Post a review of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE and be entered to win a copy of BURN CARDS!

sitv-header Happy Wednesday, folks.

As you all know, reviews are a difference maker when it comes to visibility for books, doubly so for small press and lesser known authors.

In an effort to drum up some reviews, 280 Steps has put together a little promotion:

Post a review of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE on Amazon or Goodreads by 3/31 and be entered for a chance to win one of five copies of BURN CARDS.

***AND paperback copies of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE are currently 34% off on Amazon***

It's madness, I tell you!

Check out the details HERE - good luck and thanks as always for your support.

Back to work!

December Giveaway! aka Got Reviews?

IMG_8762 I love small press. I can't say enough good things about 280 Steps and their support for SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE over the past few months. It's been a lot of fun and I hope some of the momentum carries over into 2016 and beyond.

But as writer and proprietor of Broken River Books, J David Osborne, described so honestly in his recent blog post - Money Money Money Money (Cha-Ching) - there's only so much a small press can do. It's also on the author to drive sales and promotion of their work.

So what works? How does one do this effectively? I'm not sure anyone really knows. I'm repeatedly followed, unfollowed, and followed again on Twitter by "best-sellers" with thousands of followers in an attempt to make a quick buck. Then there's the relatively recent trend on Facebook to treat it as an impersonal selling tool as well, becoming 'friends' with as many strangers as possible in hope of increasing one's audience. I'm not sure how successful either of these strategies are, but they are too hard a sell for me. Everyone draws a different line in the sand. On the opposite side of the spectrum you have people who won't market at all and criticize those who do. It's impossible to please everyone, especially when there is no clear answer to the question - what makes books sell?

Reviews help, that's for sure. Online, in print, word of mouth - all drive algorithms and discussion that can only boost a book's signal. With that in mind, I have a deal for you:

Leave an honest review for SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE by 12/13 and be entered to win a copy of WHAT HAPPENED HERE: Year One at Papercuts J.P. - a compilation of exclusive works by authors who visited Papercuts J.P., Boston's newest independent bookstore, in its first year - featuring my story, "The Push," a pseudo-sequel to "Digging a Deep," (from Safe Inside the Violence) as well as work from Paul Tremblay, Jennifer Tseng, Rory Flynn, Catie Disabato, and many more. 300+ pages of pure AWESOME.

Where? On a blog, newspaper, Amazon, Goodreads, the palm of your left hand in permanent marker. Be creative, I don't judge. Tell your people and spread the good word!

On Monday, 12/14 I'll randomly pull a name and announce the winner here.


Thank you all for your continued support!

April/May Noir Catch-All

It's been a busy couple of months! Between travel and scribbling away furiously as deadlines approach, the blog has taken a backseat. Here's a short recap: Noir at the Bar Crew[Left to Right - Dale Phillips, Connie Johnson Hambley, Errick Nunnally, Chris Irvin, Tony McMillen, Bracken MacLeod, Mike Miner, Stona Fitch, Patrick Shawn Bagley]

Noir at the Bar Boston II was a great success. Nine authors read some stellar fiction in front of a big crowd. Beers were drank, books were raffled, good times were had. Here's a recap courtesy of Dale Phillips. Stay tuned for news on the next event - June 15th, 6-8pm at Trident Booksellers & Cafe.


Speaking of fun, Independent Bookstore Day at Papercuts J.P. was a blast. Paul Tremblay and I read some of our favorite fiction by other writers that has inspired us (Shirley Jackson, Nathan Ballingrud) and had a great chat about crime and horror. Be sure to snag Paul's A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS when it drops in June!

Here's a shot Paul took of me talking to doing my thing..



Write The Individual - a short bit on me writing from a female first person POV, the Andrew Smith debacle and advice from Kelly Sue DeConnick.


Terribleminds: Five Things I Learned Writing BURN CARDS

One Bite at a Time - Twenty Questions



My Bookish Ways: Read This

Bracken MacLeod - I like my Noir dark, thank you very much!

Just A Guy That Likes To Read

Chris Dikes - Despair runs deep...



Locked and Loaded: Both Barrels 3

The third volume from Shotgun Honey is out! This baby was a ton of work and took a couple of delays to come together, but I'm proud of how it turned out. Give it a look - there is some fantastic stuff within.

