Thursday, October 29, 2009

The pile grows

Two things happened today. First, it was my birthday so I got books. (thank you Amazon wish list for ending my history of bad presents!) I added said books to by TBR pile and it saddened me. Then, my latest in the Hard Case Crime book club came in the mail. Could you tell I was a club member? I'm still catching up from last year's $1.00 book sale. Lo and behold in with this month's book was the flyer for this year's book club. It is genius. For only a buck each I can catch up on old Hard Case titles I missed. They wrote this year's list just for me. Literally every single book in the sale bin, all 12 of them, were ones I don't have yet. So I get to call tomorrow and say, "Send 'em all!" *sigh* When will I find the time? Who knows. But for a dollar each I don't care if I wait until I retire. And that, my friends, could be a long way off. Sure I'm a year older and crossing the threshold of being aged out of my business but I need to work for many many more years. Such is the burden of being an independent freelance employee with no 401k, no matching funds to a retirement plan, no pension, no health coverage, can I stop? I'm getting sad again.

Getting older doesn't matter to me. The growing size of that pile is starting to concern me though....

Better Video

Book trailer One Too Many Blows To The Head from Eric Beetner on Vimeo.

Better quality version of the trailer. Still can't figure out how to put it over on the side there without it getting cut off. Anyone have tips?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The line I like today

"Las Vegas in the daytime is a steel and glass hangover."

I quite like that one. If you've ever been there you know it's true.

Just did our first interview for the book and it was a fun one. I'll link to it here when it comes out. Very unique way of doing a Q & A.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It is my considered opinion that the easiest thing in the world to write is a bad children's book.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The early years

The last time I was at my Father's house he dug up yet another old file folder of my school work. He saves this stuff for some unknown reason and from the dates on most of it these files have made it from Iowa to our first house in Connecticut to our second and then out to Ohio well after my sister and I graduated college. Well, I'm glad he did because in browsing this latest bit of suburban archaeology I found this, a story I wrote circa 1980. Much to my surprise, it is a crime story. I assume my first. It certainly doesn't appear to be written for any school assignment. This was just writing for the pleasure of it
There are several thing I love about this find. First, why the hell was a boy of such an age (10 or 11, not being able to pinpoint an exact date on it but doing a decent job of assuming based on the other layers of strata surrounding it in the file folder) why was I writing about guns and what appears to be loansharking? I have posted the clearer typewritten version, my sister takes credit for the typing, and the handwritten original draft – both with bonus illustrations! Just click to make them legible if you dare.
It goes without saying it is bad and shows no innate talent for the written word at all but some of the lines are classic such as my parenthetic aside when the female character stops off a clothing store "(It is usual for girls to do that sort of thing)" Wow. The ten-year old me was sexist I guess.
I also love my reluctance to try spelling out Minnesota so I instead use Minn.
It is not hard to stay humble of my own skills at writing but if I ever need to be taken down a peg or two I'll just read this and remember how little I knew then and how little has changed since.
And how did I know what a Luger was? Too much TV.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Proof (that it exists)

I am holding in my hand (makes typing difficult) an actual copy of One Too Many Blows To The Head. Our print proofs are in. It is very exciting to see it as an actual book. Now, one more time through with the fine toothed comb and we're off to the presses for real. Hooray!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back to work

After a nearly four week break I am back at work on the new novel. I started reading through what I've done so far last night and I was shocked to find I actually like it. I wasn't slacking in my down time. It was final revisions on One Too Many Blows To The Head, some new short work, articles for the Noir City Sentinel, the day job was a real grind – 3 weekends! – and a new story plus outline for a new contest thing that I think I will enter. Why not?
Anyway, back to it. I think I have settled on a title: The Devil Doesn't Want Me. It is a great line I heard in a Story Corps podcast. If you don't know story corps they are a documentary project run by NPR who go around and collect stories from ordinary Americans. It is fascinating to hear. I love regular people. This line was said as his own introduction by a 90 year-old man talking about his love with his wife of over 60 years. He said in a thick New York Jewish accent, "My name is (whatever it was) and I'm nearly ninety. Only reason I'm here is 'cause the devil doesn't want me." I heard that and synapses in my brain fired like a first kiss. Much better than my temp title of 17 Years. Bo-ring!
Anyway, I was thinking of doing a thing on the blog of putting up lines of mine that I actually like but it sounded too self-congratulatory . But I do like this one: "The air in the bar was stale. Equal parts nicotine and sweat. If bad breath had an address this was it."
I am easily entertained.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

3rd place winner! Jimmy Callaway

We gave him 1000 words, he only needed 220. What I really loved about this story was the rich backstory told in so few words. It makes the reader put together a few clues which is really engaging. Enjoy meeting Uncle Sal.

