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Greg Bardsley

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Anthony Neil Smith

My sweet consolation

One of the things about earning coin during the day, writing crime fic at night and being a family man throughout is that you don’t get to read nearly as much as you’d like.

My consolation? I have some scary-talented buds sending me some of the best crime fic around.

Case in point, I have been thoroughly enjoying Tony Black’s latest sensation, Truth Lies Bleeding. If you haven’t read Black yet, do yourself a favor and check out this novel by the talented U.K. prose stylist, who once again has managed to suck me in with a story that appeals to the mind and heart. With Truth Lies Bleeding, Black introduces us to yet another fascinating and fully evolved character, Edinburgh Investigator Rob Brennan, who is dealing with demons on many fronts, not the least of which is a ruthless killer who’s left a mutilated corpse in a back-alley dumpster. The police procedural element of the book is captivating, and the emotional connection to Brennan is nearly immediate. Top-shelf material from Black — again.

Also just “in”: My e-book copy of Matthew McBride’s breakout first novel, Frank Sinatra in a Blender, which I admit to taking a peek at last night despite the fact I’m in the middle of other books. I mean, with a title like that, how could I not take a peek? Regardless, I was laughing out loud within minutes and can tell that I will thoroughly enjoy that morsel.

Meanwhile, had the pleasure of reading some underground prose (for now, at least) by the prolific and powerfully voiced Kieran Shea – learn that name. … And Crimefactory just came out with a sick new issue with crate of great pieces by Eric Beetner, Jedidiah Ayres, Tony Black, the Nerd of Noir, Nigel Bird and Mike Sheeter. … Oh, and there’s some seriously discounted, tart transgressive fic by Anthony Neil Smith over at Herman’s Greasy Spoon.

And finally, was thrilled to see an excerpt of my recently completed novel appear in the legendary Plots with Guns. If you like your Crazy Larry and your Calhoun, be sure to check out The Frequency, To Which He Must Attend.

So freaking cool you want to be a part of it

Sometimes you come up on something, and it’s so freaking cool you just want to be  a part of it.

I felt that way about Nancy when I met her in the college newsroom some 20 years ago. The rest, as our kids would say, is history.

Same goes with cool fiction. Super cool fiction. I’m not saying I want to marry and impregnate cool fiction; I’m just saying that when I see it — when I read it, experience it — I want to be a part of it. It happened when my buddy Riske and I were in Keppler’s one lunch hour and he literally tossed the debut  edition of Murdaland to me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it (I never was, unfortunately, but I tried). It happened when I went to a Sun Microsystems party with Nancy in ’95 (she was working there) and I saw all the people saying wild stuff, doing amazing things, and I thought, I want to write for these people. And it happens over and over again every freaking time I check out a new edition of Plots with Guns.

PwG INSPIRES me.

Plots with Guns is freaking cool. Way cool. Phenomenal stories. Crazy-fun art and design. This whole high-brow/low-brow thing going on. Anything goes, as long as it socks you in the gut, takes you somewhere you hadn’t yet been. It’s Gary Busey waxing poetic. Or Hume going off the deep end, on mescaline. It’s a bunch folks hanging out in the dark corner of the Town Lounge, completely unresponsive to the posturing and BS swirling around them.

All of which is to say that Plots with Guns has a new issue out — and it makes me wanna be a part of it, again. Amazing pieces — all of the them — from Shea, Bill, Tafoya, Ashley, Knight, Kiewlak, Hess, Thomas, Kerr and Elliot. No wonder everyone wants to get in PwG.

Cuckoo for Crazy Larry?

Not too long ago my story, Crazy Larry Smells Bacon, had quite the day.

First, in the morning, I received the news that Crazy Larry, which originally appeared in the transgressive-fiction journal Plots with Guns, had been selected to appear in the anthology, By Hook or by Crook: The Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year: 2009 [Tyrus Books], edited by Ed Gorman and Martin Greenberg.

Then, that night, I learned that judges for the storySouth 2010 Million Writers Award had named Crazy Larry a “notable story” of the year (along with pieces by many others, most notably Kieran Shea, Kyle Minor and Mike MacLean), and that it’s still elligible for higher praise, however unlikely.

For all the love Larry is now receiving, I can thank PWG editor Anthony Neil Smith. Neil’s push-backs on the piece, and his suggestions for spry ol’ Larry, really made a difference. … I’m also glad to tell you that Larry has a solid role in the novel I have been writing; it’s a relief to see that Larry actually ineterests more people than just Neil and me.  

Not that there would’ve been anything wrong with that.

Hogdoggin’ Monday is here

The past few weeks more than two dozen writers have banded together to talk about a great book and its talented author. In the virtual biker rally that lasted two weeks and caused irreperable damage to the blogosphere (those stains will never come out, and that smell will never quite go away), we kicked up a storm of dust, laid down an inch of rubber, got into dozens bar fights and never really did stop talking about Hogdoggin’.

Because I had an advance copy of Hogdoggin’, I understood what all the fuss was about.

In Anthony Neil Smith’s follow up to the enthralling Yellow Medicine, we once again join up with Billy Lafitte, a former crooked cop whose worldclass cocktail of misfortune and bad deeds have earned him a reputation as one of the country’s most dangerous men. It’s also earned him a following of individuals who will do just about anything to bring him down.

With nowhere to go, Lafitte has found himself  ‘roided up in a biker gang that makes the Hells Angels look like the Sesame Street cast. Lafitte is now the No. 2 badass, behind the gang’s leader, Steel God, who rules the outtfit,  literally and figuratively, with a sledge hammer.

Lafitte’s new life comes to a screeching halt when he learns that his estranged family needs him — and needs him badly. Now.

It’s when  he attempts to make it home that we get a front-row seat to Smith’s talent — his ability to treat violence with a musky weight and yet with insight into all its dimensions, to expose us to the humanity beneath bad deeds, to suck us in with a cast of characters that most authors only handle with indictment, and to force you to keep turning the pages.

Turn the pages, I did. And the more I turned, the more sucked-in I became. It’s a book that sticks with you.

If you haven’t already surmised it’, this book enjoys a ton of grassroots support. There’s a reason — the pages pull you in, take you to a world you haven’t experienced before. So you can understand why all of us are asking you make today Hogdoggin’ Monday –meaning you join us in buying the book today, either online or at your favorite bookstore, with a mind to make the suits and bean-counters take notice.

All you gotta do is kick-start that bike of yours, and join us in making the ground shake.

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