Feeding Kate: Helping a Friend

My good friend Sabrina, of the crime fiction blog My Friends Call Me Kate, needs jaw surgery. She has Lupus. If you know anyone with this painful, joint-damaging disease, or if you’ve read the Dave Robicheaux novels by James Lee Burke- you know what’s she’s going through. And this gal loves her some cheeseburgers and cupcakes. Something I can appreciate.

Her insurance won’t pay for it- and instead of waiting for our country to enter the mid-20th century, we’re going to help her ourselves with an IndieGoGo campaign. Laura Benedict, Laura Curtis, Clare Toohey and Neliza Drew got us together to write stories for our cheeseburger-loving and crime fiction reading friend. The book is called FEEDING KATE, and we’ve got a hell of a line-up:

  • Ellie Anderson
  • Laura Benedict
  • Stephen Blackmoore
  • Joelle Charbonneau
  • Laura K. Curtis
  • Hilary Davidson
  • Neliza Drew
  • Chad Eagleton
  • Jenny Gardiner
  • Daryl Wood Gerber
  • Kent Gowran
  • Chris F. Holm
  • Dan O’Shea
  • Ron Earl Phillips
  • Thomas Pluck
  • Chad Rohrbacher
  • Linda Rodriguez
  • Johnny Shaw
  • Josh Stallings
  • Clare Toohey
  • Steve Weddle
  • Chuck Wendig
  • Holly West

All the proceeds will go to her surgery, and any left over will go to the American Lupus Foundation. For $5 you get a copy of the e-book, and for $18 you’ll get a print copy made through Lightning Source, by pros.

And if you like my fiction, you’ll get a Jay Desmarteaux story. He’s the lead in my novel Bury the Hatchet, a Cajun boy who likes a cheeseburger now and then himself. He’s a bully-hating bruiser who runs afoul of a biker gang in the Utah desert, who blame him for picking off their riders with his Cadillac. Their lawyer, a leather-clad lady biker named Kate, makes him a deal he can’t refuse: Take out the killer vehicle with a trunk full of nitro… if you loved “Duel” this one will be for you, and the only place to read it will be in … Feeding Kate!

Nut Up or Shut Up… Goals and Accomplishments

I’m very grateful for an amazing year. I’d like to thank my family and friends, most of all my wife Sarah, for all your support. I’d also like to thank all the writers and readers I’ve met over the last year. I’ve made some great new friends, and got back with some old ones.

I’m far from done with my goals as a writer. But I’ve covered more ground than I ever thought possible in a year. I’m beginning to understand the phrase make your own luck. I used to think it meant fixing the odds, breaking the rules. But all it means is working hard toward your goals. I’ve seen it time and time again with writers I’ve met over the last year. They’ve struggled and kept busting their behinds, and are reaping the rewards of that hard work.

My resolution is to keep on working hard and aiming high. One goal is to complete my first novel and get it published. I have a second book of the Lost Children anthology in the works. The writers have been chosen and you’ll see it next autumn. It will be bigger, with many more voices joining the cause to support The National Association to Protect Children. I’d like to write more short stories and crack some new markets. My goal last year was to get in as many different venues as possible, and this year I am going to concentrate on some big targets such as Alfred Hitchock and Ellery Queen, Hardboiled, The Strand, Shock Totem, and so on. However, a goal is something within your control. Dean Wesley Smith and my friend & personal trainer Peter V. Dell’Orto both have good posts about setting attainable goals. Here are my attainable goals.

1) Write every day. Writing, and getting back to writing, are not daunting tasks. I will set aside more time to write and not follow distractions.
2) I will write the best stories I can and continue to keep them constantly in one editor’s hands or another’s. They will never lie fallow.
3) I will write the best novel I can. I will edit it diligently. I will not rewrite it for rewriting’s sake.
4) I will find the editors and agents of the writers I admire most, who have accepted work most like my own, and I will get my novel in their hands before year’s end.
5) I will not be a slave to my anger and I focus my rage on the page. 
6) I will go to MMA class once per week.
7) I will resume a healthier diet… beer is not a food group.

You set goals and they become accomplishments. Here are my accomplishments of 2011, in vague order. And a few great things that happened that were outside my control, but made me happy.

January.
Completed my first novel, The Garage. Drawer fodder. Currently rewriting it, using the characters and concepts I developed in this 115,000 word monster born of NaNoWriMo 2010.

February.
Wrote my first short stories in ten years.

March.
First story published in ten years, Punk Dad Manifesto, at the Morning News… And was paid for it!
Married my Firecracker, Sarah. Love of my life, who keeps me centered and in line. Had a beautiful wedding and a wonderful time with friends and family, and a relaxing honeymoon with my new wife.

April.
Began writing for flash fiction challenges, met Fiona “McDroll” Johnson online and she told me to submit my work to crime venues. Pointed me to the magnanimous Sandra Seamans, who lists all the markets. I began reading them all, finding many new-to-me writers and all sorts of inspiration. I never forget to thank Fiona Johnson for that first kick in the ass. I wouldn’t be writing the way I do today if it wasn’t for her.
This led to 33 stories accepted in 2011, appearing in anthologies and journals alongside Lawrence Block, Wayne Dundee, Ray Banks, and many, many other writers whose work I admire.

