Sunday, January 30, 2011

"The Toll Collectors" Featured at Death By Killing!

Over at Death by Killing, Chris Rhatigan is running features on his top five short stories of 2010. Yesterday, he featured "The Toll Collectors" by yours truly.

"The Toll Collectors" was the first short story I ever wrote, and its path to publication was a rocky one, full of false starts, folding publications, and even a shady character under an assumed name who disappeared into the night without a word. I was beginning to think that story was cursed -- that it'd never find a home. But then it wound up in front of David Cranmer at Beat to a Pulp, and all that changed. It's gratifying that since then, the story's been so well received.

A couple notes:

If you'd like to read "The Toll Collectors", it's still available on Beat to a Pulp. Or, if you'd rather, you could download it to your Kindle (or free Kindle app!) along with seven other stories for the rock-bottom price of 0.99! And if you'd like to see what inspired the story, check out this site, which is dedicated to the stretch of abandoned Pennsylvania turnpike on which it takes place. I stumbled across it when I was doing research on abandoned rail lines for my short "The World Behind", and once I saw those pics, the story sort of wrote itself.

So thanks, Chris, for the recognition; I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rip's Saga Continues

A while back, you may recall, I kicked off David Cranmer's epic time-travel adventure serial A Rip Through Time with A Rip Through Time: The Dame, the Doctor, and the Device. In fact, Rip was so well received, it's been included in P&E's Reader's Poll of the best short sf and fantasy published in 2010 (voting for which is open to the public, should you decide you dug the tale enough to swing a vote my way. Yes, there seem to be two entries; hopefully, they'll fix that glitch and count the votes for both.)

But Rip's tale is far from over. David Cranmer, the Doc Berlin of our little operation, has some details up on his blog about Rip's, uh, future (hey, gimme a break; you try talking about where this story's going without lapsing into accidental time-travel punnery). And over at Beat to a Pulp, Charles Gramlich takes the reins of the story, delivering A Rip Through Time: Battles, Broadswords, and Bad Girls. (See what I did there, Charles? Reins? On account of there are horses? Ah, forget it; there's apparently no such thing as a good time-travel joke.) Charles brings his own unique flavor to Rip's tale, and broadens Rip's universe considerably. Having experienced this installment as an audience member (seriously -- my first peek was nary a week ago), it's wild to see just how unpredictable a story can be when filtered through the lens of another writer, another perspective. It's a daring experiment, and one whose conclusion I, for one, eagerly await.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"A Rip Through Time" on P&E's Reader Poll!

If you have a chance, and dug "A Rip Through Time: The Dame, the Doctor, and the Device", pop on over to P&E's Reader Poll and send a vote my way! 'Twould be much appreciated.

(There appear to be two entries for "Rip". I've notified them of the glitch, but it's unlikely to be fixed before voting is completed. Just aim for the complete entry, and fingers crossed votes for either will be counted.)

In which the writer actually (gasp!) talks writing...

It's been a while since I mentioned any new stories here, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on any. Time was, I'd finish a story, write a post on what inspired it, and then send it unsteady and downy-feathered off into the world, fingers crossed someone would take it in and give it a good home. Lately, though, I've been fortunate enough that folks are actually (for some ungodly reason) asking me for stories, which, though gratifying, makes for less compelling blog-fodder. ("The inspiration for this leprechaun-gold-heist-caper is someone asked me for a leprechaun-gold-heist caper, and then I wrote it."*)

To be clear, I don't think these stories are in any sense inferior to those whose premises I plucked out of the clear blue sky; in fact, I kind of love the challenge of taking an assignment and making it my own. But it does make the process a tad less sexy. (Less sexy than surfing the web in your PJs with bedhead until some random bit of nothing catches your interest? That, my friend, is crazy talk!**)

Anyways, the point I've been lazily circling for like two hundred words now is I've recently written a few new stories, and I figured I'd talk a bit about them here. No, I won't tell you when and where you can read them, because a) I'm not entirely sure when they're coming out, b) I consider any project top-secret until the editor of said project goes public with it, and c) as far as I'm concerned, the folks I wrote them for are under no obligation to publish them, should they, uh, hate 'em or whatever.

So yeah. Three new stories. As follows.

"The Man in the Alligator Shoes" is a flash piece (depending on your definition, since it comes in three words shy of 1,000) about a decent man corrupted by the loss of his wife, and determined to exact revenge. It was inspired, in part, by my recent bout of unemployment, the sad state of the economy, and the broken, corrupt machine that is our health-care system. Kind of a lot of baggage for a flash piece, I know, but too often, flash ignores character in favor of a rug-yank of a twist (I see flash as similar to jokes in structure -- all setup and punchline), and I wanted to see if I could write a character-driven story within the confines of the word-count. Whether I was successful or not, I'll leave to the audience to decide.

