Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Factual Conversation

And so tonight, despite the great importance of what transpires during the coming Presidential election, I think we are going to get something like this:

Thanks for the images and foresight, Jan Svankmajer.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Rob Pierce Chooses Blood

BLOOD BY CHOICE, published September 18, is the third installment of the popular Uncle Dust series from Rob Pierce. Dustin, better known as Dust, is a tough guy who’s tough to figure out. Even with a pocketful of good intents he has a history of crime and violence, and a habit of ending up in trouble.

Trouble is close as two former girlfriends and a child are found dead and Dust is the only connection. He returns to the Bay area to find who committed the brutal murders and to exact payback. But when Rico, Dust’s former boss, and his violent hired gun Vollmer find out he is back in town, Dust’s objective becomes more complicated.

Rob Pierce paints beautiful pictures of the ugliest parts of life. Down in the gutter life. Known for his poetic but blunt and focused prose, Pierce is a favorite among many writers. All f
ans of hard-boiled noir will love this book as well as the other books in the series, UNCLE DUST and WITH THE RIGHT ENEMIES. Rob has a tremendous talent for building characters that are layered and detailed, and worlds that are clear enough to touch. Streets filled with gangs and criminals, bars and diners. And Uncle Dust is a realistic, edgy sort that always surprises.

“Rob Pierce is the squirrelly eyed barfly you see there at 2am when you stop in for a last round with your buddies. He's alone, surly, everything about him says stay the fuck away. And there are a thousand--and million--losers like him in every corner bar in every corner of the world. And you'd never think about him again. You'd grab a last shot, head out laughing with your pals, and be done. Except Rob Pierce possess an uncanny, visceral ability to write eloquently about that scene, and what happens afterwards to that guy, and the world he knows. And it's a sad beautiful violently poetic, tragically heartbreaking and serene world. It exists all around us. Few see it. Fewer can extrapolate its allure. Rob, ratfucker he is, can.”


Rob Pierce is the former Editor-in-Chief of Swill Magazine and co-editor at Flash Fiction Offensive. He has also edited dozens of novels for All Due Respect and freelance, and has had stories published in numerous magazines. Rob has written other books, including TOMMY SHAKES, VERN IN THE HEAT, and the short story collection THE THINGS I LOVE WILL KILL ME YET. Rob has been nominated for a Derringer Award for short crime fiction.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Glitch TV Show - An Unexpected Delight


Scott D. Parker

“Just watch the first episode and let me know what you think.”

That was the request my wife made about Glitch, a TV show out of Australia now streaming all three seasons on Netflix. What was it about? Dead people crawling out of their graves.


The show has a solid cast of characters, but the anchor is James (Patrick Brammall), a local policeman in the fictional town of Yoorana in southern Australia. He is called to a local cemetery in the middle of the night for a rather unusual reason: people have crawled out of their graves, in perfect health, but with no memories of their past lives. James enlists the aid of a town doctor (Genevieve O'Reilly) who conducts tests on The Risen. The stinger? One of them is James's wife, Kate (Emma Booth). We know her backstory a bit: she died of cancer and now James has married Kate's BFF, Sarah (Emily Barclay) who is now pregnant. 

The other formerly dead folks include Paddy Fitzgerald (Ned Dennehy), a man who died almost two centuries ago, Charlie (Sean Keenan), a World War I veteran with a statue modeled after himself, Kirstie (Hannah Monson), a young woman with a tragic past, Maria (Daniela Farinacci), an Italian wife who died in a car crash with her child, and Carlo, a man who early on sets the rules for The Risen: as he passes a certain point over a bridge, he disintegrates.

The Science? 

One of the best things about Glitch is it never loses focus on what really matters: the characters. What would it be like to have died of breast cancer and return healthy (and with breasts)? What would it be like to be the victim of a murder and come back, barely remembering who your assailant was? What would it be like to be a gay man in a world in which that was not only a crime but something to keep hidden. 

The creators of Glitch, Tony Ayres and Louise Fox, know that the foundation of a good show is characters we care about, and the wife and I instantly were drawn into the complicated life of James. Here is a married man with a pregnant about to give birth who not only has to figure out why and how dead people have come back to life but one of them is his dead wife whom he stil loves. Patrick Brammall excels in his role as James, often showing his emotion only by facial expressions. The anguish is clear on his expressions and his actions. Even when he makes choices we don't agree with, we felt for him. 

But my wife and I also felt for the other characters, some more than others. Another standout is Chris (John Leary), James's fellow policeman and the single character who remains unaltered by the science of the show. Leary shows Chris coming to terms with what his eyes show him (Kate alive? Other dead people alive?) and the sometime duplicitous actions by James. As the show went on, he became the one character I sincerely wanted to survive. Leary's performance, like Brammall's, are all in his actions, some you expect, and others you don't see coming. Chris has to live with the choices he makes. I shan't tell you, one way or another, what is his fate. You'll have to watch to find out.

By having multiple generations of people awakened, you get to see how, say, Paddy, deals with the 21st Century (he of the 19th). Ditto Charles, the veteran of the Great War. Kirstie and Kate have less of a learning curve, but their backstories still prove compelling.

