Friday, March 6, 2015


2015 is a busy year for me and will see the release of 5 books (!) It all starts now with the release of the full omnibus edition of The Year I Died 7 Times from Beat To A Pulp press. (ok, this one is a bit of a cheat since it came out in installments over the course of last year)

It's in both paperback and ebook.

It's great to have this one all in one volume with a fancy new cover I quite like. Who is that talented artist they use?

Special thanks to David Cranmer for steering the boat on this one for a long year leading up to this moment. 

Monday, January 19, 2015


Author S.W. Lauden has interviewed...sorry, interrogated me over at his blog. Go check it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Grant Jerkins Interview

Grant Jerkins quickly became a favorite author of mine when I ripped through his three novels, The Ninth Step, A Very Simple Crime and The End Of The Road. Since then I've been on the lookout for a new Grant Jerkins novel and now we have one. One with a very interesting backstory.
I'm always fascinated to hear when other writers have done collaborations in the same way that JB Kohl and now Frank Zafiro and I have done in that we have never met in person. When I read that Grant and his co-author of Done In One, Jan Thomas, worked this way I had to know more.
The new novel, about a police sniper, originally started as a screenplay by Thomas which Jerkins had been assigned to do a rewrite on, unbeknownst to Thomas as is so often the case in Hollywood. The film died in development but the story stuck with Grant and his polished rewrite stuck with Jan. When Grant pitched the idea of turing it in to a novel, Jan went for it and now Done In One is upon us. 
I don't need to see anything except Grant Jerkins' name on the cover to know I want to read it, but add to that Jan Thomas' personal experience being married to a police sniper and you know this one has the voice and authenticity to make a very compelling read.
Thanks to Grant for submitting to questioning.

Eric: You and I have both written with co-authors whom we've never actually met in person. Tell me about how it worked for you and Jan. Lots of lengthy phone calls? All email exchanges?  

Grant: 95% of it was email exchanges with a few phone calls here and there. I was doing much of the constructing, so I really needed those emails to have a written record of what we were planning. Jan was composing these lengthy, lengthy stories of her and her husband's life together, and I'd sometimes cut-and-paste whole passages into the narrative. There were things I knew I wanted to use, but not sure how or when I could work them into the book. There was so much great information and insight Jan was giving me. It got to be like spinning plates. But we got all the important stuff in there. 

Eric: I'm fascinated by the history of this project going back to when it was a screenplay and you did a rewrite without Jan ever even knowing about it. Was it hard to adapt your work into a novel form?  

Grant:  That's a good question. The answer is yes and no. The script was maybe 20K words and the novel around 80K. It was like working from an outline, I guess. There was the safety net of the preconceived story. but there was also sixty thousand extra words of narrative to imagine. The biggest challenge was letting the imagination have free (novelistic) reign, but then stopping and realizing, well, my imagination carried me way the hell over here, but the original story is over there, and how are we going to get them to meet up again? But it worked out, and I think it feels very organic, like an original novel.

Eric: Obviously the story already had a structure and a solid story from the script days, but how much did the story evolve as the novel went along?

 Grant:  We didn't really add new characters or events or plot devices. We simply gave our characters fuller, deeper, authentic, lived-in lives. I think with a screenplay you're relying on actors to breathe life into the characters and for the director to fill in the mood, pace, tension, setting, subtext, etc. An author does all of those things on the page. That's what we used the extra words for.

Eric: Did you two trade chapters? How did the day-to-day workings of the writing go? 

Grant: Passing it back and forth didn’t work for either of us. I was in constant communication with Jan. She was writing out these long passages of memories and observations and insights and plot ideas and character studies. Thousands and thousands of words. I used our script as the starting point, but also wove in (often word-for-word) these amazing things Jan was coming up with. 

Eric: Once you were working did you talk constantly or get out of each other's way and let the writing flow? 

