Deadlines: Remember William E. Wallace

DEADLINES:
A Tribute to William E. Wallace.

When I first got a chance to read Face Value by William E. Wallace, I immediately connected with Eddie Pax, a man that works within the gray areas of society tracking down properties owned by bad men. Eddie was a classic pulp protagonist, and in a different generation William would have been a classic pulp writer comparable to Donald Westlake’s alter ego, Richard Stark. When I accepted Face Value I asked if there were more. Eddie had appeared in a few short stories, but in William’s mind the stories and the novels were endless. Potential always there. He was constantly writing, and I believe it was in the words that William found the strength to fight cancer. Even a few weeks prior to his death he talked about that next Eddie Pax novel. It’s a shame that novel never found completion, Eddie Pax was my kind of character. I’d rather have William here, instead.

I only knew William through his writing, though I feel I should call him Bill. That’s what his friends called him, and at least to me he made it really easy see him as a friend. Bill had many friends from his journo days, and he collected many as a crime writer and a champion of small press publishing. Bill published a few collections on his own, such is the marvel of publishing today, and then a couple books with All Due Respects, then rival and now sister publishing company, and his final book Face Value with us, Shotgun Honey. When he wasn’t writing, he was reading and he was supporting writers who are not often heard, marginalized by the marketing of the New York publishing houses. He wrote about books and authors he liked on his blog, Pulp Hack Confessions.

Bill Wallace with Will Viharo and Joe Clifford

Today, I am honored, with the editorial guidance of Chris Rhatigan of All Due Respect, along with the support of Eric Campbell and Lance Wright of Down and Out Books, and the blessing of Margot Wallace, Bill’s wife, and Garth Wallace, Bill’s son, to release DEADLINES: A Tribute to William E. Wallace. This is a collection of stories — inspired by the career and stories of William E. Wallace — culled from writers and colleagues that Bill took time to champion. I thank these writers for their time, their stories, and their patience. 

Bill Wallace with Travis Richardson

The Contributors

  • Preston Lang
  • Jen Conley
  • Joe Clifford
  • Will Viharo
  • Paul D. Brazill
  • Patricia Abbott
  • Rob Pierce
  • Sean Craven
  • Eric Beetner
  • Sarah M. Chen
  • Nick Kolakowski
  • S.W. Lauden
  • Scott Adlerberg
  • Gary Phillips
  • Renee Asher Pickup
  • Eryk Pruitt
  • Todd Morr
  • Travis Richardson
  • Anonymous-9
  • Sean Lynch
  • Alec Cizak
  • Ryan Sayles
  • Greg Barth
  • C. Mack Lewis.
Bill Wallace and Anonymous-9

Memories

Sarah M. Chen

I knew Bill more from his online presence than in person. He was such a generous and ardent supporter of the crime fiction community and his humorous posts were something I always enjoyed reading. Before knowing him online, however, I did get the chance to briefly meet him at LCC Portland. I immediately liked him. He was intelligent, kind, and witty. 

Eryk Pruitt

When pitching my first novel DIRTBAGS to agents, I forever felt the sting from one particular rejection that said only, “I thought you said this was supposed to be funny.” That one hurt. All my lonely thoughts crashed and crumbled at the shores when I read my first-ever Pulphack Confessions review which Bill titled: “A Laugh-A-Minute With The Funniest Serial Killer Novel I’ve Ever Read.” For the first time since I’d started writing, I felt like I’d connected with a reader. It’s still my favorite review ever. 

Jen Conley

William Wallace was a fantastic champion of my work. He was one of the first to review my story collection and I will always be grateful. I never got to meet him in person, but I wish I could’ve have. Rest in peace, William.

Travis Richardson

I “met” Bill virtually on July 3, 2014, after reading his story “Working Stiff” in Flash Fiction Offensive. I friended him on Facebook and we wrote each other about the noir/crime fiction community and how supportive the writers are unlike other competitive areas. We emailed a few times and talked through Facebook. He promoted fellow authors’ works and I always looked forward to reading his stories. I got to meet him in person at Renee Asher Pickup’s Book and Booze podcast reading in San Francisco. And later at Left Coast Crime in Portland. We both sat at Holly West and Josh Stallings’ table at the banquet dinner in 2015.

Our final meeting was for breakfast in Berkeley on June 2016. I was in the Bay Area to watch an Oakland A’s game for Father’s Day. Bill’s diagnosis was grim and I wanted to see him again if he was up for it. We arranged to meet that Saturday for brunch. After being surprised to see him at a Joe Clifford book launch at Pegasus Books the night before, we met Saturday morning. We had brunch the following morning. Bill talked about some characters he met while reporting, authors he loved, concerns about the state of the publishing industry and the diminishing short story market and his health. He didn’t eat much as he had no appetite. While he had grown thin and looked tired, his eyes were alive. After our meal, we sat outside and talked a little longer before he needed to head home. He signed my copy of “Hangman’s Dozen” and I gave him a hug. A few days later he sent me the following message that broke my heart…

“You’ll be interested to know that you are the last person other than my docs and family I have seen since we had lunch. My son had tix for us to go to the MST3K reunion at a theater in Emeryville last night, but I couldn’t manage it. Looks like I am going to be spending most of the rest of my life shuffling around home and writing or down at Kaiser for treatment or labs. Of practically all the people I know who are writers, I am happiest you were one of the last I got to see in person. . .”

I am so glad he was wrong and had another seven more months to live. In those months he put his life out on Facebook for his friends to see. Writing, playing his guitar, reading stories and giving reviews, and still sending out words of encouragement to the crime writing community. Brave and generous to the end. When Bill passed, it still came as a shock. I miss Bill. A fantastic writer, advocate, and friend.

Will Viharo

Will contributed most of the photos, and those moments are captured memories that we are thankful for.