Uncle Sal
by Jimmy Callaway

            I whistled loud and sharp through the gap where my front two teeth used to be.  Down the block, Morty turned around, waved, and trotted up to meet me.
            “Hey-hey, Sal, howzit goin’?” Morty said.  His big buck teeth stuck out of his mouth like snow shovels, and his lips made dry smacking sounds as he talked.
            “Not too good,” I said.
            “Yeah?  That’s too bad,” he said, “The kids sick or somethin’?”
            “Kids’re fine.”
            “How’s the wife?  How’s she, uh, doin’?”  Morty kept his eyes locked on my shirt collar, no higher than that.
            “Marie’s fine,” I said.
            “Oh, that’s good.  Good, good, good.”
            “It’s my sister,” I said.
            “Yeah.  She’s knocked up.”
            Morty swallowed.  “Oh, yeah, huh?  Well, huh.  How about that?”
            “Yeah,” I said, “How about that.”  A little whistle escaped through the gap in my teeth.
            Morty chuckled a little and said, “Hey, Sally, that whistle’a yours, I’ll tell ya.  I mean, I heard ya all the way down the block, man.”  He chuckled again.  “Where’d you learn to whistle like that, Sally?”
            I smiled.  “Marie’s brother taught me.”
            “Oh, yeah?”
            “Yeah,” I said, “It was an early wedding gift.”
            Morty frowned.  He said, “Wedding gif—” and then I cracked him one right in the fucking mouth.
            Now Morty can whistle real good, too.
BIO: Jimmy Callaway lives and works in San Diego, CA.  Please visit for more shenanigans.  Thanks as usual to Cameron Ashley and Josh Converse.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2nd place winner! J.F. Juzwik

She had me at the title. What follows is pretty good too. Two sad suckers, not the best tough guy gangster types around – my kind of people. Enjoy what J.F. does with the fist portion of the challenge. It caught me off guard and was the only interpretation of its kind in the contest. Well done!


