Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer's Here!

Scott D. Parker

The sun! The heat! No school! Long days with little to do but while away the hours, daydreaming about what shapes the clouds look like, wondering how long until dinner.

Sound like your typical summer? Yeah, not mine either, at least not for the past thirty years. But the summer state of mind is something that I can catch, hang onto, and relish in for the next three months. To go with this light-hearted, sunny, lazy time of the year, my taste in TV, movies, music, and books change. Now is not the time for tomes full of allegory and literary zeal. I just want straight-forward media that is full of action, daring do, and just plain fun. Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to this summer.


The Chase by Clive Cussler - I'm halfway through this first Isaac Bell historical adventure and it's a blast.

Redshirts by John Scalzi - A Star Trek parody/homage. I've read the sample on my iPad and laughed aloud twice. I'm all in.

Railsea by Chine Mieville - "Moby Dick" with railroads and giant moles. Yes, you read that correctly. Coming from Mieville, I trust him that it'll be great. Bonus: his new monthly title from DC, Dial H for Hero.

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini - After my SFBC read the disappointing On Stranger Tides, we decided on a more traditional pirate story.

Paragaea by Chris Roberson - Story inspired by the planetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I am there!

The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter - The concept alone is worth a look.

The Passage of Power by Robert Caro - I like to crack a nice history book every summer, usually biographies. This 4th volume, 10 years in the writing, is the one this year. Caro writes some of the most beautiful paragraphs I've ever read. This book is huge, but I don't expect a moment's boredom.


The Dark Knight Rises - It will not be as fun as the Avengers, but I thoroughly expect to be blown away.

Brave - Pixar doesn't make mistakes (their movies are at such a high level that missteps like Cars 2, a decent movie, suffers by comparison) and this one looks incredibly fun.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter - Loved the book, expect to love the movie.

Men in Black 3 - Will, Tommie, and Josh. I'm there.

John Carter (DVD) - Yes, I loved the film. Yes, I'm buying the DVD, Blu-ray. Yes, I will continue to enjoy the film.


Other than my favorite new DC titles (Batman [Court of Owls!], All-Star Western, Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Action Comics, Aquaman), I found a new title at last week at Houston's Comicpalooza that was unfamiliar to me: Red 5's Atomic Robo. I picked up the Free Comic Book day issue and read the lead tale. Dude! A sentient robot built by Tesla! Talking dinosaurs! Hilarity on every page! I am hooked. And I've got 2-3 years of books I need to read to catch up.

I also found the $0.50 comics and, um, bought a few.


For as much as I love music, I'm oddly at a loss for some new good music coming out this summer. Still digging the new CDs from Esperanza Spalding, Andrew Bird, and Bruce Springsteen from the spring. Other than the new Vijay Iyer Trio CD, any ideas?


I've discovered MeTV and am in vintage TV heaven: Dobie Gillis, Combat, Perry Mason, Batman. Plus Batman: The Animated Series airs around dinner time.

The Writing Project

I love the self-contained nature of summer. Sandwiched between two holidays, summer is a nice, finite amount of time. It's approximately 90 days, enough time to start something, finish something, or do what needs doing to move the writing forward. I aim to use the summer months to accomplish some great things in my writing. Stay tuned.

How about y'all? What are y'all looking forward to this summer?

Friday, June 1, 2012


By Russel D McLean

I'm redrafting folks, going through copy edits on FATHER CONFESSOR which, you know. is released in the UK this September. I know you're as excited as I am about this book, so you're going to want to pre-order from your preferred retailer.

So in lieu of actual content I present a little rough cut sneak preview of the opening page of FATHER CONFESSOR. Those of you who know the series will know that I start every book with a little teaser, and this book's no different.

So here, for the first time (since I read an early draft of this last year at Blackwell's bookshop), is a brief excerpt from book number the third:

I wasn't there.
    If I had been, things might have turned out different.
    I’d like to believe that.
    Some would argue, of course, that I’d only have fucked things up.
    For months afterward, I would spend  the hours past midnight – the hours when I couldn't sleep, when the guilt of the past always seemed at its strongest and when I felt at my most powerless and insignificant – thinking about what had happened that evening.
    Seeing events through his eyes.
    Trying to imagine what it must have been like. Trying to think about the chain of events that ended in a moment of blood and fear and pain.
    As I tried to imagine how he felt, my heart would pound as his must have. A surge of adrenaline. An expectation.
    He must have known that he was going to die.
    One way or the other. He must have known how things would end.
    Maybe he had come to terms with that idea.
    Looking back over his last few months, talking to friends and colleagues, I think they all knew that something was wrong with him. They had sensed his growing unease. They had noticed that he was more tense than usual. Most put this down to pre-retirement nerves. After all, he was due to quit the force in the next year. And like any good copper, he had a lot of unfinished business.
    So I can imagine how he felt that night.
    Walking into the warehouse, he might have called out. Perhaps listened to the echo of his own voice, heard it come back to him. A ghost-like echo. As though he was already dead. His own footsteps – polished shoes striking hard concrete – would have bounced and echoed around the wide space and made it appear as though there were others walking alongside him.
    Those for whom he was responsible.
    Maybe he was thinking about why he was here. The reasons he was alone in this warehouse, meeting a man he must have known could kill him.
    He would be thinking about his career. And his daughter.
    His daughter who was under investigation for possible criminal conspiracy. His daughter who had always been the centre of his world, who had idolised her father so much she followed him into the force.
    I would wonder what he was thinking.
    How he felt.
    And I could never know for sure. But I had to pretend, to try and gain some insight the hard facts could never uncover.
    I do know that he took the stairs to the mezzanine slowly. His shoes clanking off the metal grille, his hand running up the banister. A feather touch. More for reassurance than balance.
    But then, maybe his grip was tighter than usual. He was afraid of falling away. Of losing his grip.
    Maybe he came knowing that he faced death.
    He would do that on his own terms.
    The idea makes me feel better in a way.
    There had been no signs of a struggle when the coppers arrived on the scene. He did not fight back. He did not try to run.
    On the metal walkway high above the main floor, he would have been confronted by the man with the shotgun.
    Did they speak?
    Did he understand why the man was there to kill him?
     I don't know. I wasn't there.
    And I wish I had been.
    Some nights I wish it had been me and not him.
    The impact of the shot knocked him over the safety rails. Did he have time to register what was happening?
    Did he say a prayer as he fell?
    I wonder about his final thoughts. What he saw. What was revealed to him as he lay crooked on the floor of the abandoned mill, his blood pooling around his hand, his limbs twisted.
    Did he think of his killer?
    Of his daughter?
    I would have been the furthest thing from his mind. But if he felt a small twinge of disappointment, perhaps he was remembering me and the last time we spoke, the things I said to him.
    But I don’t know any of that.
    I just believe that I could sleep easier if I knew what he was really thinking in those last moments.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Part crime-fiction and part cyberpunk, THE AZREAL DECEPTION is a collection Chad Rohrbacher has been working on for years. Yesterday, we had a bit of a chat. Today, I asked him to tell us a little more about the stories.

By Chad Rohrbacher

The Azreal Deception is loosely based on a screenplay I wrote years ago, then subsequently shoved in a drawer somewhere. Unfortunately, the characters bugged me and bugged me until I finally broke down wrote their stories. The cyberpunk collection is the product of their nagging.

The future.  It’s hardcore.  The only people who get to see nature, are the one’s who can afford to buy it. Most, however, live in the cityscape’s squalor or a desolate town, the ones you wouldn’t find on a map, but if you were driving through, say, Texas you’d think you ate peyote for lunch. Or maybe they’d come right out of a Hugo poem – run down and ruinous with desperation a long lost memory.

It’s a dangerous and lonely existence for most people. After the Upheaval, the people begged for safety, for order. Food was running out. Purified water was getting to be a luxury. The Planetary Control Group (PCG) stepped in with molifying rations, water, and their own paramilitary security.

Oscar leads an elite force in that paramilitary organization and it is their job to protect the citizens from the Insurgs, a group bent on destroying the PCG and returning society to the way it was before the Upheaval. He’s good at his job.

The stories catch Oscar’s team (Morris, Swede, Knute, Hob, and Charlie) at various points in their lives. Before and after the Upheaval. We see them fall in love, lose loved ones, find their calling, and, of course, get bloodied. I really enjoyed exploring this world and have a strong inclination that the characters aren’t done with me yet.

Here is a portion of Swede's story ->

Alana first met Swede when she found all 6'4" of his massive frame spewing Rations and beer on her front porch.

To her, it seemed like an awful lot of beer.

Anger welled up inside her right. She gazed down the line of squat houses with their sleek fibrous walls painted in the same tan material that would shield them from most satellites and drone scans, and wondered how this poor Skin ended up on her porch rather than any of the others. Luck followed her like a horsefly.
Once his body stopped convulsing and he rested his cheek on the porch, she went to him and kicked his boot. Nothing. She kicked him again.

