Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Deadly Shade of Gold: Does the Longest Travis McGee Novel Hold Up?

by
Scott D. Parker

One thing immediately stood out when I went to download the fifth book in the Travis McGee series, A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD: it was nearly twelve hours long. That was nearly twice as long as each of the first four books in the series. What could author John D. MacDonald do with more prose and time with McGee? A lot, actually, and it mostly revolved around character.

Unlike the previous four stories where someone came to McGee and basically hired him, A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD finds McGee visited by Sam Taggert, an old friend of McGee’s, who is on the run. He doesn’t initially tell McGee why but asks him to arrange a meeting with Sam’s old flame, Nora. He has something he needs to sell and, with that money, he and Nora will be able to pick up again where they left off…provided Nora doesn’t still hold a grudge against Sam for walking away three years ago. She doesn’t. In fact, she’s still in love with him. But no sooner than McGee picks up Nora and takes her to see Sam, they find Sam murdered and the little Central American golden idol stolen. Needless to say, McGee wants revenge…and so does Nora.

After a quick trip up to New York—where McGee does a little research and finds the time to bed Betty, the antique dearer, with whom he made a deal—McGee make their way down to Mexico. One of the best things about MacDonald’s writing is he seemingly effortless way in creating a scene. With a few pieces of description, you really get the feel, the smell, the sights and sounds of a small, out-of-the way Mexican seaside town. Various characters walk into and out of the scenes, each described in McGee’s now trademark world-weary cynicism. But of the five novels I’ve read to date, the McGee in GOLD is much more…well, I’d almost use the word ‘depressed.’ His friend has been killed, the people he interacts with in order to find the man who gave the order are all almost soulless shells, and it doesn’t help that he has some growing feelings for Nora. And she for him, apparently. She’s ready to exact her revenge, but is seems to be held back by McGee, by physically and emotionally. That they end up together is a spoiler not.

In reading up on the McGee novels, I found somewhere a comparison to James Bond. I don’t really see it in any aspect other than the female co-star. But when using this as the only metric, author MacDonald goes one step further with McGee than Ian Fleming does with Bond. In the Bond books and movies, the book ends or the camera fades to black and the credits roll with Bond and his current leading lady arm in arm. By the next book, the previous lady is long gone. What happened? Well, in the McGee books, John MacDonald shows you. Sometimes they are killed, sometimes they leave, and sometimes, it is something else. I actually enjoy and appreciate MacDonald doing this and, more importantly, McGee reacting to it, often with self-loathing or something worse. There are emotional costs to McGee bedding all these women, and yet he still does it.

Where GOLD suffers for me is its length. Yes, we get a lot more of McGee’s worldview explored and that’s wonderful. And in Nora, you have one of the more compelling female co-stars to date. But the plot rambles and wanders. In the story, McGee stresses to Nora that they must appear to be carefree lovers away on a vacation. Well, MacDonald seems to take that as an excuse to let the plot wander. I don’t know about his writing style, specifically if he wrote from an outline or not, but I’d venture a guess that he and McGee experienced this story together, simultaneously.

Interesting, right around the eight-hour mark, they story kind of ended…and there was still nearly four hours to go. I knew why McGee needed to move forward, and I knew more or less how it was going to end, but the level of caring dwindled. In many stories, the denouement is short, right after the climax. Here, it’s almost a third of the book. Which brings up the question if it even is a denouement or just the last third of a longer work. Not sure. Likely the latter. Still, the story kind of dragged on and on.

All of this is to say that A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD is my least favorite book in this series to date. I’ve only read five—in order—and I’m looking forward to reading the sixth and see if, in my mind, MacDonald righted the ship. These novels were originally published under the Fawcett Gold Medal banner. I’ve read many of them. They tend toward fast, action-packed little thrillers that one might devour in a weekend. Through these books, I’ve learned and appreciated Wade Miller, David Dodge, Donald Hamilton, and Day Keene. MacDonald clearly has the writing chops and the character to elevate this series above the rank-and-file of a typical Gold Medal book—and he did with books one through four—but GOLD missed the mark for me.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Vaguebooking, vague winning, and vague failing

I’m not one to criticize people for vaguebooking good news, because I have a genuine joy in my heart for friends and loved ones getting to do cool stuff, getting paid, or otherwise accomplishing great things. I’m not big on the practice myself because my crippling sense of reality is constantly whispering in my ear that whatever good thing I’ve got in the works can fall apart at any moment. This little voice was not quieted when I was working on a massive project with the potential to change every aspect of my professional life, and I chose to keep quiet about it even as things became more concrete - and it exploded in my face.

