Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Wonderful Re-post from Ed Gorman's Blog

Three Novels by Peter Rabe - Stark House

Ed here: Before we get to the extremely important Peter Rabe trio I want to give a shout-out to the man who wrote the single best utterance I've ever read about Rabe. That would be Rick Ollerman. And that utterance leads off this trilogy.

Rick's got cred not only as one of the savviest and wisest critics you'll find anywhere; he also has the same kind of cred as a novelist. A while back Stark House published two of Rick's novels Turnabout and Shallow Secrets. If Gold Medal was still in business today these would be in their top ten bestseller list. The key word here is "today" because while the noirish elements may echo the Gold Medal masters the stories and the settings are very much contemporary. Nastily so. You want grim, you want fast-paced, you want in-your-face moments you'll find them here. But you'll also find nuanced characters and a style that serves the story yes but is capable of giving us real resonance and even a kind of ugly beauty.  I not only enjoyed them I admired them.

From Stark House:

Daniel Port Omnibus 1: Dig My Grave Deep / The Out is Death / It’s My Funeral

  • 978-1-933586-65-6
  • Peter Rabe created the archetypical gangster in Daniel Port and wrote about him in six different thrillers. These first three books introduce us to Port and his criminal world. Here is Port the mastermind, trying to get out of the racket he helped create, and Port the savior, defending an old criminal against a younger, meaner hood. Rick Ollerman provides another one of his exceptional introductions. Pub date: November 2014.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blog Hopping

It's been too long since I've posted but like Calvin told Hobbes, if the good lord only takes you when you're ready, I'm so far behind I will never die. Deaths in family, illness, lack of good sense--all the usual suspects are in play.

Anyway, the great crime writer Charlie Stella tagged me with the current blog hoppy thing going around, where each writer tagged has to answer four questions and then pass it on to two others. I've passed the questions on so that may be two friends lost, but then again, the questions aren't too difficult. Here they are:

What am I working on?
Currently I am working on a long introduction for a pair of books by Ed Gorman. That's supposed to be followed up immediately by an intro for W. R. Burnett and another for Frank Kane. My book comes out in September and the next one is sitting here in first draft form daring me to finish it before it's release date next year.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Every writer brings a different voice to the genre. At least most of them do. I still come across books that seem to have actually no original content and then leave marks on my wall after I throw them. I like to think that by playing with points of view and revealing things to the characters and the reader at different times, there's a different sort of suspense that can be created. I also try to make the reader feel something by finding those situations that have scared me, and then putting those in the book. For instance, in Shallow Secrets I have a car being followed by another car at night time without their headlights on. The folks in the first car know they're being followed, but what are they supposed to do? Pull over? Try to lose them? Put this in a very rural setting and it can be a scary thing.

Why do I write what I do?
For two reasons: I'm a great fan of the genre, and I don't know if I could write in another one, at least not without a lot of studying and self-education. It would be nice to write that mainstream novel that offers insights into the depths of human character, but John Irving already does that better than I ever could. I am working on a memoir piece about the recent death of my father. That sort of changes things up a bit but emotionally it's a very hard thing to do. How honest do you get? How real does that make it for the reader? Genre-hopping is tough, unless the two are very close together and you can use the same sorts of elements in each. But I wouldn't want to do that. If I'm going to do something different, I want it to be very different.

How does my writing process work?
It starts with a "what if?" question. And that leads to other "what ifs." Then I develop characters that can be put into conflicts in these scenarios. I don't outline in advance, for me it takes the energy away from the piece, but I sort of outline as I go. When I write a chapter I usually know what needs to happen in the next three to four chapters. Sometimes I have to stop to work out a puzzle, to come up with a logical reason for why something would happen. I just recently read an otherwise excellent book but for the four or five wholly illogical stops that set up the next phase of action. You can see the outline that had been created and the story did not move organically. It didn't make the wall throw but it was disappointing because the book could have been so much better. When someone reads my books, the one question I have is: Would you read another book by this same author? If the answer is yes, I've done my job.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Home Page

I used to have my two domains, and, redirect to this blog. Since I need to create an actual website, I did the natural thing and created a single page as a placeholder. There's a tad more info about my upcoming books and hopefully you'll find it looks pretty. Possibly scary. Let me know.

Pod People

I recently did an interview with Dean Abbott for his Mystery Writers Podcast. Sadly, I had only slept for about an hour and a half and would be shocked if there were a high degree of coherence, at least on my end. It can be heard here

My first two books, Turnaround and Shallow Secrets are available for preorder at Amazon here..

I love not picking titles. I hate picking titles. I've come up with some really good ones but those are forgotten as soon as I hear a loud noise. Or the sound of someone speaking. You don't want to know what happens when a dog barks. Anyway, preorders are good because it tells the publisher he should print more than four copies of the book. Okay, maybe not four, but you know.