May.
First crime story published in Shotgun Honey, “The Last Sacrament.”
I met Lawrence Block at a signing at Watchung Booksellers. Since then we’ve chatted online and at the Mysterious Bookshop. One of our great living writers and a hell of a guy, it’s always humbling to meet your literary heroes.

June.
Rode on the Star Ledger Munchmobile with Peter Genovese and crew, got my picture in the state newspaper stuffing my face with a sandwich.
Made print in The Utne Reader, when they reprinted Punk Dad Manifesto.

July.
Ron Earl Phillips asked me to be a moderator at Flash Fiction Friday.
My story “A Glutton for Punishment” debuted at Beat to a Pulp, and Lawrence Block not only read it, but commented on it. A few short words that still mean a lot to me. Thanks, Mr. Block.

August.
“Rain Dog” published in Crimespree #43, first crime story in print.
Wrote back and forth with Harlan Ellison, another literary hero and influence, who tells readers not to write to him. But always replies.

September.
Won the First place Bullet Award for my story “Black Eyed Susan,” which was also favorably reviewed by James Reasoner and hardboiled legend Wayne Dundee.
I ask Fiona Johnson to write a fiction cue for Flash Friday and she comes up with the Lost Children Challenge.

October.
Pulp Modern #1 released, putting me twixt the same covers as Lawrence Block.
Made tons of friends in the crime fiction community online and at Bouchercon. Most of all Josh Stallings and Sabrina Ogden, who felt like old friends, but also Glenn Gray, Christa Faust, Matthew Funk, Johnny Shaw and Kent Gowran. We joke that crime writers are the friendliest bunch of murder-minded mothers around, but it really is true. Everyone I met was friendly, from Harlan Coben to Joelle Charbonneau, even when I was a babbling idiot.

Visited Italy with Sarah, experienced the ruins of Pompeii, the bustle of Napoli, the decadence of Capri, the old and new of Rome, and spent time with our friends David and Courtney. Everyone needs a break, and someday I’ll write about a chase through Pozzuoli between a tourist and the Gomorra to write this off as research. Hell, my honeymoon trip inspired my longest short story, “White People Problems,” which will be at All Due Respect this year, and be expanded into a novel … eventually. I really want to introduce you to Bobby and the Five Stages of Grief… you’ll get a taste soon at ADR.

November.
Published Lost Children: a Charity Anthology to support PROTECT, and spoke to Executive Director  Grier Weeks about the project.
Corresponded with another hero, of mine, Andrew Vachss. We’d written before, but never so often. A pat on the shoulder from a veteran warrior in the fight against child abuse and exploitation, who became a lawyer and an incredible writer to fight this fight… well, it means more than I feel comfortable sharing.

December.
I deadlifted 555lbs and I benched 260lbs. I pursue goals other than writing. I added 60lbs to my deadlift and began benching again after tearing both my rotator cuffs two years ago. I surpassed my old record of 250 on the bench. All by adding 5lbs a month using the 5/3/1 lifting regimen. A slog, but with great results. Last year I was deadlifting 400lbs for 10 reps. Now I’m lifting 510lbs for 5. And I stopped a falling refrigerator with my chin.

I’ll diverge because it amuses me. Pulp queen Christa Faust got a kick out of me crowing about my personal record and said we should fight crime as Max Deadlift and Pixie Cockpunch. We shall see. She’s a busy writer with a lot of irons in the fire, but I just might suggest a collaboration…

I made quite a few best-of lists for short story. According to the readers, my best stories are Black-Eyed Susan, Shogun Honey, Candle, The Forest for the Trees, Junkyard Dog, and Legacy of Brutality.

We sold 150 copies of the Lost Children Anthology in 2 months.

It’s been a hell of a year. I’m sure I’ve missed some. And I could have expended as many words thanking everyone by name. Thank you for reading, and spreading the word. Writing is the most solitary art. The feedback is delayed and muted, so when someone takes the time to tell you they liked what you wrote, it has great effect, no matter how we try to make our response as cool as can be.

So, don’t make resolutions. They sound like U.N. agenda items, and we know how useful they are, with China and the Sudan on the human rights committee. Set realistic and attainable goals, with milestones and measurable markers of success. “Eat better” means little. “Don’t go back for seconds, and do not snack after dinner, and walk 30 minutes a day” is controllable, and will guarantee results. Eight years ago I weighed nearly 400 pounds. I began by walking an hour a night, and not eating bread and sweets. A year later I’d lost 140 pounds. Every day adds up. If you fail, get up immediately… don’t give up. What’s one day of missing your targets out of 366? Nothing. A pittance.

