Two Free Stories for your Reading Pleasure…

Summer is nearly over, but you can always use a summer read.

Here are two short stories you may have missed.

First, I’m very happy to have stories in two new venues, Tough Crime, edited by Rusty Barnes, and Retreats from Oblivion, the Journal of NoirCon. I was sad to see crime fiction mags close shop, and I’m grateful that these editors have given us new ones.

cement truck train crashThe Third Jump of Frankie Buffalo” is a pure hard-boiled crime story that draws on my days working at the docks in Newark, inspired by getting stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing. Tough Crime is publishing a lot of great stuff by new writers like Shawn A. Cosby and established authors, including one by Matthew Lyons that will appear in this year’s Best American Short Stories, edited by Roxane Gay. That’s amazing for such a new venue.

branch brook parkThe Forest for the Trees” first appeared in The Flash Fiction Offensive but didn’t reach a lot of people, so I am glad Retreats from Oblivion chose to reprint a new edit. It is a noir love story and very personal, set in the neighborhood I grew up in. I heard a lot of street racing stories growing up and a cousin totaled his Corvette and was scarred for life, hiding the wreck in a garage from police. I myself never raced, but I once wrapped my Mustang around a tree after hitting some ice, and drove it home, engine smoking. The police followed the smell. They wanted to charge me with leaving the scene of an accident, but I asked them if the tree was pressing charges and they let me go.

cover-pluck-life-during-wartime-1800x2700pxI hope you enjoy these stories. If you like them, I am selling signed copies of my story collection Life During Wartime for $16 shipped. You can reply to this email if you want a personalized copy. If you bundle it with Blade of Dishonor or Bad Boy Boogie, the books are $15 each (so, $30 for 2, $45 for all three).

 

Today is the day… Life During Wartime and Other Stories

“Pluck likes to explore micro-cultures–Mohawk skywalkers, elite Wall Street brokers, veterinary workers, MMA fighters, cruel middle schoolers, and single mothers from Harlem, among many other types and anti-types. Amazingly, the dialogue, settings, and situations all ring true. (Either Pluck has done some serious research or he’s lived a life on the move!) ” —Out of the Gutter Online

To answer that wonderful review, I do a bit of both. I love research, and when I find something that interests me, I sack it away to explore late. Firecracker will tell you about road trips to visit strange places, like the former Nazi summer camp in Andover, New Jersey, where the American Bund marched. Or a museum to see a neolithic Venus fetish that looks like a woman holding a sword. Chatting with strangers to pick their brains, in bars, trains, elevators, and on the street. Driving over swamps in Louisiana to figure out where you could jump and have a chance of survival… I do research without leaving my desk, too, but you can’t depend on wacky wikis and Google all the time. You need to talk to people or observe them, and I’ve been lucky enough to know some very interesting characters, who I pay tribute to whenever I write.

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Take a ride on the neuter scooter in “The Big Snip,” selected as one of the best crime stories of 2016. Follow a mountain man who’s not what he seems into a snowbound frontier town where evil has sunk its claws. Dine at the most exclusive restaurant in New York, where “Eat the Rich” takes on a whole new meaning. Meet Denny the Dent, a hulking 350 pounds of muscle who wouldn’t harm a fly…but who’ll gladly crush a bully’s skull like a nut. And read the Jay Desmarteaux yarn that takes off where Bad Boy Boogie ends.

These are stories that Wayne D. Dundee calls “hard-hitting bombs” and Johnny Shaw says are full of “gut punches and belly laughs” and I think you’ll enjoy them. A gonzo investigation to find the assassin of the almighty in “Six Feet Under God,” two lovers who practice the most unsafe sex of all in “GunPlay,” which Hilary Davidson read at Noir at the Bar and brought down the house, to the opener, “Freedom Bird,” one of my most personal and favorite stories, which you can read here om Criminal Element.

Available directly from Down & Out Books (they give you the ebook for free with a paperback purchase), at your local bookstore through IndieBound, and from the usual retailers:

• Barnes & Noble — Trade Paperback | eBook
• iTunes — eBook
• Kobo — eBook
• Amazon — Trade Paperback | eBook

If you would like a personalized copy, I have a few left. You can email me at the Contact Form above.

Life During Wartime pre-order discounts and events

For years, readers wanted my stories in print. Well, now’s your chance!

Life During Wartime is a blackjack 21 of my best stories, including “The Big Snip” which appeared in The Best Crime & Mystery 2016, edited by Kristin Kathryn Rusch (and originally in Dark City Lights, edited by Lawrence Block). It has the Jay Desmarteaux story that begins where Bad Boy Boogie leaves off,. and three Denny the Dent tales, as well as new stories you haven’t seen before, like “The Cronus Club” and stories that were only in anthologies and hard to find out of print zines, like “Firecracker” and “Freedom Bird” and “The Story of O Street,” or crowd pleasers like “GunPlay” that were only heard at Noir at the Bar events. It snagged a great review from Out of the Gutter, and you can read the first story, “Freedom Bird,” here on Criminal Element.

Life During Wartime coverLike the song the title story gets its name from, this book is a van loaded with weapons, locked up and ready to go.

And the best thing is that Barnes & Noble has decided to bless me with a 30% discount on the paperback! A mere $12 for a 364 page collection. Vhat a bargain! as they say in Havaii…. (you’ll have to read “Six Feet Under God” to get that joke).  Down & Out Books has a generous 60% discount on the ebooks if you prefer digital. That’s practically a Kindle matchbook price, if you want both.  The book drops January 29th, so who knows how long Barnes and/or Noble will keep this low price.