He raised his head slightly, like some hibernating bear just aware of something in its general vicinity. He attempted to wipe his chin with the back of his hand but failed miserably. Fwapping the porch slats, his face turned bright pink and Alana struggled to hold in her laughter. It had been a long time since she laughed, let alone felt the need to suppress it.

She worked for the Planetary Control Group (PCG) in a level 5 security research center doing 12 hour days, 6 days a week, and she expected that dedication from her colleagues. Alana was called a lot of things: brilliant, meticulous, hard working, a soulless bitch. While some of these things bothered her at first, she soon found the benefits of such a reputation.

Alana’s hard features and hazel eyes were striking against her midnight colored skin. Her full lips had a slight upturn, making people think she was personable until they actually got close. Early on in life, Alana learned how dangerous a little flash of teeth, a slight crinkle of the nose, and a twinkle of the eye could be. She trained herself to not use them, even involuntarily. A smile would let people get away with mediocrity through the guise of friendship or amicability. Niceness inevitably led to misunderstandings.

Alana put her hands on her hips and considered her options that included calling the Regs, pushing him off her landing and onto the concrete, or letting him wake up with splinters in his nose. She decided to kick him again.

Sporting standard PCG fatigues, he looked like a typical Skin: shaved blond hair, finely toned arms bulging from under his white T-shirt, large hands. For a moment she wanted to touch him, make sure he was alive, the last thing she needed was some fool dying in front of her door, and then she felt her body flush. It was an awkward experience to feel her body do something she did not will it to do, to feel the pop of blood prickle the back of her neck.

Gritting her teeth, Alana peered into the bare street then back at the body at her feet. She had no patience for the Skins, though she understood they needed to be here, to protect her research. This display by this man was completely over the top; she’d have to speak with his corporate handler in the morning.

In the distance she heard three more Skins stumbling towards her place and back to their barracks. It was a shortcut they were not supposed make but made anyway. Just like they weren’t supposed to mix rations with alcohol or worse smoke them, but some of the boys did in the evenings after duty. Alana knew that once a man started smoking his rations it was impossible to stop. Once found out those men would be fired and, without a job, find themselves on the streets looking to turn into a full-blown Ration Rat.

Her stomach dropped in a moment of something close to sadness. Her skin felt like a simple wrapping holding her muscles and she for a fleeting moment she wanted to tear it off and let herself go. Her eyes furrowed. She worked her teeth, the muscles in her face tensed. Damn Rats. She kicked him again.

“Come on, before I report you.”

Rolling onto his back, Alana noticed his searing blue eyes, square jaw, his shirt pulled up just a little exposing a smile of hip and strong stomach. She felt her body relax and her cheeks flush again.
When Alana saw him trying to focus, she scolded him and once again tried to shoo the man from her porch.

The man rubbed his eyes and tried to shake his head like a wet dog. Then he shared a goofy childlike grin.

Alana almost giggled.

Of course he is Alana thought noticing his officer status.

“What are you smiling about?”

“Am I smiling?” the big man said rubbing his cheeks like putty.

Again Alana had to suppress her grin despite the feel of her stomach plunging to her knees.

“I suppose I am. Imagine that.”

“I’d appreciate it if you removed that puke stinking mug from my porch.”

He took in his surroundings then smirked, “I’d be happy to get off your porch if I thought I could walk  without falling down and breaking my face again.”

Alana turned her head toward the three Skins, arm-in-arm, stumbling towards her with the PCG jingle rolling off their tongues, horribly off-key.

“They your men?” she asked jutting a thumb over her shoulder.

“What’s your name?”

“If those are your men….” She stopped. “What?”

“Your name? What do people call you?”

Alana’s brow furrowed then she faced the three Skins about to pass her house.

“You,” she called. “You men get this sloth off my porch before the next person you see is from Home Office.”

The men could’ve been brothers: shaved heads, medium builds, standard uniforms. At first they regarded her as some ghost, shaking their heads, focusing their widening eyes on her, their song lost in the weight of silence.

“Don’t stand there. Get your asses moving.”

By their dash towards the porch, it was clear they knew she was way above their pay grade.


Grab your copy of THE AZREAL DECEPTION here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Azreal Deception

By Steve Weddle

I got the chance to chat with Chad Rohrbacher about his newest book, THE AZREAL DECEPTION.


After the Restructuring, the Planetary Control Group (PCG) brings order and safety to the nation, but at a cost. The only people who get to see nature are those who can afford to buy it. Real food is a luxury. Desperation is rampant. What happens when the people want out of that contract?