Back to the science (or magic?) of how these people returned to life, the show does give an explanation, and it is enough of one to pass muster. But there's not a lot of focus paid on it. All attention is given to the characters, the ones who have come back and the ones who, somehow, are also "altered" and who seem to be out to kill the Risen.  

Who are they and why are they trying to kill The Risen? The show keeps their origins vague for the most part--better to propel the mystery of the show--but some characters change during the course of the 18-episode, 3-season show. 

The Ending

I've read a few articles about the show and fans were notified that season 3 was going to be it for the show. But, the showrunners promised, while the show was cancelled, a satisfying conclusion was to be delivered.

And they delivered. In spades. And tears. 

Not to give away the ending, but the wife and I were simultaneously satisfied and wiping away tears. It was an excellent ending, well earned, and wholly predictable when you look back on it. But even if you guessed how the show needed to end, it doesn't take away from the emotion of the moment. Any show that brings tears to my eyes is a good show. That Glitch, a show with a very unusual beginning, did so, makes it a wonderful 18 hours of television, and one of the best things we've seen on TV in 2020.

Highly recommended

Thursday, September 24, 2020

No Getting Away from Joe Clifford


This week Beau looks at The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford.

“A great book! I devoured it. Taut, pacey and with a powerful sense of place, Joe Clifford’s The One That Got Away is an intelligent and astutely observed piece of American small town noir.” —Paula Hawkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

“Joe Clifford is a gifted storyteller with a knack for crafting characters who are entirely human. The One That Got Away is dark and unforgiving, a chilling crime novel with the perfect touch of tenderness that will keep readers turning the pages with haste. This is one book you won’t be able to put down. —Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl and Every Last Lie

“The mystery of The One That Got Away sucked me in, but it was the emotional punch of Alex Salerno’s return home that broke my heart. With its sharply observed characters and setting and crime-thriller pace, its tough exterior belies a vast, unexpected tenderness. I cannot not quit thinking about this book.” —Emily Carpenter, author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls and The Weight of Lies

“It’s not often that I read a top-notch thriller with layers of emotion buried within each page. On the surface, Joe Clifford’s story of a young woman who survived a kidnapping and returns to her hometown to investigate a seemingly similar disappearance is compulsively readable, but when you dig a little deeper, you discover there’s so much more to unpack. The On That Got Away is by far Clifford’s best and most fully realized novel to date, and might well be the most rewarding thriller I’ve read this year.” —Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Stories and People: Overlook the Flaws?

Though the series started several weeks ago, I just started watching Lovecraft Country, and the one episode I watched has me hooked enough to continue watching.  I particularly liked the very first sequence and how it gets right to the heart of how a fiction reader engages with a story they like.

The first scene opens with an African American soldier in a trench in a war battle, fighting among other African-American troops.  The battlefield goes from color to black and white and transforms into a combat zone that involves alien creatures and disc-shaped spaceships on what now appears to be another planet.  There's an odd voiceover talking and somehow Jackie Robinson enters the scene, using a baseball bat to smash his way from inside the body of a tentacled monster.

At this point, the scene cuts and a black man, the one we’ve been watching, wakes up on a bus with a book on his lap.  The bus is driving through the countryside somewhere, and the time setting appears to be the 1950s.

A little later in the sequence, a black woman who was on the same bus as the man asks him what book he's reading.  His answer reveals that it's A Princess of Mars, one of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter novels.  So what we've been seeing is a scene where a black reader was reading about white characters, but in his mind, while reading, or while dreaming about the book he's been reading, he made all the characters black.  We've been watching the reading imagination at work, the process by which a person, in this case black, puts themselves into the story they're absorbed by.  This process, of course, is what everyone who likes to read fiction does, each in their own way, but it's unusual to see such a lucid representation of one person literally seeing himself and people like him in fictional characters of a different race. This is all presented quite nonchalantly in the sequence, which is all the better, but it wonderfully captures the sustaining and enhancing quality of fiction.  Stories do give you concrete images to read, but at the same time, you project what you want, and what you emotionally need, onto these images.  Representation is a two-way process, in a sense, made by what the writer has provided but also by what the reader brings to a story.  In about three minutes,  a wonderful succinctness, Lovecraft Country makes this point. 

However, the woman questioning the reader latches onto a point he has made in describing A Princess of Mars to her.  He says that John Carter, who becomes a Martian warlord, was once a captain in the army of Northern Virginia.  

She says, "Hold on.  You said the hero was a Confederate officer."

He says, "Ex-Confederate,"

Her: "He fought for slavery. You don't get to put an 'ex' in front of that."

Him: "Stories are like people.  Love them doesn't make them perfect. You just try and cherish them, overlook their flaws."

Her: "Yeah, but the flaws are still there."

Him: "Yeah, they are."

To which he adds, "But I love pulp stories," and goes on to explain what he loves about them, with all their action and adventures and heroism, and this prompts a smile from the woman who's been probing him.    

Dialectics right off the bat!  And in an exchange about a pulp novel.  There's no simple resolution to this exchange, but yet another point has been quickly made -- about the complexity of engaging with stories and people and the imperfections in both.  Just how far do you go in overlooking flaws?  Does it depend what those flaws are?  The exchange alludes as well to H.P. Lovecraft himself, writer of pulp (as it was seen at that time at least) and man of many peculiar hang-ups, among them his well-known views on race.  It's a relevant subject for discussion, to put it mildly, in a time when the eternal debate over how to value art in relation to the artist, and the artist's actions and views, is raging.