Featuring 25 stories of crime:

“A Boy Like Billy” by Patricia Abbott “Border Crossing” by Michael McGlade “Looking for the Death Trick” by Bracken MacLeod “Maybelle’s Last Stand” by Travis Richardson “Predators” by Marie S. Crosswell “Twenty to Life” by Frank Byrns “So Much Love” by Keith Rawson “Running Late” by Tess Makovesky “Last Supper” by Katanie Duarte “Danny” by Michael Bracken “The Plot” by Jedidiah Ayres “What Alva Wants” by Timothy Friend “Time Enough to Kill” by Kent Gowran “Copas” by Hector Acosta “Yellow Car Punch” by Nigel Bird “Love at First Fight” by Angel Luis Colón “Traps” by Owen Laukkanen “Down the Rickety Stairs” by Alan Orloff “Blackmailer’s Pep Talk” by Chris Rhatigan “With a Little bit of Luck” by Bill Baber “As Cute as a Speckled Pup Under a Red Wagon” by Tony Conaway “Chipping off the Old Block” by Nick Kolakowski “Young Turks and Old Wives” by Shane Simmons “The Hangover Cure” by Seth Lynch “Highway Six” by John L. Thompson



It's official - I'll be crashing Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, NC come October. AND my buddy Joe Clifford is up for TWO Anthony Awards - LAMENTATION (Best Novel) and TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND (Best Anthology or Collection) - the latter of which is extra-awesome as it features my story, "Death to My Hometown." Hope you see you there.

Until next time...thank you to everyone for your support of BURN CARDS. Can't wait to announce what's coming next.




Crime Factory Issue 15

CF15-COVER-240x300All stitched up and kicking 2014 off in style. I'm proud to have my short story, "Bitter Work," featured in the latest issue of Crime Factory. It's a bit of an old-school noir tale about a middle man who has to step in and get his hands dirty when a situation goes south.

I've been a big fan of the publication since I discovered it with Issue 10. Each issue has a great mix of true crime nonfiction, fiction, interviews and reviews - and for over 200 pages, a $1.99 e-book is a steal. Need to wrap those fingers around some paper? You can purchase it in a new print edition as well, hot off the presses.

Stay tuned for more exciting releases over the next couple of months as we get closer to March and the release of FEDERALES.

a book a week Black Friday giveaway!

If you are like me, you are staying the hell away from the holiday shopping craziness. To salute you in your quest for a calm and relaxing Friday, I give you....

(...imagine with a voiceover from the guy who does action movie trailers...)



When can I enter? From today (11/29) through Monday (12/2)

How does it work? Either follow my blog by entering your email in the upper right side - or bottom if on a mobile device - of this page (I promise I won't spam. I'm a once-a-week kind of blogger) AND/OR 'like' my author page on Facebook. If you've done both then huzzah, you have two entries!

But what if I've already liked your page and/or follow your blog? You rock and you're all set, i.e. entered to win.

Who cares about that stuff? What can I win? Three lucky names drawn on Tuesday (12/3) will each win their choice of any of the 50+ books I reviewed in my 'a book a week' posts this year (e-book or paper, your choice).

Need a refresher?

a book a week

a book a week 1.2

a book a week 1.3

a book a week 1.4

a book a week 1.5

a book a week 1.6

a book a week 1.7

a book a week 1.8

And may the odds be ever in your favor...!

a book a week 1.8

In what may be the last 'a book a week' of the year, I give you a smorgasbord of goodies. And keep your eyes peeled for a little Black Friday giveaway. (Pssst - if you want a head start on the giveaway, 'like' my author page and follow my blog by typing in your email in the box to the upper right of this post.)

Country Hardball

Country Hardball by Steve Weddle

A novel-in-stories, COUNTRY HARDBALL explores the happenings and relationships in a rural small town. It's the story of Roy Alison, a young man with a checkered past who returns home to a community on the brink after the economic downturn.

What makes COUNTRY HARDBALL and Weddle's writing so strong is his ability to pull out and focus on such vivid details. A single father just barely holding things together with his young son, and their focus on a walking stick. Picking purple hulled peas in a field. Parents who deal with their own internal struggle while watching their son play baseball. The generational gap between a hardworking father and his entitled son. Weddle breathes life into these characters and makes you care deeply for their story, no matter how uneven or difficult a road they travel.

