Bloody Knuckles Newsletter

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A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Been a while, I know. Day job, line edits, audio tracks, and I've been hanging with some steampunkers. Of course, none of this has stopped me from checking out the latest in fall television.

CBS has opened the doors for yet another updated version of Conan-Doyle's hero. The procedural aspect of it is pretty standard, although it feels like Aidan Quinn has finally found a niche for his hardened NYC detective in Captain Gregson. I don't see much difference from Lieutenant Kevin Sweeney in last year’s short lived NBC offering of a Prime Suspect remake. And the return of Jon Michael Hill, formerly of ABC’s DETROIT 187, is a plus.

The real chemistry of Elementary is between John Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Here the update of the Holmes and Watson characters develop a new, fresh layer in the canon of Holmesian knock-offs. It allows Watson to go from making casual observations about Holmes as Conan-Doyles’ pair did to allowing an insightful exploration of the centerpiece character, but maybe not as much as Martin Freeman’s Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes in the excellent BBC Sherlock.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Signed the contracts today on my first picture book. It’s got a holiday theme and this is November so I imagine the rlease date will be about ten months from now.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER ACROSS THE PAGE: Trouble Comes to Sorrow, the second in the three part series of northern  Michigan sheriff Cal Haskell has been released. You can listen to a snippet of it here: Mind Wings

Saturday, October 13, 2012


It’s been a busy few weeks even though it hasn't seemed like it. Pennant Fever is sweeping through Detroit right now as the Tigers continue their way to a World Series appearance. Next up are the New York Yankees. I’m just hoping it’s a Detroit-San Fran series. Nothing ageist the Cardinals because those guys make up a hell of a team. It’s just that Detroit has faced St. Louis nine times already in post season play. The last time was in 2006 and the Cards went up 5-4 in World Series wins over the Tigers.
 But enough about baseball.
 For now.
 I wanted to like BBC America’s Copper. Just like I did with Brussel sprouts, I gave it three chances. It had everything going for it: period drama, gritty characters, corrupt police force. You couldn't help but think of Gangs of New York, especially since it made so many references to the Five Points in early New York. It was supposed to be a game changer.
 But it wasn't.
 I don’t know where the disconnection occurred for me. I’d be interested in knowing if any of you gave it a try and what you thought.
 BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Untreed Reads will release my dystopian, YA novel Running Red sometime in early 2013. A young woman searches for her missing family while fending off the end of civilization and mutating zombies. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Story Up @ Flash Jab

Way back in June, I posted a challenge to the members of an online writing group of which I am a member. I'd watched a series of noir films on TMC and was taking notice of the great performances put in my the ancillary character actors. The idea occurred to me to take one of these background plot-advancers and move him or her to the front.

So I created Mildred Morning, a sixty-something spinster with a somewhat nefarious past. I tried to keep her as simple as possible so anyone who wanted to contribute could add to Miss Morning's development. The basic idea was Miss Marple meets Sam Spade.

Fellow collaborator Kaye George took a stab at it. Below is her contribution. Give it a read. I think you'll enjoy! Here's the link:

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: The Lily Dair three parts series is complete and available at smashwords ( These are a new breed of electronic entertainment from Grit City Publications. Graphic artists are used to create computer imagery that enhances the mood of the story. For a better explanation, check out Grit City Books (

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER TWO: The latest story in the life of Detroit's slacker PI Harry Landers has been released by Mind Wings Audio. MEATBALLS and MURDER puts Harry in the middle of a deadly restaurant feud in Detroit's Little Italy, which is a fictional location. Don't try to visit it.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: About four years ago I started pushing Hard Boiled Guy/ B-Girl Day where everyone dresses like a noir movie character and talks in slang. I figured if it could be done for pirates, it could be done for pulp characters. Here's a website for slang: The date to celebrate is October 18.

Finally, I apologize for not responding quicker to your responses. I've been trying to send these emails about once a month and that's about how often I check this email. If you ever have a story you'd like considered for Flash Jab, shoot it to me at I prefer something in the 500-750 range. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Dangerous Ground

I like to stink myself up.

So says the platinum blonde getting the third degree from Robert Ryan. On Dangerous Ground premiered in 1951. It's as gritty and pulpy as some of the great hard boiled features of an era of tough talk and over the top acting. Over the top by today's standards.

Robert Ryan plays detective Jimmy Wilson, a cop with anger issues. When a two bit thug challenges him in a very submissive way, Wilson smacks the crap out him. The beating is apparently so bad, the con goes into the police station with a jacket over his face. Later, Wilson is confronted with a civil suit for rupturing the guy's bladder. Wilson's chief gives him a good old days speech and tells him to lighten up. Not even an hour later he's back to roughing up the bad guys.