This isn’t a new story, there’s a reason people don’t make announcements until the ink is dry, or even better - until someone else announces it. When I was asked to join the editorial team at Shotgun Honey, it was hard not to tell everyone right away, but it felt a hell of a lot better to see it go out on the Shotgun Honey site. Official is always better.
I don’t tire of this joke, and cannot (will not) commit to not using this as the title of my memoir.

If you’re wondering — Yes, I decided not to vague book about something cool so I could come here and vague blog about it. It’s intensely frustrating and exciting to have big news that’s still juuuussst up in the air enough that I’m not ready to blab about it and be embarrassed later. I don’t even have all the information yet, so I wouldn’t even know how to explain this cool thing that’s (almost surely) happening. I’m writing this because although the experience I talked about in the opening of this blog taught me that yes, anything can blow up at any moment before it’s actually done - it also taught me that it’s really hard to talk about huge, life changing failures when you have to explain to everyone you want to talk to that you had a huge, life changing opportunity in the first place.

It’s important to be professional, and it’s important not to say “This is going to happen!” When there are reasons it may not - but I think we all do better with a heavy helping of honesty. This new thing isn’t as big as the thing that fell apart, but it’s exciting. I want to share my excitement and joy, and I want to have learned my lesson about toiling in silence only to suffer in silence when things fall apart.

Things falling apart, soul crushing rejection, and dashed hopes really are an unavoidable aspect of the creative path — or any path that requires risk taking and ambition to move forward. We have to accept that to survive, so why the secrecy? Writing is a lonely pursuit tranformed by social media, reading series, and conferences. We’re a community — so let’s not keep things from each other. Let’s celebrate vague news and rally round when things fall apart. Vaguebook the SHIT out of whatever thing you’ve got going on, so when that cool thing is released to the world we can all be stoked together — or, if it falls apart, we don’t have to give a twenty minute backstory before we can get the disappointment off our chests.

Anyway - watch this space! Cool things are afoot.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

47 Things They Don't Teach in Author School

By Steve Weddle

A decade ago when we started this blog, one of our goals was to help promote other writers. We would do Q&As with them when their books came out. We'd have them on the DSD Podcast, which is starting back up this summer. We'd post reviews and giveaways and host blog tours. That was part of our purpose.

So imagine my heartbreak when I asked an author we'd often featured to consider blurbing my debut and was told he didn't have the time to help.

And the next time that I saw you

You were larger than life

Yeah, you came and you conquered

You were doing all right
You had an army of suits behind you
All you had to be was willing
I said I still make a pretty good living
But you must make a killing, a killing
And I hope that, that you are happy
I hope that at least you are having fun
Oh, but everyone is a fucking Napoleon
This wasn't the last time I was big-timed by an author I'd broken my balls to help. I don't understand how someone could do that, you know? Arrogance? Carelessness? Jackassery?
Many, many authors are shitty human beings. I don't have any damn interest helping them. But I thought I'd offer a couple suggestions (not 47. sorry) for authors, because these things tend to get overlooked.

Send signed copies of your published book to people you had asked for blurbs.

Soon after my own book came out, I got quite a few blurb requests. I tried to honor each one. It takes time to blurb a book. Lee Child blurbs, on average, 739 books per year. I have no idea how he does that. I read every book I was asked to blurb, which wasn't close to 739. Still, it takes time. 
When an author takes the time and effort to blurb your book, be grateful. You're asking for help selling your book. Their name is going on the book. Their praise is going on the cover. When your book comes out, sign a thank you on the title page and spend the four damn dollars to mail that person a copy of your finished book.

Make sure the moderator of your panel has your book

If someone is moderating a panel or hosting you in a sit-down at a bookstore or in some way sacrificing time to help you sell books or promote your writing, make sure the moderator has your book.
I've been spoiled by the Virginia Festival of the Book, because they always make sure I have the books I need when I'm moderating a panel. Not all festivals and conferences do that. If you get an email from the moderator saying "Hi. My name is Hailey and I'm moderating a panel at BookFest with you and two other authors and just wanted to introduce myself" then make sure Hailey has your damn book. Please and thank you. Why should Hailey have to shell out $25 to buy your dumb book? At least you can make the offer. Maybe Hailey has your current book, but would like to have your debut. 