"Simultaneously heroic and tragic, the flawed heroes of Chad Rohrbacher’s Azreal Deception fight to survive in a world where trust is a luxury no one can afford. Tough, soulful, brutal, and insightful, these six gritty tales will keep you on the edge of your seat. Cyberpunk at its finest." – Bill Olver, Big Pulp

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You Caught Me

Yeah, you got me.

It's the end of Memorial Day weekend, and I got stuck with the "It's due Tuesday" post.  I've just gotten in from a day of BBQ, beer, and cookies (damn good cookies--which you'll hear about here on Thurday.), and now I have to write a blog post.

The Yankees are on.  They're on the West Coast and they're winning.  And I'm tired.

I've been writing, just about 1000 words a day.  A new book.  It's fun.

But it's summer. 

The summer is upon us.  I've got a kid on the way, in less than 3 months.

And you want a blog post.

Whelp, buddy boy, here it is.  I'm enjoying my days off.  I'm sitting here, trying not to think to hard about e-books, or plagiarism, or Kindles, or book stores, or the Big Six.

And to be honest, you don't want to read about that this morning.

You probably want something to distract yourself from your desk job that you've just gotten back to.  Some YouTube video of a cat saying something funny and spelled incorrectly.

So why are you here?

Come back tomorrow. 

Wait for Weddle.  Wait for Stringer.

Better yet, wait for me, next week. 

I have better stuff to offer and some of it's coming next week.

But not today.  I'm tired.

Did I mention the Yankees are on?

Publishing will live on another day.

Books will still be here.

So will all kinds of storytelling.

Get back to work.

Or go to some silly I CAN HAZ page.

But give me a break okay.  I have a few more hours of a long weekend to enjoy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Advice to someone thinking of starting a zine

The online short crime fiction community leans more towards support (which is fine) not criticism so make sure there is a firm editorial hand on the controls. Edit the holy hell out subs and everything about the site. Offer critiques and a myriad of suggestions. Hone in on the "why" if a story isn't working. Be honest. Be honest. Be honest. With your writers and with yourself. Your heroes, your friends and your peers don't walk on water so say no to friends if their shit doesn't cut it. Don't make excuses for a writer or a story, if what you're reading is weak then it's weak. None of this means you have to be rude. The editorial process is a filter and the real writers won't be offended and will come back for more.

It's easy to publish the people you know but if you want to discover someone then you are going to have to work the slush. That means opening subs far and wide instead of inviting people to submit. That also mean sifting though hundreds of stories (if not more) when you'd rather be doing some thing else.

Set the bar for acceptance ridiculously high. Read to reject not to accept and the stories that blow your hair back really will.

What are your goals (be honest with yourself). To raise your own profile? To discover new writers? To put out a great zine? To get back in the habit of working again after taking some time off? All of the above?

That's just the tip of the iceberg but you get the idea. It's a lot of work but has the potential for great payoff so make sure you are up to it.

Snubnose Press News: We just released Sandra Seamans debut collection, Cold Rifts and it is FREE for the next couple of days. Go get some!

Currently reading: Submissions

Currently listening: Father John Misty

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Time to pitch

by: Joelle Charbonneau

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve had to pitch my books.  Nope….I’m not just talking about those fun queries letters I had to write in order to land an agent or the editor and agent appointments I used to go to in order to talk up my book in hopes an industry professional would request to see the work.  I’m talking about day to day chat where someone learns that I’m an author and asks what my book is about. 

The one thing you need to keep in mind when pitching a book to your friends or an industry professional is to keep it short.  Come to think of it – short is probably too vague a description.  Instead, I should probably say that when you pitch your book it shouldn’t take you more than a sentence or two to get the point of the story across.  Which is easier said that done.  I mean, you just wrote a 80,000-100,000 word book!  One would think that you should get a little more time to discuss the scope.  Yeah—you would think wrong.  And to be completely honest, an industry professional is used to hearing pitches that last a little longer, so they might cut you some slack and allow you a third or even fourth sentence.  Your friends (who you are hoping will some day be your readers) won’t give you that much.

Think of it this way—people are waiting to be hooked.  They want to be intrigued.  But advertising is quick and punchy.  And your pitch is essentially an advertising tool for your writing.  A quick line like “The Hunger Games meets the ACT’ will give them an idea of what the book is about and hopefully hook them into asking more about the book. 

Since there are lots of conferences coming up in the summer months which allow authors to pitch their books to industry professionals, I thought this might be a great time for people to hone their pitching skills.  So in two (or three at the most) sentences – tell me and the rest of the DSD reading audience about your book.  If it is a book available for us to download or buy in our favorite bookstore – tell us that, too! 

And Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all!