Good start for Lovecraft Country.  Eager to keep watching.



Sunday, September 20, 2020

The World's Biggest Crime Fiction Convention: Coming to a Screen Near You

By Claire Booth

I’ve missed a few Sundays and I thought I’d explain why. For the past four years, I’ve been involved in planning the 2020 edition of Bouchercon, an annual crime fiction convention that draws people from all over the world. The location is different every year, allowing attendees to experience cities throughout the United States (and Canada, too). This year, it was supposed to be in my hometown of Sacramento, California.

And you know what happened …friends moving GIF

So our little organizing committee has had to pivot—from an in-person convention with two hotels, dozens of author panels and book giveaways, a bar with poolside seating that had created a special cocktail just for our group, and a farm-to-fork awards dinner held under the stars—to a completely online format that doesn’t come with food or drinks or hugs with friends.


And you know what? It’s going to be fabulous. A new kind of fabulous, to be sure. But what isn’t new right now?

The Bouchercon Local Organizing Committee hard at work. How many of us were in pajama pants? We'll never tell.

We’re going to have two days of live events, plus multiple taped features that attendees can watch at their leisure. We’re taking advantage of the format; for instance, the Guest of Honor interviews will not only have the standard interviewer-interviewee interaction, but also glimpses into their creative lives that aren’t possible when everything takes place in a hotel convention center. We’ll have live panels full of authors who wouldn’t have been able to attend the in-person convention but can do this virtual one. And audience members will still be able to ask questions (from the comfort of their living rooms!).

Now I’m not going to lie—having to cancel the in-person convention was a gut punch. We all were really looking forward to welcoming the world to our city. But with the new format, one of our hopes is that this virtual convention draws people who haven’t been before. This is a great way to try it out, get to know new-to-you authors, and have some fun.

To register or for more information, go to http://bouchercon2020.org. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Humble Index Card


Scott D. Parker

Like many a wordsmith, I've tried multiple ways to get a story out of my head and onto paper. I've outlined, planned, and written stories without and outline. I've even tried the index card method, but it has been a long time since I employed this method.

But I'm trying it again with my current book.

What is the Index Card Method?

The way I do it, one index card equals one scene. It's not necessarily a chapter a scene, but I know that some scenes will be long enough to be a chapter. I've read a few books in recent years that have something like 125 chapters and I know that every scene is a chapter. I'm not a huge fan of short-as-a-page chapters. I prefer to group them together into larger chapters. You?

Anyway, the beauty of index cards is the ability to see the story laid out on your table or on a corkboard. You can lay them out any way you, but I've done mine this way just about every time I use this method. The scene number is in the upper left. The upper right is the setting, while the middle top line is the POV character. In this case, Keene is my main character. 

In the body of the card, I list the action. I am using a blue ballpoint pen for the first time in forever. Not sure why, but I started that way and I'm running with it. Every time a character appears on stage for the first time, I use all caps and underline the names. You can see that listed here with a pair of HPD detectives. 

For this card in particular, in pencil, I wrote a question to myself. It's a guide for my thinking about the story and whether or not this scene is actually needed. If it's not, I can discard and not bother writing it.

With the "NEED" comment, that's also a note to myself. When I get around to writing this chapter in a few days, I'll need to work in that little comment. 

The "EXPAND" comment refers to the 1.0 version of this book that's already written. I'll likely not simply rewrite/retype this chapter when I get to it, but I'll revise what's already written in my 1.0 manuscript. This note, in red ink, serves as a reminder to expand on something that's already in the text. 

Every morning, after I've poured my coffee, I'll lay out the existing cards and move forward. I'm up to scene 27 so I don't necessarily have to lay out the first dozen scenes or so, but I lay out the last dozen. I'll follow my thought process and then start writing new scenes. I have a comp book in which I write additional notes, mainly about structure and overall thinking. Together, I have an ongoing mindmap-type thing that I can re-read along the way. Also, when this book is done, I can re-visit all my thought processes, especially if they veer away from the index cards.

Yeah, it can happen.

Do you use index cards? If so, how.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Tom Leins tackles carnies and killers

This week, Beau looks at Repetition Kills You, by Tom Leins.

Repetition Kills You is an experimental noir. A novel-in-stories. A literary jigsaw puzzle.

The book comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’. Combined in different ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. The narrative timeline is warped, like a blood-soaked Möbius Strip. It goes round in circles—like a deranged animal chasing its own tail.

The content is brutal and provocative: small-town pornography, gun-running, mutilation and violent, blood-streaked stories of revenge. The cast list includes sex offenders, serial killers, bare-knuckle fighters, carnies and corrupt cops. And a private eye with a dark past—and very little future.


Ben LeRoy is back

 The return of The Ben LeRoy Show

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Locked-Room Pleasure

For the first time in decades, I have found myself returning this year to the locked-room mystery, a particular favorite of mine when I was reading mysteries in my teens.  John Dickson Carr was my favorite Golden Age mystery writer when I was that age, and earlier this year, I re-read and wrote a piece about The Crooked Hinge, one of his best Gideon Fell puzzles.