Will Viharo, Garth Wallace, Rob Pierce, Joe Clifford, Bill Wallace
Bill and “The Thrill”

Thank You, Bill

“Bill” William E. Wallace – Journalist – Friend 

William E. Wallace was an exceptional talent and a passionate man. This wonderful collection cannot begin to express his contribution to our community or the void left behind in his passing. Bill called himself a hack, but his talents extended beyond his own writings, elevating those around him.

Thank you for contributing to Shotgun Honey with your short stories and allowing me to give Eddie Pax one good story of his own.

Thank you to all the authors who contributors, to co-editor Chris Rhatigan, and our publisher Down & Out Books. And to Margot and Garth Wallace our condolences and gratitude for allowing us to celebrate Bill the only way we know how.

DEADLINES: A Tribute to William E. Wallace is a charitable anthology whose proceeds will be donated in Bill’s name to The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.


Dodging Bullets – August 3, 2018 – The Hollow Vessel

This week Shotgun Honey is proud to release The Hollow Vessel by Albert Tucher. It is part of the Errol Coutinho/Big Island of Hawaii series which includes last years The Place of Refuge.

Synopsis

The Hawaii County Police are used to Rotten Roger sleeping rough, but now the veteran tramp has a new tent. The bloodstains in it don’t bother Roger, but they are the last thing Detective Errol Coutinho needs to see.

Coutinho is already looking for Rhonda Cunningham, a young woman from New Jersey who was last seen in Hilo buying a high tech tent like Roger’s. Rhonda planned to live off the grid in the rainforest of the Big Island, but her wealth stands in the way. Too many people want a piece of her to let her disappear. Some wish her well, some want her dead, most want her money, and one wants the thing she will never give.

So whose blood is it in the tent? Coutinho’s investigation will send him up against a hit man from New Jersey, a bunch of wannabe local gangsters, and his own nephew. An old girlfriend wants the best for her son, but she complicates the case even more, and a legendary marijuana trafficker proves both real and deadly. It’s getting crowded in the rainforest, and the shakeout will be murder.

Early Praise

“Full of twists and turns, The Hollow Vessel is an entertaining ride into the underbelly of the Hawaii’s Big Island. Detective Coutinho and his sidekick Kim find themselves pulled deep into the jungle of drugs, family skeletons, and a little bit of old school New Jersey. With Tucher’s sharp prose, The Hollow Vesselis a fast moving story with a great set of characters.”

Jen Conley, author of Cannibals

“In his second outing with Detective Errol Coutinho of the Hawaii County Police, Al Tucher, ups his game. His eye for detail, sense of pacing, and gift for characterization and setting makes spending time in the rain forest of Hawaii a delight.”

Patricia Abbott, Edgar, Macavity, and Anthony-nominated author of 
Shot in DetroitConcrete Angel, and I Bring Sorrow

About Albert Tucher

Albert Tucher is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, who has appeared in more than eighty hardboiled short stories in venues including The Best American Mystery Stories 2010. Her first longer case, the novella, The Same Mistake Twice, was published in 2013. Her world includes the characters in The Hollow Vessel and The Place of Refuge. Albert Tucher is a librarian in his day job, but retirement beckons.


Catch up on our latest posts


Dodging Bullets – July 27, 2018 – Passing of the Gauntlet

When Shotgun Honey first started in 2011 it was done so to capture something of the past, of zines that had come and gone. Some that flickered brightly and then vanished. I didn’t have any concept of how long the site would last or if it would exist past a few months. It wasn’t entirely my show, and I was just happy to be part of Kent Gowran’s reminiscence. Kent and Sabrina, who founded with me what I like to call The Gauntlet, that tribunal system of story selection, both decided to move on after our first anthology collection. Even I moved on to an extent, only managing site and relying on a very capable group of editors. Many have come and gone: Chad, Joe, Erik, Chris, and most recently Angel. Their tenures varying.

Jen Conley accepted the invitation to join the gauntlet in the fall of 2012, essentially filling the position left by Sabrina Ogden. Without hesitation, I can say that Shotgun Honey would not still be publishing anything had it not been for the dedication and selflessness of Jen. There had been times, more than once, where my health and personal life put the site in jeopardy. Because of the trust I had in Jen, I knew that I could take the breaks needed and get myself right. She would guide the ship, and for six years she had been a true Shotgun Honey. This was her last week carrying my weight. I am and will always be grateful to her tenure and her heart, wishing her and her family the best. Though this is a loss in our family, we take a bit of solace in the fact she can now again contribute as the wonderful storyteller she is.

Every editor of Shotgun Honey has one thing in common, they have all been contributors first. I see no reason to change that tradition. I would like to welcome Hector Acosta to The Gauntlet.

Hector has been contributing since 2011 with his first story “Big C”, and has contributed to the Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels anthology series. His novella Hard Way was the first book to be published under the Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books imprint. Hector is a big wrestling fan, so if there are any Kayfabe crime writers this might be your in. He shares my love of Deadpool and always likes my tweets.

Hector rounds out The Gauntlet with fellow editors Nick Kolakowski and Renee Pickup.

We’re going to miss you Jen!


This last week we released covers for the upcoming books:


The delayed Deadlines: A Tribute to William E. Wallace will be release on August 24, 2018. Proceeds will go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in his honor. So please cut back on your favorite Starbuck’s coffees and save enough to properly remember Bill.


Don’t forget to read this week’s Flash Fiction:

The Final Sleep by David Nemeth

Chris Pennington woke up in his recliner at 3:07 AM. The Phillies game from last night was being replayed and was in its third inning. Chris thought he made it to the seventh or eighth inning earlier. He felt good, felt better than he had in months, maybe years.

Read More


We are always open to submissions. So if you want to be like one of the folks mentioned above, hit us up at the Submissions Manager.

Until next time, all the best.


