Kicking off the Holiday Season and Keeping it Local

Happy Holidays! (too early? yeah...it's too early) BUT, this year I'm doing a little something special so I'm getting the word out in advance. I'm a big proponent in buying locally, especially books, and this year I finally put my money where my mouth is and purchased 99% of my books (a lot...seriously) from independent bookstores in and around Boston (most from the excellent Papercuts J.P.).

In an effort to expand this momentum, I have a deal for you!

If you purchase SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE from an independent bookstore between now and the end of the month, I'll mail you a *free* limited edition chapbook featuring four stories that didn't make the cut (due to length or theme, really) and killer artwork by my friend Joe DellaGatta.

SITV_Chapbook

Joe did the piece above a few years ago (as you can see by his signature block) for a time when I almost self-published my story "Bet It All On Black" - but I gave it one more shot and it was picked up by Thuglit. (hooray!) So now I can finally put this fantastic piece (and another for the back of the Chapbook) to use!

SO HOW DOES THIS WORK?

1) Purchase/Order a copy of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE from your local, independent shop.

2) Take a photo and toss it somewhere on social media, or send me a PM. (But really, who doesn't like to share?)

3) I'll hit you up for your address and sometime between now and December 24th you'll have a chapbook in hand to read to your loved ones on Christmas morning/Annual Secular Story Time morning. (See, I got you covered)

But Chris! What if I have no local bookstores? That's a huge bummer, but luckily Brookline Booksmith has a plethora of signed copies AND SHIPS. Boom.

But Chris! I already bought a copy from my local bookstore. Well, you're awesome - more awesome than most. So why not buy a second copy as a gift? A book for a friend, a chapbook for you. Sounds like a winner to me.

Now go out there and support your community!

PS - I'll be at Papercuts J.P. on 11/28 from 3-4pm for Small Business Saturday to push copies of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, AND an awesome selection of books by some of my favorite authors. See you then!

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Bouchercon Bound & MORE

Greetings! I've been a bit absent from the blog (a new baby will knock it to the bottom on the list of priorities...) but I'm gearing up for Bouchercon and a busy fall with the release of my debut short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, so here goes a quick update:

BOUCHERCON!

No panels or readings for me (yet?) but I'll be dropping off a huge stack of ARCs and milling around the convention/bars for the long weekend. Thursday night's Noir at the Bar hosted by Eryk Pruitt is a must, as well as Tom Pitt's interview of Les Edgerton and Jack Getze on Friday. Looking forward to seeing a lot of great friends. Crime writers are the best.

I'll also have some copies of CHARRED KRAKEN for sale. $5 for 28 pages of kick ass weird noir with art by Artyom Trakanov, colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick, and letters by Thomas Mauer!

Charred Kraken_layout

Still want a copy but not going to be at Bouchercon? Got you covered. The following weekend I'll have a table at...

MICE

October 17-18 - FREE comic con at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'll be hanging at table D12 (Doucet Hall) with my buddy Joe DellaGatta. A lot of fantastic creators on the list this year. Come out and say hello!

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And last but not least...

SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE TOUR

The Goodreads page is GO and pre-order is up on Amazon for paperback and e-book. Want to order from your local independent? Not a problem - they should be able to order it now as well, if not in the next week.

In the pipeline:

10/22  Noir at the Bar Boston V at Trident Booksellers & Cafe

11/13  Launch Party at Papercuts J.P.

11/18  Brookline Booksmith - author event with Jason Starr

I'm hoping to do a little Black Friday signing in the Libertyville/Vernon Hills area north of Chicago, and a Noir at the Bar Columbus (Ohio) close to Christmas. Stay tuned!

BENT EIGHT

Here's a little teaser for BENT EIGHT, the comic I'm working on with Joe DellaGatta (pencils, inks, hand lettering), Mat Lopes (colors), and Chris Robinson (edits). "Bent Eight" is 1950's slang for a hot rod. I don't want to say too much more about this one yet, but it's been a ton of fun to write and collaborate with these guys.

The high level pitch? Think Shaun of the Dead meets Independence Day

Stay tuned...Page 1 B/W & Colors below!