When one of partners tells him he's out of control, Wilson gets sent to investigate a murder where he meets a blind gal played by the great Issue Lupino. Is this his last chance for redemption?

This is classic Noir. Ryan and Lupino are great together. Ed Begley and Ward Bond help round out a solid supporting cast.

4 out of 5 slugs.

Friday, June 15, 2012


My guest this week is fellow Mind Wings author, Wayne Zurl.

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.

Fourteen (14) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl’s first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards, chosen as 1st Runner-Up from all Commercial Fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was nominated for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His second novel, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle. HEROES & LOVERS is scheduled for release later this year.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH:  What drew you to Mind Wings?

WAYNE ZURL: Back in 2006 I finished my first novel, A NEW PROSPECT, and started querying agents. As the rejection letters trickled in, I began writing shorter pieces—novelettes—for practice. I based them on cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about from my time in the police Department. I ended up with a half-dozen stories around 10,000 words each.
I liked the finished products, so I sent one to mainstream mystery magazines like Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, and Strand. I got no takers, but one acquisitions editor had the courtesy to explain the reason for my rejection.

 “We only publish one novelette a year and everybody writes them,” he said. “I got a stack on my desk. James Patterson sent one. Who do you think I’m gonna pick, him or you?”
 Enough said. I put my manuscripts back on the shelf and looked for new places to peddle them.
Then somewhere, I can’t remember where, I found Mind Wings Audio looking for stories between 7,800 and 11,000 words, to produce as 55 to 70 minute “commuter” audio books. “Eureka,” I said, and submitted a thing called A LABOR DAY MURDER. The publisher, Mary Gould, liked it and sent me a contract. So far, I’ve been lucky. Mind Wings just accepted my 14th—GYPSIES, TRAMPS & THIEVES, a story about a crew of Romani grifters operating in East Tennessee.

HNS:  Talk a little bit about Chief Sam Jenkins and how he and the Smoky Mountain mysteries came about. 

WZ: Sam is easy to talk about because we share a few similarities. Basically, we’re middle-aged, retired New York cops living in East Tennessee. But it goes beyond that and you’d have to read a few Smoky Mountain mysteries to see what I mean.

Knowing Sam intimately made it easy to write his dialogue. We’ve lived through the same experiences, so if I’d say something in any given situation, Sam does. But now he’s a police chief and I’m his Doctor Watson.

Actually, I borrowed the idea of a big town detective becoming a small town chief from the late Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. But that’s as far as my thievery went. Sam and Jesse are very different and Paradise, Massachusetts is world’s away from Prospect, Tennessee.
In my naiveté, I thought if Parker can do it, so can I. I was a cop and he wasn’t. I’d just transplant my New York stories toTennessee. Easy, huh?

It took me four years to get my first novel traditionally published. The first Sam Jenkins Audio/eBook novelette debuted in 2009.

HNS:  I ask everyone this but when did you know you were a writer?

WZI’ve been writing my entire adult life, from after-action reports in the Army, to the reams of narrative reports I filed in the police department. But even after getting paid for a bunch of non-fiction magazine articles and seeing a few pieces of fiction published, I was reluctant to introduce myself as a writer.

I guess it was after A NEW PROSPECT won the “Indie” that my ideas changed. In retrospect, I should have had those business cards printed a lot sooner.

The day I was inducted into the Army, people called me a soldier. Yet I had never fired a shot to defend the Constitution. When I graduated from the police academy, I hadn't arrested anyone, saved anyone’s life, or delivered a baby. Nonetheless, I was getting paid as a cop. So, although I've not seen my name on the New York Times bestseller list (yet) I’m going to say Zurl’s a mystery writer.

Thanks, Jack, for inviting me to your blog and allowing me to chat with your fans and followers. Best of luck to you with your books and I hope I've made a few new friends.

 HNS: Thank you, Wayne.

 For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Mark July 1 on your calendar. The first of a three part series with Grit City Publications, an emotobook publisher, will premiere. It will introduce Lily Dair, a young archeologist with a penchant for danger. What is an emotobokk? Check out the media page:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Sheriff of Sorrow

Looks like the first of the three part series has been released by Smashwords. 

I must be a true pulp writer. In addition to the crime, science fiction, and horror I've had posted or published over the last five years, I can now add westerns.

The Sheriff of Sorrow series will tell the story of a greenhorn sheriff named Cal Haskell. Young Cal takes a job in an industrialized, northern Michigan town as a favor to a friend of his father's. On the first night he arrives in Sorrow, he becomes embroiled in old town politics and corruption as he watches the temporary sheriff get gunned down in the street by the son of a local industrialist. Money and history turn out to be two very obstinate obstacles for Cal. Many men might have ridden away but Cal feels obligated to help those who called him to their town. 

