Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book of the Month Club

Scott D. Parker

I received a strange thing in the mail the other day: an invitation to the Book-of-the-Month (BOMC) club. The club isn’t odd. Far from it. I remember back in the day avidly scanning the catalogs of books I could get for a dollar each! It was a bibliophile’s dream. Not only would you get the latest hardbacks (for a dollar; did I mention that?), but you could double-up you points and get something in a slipcase. Tis how I got my hardback version of The Hobbit. I would pore over that catalog, getting my top 15, then paring it down to my top 10, and, finally, writing the numbers of my top 5 there on the card. You’d mail a thin piece of paper and, later, you’d get a big box in the mail. It was awesome.

What surprised me is that the BOMC is still around and making their pitch via a mailer. I forget that, for a large majority of the folks out there, paper books are still the go-to reading medium. As someone who has (mostly) made the paradigm shift to ebooks, where all the books hover between $4.00 and $14.00, it just surprised me that BOMC is still around and making their pitch via paper. That is, I expected them to be online, perhaps, and still have their service available to readers, just that those readers would have to go online to order paper books. I know it’s not an earth-shattering idea, but it still struck me as funny.

I wonder if there’s an ebook version of BOMC? A quick check of their website revealed a “no” on ebooks. I wonder how that’d work? Would they send you a epub (or whatever) file every month that would be readable in an app they created? If you want the title, you pay for it and the code gets removed? If you didn’t, the file would “close” after 7 days? Is that even feasible? I dunno, but it’s an interesting idea.

Anyone still a member of the BOMC?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tom Piccirilli

By Jay Stringer

Weddle mentioned this yesterday, and Brian Keene has been keeping us all updated on ways to help. The show of support from the writing community has already been amazing, but I wanted to put this information up here too.

Tom Piccirilli is one of the best writers working today, and more importantly he's one of the good guys. By now you've probably heard that he's had to undergo an operation to remove a brain tumor. Now, that tumor doesn't know who it's messing with, and Tom's going to come back better than ever. But in the meantime, there will be bills to pay both for him and his family.

This information is already up on a few other sites, but here's a list of places you can go to help out.

  1. In a fantastic gesture, Crossroads Press have announced that 100% of proceeds from sales on Tom's books between now and the end of the year will go straight to him. 
  2. In similar move, CZP have said that proceeds from Every Shallow Cut will also go direct to him.
  3. The family have set up a fundraiser via IndieGoGo and the funds go straight to them. The amount of support shown there is already amazing.
  4. You can also donate directly via paypal to Tom's sister-in-law here. This is also an important option, because these funds will help his wife Michelle with costs of living before the royalties and fundraisers kick in. 

There are plenty of ways you can help, and there are also plenty of great Piccirilli books you an buy. If you've already got them, howsabout buying one or two for someone else as a gift, so that he has new fans waiting for him when he recovers. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Books For You

By Steve Weddle

Friend of the blog and recent DSD Book Club pick Tom Piccirilli, as you may already know, is having some medical issues. Here's how you can help.


The good folks at SHOTGUN HONEY have come out with a great collection of stories, BOTH BARRELS, available in print and as an ebook. In addition to some really fantastic work, the anthology contains one of my Cyborg Lesbian Vampires stories.

In addition to that book, many others have recently dropped.

The paperback of The Professionals, by Owen Laukkanen


Our own Joelle Charbonneau's lovely Skating on the Edge


Chris F. Holm's The Wrong Goodbye


The charity anthology Off The Record -- At the Movies, which features talented authors and me


Another charity anthology with great talent and me, Protectors

And many, many other books I've idiotically neglected to mention. (Feel free to add in the comments.)

Also releasing last week was KARMA BACKLASH, a book published by Snubnose Press (Sandra Ruttan and Brian Lindenmuth) and written by my pal Chad Rohrbacher. Check it out. I think you'll dig it.

Here's the description:

It’s amazing what a murdered friend can do to a directionless man, the passion and anger it can stoke, the sadness it fires into a body, the need for good old revenge it nurtures. Searching for his best friend's killer, Derby, a blue-collar gangster in a white-collar world, uncovers the beginning of a complicated mob war that threatens to bring down the whole city.

To find the answers he needs, Derby tries to stay focused: Find the killer. Clear his friend’s name. Stop a war. Don’t fall in love.