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Return to the Blogosphere!

BradyNothing like a Patriots trip to the Super Bowl to kick start the ol' blog. (Yes, it's true I'm a Bears' fan, but until they move past Cutler..woof.) At least we could laugh about this guy: rex-grossman-fuck-it-im-going-deep

Annnywho, so I've been working on several projects (some I've shared, some I haven't). It's been a lot of fun, especially the comics, but anxiety inducing as well. Fingers crossed for 2015 to be a big year.

I've also taken a lot more time to read and enjoy the process. Writing is hard enough, especially for those part-timers who squeeze in their time at the keyboard around a full time job and family. Sure, I still aim to write every day and I know it will be a slog, but it's an adventure more than anything else - one that I'm going to enjoy. And probably ramble on here, a lot.

Time to get nostalgic

Whether it's reminiscing while writing KAYFABE about watching wrestling as a kid with my brother, reading/writing comics (more on that some other time), having a two and a half year old developing his own interests, or hell, turning 30, I'm on a huge nostalgia tour...

Comics

Brandon Montclare's HUGE comic collection inspired me to pull out my Punisher comics and get them bound through his recommendation: Herring & Robinson. H&R is awesome. I shipped out close to 100 comics, and two months later I have these beauties on my shelf:

photo(8)And at close to $20/book (the 'no frills' package), they are even cheaper than if I had tracked down the trades. Highly recommend Herring & Robinson if you are looking to get some books bound.

Speaking of Brandon Montclare - you all should check out PODCORN, a weekly comics podcast with Brandon and Amy Reeder (Rocket Girl creators), and editor extraordinaire, Chris Robinson. The show is a lot of fun and often presents insightful discussion on the comics industry.

While we're on the topic of podcasts...add John Siuntres' WORD BALLOON to your list. The interviews are long, but well worth your time - so much so that I've thrown in as a patreon supporter for the show.

Round out a top three with iFanboy. It's a great, witty review show that has me reaching for more comics each week.

Back to Fantasy

The-Return-of-NagashI haven't seriously read Sci-fi/Fantasy in years (probably since the last GoT book) but Games Workshop got me with their The End Times series. I played a lot of table top miniatures games - Warhammer, 40k, etc. - in Junior High and High School, but when I got to college a lack of time pushed me into other gaming that didn't require such a commitment. I still kept tabs on the fiction (Games Workshop, especially nowadays, pumps out an insane amount of books) but one of my complaints was the company never moved the needle when it came to pushing the story. Major characters never changed/grew. When an event they ran (Storm of Chaos) didn't turn out as they hoped, they basically paved over it, pretending it didn't happen.

Well, The End Times is awesome, and again, hugely nostalgic as it deals with kills off characters I read about as a kid. Unfortunately it's been a little hit and miss since Josh Reynolds' crushed it out of the park with the first entry, The Return of Nagash, but it's still a lot of fun. I have high hopes for the finish.

Wrestling...I should be back to editing... so I'll just leave you with this video, which I think perfectly captures the magic of the late 1980s/very early 1990s:

More on this tomorrow:

Duke_DellaGatta

Back to work!

Keep the Devil Down the Hole

keep_the_devil_1"Keep the Devil Down the Hole," originally published in Dreadworks Journal, is now available to read on Wattpad.

Dreadworks Journal (2012) was a fun little project with writing Mad Dogs Errick Nunnally, Bracken MacLeod, and Javed Jahangir. My good buddy, Joe DellaGatta, did the interior illustrations featured in the book. Check out Joe's deviantart for more of his fantastic work.

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Winter Animals - Spring Thaw Sale!

With signs pointing to the arrival of spring... (rain!)

Winter Animals

Beginning today through the first week of May, Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.ORG is shedding the fat and going on sale! Get the best the Mad Dogs have to offer for $0.99, half the price of that Dunks you'll be enjoying on your morning commute, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity, PROTECT.ORG.

Get some!

Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.ORG

Winter Animals Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.ORG is out and available for purchase on Amazon.

WINTER ANIMALS bark less and bite more!