Maybe it's the year we've had, the mess we're all in.  There's the virus, the political situation, climate catastrophe, the so-often repellent and stultifying discourse on social media.  But the locked-room mystery, perhaps most of all types of mystery stories, represents a wonderful way to escape.  When well-done, they provide a great puzzle that promises an ingenious (though often surprisingly simple) solution.  They provide closure.  They satisfy the mind and soul in a way most traditional mysteries do, but perhaps to a more extreme degree because they are so much about the intricacies of the puzzle itself.  When you read something as complicated and marvelous and flat-out brilliant as Soji Shimada's The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, you are in a world where the most grotesque and impossible crime can actually be solved through reasoning.  Clear vision and lucid thought, put to a worthwhile purpose, win.  What world is this?  Not the one we're living in, obviously.  But therein lies much of the attraction.

To end this summer, I felt myself in the mood for a locked-room novel, but I wanted something on the more modern side.  I thought at once of Adrian McKinty, who I've met and had a swig or two of whisky with at a couple of Noir at the Bars, but who I had never read. I've always really enjoyed his quite entertaining readings at Noir at the Bars, though, and decided to read In the Morning I'll Be Gone, from 2014, the third of his Sean Duffy books.  

By the way, if you haven't read it, you should read McKinty's list from a few years ago of his favorite locked room novels ever.  It's in a couple of places, including his blog, and you can Google the list easily.

As for In the Morning I'll Be Gone, I found it a perfect end of summer read, satisfying on every level.  I'm sure a lot of people reading this have read it.  But in how it mixes a play fair with the reader locked-room puzzle, a murder in a pub, with its look at the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, it was a riveting read.  Classical mystery meets modern-day procedural meets thriller.  What's particularly great is how the locked room case is something Duffy has to solve to get on with the rest of the case he is working on.  He can't proceed to his main goal without solving the pub murder.  I'm trying to think, but I don't recall ever coming across a crime novel structured precisely this way before, and McKinty makes it all click.  That it's also sharply written, with great descriptions of mood and landscape and weather, and quite often funny only add to the pleasure of reading it.  I have to say: I wasn't in the least surprised it's frequently humorous. I expected that from the times I've heard McKinty read.

Anyway, this proved to be just the book I was looking for to end this somewhat frustrating summer, and  now I find myself eager to read more Duffy cases, including Rain Dogs, McKinty's other locked-room (or locked-castle, in this case) novel.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Michelle Garza is kicking down the door.

"Michelle Garza is a force of nature. She’s one of the strongest voices in the new wave of horror fiction. Michelle is a positive influence on the scene, a leading voice in Latinx horror, and a huge supporter of other writers. More importantly, she’s a hustler who gets it done. 

Yeah, she’s online and at home and everywhere else, but she sits down and creates worlds all the time. I have a lot of respect for her work ethic, and listen attentively to anything she has to say. I know writers love to tell stories, but sometimes the best thing we can do is shut the fuck up and listen so we can learn and grow. I suggest you do just that right now because Michelle has something to say. Listen up."
-Gabino Iglesias, author of ZERO SAINTS and COYOTE SONGS.



Michelle Garza 

I was recently watching a documentary about the Golden State killer and what struck me to the core was a female detective who, in an attempt to protect women from this vicious predator, instructed them to stop being so polite.

Stop being polite? That’s an interesting thing, isn’t it?

It was a tactic to stop women from coming into contact with strange men on the street, men who could be a sexual predator and/or murderer, and having a seemingly polite exchange become an open door to the women being victimized. She was asking them to go against their raising in order to keep them from being raped or killed by refraining from engaging men they didn’t know in conversation and if they were confronted with possible danger to defend themselves with all of their strength and to forget the social restraints of being a proper lady. That meant tooth and nail combat, and putting him out of commission by any means possible.

For many girls growing up they are taught, whether by direct instructions, or by learning it from watching the adult women around them, that we shouldn’t be too assertive, or come off as aggressive. It is taught that our best defense is to try to keep a smile on our faces and a soft voice when interacting with men. And this isn’t always because our mothers and grandmothers wanted to raise perfect little ladies, but to protect us from the reactions of some men. Women are taught our politeness will shield us from violent outbursts from men who feel rejected, rebuffed, or made a mockery of.

But that isn’t always the case, especially for women of color and women in the LGBTQ community who face the danger tenfold when not responding to men in a way they believe they deserve.

Sometimes politeness doesn’t protect us at all.

Predatory men see politeness as an open door to further harass and push the boundaries of women and it’s also an excuse for later when they could be called out for being pieces of shit. They just claim their victim was open to their behavior. I think I just vomited in my mouth, and not because I’m the toughest bitch in the world that has never been victimized, but because the old fall back excuse of she acted like she was cool with it is sickeningly familiar to me. Many women and girls have had to laugh off comments or actions of men because they fear retaliation by the perpetrator themselves, or a certain group the predators are members of. The power to discredit and turn the situation around on the victim is the threat too many women live in the shadow of and it needs to stop. If a woman doesn’t reciprocate the pass made at her that’s big red flag, a stop sign stating that whatever was said to her has been uncomfortably laughed off. And that’s when the one-sided flirtation needs to end.

