In the meantime, check out the current issue, featuring a story by my friend Bruce Harris.
Just a note to share the news that I've sold my most-recent crime story, entitled "Short Con", to Mystery Weekly Magazine. No word yet on when it'll appear, but I'll be sure to spread the word when it does.
In the meantime, check out the current issue, featuring a story by my friend Bruce Harris.
Here's something I've been holding onto for a couple weeks and now that BURN ME OUT is due in stores next month, I'm finally sharing it - an animated version of the cover!
Animation created by Morgan Wright .
I'm using the animation in a variety of places to showcase the book before the release next month, so be on the look out!
In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy at Amazon here - please be sure to share the link and tell your friends!
A couple more advance reviews to share for BURN ME OUT!
Very different reactions, but both five stars! I'm very grateful for folks' kind words and I hope you'll take the time to see what you think of BURN ME OUT for yourselves!
Pre-order your own copy here on Amazon!
The book's official release is in a few weeks, so please let me know what you think when you get your copy!
I've sold my third Azuma Kuromori story, entitled "Angel Scales", to Occult Detective Magazine!
"Angel Scales" has not yet been slotted to a specific issue as far as I know, but I'll provide more information as it's available. In the mean-time, please check out his previous adventures!
Azuma's second story, "Beyond the Faded Shrine Gates", appeared in ODM number 7, published in May.
And last year saw the publication of Azuma's first story, "Shadow's Angle" in Occult Detective Magazine (formerly Quarterly) #5.
More information coming soon!
My hard-boiled crime novel BURN ME OUT is coming in September from Black Rose Writing, but it got its first advance review already!
Check it out!
That's as high praise as I can imagine! Thanks a lot, Philip and I'm sincerely glad you enjoyed it!
If you're one of the other folks who have an advance copy, please do me a HUGE favor and leave a review on Goodreads, as well. It doesn't have to be much, just a sentence or two about how you liked it.
And if you haven't pre-ordered your own copy, you can do so right here!
Al Vacarro is a made man, with all the honors and responsibilities that entails. But after a literal lifetime of violence in service to the Castella crime family, Al's past is catching up with him and neither his present nor any future he can imagine seems to hold any hope for salvation.
For the sake of his family and his very soul, he needs out of "the life."
But how does a man escape the only world he's ever known?
This is a story of blood and desperation, and these are the last twenty-four hours of life as Al knows it.
This should give anyone an idea of how bottom-barrel this thing is right out of the gate. Drive-in fodder, playing in the background while cool teenagers made out. A lot of these low-budget movies were made with the expectation that the films themselves would be ignored. So why do I do this to myself, almost seventy years later?
A lot of people respect Roger Corman for many reasons: his drive to make movies, his variety and prolificness, the fact that he gave a lot of people their first work in film. In his own way, he's definitely an auteur. That doesn't mean he wasn't a hack, though. DON'T GET ME WRONG! There's nothing wrong with being a hack. Someone has to do it and there can be a lot of enjoyment in bad cinema. MST3K wouldn't exist without it, after all.
Speaking of early work, recognize this guy?
Yep. Lee Van Cleef, famed for being a bad man in literally dozens and dozens of westerns. This was far from his first movie, despite it being less than four years into his career (he had already made thirty movies by this point). Here he plays a scientist who's been communicating with Venus. Don't think he ever played a scientist before or after this. At any rate, he's deluded himself into thinking this alien is his friend and helps the creature find its way to Earth, hoping to usher in an error of peace and goodwill and all that stuff.
Does this look like a creature who wants peace and brings goodwill or does it look like a man-eating space-potato?
Of course it wants to conquer the world. It's in the title of the movie.
It doesn't, though, it just causes panic and wastes a lot of people's time and then the army gets smart and this happens.
Corman did make some good films, but this isn't one of them.
New post is a couple days late this week to more closely coincide with Independence Day, the Fourth of July!
To celebrate, here's some all-American fiction by yours truly! All westerns, the period that perhaps best defines our country!
I hope you'll check out these works that celebrate a piece of Americana and enjoy them! Please let me know your thoughts and as always, stay safe and have a happy holiday weekend!
A Hanging Matter - the first Marshal Ernie Farrar story! Free to read at Crimson Streets eZine!
Noose-Hungry - the second Marshal Ernie Farrar story! Also free to read at Crimson Streets!
Trail of Lead and Gold - a standalone western! Free to read at Crimson Streets!
The Home Place - available on Kindle as a Full Speed Singles ebook! Only 99 cents!
And last, but certainly not least, my novella Wild Yellow - published in StoryHack Magazine #4, available in ebook or in print!
Summer means a little more free time for many people and with the current situation, some of us have a lot more free time. What do we do with it? Watch old sci-fi movies, of course!
No, it's not a prequel to 28 Days Later (although I do love that movie), it's a 50s Cold War dread film, cloaked in light science fiction.
