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Greg Bardsley

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Short stories

He smells bacon, and it drives him cuckoo

Badass noir zine Plots with Guns came out with “one bar fight of an issue,” as its editor Anthony Neil Smith puts it. And I’m thrilled to report that my story, “Crazy Larry Smells Bacon,”  is included — along with pieces by Mark Raymond Falk, Frank Bill, Jason Hunt, Keith Rawson, Jonathan Woods, Neil Richter and someone called Anonymous-9.

pwg1

I had a lot of fun with “Crazy Larry.” I smiled a lot when I wrote this one. I gave myself the creeps when I read it back to myself.  I think about the namesake of the story, and I grin. There’s something about potentially dangerous oddballs that makes me smile. Not sure why, but there it is.

Once again, as was the case with my story, Funny Face, which appeared last year in Storyglossia, I have Smith to thank for helping me strengthen the piece. ANS came back hard with the straight dope, and I am grateful for it, because the piece is stronger for it. 

Feeling kinda verklempt over here on the left coast. …. You make me wanna be a sicker writer, Neil.

 

I like people who like me

What can I say? I guess I’m simple and small: I like people who like me.boxing_poster_low_res1

I also like people who like my writing.

So it goes without saying that I was thrilled to learn that badass crime novelists Victor Gischler and Anthony Neil Smith judged my forthcoming story, “Headquarters Likes Your Style,” tops in a recent fiction contest. The story took top honors for longer reads in Out of the Gutter’s “REVENGE Fiction Contest,”  which bills my story as “a sharp and hilarious piece about office cubicle tensions that end in catastrophe.”

I offer Jordan Harper, who won in the shorter-read category, a big slap on the back. I also offer back-slaps to the other cats whose work will appear in this edition. I can’t wait to read their stuff.

You can read some color on the contest results here and pre-order your copy of Out of the Gutter here.

To the Gutter I go

This past spring, I got a call from a colleague who helps me with corporate videos. He was concerned. Didn’t know what to do, who to call. So he called me. Said he was working on a video that included a comment from an executive that concerned him. It was a comment that sounded benign enough in the corporate world but could be interpreted as quite graphic and socially inappropriate … if your mind is in the gutter.

We had a good laugh. Then I had an idea. An idea for a short story. I wrote it and sent it to an outfit that seemed perfect for this kind of subject matter.

Today I’m proud to announce that my story, “Headquarters Likes Your Style,” will appear in Out of the Gutter, “the modern journal of pulp fiction and degenerate literature,” which recently released its list of contributors for its fifth printed edition. I was honored to be included on this list of talented sickos, and I’m thrilled about appearing in Out of the Gutter. These guys a OOTG love what they do, and they’ve created a journal that is so original, so bold, so unapologetic, so anti-fancy-boy that you can’t help but want to be a part of it.

Being in the gutter never felt so good.

Short-story fever

I got it. I got it bad. I got short-story fever.

I’m not the only one. At work, two other cats — Riske and Richardson — also have short-story fever. Real bad. In recent weeks, both of them have seen their short fiction accepted by online literary journals. Meanwhile, I just shipped off a tale about degenerate activities to a journal that, well, loves that kind of thing. And so the three of us can be found at different points in the day (during lunch, between meetings, after work, etc.) talking about short stories — about our own, about others.

You ask me, and I’d say one of the great things about short stories is the far more immediate emotional payoff for the writer, compared with novels. A short story can be written in an evening, and the chance of soon-after sharing it with the reading public is, of course, far greater than it is with a novel. And of course, as a writer, there’s so much freedom with short stories — one can write a compelling piece without getting into geographic locations, last names, character backstory, family members, or any number of other things that usually warrant the writer’s attention in a novel. And because readers are more likely to give an unusual protagonist or storyline a few minutes of their lives (compared to hours and hours of their lives with a novel), I think you can take so many more risks with a short story.

I still love writing novels. In fact, I heard back from my literary agent last week that my next novel is promising and that I should definitely keep working on it. I’m thrilled, so I’m making a point to focus on the novel. But I have to admit that these short-story ideas keep popping up in the back of my head, begging to be written. I just tell them, “I’ll write you; it’ll just be a while.”

Anybody out there with similar problems? How do you handle it, strike that balance?

Minutiae Monday — “it’s gonna be a zoo”

Let us begin the minutiae …

My 6-year-old son likes to take his guitar and “serenade the neighborhood” with his original songs. It’s proven to be a great way to attract lots of adults and children, which of course is his primary objective. … Plots with Guns just released another really strong set of stories, including those from Chimichanga friends Bryon Quertermous, Patti Abbot and Todd Robison. Added bonus: the stories are accentuated by some great art and another really cool design. Cool shit. Real deal. … I have to admit it felt good to see my short story, “Funny Face,” included on a short list recently created by DOGZPLOT. … This weekend: three birthday parties, three park adventures, one wet bed, four sleep relocations, one tee-ball game and one lingering cold. … I’m happy to report that my employer Sun Microsystems was named one of the world’s most ethical companies. … My wife and kids are participating in a school field trip to the San Francisco Zoo tomorrow. It’s gonna be a zoo there.