I have two pieces appearing in the NoirCon program this year, a short story and an essay on the writer Jada Davis. Their programs are printed in book form and sold at least through Amazon. I'll be at Bouchercon in Long Beach in November. Now when I meet people and they ask the Bouchercon version of "Come here often?" ("How many Bouchercons have you been to?"), I can say, "More than one." Sometimes answers like that are enough.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Melissa gave me this picture from last summer in a frame today. I miss you, Dad.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Friday night I came across a thing on the USA Today site about BookCon, the first ever consumer conference piggybacking on to Book Expo America, or BEA, in Manhattan. My daughter has always said she wants to go with me to a conference but I've had to tell her they're not really geared for kids her age. A large part of this one was, so it seemed like a good option.

The problem was, it was 9:30 at night, my wife didn't want to spend any money, wanted to spend Saturday working on the yard, and didn't want the distraction. My point was that it was a one day show (so we wouldn't need a dogsitter or guinea pig wrangler), it was a rare opportunity for the kids, and--this is the biggie--that we're getting old. See, if we were younger, it would have been a no-brainer, we would have just jumped in the car and gone.

Ultimately, that's what we did, throwing stuff and kids in the car, driving six hours to Manhattan, letting the family sleep in the car while I strolled through Times Square at 3:30 in the morning, and then showing up at the Javits Center at about ten after seven. Which was too late to avoid some crowd, but much better than avoiding the small country that had formed on the streets behind us.

BookCon sold out all 10,000 tickets and that was great, except that this was the worst run conference I'd ever seen. The display floor was quickly gridlocked, and this being the last day of BEA, shut down too early in the day.

Every venue was too small. This meant that in order to be sure to get a seat at a panel you might have had to spend the previous time for a panel... standing in line for the next one. You couldn't go from panel to panel because the one you were going to was probably already full.

They had overlapping times for the panels. This was ridiculous. My wife was greatly enjoying the Carl Hiaasen and John Grisham discussion when she and my daughter left to see Veronica Roth, one of my daughter's favorites. My son and I stayed so that we would be sure to be able to see Stan Lee, who was featured next in that room. After the Roth panel, though people had left the Stan Lee show, no one was allowed to enter.

Rather than have parallel timelines, they had overlapping ones, and that made for some painful choices. I would have loved to see David Mitchell, Amy Poehler and Martin Short, John Green--but the "big room" would only hold about half the number of people who wanted to see that hour's event. Then they would clear the room. Could you go back in? No, because all the while you were in there, people were outside queuing up for the next one. And it would already be full. So all those people who had been lining up for an hour weren't able to see another panel or visit the display floor--they had to stand in line.

At the end, after we found there was no way back into the big room, the only thing that worked time-wise was to see Jason Segel. Couldn't do it--the line was already bigger than the room.

What we saw at the conference was wonderful, especially Stan Lee and seeing my son get to go up to him and ask him a question while wearing a Marvel comics t-shirt. A great experience for a ten-year old. The problem is that half the time we should have been watching some panel, any panel, we were either in line or had already been in one that overlapped with it and we couldn't walk in for the last twenty minutes or so. 'Cause it was full, too.

So it ended up being an earlier day than it should have been. We went back to our hotel room/parking stall and put our loot in the van, and then walked about Times Square until the Saturday evening theater-goers threatened to inadvertently crush us. Then back to the van and another six hour drive home. We were gone a few hours longer than a day, had a good but still disappointing time, and all of us sincerely hope that the BookCon organizers either wake up or resign, because they were a loooooong way from getting this right. Other than lining up good guests, that is.

And we found that Rick Riordan is funny, but Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) is funnier. Maybe there's something to these YA books my daughter keeps reading. I'll have to ask for a recommendation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Required Reading

This weekend I took on and wrote the introduction for a book of short stories Stark House is putting out of the the great Andrew Coburn. That was a break between working on an intro for the prolific Ed Gorman; last night I finished reading the 22nd book by Mr. Gorman--that's as many as I read for the Charles Williams intro I wrote, which came in at a ridiculous length (I tried to be scholarly and definitive--you'd have to judge the results for yourself). Anyway, the Williams piece led to a newspaper interview which turned out pretty nice.

Today I begin working on an intro for a Peter Rabe collection, his first three "Daniel Port" books. The good news is I get a much-welcome Peter Rabe fix. The bad news is I've never really worked on multiple introductions at the same time by reading the subjects' books. It's like mixing research and I'm not sure how well I'll be able to keep stuff in my head. I suspect the key will be lots of notes.