The IMDB summary describes it best:
Five individuals from five nations, including the "Superpowers," USA, USSR, and China, suddenly find themselves on an alien spacecraft. An alien gives each a container holding capsules. No power on earth can open a given container except a mental command from the person to whom it is given. Each person has been provided with the power of life and death. Any of these individuals has the capability to instantaneously launch the capsules to whatever coordinates he/she chooses, and each capsule will then eradicate all human life within a 3,000-mile radius of its designated location.
Since it's 50s sci-fi, most of it is not very subtle. Here are the folks who've been chosen. Can you spot the Communist?
They sit around wondering what's going on until their alien host appears. He introduces himself simply as "The Alien" and since it's that kind of sci-fi, he's very patrician, uses no contractions, wears a jumpsuit and is, of course, super-intelligent.
The Alien gives each of these people three capsules, which from the descriptions are basically nuclear weapons. They can each use each one however, wherever, whenever they wish on any target, anywhere in the world. If all fifteen of the capsules are used, however, every living thing on Earth will be destroyed. Gosh.
And why the hell would the Alien do this? Because his people's planet is dying and he wants to move them onto the Earth, but his personal code prevents him from wiping out humanity himself, so he's giving them the opportunity to do so. If they don't, I guess he'll just go away and play his little game with another planet, huh? The name of the film, by the way, comes from the Alien's confidence that we'll wipe ourselves out within twenty-seven days.
There's really nothing else to this film that you can't guess for yourself. The Chinese lady kills herself immediately because she can't handle the responsibility, the Englishwoman throws her capsules into the ocean, not wanting any part of any of this. The German scientist gets hit by a car. The Russian soldier is interrogated by the Kremlin because they simply must have this power for themselves. The American and the Brit, of course, go to the US authorities who are wise and decent - but then they can't resist testing one of the capsules out, either.
Eventually, the German scientist notices there is writing on the capsules. Nobody else ever actually looked at theirs, of course, but it turns out that the capsules only kill enemies of freedom and the capsules are all set off, destroying all those nasty little bad guys who hate freedom. You know who I mean as well as the audience would have.
Then, because there's all this empty land on another continent, the United Nations invites The Alien and his people to live there. How nice.
Unlike this movie.
I'm quite the fan of Day Keene. While his books are not always great, when they're good, they're fantastic.
Beginning his career as a radio writer (rising to become head writer of Little Orphan Annie, of all things), Keene began publishing crime stories in the pulps in the early 40s before turning to prose full time.
Mostly a writer of crime and mystery stories, he co-wrote at least one sci-fi novel (which I've avoided, due to the ridiculous, and sadly of its time, premise), but I recently discovered he also published, shortly before the end of his life, a western novel.
Of course, I was curious. And it certainly has a premise I've not see before: in the short years between the end of the Civil War and Texas's readmittance back into the union, an unscrupulous woman tries to carve her own fiefdom out of a corner of Texas, using her supposedly-dead husband's resources. Her husband, Major John Royal, formerly of the Confederate Army and a proud son of Texas, of course can't let this happen when world of it rearches him in Mexico (where many Confederate soldiers fled to, instead of pledging loyalty to the union at the end of the war).
Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to the potential of the premise. I've definitely read worse novels--I've even read worse Keene novels--but it isn't all that great, either. It's certainly an okay read, but it seems less like a western and more something reworked from another genre. For one thing, the dialogue is too modern and many of the interactions in it feel misplaced, as if they were excised from some other work and dropped into it. It just doesn't feel like a western.
There are some technical issues, as well, that I know probably came from gleaning knowledge of the west from other westerns, rather than doing any research (common in western fiction, unfortunately). Another thing that bothered me, and I know some would call this nitpicking, but it took me out of the flow of the story it was so jarring: the cost of things are insanely inflated for 1869. Cowhands being paid $100 a month, ranches that cost $160,000, horses valued at thousands of dollars each. Those are 1967 costs, when the novel was published, not 1869.
As a novel, it's not great, but it was interesting to see a writer I enjoy try his hand at something different. Towards the last years of his life, Keene tried many different things and some of them worked out quite well. For example, his very unusual crime novel Joy House not only sold very well, it was adapted into a very successful film. Was GUNS ALONG THE BRAZOS (they never even come close to the Brazos River, by the way), another one of these experiments? Did Keene simply want to try writing a western? We'll probably never know, but I'm still glad I gave it a try, even if I can't recommend it.
Nothing much going on this week, but I did just watch 52 PICK-UP, the film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard.
It's really the only Leonard novel I've read that I really liked. The film does a good job capturing the feel of the novel (helped, no doubt, by Leonard co-writing the screenplay).
It made me wonder, though, where the concept of "rich industrialist has problems that turn violent" set-up for crime novels originated. John D. MacDonald, of whom I've written much, used it quite frequently, but he's hardly the only one. It would be interesting to try to figure out the origin, but I honestly wouldn't know where to begin.
At any rate, read the novel or watch the film - they're both good.
I'm Brandon and I write comic books, prose and poetry. I own dozens of clever and interesting t-shirts.