Author POV: Sequels are hard, man. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

When I was a wee lad, us neighborhood kids would assemble on Friday nights and march down to the local multiplex, to see whatever action spectacular graced the screen that week. If the movie in question was a sequel, there was a high likelihood we would leave the theater complaining about the reheated plot, the clumsy callbacks to the original film, and how all the lead actors had phoned it in.

At the time, it was easy to blame the directors and screenwriters for the mess. But now, having taken my own run at a sequel, I realize those creative types were wrestling in the grip of a particularly insidious trap: it’s hard enough to create a new work—and if the result is any good, it’s even more difficult to follow it up with something a.) better, and b.) at least somewhat original. After all, you poured everything you had into that first book or movie; the temptation to stick to that same formula with the sequel is sometimes too much to overcome, especially on a deadline.

This theory explains the last two “Die Hard” movies, along with a fair number of book series.

When I finished writing “A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps,” I had the vague desire to write a sequel. I had enjoyed the writing experience quite a bit (the usual agonies over plot and sentence structure aside), and ended the book in a matter open-ended enough for a follow-up. Plus, I really liked the characters; I wanted to find out what happened to them, and I hoped the audience would, too.

Little did I know that I had stepped into that trap.

For me, the biggest challenge in writing a sequel is that you need to keep the previous books in mind at all times. When you have multi-novel character arcs, if you mess up the details in your latest book, your protagonists will evolve in weird and inconsistent ways. Readers notice when motivations shift, or characters’ personalities change abruptly from novel to novel.

The next challenge: avoiding a rehash of the plot from the first book. In my case, this was a little bit easier than formulating the character arcs: the plot of “A Brutal Bunch” is contained to a very specific locale (a dying town in Oklahoma with a dark history), and driven by a lot of folks who (spoiler alert!) don’t make it to the end. My two protagonists, Bill and Fiona, survive and flee to another country. The second book’s exotic environment and a fresh cast of characters helped guarantee that I didn’t go to the proverbial well twice, in terms of plot beats.

Third, I needed to avoid my personal clichés, those plot elements that I’ve found myself using (however subconsciously) again and again. I have two in particular that I’m trying to weed out of my writing: a habit of eliminating a bunch of secondary characters in a single explosion—an easy way to streamline a narrative and kick off a second or third act with a bang!—and ending things with a massive gunbattle (you can blame my watching “The Wild Bunch” at too impressionable a young age for that impulse). As I wrote the sequel, I took those old tools away, and forced myself to invent new ones.

I’m pleased with the overall results; and I’m probably the first person ever to stage a vicious brawl in a self-driving Tesla. Nobel Committee, I await your call.

In any case, “Slaughterhouse Blues,” the second book in the “Love & Bullets” trilogy, is out today. Pick it up and tell me how I did!

Meanwhile, I’m wrestling with the third book in the series. Trilogies are also hard, man. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

• • •

Learn more about Slaughterhouse Blues. Available in print and ebook today.


William E. Wallace and the completion of the OEP Re-Issues

It’s been a while, and kind of a crazy year. How have you been?

Last year, almost a year ago, I announced our new partnership with Down & Out Books. I can’t say enough great things about Eric and Lance, who have done a stand up job with their own line of books, and have become home to so many talented writers with the inclusion of new imprints like ABC Group Documentation, All Due Respect Books, and of course Shotgun Honey. Also, respect to those imprint publishers Jeremy Stabile and Chris Rhatigan.

Overall, the change has been positive, and I have some really exciting books coming out in 2018 and 2019 which I might not have had a chance to work with if not for Eric and Lance. However, change has its obstacles, and of course I’ve thrown a few wrenches, maybe some lawn furniture, in the mix. The end result were some really tight deadlines for scheduled books and delayed releases of the One Eye Press re-issues. I know Lance says a a prayer and a curse for me every night.

What? Get to the point? Okay, okay.

Shotgun Honey is pleased to announce the re-issue of Face Value by William E. Wallace. Originally released in the summer of 2016, Face Value, would end up being William’s last book before losing his battle to cancer on February 25th of this year. It would be the only Eddie Pax novella, though we had talked about future books. I loved the work William put forward not only for himself, but for others, and the moments of compassion. In 2016, I discovered I had a brain tumor, and when you hear that kind of news your thoughts go towards the worst end of the spectrum. I was scared, but William without pause was there to lift me up and say positive things. This was when he knew that he had an expiration date that was already past.

Face Value is the final One Eye Press re-issue, which means that if you missed them prior you can pick them up again.

Next year brings a new batch of books, but one returns Shotgun Honey back to it’s anthology days with a collection that I’m proud to issue in late February titled Deadline: A Tribute to William E. Wallace. A collection of short stories written in tribute to William by authors who worked or have been supported William’s reviews and promotional efforts on his blogs. It will be edited by Chris Rhatigan, who also published works by William, and artist/writer James R. Tuck Jr., who will provide the cover work for the anthology. The line up is still evolving, but will include the works of:
  • Patricia Abbott
  • Scott Adlerberg
  • Elaine Ash
  • Greg Barth
  • Eric Beetner
  • Paul Brazill
  • Sarah M. Chen
  • Alec Cizak
  • Joe Clifford
  • Jen Conley
  • Sean Craven
  • Nick Kolakowski
  • Preston Lang
  • S. W. Lauden
  • Sean Lynch
  • Cathleen McCarthy
  • Todd Morr
  • Brian Panowich
  • Gary Phillips
  • Renee Pickup
  • Rob Pierce
  • Tom Pitts
  • Eryk Pruitt
  • Travis Richardson
  • Ryan Sayles
  • Will Viharo

So pick up a book (or two) today. And I hope you’ll come back as we announce more about 2018 and the Deadlines anthology.


Author POV: We are unreliable narrators of our own lives

Self-deception gets in our way, trips us up, makes us do bone-stupid things. We all suffer from it from time to time. Luckily, most of us recognize this and, at least sometimes, try to compensate the best we can.