You can download the readable copy now at

An audio version read by award winning narrator Joe Barrett will be released soon by Mind Wings Audio

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Release

Coming soon.
Watch for it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge

It's April so it's time for another challenge.

Here are the protocols:
1) Use the photo on the site:
2) 750 words or less
3) Please don't plagiarize
4) Get it back to me within the next two weeks or sooner
5) With the authors' permission, stories get posted at Flash Jab Fiction
6) This is a writer's exercise done for fun; no fees, no pay. You get a byline and you keep the all rights. (Please notify me if you sell it so I can yank it from the blog.)
7) Embed the story in an email and shoot it to me at (Bloody Knuckles reserves the right to post or not to post a story.)

Flash Jab Fiction, Bloody Knuckles, and The Hard Nosed Sleuth reserve the right not to post submissions. This is an adult fiction site but there are limitations to what I can run. No bigotry, pornography, or anything featuring the exploitation of children will be considered.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Gerald So is running my crime poem 'Suspect has a History' this week to celebrate National Poetry Month. Click The 5-2 Crime Blog to read or listen to it.

BLATANTLY SELF PROMOTING IN ANOTHER CORNER: The first issue of GRIFT Magazine has hit the virtual stands. It includes an amazing line up of Lawrence Block, Ken Bruen, and me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I used to say my dad had an uncanny knack for picking the next short lived TV series. Looking at the reviews I’ve done so far, I’d say latching on to television’s next big bombs are in my DNA. I raved about the Charlie’s Angels reboot- gone. Gave high praise to Mario Bello in Prime Suspect- kaput. I was a huge fan of Detroit 187- remember that one? Naturally, I am hesitant to say anything about NBC’s midseason replacement, Awake.

Jason Isaacs plays a bad ass cop named Michael Britten who has a slight case of a sleeping disorder. In one world he dreams of his dead wife, in the other, his dead son. Which is reality? How do clues in one world how solve cases in the other? I thought the writers were about to botch it all up a week ago when we got a couple of story lines that did not come from Britten’s point of view. They recovered nicely in the alternate therapy sessions. Acclaimed actors Cherry Jones (Broadway), B.D. Wong (Law and Order: SVU), Steve Harris (The Practice), and Wilmer Valderrama (That ‘70s Show) make a solid supporting cast.

Isaacs is a stand out actor most of us here in the states recognize as Lucius Malfoy, the father to Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. Last fall Masterpiece Mystery on PBS ran a three episode series called Case Histories where Isaac played ex-cop turned PI Jackson Brodie. Isaacs plays his characters with an edge, tough and hard when he needs to be but also with a little compassion. Think Mike Hammer meets Columbo.

Catch it while you can. Awake is on my Favorites List. That can’t be good.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION: I am excited and proud to say I have a story in the premiere issue of GRIFT Magazine. I’ll be appearing alongside the likes of Ken Bruen, Craig McDonald, and Lawrence Block! Check out my story 'A Hell of a Hat' here: Huzzah!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Micro Interview: BLU GILLIAND

Continuing with the promotion of the recently released anthology, GRIMM TALES, I spend some time with contributor Blu Gilliand.

BLOODY KNUCKLES: One thing I've been wondering about is why there's been a sudden abundance of twists and slants on the Grimms. ABC has Once Upon A Time, NBC has Grimm, Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron have upcoming turns at playing the evil queen, Amanda Seyfried starred as Red Riding Hood in a full length movie adaptation (an idea I once pitched at a film fest...hmm...)and we've all contributed to this anthology. Want to share any insight you might have on this?

BLU GILLIAND: One thing is that the movie and television industry seems to have a pack mentality: when something succeeds, everybody tries to get on that particular bandwagon. When The Blair Witch Project blew up, a whole new genre - the "found footage" genre - was born, and still hasn't gone away. Halloween became a huge hit, and all of a sudden there was a glut of slasher films, all of them tied to some holiday or another. And now it's like the studios and networks are trying to anticipate what's going to be a hit so they can be in on it from the start, so when one hears about something that could potentially be a big hit, they all rush their own variations into production. Now, keep in mind, these are the opinions of a man from Alabama who's never been to Hollywood and never dealt with studios or networks, but if you look closely you can take a good guess as to how it works.

Another thing is that the Grimm tales are so timeless and so versatile. People have been playing with the ideas in those stories for years. Bill Willingham, for example, has been writing a comic series for DC called Fables that takes all these characters and sets them in the modern world, although they are hidden from the eyes of the mundane, normal people. (I often wonder what HE thinks of the sudden rush of fairy tale-based properties, considering some of them seem to skate pretty close to what he's been doing for a while now...) The point is, these are characters that most of us are familiar with, and we like to see familiar things used in new and interesting ways.

