The Dog Caught the Car

The Protectors anthology consumed so much of my time for the last few months that now that is available everywhere, I feel like the dog who caught the car. I have plenty of things on my plate, but I feel like there’s something that just needs doing, and I don’t know what it is.

So I threw myself into some ideas that I’ve kept on the backburner. I’m working on “Brown Sugar Brookdale” for Blood & Tacos, a paean to the men’s adventure serials of the ’70s. Brown Sugar grew up on the streets of Detroit and got sent to Vietnam, where his racist Lieutenant left him to die when he wouldn’t join in the massacre of a village. He fought his way through the jungle and was captured by the Chinese, and escaped and found sanctuary in the Shaolin Temple, where he became their most fearsome kung fu warrior. Now he’s back on American soil, ready to break his foot off in the ass of The Man.

(“Brown Sugar Brookdale” is also my porn name. Take the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on…)

I’m looking forward to some time off, a road trip with Sarah and some explorations in New England. I’ll be visiting the digs of Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Edward Gorey. So those haunted stories of the Pine Barrens and Appalachia will have plenty of fuel. My story in Protectors is “Black Shuck,” about a boy, his friend, and his dog encountering Blind Joe Death- a guitar player and hoodoo man condemned to wander the mountains and hollers. They mix it with moonshiners and the creatures of the haunted woods, such as the black dog of death who gives the story its title. It’s dedicated to folksinger Jeff Fahey (who created Blind Joe) and Manly Wade Wellman, whose stories of Silver John in the Appalachian mountains continue to captivate me. You can get Protectors here, and read Wellman’s Silver John stories for free, here: John the Balladeer.

A few upcoming publications. It’s been a slow year, and now everything is coming out at once. I’m not complaining, I’m rather stunned by it:

“Gumbo Weather,” a Jay Desmarteaux tale in the Big Double Summer 2012 issue of Needle: A Magazine of Noir. Jay is working collections in New Orleans and learns the hard way that there are consequences to meting out justice, but it’s a bar tab he is more than willing to pay in blood.

“Train,” a Denny the Dent tale, in Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels. Out October 1st, just in time for BoucherCon. Denny confronts a painful mistake in his past, and gains a powerful ally.

“Garbage Man,” a Denny the Dent tale, in Beat to a Pulp: Superhero. Yes, Denny is a superhero. You gonna tell him he’s not? Denny begins his slow descent from a misunderstood oddball who just wants to be “let be” to a junkyard loner and boogeyman that kids talk about and bad men fear. This one should be out soon. It’s in final edits. The biggest Denny story yet.

“Red Hot,” in Hoods, Hot Rods & Hellcats. This is a greaser noir anthology by my friend Chad Eagleton. Bikers, hot rodders, street gangs of the ’50s. My story is a noir about a mechanic and his wife dealing with a rich-kid racer, when an old friend shows up on his motorcycle and throws a wrench into their lives.

“Kamikaze Death Burgers at the Ghost Town Cafe,”  a Jay Desmarteaux yarn, in Feeding Kate. I’m hoping this will be available as an e-book once the Indiegogo campaign is over in 24 hours. If you want it, best go get it NOW. This is the biggest JD tale so far, and can best be described as Mad Max in the Utah desert, with Jay cruising in a ’57 Eldorado Brougham when he encounters a biker gang at war with a psycho trucker. The bikers’ sexy lawyer has a deal he can’t refuse. And they eat these:

“Rockridge Ringer,”  a Jay Desmarteaux yarn, in Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckle Yarns of Appalachia from Woodland Press. In this one, Jay is looking for an old cellmate in West Virginia, a bareknuckle brawler at the mercy of a crooked sheriff. Jay deals with it the way he does best: with a wicked grin, his two fists and and an appetite for destruction.

“Slice of Life,” in D.O.A. II: Tales of Extreme Horror, by Blood Bound Books. I’m pretty sure the book’s title will decide for you whether you want to read it or not. If you want to see my take on a serial killer, this is it.

“Tiger Mother,” in Noir Nation #2. An angry mother takes on the neighborhood kingpin in ’60s Harlem.