But sometimes we don’t confront our self-deceptions until it’s too late. For me, that happened when I was coming out of graduate school with an eye on a tenure-track teaching gig. Turns out, the entire professional landscape for college professors—and especially the job market—had shifted in a major way while I was locked away inside the ivory tower, and I’d failed to notice it.

Wait, scratch that. I had noticed it. I just used my own powers of self-deception to convince myself it wouldn’t affect me. Spoiler alert: it did, and as a result, I lost a few years of my professional life to swimming upstream through a job market that didn’t have any room for me.

And while I’ll never get those years back, I did eventually recover and learn something from my mistake. Alton Carver, the protagonist of my new novel How I’m Spending My Afterlife, isn’t quite so lucky:

Alton Carver has a problem.

A cocky lawyer in his mid-30s, he’s under federal investigation for embezzling and securities fraud. Instead of spending the next three to five years behind bars, he’s got a plan: stage his own death, take the money he stole and light out for Central America, leaving behind wife Nicole and daughter Clara. But when he sticks around town long enough to watch his own funeral, he makes the unpleasant discovery that the life he’s leaving behind isn’t the life he thought he had.

When he overhears the way his former colleagues talk about him now that he’s “gone,” Alton is forced to reconsider his self-image as a respected and admired pillar of the legal community. Then the shock of seeing Nicole in the arms of another man leads Alton to postpone his plan to run for the border. What comes next is a slow-burn train wreck, a tale of self-deception, revenge, and bad decisions.

Alton is cursed with a knack for self-delusion and an oversized ego that’s almost incapable of admitting to mistakes. We’ve all known people like Alton; some of us have watched them crash and burn in disasters of their own making. And some of us—though certainly not me, of course—have even secretly enjoyed it.

I gave up on an academic career around 2011, fully four years after earning that sheepskin. I started writing this book in earnest three years later, but I’d had the first eight or nine pages sitting around for several years by then. Once I decided to get serious about writing fiction, I dug those pages out of deep storage, reread them, and thought there might be some potential there. So I kept writing, and in the fall of 2016 I’d made it all the way to a final, publishable draft.

I’ve always said that all fiction is autobiographical in some way, but I’d really struggled to see how this applies to my own novel until this very moment. Like Alton, I was an unreliable narrator of my own life. It honestly never occurred to me that maybe I was writing about my own self-deceptions—albeit in a completely different context—and all the time, money and heartbreak they cost me when I was writing about Alton.

How I’m Spending My Afterlife takes place mostly in Florida, but it’s not the same style of noir that you’ll find in my story, “Back to Tall Pines,” which takes place in a fictional north Florida backwoods town and was published back in April right here on Shotgun Honey. The book is available in Kindle, epub, and good old paperback formats from your favorite online retailers. I hope you’ll give it a chance, and if you do, I really hope you dig it.


Author POV: From Running to Ravenhill

I used to run.

I also used to move around a lot, so I’ve pounded the pavements of my hometown, Belfast; navigated the sidewalks of Manhattan; jogged on the banks of the Danube in Budapest; run through the Tokyo night in summer, when the heat and humidity is just about bearable, dodging cicadas as they dropped from the scattering of trees; and sweated through circuits of my local park where I now live in England.

There’s a house in that park straight out of a child’s bad dream. Top-heavy with a massive, towering chimney and dark, grime encrusted windows, it squats on the perimeter of the grass in front of a regimented line of neat terraced houses’ back yards like a brick witches’ cottage from a Grimm fairytale. I passed that house every time I ran through the park and, eventually, wrote a short story about it. A weird crime-horror hybrid about a Belfast paramilitary-turned-informant haunted by his past, I sent it to One Eye Press after spotting their Blight Digest Fall 2014 and was surprised and honoured to have it accepted for the Winter 2015 edition. There it was, my story, “Running On Dead Leaves,” in print. It was a massive encouragement in terms of sitting my arse on a chair and putting words down.

I used to run.

Buy RAVENHILL today

That was before October 2014, when my beautiful daughter was born and I had other, more pressing things to do – like down a couple of beers and have a bit of craic with friends in the rare quiet moments. One of those mates, over several of those beers, made a bet with me shortly after my wife and I knew a wee package was on the way. He bet that I couldn’t write a novel before my daughter arrived. Red rag to a bull, I went for it.

I thought back to writing my crime-horror hybrid and realised I enjoyed the paramilitary crime angle more than the horror, so I set to work. Belfast has changed a lot since I left home, and the republican and loyalist ceasefires of 1997/98. For a start, it was the safest city in Europe in terms of conventional crime during the ‘Troubles’ while the balaclava set were busy scurrying around blowing half the country to bits, shattering teenagers’ kneecaps and shooting various folk in their beds. Now, according to some indexes, it’s the third most dangerous city in the UK behind London and Glasgow, and ranks up there with Dublin and Limerick if you’re talking Ireland-wide. What if a character who’d been in the thick of it back in the bad old days came back after a long time away? What if his old comrades were drug dealers and gangland kingpins? What if the past was still very much alive?

The result is my debut novel, Ravenhill, published by Silvertail Books and out now in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon. Here’s the story:

Belfast, 1993: Jackie Shaw is a young tearaway running with paramilitaries in Belfast. He treads a fine line keeping psychotic hard-man Rab Simpson in check while sleeping with gang leader Billy Tyrie’s beautiful wife on the side.

When a bomb claims nine lives, he is given the role of getaway driver in a planned reprisal killing, a key role in a major operation. But Jackie may not be who he seems …

Twenty years later, Jackie returns to the city for his father’s funeral after disappearing in mysterious circumstances. He wants to mourn then leave, but when figures from his past emerge, he is left with no choice but to revisit his violent former life.