Grant: Were in constant communication. -- Small things changed, were brought into sharper focus. Things were improved. But mostly, it was a deepening of what was already there. I wanted the reader to know what it might feel like to actually kill people for a living. What does your life look like if that's your job? What does it feel like to be married to that person? 

Eric: Did you two do any revising or changing of the plot line as you went, or did you wait until revisions to make any course adjustments? 

Grant:  It pretty much stayed the same. I would say we fine tuned things, but nothing drastic. 

Eric: Living in different states, how did you celebrate the release of the book? 

Grant:  Heh. Now that's a funny question. Insightful. Jan is the demonstrative one. I'm Mr. Cool Been There Done That, and Jan is wide-eyed and genuinely excited about the whole process. And really, a lot of her excitement has rubbed off on me, so that I feel an optimism I hadn't felt in a while. The pleasure of publishing and sharing a story with readers. We celebrated with a phone call. But what Jan really wants is for me to come to California so that she and The Sniper can take me out to the range and teach me to shoot. I know nothing about guns.

Eric: Any plans to meet up on a book tour or anything? Does a face-to-face jinx the process in any way?  

Grant:  No plans to meet up. Just a sincere hope that it happens one day soon. We are literally on opposite sides of the country. I'm always worried about jinxing something. Very superstitious about the work. But I think meeting Jan face-to-face would be an anti-jinx. Good juju.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End

You should know that my standard for newsworthy/blogworthy events in my writing life is pretty high, so therefore not many posts of late. But look out 2015. Lots of stuff coming down the pike.

For now I'd like to send out some year-end thank yous. Be prepared - I'm about to forget some people.

2014 was kind of a kick in the balls for me, writing-wise. There were several setbacks (another reason for the lack of posts is I hate to complain in public when things aren't going my way. It's self serving and whiny. I know my life is pretty damn good, despite what Amazon sales ranks might say about it)

But throughout this kinda crappy year were several highlights and many, many good people who inspired me and kept me positive in the face of bad news. First off, to those who published me. I am eternally grateful. David Cranmer from Beat To A Pulp press has been so good to me this year. We entered this crazy experiment with The Year I Died 7 Times and he kept up the work literally all year long. It was a lot of work and it would have been easy for him to bail on it midway through, but I'm glad he didn't. And all the while he was prepping other great books like Jake Hinkson's The Big Ugly and the Drifter Detective series. 

To Eric Campbell for agreeing to publish not one but two books in 2015. It's gonna be a good year for us. To Kjetil Hestvedt for saving my novel Rumrunners from obscurity. Looking forward to May. Both these gentlemen have been a pleasure to work with.

To the anthologies: thank you for either inviting me in or accepting my submission into some truly great company this year. I'm incredibly proud to have stories in Dark Corners Vol. 2 (thanks Craig McNeely) All Due Respect #2 (Thanks Chris Rhatigan and Mike Monson) Pulse Fiction (Thanks Tommy Hancock and Paul Bishop) Hoods, Hot Rods and Hellcats (Thanks, Chad!) Reloaded (Thanks, Ron Earl) and finally to Joe Clifford for having me in Trouble In The Heartland. For a year when I feel like I didn't write or publish very much, this is a list I can be proud of and reminds me I was actually working.

To those who have shown support and friendship, I thank you. Scott Montgomery at Mystery People - wow. To have a bookseller champion my work is amazing. To Matt Coyle and Lisa Brackmann for inviting me to read at their new Noir at the Bar. To Stephen Blackmoore for sticking with me through our own Noir at the Bar for 4+ years now! To Michelle Isler for the unflagging support and even feeding me on her way through town. To Lauren O'Brien for being my favorite Bouchercon hangout pal. To Meg Gardiner, Brett Battles and Elyse Dinh for making great nights out a Bcon tradition now. 

To Jennifer Busskohl and Frank Zafiro for co-writing with me. This cannot be underestimated how much I owe them. To Holly West for navigating this crazy writing world with me (and then leaving me in a ditch when she moved away). To everyone who paid me to do a book cover for them, and even the ones who didn't pay.