He traverses Toledo, a city that grows old with him, unearths secrets his boss doesn’t want exposed, and hopes to find that man he used to be before his mid-life crisis becomes the last crisis he ever experiences. 

By Chad Rohrbacher
Published by Snubnose Press

“Look, Derby, I’m telling you they’re like cats who wander into a kennel of Rots and have no damn idea that they’re about to get their heads ripped off even when the dogs are slobbering mad with fangs and muscles and whatnot.”
 I don’t know where Reece picked up that word, whatnot, but he used it so often I was about crazy. I told him if he ever said it in my company again I’d bust his lip. Of course, he quickly figured out to say it only at times I couldn’t respond, like right now while eating my Swedish meatballs at my favorite restaurant. Reece was an ass that way.
“I tell you what,” Reece intoned in his nasally accent acquired from too many broken noses, “there is no way, I mean, I like those fellas just fine. Both of ‘em stand up guys as far as I’m concerned, but I tell you, they don’t have a cup of sense to sip on. Neither one of ‘em. You hearing me?”
I heard him, but I was trying to enjoy my food and didn’t want to spoil it with talk about lawyers I didn’t even know.
Just about that moment I saw his right eye explode out of his head, spattering my meatballs with a tsunami of blood and gray matter. Reece’s mouth hung open, like a man in some soliloquy who suddenly forgot what he was going to say. (I learned that word, soliloquy, from Rosa who used it just to remind me what a messed up idea I had thinking I could ever be with a girl like her.) And I suppose Reece did forget what he was going to say since a bullet ripping through a person's skull-bone would generally have that affect.
Later I’d imagine the coroner opening him up, recreating the timeline:the shooter was ‘yeh’ tall,  the .44 bullet travelled at this angle ricocheting off his cranium just enough to save his friend’s life.
But I couldn’t imagine anything at that moment. I was too busy thinking, ‘what the hell?’
I sat there like a cat in front of a Rot watching everyone dive under tables, pulling their beautiful pasta dishes on top of their heads. I watched the bartender disappear behind the oak bar. I saw people scurrying into the back hall and I saw the boy holding the too big gun in his shaking hand.
He looked oddly familiar but I couldn’t place where. Sweat fell from his forehead. His brown eyes had a look that reminded me of something very serious, but everyone laughed anyway. His red flannel shirt hung loosely off his slight frame. He sported a thick brown beard, jeans, and the way he was shaking, I knew that was the first time he ever took a human life.
Transfixed, I watched the kid, the kid stared at me, and then he turned and took off.
Even though I owed him more than any man could owe another, I was pissed. Reece always left me in these kinds of situations. Now I’d have to talk to the cops and deal with their questions and glances. I’d have to hope it was McClain first on the scene and not that hard ass, Nevin.
I’d have to order some more damn meatballs and whatnot.