Give it a try. It’s a brick-hard crime novel with a couple of twists and a glimpse of the stark reality behind the headlines from Northern Ireland. And thank you One Eye Press, for giving me a leg-up with that first published story in Blight Digest.

Now, I might just go for a run tomorrow. After I finish off the beers in my fridge tonight.

Cheers,

John


Author POV: A Portrait of Steal Life

On November 7, 2009, my favorite mixed martial artist, Fedor Emelianenko upped his consecutive winning streak to twenty-six, unprecedented in the world of combat sports. On the same night, I began writing chapter one of Les Cannibales, my first published book. Here’s what it’s about:

During a robbery, Blinky sees police activity down the street. His crew assumes cops have the art gallery surrounded, unaware of their true presence, which is responding to a car accident that has left one man dead. The thieves shoot at responding officers and take hostages. When Detective Reynolds arrives on the scene, he identifies the dead man involved in the car accident. This becomes his main lead to hunt down the thieves’ true identities and work out a peaceful resolution before S.W.A.T moves in.

Each thief has a story explaining why he chose to take the job. Inky is a con artist repaying an old debt, Blinky is a stuntman in need of quick cash, Pinky is an enforcer that’s looking to move up in the ranks and Clyde is a sociopath/art aficionado that loves to steal. When S.W.A.T teams get the go-ahead to overtake the gallery, it’s dog-eat-dog as the gunmen plan their escape.

Jump back a week, car parked curbside on San Pablo avenue. Two cars up, a person stepped out of their parked car, the driver door sticking out far enough some might consider it hazardous to passing vehicles. Without much effort, I found myself lost to woolgathering, waiting for my wife to return with coffee. This is how I come up with most stories—sitting there, bored, waiting on someone else.

“What if that person was struck by a car due to some technicality like crossing the line?” I muttered out loud. “That’d be somethin’.” I regressed further, falling deeper into the vortex of my imagination. Suddenly, viola—chapter one. When I got it down on paper, it reminded me of that unexpected scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta’s character accidentally shoots Marvin in the face.

Jump ahead a few weeks later, I caught an interview Quentin Tarantino gave to film students. One student asked Quentin: “What do I need to do to become a great director?”

“Write a movie like Reservoir Dogs,” was Tarantino’s response. Cue: standing ovation. Cut to: me planting myself in front of the typewriter, beginning chapter two.

The first draft was novel length (still have a hard copy on file). Originally, Les Cannibales contained fictionalized stories of actual art heists that occurred throughout history. Think of the theft of Mona Lisa in 1911, thieves seizing two Renoir  from the National Museum in Stockholm with submachine guns, and $300 million worth of art taken from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. The idea was to authenticate my story’s crime by highlighting actual crimes that have occurred. In later versions, I decided on axing those chapters—instead incorporating elements from those anecdotes into the crime I made up.

I wrote Les Cannibales eight years ago. To see it find a home with Shotgun Honey and Down & Out Books is a dream come true. Be a pal and check it out after you read this. Go ahead, give Les Cannibales a chance. You’ll be surprised with what you discover.

Thanks,
DeLeon


From the Hip – Nick Kolakowski

Hola Honeys!

That’s what I’m calling all of you now. Yes, it’s terrible and yes you all deserve it. You know exactly what you did and where.

So, in keeping with my rigid and concise schedule, we’ve got another FROM THE HIP for you with Shotgun Honey’s very own Nick Kolakowski. He’s got a corker of a novella, A BRUTAL BUNCH OF HEARTBROKEN SAPS, out and it certainly needs your love, clicks, and lamentations.

If you dig the novella, you’ll also love Nick’s short fiction. He just happens to have a collection out by the name of SOMEBODY’S TRYING TO KILL ME and it’s pretty damn fantastic. I highly recommend scooping it up as soon as you can.

On to the ranting!

Our chat took place on 5/10/2017 and of course, light editing may apply. Blah blah blah blah. Something, something. I read the book months ago and blah blah blah.

ANGEL (characteristically 100% on time to an 8:30PM chat at 9:00PM): I’m finally here (kids were being cute/not sleepy)

NICK: Sweet.

ANGEL: So, to keep Ron on his toes, I decided to do these things very off the cuff. It allows for cursing and all that fun stuff. That said, how about you tell me about A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps before I go off the path.

NICK: A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps is about a dude who decides that he’s going to change careers. The only problem is, he’s a slick New York hustler whose idea of “changing careers” is ripping off his very scary bosses, dumping his equally scary assassin girlfriend, and driving West with a bag full of cash.

To say that things get messy is a bit of an understatement. But I was also going for pitch-black humor, as well.

Because why shouldn’t a severed finger be hilarious?

ANGEL: It is hilarious! And so is the book. I was impressed with its pace. I tend to be a fast reader but I tore through it and I didn’t find myself feeling as if I should scan a few paragraphs here and there. The word economy and narrative were well-balanced.

Which is something I know both of us tend to know a little something about.

So, full disclosure to anyone reading and not knowledgeable: you and I are label-mates AND editors here at Shotgun Honey.

WE’VE ENTRENCHED OURSELVES WELL AND SHALL REAP ALL BENEFITS…

Anyway…

You can do flash – and well. What draws you to shorter form?

NICK: My short attention span. No, seriously, I get distracted easily. Blame it on a lifetime of guzzling down pop culture, but I have a very hard time with ultra-long narratives. It’s not that I can’t follow the plot, but right around page 300 or so I struggle to maintain my inner momentum. There are exceptions — I tore through The Cartel by Don Winslow, and I’ll zip right through anything by Neal Stephenson — but my intellectual metabolism is geared toward short.

Plus I like the punch that shorter fiction delivers. If it’s done right, it’s like a really good standup joke, hitting you viscerally.