Here's where I start forgetting people. Anyone who left a review, bought a book, retweeted one of my self-serving self promotions, had an encouraging word or a handshake. To all the authors who came out and read for Noir at the Bar. And to all those authors who graciously gave a story to the anthology I'm trying to get going and all the writers who wrote great books I had the pleasure of reading this year, I thank you.

2015 is going to be a busy one for me. 3 new novels, the full omnibus of Year I Died 7 Times, a few surprises. There will more to post about next year. But stayed tuned to my full website, for news and updates. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cover reveal

I've posted over at my full website and I'll post it here too - the new cover for my novel Rumrunners, coming in 2015 from 280 Steps Publishing. I love the look of all their covers and I'm super happy with what they did for this book.

Also, just in times for Halloween, I'm giving away my horror hybrid novella, Stripper Pole At The End Of the World for free between now and friday. So get on it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New home

Okay, instead of apologizing again for my lack of updates, I'll show you a good part of the reason why this has been so slow. I have a new website. Like, a real website., because that's how clever I am.

It remains to be seen how much I'll do double duty both there and here. Really I'm just waiting on news on many fronts to be able to say something worth reading about. Thanks for your patience if you do follow along here. News about my busy October for appearances is on the new site.

2015 looks to be a busy year so I'll have much to report both here and there.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Giants among us

I was recently hunting down more vintage paperbacks (not an unusual thing for me) and musing on how great it would have been to rub shoulders with the men and women of the classic pulp age (also not unusual). I'd leave Chandler in the bar and go talk ink ribbons and broken underwood keys with the likes of William Ard, Harry Whittington, Day Keene, Margaret Millar, William P. McGivern, Lionel White, W.R. Burnett, Dorothy B. Hughes. The list goes on.

Then a thought struck me - modern day giants walk among us. Writers who have been publishing for decades and came up in an age when those paperback heroes were beginning their rides off into the sunset. They crossed paths, met and mingled, learned tricks of the trade from the originals. There are links to this black and white world who still write, still pump out words by the thousands. I don't want to make them feel too long in the tooth, but I felt like I was spending too much of my adulation and appreciation on writers who were dead and gone. Yes, the words live on, but how many of these pulp hacks ever got the recognition they deserved in their day? Maybe some, probably not enough.

It would be a shame to let the next generation suffer the same fate. So I say reach out and praise these prolific links to the past, these masters of their craft, and do it today before it's too late. (And before their books go for triple digits on ebay)

Right now - today, people! - you can find authors like Bill Crider still slinging out the pages. Crider already has a back catalog as long as both my arms and a leg, but he still churns them out with every word in exactly the right place. He may have started on an IBM selectric rather than an Underwood (but who knows? maybe?) but let's take time now to appreciate the output.

And what of Bill Pronzini? His nameless detective series is, I believe, now the longest running series in crime fiction history. And he's still going! He's not a museum piece. I picked up a signed copy of Femme just last year.

Ed Gorman continues to educate us in the classics through his excellent anthologies and blogging, but let's acknowledge his place alongside the greats. Again, still crankin' them out. Not a fossil, a vibrant and entertaining writer we could all learn a thing or two from, I'd bet.

I've been catching up on my Max Allan Collins lately. What better example of a writer who bridges the gap between the old school and today. The man was best buddies with Mickey Freakin' Spillane for cripes sake. And hot damn he's one of my favorite authors, and his stuff from the 1970s is just as good as his stuff from today. In my fantasy world we'd get to be friends like him and Spillane and he'd let me take over Quarry after he's gone. Hey, I said it was a fantasy. I'd take Nolan too if Quarry is too personal. We're both Iowa boys so maybe? Ok, you're right. I'll stop.