That night a storm came through which seemed fitting considering my mood. The rain pockmarked my windows, hitting the glass like fingers on a table. I hunkered into my couch sipping on some scotch, the half full bottle on the floor next to me and I thought of Rosa. She was, after all, where my aimless thoughts usually led me.
Rosa taught me things. She taught me how to use big words like soliloquy and cornucopia that impressed other thugs like me, she taught me how to dance and like it, and she taught me how use my hands for something other than beating the crappola out of someone.
Rosa moved on, Reece moved on, and I suppose it's only a matter of time until the cosmic charge of karma busts my chops again. I only needed to look around my scant apartment to know all of that was true: walls painted gray years ago and now just looked putrid, floors scuffed and dirty, a ratty couch and stained Lazy Boy my father gave me before he died and enough memories hanging so heavy in the air I could barely breathe. I had enough in my bank account for more than this, much more, but I was saving up to get my ass out of the city. Though every time I thought I was just about there, I decided I would need a larger pool at the villa, or another car to park in my car garage. I guess I just have to accept the fact that this is what I am and this is where I was going to be. I knew one thing for sure, revelations can be damn depressing.
The knock at my door was soft, almost dainty. I glanced at my clock. 1 a.m. I took another drink and thought they had the wrong place. Then a stronger rapping reverberated through the room. Guess they had the right place.
“Who is it?” I called from the couch. I wasn’t getting up without a reason.
“It’s me. Open up.”
That was reason enough. I opened the door and the small man pushed past me.
“You have another one of those?” he asked knowing I did.
I went and got a glass, and returned to the living room where he stood looking out into the street.
“Jesus,” he said, “it’s cats and dogs out there. Cats and dogs.”
I filled up both glasses and he slugged his down.
“That’s tough about Reece. Not tough as in ‘tough shit’ but you know," Sam said.
Reece and I grew up together in Toledo’s West Side. Train tracks, a liquor store around the corner, and Catholic school a few blocks away (which is now locked up and spray painted by the local kids). I got Reece into this business and I often wondered what he would've done with his life if I hadn't. A businessman, probably. He’d been a good businessman.
“First Rosa and now this. It’s gotta be rough.”
I think if I gave him any inkling of giving a shit what he said, he would’ve wrapped his skinny arms around me and held on tight. Sam was a funny guy. Too sensitive. How he ever made it this long in the business this far is beyond me. Sam’s only skill seemed to be making other people feel that if he could make it then anyone could. This made him more dangerous than any of the thugs out there as far as I was concerned.
“I don’t know which is worse. I mean, losing my girl or my best friend. Probably the guy I grew up with. You grew up with him, right? Yeah, be harder to deal with him getting murdered like that. I mean, you might see Rosa sometime around the city, but Reece, he’s gone and gone. Besides you guys were real close. Not close like that. Just close,” he stammered.
I gave Sam a look that told him he could shut up anytime.
“What do you need, Sam?”
“Bopa. He wants a meeting.”
Of course he did. I nodded and sat back down on my couch and looked out the window.
“Tell him after the funeral.”
Sam’s lip twitched as he looked back at me.
“Come on, Derby.”
I took a drink.
“Don’t make me go back to him with that shit. Things are, well, tense is what they are. I don’t feel comfortable going empty handed.”
Once on a run to a dealer's place with a simple cease and desist order from Bopa, he ended up in the bathtub with the dealer's daughter. The way Sam tells it, she seduced him with German chocolate cake and a cup of coffee. When the dealer walked in and saw them washing their tongues in each other's mouths, he grabbed the closest thing he could find which just so happened to be the toilet plunger. The plunger stung Sam in the back and, Sam assumed, didn't have the punch the dealer wanted because he dropped it and darted into the other room as the wet couple scrambled out of the tub with flower smelling bubbles running down their backs.
It was a twist of skin and water, the tile slick with puddles, and Sam just made it out of the bath when the dealer came back with his 9mm. In a passionate wail, the daughter screamed and dove for Sam knocking him off his feet and stumbling into the dealer like a drunk on roller skates. A shot rang out as the dealer raised his hands to catch Sam but ended up flailing backwards himself. The sink caught the dealer behind the head.
When Sam lifted himself off the dead man, he glanced over to the quiet daughter. The water puddles on the tile already turning pink with blood. Sam called me and I called Jersey our cleanup guy. What a mess.
“Good doggy, Sam.”
“Bopa said go fetch. You fetched.”
Sam kind of shuffled from foot to foot, ran a hand through his hair, and then looked outside.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Springsteen Changes it Up

I have been listening to a lot of Bruce lately.  I usually get caught up in artists and listen to them for a long time, and that is what I'm doing with Springsteen right now.

And yesterday, I put on NEBRASKA.  It is not an album I visit often, even though I LOVE it.  It is just so dark and depressing that it is hard to really play all the time.  And it got me thinking about audience reactions.  I can only imagine the first time Springsteen fans put that on and heard about a "sawed off .410 on my lap."*

I mean... whoa.

That is a big difference from asking Rosalita to come out tonight. Or even the romantic young boys who just want to fight.

That went to full on noir mode in the first song in the second stanza.

How did the audience react back then?  Was it a total shock? Were they blown away by it?

It is pretty cool to mess with audience expectations if you can pull it off.  But it is so hard to surprise people these days.  With Publishers Marketplace and Twitter and Facebook... Fans often know what is going to happen well in advance of the novel or movie coming out.  You can't totally change what you're doing and have people be stunned by it.

People know.

So what was the reaction then?

And what is the one book you were stunned by when it first came out?  That completely flipped your expectations on their head?

