New York, Missouri and Indiana, with some flying visits to Arizona and Mexico as well as a couple of unknown locations!

Progress on my challenges - no Vintage Reads, no Scottish reads, no Espionage reads, no TBR Mountain reads, 1 for my Down Under challenge and a few states filled on my USA challenge (6 from 51, so I'm making some progress there).

Most of my reads were very good, just a bit short of great. Tough to pick a book of the month, but as I read it cover to cover in about 3 hours flat it has to be Ellen Kirschman's Burying Ben. The good news is, she's writing a second Dot Meyerhoff book!


A close second would be Les Edgerton and The Bitch.

The full list of March reads is as follows:

Harry Hunsicker - The Contractors (3)

Les Edgerton - The Bitch (4)

Mike Resnick - Dog in the Manger (4)

Ellen Kirschman - Burying Ben (4)

Mike McCrary - Getting Ugly (4)

B. Selkie (aka Peter Robb) - Final Cut (aka No Sweat) (aka 1/3rd of Pig's Blood and Other Fluids) (3)

Mike Harvkey - In the Course of Human Events (4)

Luca Veste - Dead Gone (4)

Dorothy Uhnak - Codes of Betrayal (4)


April aims - hit 10 for the month, keep up the female count, chip away at some of my challenges, clear the Net Galley burden from my shoulders - free is not always a good thing!

Thanks, Col!

A good day!

Blue skies,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fun time with Libby Hellman

Hi folks,

Sorry to have been gone so long, but my son Mike and I had a week's vacation in Cave Creek, AZ as guests of my best friend, Tom Rough and his family, wife Lisa and daughter Nicola. It was wonderful! Mike and I and Tom got to go to a Giants' game where we beat the A's and I got to meet up with some of my class members at Federal Pizza.

Joe and Maegan, me, Linda, Suzanna and Kristen--all uber-talented writers and fantastic friends. Well, Joe isn't a writer but he takes the load off Maegan so she can write and he's just one of the nicest guys I know.

When I got back home, I needed to plunge right into the new session of my online class and that kept me busy until yesterday. I owed a friend a chapter for a new crime book he's asked a bunch of us to contribute to and that leads us up to... today!

Where, when I opened my email this morning, I received the following post from the brilliant writer, Lilly Hellman. Her words warmed the ol' cockles of my heart and I thought I'd share them with you.

March 21, 2014 

I was at a Christmas party two years ago at which WGN  news anchor Steve Sanders was also a guest. We started to chat, and when he found out I was a crime writer he told me he had a story for me. Those words are like catnip for a kitten — I’m a sucker for a good story. So I followed Steve into a corner where he proceeded to tell me about a Ku Klux Klansman in Alabama who was in prison for lynching a black man. A few years into the Klansman’s sentence, a young black man was wrongly convicted for raping a white woman. No one really believed the boy was guilty, but the jury was all white (it was the early Sixties), and the kid didn’t have a chance. 

The young man apparently was assigned to the same cell as the Klansman, and over time, the two became great friends, confounding the expectations of almost everyone in the penitentiary.  

I don’t how much of that is, or was true, but it stayed with me. A few months later, I had an opportunity to submit a story to the Fiction River Crime Anthology edited by the wonderful Kristine Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, and I decided to tackle that story. However, aside from a couple of visits to Cook County jail and a woman’s minimum  prison in Racine, Wisconsin, I am woefully unfamiliar with prison procedures. So I put out a request on Facebook for someone who might point me in the right direction. One name kept coming back; Les Edgerton, a terrific crime writer and himself a one-time inmate at Indiana’s Pendleton penitentiary, which had the honor of being called out by LBJ in the Sixties as one of the worst prisons in the country.

I got in touch with Les, read his book JUST LIKE THAT, which recounts his experiences at Pendleton (and which I highly recommend.)  After that, we emailed and spoke on the phone several times. Les’s patience and generosity was endless, and I am in his debt. There is no way this story could have been written without his help.

Of course I embellished, changed, and added some noir elements to the story—I was in my dark period. The result is No Good Deed which amazingly, did make it into the anthology released this week.

I am delighted to share space with acclaimed authors Doug Allyn, Brendan DuBois, my good friend Julie Hyzy, Steve Hockensmith,and more, and I urge you to check out the anthology. Meanwhile, here are the first few grafs of the No Good Deed.

Gertie Morton’s baby kicked so much in the womb that she knew the kid was going to be a troublemaker. Luther didn’t disappoint. Born in 1943, the colicky baby screamed so much that Gertie thanked the Lord their closest neighbor lived half a mile away. Once the colic was over, teething began, and Gertie gave Luther liberal amounts of whiskey that her husband cooked up in their still.  She sometimes wondered if that was the root of Luther’s problems.

Luther grew into a rowdy boy and even rowdier teen: stealing bikes, then cars, then whatever he could get his hands on.  Which wasn’t much—they lived in a dirt-poor area of Southern Indiana. Luther wasn’t much of a student either, until a sheriff’s deputy caught him smoking and drinking whiskey at the pool hall. Luther seemed to clean up after that, and Gertie was surprised when he came home with a decent report card in twelfth grade. She proudly proclaimed to everyone she knew how he was one of the best students in the school.

She learned the truth a few months later when Luther told her that his high school English teacher was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and had recruited him into the group. Gertie remembered the problems the Klan had caused in Indiana over the years, and while she didn’t exactly disagree with them, she didn’t think it would end well.

It didn’t. A few weeks after Luther’s twenty-first birthday, he was convicted of taking part in a lynching. Sentenced from fifteen to life, Luther was sent to the state prison at Pendleton near Indianapolis.

Libby Hellman

Thanks, Libby.

Blue skies,