BK: Your story quickly goes really dark; the scene with the kids in the cage, for one instance, the conversation between the evil stepmom and the crone, for another. What led you there?

BG: I'm a horror guy. I love the stuff, and everything I write seems to filter through that sensability sooner or later. The reason I chose to riff on "Hansel and Gretel" in the first place is because it's practically a horror story in its original form. I thought the elements of the children getting lost, and the idea that the mom was deliberately trying to get rid of them, made the perfect crossover between crime and horror. Throw in a creepy old woman living deep in the forest, an old lady with some unsavory ideas of how to dispose of these two children, and well...I couldn't help myself.

BK: I ask this all of my first time interviewees: When did you know you were a writer?

BG: I think I've always known - maybe I didn't always admit it to myself, but I've always known. Some of my earliest school memories involve teachers telling me or my parents that I had a talent for writing. I would sit down with big hardcover books and just copy what I read in there - it was like the urge to write existed, I just didn't know how to go about it. All I knew was that I had to get words on paper.

Later on, in junior high school, I wrote a story for an english class. Unbeknownst to me, the teacher read it to ALL of his classes. The next day, it was like I went from this meek kid wandering the halls with my small group of friends to some kind of rock star. I was in seventh grade, and I had ninth graders - NINTH GRADERS, man! - coming up to me saying they liked my story. So I thought "Maybe I have something here."

Of course, as happens with so many of us, life and career and other pursuits got in the way. Actually, I let them get in the way. I realized a few years ago that writing was a dream I'd always had, but in order for it to come true I had to make time to work at it. So I have. I've published eleven stories now, and have written untold amounts of stories that have been rejected or will never see the light of day, but I recognize now that it's a process. I've always been a writer; it's just that now I know that being a writer is just the start - to be a GOOD writer, you have to put the time in. That's what I'm doing now, and hopefully it will pay off.


Blu Gilliand has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of print and Internet publications including Dark Scribe Magazine, Dark Discoveries, Shroud Magazine, White Cat Publications and Currently he conducts monthly author interviews for Horror World and writes a weekly column for He also covers horror and crime fiction on his own blog, October Country ( He invites you to visit his blog or stalk him on Twitter, where he posts under the imaginative name of @BluGilliand.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Westlake Day!

Special thanks to Patti Abbott for including me in this!


The very first Hard Case Crime novel I read was The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. He had explained in the Afterword I was either going to love it or hate it. He was right. Not to be discouraged by this initial reading, I liked what Hard Case was attempting to do. The second one I read was 361 by Donald E. Westlake and this was much better. Not great; I found it somewhat formulaic, but I guess I expected that. It was a while before I picked up another Westlake. When I did, it came on the recommendation of Lawrence Block in his Mystery Scene Magazine column. The book was Memory and it blew me away.
In between projects and looking for a diversion from my day job, I paid a visit to a local box-chain bookstore. I had trained my eye to look for the yellow flag with the Beretta on it. I noticed one that seemed super-sized, figured it must be a large print edition. It was called Somebody Owes Me Money. The blonde in the mini skirt straddling a speeding taxicab caught my eye. I’m a sucker for Hard Case covers, especially the ones with women on them. This particular cutie looked a lot like Gail O’Grady who played the receptionist on NYPD Blue. The image carried through into the book. Abbie wasn’t just a pretty blonde with a gun, she was Mike Hammer, ready to beat a guy down who didn’t play nice with her.
The story breaks down like this: Chet is a cabbie who takes a tip from a fare on a horse. Chet makes a call to his bookie buddy Tommy and places the bet. The horse wins. Chet stops by Tommy’s after his shift ends to collect his winnings- a staggering $950.
Only problem? Tommy’s dead and there ain’t no moola.
Enter Abbie, who claims she’s Tommy’s sister and she wants to know who killed her brother and why. From the back seat of Chet’s cab, she draws on the hapless driver and threatens to spill his blood unless he spills what he knows. Abbie thinks it was Tommy’s wife who killed him, someone Abbie suspects is also sleeping with a local hood. Chet has his own ideas. In the middle of a conversation that is so rich you think you’re a passenger in the same cab, Chet gets shot and after that- hilarity ensues.
No, really. It gets funny after that. I mean laugh out loud funny.
Rival gangs want to know what Chet knows about the whole affair. While he’s laid up in Tommy’s apartment as a guest of Abbie, each of the gangs sends muscle to lean on Chet to crack him. Only problem? Chet doesn’t know squat. He’s as in the dark as to who killed Tommy as they are. Enter a suspicious detective who thinks Chet is the killer and you begin to feel the frustration Chet feels trapped in the apartment, having to explain his story each time a rival gang member shows up for more information.
Westlake’s banter is golden. The mobsters and their henchmen might be archetypes, but there is a sincerity about them; after a while I kept thinking how some of these guys were just working stiffs and had lives they went home to when they weren’t swinging guns around Chet and Abbie. He actually produces empathy for the people in this world.
If someone had handed me these three Westlake books before I read them and had removed his name, I might not have know he wrote all three; his voice as that different in each. 361 was all hard knuckles and flying bullets; Memory was some of the most tender prose I’ve ever read, and Somebody Owes Me Money moves like a seventies rom/com/caper film similar to What’s Up, Doc? or Silver Streak. The read is an enjoyable ride.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Micro Interview: LOREN EATON

