Blood & Tacos!

Blood and Tacos Cover

 

Blood & Tacos: The Beginning is now available! The print-only omnibus that collects the hard-fisted, pistol-packing fiction stories from the first four issues of Blood & Tacos, including BROWN SUGAR BROOKDALE #17: TITTY TITTY BANG BANG by Jerrold Olden Earnest, which I discovered in a hidden dojo beneath the Baxter Terrace projects in Newark.

Brown Sugar is a Vietnam Vet who learned the mystic arts of Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple after fragging his lieutenant before he could napalm an innocent village. Now he’s back in the States, ready to break his foot off in the ass of the Man!

A loving homage to Enter the Dragon, Kill and Kill Again, Black Samurai, Cleopatra Jones, and the films of Fred Williamson, “Brown Sugar Brookdale” is just one of many stories from the thrilling to the hilarious, in this collection. For the record, I can’t even say L.A.N.D.B.O.A.T.: The Boat That Goes On Land without laughing, and Chingón: The World’s Deadliest Mexican always brings down the house when Johnny reads it at signings. If you like Machete, you must meet The Explosionist, Father Dukes, the Irish street priest, and Sunshine: Stripper Assassin by Josh Stallings.

Johnny Shaw has limited signed copies available. Writing for Blood & Tacos is always a blast, and this collection is about to go supernova in the spiral arm of your brain galaxy. Get some.

 

 

Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime and Suspense

Steel Heart Cover 2500x1563Presenting ten unflinching stories with heart.

What does Steel Heart mean? It means hard-boiled thrillers with heart. And here are ten of my best and most popular, most of which have only been available in print until now.

I tarried a bit in getting a story collection together. Many have asked for one. I wanted to do it right. Then my friend JW Manus, who designs beautiful e-books–if you think that’s an oxymoron, see what she’s done for Lawrence Block, the Protectors anthology, and Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats, among many others–prodded me, asking why I didn’t have a collection of my best stories out there. My wife Sarah made the cover. Jaye and I edited the stories anew, and Jaye designed the book, which when you take a free peek on Amazon or Smashwords, exceeds her reputation.

Right now the book is available on Amazon for Kindle, and Smashwords in all formats, and you can also read it there online. With Kindle Cloud Reader, you don’t need a Kindle to read the book either. Barnes & Noble is taking their sweet time. It is also available for Kobo e-reader, but I am waiting for it to be available through Watchung Booksellers Kobo program before sharing that link. Then the sale will support my local indie bookstore. I will update this page, and the official Steel Heart page when it is available there.

And here are the stories:

Gumbo Weather – Jay Desmarteaux confronts his own past as he spars with a ruthless crime boss to rescue a child from a hellish home.

A Glutton for Punishment – Terry is an MMA fighter who’s never backed down from a fight, but this one might be his last.

Legacy of Brutality – Denny the Dent ain’t smart, but he listens good. When a woman at his gym tangles with her abusive boyfriend, it’s 300 musclebound pounds of street justice to the rescue.

The Forest for the Trees – A street racer finds the love of his life as he escapes from the cops. But how long will he live to love her?

Six Feet Under God – A wise-cracking existential P.I. takes on the ultimate murder case: Who killed the Almighty?

Tiger Mother – in 1950s Harlem, Caldonia Peele hunts down her missing son. It’s the toughs who better be afraid when tiger mother’s on the prowl.

Freedom Bird – Vietnam Vet Harve Chundak battles to teach his unruly son to walk the straight and narrow, but will he lose the war?

Black-Eyed Susan – A bad joke comes to all-too-real life for the denizens of a mill town gin mill.

The Last Sacrament – The dangerous life of an unlikely altar boy.

Kamikaze Death Burgers at the Ghost Town Cafe – Jay Desmarteaux is just trying to get by, running contraband in his voodoo Cadillac. When he tangles with a psycho trucker and the red hot lawyer for a violent biker gang, he fights a battle worthy of the Road Warrior in the Utah desert for his very soul.