“NO” is a complete sentence, it doesn’t require an explanation. It doesn’t mean convince a woman otherwise or try to change her mind. If any type of coercion, or threats have to take place in order for a woman to accept a sexual advance, it isn’t consensual, and that’s abuse.

The detective wasn’t calling for women to band together in rude bitch gangs, who spat in men’s faces or flipped them the bird when they innocently asked what time it was, or for directions, even though I think she would be way cooler if she had. She wanted women to stop feeling the pressure to be mousy, smiley (even when they didn’t want to be) or accommodating to strange men who intruded on their personal space, men who thought they were owed a moment of a woman’s time or her response to whatever bullshit questions he had. This advice was coming from a woman decades ago and yet I believe it holds up today. Who the hell are these men who think they are owed anything?

Here’s a little secret, and I’ll share it for free…women don’t owe you shit, buddy.

Women are criticized for not smiling, not seeming warm or inviting, for not appearing caring enough to, get this, complete fucking strangers. Who the fuck do you think we are? Bitches from toothpaste commercials? Your mothers? Your servants? Being polite simply means to display behavior that is respectful of other people, it doesn’t mean I have to walk around with a giant grin plastered on my face like a damn psychopath, it doesn’t mean I have to coddle your ego or fulfill your requests. It also doesn’t mean I am obligated to respond to someone I don’t feel comfortable responding to.

These creeps act like we should be grateful of their attention or that their opinions of us are what keep us waking up every morning? Nope. And I ain’t even sorry saying it, your opinion, especially about our appearance is as welcomed as a raging case of food poisoning. You can scream and call us whores, cunts, bitches, prudes, all that negative shit after we exile you to fuckoffville but we really don’t give a rat fuck what you like or what you don’t about us. We don’t give a shit if you think we are fat, if you don’t like tattoos, or if you don’t like how we cut our hair, or if our eyebrows are the shape you like on women. I’ll shave your fuckin eyebrows off and you can see how simple it is to draw them back on, fuckin’ line-crossing-motherfuckers. And don’t get tough with me, I’m a big girl and I’ll fuck you up and if I can’t I’m calling some heavy hitting motherfuckers who will make sure you have to check the toilet for your teeth after every time you take a shit.

Okay, I better get back on topic before someone screams I’m just a hysterical hag. *has pen and paper ready to jot down names of those who do so I can lure them into my hag cave and boil them into a soup after making bread from their bones and fashioning decorative, yet cursed, candles from their body fat.*

Whether you want to believe it or not, probably around eighty percent or more of women have been sexually harassed, or worse, in their lifetimes. The writing community isn’t immune to it, it is plagued by it, nearly every female I have befriended on social media has a horror story to tell and many of them are far worse than any fiction we write. It sickens me, it enrages me, it makes me want to morph into a beast and gorge my hunger for revenge on the flesh of these men and their enablers.

Enablers, they are a special type of asshole, right? I’ll tell you a personal story, something I haven’t really spoken of to many people in years. My sister and I were harassed by a certain breed of mama’s basement dwelling scum, the type of guy who would fight to be the superstar of a press that didn’t pay authors for their work. He was actually feuding with one of our other friends and he dragged us into the war. I’m not going to go into great detail about it because there was a firefight over it on Facebook about five years ago or more and I don’t want to give this piece of shit anymore limelight from it. When we were going through all this shit, I was a member of an all-female horror writers group and I thought that would be a safe space to speak about this guy who was writing really disgusting things about my sister and I, but to my shock there were two women in the group who shared what I was saying with him. One even went as far as to question who we thought we were to mess with this guy, and let me remind you this guy was a guy who didn’t pay people for their work and was known for being a douche bag. Just because we weren’t well known, does that give this guy the right to sexually harass us? Ummmmm….no, bitches, it doesn’t. And people wonder why victims don’t speak up? They wonder why we are apprehensive about even telling other women.

That’s okay, though. I look back now and I tell myself neither one of those enabling bitches have been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, so in this case I chose to dust myself off, hold my head up high (along with my middle fingers) and bury them in my success. If a woman speaks up, you listen, simple.

We are tired of being shamed and blamed for being abused, and the same old shit always being whispered when the story unfolds of our victimization. You have probably already memorized them all by now; they have been repeated a million times and etched into the hearts of any woman who has ever walked the face of the earth to haunt them when they think of speaking out.

“Well, what did she do to him to make him do that?”- WRONG, we are all adults. What kind of a fucking response even is this? You think women seek to be humiliated and harassed? If you do then you’re piece of dog shit. These men have no concept of what back the fuck off means, that’s the problem. We didn’t hypnotize them with our vagina magic to act like an animal in order to slander them.

“What was she wearing?”- WRONG, a woman can wear anything or nothing at all and that isn’t an excuse to treat her like shit or creep on her. Women dress to make themselves happy, not you, so get your ego in check, not everything is about pleasing you, pendejo.