Mine was probably LA REQUIEM.  It was a book that I had heard about, but did not know how different it was going to be.  Crais completely flipped the PI novel on its head.  Turned it into a procedural thriller.  Amped up the pacing, cut down on the banter.  Took Parker and turned it into DIE HARD.

And man, did I love it.

I love when artists change what they are doing, try something different.  I love being surprised.  I don't want to know what to expect.  I avoid spoilers as much as possible.

But, man, I wish I could see a reaction back when Nebraska came out.

*I guess the best example is Sgt. Pepper as the biggest change.  I have seen some of the footage of TV people interviewing kids when they first heard that album.  There was a lot of whining about mustaches.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Books not on Kindle but should be

One of my favorite things about ebooks is seeing old, forgotten, and previously out of print books given a new life. Ideally this should be done at a cheaper price so it becomes an opportunity to expose readers to some really great works.

Some of my favorite e-book re-issues are:

Tarantula - Thierry Jonquet
Judas Pig - Horace Silver
Dark Paradise - Lono Waiwaiole
Box Nine; Wireless; Word Made Flesh; and The Skin Palace - Jack O'Connell
23 Shades of Black - Ken Wishnia
The Wait - Frank Turner Hollon

Publisher's should be devoting time and energy to creating in house ebook departments that work on pumping out quality ebooks for all titles that they hold the electronic rights to. I had an editor tell me on Twitter that they had no plans for e-book versions of a crop of, at that time, new releases. Hell, I need a job, hire me and I'll do it for you. Publishers should continue to seek out older, out of print titles that can be brought to the medium. And authors should make sure that any back list titles that they own the electronic rights to should be out there.

I was a kid when CD's first came out. Until then records had been the predominant format. There are tons of titles that were released as a record that were never issued as CD's. These recording are lost to all except the most ardent of collectors. They didn't survive the transition and I don't want to see that happen to some great books.

Here are some really great books that are not available as ebooks but should be.

High Life - Matthew Stokoe
Saguaro Riptide - Norman Partridge
The Ten-Ounce Siesta - Norman Partridge
They Don't Dance Much - James Ross
Cutter and Bone - Newton Thornburg*
Blackburn - Bradley Denton*
The Death of the Detective - Mark Smith
Nothing Burns in Hell - Philip Jose Farmer
My Brothers Gun - Ray Loriga
The Gift - Patrick O'Leary
Door Number Three - Patrick O'Leary
Dead City - Shane Stevens*

In an effort to walk the walk I actually contacted a couple of the authors on this list in the hopes of getting an ebook version of their titles out through Snubnose. One said no, and the other hasn't responded to the offer that I made.

*Newton Thornburg, Bradley Denton, and Shane Stevens don't have a single title available for the Kindle.

What books are not available as e-books but should be?

Current Read: Dope Sick: A Love Story by j.a. kazimer; Lonely No More by Seymour Shubin

Current Listen: Babel by Mumford & Sons

Sunday, September 30, 2012


by: Joelle Charbonneau

Every time I turn a book in to one of my editors, the editor asked the question “Do you want a dedication included?”  That seems like a simple answer, right?  YES!  So many people have helped me along the way to publishing—family, friends, students, booksellers, etc…  The dedication is one place where I can focus on thanking one or two specific people who have championed me and my career.

Last year, I dedicated Skating Over the Line to my father.  He never saw that dedication.  I’m sorry to say he didn’t live long enough to see my work published.  It has almost been four years since he passed away.  I miss him.  I miss his love of laughter and his work ethic.  (Okay, sometimes the work ethic was a little extreme.  Like the time he climbed up on the roof to melt ice from the gutters after being told he was too sick to have surgery.  Still, you get the point.)  But even though I knew he would never see the book with his name in it, I felt it was important to let the world know that I would never have been the person I am without him.

On Tuesday, SKATING ON THE EDGE will hit shelves.  (Although there are reports that it has been spotted in bookstores already.)  Once more the dedication is to someone who has helped shape my life.  Once more, the person whom the book is dedicated to will not see his name or hold the book in his hands.  But I know he is watching.  That he is proud.  And that he is somewhere celebrating this accomplishment with my father.

To my father-in-law, Joe Blanco, thank you for your love, your support and your amazing ability to make me believe in myself.  I miss you more with every passing day, but your inspiration lives on.