Lawrence Block. Holy crap, Lawrence Block. The man uses social media as prolifically as a high schooler but you can still pick up copies of his early output that is 100% pure pulp goodness. Find me a darker shade of noir than Mona (AKA Grifter's Game) and that was first published in 1961! And there he is, still kicking, still typing, still going strong and teaching the young punks how to do it.

Robert Randisi, Wayne Dundee, James Reasoner. These are links to our past and guys who probably don't really love being portrayed as old as I'm making them sound. My point is, these are writers who were slinging ink before there was any debate over ebook vs. print. These are guys who haven't been triple platinum sellers for the most part. But they kept on writing. Tradesmen. No, craftsmen. Constantly working, constantly honing their art, never giving up in the face of a changing publishing world.

These are today's pulp wordsmiths. They write because it's who they are to the core. They won't last forever and someday another up and comer will lament never being able to know these artisans of wordcraft. But we don't have to let it be that way. They're out there, and thanks to social media, they are often only a click away. It might not be the same as sharing a stool at the bar with Gil Brewer or Chester Himes, but it's better than missing out.

Make them feel appreciated. I know I wouldn't be here without them, and many others I forgot or don't know yet. There are giants still out there. And we are standing in their shadow.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Killing Dan Malmon

So to get the full story, you need to go here and read Dan O'Shea's blog. Then come on back and enjoy this story where a perfectly nice man I've never met, yet truly like, gets way worse treatment than he deserves. Or maybe it's exactly what he deserves. Until I meet him in person, the jury's out.

(for Dan & Dan)

Before the phrase, “He’s a cop,” left Rudy’s mouth, a bullet left his gun. Dan heard the start of the sentence, then the bang drowned everything else and the pain blotted out the rest of his senses.
Gut shot. Shit. Detective Dan Malmon had never seen one of these end well.
Another of the uptown crew, a large man in a tight black t-shirt, ran into the room, gun drawn. He looked at Rudy, smoking 9mm in his hand, then down at the floor and Dan clutching at his stomach, hissing short breaths between clenched teeth.
“Rudy?” the man asked, looking for an explanation.
“He’s a cop,” Rudy said again.
“How do you know?”
“Saw his badge.”
The burly man stepped forward to where Dan was trying to sit up. Some part of his diaphragm muscle was torn and he couldn’t bend in the middle any more. Probably the least of his worries. 
“Check his pockets, G.”
The big man, G, moved his gun to his left hand and frisked Dan’s pockets with his right. He came out with a wallet, flipped it open and saw the badge.
“Told you so,” Rudy said. “So what now?” 
G said, “We kill him.”
Rudy seemed offended at the statement. “I already did.” 
“He ain’t dead. He’s moving.”
Dan tried again for a sit-up, but collapsed to the cement floor with a stifled cry of pain.
“He’ll be dead soon,” Rudy said.
“Says you.”
“Says the fuckin’ bullet in his liver.”
“That ain’t no way to kill a guy.”
Dan feared a demonstration on proper technique was imminent. He rolled to his right. From his vantage point on the floor he could see the pistol taped to the underside of the small table. Only ten feet away. Ten agonizing feet to crawl.
“Don’t tell me how to kill a guy,” Rudy said, his chest puffing out with bravado.
“Apparently I need to,” G said. He lifted his gun arm and fired a shot into Dan’s back. The detective smacked the floor face first, blood seeping from his mouth.
G turned to Rudy with a satisfied look on his face. “That’s how you do it, mother fu–”
Dan groaned from the pain of his missing teeth, not the bullet in his back. There was a knife-edge sharpness in his ribs and he was finding it hard to breathe, but the impact of his front teeth on the concrete created a more immediate pain.
Rudy laughed out loud. “Some expert you are.”
“He’s wearing a vest.”
“He’s not wearing no vest, G.”
Rudy stepped over to Dan, hooked a finger through the bullet hole in the back of his shirt and pulled, tearing a wide rip and exposing bare flesh, not Kevlar. 
Dan inched closer to the table, his broken teeth crunching under his palm as he reached for a firm enough grip to drag his body forward.
Rudy, standing over the wounded man, said, “You gotta put one in his head, dude.”
He lowered his gun, fired a shot that entered Dan’s skull just behind his right ear. G wiggled a finger in his own ear, the sound of the repeated gunshots making everything temporarily muted.
Rudy did a wild west finger spin of his gun and slid it, barrel first, into his back pocket, closest he had to a holster. “Now that’s a dead cop.”
Dan’s hand slapped the floor as he reached for more inches in his drive toward the underside of the table and the gun waiting there. Both Rudy and G turned and looked at the bloody man on the floor with a mixture of awe and fear.
Blood poured from Dan’s skull. The bullet had run a clean path behind his ear and come out near his cheek bone. He was totally deaf in that ear and his face hurt like hell where the bullet had blasted its way out, but he was still alive and only five feet from his prize.
Breathing became harder, his progress slower, but the two men intent on killing him were stunned into curious onlooking for a long moment. They watched as Detective Malmon pulled himself along the blood-slick floor, unaware of the pistol at the end of his journey.
“I shot him in the fucking head, man.” Rudy said just above a whisper.
“You put it too low.”
“The fuck I did.”
G pointed to the crawling man before them. “You gonna fuckin’ argue with me?”
Dan reached the table leg. He grasped at it, unable to get a grip. His hands were painted in blood. He pushed up with his left arm, a half hearted one-hand pushup. Years of academy training and daily workouts paying off in what could be his last moments.
“We gotta finish this punk,” G said.
“I got it,” Rudy said.
“No. You already fucked it up twice. I got this one.”
Dan put a hand on the pistol handle, tried to grasp it, but his fingers weren’t strong enough to pull it free.
“I said I got it.” Rudy marched toward Dan, grabbed him by the shoulder and flipped him over on his back to see the face of the unkillable man. In turning Dan, the torque ripped the tape from the bottom of the table, putting the pistol in firing position in the cop’s hand. Rudy’s eyes widened as Dan fired.
One shot. No question about it. Blood and brain told the tale.
Too weak to sit up, Dan tilted his head forward. G stared into the gaping hole below his eye.
“That,” Dan said, spilling blood from his mouth, “is how you do it.”
He fired again, dropping G with a single shot to the heart. Dan slumped to the floor, spent. He coughed twice, blood spraying, then relaxed, wondering if he’d pass out before he drowned on the blood in his own lungs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't Feel Bad For Me