“She led him on.”- WRONG, women have the right to think you’re an okay dude and change her mind at any time without owing you anything, motherfucker. And just because someone laughs at your joke or agrees a movie is cool doesn’t mean we want to see your wiener. Pump the brakes and think about how a simple conversation isn’t a request for anything sexual from you. Surprise sexting isn’t attractive at all, women don’t like that shit. We want to know you respect us and we have many different ways of telling you what we want; we don’t need anything from you unless we directly request it. And further more if you’re one of those vile piles of pig shit who use past flirtations or pictures to pressure a girl into things she doesn’t want to do then you need to be tied inside a bag of rattlesnakes and set on fire.

“She was drunk or high.”- WRONG, any time consent can’t be given of sound mind then that’s called rape, fuckface.

“He was drunk.”- WRONG, there’s an old saying that only drunks and children tell the truth but it’s not completely true. They speak their truth, as in what they say has already been in their mind, it wasn’t magically conjured there by alcohol. People don’t say and do vile shit just because they get drunk, they don’t become a racist or sexual predator because of a few too many drinks. The behavior or thoughts are already there, they just feel emboldened by alcohol to speak them out loud, whether it’s right or wrong. I once sat in a baby swimming pool fully clothed then jumped out and smashed a cardboard box fort my nieces and nephews made (sorry kids) and breakdanced on it while smoking Marlboros that had gotten wet from the pool water so I had to break the filters off and smoked them like a joint. On my fourteenth birthday I got so drunk on cheap wine that I fell asleep on a riverbed next to my dog, Cookie. I once had a dance-off with my sister’s husband on my mama’s back porch and he won because he could do the worm but I couldn’t, but I have never groped someone or sexually harassed them because I was drunk. Parties and conventions can get crazy but it’s not an excuse, they shouldn’t be a breeding ground for rape. If you are the type of person who gets so out of control you don’t remember what you have done while intoxicated, then you need to lay off the booze. You’re not a werewolf, you shouldn’t awaken naked in a field the day after partying and worry if you have done irreparable damage to the people around you, that’s totally not cool. Don’t make people not trust you around women, children, or farm animals.

“She is promiscuous.”- WRONG, a woman can do whatever she wants with as many people as she wants and that doesn’t give you the right to touch her or verbally abuse her. She can actually have a consensual encounter with a man once and decide he ain’t getting it ever again. Just because she was down with it once don’t mean you get a lifetime pass to it. Consent is something that should be clear all the time PERIOD.

I personally prescribe to the Salt-N-Pepa view about a woman’s sexuality…IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

After so much shit has come to light, I have seen quite a few men begin to reflect on their actions, and how they speak to women and make them feel. I think that is definitely a good start to stopping this cycle. It needs to continue until the day when we see a woman struggling there aren’t any people trying to defend the man who made her feel like shit. There may be men who are remorseful to how they once behaved and would like to change, good for you, continue on that path. It’s the only way to make this community a truly safe place for everyone. There are good men out there, men who don’t act like scum, look to them as an example.

We all joke about resting bitch face but guess where the need for that came from? Oh that’s right, the stone-cold don’t-fucking-speak-to-me look came from the thousands of times women have smiled in a polite way at the wrong motherfucker and they came back at us thinking we wanted to see pictures of their dangling nutsacks…WE DON’T WANT TO SEE THAT SHIT! Put them away before we start cutting them off and forcing you to eat them. We’ve been pushed to this, so if you want to keep your packages intact then heed this warning. We are beyond done with your shit.

Until the day comes when we don’t have to teach our girls they need to be careful wearing a skirt to school instead of teaching our boys they need to respect women no matter what they are wearing, that women aren’t property or prizes like shiny little pennies they can pick up and claim as their own, and control like robots, then this cycle will only continue.

I don’t care if you read this and think I’m exaggerating or I’m hysterical, you obviously don’t know the depths of exhaustion women feel after so many years of this. I’ll be forming my own rude-bitch gang, and I don’t need any applications. If you’re a woman who is sick of this shit then let’s do this. I’ll bring the switchblades because it’s time to shut these motherfuckers down. And if you’re a man, one of the good ones, one of those heavy hitting motherfuckers I referred to above, even if you are too far away to make some asshole pick up their teeth, do it virtually. It’s time to stand united against this tidal wave of misogyny and sexually abusive behavior. It’s time to say FUCK BEING POLITE.

-Michelle Garza

Michelle Garza is one half of the twin sister writing team Sisters of Slaughter. Their debut novel, MAYAN BLUE, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award in 2016. Their cutting and vicious tales have been published by Thunderstorm Books, Bloodshot Books, Death’s Head Press, and Sinister Grin. 

Currently they are rabidly working on a story for the WE ARE WOLVES charity anthology!  A collection of tales inspired by and in response to the real life horrors of objectification and discrimination. On top of that, they are working on a few longer projects and next year they will present a collection of their most popular classics.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Cherishing a New Bruce Springsteen Song

 A couple things occurred to me on Thursday when I heard the new Bruce Springsteen song, "Letter to You," from his forthcoming album of the same name.

The most obvious one was that there was a brand-new Bruce Springsteen song! Just a day after the rumor started, the official press release drops as does the first single. It is always a great day when there's a new Springsteen tune, especially in 2020 (a damn good year for music). It struck me, however, that this one was slightly different. 