"The Putdown" is a 3,200-word bit of country-fried noir, and it features the best opening scene I think I've ever written. It's the story of a man looking back at a life spent in the thrall of a best friend he's slowly come to realize is a charismatic sociopath. For those who've read my Ellery Queen debut "The World Behind" (available here with seven other tales for the rock-bottom price of $0.99!), I sort of think of this story as what might've happened had things worked out differently for its antagonist, Billy McMahon, and his wheedling sidekick, Mike Harrington.

And last but (hopefully) not least, "An Open Door." "An Open Door" is a creepy little ghost story inspired by the cheesiest, awesomest, bro-I-got-chills-havingest show on all of television: Ghost Adventures. This story differs from the other two in that it wasn't written with a market in mind; it sort of popped into my head fully formed (borne no doubt of my full-on obsession with this equal parts terrifying and hilarious show). Two days and 3,000 words later, it was done. And speaking of creepy, not an hour after I finished it, I got an email from an editor friend asking if I'd be interested in submitting a 3,000-word horror story. Weird, right? Oh, and just for kicks, "An Open Door" centers around an abandoned mill fans of "Seven Days of Rain" might find eerily familiar...

So that's what I've been up to. Details on the wheres and whens as I have them. As for what comes next... I've got another short or two I'd like to bang out, and then maybe, just maybe, a new novel -- 'cause damn do I have a hell of an idea for one. Looks like whatever mojo problems I've been struggling with are in my rearview...

*This example is fictitious. Don't go stealing it, though, 'cause OMFG I NEED TO WRITE A LEPRECHAUN-GOLD-HEIST-CAPER.

**Who, exactly, am I addressing here? 'Cause it sort of reads like I'm talking to myself, but as someone else. Speaking of crazy talk. Seriously, it's half-assed self-indulgent parentheticals like this one that keep editors gainfully employed.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My spine, it tingles...

Thanks to Brian Lindenmuth, crack non-fiction editor of Spinetingler, for giving an honorable mention to 8 POUNDS in his list of Best Mystery/Crime Fiction of 2010!

And for those of y'all sick to death of me yappin' 'bout the same old stories, I promise I've got an update on some new shorts coming real soon...

Monday, January 03, 2011

THE DAMAGE DONE Giveaway at Women of Mystery!

Anyone who pops in here from time to time knows I'm a big fan of THE DAMAGE DONE, the amazing, fantastic, face-meltingly good debut from Spinetingler-Award-winner Hilary Davidson. But what you may not know is that right now, Women of Mystery are giving said face-meltingly good debut away, and all it takes to enter is a blog comment.

So what're you waiting for? Do you not like awesome free stuff?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Best-of Updates (and a Brief Canadian Digression)(Or Two)

Many thanks to Stephen Blackmoore, who included 8 POUNDS in his "Best of Whatever" list over at Day Labor. Big thanks as well to Ian Rogers, who counted "The Well" among his Favourite* Reads of 2010. Both Stephen and Ian are damn fine writers, which makes their praise all the more rewarding. And the company both have put me in on their respective lists is humbling indeed.

*Yes, that's favourite with a u. Ian, you see, is Canadian. But we at _holm endeavor not to discriminate on the basis of silly spellings, love of Tim Horton's, or the preposterous notion that health care should be available to all regardless of personal wealth. Which is more than I can say for Blogger's spellcheck, which insists I've twice spelled favorite wrong.

UPDATE TO THE BEST-OF UPDATES: The lovely and talented (and somewhat hung-over) Paul Brazill pointed out in the comments that he included 8 POUNDS in his Top 13 Crime Books of 2010. Thanks, Paul! Now go take a couple aspirin, drink lots of ice water, and when you're up to it, power down some greasy breakfast fare. Always does wonders for me...

UPDATE THE SECOND TO THE BEST-OF UPDATES (MAKING WHAT -- FIVE UPDATES TOTAL? THIS IS ALL VERY CONFUSING.): The also lovely and talented (and to my knowledge, not hung-over) Hilary Davidson has included 8 POUNDS in her "Best of Whatever" list at Day Labor. Hilary, author of the flat-out stunning THE DAMAGE DONE, is also Canadian, though she elects to spell it favorite, quite possibly so that she can pass unnoticed among us. But to what end? I suspect a nefarious plot resulting in world domination. And if she nefariously plots as well as she writes, we may as well cede now, before her death-ray is fully operational...