Bouchercon 2016! moderating Leather & Lace

Are you attending Bouchercon 2016 in New Orleans? I’ve been going for five years now, and it keeps getting better. It’s a crime and mystery fiction convention for the fans, and the volunteers who run it do a fantastic job. Judy Bobalik and Jon Jordan handled the immense task of setting up panels for over 700 registered writers and this year I’m moderating one, and speaking at another.

I’ll be moderating Leather & Lace: Hardboiled vs. Cozy, which has writers who do both or skirt the middle. Linda Rodriguez, Chris Knopf, Linda Joffe Hull, Clea Simon, and Dave Putnam will be answering my questions and yours. I’m writing a “cozy” now–at least a less gritty and more humorous novel–and those familiar with Jay Desmarteaux, Denny the Dent, and Blade of Dishonor know I also write hardboiled. This one will be great fun. It’s on Friday at 11:00am.

Zoe Sharp is moderating The Boxer panel, which is about writing violence. Having trained in America and Japan and gotten my butt whupped by Keigo Kunihara in the sparring ring (he fought in UFC55) I know why they chose me for that one. But there’s a lot more to writing violence. I’m looking forward to this one. This is also Friday, 3:30pm.

Here’s the card for Leather & Lace:



Blood on the Bayou


I’m thrilled, twitterpated, and titillated to announce that my Jay Desmarteaux story “Gumbo Weather” will appear in the 2016 Bouchercon anthology edited by Greg Herren, Blood on the Bayou.

Jay’s debut novel comes out next year from Down & Out Books, an action-packed crime thriller called Bad Boy Boogie. You can get a taste of Desmarteaux in this anthology, along with stories by David Morrell, Alison Gaylin, Terrie Moran, Gary Phillips, B.V. Lawson and Eric Beetner, among others. You can read the full press release here.

Signed copies of the book will be available at the convention, and you can get unsigned copies wherever books are sold. I’ll post an update when it’s available for pre-order.

Eat my favorite shorts

I am officially old enough to goggle at how shocking it was to hear Bart Simpson exclaim “Eat My Shorts!” and how popular that silly catchphrase was.

But I’m here to talk about another kind of shorts, short stories. Oh no, not another post about “the power” of the short story! You either enjoy reading short story collections or you don’t, I’m not here to change your mind. But when master anthologist Ellen Datlow shared a link to Terry Bisson’s classic short tale “They’re Made Out of Meat,” my morning commute was occupied with picking some of my favorite short stories. Not “the best” ones, I’ll leave that to the academics. Here are some that have stuck with me over the years.

Of course, “They’re Made Out of Meat,” by Terry Bisson. It’s a masterful piece of flash fiction consisting entirely of dialogue, a form that usually leaves me cold. (If you love them, befriend Roddy Doyle on Facebook; he shares many, and his are uncommonly good, as one would expect from a fine writer). This story is available in his collection Bears Discover Fire.

“The Gentle Way,” by Lawrence Block. A not-so simple revenge story from a master of the short form (he’s got quite a talent for novels, as well). This one’s my favorite, so much that I riffed on it in “The Big Snip,” when LB asked me to contribute a story for Dark City Lights. You can read this in his collection Enough Rope. It’s a brick of a book collecting decades of great stories.

“The Redfield Girls,” by Laird Barron. His collection The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All is crammed with great horror stories. Some are much more dreadful and terrifying than this one, but none so chilling.

“Run Kiss Daddy” by Joyce Carol Oates. This is in New Jersey Noir and involves a grisly discovery and a new father’s response to it. It reminds me of how easily we can dupe ourselves into committing terrible things.

“Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” by Stephen King. Who doesn’t like a shortcut? One of King’s best, the eponymous driver loves finding a new shortcut… but when they become shorter than as the crow flies, the disturbing backdrop of what makes our world comes to light. In Skeleton Crew, which was my introduction to King.

A Small Good Thing” by Raymond Carver. I just really like bread. And also stories that show us being terrible and self-absorbed, but with a chance for redemption. It’s available in his collection Cathedral and Short Cuts, where I first read it

This is Not for You,” by Gemma Files. Unapologetic and dark as all hell.

What are some of your favorites? Tell me in the comments.