And if it’s done badly, at least you’ve only burned a few minutes or hours, as opposed to days of your life.

ANGEL: I’m exactly the same way. The Cartel, House of Leaves, Lincoln in The Bardo – if it’s a damn good book, I don’t care how many pages. BUT if it’s the typical filler fare, it drives me insane. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read where I feel as if it would have been better as a novella or a short story.

That last point you made about wasting minutes/hours. You think we can flip that too? Part of the appeal of flash to me is the ability to fail spectacularly. I can land on my face with a piece and not weep. What are your thoughts there?

NICK: Yes! Flash fiction is a great laboratory for testing concepts. You might produce the literary equivalent of an eight-legged dog that spits acid and eats your lab assistant, but you could also create something beautiful… and because you know you’re not burning tons of time, you can be more playful. I’ve written short stories — and I’m sure you have, too — that basically served as prototypes for much longer stuff.

That’s not to say a Hellbeast with Eight Legs can’t be beautiful. I’d love that fucker. I’d sic it on my neighbors when they start blasting obnoxious music at midnight.

It’s easy to spend 700 words on a bank robbery. But it’s more interesting to try and flip it. You did that once, with that crazy story about the clowns knocking the place off…

ANGEL: Hey, clowns make anything either dumber or scary. I figure not enough dumb is out there, so I went for broke.

My Dad got me into noir in a big way when I was a kid. He gave me the Raymond Chandler novels, and Hammett’s Red Harvest, when I was at a very impressionable age. We also saw a lot of crime flicks — not just the classics with Cagney and so on, but also whatever was coming out at the time, like Heat. My love was exclusively for noir and grit, though; I was never a fan of Christie and traditional murder mysteries, with the exception of Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.

NICK: That’s not to knock those books where the little old lady solves the mystery of the priest killed by the lawn gnome, but it was never my speed. I related to noir anti-heroes’ sarcasm, and their toughness.

The fact is, most crime isn’t well thought-out. The majority of criminals are dumb as a bag of hammers. I’ve always had a hard time believing intricate murder plots that hinge on arcane solutions.

But noir captures that idiocy and horror.

ANGEL: I tend to look at the more traditional, toothless work as being more like fantasy? That’ll probably piss some folks off, but I’m not knocking. All writing takes skill to put together but noir, like you said – that grit and idiocy? I’ve never met a criminal that wasn’t a complete idiot. Clever? Capable of problem solving? Sure. Actually intelligent enough to keep their shit together long enough to NOT have to stick someone up for fresh kicks at a 6:30 AM Nike release? Nope.

And those stories are so much interesting!

NICK: Idiocy is undervalued as a character trait. It’s no fun to read a heist novel where everything goes right; you want everything to go wrong. I’m proud to say that every character in “A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps” isn’t nearly as smart as they think they are, especially the two characters who absolutely, positively think they’re the smartest motherfuckers in any given room.

I feel like you can write genuine intelligence if you make it a chess match. For example, Heat: two people who are geniuses at their professions, on a collision course. The end-game kicks in when one decides to do something idiotic.

But most people aren’t Michael Mann.

ANGEL: That’s honestly one of my biggest gripes with modern crime fiction. A lot of writers LOVE making their characters super effective at something and while, sure, that can be interesting, it starts to feel tired.

And like you said, most folks ain’t Mann, or a Ted Lewis, or the other folks who can make some of the old tropes sing.

So where do you think we go from there? We’ve got some indie labels producing some cool stuff – ours included – is this the future of the genre? Of publishing? I know you’re a bit of a techie. Are the signs there?

NICK: I’d like to think so. Until a couple years ago, the traditional publishers were a hell of a bottleneck to new voices getting out there. Indie labels have been great about letting those authors sing, but it’s a hard road ahead nonetheless — a label can produce fantastic work and still fold. That being said, I think all the pieces are in place; what we need now is for a couple of indie books to break into the mainstream.

And “mainstream” comes with its own risks, of course. But people are clearly interested in fresh takes on noir — look at the popularity of Fargo, or True Detective. In theory, there’s nothing to stop literary noir from catching serious fire.

ANGEL: I don’t think being saddled with my least favorite genre tag ever, neo-noir, helps. That may be a chip on my shoulder, though. I don’t mind taking inspiration from the history, but bowing down to it irks me to high hell.

So what’s next, man? Will we see this ridiculous crew from Brutal Bunch again or do you have anything else in the plans?

NICK: The Bunch — minus some bits and pieces — are coming back in the next novella, Slaughterhouse Blues, which is launching in 2018. The lunacy rolls to Nicaragua and Cuba before heading back to New York. I’m excited about it because I spent some time in Central America for work, and this is the first time I’ve been able to deploy a lot of what I saw there in a fictionalized setting. I’m also writing the third book in the series, which might be the hardest of them all because I’m trying to have it take place in one location, like Die Hard.

ANGEL: I totally have a Die Hard concept in my file. I think it’s impossible for anyone our age not to. I’m looking forward to that. Single location stories are a bear!

NICK: Plus I have to resist the urge to have the characters make bad Bruce Willis jokes.

ANGEL: INDEED. Well, dude. I think we can call it quits. A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps is dropping May 12th (there are more than likely MANY links scattered on this page. Best of luck with this one, man. I loved it and I really think a lot of folks are going to dig the hell out of it too!

NICK: Thanks, man! This was fun. Good luck with the next Blacky, too. You’re up next!

ANGEL: Thanks for dealing with my flaky, flaky planning! And yes, new Blacky! It’s all coming up Milhouse, man.