Praise for these short stories:

“Thomas Pluck doesn’t flinch and he doesn’t pull punches. He writes with passion, grit, heart, and his prose cuts as clean as a scalpel.” –Wayne D. Dundee, author of RECKONING AT RAINROCK and the Joe Hannibal PI series

“If you don’t know who Thomas Pluck is, you will soon enough. He combines jabs of clever humor with full-impact gut shots.” –Johnny Shaw, author of DOVE SEASON and BIG MARIA

“To read a Thomas Pluck story is to be enmeshed in atmosphere that completely takes over the body and the heart. A place of honesty, brutal but true. Pluck is described best in one word: Storyteller.” –Les Edgerton, author of JUST LIKE THAT and THE PERFECT CRIME

“Black-Eyed Susan by Thomas Pluck is short and mean and well-written. I don’t think I’ve read anything by this author before, but I’ll be on the lookout for his name now.” –James Reasoner, author of THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

“These stories prove that Pluck ain’t here to f**k around.” –Chuck Wendig, author of BLACKBIRDS and THE BLUE BLAZES

10% of the proceeds of this book will be donated to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.

While your waiting for my editor to finish with BLADE OF DISHONOR, and me to finish editing BURY THE HATCHET, have a taste of the MMA fighter who inspired “Rage Cage” Reeves of Blade, and two Jay Desmarteaux stories, plus Denny the Dent and several more. Sorry it took so long to get this together, but I think you’ll agree that it was worth doing right.

Steel Heart: 10 Tales of Crime and Suspense  is available at the following e-book retailers.

Kobo, through Watchung Booksellers

Amazon for Kindle

Barnes & Noble for Nook

Smashwords, in many formats, including to read online.

Soon for Apple iPad

at last: Brown Sugar Brookdale!

I’ve been crowing about this one for a while, and I apologize, but…  “Brown Sugar” Brookdale is finally here for your reading pleasure, in Blood & Tacos #4! Thank you for your patience.

A homage to Billy Jack, Black Samurai and Black Belt Jones, this wild pulp adventure follows Brown Sugar, a Vietnam Vet back on American soil, in his battle against a mad cult leader in a “sundown town” in the Midwest.
blood and tacos 4
In issue #4 Sugar joins Father Dukes, Apache Blood, The Sanitizer, and L.A.N.D.B.O.A.T. (The Boat That Goes On Land), a title I can’t even say without laughing. These are loving, respectful homages mind you. You’ll get action aplenty, and lots of heart. You can read the stories for free at Blood & Tacos, and it will be available on Kindle for 99 cents shortly.

Stories are by TV writer Oren Brimer (Mr. Landboat), Bart Lessard, Brad Mengel, and Nick Slosser. The cover art is yet another stunning oil painting by Roxanne Patruznick. If I ever commission a book cover I’ll be giving her a call. Check out the other covers she did. #1 is a real work of art. The back issues are available on Kindle and online, and are worth going through. Chingon: The World’s Deadliest Mexican by Johnny Shaw (editor in chief) is one of the funniest stories I’ve ever read, and when Danny Trejo is done with MACHETE perhaps he’ll give Chingon a whirl.

Issue #3 on Amazon

Issue #2 on Amazon

Issue #1 on Amazon

Brown Sugar Brookdale in Blood & Tacos

Image
NOT in this issue. But go read it anyway.

I’m proud to announce that my ’70s men’s adventure pastiche, “‘Brown Sugar’ Brookdale #17: Titty Titty Bang Bang,” written as Jerrold Chester Earnest, will appear in issue #4 of Blood & Tacos, due out this April.

This one was a labor of love. Inspired by the fine cinema of Shaft, Cleopatra Jones, Billy Jack, and Walking Tall, “Brown Sugar” Brookdale is a black Vietnam Vet who went AWOL when his commanding officer tried to commit another My Lai. He fought through the jungle to the Chinese border, and learned the ways of kung fu at the Shaolin Temple. Now he’s on his home ground, breaking his foot off in the ass of The Man!