Today’s best reading from the interwebs:

Missing hiker found dead two years after she disappeared had kept a journal of her final days. If you’re an avid hiker or a fan of Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon this will resonate. Firecracker will never let me hike the Appalachian trail again…

We may need to expand our definition of “human” as finds in Neanderthal caverns dated 176,000 years ago depict a much richer life than we ever imagined from our hirsute prognathous cousins. A Shocking Find In a Neanderthal Cave In France

If you haven’t discovered the imaginary world of Scarfolk, a dystopian English city trapped in the ’70s, this is a good place to start: Discovering Scarfolk

For writers:
33 No-Fee Writing Contests, a Publishing…and Other Forms of Insanity.

19 Markets that pay $500 or more per story. SF and horror are the only remaining genres where writing short stories can make you a living. Maybe Lit. This and the Neanderthal story come via Gemma Files,

Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns

Have you tried writing with a gun? It’s clumsy, and sometimes you shoot off your dangling participle. Jokes aside, Eric Beetner challenged a bunch of us to write a crime story without using guns. And look who stepped up:


Besides my latest Denny the Dent story “The Final Encore of Moody Joe Shaw,” you’ve got J-CO, Mr. Lansdale, Hilary Davidson, Alison Gaylin, Kelli Stanley, Reed Farrel Coleman, Holly West…
not to mention J.L. Abramo, Patricia Abbott, Trey R. Barker, Eric Beetner, Alec Cizak, Joe Clifford, Angel Luis Colón, Paul J. Garth, Kent Gowran, Rob Hart, Jeffery Hess, Grant Jerkins, S.W. Lauden, Tim O’Mara, Tom Pitts, Keith Rawson, and Ryan Sayles.
All proceeds go to States United To Prevent Gun Violence.

The Washington Post gave it a look-see, and Publisher’s Weekly gave it a review as well:

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Right now it’s only available for pre-order on Kindle, but I will update the post when the print links are in. Published by the good folks at Down & Out Books.

It streets on April 18th, and we’ll be at the Mysterious Bookshop signing it in May. More on that as it comes.



“Mannish Water” in Betty Fedora

Betty Fedora publishes stories of kick-ass women in crime fiction. Despite the masculine title, my tale “Mannish Water” is about Hazeldeen, a bartender in Antigua who tangles with twisted tourists and a vicious mob enforcer. I’m thrilled that Kristin Valentine published it in Betty Fedora issue #2, which you can buy here. It’s a mere 99 cents on Kindle and $7.99 for the snazzy paperback. Along with me, there are stories by Sarah Chen, Kristin Valentine, Tess Makovesky, Colleen Quinn, Shane Simmons, John Dromey, Nikki Dolson, Lara Alonso Corona, and Albert Tucher.

betty fedora


Cruel Yule! a ThugLit Holiday Anthology

My story “Letters to Santa,” which made one unfortunate fellow spew his drink out his nose at Noir at the Bar NJ, is available only in the new ThugLit holiday anthology, CRUEL YULE. It is available in ebook and paperback. And don’t worry, just because it has laughs doesn’t mean it won’t rip your heart out.

It also contains these stories by other illustrious writers:
MISTLETOE by Hilary Davidson
LETTERS TO SANTA by Thomas Pluck
FELIZ NAVIDEAD by Brace Godfrey (as discovered by Johnny Shaw)
THE BRASS COIN by Justin Porter
FORK by Jen Conley
UNHOLY NIGHT by Terrence McCauley
‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE… by Todd Robinson


now available: The Summer of Blind Joe Death, a coming of age novelette


My chilling coming of age novelette is now available as a standalone e-book:

Wade and his best friend Red Collins have only lived eleven summers, but the one they’ll remember for the rest of their lives is when Blind Joe Death visited their holler, spinning tales of deadly haints and black dogs that steal souls in the night.

Wade lost his father in the mines, and Red wishes his were dead. When the boys invite this strange hoodoo man into their lives they learn that the real monsters walk on two feet and sit beside us in church, and there is no darkness colder than what lurks within the human heart.

Inspired by the “Silver John” stories of Manly Wade Wellman and the music of John Fahey, this story set in the hollows of Appalachia is one of my favorites. I’m offering it for only 99 cents, because it’s a story I would love to be read far and wide.

It’s available now for Kindle and iBooks; it will take a few days for the rest to percolate through the ether. I’ll update the links here as they become available. If you don’t do e-books, this 35 page novelette first appeared in Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, as “Black Shuck,” and you can buy the paperback here.

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

Apple iBooks

Kobo Bookstore