Not only was it a record with the E Street Band, but it was by an artist who had already reached the age of seventy. The Boss is seventy? Seriously? And then the video shows the entire band recording the songs for the album. It was like seeing old friends gathered again, smiling, laughing, working, creating, all in its black-and-white glory. 

The song's lyrics are mature and nuanced, deep with emotion. Hearing them, reading them as they played across the screen, I'll admit to a bit of emotion. Not nearly as much as last year's "Hello Sunshine" debut, but it was there. Why? Well, the meaning of the lyrics, of course, but also the echo of a question I hated to admit at the time: how many more days will we have that feature a new Springsteen song? 

He's seventy and the rest of the band ain't getting any younger. Unless Springsteen releases an album and unequivocably announces it is the last one, chances are we'll never know which day was the last to hear a brand-new Springsteen song. We'll be able to look back and note it, but not on that actual day.

I swept those thoughts away from the front of mind, but confess to thinking them and just relished the song.

Know what else made it special? The person I was with when I heard it.

I wake early every morning to work on my fiction writing, so I had already been alerted that the new song dropped. I had read the press release, seen the album cover, and read the tracklisting (which means little ahead of hearing the actual album). I was ready to hear the song. Last year, with "Hello Sunshine," I had listened to it about five times before my son got out of bed.

But on Thursday, I waited. My son, a college freshman, likes a few Springsteen albums and I know he'd want to hear the song before he drove to school. Well, *I* wanted him to hear it before school, so I made sure he did. Perhaps, on an unconscious level, the thoughts about The Boss not getting any younger played a role. I can't say, but I wanted to share the experience.

And it was all the more special.

It also made me think of all the other musicians, authors, and actors who I've grown up with. Some have already passed on but most of my favorites are still with us. Made me cherish them and their work all the more.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Beau, Barron, Blood


This week, Beau looks at some Laird Barron.

Isaiah Coleridge is a mob enforcer in Alaska--he's tough, seen a lot, and dished out more. But when he forcibly ends the moneymaking scheme of a made man, he gets in the kind of trouble that can lead to a bullet behind the ear. Saved by the grace of his boss and exiled to upstate New York, Isaiah begins a new life, a quiet life without gunshots or explosions. Except a teenage girl disappears, and Isaiah isn't one to let that slip by. And delving into the underworld to track this missing girl will get him exactly the kind of notice he was warned to avoid.

Listen to a sample from the book: SoundCloud


Praise for Blood Standard and Laird Barron

“Laird Barron has so much fun with this character, who admires Humphrey Bogart’s take on Sam Spade and tosses off one-liners that bring the spirit of Dashiell Hammett into the 21st century.”—Raleigh News & Observer

“The action is fast-paced, the characters well drawn, the settings vivid and the hardboiled prose quirky in the manner of a writer who cut his teeth on horror and poetry.”—Associated Press

“Singular and excellent…Blood Standard sets a standard that will be hard to match.”—criminalelement.com

Grab your copy

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Class Action Park

What was the most dangerous amusement park ever?  Among them certainly has to be Action Park, in Vernon New Jersey, open from 1978 to 1996, and what went on there, in all its crazy 1980s glory, is captured in the documentary Class Action Park, now showing on HBO Max.

It's certain that six people died as a result of going on rides at Action Park.  The overall number of injuries suffered, serious and less so, was countless.  And yet, of course, the danger was a part of the park's allure, and the movie tells the story of the park's history and popularity, with many who worked there and went on its attractions remembering what things were like.  Action Park was an experience shared that those who partook of it will never forget, like, well, a war.  A war that was fun and that you're fortunate enough to have survived.  For the first hour, the story told is mainly amusing to hilarious, and then about an hour in, the tone darkens, as the mother of the park's first fatality victim tells how her son died at the park and how the park's owner --  quite a character himself -- lied to the press and public about the incident.  

I don't want to give all the great anecdotes in the film away.  But let's just say that the thinking behind Action Park was to have a place that essentially had no (or very few) rules.  Teenagers, some underage and most with no training, comprised the staff; drinking was rampant; safety definitely not a priority.  Everything you did at the park you did at your own very high risk, and as it turned out, the park operated without any liability insurance so that if you were hurt, you really didn't have much legal recourse.

Where the film perhaps is most interesting is how it gets at how childhood was so different back during this time.  I grew up primarily in the 70s, just before the heyday of Action Park, but if I wanted to show one film to my own 15-year-old to give him a quick encapsulated version of what a certain type of childhood was like back in those decades, I might just show him Class Action Park.  It perfectly captures a period that is perhaps the last of its kind. It is a period when as a kid a large portion of your life happened without your parents knowing anything about what you were doing.  Your parents could be entirely loving, and yet supervision was often...lax.  This is something I talk about with friends of mine from childhood, how great it was not to have the kind of constant parental involvement kids (including my own) get now.  How much fun you could have on your own.  Outside the house, you didn't need your parents for much of anything. Just show up for dinner, eat your meals, wash, sleep, do your schoolwork, and more or less, everything is fine.  And yet, even if it were possible nowadays (which it isn't), would you want your kids to grow up in the way kids did in the 70s and 80s?  