Dim Tim and Jukebox Johnny - By J. F. Juzwik
Oh yeah.  This day's gone straight to hell.  Got to figure out how a simple 'go and get' went so sour.
Let me introduce myself.  Name's Jukebox Johnny.  Folks call me 'Jukebox' since these feet don't go near a joint unless there's a box of tunes in it.  And 'Johnny'?  Well, that's my name.  My partner?  He goes by 'Dim Tim'.  Before you get your nose out of joint, that ain't a put-down, like I'm saying he's a dummy.  He is a dummy, but he follows orders good, and he's got a punch like those rods the dicks use when they're raiding Mr. G's game parlors.  It don't hurt his feelings, since noone knows better than Tim what a low watt he is.
Let me tell you about Mr. G.  He's the man--really, and Tim and I work for him.  See, Mr. G don't like to get his hands dirty, so when somebody needs a lesson taught or a remind made, that's where we come in.  There's one other thing about Mr. G.  He has a different sense of humor and has to get the last laugh.  How?  Cross him, and he'll have your lips removed and put in a jar.  I heard he keeps the jars somewhere in his office.  I've never seen them, but my sources are good.
Back to figuring out how this day ended up so fucked.  The job was simple enough.  Mr. G hired a floater to pick up his cash.  Now, a floater don't belong to one crew; he just does for whoever.  Trouble with this one, Artsy Arty, he hadn't done much for anyone to build a rep, so he was kind of taken on cold--see?
Why 'Artsy' Arty?  No matter what the job, if some beatnick lumped up some clay or dripped paint on a bedsheet and set it up on a corner, Arty'd stop and scope it out.  Shows, they call them, but it's nothing but crap--really.  But Arty couldn't pass them up, so, he's 'Artsy' Arty.  And 'Arty'?  Probably just his name.
So, he decided to get Mr. G's cash, but not do the deliver part.  Word went around that this mo was going to skip with Mr. G's green, so all the crews did a hands off.  Until he could connect with some ijit who didn't have the sense God gave him not to help somebody who'd cross Mr. G, he figured he'd just stash the bills in a locker.
We were sent to get the cash.  Tim and me were having a cup of joe at the diner on Fifth, and, out of the storage place, comes Arty, balls of steel, like he's taking a stroll down the lane.  We came upon him and damn, if there wasn't a shitload of that fuckin' hippie crap all out on the sidewalk.  There was also a boatload of people, so Arty blends.  I went in one end and Tim in the other, thinking we'll meet up with Arty in the middle.
To be straight, it was tough to focus because the junk was all hands.  Yep, I said hands.  Pictures of hands, sculptures of hands, snapshots of hands--nothing but hands.  That tic in my left eye started to come back, when I saw Tim grab Arty and move him to the street.  Just then, this punk pushed his way by, jumped in a cab and yelled for the driver to get him to the airport fast.  Sorta wish I had a plane to catch about now...
Where was I?  Oh yeah.  We took Arty someplace quiet.  Couldn't figure him because he should've been pissin' his pants, but he kept laughing.  Laughing when Tim nabbed him, all the way to the warehouse, and while standing on a chair with a rope around his neck.  Tim and I both had frisked him good, but no key, and he wouldn't spill.  Went right from the storage place to the hand show to the chair.  So, what did he do with the locker key?
I guess I got kinda excited because I jiggled the chair too hard and his feet slipped off and, well..., bad news for Arty.  But, worse news for Tim and me--no Mr. G's money.
So, now, we sit, Tim and I, in Mr. G's office.  Trying to figure out what to say so we can save our skin--well, not our skin, exactly.  I touched my lips with my fingers so I'd remember them later, when I heard Tim laugh.  Now, I have as much a sense of humor as the next fella, but what the fuck was so funny?
I admit, there are times when I wish I wasn't so much of a sophisticate as I am, and was just a short stack like Tim.  Maybe then, I wouldn't be shaking in my fucking shoes.  He told me he remembered how he found Arty, all over a sculpture of a hand--like, feeling it up.  Sorry, I didn't get the joke, until Tim corrected himself.  Arty wasn't making his move on a hand.  It was a fist.  Okay then.  What the fuck...?
Arty was feeling up a..., a fist?  Fuck me until a week from Tuesday.  That's what he did with the motherfucking key.  He put it in the fist.  All we had to do now was go to the corner, slide the key outa the fist, and get the money.  I stood up, and was gonna say we needed to go before Mr. G. came, when Tim stated laughing harder.  Said he didn't understand people; like that chump who almost knocked me down.  How he grabbed the fist, threw money down, and jumped in that cab.  I sat back down.
Since I hadn't actually seen it, Tim made my day with one last gem.
"You know," he said, "on that statue of the fist, the middle finger was up."
I didn't say anything, but somehow I'd already known.
Bio:  J. F. Juzwik's crime fiction novel and stories can be found at DiskUsPublishing, Crooked and A Twist of Noir. Her thriller will soon be appearing in Mythica Publishing's anthology, Maybe Tomorrow.  Information on all her projects, and her blog, can be found on her website at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We have winners!

Congratulations to Robert Crisman for taking the top prize in our little contest here with his story A Prescription For Nerves. You can find the story at A Twist Of Noir. He is now the proud owner of FIVE signed books including One Too Many Blows To The Head (y'know, once we have actual books) JB Kohl's debut novel The Deputy's Widow, Norm Brown's Carpet Ride, Christine Husom's Buried in Wolf Lake and Deborah J. Ledford's Staccato.
We got so many great submissions it was hard to choose but in the end the judges chose three very different stories that, taken together, I think make a nice little trio of the different interpretations of the 'Fist' theme.
Check this spot tomorrow for Winner of 2ND place - J.F. Juzwik's Dim Tim & Jukebox Johnny. J.F. is the winner of signed copies of One Too Many Blows To The Head and The Deputy's Widow.
Then come back for Jimmy Callaway's Uncle Sal. Jimmy wins his very own signed copy of One Too Many Blows To The Head.
Congratulations to the two of them for rounding out our top three.
And since this is a promotion after all, the latest update is that the book is at the printer! We are expecting our print proof Monday and then it is off to the races.
My first signing/launch party is November 14th at 5:30 pm at the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles. Come on down and say hi, get a book signed, punch me in the mouth. Y'know, whatever.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A little something while we wait for books to be printed. It's so close! If you're not already a Facebook friend, look us up!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Submissions are closed!

From where I'm sitting it is after midnight and that means submissions are closed for our little FIST contest. Thank you so much to all who entered. It has been a pleasure to read your stories as they came in. Now they go to our panel of mystery judges and the top 3 winners will be announced here and a A Twist of Noir on Oct. 15th which may well exactly correspond to our release date now.
One minor switch in the prize package. Christine Husom has sent us not her first book, Murder In Winnebago County, but a hot off the press version of her brand spankin' new sequel Buried In Wolf Lake. You'll be the first on your block to read this one. Then you'll just have to go back and see where it all started.