After that I'm supposed to write something for my own two-in-one volume that's coming out in September. The books were both titled by other people: "Turnabout" and "Shallow Secrets." Rabe never titled his books, either. He tried but the publisher changed almost all of his (they kept "The Box") so he eventually gave up trying.

I was a guest on the Mystery Writers podcast and that will be posted next week. Unfortunately, I'd only slept for about two hours the night before so I probably blather and blither all in my usual laryngitic frog voice.

We've been trying to set up a time to do a radio and newspaper interview for a guy in Oklahoma. Stark House did a book by Clifton Adams who wrote about Oklahoma, and while my involvement in that project didn't go much beyond researching an intro that I didn't write, as well as proofreading the books, I have a slight Oklahoma connection. Back when the U.S. National Skydiving Championships were held in Muskogee, that's where I'd be. In the middle of an otherwise empty field, crammed full with the best of the sport for this one time a year, out in the middle of cattle country. And my aunt and uncle, writers, poets and artists, lived in Oklahoma when my uncle was a professor at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He was also the editor of the magazine "World Literature Today."

So there are some ramblings. Too much going on to be calm, relaxed or peaceful. I need to learn to meditate and burn incense or something so my coping skills can, um, stop hiding and help me out once in a while.

Anyway, there are some ramblings. I need to turn this into an actual website at some point so when my books come out if anybody cares to look me up there's more than... this.

Thank you for your attention. Now back to work for all of us.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Net Neutrality--Fire Back!

"Net neutrality" is the term used to describe the concept of Internet traffic is Internet traffic--doesn't matter if it's from Netflix or, ISPs shouldn't be able to charge more for one type of traffic than another.

I know they claim that Netflix accounts for thirty percent of the bandwidth used--so what? That doesn't tell us what the actual capacity is and therefore that number is meaningless. In other words, if only five percent of the remaining traffic is non-Netflix, then what's the problem?

And if a cable is a cable, there can't be any more or less capacity added to it. There can only be the ISPs ability to handle additional users. Since they get paid by these users, it sure seems that that's a cost that they should bear, and that they should be thanking people like Netflix who drive up demand for broadband Internet service.

The underlying problem, I think, is that cable companies now control the internet. As we all know, there is very little competition in this industry (and in many others in American big business). Wouldn't it be nice if cable companies were required to lease their lines to anyone who wanted to use them? Instead of having one cable company choice, we could have any number of them. Anyway, I can see a time when your television selections will all be available over the Internet, finally giving the users the ala carte service they want. But you'll have to subscribe to each channel or network (kind of like Netflix) or a bundle of channels (kind of like cable TV) and guess what? All the complaints we all have about rising cable TV costs will migrate over to constantly rising broadband costs.

Net neutrality may be the last defense against this ugly version of the Internet future. Here's an e-mail I received earlier today. It bears consideration by all of us:
The nationwide drumbeat in support of real Net Neutrality is getting louder and louder.
And this week we had some real wins: Two FCC commissioners raised doubts about a plan that would kill Net Neutrality. Close to 150 Internet companies — including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter — told the FCC that online innovation requires strong rules that protect the open Internet. And nearly 100 organizations — including Consumers Union, Free Press and MoveOn — also came out against the FCC's plans.
The fight to scrap Chairman Tom Wheeler's awful proposal is gaining ground. Next up: We go straight to the FCC’s doorstep on May 15th.
On that day, thousands of activists, organizations and companies will participate online and off to oppose the FCC’s plan to kill the open Internet and allow rampant discrimination online.
Please help us turn up the volume for this big day of action.
Go here to:
  • Tweet at members of Congress and urge them to oppose the FCC’s rules.
  • Grab code for a “Save the Internet” banner you can display on your website on May 15th.
  • Get details about May 15th’s Rally to Save the Internet outside the FCC. (Our friends and allies are camping out in front of the FCC every day in the run-up to May 15th — if you're in the D.C. area, join them!)
It's no surprise that the fight for real Net Neutrality is gaining so much steam. The FCC’s plan would allow telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to pick winners and losers online, creating fast lanes for those who can pay — and dirt roads for the rest of us.
That’s why so many of us are speaking up: If the FCC doesn't throw out these rules, we can say goodbye to the Internet we love.
We’ll be in touch with more info in the coming days. For now, visit and spread the word.
Thanks for all that you do—
Josh, Mary Alice, Candace, Misty and the rest of the Free Press team
P.S. Our campaign to raise $50,000 in 15 days to protect Net Neutrality is going strong. A generous donor will match all funds if we reach our goal. Help us get there. Thank you!
P.P.S. Share this site! Post it to Facebook, Twitter and beyond. This is the moment to spread the word about saving the Internet.
Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund are nonpartisan organizations fighting for your rights to connect and communicate. Learn more at
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