This chapbook anthology collects four stories from the members of The Boston Mad Dogs writing group meant to give you a little extra chill this winter and bring a touch of warmth to others left out in the cold. Christopher Irvin, Errick Nunnally, KL Pereira, and Bracken MacLeod have crafted tales of December creatures in styles ranging from noir, fantasy, magical realism, and crime thriller, all for a single cause. 100% of the author proceeds from the sale of this chapbook will be donated to PROTECT.ORG, to support the mission of lobbying for effective legislation to protect children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Featuring cover art by Joe DellaGatta and a Foreword by Thomas Pluck, author of Blade of Dishonor.

Help PROTECT.ORG fight and WIN for kids who need it and treat yourself to four stories with bite from a pack of Mad Dogs!

A HUGE thank you to those involved with the project - Errick Nunnally, KL Pereira, Bracken MacLeod, Joe DellaGatta, Thomas Pluck, and Ron Earl Phillips - as well as you readers who have supported us over the past month.

Please check out the e-book on Amazon and help support PROTECT.ORG.

Winter Animals: Round #4

Winter Animals Today, Bracken MacLeod brings WINTER ANIMALS home with his wonderful story, "Can I Whisper It?"

Drop over to his blog for the story and to learn a little more about PROTECT and why we choose to support their mission.

And stay tuned for the full e-book release of Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT on December 30th.

Until then - Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and thanks so much for your support over the past month!

Winter Animals: Round #3

Winter Animals Welcome back for WINTER ANIMALS Round #3.

As before, here’s a little background to get you up to speed:

Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT

Each Monday in December will feature a new festive short story from our writing group – Errick Nunnally, Bracken MacLeod, KL Pereira and me – hosted on the respective author’s blog. On December 30th, the stories will be published together in a collection entitled, Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, with foreword by Thomas Pluck, cover by Joe DellaGatta and produced by Ron Earl Phillips. All proceeds from the e-book are going to benefit PROTECT, a pro-child, anti-crime lobby whose sole focus is making the protection of children a top political and policy priority.

This week with have "The Child of Midwinter Eve," a wonderfully dark tale from KL Pereira. Hop on over to her blog and give her some love!

Stay tuned next week for Bracken MacLeod and “Can I Whisper it?”

Winter Animals: Round #2

winter_animals_cover_type Welcome back for WINTER ANIMALS Round #2.

If you are new, here's a little background to get you up to speed:

Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT

Each Monday in December will feature a new festive short story from our writing group - Errick Nunnally, Bracken MacLeod, KL Pereira and me - hosted on the respective author’s blog. On December 30th, the stories will be published together in a collection entitled, Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, with foreword by Thomas Pluck, cover by Joe DellaGatta and produced by Ron Earl Phillips. All proceeds from the e-book are going to benefit PROTECT, a pro-child, anti-crime lobby whose sole focus is making the protection of children a top political and policy priority.

This week with have "Recovery," a stellar tale from Errick Nunnally. Hop on over to his blog and give him some love!

Stay tuned next week for KL Pereira and "The Child of Midwinter."

Winter Animals: Stories to benefit PROTECT

winter_animals_cover_inks_joe_dellagatta

I've got a thing for holiday-themed fiction. I blame Joe R. Lansdale and his top notch noir tale, "Santa at the Cafe." Needless to say, I'm stoked to be involved with such a cool project as WINTER ANIMALS, especially with three others who are not only great friends, but excellent writers as well.

Bracken MacLeod, Errick Nunnally and KL Pereira are a wonderfully diverse group of writers and I'm very proud to be a part of our little 'Mad Dog' collective. I've learned a lot about myself and my writing over the past couple of years and I owe much of my progress to them.

Which brings us to WINTER ANIMALS. Each Monday in December will feature a new festive short story from the group, hosted on the respective author's blog. On December 30th, the stories will be published together in a collection entitled, Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, with foreword by Thomas Pluck, cover by Joe DellaGatta and produced by Ron Earl Phillips. All proceeds from the e-book are going to benefit PROTECT, a pro-child, anti-crime lobby whose sole focus is making the protection of children a top political and policy priority.

We hope you enjoy the short stories, and if so, support the e-book and PROTECT. Without further ado...