Be prepared to promote authors in interviews

Often in an interview or on a panel, you'll be asked who you're reading. Please, please, please do not name someone on the best seller list. I mean, you can if you want. You don't have to listen to me. I'm not your real mom. But it's super nice if, when you're given the opportunity, you can promote someone who could use a little push. I've been in the audience when a Big Famous Author suggests someone I've never heard of and has delivered a nice review of that authors new work. Of course I've bought that book. It was recommended by someone I dig. Please, make sure you're prepared to promote folks who aren't yet big enough to be up there on that panel. Thank you.
So, please. I know many of you try to be nice and get caught up in a thousand things you have to worry about as an author. And I know so many authors already do so, so, so much to help those "up and coming" authors. That is fandamntastic and appreciated. It's just that, from my experience, I've seen good people accidentally behave like jerks as authors and thought I'd just mention a few things here. Of course, as I've mentioned, some authors are just shitty people. I'm not offering these tips to help them. I'm not offering to help them at all.

You told me "they always pay for lunch

And they believe in what I do"

And I wonder, will you miss your old friends?

Now you've proven what you're worth
Yeah, yeah I wonder when, when you're a big star
Tell me, do you miss the earth? Do you, do you miss the earth?
And I know you'll always, always want more
I know you, you'll never, never be done
Oh, 'cause everyone is a fucking Napoleon

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"You Good?"

I'm deeply sorry for missing my last post. It was an atom bomb of a day and I wasn't able to discuss it (I'm still not.) I was so sad I was in danger of it leaking out through my fingers and onto DSD and I just had to sit in a closet and scream and weep. I really tried to pull myself together, y'all. I'm embarrassed I couldn't. One side of my brain kept saying, "C'man. You've been through far worse." The other side said, "No, you haven't," which was true. Damn that side of my brain.

Without the support of my agent Liz Kracht and these offspring I made who are superior to me in every way, I probably wouldn't be posting today. I'm still not okay, but I'm aight, if that makes sense. I'm good, in that Chicago way, where the question, "You good?" means everything and anything, like 'fuggedaboudit." Someone points to you and asks, "You good?" and you immediately feel awash in mutuality and respectful aplomb. Folks can feel you hurting but check on you first to see if you're where you want to be inside yourself. When someone asks, "You good?" they're asking to penetrate your space with some love, even if that love is expressed through, "Let's go handle that shit." Sometimes the 'hood produces such brilliant simplicity out of emotional complexity.

My eldest daughter and my son reply with, "I'm good," or, if it's really bad, "I'm aight" or, in Ashley's case, "I prayed on it." My youngest daughter Mari will tell you, flat out, "No, I'm not," but then she's the princess of the family and if you can sense any emotion of hers, at all, we all have to drop what we're doing because her feelings are as deep and complex as an underground river carved through granite. I didn't say anything to her about it because she'd quietly hurt for me and she's so enjoying her life right now. Ashley is the Connie Corleone of my clan. The one who would pick up some special cannoli on the way to the opera. She told me to try to be easy. To trust the Lord, which isn't always easy for me. Danny, Jr. knew enough to feel bad for his pops. He offered to sit with me through it and talk it out, as I've done with problems I've had since he was old enough to speak in complete sentences. I told him I preferred he enjoy his free time instead. He works hard, and he doesn't like it, which is usually impetus for a quick selection on my tiny violin, but this time, I just didn't want to spread it around. I wouldn't want my kids feeling this bad about anything, especially not on my account.

Today I woke up thinking about my parents who have been gone so long but still show up, and usually at the times when I really need to feel like someone's son again. One particular moment from my childhood parallels with my experience of my kids the last two weeks. In that spirit, I'm inspired to share this with you now.

***

I was a hip kid who always got into stuff, and for me, stuff meant knowledge. There’s some old evil adage about hiding things between the pages of a book. Me, that was the first place I looked. If it was on the radio or on a bookshelf, I had at it, even if I had to take a smack, and there were a lot of them. I never got to tell my parents that the smack helped the understanding settle. If I got hit for saying it, knowing it, or admitting to it, that must’ve been the good stuff. Smacks were my barometer, I’m sayin’. If I made it from the front door to my bedroom with something in my hand and I didn’t hear “C’mere...what’s that...” and get a smack, it may have been back to the library or Rom’s house (his contraband was legendary) to return it. What, no smack? What kind of bunk shit is this??