Dodging Bullets: May the Books be with You

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

It’s hard to believe that it’s May already, and that in a week’s  time Shotgun Honey will have release six titles under it’s new imprint with Down & Out Books. Three of these are reissues from the previous One Eye Press releases, and if you hadn’t had a chance to pick them up before, well what are you waiting for? In case you missed our current offering, here you go.​

 The big goal for Shotgun Honey is to get unique stories from talented writers in your hands. Each books is one I’d personally read and buy, but I’m of course these writer’s #1 fan. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t publish it. So do you trust ol’ Ron Earl? I hope so, because here is the remainder of the years release schedule:

May 12

  • A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps by Nick Kolakowski

May 26

  • Hurt Hawks by Mike Miner
  • Goldfinches by Ryan Sayles

June 9

  • Texas, Hold Your Queens by Marie S. Crosswell
  • Face Value by William E. Wallace

June 23

  • Blacky Jaguar Against the Cool Clux Cult by Angel Luis Colón

August 4

  • Les Cannibales by DeLeon DeMicoli

September 15

  • Dead Clown Blues by R. Daniel Lester

October 6

  • Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes

October 27

  • Knuckledragger by Rusty Barnes

December 8

  • Dillo by Max Sheridan

While I think all these books are notable, there are a couple notable additions in the last quarter this year. October 6th, brings the reissue of Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes, previously published by 280 Steps. This comes to us as the first part of a trilogy, the second book titled The Last Danger will come in October 2018, with the third early 2019. The other book added to this year will be our first short novel, Dillo by Max Sheridan. Dillo was previously contracted but unfortunately orphaned because the press closed its doors.

That’s 16 new and old titles for 2017. That’s pretty exciting stuff for a small press guy like me. I do hope you take a chance on our books, not just keep Shotgun Honey going but to let these talented writers have a chance to be read. And there’s more exciting things in 2018. I’d tell you, but one of the newly signed authors really wants the world to know, and I think I should let him simmer on that another week or two. What do you think?

2018 Signings

Okay, okay…

Shotgun Honey is thrilled to have contracted authors Lawrence Maddox and Chris DeWildt.

Lawrence Maddox brings us Fast Bang Booze, a beat-the- clock thrill-ride that races through 1993 Los Angeles to a rollicking, deadly climax.

And from Chris DeWildt? A student has committed suicide, and  another has gone missing, but Gus Harris, a small-town private-eye and all-around asshole, is sure the two are connected. Determined to solve the case, it’s a race to see which unravels first: the case or his relationship with his children. Just another day for a Suburban Dick.

Keep an eye out for more information about these titles and others coming in 2018.

In Case You Missed It

Let’s not forget that Shotgun Honey isn’t all about books. Each week we publish new stories by talented up-and-coming authors who are feed solely on the words you leave them in the comments, and these guys are starving. Read some awesome flash.

Deadweight” by Casey Schwarz

“Oh, boy! You’re a real floppy one.” Peyton struggled as he tried to lift the dead boy from his grave. He linked his arms under the boy’s shoulders and pulled back as hard as he could but the boy didn’t budge. Peyton felt his shoes sink deeper into the mud. He’d always thought that dead bodies would be stiff, like he’d seen in movies. But the dead boy just sunk in his arms every time he tried to move him. Peyton was breathing hard now, exhausted from digging and wrestling with the body. His arms burned.

Read More

Her Bathrobe, White and Soft by Joshua Murray

When he stumbled upon them, he thought they were just having sex and that he caught her cheating on him. He went over early because he wanted to apologize in person for calling her sister a bitch. He meant it when he said it, but when she hung up and the conversation floated in the air of his mind, it replayed with more emphasis and malice on the word until he lost sight of the truth.

Read More

Uninvited by N. D. Coley

I getcha. You just wandered into this party like it’s one of the other parties on this block-cauldrons of frat boys in rugbies and girls shaking their asses in high-waisted shorts, the mixed scent of cheap beer and weed.  You figured you’d put up that grey hoodie of yours, tuck your head, and tip-toe around the room, eyes peeled for fake tits, ears perked for the smell of perfume that says yes please, there’s a room upstairs and I’m all yours.

Read More

And a bonus because I never write and am very needy.

Shiner by Ron Earl Phillips

I heard Uncle Jasper’s tractor rattle to life behind the house; every shudder was amplified by the tin roofed shed he stored it. It wasn’t a monster like you’d see at large farming operations around the valley and in the flatlands. No, it was just an old John Deere that Paw-Paw used to putter around the field and haul supplies down to the family garden.

Read More


We are always open to submissions. So if you want to be like one of the folks mentioned above, hit us up at the Submissions Manager.

Until next time, all the best.


Dodging Bullets: James Lee Burke Reading

This week I promised myself I wasn’t going to spend much time on social media, specifically Facebook, because I have a couple term papers due. I know that’s a strange thing to hear from a college educated gent like myself, but truth is the first time around I did it for the folks and note myself. Otherwise, I’d probably be college professor like so many of the writers I get to publish. There is something pleasing in working with someone and facilitate a story to the published product. So maybe I’ll become a professor yet. I hear they get a lot of coeds.

Though I promised to stay off social media, I’m glad I didn’t. I managed to catch a Q&A with James Lee Burke following a short reading on a Facebook Live. Live is the new instant video post that Facebook allows you to do, that is if you didn’t already know. I first read James Lee Burke by way of my grandfather who was an avid most of his life and moreso in his elder years. Mr. Burke sprung into the world when my grandfather would have been a teen, but the two men had a lot in common. Hard work ethics and big tales. I always thought my grandfather could have made a good writer, but that’s where he and Mr. Burke differ. My grandfather believed in arts as quality leisure, but did not feel it made for a meaningful employment. Partly why I didn’t follow my guts and dedicate myself to writing when I first found I had a knack for it. He warmed up to the idea in the later years and I was a bit shameful that I never finished that first book to show him who and what I really was meant to be.