 

Nor’easter

by Christopher Irvin

Randy felt the squelch of his tennis shoes as he stepped around the slush-drowned sidewalk in front of Doyle’s Tavern. The depression near the entrance flooded with the least bit of rain, and in the winter, as soon as the salt trucks made their first run. It had been that way for decades and always would be, giving the locals something to bitch about while Tom poured their first round.

Randy clutched his hat to his chest as the wind picked up, ruffling his long white beard. The falling temperatures stung his cherry-red cheeks and nose, near matching the color of his suit.

Just one drink. Just one drink to warm up.

Forecasters had repeated their call for a Nor’easter throughout the day, promising a white Christmas after several snowless years of drab browns and roads slick with ice. It was the constant talk of mothers waiting in line at the mall. Nostalgic excitement dashed with frayed nerves at even the mention of travel plans. They kept their young ones in tow, plying them with treats to keep them occupied until a brief moment on Randy’s lap. Smile, FLASH, and it was over. Off with memories in hand and onto the next one. He missed years past when he could spend a moment or two with a child, get a glimpse of the innocent wonder in their eyes. Nowadays parents were too busy to wait for a conversation with Santa, too worried about what Santa might say or worse, do. And so was Corporate. One complaint and you were kicked to the curb, replaced by a fill-in forty-something-year-old administrator with a fake beard.

Randy wiped his shoes against the stone steps, slick from early customers. The broken bell above the door clanked once when he entered.

“Well look what the reindeer dragged in.” Tom grabbed a remote off the bar and turned down the volume on the hockey game. Like his father before him, Tom knew every face that walked through the entrance. “Merry Christmas Eve, Randy.”

“Yeah, yeah. Ho, ho, ho.” Randy nodded toward the small television wedged in the corner near the ceiling. “How we doing?”

“Replay from last night. A wicked mess, but the B’s pulled it out.”

Though Randy loved all Boston sports, football was his game. But the Pats were having a rare difficult season and a series of losing Sundays had left him depressed and dreading the playoffs.

“Doug moving my stool again?” The stool three in from the right wobbled when he pulled it away from the bar.

“I’ll tell him to knock it off.”

“Tell him to fix it,” Randy said, replacing the broken stool with the one on its left. His stool, the one on which he’d scrawled his name in black marker underneath the seat. “He’s the one who knocked it over and gave it the limp.”

“Well it’s the holidays, right? Maybe I’ll wake up in the morning to a brand new set.”

“And Brady will run for a touchdown.” The men shook hands. Randy leaned his backpack on the stool beside him and laid his cap on top. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

“Keg just kicked. I’ll be right back.”

“You know, Tom?” Randy sucked on his front teeth, scratched the roof of his mouth with his tongue. “Hold that thought. Gimme’ a coffee instead.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Figure maybe it’s a sign.”

“You got it. Just brewed a fresh pot for myself.”

Tom selected a dull ceramic mug from a mix of drying glassware, filled it to the brim and set it in front of Randy. A bit of the dark liquid sloshed over the side, slowly dripping until it paused near the bottom, lacking the weight to finish the trip. Randy wiped away the bead and licked his finger.

“Cream?”

“All set, thanks. I’ve had more than my fair share of sweets today.” He patted his belly for good measure. “No longer a requirement for the job.”

“What, Santa’s Union been hit hard by that diabeetus? There goes your excuse. I’m going to remind you of that, you know.”

Randy chuckled. “Baby steps. I’ll make it my New Year’s resolution.”

Tom pulled a damp towel from his belt and wiped down a section of the bar that he’d already cleaned. It was a habit when talking to customers and not pouring drinks. The man couldn’t sit still.

“Plans tonight for ol’ Santa? Last minute deliveries in that bag of yours?”

“Just my boots.” He patted the backpack. “Gotta keep ‘em in top shape for next year.”

Tom tilted his head and raised an eyebrow as if to say, is that all?

“What’s that face for? I’m one of your best customers.” He lowered his face to the mug, careful not to spill. The hot liquid seared a cracked molar on the left side of his mouth. It was past saving and should have been pulled weeks ago, but the holiday season was Randy’s busiest time of year.

“You should be giving me a gift.” He grimaced as he set the mug down.

Tom leaned over the bar and flicked a bit of pink ribbon that stuck out of Randy’s backpack, exposed between the two zipper pulls.

“Taken a liking to pink then, are you?”

“Ah, that…”

Randy sighed, more ashamed than embarrassed, like he’d been caught with a stolen pack of gum and ordered to return it to the drugstore. He fiddled with the zipper, opening the bag just wide enough to pull out a small package wrapped in pink paper, its edges worn, discolored and creased. The ribbon, once curled with scissors, had since bent and flattened out in places. A corner of the package caught as he pulled it out, a small tear revealing a white box beneath. He pressed the torn wrapping paper closed as if staunching the blood from a fresh wound, and if he pressed hard enough, it would heal. His face bunched up like a child’s who’d fallen, more confused at the sensation than hurt.

He took a moment to himself, cradling the present in his hands before he spoke.

“Same thing every year. It’s for my granddaughter… just haven’t been able to give it to her.”

“What a minute now. You have a granddaughter?” Tom slapped the towel against the taps. “All these years and you never told me.”

“I’ve never met her. You know how it is… haven’t spoken with my daughter since the divorce.”

“That was close to a decade ago.”

“Yeah…”

Randy sat hunched, so low he could almost press his forehead against the bar. Tom played the bartender, trying to cheer him up, but Randy only listened to the muffled sounds of the television. He’d procrastinated enough, any longer and the depression would sink in. He’d switch to beer and inevitably miss the bus home. The stool rocked beside him as he slipped the present and hat into his pack.

“Well I better get going. Snow’s going to hit eventually.”

“Coffee’s on the house. Go deliver that package, Santa.”

Randy gave him a thankful nod. His shoe squeaked as he turned for the door.

 

The much anticipated snow storm finally began while Randy waited alone, shivering at the bus stop. The plexiglass housing blocked much of the wind but small white flurries still found their way in, dancing against his face and melting on his beard.

He cursed himself for telling Tom about his granddaughter. The man played Randy’s unofficial shrink, always lending an ear after a tough day. And perhaps after all these years he had a right to be upset at Randy for withholding such an important detail of his life. But some things you keep to yourself, let rattle around in your brain no matter how much it hurts.

What had it been, five years now since she was born? More? He’d never forget the day he ran into his ex-wife at the grocery store and she dropped the news like checking off an item on her to-do list. Randy had suffered through a lot in life, but nothing took his breath away like that moment. He still felt his chest tighten when he thought of it. His ex would tell him he didn’t deserve their attention, that he’d passed up every chance to earn his way back into their lives after all of his poor decisions. Deep down, a sliver of Randy knew this to be true and it hurt like hell.

By the time the 42 arrived, the ground was covered in white and the snow plows were out in force. The bus was empty except for a young couple at the front. They slumped together, each propped up by the other’s weight, staring out into the blizzard. The snow was so thick it resembled a fog, forcing the driver to slow to a crawl. Randy hugged his backpack against his chest for the duration of the trip, checking every few minutes to make sure the gift was still inside. What should have been a ten minute ride took close to half an hour as winter tightened her grip on the coast.

He couldn’t recall the last time he’d taken the bus out to see his family, but he knew the route by heart. Still he kept watch out the window, training his eyes for street signs and landmarks to make sure he didn’t miss his stop.

 

When he stepped off the bus the snow was up to his ankles. Close to three inches of powder on the ground and drifts twice as high against the houses. The quiet neighborhood looked like it had just received a fresh layer of frosting with glowing lights sprinkled underneath. How could it be that he was the only witness to such a scene, torn from a storybook? He took it all in, committing it to memory—the hint of pine in the air, the pale moon and its reflection upon the snow, the scent of wood fireplaces warming homes. Snowplows would arrive soon, taking it all away with sand and salt.

He threw his backpack over his shoulder and carved a path down the sidewalk toward his daughter’s home. The fresh snow was quiet underfoot, puffing up around his feet, not wet enough to pack. It was a short walk, only three blocks from the bus stop, two straight and a left. His heart fluttered with each step, the full weight of the evening finally coming to bear.

Three fan-blown snowmen danced in a yard next to a series of wooden reindeer complete with sleigh. Further down the street, two giant nutcrackers guarded a front door. He smiled at the cheesy holiday cheer that never got old, even after spending a dozen holiday seasons in the mall. He could never get enough.

He slowed his pace as he turned onto his daughter’s street, her house the second on the left with the large bay window. The streetlight near the driveway was out, making the house shine even brighter in the dark. The roof was rimmed with icicle lights, bushes along the front of the house wrapped with red and green strands. The blinds had been pulled aside, displaying a large, colorful Christmas tree.

His nerves got the best of him as he approached her driveway, and he grabbed hold of the base of the street light to steady his legs. Inside on the couch sat his daughter, her husband and his ex-wife. The television reflected on their glum faces. Randy slumped against the post. Had she gone to bed already?

Inside the house, the adults’ heads turned, full of excitement. Not one but two little girls crashed into their parents’ arms, the latter needing help onto the couch. Two girls? They each held a package in hand, faces beaming as they showed off their chosen gifts. Always allowed one present on Christmas Eve. A tradition he’d started with his daughter. They tore off the wrapping paper to reveal some kind of doll and tackled their grandmother with hugs and kisses. Their mother and father joined in, and soon they were in a bunch, laughing on the floor.

Randy wiped tears from his eyes. The joy inside the home crushed and melted his heart at the same time, the mix of emotions spilling down his face. This was the joy he’d been in search of, the joy he’d been missing all these years.

He couldn’t intrude and risk tarnishing that perfect moment.

The younger of the two girls pressed her face to the window as he crossed the driveway, retracing his steps to the bus stop. He winked and gave her a little wave as he passed. One day, if they thought of him, this was how he’d like it to be—just a jolly old man passing through the night.

After missing two buses, ‘out of service’ scrolling through their displays, Randy unpacked his boots and slipped them on. It would be a long walk home, but he had all the warmth he needed to get there.

---------------------------------------------

Stay tuned for "Recovery" by Errick Nunnally, dropping next week.

RELOADED!

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RELOADED BOTH BARRELS Vol 2 is out and boy is she a beaut! Available in both paperback and e-book, but with gorgeous front/back cover art from the talented Joe DellaGatta, this is a book you'll want to have on your shelf. RELOADED was a blast to work on, and I hope you all enjoy it. Hats off to fellow editors Ron Earl Phillips and Jen Conley, and a HUGE thank you to all the contributors.

SHOTGUN HONEY, the premier crime and noir flash fiction website, is locked and RELOADED with 25 new stories by some of the best authors in the world. Featuring work from Patti Abbott, Hector Acosta, Erik Arneson, Cheri Ause, Trey R. Barker, Eric Beetner, Terence Butler, Joe Clifford, Garnett Elliott, Rob W. Hart, Andy Henion, John Kenyon, Nick Kolakowski, Ed Kurtz, Frank Larnerd, Chris Leek, Mike Loniewski, Bracken MacLeod, Julia Madeleine, Brian Panowich, Terry Rietta, Rie Sheridan Rose, Ryan Sayles, Richard Thomas and John Weagly.

Available through Amazon.

Tropus Quarterly Magazine - Volume 1, Issue 1 - Noir +

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I'm happy to announce I have a new short story in the debut issue of Tropus Quarterly Magazine, a new e-zine from editor Javed Jahangir and Necon ebooks. My story, "Belly Poachin'," about a drug dealer and two hapless clients, takes place in the Underbelly - the world born out of "Charred Kraken with Plum Butter" in Weird Noir (so if you enjoyed the adventures of Miles and Frankie, this should be right up your alley.) Tropus also contains some fantastic interior artwork from my friend, Joe DellaGatta.

The Noir+ issue features new work from Hugo Andaleux, Seth Augenstein, Cecile Corona, Arafat Kazi, Dell Smith and Julie Xlo.

Pick up Tropus Quarterly Magazine at Necon ebooks, Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Bet It All On Black

A couple of weeks ago I was very pleased to announce my short story, "Bet It All On Black," was published in THUGLIT Issue 4. It is the inspiration for my first novel, BOTTLED, and one that I'd been toying with for some time. In fact, at one point I was planning to self-publish the tale in a magazine of sorts. But due to harassment from some of my best writing buds, I held onto it and after a few tweaks, received a nice little note from Big Daddy Thug. As part of the magazine process, I commissioned Joe DellaGatta for two pieces of artwork. Joe's a fantastic artist and he nailed the illustrations for the story. I've been holding on to the art for awhile, but I figured...why not share the love?

Check it out below, share them around - and most importantly (if you haven't already done so) - go grab THUGLIT Issue 4! (ebook / Print)

Bet It All On Black

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THUGLIT Issue 4 ToC

Through The Perilous Night by Anton Sim Going In Style by Eric Beetner Bet It All On Black by Christopher Irvin Brass by Roger Hobbs Under The Bus by Albert Tucher Gallows Point by Sam Wiebe Allure Furs by Patti Abbott Of Being Darker Than Light by Garrett Crowe

The Next Big Thing makes another stop in Boston

A few weeks ago, my good friend and top-notch writer, Bracken MacLeod (Check out his Next Big Thing - It's preparing to dish out serious bloody noses), asked me if anyone had hit me up for The Next Big Thing yet. At the sight of my blank stare he exclaimed, "HA, you're mine!" and it was on. I continue the chain below, turning a tiny spotlight on my work-in-progress and passing the torch to five writers who will post next week. Without further ado, I present my Next Big Thing: 1. What is the working title of your book?

Luckily I've been able to come up with titles for my short stories, but when it came to the novel I really struggled. I went through quite a few ideas before, two-thirds of the way through the second draft, I came across a word that I think fits the protagonist's life and the action on the page perfectly: BOTTLED.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

In early 2012 I took a class taught by the great Christa Faust called Tough Dames: How to Write Believable Hardboiled Heroines, over at Litreactor. I had just finished an intensive ten week class at Grubstreet and somewhere in my brain I thought it would be a good idea to jump right back into the fire. The Hardboiled Boot Camp, as Christa dubbed it, put me through the ringer. I learned a ton about my writing style in one short month and found the experience invaluable - hell, she critiqued my work. How often does a wee writer like me get that opportunity? For the first week's assignment I was given the Black Widow trope and tasked with turning it into something new. My story, "Birth of a Black Widow," about a woman who begins to murder gamblers for their money in Reno, received praise but failed to really transform the trope. But I loved the idea so I went back to the drawing board and after a lot of massaging, I had a much more developed character and an outline for a novel.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Crime/Noir/Hardboiled. Bottled has become a little more Hardboiled than I initially intended but I think the core tone of the book is Noir.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Jena Malone. Her knack for playing strong rebellious characters would make for a bad ass heroine.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In the wake of her father's gambling debt, a young woman is forced to confront her past and the bleak reality of her predicament.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I plan to pursue an agency first, but the novel is on the shorter side and may fair better with a small press.  I'm not against self-publishing (there are some wonderful books out there) but I don't have the money, or more importantly the time, to give it the promotional effort it deserves.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A month. I got home from NECON 32 with an overwhelming adrenaline rush to write (somehow eclipsing the hangover and exhaustion from the long weekend). I went through the outline and decided I'd get up at 3:00 AM and write 2,500 words each day until it was finished (cue insanity.) Four months and a lot of coffee later, I'm still in the routine so something must be working. I just finished the second draft and I'm on track to complete it by early 2013.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'd compare it to Megan Abbott's Queen Pin and Christa Faust's Money Shot.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Definitely Christa Faust, who gave me the spark in class, but the real push came after NECON. I had the pleasure of meeting many great creative professionals (John Dixon, TJ May, Matthew Dow Smith, Jeff Strand, Linda Addison, Jack Haringa, Jan Kozlowski, Michael Penncavage...to name just a few.) I can't quantify the inspirational effect of being around such a wonderful group of creatives.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Prior to the book I had written very few female characters and I challenged myself to create a layered, believable woman. She is a strong young woman who begins the story believing she has been cheated in life, but when the shit hits the fan and she really loses everything, it forces her to make choices and see the world around her for what it really is: a struggle. She doesn't go around guns-blazing, instead, fumbles her way through the changes in the landscape. It's a dark noir but not without a tiny bit of hope. My overall idea is to write a series of connected books, each told from a different character's perspective. I've outlined the majority of the second novel, which I plan to start after taking a short break once this one wraps.