Loren Eaton joins us this week to share his wisdom on the well received and hot selling Grimm Tales. He’s a pretty prolific writer with stories scattered and planted around the web. Google him- you’ll see what I mean.

HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: I would say you're one of the established writers of this new era of Internet pulp zines. What drew you to John Kenyon's challenge for GRIMM TALES? What separated it from other opportunities? (Or are you like me and what sparks the idea gets fanned until it ignites into a full fledged story?)

LOREN EATON: You're very kind, but truth be told I'm rather new to the crime fiction world. Although I grew up reading thrillers, I fell away from the field for about a decade and only came back after discovering Peter Rozovsky's Detectives Beyond Borders blog. As for writing the stuff, I didn't begin doing that until I found Patti Abbott's stories and the various online contests she'd helmed. Once such contest was "I Love You, Megamart," which eventually became the Untreed Reads' anthology Discount Noir. When heard of her involvement with John Kenyon's fairy-tale-as-crime-fiction challenge, well, I wanted onboard!

HNS: This is one hard boiled tale. You've used an interesting style to tell it. Talk about how it developed. (Your narrator does a heck of a job bringing it to life.)

LE: For some reason, the harshness of hardboiled and noir resonates with me. I consider both Richard Stark's black-as-night The Hunter or Adrian McKinty's poetically violent Fifty Grand favorites, and I hoped to imbue my story, "King Flounder," with some of their edginess. I knew I wanted to use the Grimm fable "The Fisherman and His Wife," wherein the cupidity of a greedy angler's spouse causes a magical fish to visit them with woe. I knew that I also wanted incorporate an old, related proverb: "When you sit down to eat with a ruler / Observe carefully what is before you, / And put a knife to your throat / If you are given to appetite." Eventually, a framing device came to me, the idea of this poor guy who'd unwittingly helped the Mafia once and who ends up summoned to the kingpin's estate to receive his recompense. During the meeting, the narrating Mafioso "happens" -- note the quotation marks -- to recount a tale about someone who once asked too much of him. A most uncomfortable situation, to be sure.

HNS: Seeing as how you haven't been a guest here, I'd like to ask you what I ask all first timers and that is when did you know you were a writer?

LE: Writing found me in the ninth grade, during which I discovered it was far more fun to scratch out fan fiction based on video game franchises than to listen to my teachers.

HNS: Many thank, Loren!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Micro Interview: Seana Graham

This week we spend some time with fellow anthologist Seana Graham who contributed the short ‘Gato’ to Grimm Tales.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH: You and I both enjoy books, yet we're writing in an electronic arena.
Let's talk a bit about the epublishing world and the pitfalls and highs we've experienced within it. For me, blatant self promotion wears me out but I find it necessary. Am I wrong to think I'm being narcissistic? Do you feel that way about BSP?

SEANA GRAHAM: I am in what I think is a fairly rare position when it comes to all things
publishing. I work in an independent bookstore and have for many years,
so have witnessed firsthand the way the chains, Amazon, and the whole
ebook revolution have chipped away at the profitability of what was never
exactly a get rich quick scheme to begin with.

On the other hand, I also write fiction and so have a fairly large amount
of interest and sympathy with the whole writerly philosophy of "by any
means necessary" when it comes to publishing. I also have a rather
jaundiced view of the risk-taking capacities of major publishers, and I
find in the ebook world that there is a great vitality. Sure, a lot of it
is crap, but that's true in the traditional publishing world as well, and
I am loving a lot of the stuff I see in the ebook format.

Even bookstores sell ebooks now, thanks to the advent of Google ebooks, so
I don't mind saying that I have a device to read such things on. I'm of
the generation that came of age before computers took over the world, so a
book is always going to seem a better format than an ebook, but I don't
know why that should necessarily be so for people that follow me. There
are features that appeal even to me in the device format, but I would
still always buy a physical book over a virtual one, given the choice. But
there may be a slow slide. Convenience is a pernicious thing.