It was the email you always want from your agent. "I think I sold your book."

This was back in May, the weekend of the Edgar awards. The book in question is one I truly believe in, and one that had been rejected before. But this time – with a new imprint and a new editor charged with bringing in exciting new content – it seemed like a go. All we were waiting on, it appeared, was a conference call with the head office. A few weeks of silence followed. Not unusual. Nothing was a given and my standard operating procedure is to assume it will all fall apart.

Today it did. Exhibit A books has closed down.

But don't feel bad for me. There are other writers whose books had sold. Contacts had been signed. Edits had begun. Immensely talented writers like Matthew Funk, Patti Abbott, Rob Hart, Nik Korpon and a host of other writers I'm not lucky enough to call friends like these folks. Books that had been finished and circulating for years in some cases. These are the people you should feel bad for. I was still in a state of hope, a place all writers seem to float in until the ink is dry on the contract. These people were down off the cloud, looking forward, thinking of things like cover art and book tours. All gone now.

And what of this intrepid new editor? Well, Bryon Quertermous is out of a job. That sucks big time. His enthusiasm for Exhibit A was infectious among the crime writing community. You got the sense this was an imprint on the verge. The verge of what, we were misinformed.

And Dan O'Shea, who was two books into a trilogy. What happens now?

The book business is brutal. This is not news. I'm sure Angry Robot, Exhibit A's parent company, didn't come to the decision lightly. They absolutely wanted to keep it alive. But if the numbers aren't there, they aren't there. Not much to be done. No blame here. I feel bad for them too.