One of those moments

It feels like one of those moments, one of those moments when a lot of folks you dig are having, well, their moment.

Specifically, it feels that way for my writer friends. Lots of good things happening for some fine writers.

First, Bryon Quertermous had a hell of a week, with his short fiction appearing in no less than two printed anthologies. First Amazon sent me “A Prisoner of Memory: And 24 of the Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories” (Pegasus; 432 pages; $15.95), which puts Bryon’s story beside those by heavy hitters Michael Connolly and Lawrence Block, as well as stories from Chimichanga friends Patti Abbot and Hilary Davidson. Pretty sweet. Then a few days later, I dropped in on the massive Barnes and Noble in San Mateo, where right on the front table I found “Hardcore Hardboiled” (Kensington; 352 pages; $14), which also features a Quertermous story with the rest of Thuglit‘s top stories in 2006. I’m thrilled not only for Bryon, but also another Changa buddy, Todd Robinson, aka Big Daddy Thug, publisher and founder of Thuglit, which ran my story, “Big Load of Trouble” last year. It’s Todd’s vision, tenacity and sharp sensibilities that have made Thuglit what it is today — one of the best places to read crime fiction online. One of the headlining contributors to “Hardboiled” is another Chimichanga bud, Duane Swierczynski, who’s thriller “Severance Package” (St. Martin’s; 288 pages: $13.95 pages) just hit the stores and is getting rave reviews.

But wait, there’s more. … Major Changa philanthropist Anthony Neil Smith just completed a road tour for his new novel, “Yellow Medicine” (Bleak House Books; 260 pages; $14.95), which continues to get great reviews for great reasons. Meanwhile, my good friend Al Riske recently won a short-fiction contest run by the Blue Mesa Review and will soon see his story, “Pray for Rain” in print. And lastly, prose stylist Tony Black, publisher of U.K.-based Pulp Pusher, which ran my “She Don’t Like Hecklers” last year, soon will see his first novel, “Paying for It,” released by Random House and offers the following video teaser. Congrats to Tony and all the others who are enjoying their moments.


The Great Psychobilly Blog Road Trip of 2008: Day 2, Part 2

If my pronuncshun sounsh ah lil off today, maybe it’sh zshee shotgun barrl in my mouthsh. You see, my blog hash beensh highjacked by badash author Anthony Neil Smith, and I dont’sh dare doosh so mush ash twitchsh. Whish ish why I’m handin’ over the keysh to Chimishangash ash Shunshet right nowsh. ….

Guest Post from Anthony Neil Smith

Last stop: Swierczynski’s Secret Dead Blog

Wow. That was exhausting. And somewhere around Tulsa, we had to abandon the Big Red Truck for one of those tricked-out Hummer stretch-limo SUVs. Riding in style now. But when we get to Greg’s crib, thank god he’s waiting with Mexican beer and homemade guacamole. Whip together a pitcher of margarita’s, and damn, that’s a nice break before we get on the road again (stone cold sober, too. *Ahem.* thank god it’s all virtual).

Greg Bardsley sprung up seemingly full-formed from the dirt already with a boatload of stylized pulp stories just screaming to be published. And published they have been (you can find the list over to the right, including the two I accepted–“Upper Deck,” which is now one of my favorite short stories, like, ever, and “Funny Face,” which is just fucking hilarious). Hoping to see so much more from him, and I can only imagine what his novels will be like. He’s got this imagination like if Satan were stoned, and I’m glad he figured out how to tap into it.

And here’s the shameless self-promotion part: I bet Greg would like Yellow Medicine! and the more people who buy it (especially on Monday, May 12th, to be forever, or at least this week, known as Psychobilly Monday), then the more I can keep writing exactly the sort of books I want to, telling the stories I think you’d enjoy hearing. That’s the fun of it, too. I used to think if I had the chance, I would sell out in a second. But then I tried writing a sell-out script, then a sell-out novel, and then eventually I figured it out: I can’t make myself sell out. I just can’t. Maybe it’s my twisted little personality or something, but all I know is that when I sit down to write a sweet little scene full of subtlety and grace, I just get all shaky and sweaty and before you know it, someone’s lost a head, or an eye, or a testicle. Or they found out their wife’s been fucking the entire bench of a somewhat popular arena football league. Or that the doctor was lying about how long they had to live…it was a lot less…and the doctor’s the one who gave you the disease. See? I just can’t. I’m having too much fun writing about the stuff that scares me shitless. And as long as you’ll keep reading, I promise to keep trying my best.