I’ve admired what Johnny Shaw and crew have done with Blood & Tacos from issue one, and I’m proud to be part of their upcoming issue. I hope you’ll check out their previous issues at http://www.bloodandtacos.com – all three issues are available for 99 cents each on Kindle:

Blood & Tacos #1

Blood & Tacos #2

Blood & Tacos #3

Oh, and where’d the name “Brown Sugar Brookdale” come from? It’s the name of my first pet- a ginger tabby who liked to drop mice on the kitchen floor- and the street I grew up on, Brookdale Avenue in Nutley. So yeah, that’s my porn star name.

Aw yeah.

Big Maria by Johnny Shaw

“This book is so funny it cured my hangover.”

Yes, I laughed pretty hard while reading this one morning after drinking. It cleared my headache right up. I won’t say it’ll do the same for you, but it did the job a second time when I got a call that my sister, after hours of labor, went in for a C-section with her first child. I am an anxious sort, and I was nearly done with the book at that point. The laughs were over and things got real. This is where a funny story about three guys who try to find a treasure in gold on America’s largest artillery range can take a wrong step. I am a demanding reader who expects solid story structure and few loose ends left untied, and no shortcuts or easy endings.

I said if he messes this up, the next time I see him I’ll punch him in the nuts since I’m too short to reach his face.

Let’s just say that my sister is fine, my beautiful baby niece Alyssa is in her arms, and Johnny Shaw’s nuts will remain intact (for the time being). The ending was what had to happen and he handled it with the plums of a seasoned pro. (No, I didn’t mean “aplomb”). The book is a great read and doesn’t have any “mushy” sections where the story wandered. It never rushes, either. His characters have to make some tough choices, and he never cops out and pretends we won’t notice. No, he makes them face it and the SOB gets them through it with the integrity of the story unsullied. That is not as easy as it sounds. If you’ve ever winced or rolled your eyes during a story, or said “it’s just a movie” when a movie craps the bed… you won’t have to do that here. The guy’s got chops.

If you enjoy the hilarious tales of Carl Hiaasen set in Florida (known as America’s wang) Johnny Shaw is your man in the Southwest. He crafts living characters and tosses them into a tilt-a-whirl of believable but outrageous comedy. Like a goofball Shakespeare, he sculpts the language to his own comedic ends. I never knew what a donkling was. When you find out, it will cure your hangover.

I greatly enjoyed Johnny’s first novel DOVE SEASON and found BIG MARIA
even more entertaining. If you enjoy ribald humor and stories that drunkenly stumble on the edge of belief… Shaw is your donkleberry.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Not only is Johnny Shaw’s story “Gay Street” a star among many in my anthology PROTECTORS: STORIES TO BENEFIT PROTECT, but he was present when I earned the aforementioned hangover. I don’t owe him any money and there is no reacharound expected or implied. We’re pals because I read his first book and stalked him because of it, not the other way around.

Bouchercon 2012

A great time was had by all. Some visual highlights. I have a big post tomorrow about paying back the reader, so here is some eye candy before I ask you to eat your veggies and think about the reader-writer relationship.

That slinky siren on my arm is the magnificent and multitalented Christa Faust. Her novel Choke Hold- one of my top reads last year and still the best story I’ve read with an MMA fighter- was up for an Anthony Award. If you haven’t read her work yet, she is a noir original. Her scientific knowledge of the genre on film and paper gives her work depth and originality, and Choke Hold tells a great story while giving us a peek at the modern gladiators of the American Colosseum: fighters and porn stars.