That aside, James Lee Burke is a national treasure and if you haven’t read his Dave Robicheaux series, then you ought to get on it. The man has a way of making words flow as natural as breath and sharp as steel. And I don’t normally recommend audio books, but they are useful on trips, and to hear the great Will Patton (honestly, I believe he is a fantastic character actor and second man) read the words of James Lee Burke—this man was made to read novels by James Lee Burke for us to enjoy—it is transcendent. A perfect pairing. But as you will hear from the excerpt of White Doves at Morning at the top of the video, Mr. Burke is no slacker. Enjoy.

 

Posted by James Lee Burke on Monday, April 17, 2017

I was considering announcing a book that I’ll be producing for next year with James Ray Tuck Jr that will be released in conjunction with Down & Out Books, and… Well that’s all I’m going to say at this time because I’m a bastard. It’s important and I hope it turns into something special. Next week will be pedal to the medal for me as I use my staycation to produce some books, and hopefully write some fiction of my own.

Oh, have you listened to the latest WriterTypes? The latest hits Crimespree Magazine‘s first Murder and Mayhem Chicago conference. This episode is hosted by Crimespree Magazine and has another Shotgun Honey story, this episode Carnivore by Carmen Jaramillo. Check it!

In Case You Missed It


The Kid by Mark Cowling

The kid was driving. Enrique. He was new but there was no one else I’d want behind the wheel. He did nothing erratic, nothing impulsive. Steady speed — neither too fast or too slow. Just a nondescript truck cutting through the backstreets of Oakland.”

Read More

Back to Tall Pines by Spencer Fleury

When she heard the job offer on her answering machine, her heart sank. Virgil reminded her – again – how much they needed the money. “But it’s the most depressing thing I can think of,” she said. He just snorted. “Naw. There’s worse.” Easy for you to say, asshole. You don’t have to do it.

Read More


We are always open to submissions. So if you want to be like one of the folks mentioned above, hit us up at the Submissions Manager.

Until next time, all the best.


Dodging Bullets: Fortitude and Publishing

Last year television was introduced to a new network called PIVOT, and well there wasn’t a lot good with the channel save for one series starring Stanley Tucci as an American investigator sent to Fortitude to conduct an investigation of the death of a noted scientist. Fortitude is an isolated community in Arctic Norway, which is an amalgamation of nations, yet is under the rule of no particular country. The eponymous series was collaborated and produced by PIVOT and Sky Atlantic. The series starred, along with Tucci, Michael Gambon (Harry Potter series), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who (9th), Cracker), Sofie Gråbøl (Night Watch, The Killing (original)), and Richard Dormer.

FORTITUDE, as I said, was pretty much the only good thing about PIVOT, in less than a year the network shut its doors and hopes for a second season. The series is part mystery, part science fiction, and season one was some of the best acting on television. But, has Stanley Tucci ever not deliver? Earlier this year, I was happy to learn that FORTITUDE would be back with Dennis Quaid in the lead and Sky Atlantic now partnering with Amazon to produce. Available today free to Amazon Prime member, you can start streaming FORTITUDE season two. And if you missed season one, it is also available, so make it a long weekend.

Before you dive into the television series, Shotgun Honey has started its own the road to second lives. Today, I am excited to reissue through the Shotgun Honey imprint the second printing of FEDERALES by Christopher Irvin. All the books hold places in my heart, but I still vividly remember reading FEDERALES for the first time with utmost dread and by the time I finished I was excited. The dread came from having worked with Chris via Shotgun Honey, who was a second generation editor taking over for Chad Rohrbacher, and I was fearful that the story would be publishable,  even for a press as inexperienced as One Eye Press. But I was excited because the book initially had remnants of one of my favorite movies, Man on Fire starring Denzel Washington. I often tell people that there are no new ideas, the uniqueness in stories comes from how the ideas are worked and presented. So yes, FEDERALES is a book about personal redemption and the responsibility to others, but Chris made FEDERALES all his own.

Expect to see other One Eye Press books see second printings under the Shotgun Honey imprint in the coming weeks.

Synopsis

Mexican Federal Agent Marcos Camarena dedicated his life to the job. But in a country where white knights die meaningless deaths, martyred in a hole with fifty other headless bodies in the desert, corruption is not an attribute but a scale; no longer a stigma but the status quo.

When Marcos’s life is threatened, he leaves law enforcement and his life in Mexico City behind for a coastal resort town–until an old friend asks him to look after an outspoken politician, a woman who knows cartel violence all too well. Despite his best efforts, Marcos can’t find it in his heart to refuse, and soon finds himself isolated on the political front lines of the war on drugs.

Inspired by true events, Federales is a story of survivors’ compulsive devotion to a cause in the face of ever-darkening circumstances.

Where to Buy

FEDERALES will soon be available in paperback from Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com, or ebook from Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Praise

“Christopher Irvin s FEDERALES is an absolute gut-punch of a novella. The story of one man s search for redemption and justice within a Mexican system that has long-forgotten the meaning of either will haunt you long after the last page is turned.”

Todd Robinson, author of The Hard Bounce

FEDERALES is a sweaty, feverish sojourn into a fetid limb of the Mexican drug war, where sentiment, principles and fellow feeling have no place. Christopher Irvin’s read will carry you swiftly through to the fitting end.”

Sam Hawken, author of The Dead Women of Juárez

“In his debut novella, Christopher Irvin deftly captures the frustration and futility of the Mexican Drug War. Part character study, part thriller, FEDERALES reads as a brutally human parable that tells a story that is sadly all too real.”

Johnny Shaw, Anthony Award winning author of Big Maria and Dove Season

In Case You Missed It

The Scientist by M. G. Juelle

The Miami skyline dangled over lavender clouds like stalactites made of pink light and shadows.

“I could die right now,” she said.

“It would take at least eight—”

“It’s an expression, silly.” She laughed. “Means I’m happy.”

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We are always open to submissions. So if you want to be like one of the folks mentioned above, hit us up at the Submissions Manager.

Until next time, all the best.