The reaction was never consistent.

"Aren’t the titties in the Art Institute of Chicago the same as this copy of OUI Magazine I found in the old man’s underwear drawer? Because I’m sure these titties are works of art, same as those we saw when you took us on a personally guided tour over the summer."

SMACK!

"Okay, titties go back in Pop's underwear drawer. Gotcha."

A week later…

"Ma, may I have some money to go to the comic convention at the Congress Hotel with Rom? His pops is driving."

"Take five dollars out my purse."

"Can I have more? I want to get back issues of Heavy Metal Magazine and they cost more than comics."

"What's in Heavy Metal?"

"Um...blood, guts, and lots of titties."

"No."

"Even if those titties are lovingly rendered by Frank Frazetta and Moebius?"

"Moebius isn't realistic enough for me. Most comic artists have a shit understanding of human anatomy. Frazetta is alright, although he doesn't understand perspective."

"So can I?"

"There's a twenty in there. Bring back change. Don't ask me for anything else."

Sheeeeit, don't worry.

The old man allowed us hardly anything. It was as if any fun on our part constituted worry for him, so he always wanted his children right where he could hear and see them. When I was a kid, it made him seem like an unconscionable hard case. When I think of it now, it was anxiety. I didn't know about anything happening on the outside of my front door that didn't involve my own desire for expansion. While Rosalita may have maintained a temperament which was slightly more yielding to discovery, the old man worked somewhere that woke him up with an alarm bell, made him slide down a pole and into boots, hop in a 35,000 lb/15,890 kg vehicle that took miles to come to a complete stop and rescue folks from fire despite the criminal element looking on as he invaded their spaces to save their children. I still think he was, on most things, a hard case, but I understand. My mother understood life, at least until my father acquainted her with death, which he knew better than any of us.

So somewhere along the way, life got complicated for everyone, including me, what with my special school that didn't have the same calendar as everyone else. At this point, I'm walking home alone and letting myself in and being alone for several hours each day. The solitude became important to me because I didn't have the same interests as everyone else. I was all set to go inside, make a big-ass peanut butter and jelly sangwich with the jar of Goober Grape that my brothers didn't know about (finally!,) eat it with an equally big-ass glass of cold milk, crack open my Dungeons and Dragons books and Gregory Garrett's new module he got for his birthday and dungeon-master up a good round of D&D over the phone with my school friends. Gregory had three-way calling, as did Julian Hancock, and with both of them calling two friends, we'd have a huge game going. I never minded being a latch-key kid. The term had a nice rebellious ring to it. I was a latch-key kid who could open a trap door under you and leave you to the wights. Might even put a beholder in there, too, if you talk shit about my dungeon-mastering. "Naw, you don't get to see the module." "Don't look at the dice. Look at me." I was a gleeful dick of a dungeon-master, I'm sayin'.

I drop my bag, close the door, and I hear this noise that sounds like a wounded animal. I walked into the frunchroom (front room, meaning living room in Chicagowski) and was astonished to find my father, sitting on the piano bench, collapsed into my mother's arms. His back was to me so he couldn't see me standing there, mouth agape, shaking from fear of my father's display of vulnerability. Good Lord, he was a mess. My mother just held him, patted and rubbed his back, and whispered in his ear that she understood and he was safe to cry, which made him howl louder and sound even more broken. As I took a step toward them, hoping to lend myself to my mother's effort to comfort him, without looking at me, she waved me away. It wasn't a cute, knowing, "Run along now, son" wave. It was "Boy, if you don't get your ass out of here," all-caps type of wave. I walked into my bedroom and closed the door, where I did nothing for what seemed forever. Sometime later, she comes in and tells me my father's grandmother died. She reminds me they were close and he was her only grandson and treated him like he was special and not some misfit. I hear some other inside information maybe a kid shouldn't know about his extended family, but Rosalita gave barely any fucks. She left the room to get back to him.

I was always walking into situations I had no business but I always stuck around anyway. Hell, that's how I learned most things I understood from far too early an age. My superpower was arguing, but at that moment, I didn't protest. I didn't insist upon my right to be there, as I would with movies and television that wasn't for my age group, or when I'd protest my banning from the kitchen when grown folks were drinking and talking. I didn't risk a smack at that moment as I had when, say, a field trip I needed permission for was denied to me because I would have been exposed to something not altogether appropriate for how my parents intended me to grow up. Quite frankly, I got the fuck out of there and left them to it without a thought about it beyond, "Oh, shit."