This is the voracious and adorable creature known as Sabrina Ogden. Like a blonde baby wolverine, she will claw her way through your heart to get to a cupcake. She is eating a donut here, but we also saw her obliterate french toast, bacon, a bacon cheeseburger, quesadillas, mini cupcakes and 42 ounce steak. At least I think it was a steak, it might have been the remains of a rude con-goer. This dear friend is the beneficiary of the Feeding Kate anthology that you so graciously funded on IndieGogo last month.
So yes. she ate all that with jaw damage.
I shared the burger with her because I am dainty.
She blogs and reviews at My Friends Call Me Kate.

That is Johnny Ramone’s guitar and Some of Joey’s jacket. The opening ceremonies were at Cleveland’s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Sorry if this is the gem of Cleveland, but it’s kind of like a giant Hard Rock cafe. They had a Linkin Park guitar there. I’m not even sure that the Elvis, early R&B and Beatles stuff can erase that indignity. But it was nice to visit it, and they have a giant hot dog that belonged to Phish:

Best meals of the trip? Pierogies at a diner and bratwurst at the casino buffet. There were some fantastic restaurants nearby that served roasted pig heads and the hotel bar made a damn good burger, but this is a Polish town and the good eats of our vowel-challenged brothers Wzsgbgnyzcwz are the finest fare. This was a good bar town as well, with plenty of local beer on tap. The hotel had four Great Lakes beers and I enjoyed them all. The Tilted Kilt (Scottish Hooters) had the double IPA Nosferatu, which kicked ass (or bit neck, perhaps). And speaking of bars:

Noir at the Bar was held at Wonder Bar, a fine establishment with patrons of discriminating taste. Meaning they listened while Snubnose Press authors Eric Beetner, Jonathan Woods, Les Edgerton, John Kenyon, Jedediah Ayres and Josh Stallings read their work. Good beer, better stories. Great time.

Josh and Les are buds whose work I’ve talked about before. Out There Bad by Stallings is like James Crumley’s brutal action film put to paper by a street poet. Edgerton’s career speaks for itself, the heir to Ed Bunker, the real ex-con who writes sharp-edged truth. They are both featured in the Protectors Anthology (link to your right) as well.

Bouchercon was a great time- a celebration hosted by readers where the writers go to pay back. Even the mightiest like Lee Child and Mary Higgins Clark (who I met on the plane, and who was as gracious as you could imagine) mingle with the crowds and are as friendly and approachable as can be. If you enjoy crime fiction, this is your Comicon, except you don’t pay for autographs and you can rub elbows and have a drink with the people you came to see.

I met a lot of new people and had great times with them and the “old” friends I met last year. Glenn Gray and Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, Stephen Romano, Neliza Drew, Kent Gowran, Joe Myers… it’s a crime family reunion, and a trip I will gladly make every year.

Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT is out!

The anthology I’ve been working on since January, to benefit PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children, is now available.

PROTECTORS includes a foreword by rock critic Dave Marsh, and fiction by Patti Abbott, Ian Ayris, Ray Banks, Nigel Bird, Michael A. Black, Tony Black, R. Thomas Brown, Ken Bruen, Bill Cameron, Jen Conley, Charles de Lint, Wayne D. Dundee, Chad Eagleton, Les Edgerton, Andrew Fader, Matthew C. Funk, Roxane Gay, Edward A. Grainger, Glenn G. Gray, Jane Hammons, Amber Keller, Joe R. Lansdale, Frank Larnerd, Gary Lovisi, Mike Miner, Zak Mucha, Dan O’Shea, George Pelecanos, Thomas Pluck, Richard Prosch, Keith Rawson, James Reasoner, Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, Gerald So, Josh Stallings, Charlie Stella, Andrew Vachss, Steve Weddle, Dave White, and Chet Williamson.

The book is now available for Kindle, and the pages at Barnes & Noble and Kobo will be live soon.

For updated order information, including how to order it directly through Paypal (generating the largest donation; you can upload the Kindle or ePub file to your reader, or read it on your PC) go to the PROTECTORS Official Web Page.

The book will also be available for the Apple iPad and on Smashwords. Our designer is working on the print edition, which will be available at Amazon and in bookstores.

The wait is over… go be a Protector!