The fun and sense of freedom so many who went to Action Park had is apparent from their stories, but as one guy laughingly says, he'd never want his kid now to go to a place like Action Park.  When you indulge in nostalgia, how much do you weed out from your memories?  As one former park visitor says, "In the 80s kids were running free. They were running outdoors. They were scraping their knees. They were going to Action Park. We look back at our childhoods. It's carefree. We didn't have jobs. We didn't have to answer to anybody. We could do what we wanted, right?...So when you're nostalgic for Action Park, you're nostalgic for childhood, you're nostalgic for freedom. You're not nostalgic for being hurt. You're nostalgic for everything else."

As another says of this time: if you ask people who went to Action Park, "Do you think the way you grew up was healthy for a kid, they'll say 'no'.  We laugh about it cause what else are we going to do, but we don't think it was healthy...You were swimming in pools where the lifeguards didn't pay attention. You were going on rides where people got hurt all the time.  And we felt like we were on our own. We felt like the world was an unsafe place. But it's what we got, so fuck you."

Class Action Park is very entertaining and makes you think about the double-edged quality of nostalgia.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Who is E.A. Barres and what has he done with Ed Aymar?

E.A. Barres has a new thriller coming out November 10. Are you ready?


In this intense and edgy tale, two very different men are murdered. In the same fashion and on the same night. Soon after the shocking murders their desperate widows must discover how the men were connected and why they were killed before a similar fate befalls what remains of their families.

One of my favorite writers working today, Barres builds deep and thoughtful characters organically and emotionally, all while playing up the gritty, furious pace. This dark novel is filled with greed, corruption, brutality, and shades of dark humor. A matrix perfectly suited to Ed’s talent and personality.


Some might find it hard to believe that a writer with such a turn for the brutal is actually kind, thoughtful, and one of the most inspiring and helpful people in the writing industry. So, how did this lovely man come up with such an unrelenting and vicious novel.

“I've been writing toward They're Gone for a while now. My work has always had a vigilante streak through it, and female characters who, in some way, have been done wrong. The idea of a dual female narrative, featuring women in response to the men around them, and then subverting that control, was a natural but unplanned progression.

And I wanted to write something commercial. The response to The Unrepentant has been lovely, but more than a few people have told me that it was a hard read. I understand that, and I understood the type of book it was going to be as I researched and wrote it. I wanted to write something that had commercial appeal, but was still something I identified with.”

Ed Barres (Ed Aymar) 


"As much as it pains me to admit it Ed Aymar (E.A. Barres) is one of the most insightful and nuanced writers working today and he fearlessly steps outside his comfort zone on a regular basis. He is constantly challenging himself and his readers.” 

Author S. A. Cosby won the 2019 Anthony Award for Best Short Story "The Grass Beneath My Feet", and his previous books include BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, MY DARKEST PRAYER, and the recent and highly acclaimed BLACKTOP WASTELAND.

“I was glad to receive an early copy of this book, and I was riveted from page one. This novel is filled with all my favorite things: diverse characters, strong women, interesting insights into domestic relationships and the complexities of grief. And I particularly love this author’s brand of crime fiction: gritty, darkly humorous, sensitive, and sprinkled with violence where necessary.

In his new novel, E.A. Barres masterfully weaves together the stories of two very different women and their burning desire to learn the truth about their murdered husbands. They’re Gone is about secrets and marriage, betrayal and grief, and will leave you questioning whether you can ever really know someone. A stunning, dark, evocative thriller.”

Jennifer Hillier, author of six novels, including JAR OF HEARTS, which won the Thriller Award, and was shortlisted for the Anthony and Macavity Awards. Minotaur Books released her newest psychological thriller, LITTLE SECRETS, in April of this year. 

"Ed has a way of bringing people together. We met at a book signing and shortly afterwards he invited me to read at my first Noir at the Bar event, where I met you! Ed is very supportive of other writers and has a knack for highlighting the talents of others, women in particular."

Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red-Carpet Catering Mysteries. Shawn is on the Board of Malice Domestic, is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Crime Writers' Association, and Mystery Writers of America. An accomplished short story writer, she’s won an Agatha for “The Last Word.” Shawn is also an editor at Level Best Books, publishing crime fiction anthologies and novels.

“The thing I love most about Ed Aymar’s (E.A. Barres) writing is his voice. While a lot of folks are good at making a reader unable to look away from a train wreck of a situation unfolding on the page, Ed has a knack for making you glad he brought you along for the ride. It only takes a page or two for me to be hooked into whatever story he’s telling, and in five I care about the characters so much I have to see how it turns out. That kind of talent can only come from a guy with a huge heart—and anyone who’s lucky enough to call Ed a friend will tell you he has one of the kindest hearts in publishing. I can’t wait to dig in to this new novel.”

LynDee Walker is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of LEAVE NO STONE and the national bestselling author of two crime fiction series. The Faith McClellan series and the Agatha nominated Nichelle Clark series.

E.A. Barres/E.A. Aymar's newest novel, THEY'RE GONE, will be published in November 2020. His other books include THE UNREPENTANT, and he co-edited and contributed to THE SWAMP KILLERS and THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD.