BURN CARDS Goodreads Giveaway

280 Steps is kicking off March with a Goodreads Giveaway for BURN CARDS

BurnCards_books**Hot off the Press**

About BURN CARDS:

Mirna Fowler believes she has been cheated in life, growing up in a broken home alone with a drunken and gambling-addicted father. Now she works at a small hair salon in Reno, doing her best to survive while she saves money for school. Hoping to get a degree that will take her places.

But in the wake of her father's death, Mirna inherits his extravagant debt, an amount of money she can never repay. As her fractured world begins to crumble, the search for the truth sets her on a path where life hangs on her every move.

Advance Praise for BURN CARDS:

“With a character you care about and a momentum you can't avoid, BURN CARDS is aces. This fast-moving novella pulses with enough energy to power all the casinos in Nevada.” - Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball

"the shit-kicking streets of a dead end desert town have never been meaner." — Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation

"This bare-knuckle noir pulses with energy and punches hard." — William Boyle, author of Gravesend

"Irvin illuminates the city of Reno itself, casting the flickering glow of his sharp observations into every dark corner of the city and bringing forth a rogue’s gallery of gamblers, dreamers, and burnouts who are all heading for the same bitter end." — John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm

Feeling lucky but still want to pre-order? GOT YOU COVERED

Stay tuned for information on upcoming events & thanks for your support!

Pre-order BURN CARDS

BURNCARDSComing April 14th from 280 Steps in paperback and e-book.

Advance praise for BURN CARDS:

“With a character you care about and a momentum you can't avoid, BURN CARDS is aces. This fast-moving novella pulses with enough energy to power all the casinos in Nevada.” ---Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball

"the shit-kicking streets of a dead end desert town have never been meaner." --- Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation

"This bare-knuckle noir pulses with energy and punches hard." --- William Boyle, author of Gravesend

"Irvin illuminates the city of Reno itself, casting the flickering glow of his sharp observations into every dark corner of the city and bringing forth a rogue’s gallery of gamblers, dreamers, and burnouts who are all heading for the same bitter end." --- John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm

Pre-order is live on Amazon!

Friday Reads - NATCH & March Madness

Happy Friday, readers! Next week marks my hopeful return to the blogosphere. Between the holidays and juggling several WIP, I've really let the blog fall to the wayside. I plan to fix that with a bunch of updates, reviews, etc. Onward!

FRIDAY READS

First up, check out John Mantooth's Patreon page for his new novella, NATCH, which you can snag for a mere $3. I think it's some of John's best work, and if you enjoyed his short story, "A Sojourner's Guide to the Black Warrior River Bottoms (And Beyond)," in The Big Click, you will love NATCH. (and if you haven't checked out The Big Click yet, I urge you to do so. Some excellent short fiction in there.)

Here's the first line of NATCH to tempt you...

Before he was Natch, before he met Buzz and let her cut his hair, before he walked the Moon Bridge like a tightrope and was baptized under a shower of stars, he was Joe, just plain ole Joe, lost to the wilds of Northern Alabama, the windowless downtown Birmingham crack houses, the train yards north of there where he’d sit and make plans for Memphis, the outlying areas—wastelands, he thought of them—where he met others like himself, mirror images of lost boys gone crooked on meth amphetamines and the hard, cold loneliness of the road.

...you know you want to keep reading.

Next up, Broken River Books Year Two: March Madness

BRB's first Kickstarter was a huge success that got the small press off at a sprint. J. David Osborne aims to release TWELVE books on the same day this go around.

37517135457b61a1dc483ba6699914c2_largeI've been chomping at the bit for William Boyle's short story collection, DEATH DON'T HAVE NO MERCY, and with eleven more to choose from, I'll be buried in books. Check 'em out and prep the wallet.

Keep reading & see you Monday.

Playing catch up

tumblr_n5jot6nivj1txnetfo1_1280 I've been caught up in a bit a of a whirlwind lately with several ongoing WIP (and a self-imposed deadline of NECON less than two weeks away!) So here is a bit of a catch all post before the nose goes back to the grindstone...

Noir at the Bar Boston was a huge success! Thanks again to everyone for coming out. You can check out Dale T. Phillip's write up and photos, HERE.

My short story, "Snapshots," is up on LitReactor as part of their crime contest with Thuglit. You can check it out HERE, vote and even leave a comment if you are feeling wild.

I've continued my weekly uploading/republishing of older short stories on Wattpad. This week's story is MOON BOOTS.

Ricardo Lopez Ortiz and I are plugging away at EXPATRIATE. Keep up with all of the weekly updates, HERE.

...and speaking of Ricardo, Bracken MacLeod and I will have a very cool limited edition print for sale at NECON. Stay tuned for more on that...or if you want to be spoiled, click HERE!

I'm dreadfully behind on my WIP blog update that I owe after being tapped by Meghan Arcuri...it's coming. Until then, take a peek at her first novel.

My great friend Errick Nunnally's debut novel, BLOOD FOR THE SUN, dropped this week. AND it was his birthday! You know what to do.

Annnnd, last but not least, today is the last day of the HUGE ChiZine sale. Catch their entire back catalog of e-books for .99/book. You know you want some John Mantooth, Paul Tremblay, Karen Heuler, Ian Rogers, Rio Youers, Christopher Golden...I could go on all day. These guys put out some of my favorite books and .99 is beyond highway robbery. Get some and tell your friends.

Until next time...

Tonight! #GenreLitChat 8:00PM EDT

Tonight I'll be participating in a #GenreLitChat on Twitter focusing on crime/thriller fiction. Check out the lineup:

More from the moderator, Beverly Bambury... What is #GenreLitChat? It's an occasional Twitter chat with writers on the state of genre, and how their work does--or doesn't--fit. Learn about new books! Ask authors questions! Crack open a beer! Well, I guess that last part's optional, but please feel free.

The date of this thriller and crime Twitter chat is Thursday, May 22nd at 8:00 p.m. EDT / 5:00 p.m. PDT. When you join the chat, you can use this page (http://twubs.com/GenreLitChat) which will focus only on the hashtag, and even automatically insert the hashtag for you if you ask questions or reply. Alternatively, you can follow the hashtag #GenreLitChat right on Twitter, but make sure you use the hashtag or your questions and comments may be missed!

You can send questions the moderator, Beverly Bambury, during the chat (@BeverlyBambury). You are also encouraged to send questions ahead of time to beverly@beverlybambury.com and she'll add the best ones to the list.

Advance Praise for Federales

federales.v2Excited to be a month out from the release of FEDERALES and thought I would share some early reviews. I am honored to receive such nice words from writers whose work I enjoy and have tremendous respect for. "In his debut novella, Christopher Irvin deftly captures the frustration and futility of the Mexican Drug War. Part character study, part thriller, FEDERALES reads as a brutally human parable that tells a story that is sadly all too real." -- Johnny Shaw, Anthony Award winning author of Big Maria and Dove Season

"FEDERALES is stripped lean as a body dropped in the desert, as unrelenting as the sun that beats down on it. In here, there's no concern for what's right or what's moral, only what's inevitable."-- Nik Korpon, author of Stay God, Sweet Angel

"Christopher Irvin's FEDERALES is an absolute gut-punch of a novella. The story of one man s search for redemption and justice within a Mexican system that has long-forgotten the meaning of either will haunt you long after the last page is turned."-- Todd Robinson, author of The Hard Bounce

"FEDERALES is a sweaty, feverish sojourn into a fetid limb of the Mexican drug war, where sentiment, principles and fellow feeling have no place. Christopher Irvin's read will carry you swiftly through to the fitting end."-- Sam Hawken, author of The Dead Women of Juárez

“Chris Irvin displays a rare gift for creating atmosphere in this slow burn noir thriller. Federales is sneaky good. A few pages in and you’re hooked. A few more and you can’t breathe. Essential reading from an outstanding new talent.”-- John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm  and Shoebox Train Wreck

“Sleek and fast as a bullet, FEDERALES brings the seamy and deadly Mexican underworld to life—and signals the arrival of a major new talent.“-- Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Day One

FEDERALES drops on March 4th, 2014. Pre-order now available for paperback. E-book forthcoming.

a book a week 1.2

Round two of mini-reviews. Check 'em out and go support these passionate authors: Mountain Home

Mountain Home by Bracken MacLeod

MOUNTAIN HOME is a thrilling debut from Bracken MacLeod. The shock and awe of the first few pages will have you hooked. Parts siege, character study, revenge thriller, real-world horror reminiscent of Jack Ketchum, a hint of supernatural and more, all wrapped into a tightly paced package. And while the plot is superb, it's the characters and setting that bring it home for me, pun intended. MacLeod crafts real and relatable characters that you'll find yourself caring about, all the way to the bitter end. Highly recommended.

Lost in Transition

Lost in Transition by Errick Nunnally

Before I read Nunnally's Lost in Transition, I would occasionally read the comic strips in the Sunday paper. Now I can't get enough. Lost in Transition is the perfect combination of dry and witty humor. If you've ever worked in an office or, better yet, had The Man get you down (and who hasn't?) this is the perfect book for you. Hoping for more!

Broken Branch

Broken Branch by John Mantooth

BROKEN BRANCH is a wonderful companion to THE YEAR OF THE STORM. Like an appetizer before the main course, Mantooth treats the reader to a little taste of the magic one finds in THE YEAR OF THE STORM. I won't spoil the details as I think the story is best discovered on its own, but it is well worth your time. It was interesting to read BROKEN BRANCH after having read THE YEAR OF THE STORM. I look forward to going back to them again in the future and reading them in order. Great prose, layered characters and well paced.

The Wheel Man

The Wheel Man by Duane Swierczynski

I recently tackled two novels by Swierczynski in preparation for a class of his that I'm taking at LitReactor this summer. The first, THE WHEEL MAN, is a wild ride and fun read. The near non-stop action is very cinematic and Swierczynski's style incorporates many character POVs to keep the ramped pace sparking. While this might bother some readers, (there are 2-3 main POVs, with additional minor characters who cut in for sometimes a paragraph or less) I found each voice to be unique and carefully planned to add value. The tone varied from serious crime thriller to cartoon-y/over the top - even some shockingly dark moments. That brings me to....

Fun and Games

Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski

...FUN AND GAMES, the first novel in the Charlie Hardie trilogy. Like THE WHEEL MAN, FUN AND GAMES is action-packed, quickly paced, and told through multiple POVs (though less than THE WHEEL MAN, spending more time with the protagonists, Charlie Hardie and Lane Madden). The novel reminded me a bit of Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger series, and got me wondering if Swierczynski is placing all his novels in the same world. FUN AND GAMES was a bit more fantastical in places than I was expecting, but I bought into it - and it has a great sense of humor. I won't spoil anything, but Swierczynski handles difficult, brutal scenes with a deft hand. Looking forward to finishing the trilogy.

Robot Baby

Hey, That Robot Ate My Baby Vol.1 (Zelmer Pulp)

The crew at Zelmer Pulp has found a groove rich with wit, dry humor, incredible visuals and strong writing across five stellar tales. Time travel with Ayn Rand, alien abductions, entrepreneurial hackers, grit-infused futuristic paradise and more. HEY, THAT ROBOT ATE MY BABY VOL.1 has got something within its pages that should appeal to both scifi and non-scifi fans alike. I'm eagerly awaiting future Zelmer Pulp releases.

Staring into the Abyss

Staring into the Abyss by Richard Thomas

Excellent collection of dark fiction (and I mean dark) that lives up to its title. The short length of many of the stories surprised me, but I think impactful work is sometimes best served in short bursts (as it is here). Some of the standouts for me were the more fantastical tales - "Maker of Flight," "Transmogrify," "Victimized," and "Underground Wonder Bound" (LOVE that title). Take some time with each story. I've already reread a few of them and came away with more than I did after the initial read-through. I'll definitely be going back for more.

Writing 21st Century

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass

Probably the best book on writing that I've come across (and I've read a few.) Everyone learns differently - a book that works for one may be terrible for another, but HIGH IMPACT really connected with me, especially the "21st Century Tools" at the end of each chapter. These tools are designed as a series of questions and ideas created to push writers to look at their work differently - to break it down, rework it and make it better. Published in 2011, it was refreshing to see Maass take full advantage of citing both classic and very recent works in his examples.

I still have a full plate of books on deck, but here are a few more I've added to the mix:

Condimental  junkie  blazes  Home Invasion  Slow Burn

Condimental OP by Andrez Bergen

Junkie Love by Joe Clifford

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

Home Invasion by Patti Abbott

Slow Burn by Terrence McCauley

a book a week

For 2013 I made a resolution to read a book a week and review at least two a month. While I'm lagging a bit on reviews, I've done fairly well at keeping pace with my weekly reading. Here are a few of my recent favorites I think you'll enjoy... Crimes in Southern Indiana     Donnybrook

Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donnybrook by Frank Bill

Frank Bill has quickly become one of my favorite writers. CRIMES is a dark and twisted ride, dripping with authentic voice. It's a book that you should let sink in and take your time with over multiple sessions. It's easily one of my favorite short story collections, one that I'll continue to return to reread over the years. And given my praise for CRIMES, how could I not enjoy DONNYBROOK? Like a story from CRIMES, stretched to novel form, once DONNYBROOK gets hold of you, there is no putting it down. I read the book on a flight from Boston to Las Vegas in one sitting. Put these two in your library.

The Year of the Storm

The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth

A terrific debut novel from John Mantooth. Read my review here and pick up a copy when it's released on June 3!

The Hard Bounce

The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson

Well written and fast paced, Robinson's tale of two bouncers on the trail of a missing teenager in Boston is hard to put down (especially since I live in Boston). The book feels historical in a sense that it captures a gritty part of the city that is all but gone (strange coincidence just before I read THE HARD BOUNCE, The Boston Phoenix shut down). Another great debut novel that I highly recommend.

Needle

Needle Fall/Winter 2012 edited by Steve Weddle

Worth it for Dan O'Shea's story, "The Shroud of Turin," alone. I rarely (and I mean rarely) have to put down a book, but this one got to me. If you are a father (especially a relatively new one such as myself), O'Shea's tale of a father struggling to take care of his son will break you heart.

I'm Not Sam     The Passenger

I'm Not Sam and The Passenger by Jack Ketchum

I've recently been on a bit of a novella kick. I won't venture into the plot of either - as with much of Jack Ketchum's work, the less you know the better, and doubly so with I'M NOT SAM. THE PASSENGER was included in one of the paperback editions of Ketchum's novel RED (one of my favorite books). I'M NOT SAM is new and available solo. Both of these stories will horrify and continue to lurk in your brain.

Fierce Bitches

Fierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres

I'm a fan of the guys at Crime Factory and as soon as I saw the blurbs for FIERCE BITCHES, I knew I had to pick it up. Ayres brutal novella is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino - a kind of Pulp Fiction meets Django Unchained. Lightning fast pace combined with an interesting structure that will keep you glued to the page. The book felt partly experimental, and if so, it was a resounding success.

Catch My Killer

Catch My Killer by Ed Kurtz

Kurtz knocks it out of the park with the first of the Sam Truman series. Enjoyable characters (especially Sam) and a great sense of humor. Reminded be a bit of Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series. Ron Earl Phillips has an in depth look at the Sam Truman series here. Looking forward to reading book two - The Last Invasion by Brandon Zuern.

Thuglit Issue 4

Thuglit Issue #4 edited by Todd Robinson

Because it's a crackin' good issue and I've got a story in there to boot!

What about you, readers? What's on your nightstand?

Next on deck:

Penance  Broken Branch  The Street  Choke Hold  Fags and Lager  Capture  Lush Situation  Abyss

Penance: A Chicago Thriller by Dan O'Shea

Broken Branch by John Mantooth

The Street by Ann Petry

Choke Hold by Christa Faust

Fags & Lager by Charlie Williams

Capture by Roger Smith

Lush Situation by K.A. Laity

Staring into the Abyss by Richard Thomas

REVIEW: The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth

TheYearoftheStorm When Danny was fourteen, his mother and sister disappeared during a violent storm. The police were baffled. There were no clues, and most people figured they were dead.  Only Danny still holds out hope that they’ll return.   Months later, a disheveled Vietnam vet named Walter Pike shows up at Danny’s front door, claiming to know their whereabouts. The story he tells is so incredible that Danny knows he shouldn’t believe him. Others warn him about Walter Pike’s dark past, his shameful flight from town years ago, and the suspicious timing of his return.   But he’s Danny’s last hope, and Danny needs to believe

John Mantooth's debut novel, THE YEAR OF THE STORM, is a must read for 2013. Seriously, pre-order it here. You'll be surprised that the novel is his debut - I was when I read his short story collection, SHOEBOX TRAIN WRECK, last year and found that it was his first major publication. The wonderfully dark collection held a strong aura of an established author, one whose work I couldn't wait to dive back into. Alas, when I searched for another book by Mantooth, all I could find was 'coming in 2013.' Needless to say, given that SBTW was my favorite book of 2012, I had high hopes for THE YEAR OF THE STORM.

I recently had the great pleasure of reading an uncorrected proof from the publisher and it was a rare book to exceed my high expectations. I think it can be difficult for a reader to transition to a novel after reading an author's short fiction (especially  authors like Mantooth, whose stories pack an emotional wallop that the page can barely contain.) But Mantooth successfully expands upon his realm of dark fiction in the novel, maintaining the level of detail and prose throughout.  It feels like you're sitting down with an old raconteur and listening to him weave his favorite yarn. You have to slow down when you read this book, soak it all in. The prose is rich and atmosphere will linger on your mind.

Other reviews, including a blurb from author Frank Bill, have compared THE YEAR OF THE STORM to Stephen King's THE BODY and Tom Franklin's CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER. To me, THE YEAR OF THE STORM is the essential dark coming-of-age journey that you should have on your shelf. It wades into the mystical nature of childhood memories and adult reflection, touching on bullying, abuse, homophobia, hope, loss, loyalty, family, loneliness - details and themes handled with rare beauty that will leave readers reflecting on their own childhood.

Give it a pre-order and help create some buzz for the novel. And while you're at it, pick up SHOEBOX TRAIN WRECK - it will hold you over until June.

THE YEAR OF THE STORM by John Mantooth releases June 4, 2013.

THE YEAR OF THE STORM LINKS     Goodreads     Amazon     Mantooth