As for self-promotion, I think it's hard for most writers. I am not
really interested in building a platform, as all the writing sites advise
you to do. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, which is mainly because I'm
already on the computer way too much and figure it is not all that hard to
find me if people want to. On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem
promoting Grimm Tales, because I'm a fan of the writing of the others in
the anthology. One of the things about the blogosphere that I've really
appreciated is that self-promotion can blend quite honestly with support
and promotion of others. The community aspect of all this is fascinating
to me.

HNS: For those who haven't heard the podcast featuring you and another noted writer, tell us a little about your story in Grimm Tales: inspiration, your twist of the story, what made you choose Puss in Boots.

SG: You know it's funny, I don't really know why I chose Puss 'n Boots. At the
time, I think I consciously thought that I wouldn't do something like
Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, mainly because I thought I'd like to use a
story that I didn't think that many people would use. As it turned out,
that didn't matter--at least four people used Hansel and Gretel as an idea
and the stories are all quite different.

What does fascinate me a year out is the unconscious choice. My mother had
died just a couple of months earlier, and my sisters and I had had our own
hospital scene with her. I'm sure I reflected on this a bit as I wrote,
but why I chose to flip all the genders, the birth order and actually the
character of the people in the story is very strange to me. I have no
explanation for it but am fairly sure it wasn't just a random coincidence.

HNS: I ask this of all first time interviewees: When did you know you were a writer?

SG: I was one of those who identified as a writer from an early age. Maybe six
or so. I don't think there was a big conflict about it until high school
or college, actually. I think I just became self-conscious about it. I
was very resistant to getting into the creative writing program or the
whole "I wanna be a writer" declaration. I think we're touching on the
reluctance to appear narcissistic that you mentioned earlier. It is so
hard to know what anything you do means, and I was hanging out with a
bunch of people who were very idealistic and thought maybe we should go
work with Mother Teresa or something. I'm not Catholic, but it was hard to
see where writing fiction fit into all that.

I'm still not sure, by the way, but I have since discovered that I am not
really the Mother Teresa type...

Thanks for the opportunity, Jack!

BK: Anytime, Seana!

Seana Graham works at an independent bookstore in Santa Cruz, California. She has published stories in a variety of literary magazines, including Salamander, Eclipse and Eleven Eleven. Her short story “The Pirate’s True Love” was collected in the anthology The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and her work is included in The Carpathian Shadows series, edited by Lia Schizas. She has also co-authored a book of trivia about Southern California, where she spent her early, formative years.

A couple of her conversations with Rick Kleffel, radio interviewer of the Agony column can be found here:

Seana also writes a handful of blogs including Confessions of Ignorance and Not New for Long. She is still not entirely sure why she does this.

Nigel Byrd is running a short ‘Dancing with Myself’ interview featuring me interviewing me over at his blog Sea Minor. Here’s the link:

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION IN THE OTHER CORNER: Grimm Tales, Monkey See- Monkey Murder, and Discount Noir are all available at

COMING UP NEXT: Just about time for a Flash Jab Challenge, isn’t it?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Micro Interview: Absolute*Kate

You know, there’s just no way to describe Absolute*Kate except to say you can feel the energy flowing off of her words. She runs the AT THE BIJOU blog spot and draws in some of the masters of crime fiction and thrillers to provide the entertainment. Here’s her take on being a part of GRIMM TALES.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH: Whew! Your tale is a wild ride. I couldn't help but see it in black and white images with the golden age tough guys and b-girls. Talk about your noir slant.

Absolutely*Kate: Well thanks a heap Jack. A dame likes to feel the cool, free wind in her hair, life without care and the capacity to play her Rat Pack tunes good and loud, while taking tough lug fellers like you on wild rides. What's the adventure to Life without wild rides? That'd be like askin' for a damn good cup o'joe and gettin' served up decaf. Y'know?
OH ~ You mean my tale in our illustrious Grimm Tales ~ "YOU DIRTY RATS"? Yeah, yeah, sure, sure -- Scribin' that one out was a wild ride in itself. Mostly 'cause once my character took off his fedora and scratched the ponder of his noggin, he knew more was off . . . than just his good lookin' hat on that godforsaken bar. He's a cool cat, Jack Piper is. He's a fixer. And to write that piece, I had to listen tight to that Jack rattle around both thoughts and wisecracks all at the same time. Most of the times, trying to hold my laughter in so's I could keep up with his rat-a-tat-take-no-jive pace at the keyboard, I marveled at just how smooth and dapper he tried to appear in every scene. Perhaps a little jaggedy around the Bogart edges, Piper could still case a joint and size up the action AND the possibilities coming at him in no seconds flat. Good thing he was packin' a magic harmonica to keep things attuned when the bimbettes and bouncers and bad guys got too big with their game though. Double-dealing, double-crossin', double-timing floozies and a run-away riverboat? Ooooh baby, Jack Piper had his hands filled more than his hootch tumbler . . . and the music just kept playin, huh?
Yeah Bub, You ain't blowin' smoke outta dat Lucky Strike that we, all my cool crazy characters and me, didn't see Noir swirlin' up 'round da docks. We had all the makins of seedy underworld, corrupt ambiguities, femme fatales, high-rollers and down-on-their- luckers with perhaps someone to root for all along. I just watched 'em close, listened tight and tip, tap, typed all through several nights. They took me for the ride.