Here are the events I’ll be attending in 2018, so far. I WILL be at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, hopefully with the second Jay Desmarteaux novel, RIFF RAFF, either in print or about to be released, so there will be ARCs or books, we shall see. I’m not rushing this one, it’s set in Louisiana and encompassing that big beautiful state and its many people is taking all I’ve got. But I’m loving it!

I hope to see you at one of these events. If you can’t make it, and would like a signed copy of Life During Wartime, reply to this email. They are $21 shipped, but I bundle them with Blade of Dishonor for $35 or all three books- Bad Boy Boogie, Blade, LDW, for $50 shipped.

Thursday, February 8th at 7:00 PM: The official launch of my story collection Life During Wartime at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair! Snacks and a brief reading and a Q&A.

Wednesday, February 21st at 6:30 PM: Life During Wartime  and Slaughterhouse Blues signing event with Nick Kolakowski at The Mysterious Bookshop. Join me and Nick for a night of noir. One week after Valentine’s Day, your heart will have recovered.

Thursday, March 8th at 6:00 PM: A Montclair Authors Meet & Greet at Sotheby’s, 32 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ. Come join us for wine and cheese and rub suede elbow patches with local Montclair authors! I’ll be in the corner eating all the Gruyere.

Reviews During Wartime

Happy new year!

I’m getting over the flu, which I contracted while researching the next Jay Desmarteaux novel, wandering around Iberia and Vermilion Parishes in Louisiana. I visited the grave of bluesman Slim Harpo and the Louisiana Capitol Building, where Huey Long was assassinated. You can read about it at Do Some Damage, where I call it Research Without a Cause.

Which answers the question to the first review of Life During Wartime, my new story collection, up at Out of the Gutter: “Amazingly, the dialogue, settings, and situations all ring true. Either Pluck has done some serious research or he’s lived a life on the move!”
I love to travel, and I love writing stories that use what I see and learn from new places and people. If you haven’t pre-ordered Life During Wartime, Down & Out Books has a 60% discount on the ebooks. I will be signing the book at Mysterious Bookshop and Watchung Booksellers in February, and I will put the updates on my Events page. If you can’t get one in person, Down & Out Books has all the links to your favorite suppliers.

Life During Wartime Paperback

Some of my research had a cause, like dropping into Vermilionville, a living Acadian village rather like Colonial Williamsburg, stopping by to see the Evangeline Tree in St. Martinsville, a memorial to Longfellow’s poem of the same name, based on people who lived in the area.  One of them is name checked in James Lee Burke’s latest novel Robicheaux, which I reviewed for Criminal Element. I did stop to eat at Victor’s Cafeteria where Dave Robicheaux and Cletus Purcell grab breakfast in New Iberia. You read about my adventures in Cajun Country at SleuthSayers, and you can also see my pictures on Instagram, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Another story that drew from my travels is “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind,” in Alive in Shape and Color. I’ve received a lot of emails about this one, which Liz French of Library Journal called “stunning,” and the reviewer at the New York Times found disturbing enough to call me out by name. Robert Lopresti loved it but wasn’t sure if it was “crime”, but I think murders at an archaeological dig in Germany are criminal enough.  So, if you haven’t jumped on Alive in Shape and Color, you don’t want to miss it. Like its Edward Hopper-themed forebear, it’s making a splash.

Life During Wartime events! Don’t say you weren’t warned…

Thursday, February 8th at 7:00 PM: The official launch of my story collection Life During Wartime at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair! Snacks and a brief reading and a Q&A.

Wednesday, February 21st at 6:30 PM: Life During Wartime  and Slaughterhouse Blues signing event with Nick Kolakowski at The Mysterious Bookshop. Join me and Nick for a night of noir. One week after Valentine’s Day, your heart will have recovered.

Thursday, March 8th at 6:00 PM: A Montclair Authors Meet & Greet at Sotheby’s, 32 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ. Come join us for wine and cheese and rub suede elbow patches with local Montclair authors! I’ll be in the corner eating all the Gruyere.

Sunday in Asbury Park with George, and Life During Wartime

This Sunday I’m reading in Asbury Park with a gaggle of great writers:

Noir at the Bar AP Poster

Yeah that’s Dennis Tafoya AND Wallace Stroby. Life goals.

All the details are above. Come join us, and then wait at the Stone Pony for Bruce to show up. I hear if you say “Jersey Freeze” three times he appears.

Also, my story collection LIFE DURING WARTIME from Down & Out Books has an official release date: January 29th! It collects stories from best-ofs and anthologies and defunct periodicals, and stories I’ve only read at Noirs at the Bar, new ones, and “The Last Detail,” which begins right after Bad Boy Boogie ends. And check out that snazzy cover:

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Cover Reveal for Life During Wartime

LIFE DURING WARTIME is my newest story collection, out January 29th 2018, from Down & Out Books. It collects my best stories and includes some new ones, such as the title story, and stories heard only at various readings across the country, such as “The Cronus Club,” “Gunplay,” “Deadbeat,” and others. I’ll let you know when it is available for pre-order. Most of these stories have never seen print. Some were in Kindle collections, but those are now out of print. It does NOT include “Russian Roulette,” which you can only read in the excellent collection KILLING MALMON.

Here is the cover:

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