COUNTRY HARDBALL is one of my favorite reads of the year and has found a permanent spot on my shelf alongside the works of John Mantooth and Frank Bill.

Day One Kenyon

Day One by Nate Kenyon

A thriller outside the books I usually read, DAY ONE sucked me right in with its contemporary and very present, almost in-the-news plot. It follows John Hawke, a hacker journalist formerly associated with the hacker group Anonymous, in pursuit of a story to save his career and family from financial ruin. A software giant is on the cusp of a breakthrough, and Hawke is determined to be the first to break the news.

Immediately the reader is thrust into total chaos in the heart of New York City. All technology has been taken over and Hawke is on his own, desperate to get back to his family. Great pacing, twists and turns drive the book, but the scary heart of the matter is how close we are (in real life) to having something like DAY ONE as a real potential crisis.  A compelling book that pushed me to read non-fiction about the current state of artificial intelligence.

The Inner City

The Inner City by Karen Heuler

I love the cover of THE INNER CITY. Chizine used the image for their banner at this year's Readercon and when I saw it I was instantly pulled in. While I read a lot of crime, weird fiction is probably my second favorite genre/sub-genre. (I've got the Vandermeer's immense THE WEIRD sitting on my shelf, begging to be read.) Heuler's work in this collection is excellent. I'd recalled reading two of the stories ("Fish Wish" and "Landscape, with Fish") in Weird Tales (2011 and 2008 respectively) and it was of note that they had stuck with me for so long.

Heuler's characters, while sometimes cold and detached, immerse the reader in their worlds, often making the very odd normal and acceptable when it is dangerously not so. My favorite story is "Thick Water," whose sci-fi/horror twists gave me chills in the vein of ALIEN, D.O.G.S. OF MARS and DEAD SPACE. As it states on the back cover, "Everything is familiar; everything is different." If you are in search of unique weird fiction with a good mix of light and heavy stories, look no further than THE INNER CITY.

The Last Porno Theater

The Last Porno Theater by Nick Cato

New York City, 1989. Times Square is being sanitized and The Metro is the last theater to show adult films... wait a minute - what's that breast doing growing out of the wall!?

THE LAST PORNO THEATER (a bizarro work, I might add...) is a hell of a lot of fun. Cato lures you in with Herschell, a hardworking, if a bit naive protagonist, and the next thing you know, [spoiler alert!] you're knee deep in clones with a giant fifty-foot tall clown breathing down your neck. TLPT is my first venture into bizarro territory, and while I've heard a lot of the genre features over-the-top craziness with little connection to the story, Cato's left turn to crazy town fits right in line with his themes and his character's attempt to hold on to their ideal image of a Times Square that is quickly evaporating before their eyes.

The Thicket

The Thicket by Joe R Lansdale

I must confess that when it comes to Lansdale I am criminally under-read - especially since his short story, "Santa at the Cafe," moved me to write crime/noir. THE THICKET is brilliant, just brilliant. Truly, I could sit and read endless pages of banter between Shorty, Eustace, Jack and Jimmie Sue. (Oh, and hog, of course).

THE THICKET follows a party made up of the son of a slave, a dwarf, a former prostitute, a giant hog, a former bounty-hunter-turned-lawman, a janitor, and the narrator, Jack, whose sister was kidnapped by a group of foul men no better than monsters. Needless to say, the posse maintains some interesting personalities. Eustace, a giant of a man, with his 4-gauge shotgun and abilities to track (sometimes). Shorty, the well-spoken dwarf with a thirst for knowledge feels tailor-made for Peter Dinklage (fans of Game of Thrones, especially the television show, will fall in love with this book). Jimmie Sue, the former prostitute, is a hoot, always chiming in at the right moment. And Jack, the narrator who fills the boots of a young naive boy and grows throughout the novel.

You might say it is a 'western' but it is more than that; an adventure full of wit and humor, both light and dark, and doesn't shy away from the horrors of the time.


Well, that's all I've got. I hope you enjoyed my reviews over the past year and maybe even picked up a book or two. There is a lot of excellent fiction out there, and I count myself lucky to have stumbled upon (or in many cases, been recommended) some of the best.