HNS: How did you get involved in the project?

Absolutely*Kate: How's any cat slink into a good hidey hole? Our chief there, John Kenyon, left the door open at THINGS I'D RATHER BE DOING and I followed my new crime-buddy Sean Patrick Reardon, right on in. Saw Beetner in the corner oiling up his ammo and a new hero Patti Abbot I'd recognized from thrill of Brazill days, being tough as classy does. I knew with those aces in the pack the ante was up. I'd met a slew of youse guys when DO SOME DAMAGE asked Santa for Christmas crime-tales last year. My Detective Nelle Callahan held her gal gumshoe gumption in the midst of tough varmints like you and that swaggering AJ Hayes and Julie Morrigan and Seana Graham in "JiNGLE NELLE, JiNGLE NELLE". Since I really liked youse guys - how you all raise the bar on each other, and I wanted to gun higher in that smoky B&W genre, I gulped my bravado and sashayed right in. Kenyon wasn't lookin' and I've come to discover that good ol' Nigel Bird was actually pretty kind inside (Shhhh), and would right you if you wobbled. I didn't wobble, but it sure got cool knowin' each of you authors through your words. Many times I was blown away - I think lurid Loren did that, as I know our gripping readers of Grimm Tales shall be, page after good and gruesome page.

BK: I ask this of all my first time interviewees: When did you know you were a writer?

Absolutely*Kate: Gulp. A virgin interviewee in the lair of Bloody Knuckles. Yikes!
When did I know though? At the time of the 64 Crayolas. Grew up in small town Ohio before comin' to the confluence of two rivers in Connecticut where the writing and the ideas and the cross-promotion of authors on the rise keeps flowin' and flowin. Early life was the kind of love and laughter that never knows a challenge to be anything but a strive to head smack into. I did. Often and creatively. Mom was a part-time news reporter and artist. Both grandfathers were expressive rebels and good storytellers. My Dad, my hero, rallied good people as the true enrichments we'll always know in this here world. He took me to a restaurant on my 16th birthday called Moxie's. I ate that up and always keep some moxie kickin' around.
I've worked magazines, started newspapers, been on every arts, culture and tourism board in the city that hosts ESPN and worked behind the scenes in political log rolling fervently, while seeing my great kiddos soar into their own lives. Had my own advertising agency and PR firm and for the past pack of years it's been my time to roll all that into something that turns pages or scrolls ebooks and ultimately gives back -- a thought, a grinn, a wondering, hell - a guffaw is superb.
I run a virtual theatre for the mind joint, AT THE BIJOU, while I play with my other best pals -- words. We've done a Rat Pack Revue there when Robert J Randisi agreed to let me put a star up on his door. Now we're doing what's amounting to a NOIRathon -- three months straight and talented authors still lined up on streets. I wanta give back, Jack. Use all the guts and gumption I've been given to help authors take authors the higher. That's what we're doin' now, what John Kenyon threw out in a pitch and Jay Hartman batted around the outfield.
Let's grandslam our great Grimm Tales book Jack, shall we?

That Jack Guy: Thanks, doll!

Absolutely*Kate: (on tip toes ... plantin' a smooch to the side o'your face) Thank you kindly sir. You're tough as bullets, but you're damn cool too. And that's a fact, Jack.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: I joined another networking site! There’s just not enough networking to do! Check out my spot at the Independent Author Network:


FLASH JAB FICTION: Graham Smith has turned in a stunner over at Flash Jab. Give him a read!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview with Nigel Bird

This week’s guest is the incomparable Nigel Bird whose story Sing a Song of Sixpence appears in the newly released anthology, Grimm Tales.

THE HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: What attracted you to the challenge?

NIGEL BIRD: I’ve always been a firm believer in the fairytale as a way for children to engage with stories and with nascent fears. The older stories are an amazing mix of excitement and darkness, drawing in the listener like the characters are drawn in to their own personal journey through dreams and nightmares.