Even now, nearly four decades later, I don't know why I didn't try to stick around. When I was younger, I thought it may have been due to his hypermasculinity. All these giant men, this tiny woman with the fast hands and giant mouth, and me, wanting to read and draw and design spaceships and look at titties—lovingly photographed or hand-rendered by comic book masters, didn't matter—and I just didn't fit in to all that yelling and throwing things and punching things and tough guy/gal shit. Except I did, because I was no less the son of those two young, in-love idiots. I realized she needed me out of the room for one very simple reason.

If he knew I was standing there, he wouldn't cry, and dude really needed to let it out.

I still speak with God, but I've been through so much that it's usually better if I do so with Ashley listening in. It's less about fellowship and more that, around her, I won't lie. If the Good Lord is going to hear my prayer, She likely won't appreciate me saying, "I'm good" when I'm not. She should hear honest prayers from me if any. In the middle of my most recent prayer, I felt myself minimizing my hurt. I'm ready to say, to God, "I'm aight," or "I'm straight," or "I'm good," or whatever derivation of Chicagowski I use to shrug off something that hurt me deeply. Instead, I had no words. I just got choked up. I chewed air to try to stop it but it wouldn't, so I just let it come and got it over with. I was in the dark, so I can't say I ugly cried or anything, but even crying, I'm guessing I'm still handsome.

Haaaaaaaaa!

When I was done, of course, I apologized for my emotional episode. Ashley said, "It's alright, Daddy. You've been hurt," which is likely all I would have said to the old man, in my mother's arms, on that piano bench as she held him through his gauntlet of loss. I told Ashley how her mother did the same thing for me when I lost my brother. I then found some silly way to make her laugh before I hung up. I wasn't alright, but I was good, in that Chicago way, which is always good enough to survive until the next hurt. Had I persisted at that moment with my parents, I wouldn't have been able to give my father what Ashley gave me. That's why I had to leave the room.

It's also why I should've raised hell to stay.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Taking Stock, Forging Ahead

It's been four months since my latest book, Jack Waters, came out.  I spent much of that time doing blog posts to promote it and writing non-fiction pieces, essays and book reviews, for a couple of crime fiction sites.  Now it's time to get back into the new novel, and I'm eager to do that.  I have about 13,000 words done, and words done in my case means fairly polished, since I never do first drafts and go back.  Write a page or two, revise, finish a chapter, circle back,  rewrite, revise, and then advance is, as I'm sure I've mentioned here before, my laborious method.  But 13,000 words also means I probably have about a quarter of the book done since I never write anything all that long.  For the rest of this spring, through the summer, and into the fall, I'm sure I'll be working on the new thing.

So I'm at that stage where my main focus is the book at hand while at the same time I'm developing a picture of how the last book is doing.  I can't say I have any complaints.  Feedback has been good, and though you always want to sell as many books as possible, sales after four months are about where I expected them to be.  Then there are the surprising reactions, or one in particular - that some people who read the book say they find the second most important character, Isobel Paulsen, more interesting than the lead, Jack Waters.  It's not a bad surprise, just something unexpected, and it's one of those things that makes getting responses to what you wrote such an interesting and thought-provoking experience.  

The natural question, which a few people have asked me, is whether I'd write a follow-up book with Isobel as the lead character.  It's not something I've ever been asked with other characters in earlier novels (though to be fair, a lot of people in those books, Spiders and Flies and Graveyard Love anyway, ended up dead), so it's worth giving some thought.  It would be a chance to go back to 1904 or thereabouts and write another historical tale.  I could keep Isobel in the Caribbean, where Jack Waters takes place, or move her somewhere else. She does have a portable skill - she writes books - and no husband around anymore to hinder her movements.  

It's odd. I've never been one to give much consideration to writing sequels, so when someone says, "Hey, I could read more about Isobel," I almost get annoyed.  Why are these people making me consider writing something I had no plans for?  I have enough book ideas I want to get to.  But I'm not entirely serious, of course.  Who isn't tickled when a person expresses enough interest in a character you wrote to say he'd like to see more of that character?  More Isobel?  A story of her own? I don't know.  I'll let the ideas for that kick around.  In the meantime, I'll see what anyone else who reads Jack Waters has to say about it - a process I always find fun despite the occasional rough comment - and I'll push ahead on the new book.  On the new one, I can only be certain of one thing. What I think I'm doing, what I'm aiming for, may not be what an individual takes away from the story at all.  It's the literary uncertainty principle, and it sure helps keep the experience of writing a vital one.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cover reveal! 101 from Tom Pitts! Arriving November 5th.