My poem “Just Ice,” will appear in The 5-2: Crime Poetry, Vol.1 by Gerald So.


That’s a lot. Instead of dozens of flash fiction stories, all of these are bigger works, some nearly ten thousand words. So that’s what I’ve been up to. I also finished the first draft of Bury the Hatchet in July, and have been editing and rewriting it. It needs a lot of work, but I have the voice and the vision for it, and that’s all it needs. If anything, I’ll be finishing it so I can work on other projects that are dying to be written, and one I’ve been promising an editor for a year now, about a mixed martial arts fighter named Reeves, who finds that the old sword in his grandpa’s pawn shop is claimed by a fearsome clan of ninja warriors…

The Protectors Anthology is coming…

For a year, I’ve been working on a follow-up anthology to Lost Children, the charity anthology inspired by Fiona Johnson‘s flash fiction challenge, hosted at Ron Earl PhillipsFlash Fiction Friday. It is nearly complete, and will be available September 1st. Here is the full list of contributors. 100% of proceeds will go to PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children – the army fighting what Andrew Vachss calls “the only holy war worthy of the name,” the protection of children.

Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT

Stories 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
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
Chet Williamson

40 stories. One cause: PROTECT

In a few weeks, the e-book will be available across all formats. The print edition will follow.

Cover art by Kim Parkhurst. Interior design by Jaye Manus. Cover design by Sarah Bennett Pluck. Print design by Suzanne Dell’Orto. Edited by Thomas Pluck.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted stories for the collection, and everyone who assisted me with this project, and everyone at PROTECT.

Lawrence Block signed book raffle!

I’ve had the blessing to work with many hard-working and generous people since we embarked on this project. One of them is Seamus Bellamy, who contributed the excellent story “Larry” to volume one of the Lost Children charity anthology. Seamus purchased three SIGNED first editions of crime writing legend Lawrence Block’s book After Hours, and we are raffling them off for the next ten days!
Anyone who buys the anthology, either for Kindle or in paperback, email the Amazon or Createspace receipt to this address: to be entered into the raffle. There are three chances to win:
If you’ve already purchased the book, buy one as a gift. PROTECT and Children 1st UK will thank you!
(The book is currently in the Kindle Select program, but if you require it in Nook or any other e-book format, I will e-mail you those editions upon request, and assist you with transferring it to your e-reader.)
From Seamus:
Anyone that buys Lost Children: A Charity Anthology between June 6th and Saturday June 16th will be entered in a draw to win one of three signed hardcover copies of After Hours: Conversations with Lawernce Block. They’re first editions. Don’t try and tell me you don’t want one. 

In doing so, you’ll be helping out a pair of great charities, wind up with a great anthology, and if you’re lucky, a signed hardcover copy of a book that lets you take a boo at the mind of one of noir fiction’s greatest living legends. 

It ain’t no velveteen day, but it sure as hell ain’t a poke in the eye either, now is it? Get to giving and good luck in the draw!
If you can’t see your way to agreeing with me that stripping the innocence right out of an innocent kids isn’t the worst kind of crime that this dogshit world of ours has to offer, then we’ve got nothing else to talk about. While most of us bop through our days oblivious to the abuse inflicted on so many of the kids on a daily basis, a few tenacious souls are strong enough to do something about it. Tommy Pluck’s one of those. Last year, Tommy and Fiona Johnson put together Lost Children: A Charity Anthology. It’s a book that I was proud to contribute to, and one that you should be proud to buy. Y’see, all proceeds from the book are donated to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st Scotland –Two fine charities that work endlessly to protect the kids that the rest of us are too wrapped up in our own lives to keep safe or too damn oblivious to see as needing protection. 
Seamus Bellamy is a warlord, author and journalist who’s work appears frequently in print and online. You’ll find his portfolio and other undesirable things at
Thank you, Seamus!
-Tom and the LC crew

Book Blast: Bird, Ellison, Abbott, Beat to a Pulp and more

Several books by authors I admire have hit the streets recently. But first, let me get this out of the way. My friend Sabrina graciously opened the door of her blog to me, and I have a guest post up about why I wrote “Little Sister,” my story for last year’s Lost Children Charity Anthology.  Sabrina is a great friend, and my ideal reader: a passionate fan of crime fiction, who likes a story fraught with action, real stakes, and bloody thrills. She always puts her heart into her reviews, and if you like thrillers and noir, I highly recommend you follow her blog.