There’s also such a lot of moral ambiguity to work with. Rumplestiltskin does everything he should to get the baby to the point of saving a life, yet he’s denied by a mother who’s married the man who imprisoned her and threatened her with death, a greedy despot with few redeeming features. How the hell does that make any sense?

I also love the random acts which take place. Take the soldier in the Tinder Box. He retrieves the box, comes out from beneath the tree and slices off the old woman’s head.

It’s perfect for the re-enactment by crime-writers.

HNS: We've all taken dark and twisted turns on these already dark and twisted tales. You, however, worked human trafficking into ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’. What triggered that???

NB: Maybe it’s because I find fairytales almost perfect already that I decided to go for a nursery rhyme instead. This was the one that popped into my head first.

The structure was easy once I decided that I’d need to quote the rhyme for those who didn’t know it – without it, I wasn’t sure it made sense.

Human trafficking? Liverpool has strong associations with the shameful slave-trade. It’s one of those things that stuck with me since I first heard about it, the injustice and the economic driving force behind it all. It’s something that was around in the North West of England where I grew up, the centre of the industrial revolution, a success story built on the backs of slaves from Africa and from rural Britain.

Black birds became African women (is bird also an unpleasant slang term for a woman in the US?), hence the easy switch to human-trafficking.

And as with many of my pieces, once it took off it found its own direction.

I read the other entries at the time and was bowled over by the standard. Putting out an anthology was a great idea and it will entertain anyone who dares to take the plunge. Just follow this trail of breadcrumbs. . . . . . . . . . ....

HNS: I think you had a pretty good 2011. What's next?

NB: 2011 was a great year. I think it had to be to top 2010.
The truth is that most of what happened in 2011 was unplanned. The only thing I intended to do was to put out ‘Dirty Old Town’ and to complete a novel. Everything else came about through some combination of happy accident and obsessive impulses. ‘Pulp Ink’ was great fun and a lot of hard work and ‘Smoke’ was sent to Trestle when they asked if I had anything ready (it had been on my computer for a year as I wasn’t sure people would like it, then it had five top-five read picks of the year. Imagine that).
This year I have less planned and will wait and see how things to.
The novel I finished last year is out for consideration. I’m pretty sure that it will come out this year in some form.
I intend to write another novel based on a number of thoughts I’d like to mix into a cocktail. That won’t begin until February.
Recently I wrote a short story along with Chris Rhatigan and I’m in the middle of another which I hope will polish up well enough to get into the Lost Children anthology in the summer.
If these things come off, I’ll be delighted. I’m also hoping for a few short stories to pop into my head, so keep the competitions and projects coming folks.

HNS: Thank you, Mr. Bird!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Author B. Nagel

This week’s special guest is the author B. Nagel. He lives in Mississippi with his wife and daughter. He works in a library, loves cheese toast and writes magical realism, but also surrealism and sometimes simply Southern, which, in all honesty, can be a bit of both. His story, Interview with a Pram Driver, appears in the just released crime anthology, GRIMM TALES. These are stories based on nursery rhymes and bedtime stories.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH : I love interrogation scenes and cross examining moments in courtroom dramas. What drove you to take this slant with your adaptation?

BNAGEL: A lot of fairy tale stories already exist as crime fiction (Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Tinderbox). And I saw a lot of opportunity for working inside these and others. But what really caught my attention was the opportunity to work outside of the narrative-proper, to look into the ramifications of Fey colliding with the mundane, to watch how the people left behind cope, or don't.

And what becomes of the nursemaid when a child is snatched by the elves, or the mother who wakes to find a stone-cold changeling in her bassinet? Naturally, the police are called in and they have questions which must be answered.

HNS: You mention you stepped away from the Brothers Grimm to find your story. Where did you get it?

BN: Before John put out the call for these criminal adaptations, I was already poring over the Grimm stories , trying to get under the skin of Rumpelstiltskin for a separate project. I wanted to step away from the marchen while staying within the realms of what we consider fairy tale.

Where I wound up was Peter Pan with some influence from the movie ‘Hook’ and a bit of ‘Law & Order: UK’ albeit with a late Victorian flair.

HNS: I ask this of all first time interviewees: When did you know you had to write?

BN: In middle school, one of my sister's friends asked me to write a story about whatever I wanted, anything at all. I didn't get down a single word. In college, I struggled to write five-page papers on topics I adored. But I've always written poetry, always loved the way a single word -that right word- can zap you out of your chair.

When did I know that I had to write? When I decided to get better at storytelling, because the only way to improve is to try.

HNS: Thanks, Mr. Nagel!

Grimm Tales can be found at Untreed Reads.

REMINDER: Flash Jab Fiction Challenge #9: Blood on the Door is open for stories.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Monkey See, Monkey Murder is now on the cyber shelves! Would really dig it if you read it and gave it a thumbs up review!