The Blurb
"Pitts is fast becoming the underworld bard of the Bay Area, and 101 is his best yet." TJ English 

"TJ English has long been one of my heroes. He wrote a book called the Westies that I cite as life-changing (for me) so often that he actually wrote me and asked for a book. What was so important? It showed me how criminal life was not glamorous, how it was full of fuck-ups and assholes--that it wasn't the Godfather. Working class Irish hoods felt a whole lot more real than the Corleones. He also focuses his books on the lower echelon guys to build the story. They're not told from the top, but from the bottom. Even though the "big picture" is often historical and world-changing events. " - Tom Pitts

🗡🗡🗡


The Cover

"This is the fourth cover I’ve done for Tom following Piggyback, Hustle and American Static. Tom is probably the most difficult author I’ve worked with, but not really in a bad way. In many ways he’s most similar to me. He knows when it’s not quite there yet and he will push to get it where he’s happy with it and I can never fault an author for that. It’s his book and he should be nothing but thrilled with the cover that has his name on it. Tom usually comes to the table with ideas already. He’ll shoot photos like the highway sign for 101, which is his shot, and when an author has an idea of where they want it to go, the changes and tweaks are all just details, not major reinventions. The advantage of working with a smaller publisher like Down & Out is that we involve the author to such an extent. Having an author be part of the design process and wanting them to feel happy with the result is critical. But Tom has made me work for it every time. But if the roles were reversed I’m sure I’d be a challenging client, too. I’m always willing to do as many drafts as needed to get it right." - Eric Beetner


🗡🗡🗡


The Story


On the cusp of pot legalization in California, Jerry runs afoul of some San Francisco bikers in the marijuana game. He flees straight up Highway 101 to Humboldt County to hide out deep in the hills at Vic’s, a reclusive pot farmer and old pal of his tough-as-nails mother. But trouble finds Jerry no matter where he goes and soon the bikers, a pair of stone killers, and a Russian weed tycoon named Vlad the Inhaler are all hot on Jerry’s trail.

Fallout from the unfolding chaos piques the interest of SFPD Detective Roland Mackie, when he learns Jerry’s host, Vic, is somehow involved. It opens a twenty-year-old wound, an unsolved case called the Fulton Street Massacre, and Mackie is willing to do whatever it takes to get a pair of cuffs on the elusive Vic.

When Jerry and his protectors are chased off the mountain and back down the 101 to an inevitable showdown back in the Bay, he learns Vic is much more than his host, he’s a mentor, his mother’s hero, and the toughest man he’s ever met.


With an unforgettable cast of characters and an action-packed plot, 101 is a wild ride through Northern California’s “emerald triangle.

🗡🗡🗡


High Praise for Tom Pitts

"When we were hobos, I'd make squirrel pie. And one time Tom stole my squirrel and sold it to this guy, Charlie One-Arm (because he only had one arm) for a hit of dope. But then Tom brought that dope back and shared it with me. I like Tom." - Joe Clifford 


"Despite the desperate, violent people he writes about in his books, Tom's a soulful weirdo with a tarnished golden heart...that he probably stole from somebody's grandma." - S.W. Lauden 

On the subject of hobos..."Tom and I are early for a reading so we're waiting outside the bar. Which didn't open until 5, probably why it's closed now. Across the street a homeless looking guy is trying to get into a hotel but another homeless looking guy won't let him. The guy outside pulls the other guy out with him, they start throwing punches and Tom starts calling the fight like he's Jim Lampley. It was great." - Rob Pierce

"My introduction to Tom Pitts was his novella KNUCKLEBALL, which I'd come to expecting baseball noir. What I found was a compelling story, rooted in real characters. PIGGYBACK and HUSTLE were immediate must-reads for me, because here was a writer clearly in command of his art. Despite a well established track record of brilliance, Pitts managed to amazing me once again with AMERICAN STATIC.
Pitts is able to work with violence and humor, with real characters and extraordinary circumstances. Whatever Pitts does is an automatic read for me." -- Steve Weddle