First up, my friend Nigel Bird- one of my favorite short story writers- has written his first novel. Some are calling it “teacher noir,” about a Scottish schoolteacher who tries to help one of his troubled students, and ends up in over his head. Nigel is the author of the excellent story collection Dirty Old Town, and last year’s smashing novella Smoke. In Loco Parentis is available at Amazon.

Megan Abbott is one of noir’s rising stars. She began with powerful nods to the classics, and last year she wrote The End of Everything, a daring novel about an abducted girl in the Detroit chi-chi suburbs. I first read her in the L.A. Noire story collection, where her tale of Hollywood sleaze “The Girl” knocked me out of my socks and into next week at the same time. Now she’s tackled the high octane and brutally competitive world of high school cheerleading with DARE ME, and Dave White gives it a great review at his new blog, Beer ‘n Books. Dave is an IPA hound, but he has great taste in beer. He also writes a pretty good yarn himself, like Witness to Death.

Buy Dare Me at Indiebound
Beat to a Pulp Round Two is out, and editing superstar David Cranmer has put together another stunner of a collection. This time Charles Ardai, Bill Pronzini, Patricia Abbott, James Reasoner, Glenn Gray and Steve Weddle are on the card, among other champs, contenders and ringers. And look at that cover. David is one of my favorite editors to work with, and he really knows how to rope together a collection. Maybe he learned a little from Cash Laramie, his western marshal?

And last but not least, the first author to influence me and make me pick up the pen was Harlan Ellison. Maybe you’ve read of our infamous correspondence? Well, Harlan began writing juvenile delinquent tales, before he broke the chains from pulp SF and created his own audacious flavor of speculative fiction. And some of those tales were racy, collected as “Sex Gang,” under the pseudonym Paul Merchant. They’ve been out of print, until now. Kicks Books is releasing them with the only slightly less squirmy title, Pulling a Train.

I don’t see the Ellison book available at my local indie or at Amazon yet, but these are what I’ll be reading this summer… once I catch up and read Dead Harvest, The Adjustment, City of the Lost, Edge of Dark Water, and That’s How I Roll!

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Two Books for the Price of One

I have a few trade paperbacks of Lost Children: A Charity Anthology to Benefit PROTECT and Children 1st I’d like to sell. They are for sale at Watchung Booksellers, and cost $9.99

It contains 30 flash fiction tales by myself, Paul D. Brazill, Chad Rohrbacher, David Barber, Fiona “McDroll” Johnson, Ron Earl Phillips, Lynn Beighley, Susan Tepper, Nicolette Wong, Benoit Lelievre, Seamus Bellamy, J.F. Juzwik, Nancy Hansen, JP Reese, Luca Veste, Sam Rasnake, Sif Dal, Veronica Lewis-Marie Shaw, David Ackley, James Lloyd Davis, Roberto C. Garcia, MaryAnne Kolton, Vinod Narayan,  Paula Pahnke, Susan Gibb, Ingrid K.V. Hardy, Gil Hoffs and Erin Zulkoski.

If you buy one from the above link, or go into the store (map below) and buy a copy, send me the email receipt via the Kontactr form to the right, and I will give you one of the following free gifts, first come first served. $5 of the sale goes to PROTECT and Children 1st, and $5 goes to support a great local independent bookstore, Watchung Booksellers. They’ve agreed to sell the book for us, so for a limited time I’m giving out freebies if you buy from them:

Dark Horse Presents #10, with “Dead Reliable” by Andrew Vachss, and illustrated by Geoff Darrow

D*CKED: Dark Fiction Inspired by Dick Cheney (Ken Bruen, Scott Phillips, Hilary Davidson, Harry Hunsicker, Tony Black, more)

Noir at the Bar: Short Fiction by Frank Bill, Matthew McBride, Pinckney Benedict, Dennis Tafoya and many more

Angel’s Tip, by Alafair Burke

My beat to hell copy of STEAL THIS BOOK! by Abbie Hoffman

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,  by Laura Hillenbrand (hardcover)

The Blasted Heath Boxset: 5 ebooks on a classy USB key with a steely collector box. All The Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith, Dead Money by Ray Banks, The Man in the Seventh Row by Brian Pendreich, Phase Four by Gary Carson, and The Long Night of Barney Thomson, by Douglas Lindsay.

Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Winter 2010 (Ray Banks, Sophie Littlefield, Anthony Neil Smith, Matthew McBride)

Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Spring 2011 (Ray Banks, Tom Piccirilli, Patti Abbott)

Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Fall 2011 (Ray Banks, Gil Brewer,  Alan Leverone)

Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Spring 2010 (Hilary Davidson, Dave Zeltserman, Paul D. Brazill)

Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Summer 2010 (Ray Banks, Chris F. Holm, Frank Bill, Stephen Blackmoore)

Out of the Gutter #4 (Ray Banks, Anthony Neil Smith, Sandra Seamans, Chris Pimental)

Pulp Modern #2 (Patti Abbott, Michael Moreci, Matt Funk, more)

Three magazine bundle:
Crimespree Magazine #45, (Hilary Davidson cover)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Nov 2011
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov 2011

The above books vary in condition but all are readable, though the Abbie Hoffman book will fall apart on you, rather like the yippie movement in the ’70s. I offer it for nostalgic value only.,+Fairfield+Street,+Montclair,+NJ&aq=0&oq=watchung+b&sll=40.801886,-74.09698&sspn=0.01046,0.021586&ie=UTF8&hq=Watchung+Booksellers,+Fairfield+Street,+Montclair,+NJ&t=m&cid=13874898973388811711&hnear=&ll=40.839463,-74.204407&spn=0.022727,0.036478&z=14&iwloc=A&output=embed
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© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

The Lost Children Anthology – Free

For five days, I am giving away the Lost Children Anthology for free.

Now, this may seem idiotic, to give away a charity book for free. But by studying the benefits reaped by Amazon booksellers who have given away a book for free, I believe this will help jumpstart the now tepid sales. So, even if you already own the book in print or for other formats, I urge you to click the link below and get yourself a free Kindle edition to help push us up in the sales ranks.
The U.K. edition is doing quite well, at #23 in its category, but the U.S. one needs some help.

Please share this over the next 5 days, and if you can spare me thirty seconds, get yourself a free book, click the “Like” button on Amazon beside the price, and scroll down to the “Tags” section and click “I agree with these tags.” It will help us sell books once the fire sale is over.

Once again, I appreciate your help, and thank you for your support. We’ve generated hundreds of dollars for Children 1st and PROTECT, and we can raise a lot more with a little work.

A second volume is in the works for this autumn, with some names you’ll recognize. I’m keeping them a secret for now.

U.S. edition:

Link to the U.K. edition of LOST CHILDREN

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Behavior is the Truth

This is from Andrew Vachss‘s “Children’s book for Adults,” Another Chance to Get It Right. The title alone says a lot. We all have another chance, every day, to do the right thing. There is no absolution for past wrongs. The closest that comes to it are the good deeds we do today.

Children know the truth
Love is not an emotion
Behavior is the truth.

You can say I love you a thousand times, but if you call your kid “a piece of garbage” (as a childhood friend’s mother was fond of calling her son) it means nothing. To quote INXS, Words are weapons, sharper than knives. This article in Parade magazine says all that needs to be said: You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart.
We make our own monsters in abusive homes and prisons; we also make our own bullies in the checkout line and the dinner table, by teaching that belittlement and humiliation are valid corrective behavior. My friend Daniel B. O’Shea wrote long and heartfelt about the idiot father who shot up his 15 year old daughter’s laptop because she complained about chores on Facebook. If you raise a brat, look in the mirror. Do you throw a fit when the waitress is slow to refill your drink? Where did they learn this petulance from? Do you correct spoiled children by acting like spoiled children?

©1993 Andrew Vachss & Frank Caruso. Used with permission.

Do something about it. Support PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children.

© 2012 Thomas Pluck