Here’s wishing you all a happy new year… now get to work on making it that way. 

a baker’s dozen of deviled yeggs…

Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled is a 99c e-book collection edited by David Cranmer of the excellent Beat to a Pulp fiction site. My story “Black-Eyed Susan” appears, along with some of my favorite fellow authors. Garnet Elliott, who just got accepted at Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; John Hornor Jacobs, who wrote the Cthulhu noir novel Southern Gods; Brad Green, editor at [PANK] Magazine; Glenn Gray, the shock doc who’ll make you squirm as you turn each page; Ron Earl Phillips who appears and co-edited the Lost Children: Charity Anthology, Kent Gowran of Shotgun Honey, Patricia Abbott, who’s been knocking me out with stories in Needle and Pulp Ink, Ben Lelievre of Dead End Follies, also in the Lost Children book, Kieran Shea, king of dialogue driven tales, David Cranmer, who doubles as Western wordslinger Ed Grainger, and the one and only Wayne Dundee, author of the Joe Hannibal P.I. books and the western Dismal River.

Once again I’m proud to be among them. Before I wrote my own stories, I was reading theirs. And for a buck, this is the best Kindle bargain I’ve seen in a long time. If you don’t have an e-reader, Amazon lets you read Kindle books online through their free Cloud Reader.

BEAT to a PULP: Hardboiled is a compilation of uncompromising, gritty tales following in the footsteps of the tough and violent fiction popularized by the legendary Black Mask magazine in its early days. This collection includes thirteen lean and mean stories from the fingertips of Garnett Elliott, Glenn Gray, John Hornor Jacobs, Patricia Abbott, Thomas Pluck, Brad Green, Ron Earl Phillips, Kent Gowran, Amy Grech, Benoit Lelievre, Kieran Shea, David Cranmer, and Wayne D. Dundee and a boiled down look at hardboiled fiction in an introduction by Ron Scheer. Edited by David Cranmer and Scott D. Parker.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B0061NQXHY

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology now available

30 powerful stories from around the world to benefit two children’s charities: PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children (www.protect.org) and Children 1st Scotland (www.children1st.uk.org). 


Stories by David Ackley, Kevin Aldrich, David Barber, Lynn Beighley, Seamus Bellamy, Paul D. Brazill, Sif Dal, James Lloyd Davis, Roberto C. Garcia, Susan Gibb, Nancy A. Hansen, K.V. Hardy, Gill Hoffs, Fiona “McDroll” Johnson, J.F. Juzwik, MaryAnne Kolton, Benoit Lelievre, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Vinod Narayan, Paula Pahnke, Ron Earl Phillips, Thomas Pluck, Sam Rasnake, JP Reese, Chad Rohrbacher, Susan Tepper, Luca Veste, Michael Webb, Nicolette Wong and Erin Zulkoski.

It began as a flash fiction challenge when Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck donated $5 to PROTECT and £5 to Children 1st for every story at Ron Earl Phillips’ Flash Fiction Friday and Fictionaut. Now we have collected the 30 best stories to benefit these two charities.


Join us and make a difference while you read 30 great stories genres by writers from the U.S.A., Poland, Hong Kong, Portugal, India, Scotland, England, Canada, and one told by a Lost Boy of the Sudan to his teacher.


Only $2.99 
Available now for Amazon Kindle (You may also read it on your computer with Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader, or on your phone with the Amazon Kindle App)
Available for Nook, Kobo, Sony e-reader and in PDF, epub, mobi and Viewable Online at Smashwords
If you don’t have an e-reader: you can download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac app, the Nook for PC App, Nook for Mac App or view it online at Smashwords, or download it as an Adobe PDF file. You can also read epubs on the Adobe Digital Editions reader for PC and Mac.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology

When I asked Fiona “McDroll” Johnson to take the guest spot at Ron Earl Phillips’ Flash Fiction Friday, I had no idea the response she’d get. She gave us a meaningful challenge, to write about neglected, abused or otherwise “lost” children. Together we decided to donate $5 to PROTECT and £5 to Children 1st for every story submitted, and we told everyone we knew. We ended up getting 44 entries, and raising $600 for the charities, plus the donations from individual writers such as MaryAnne Kolton.
We received entries from all over the globe and from writers from the FFF community, Fictionaut, Facebook and Twitter, and from the ever-supportive online crime fiction community. We decided that more could be done. We chose 30 of the stories to include in The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, all proceeds of which will be split between PROTECT and Children 1st. The e-book will be offered for $2.99 on Kindle, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. After the vendor takes their cut, that’s $1 for each of the charities for every purchase.

If you don’t have an e-reader, it will be available in PDF format from Smashwords and Goodreads, or you can download the Kindle for PC app, or the Nook for PC app. It’s all for a cause, so there’s no need to buy a e-reader if you want to support two institutions that are on the front lines in the war against the exploitation, abuse, and neglect of children.

I will put the sale links here on the blog on NOVEMBER FIRST when it is released, but to follow updates and read short bios contributing writers, please visit the blog for THE LOST CHILDREN: A CHARITY ANTHOLOGY.

© 2011 Thomas Pluck