So I go on. Back to square one, a place firmly imprinted with my footsteps. A place I spend so much time I ought to pay rent. After my deal with Guilt Edged Mysteries I felt like I'd climbed the first rung of the ladder. That turned out not to be true. Good folks, great books, but that imprint has fallen victim to a rethinking of what exactly they are all about. My trilogy of books ended at one. (#2 is written and sitting comfortably on my hard drive for 2 years now.)

But all the authors above will keep on writing. Bryon will get another job and he has his own book deal to look forward to. The now homeless books? Right now agents are scrambling to find them new homes. It's not the end of the world, but when hopes are dashed it makes us all into middle schoolers experiencing our first heartbreak. Our date to the dance has stood us up. Mine was still busy making up her mind when I heard through the grapevine that she dropped out of school.

We're alone, but surrounded by the characters we create and the other writers who all have their own version of this story. I've been here many times before throughout my screenwriting career. It is soul crushing and depressing and hurtful and discouraging. But if I haven't quit after all the bullshit up to this point, I'm sure as hell not going to quit now. So don't feel bad for me. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We're going Down and Out

Every time I go on here to give a good news update I realize there are several things I should be mentioning, but I tend not to post about every little thing. That leaves me with a backlog of releases and things to announce, which I guess is a good thing.

In this case, it's a very good thing. Let's start with the big news. I wrote another book with my sometimes co-author, JB Kohl. We collaborated on those two books over there on the side, One Too Many Blows To The Head and the sequel, Borrowed Trouble.  (back in print and available for cheap!) One Too Many was the first book I ever had published and Jennifer and I have been writing together off and on ever since. We wrote a whole book that nobody wanted and half of a sequel to that one before pulling the plug. Then we started on this new one, Over Their Heads. After we started Jen moved half way across the country, changed jobs and I continued writing several other projects I was working on. So it dragged on for a while. A year to be exact. Odd for us, but we kept it going through the down times. (one lag left us with a whole month off after I sent her the updated draft and she thought she was waiting on me to get back to her. Confusion where we both thought the other was a total slacker only to end up going, "Oops. Sorry.")

We love the book. It's a crazy caper with a SUV full of drugs, a family on vacation, some stolen money, a drug mule named Skeeter, several errant gun shots, a woman giving birth, stolen identities, and so much more.

But us finishing isn't the good news, though it felt damn good. We're going to be publishing the book through the good folks at Down & Out books!

They are a great indie publisher of gritty and original crime novels and we're proud to be a part of it. We're on the schedule for early 2015 and we're going to get a cover by the ultra talented JT Lindross.

Speaking of amazing covers, a release I haven't mention yet is Pulse Fiction. This throwback pulp anthology is another from the mind of Paul Bishop and Tommy Hancock of Pro Se productions. This is classic pulp fiction in a variety of stories and it includes my caper, Diamonds Are A Girl's Worst Friend featuring cat burglar Holly Lake and her adventures in early 60s Paris.

Seriously, look at that baby! All the stories are exciting and offer two-fisted action and all the great pulp characters and storylines you know you love. Check it out.

And we're up to Book #4 of The Year I Died Seven Times! We're over the halfway mark. The craziness keeps on rolling. Book #5 drops in July. Each installment only a buck!
The print versions are going through a small update. They're getting cheaper! Book 4 reflects the new price with the others to follow. A lot of making-the-sausage stuff you don't want to know about it, but just trust me that Beat To A Pulp publisher David Cranmer is a man of infinite patience. 

We're getting dangerously close to the release of Trouble In The Heartland, the anthology based on Bruce Springsteen song titles and one that promises to be a big deal. I really like my story in that one, even if I did take a risk by doing something fairly off beat that I'm sure some people might not like. But, oh well. You have to challenge yourself as a writer now and then.

More news soon. Sooner than later. And there is some big stuff coming.