And so Day Two comes to a close as we set our eyes an an even longer trip tomorrow–to pick up four “First Offenders” (makes em sound like virgins, but by now they’ve all offended plenty of times): Jeff Shelby, Lori Armstrong, Karen Olson, and Alison Gaylin.

Driving Time: This one might take a week.
Tune for the leg: “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc (Don’t ask. it just seemed to fit.)

Opening his doors to noir

Hey, check me out. Today, I’m literary.

I like to pronounce it, “Littah-lehry,” affecting a self-important gaze as I make the final “r” roll nice and long, lowering my lids to emphasize that we’re talking about “important” work and all that. You see, I haven’t been literary before. Hell, maybe I’m still not literary. But today, a literary ‘zine called Storyglossia opened its doors to me and other crime writers for its special noir edition.

It reminds me of that scene in Caddyshack when the country club opens its pool for a special “caddy appreciation hour” — during which time a Baby Ruth candy bar is mistaken for poo at the bottom of the pool.

As a guy who writes a lot of crime fiction, I’ve always listened with fascination when other writers attempt to distinguish literary fiction from everything else. When pressed, they’re usually at a loss for words. Hell, I am, too. Maybe it’s like that famous Supreme Court ruling on porn in which Potter Stewart said it was hard to define but “I know it when I see it.” Kinda like a Baby Ruth at the bottom of a pool?

Doesn’t matter to me. Great crime fiction can offer just as much value as the best “literary” fiction, and it’s usually a lot more interesting, visceral and alive. I’ve also read some great general fiction that takes me places that crime fiction hasn’t. In fact, maybe we can learn a few things from each other. Maybe crime-fiction fusion, as you might call it, can bring out the best of both sensibilities.

If the new edition of Storyglossia is any indication, folks might be on to something here. I am truly honored to be included in the edition, which is guest edited by novelist Anthony Neil Smith (his great introduction is here) and is graced by stories by the likes of crime-fiction badasses Vicki Hendricks, Megan Abbott, Ray Banks, Seth Harwood, R. Narvaez, Fred Zackel, Kevin Wignall and Adam Cushman, to name a few of the talented contributors.

So I tip my hat to Steven McDermott at Storyglossia for opening his doors to noir, and for stating as he does that “crime stories matter.” And I thank Neil Smith for pushing me to write a new ending to “Funny Face,” which ultimately took my piece to a higher level.

Now go check out some crime-fiction fusion at Storyglossia.

The agony and the ecstasy

The agony: Realizing there’s a great chance the manuscript on which you’ve spent countless nights and pre-dawn hours might never get published.

The ecstasy: Learning that a well-respected novelist likes one of your short stories so much that he sent it to his publisher.

The agony: Having a sobering conversation with your literary agent about how much more time he can spend on your project.

The ecstasy: Being able to tell a publisher that one of their novelists suggested they give your manuscript a good look.

The agony: Receiving a form rejection from said publisher a day later.

The ecstasy: Learning that one of your best friends, a talented and graceful writer, is a finalist for a fiction contest run by a great literary journal.

The agony: Dealing with radio silence as our stories and manuscripts “make the rounds” with editors.

The ecstasy: Discovering, to your great surprise, that an online magazine editor has nominated one of your stories for the 2008 Million Writers Award.

The agony: Failing to summon the energy to write after a long day of work and parenting.

The ecstasy: Coming home the next day to find your first-grader on the computer tapping out his own story, announcing, “If you’d like to put it on your blog, Dad, that would be fine with me.”

How could I, the “editor” of Chimichangas at Sunset, say no to this aspiring writer? So, after some light editing for clarity by Mom, I bring you ….

DINOSAUR IN THE CITY
by Jack Bardsley

Chaptr 1

One day a boy saw Nijl. He was driving a jeep the boy decided to follow but the jeep had DINOSAURS inside it.

When nijl got there he let two DINOSAURS out of it. The boy looked at the VLUSURAPTR it looked at him. the boy hid, but the raptor found him under the jeep. the boy ran uot.

From the jeep he went over the gate. He sees two DINOSAURS. he went out but it whas to late. The one DINOSAUR started to run. the boy ran home.

chaptr2 – the dinosaur

The dinosaur was veree fast it wus hard to run that fast. win he got home the teerecs chirnd uround and that mint things ar not gonu git good. so far thay hav noct over the pirumid and a cupl bildings. wot hav I dun?

thin uneagspedlee, anuthir teerex came and slamd into the uther. the uther TEEREX RAN UWAE. the teeRex behind it, he did not lic wut he did.

Chaptr. 3 the ter a bil see monstrs
— To be continued —

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