And now to pass the torch to five other writers who you should be keeping an eye on:

Errick Nunnally - My good friend is on the cusp of something big. A writer (and artist) who you can't pin down to any one genre. I'm picking 2013 as Year of the Nunnally. Keep an eye out for this man's stuff.

Joe Dellagatta - I met Joe at Boston ComicCon in 2011 and have had the great pleasure of collaborating with him on two projects, the most recent of which is Dreadworks Journal. He's an incredible artist and his current project is sure to draw eyes from major players in the comic industry.

Chris Shearer - Another friend I met at this year's NECON. Chris is currently tearing it up in Seton Hill's MFA program (where his novel is getting some serious attention) and reading (and editing!) more in a day then I do in a month. Do yourself a favor and check out his story "Saturday Station" for free over at Big Pulp.

David Price - David recently published short stories in such collections as Dangers Untold and Tales from the Grave. He's currently putting the finishing touches on a massive novel which I can't wait to read.

Carol Borden - I met Carol through her stories in Weird Noir - two terrific reads that caught me totally by surprise. In addition to writing fiction, she is the Evil Overlord at The Cultural Gutter, a website dedicated to genre and comics. Check out her Monstrous Industry Etsy store.

Dreadworks Journal

Dreadworks Journal Vol. 1 was released over the weekend at AnthoCon 2012 to much fanfare and excitement! Designed by the multi-talented professional, Errick Nunnally, the 32 page full-color magazine features new fiction from Bracken MacLeod, Errick A. Nunnally, Javed Jahangir, and myself, as well as fantastic artwork by Joe Dellagatta.

Copies are $8.00 via PayPal (including shipping to addresses within the USA). The magazine will also be carried at several locations in the Boston area (TBA). If you'd like a copy, send me an email (clirvin@gmail.com) and I'll get it in the mail!

Boston ComicCon!

Better late than never... I've been out of town since Boston ComicCon and I am just getting all of my thoughts together.  The level of talent in attendance this year was incredible.  I had a blast.  It was packed, but a good percentage of fans were there for cosplay and to shop, so there was plenty of time/space to chat with artists/writers one on one.

The Highlight Rundown

BRAND NEW NOSTALGIA - 3 BNN members were in attendance.  Joe Dellagatta, who I first met last year at Boston ComicCon and who did an awesome commission for my business card (hope to get him on another piece for me soon.) Andrew Maclean has a new comic through a successful kickstarter out called MEATSPACE. Definitely check out the first issue here. Logan Faerber is also an amazing talent and fellow Bostonian.  All three are great guys and I had a fun time talking with them.  Make sure to check out their work as well as the other members of BNN!

Paolo Rivera - currently on a SICK Daredevil run.  I picked up a signed print of the art from the cover of Daredevil #1.

Ben Templesmith - one of my favorite artists.  I talked to him awhile about his upcoming work (new Batman artist!) and then I threw down and asked him for a commission. I got this fantastic piece.

Sean Gordon Murphy - Sean Gordon Murphy is a badass.  His run on American Vampire was amazing and he is following it up with his creator-owned project, PUNK ROCK JESUS.

Kevin Church/ TJ Kirsch - These two guys have a great thing going over at Agreeable Comics.  I bumped into their table and remembered seeing their comic SHE DIED IN TERREBONNE on a list of top noir comics. I picked up the first edition trade and I am very impressed - awesome story and the production is solid.  You can read it for free here but I also highly recommend you pick up a copy.

Eric Canete - Last but certainly not least, I picked up CHOCOLATE, one of Eric's art books.  Eric is an amazing artist and I was blown away by his work (almost enough to pick up his $100 art book if the wife wouldn't have killed me!)

Those were my highlights.  There were so many excellent creators in attendance and I know I missed a lot (probably even forgetting to add some that I did meet).  But it was a great con and I can't wait to attend next year.