The Dark Mind of R Thomas Brown

Art and entertainment made the world smaller long before on-line communities showed up on the scene. While books, music, and art sparked conversation, one rarely had the opportunity to actually converse with the creator. Lucky for us, that’s not the case anymore. R. Thomas Brown is one of those artists you read and you either want to have a beer with or run away from him.

I mean, what kind of twisted guy comes up with stories like he does? He dropped by to share his inspiration for his novel, Hill Country (including tunage).

Why would you write that?

It’s a question I get pretty often when friends and family read Hill Country. And it’s a fascinating question. Well, what they’re really asking is “What else is that sick mind of yours thinking about?”

That’s not very interesting. The answer is “even worse things.” But, the original question is worth thinking about. Why did I write it? Not why did I write something, but why this book? These people? This plot?

Well, the idea for the plot came first. It was the Maltese Falcon. Really. People searching for something valuable. They have no idea where it is, but they think they know who might know. When they do find it, it doesn’t have the value they thought it did. That’s the tiny kernel of an idea that spawned the story (oh, and, yes, the reference to the film in the book was intentional).

Then came the place. I’m a suburban guy. Have been most of my life. Right now I am surrounded by big box stores, chain restaurants and similar looking homes. Not as similar as my last house, but still. And, I like. It’s comfortable for me and the family. It also drives me nuts.  There’s an oppressive sameness about it all. So, I went far away. To a small town that my cousins lived in for a few years. I built a little town that had the character that is lacking in so much of urban sprawl.

Now, the people, they’re all around me. Not the killers. No, that’s just imagination at work. But all the people that populate the town. They’re all around me. Always have been. See, I’m not just a suburban guy, I’m a suburban Texas guy. I’ve never  lived anywhere else. I know lots of people in the same boat. They live in that book. The story doesn’t spend lots of time dwelling on the unique character of them, but I think the nature of the people comes out.

The rest of the stuff. The killing, the sex, the drugs. Well, I just thought it fit, and it was damned fun to write. Especially the cursing. Fuck a ring-tailed lemur, I loved the cursing.

So now you know. You can check out another interview here, and read the first chapter of Hill Country at his blog, Criminal Thoughts. You can also follow him on the Twitters at @rthomasbrown and FB

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Writerly Advice

Recently someone asked me why I don’t share some of my tips on writing, and I asked him if he had the internet. There’s always some writer over on that site penning a series on how to write novel. And for only 2 bucks, you can get all the wisdom he’s acquired including —

In a used car salesman voice: Use Strong Verbs, Make Your Antagonist a Well-Rounded Character, and my personal favorite, Show Don’t Tell.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s the same shit that other writer said on that other site but with a little more wit.

Essentially there is nothing new said about writing, how to write, or how to write better; it is all just rehashed, repackaged, and recycled material. I don’t begrudge this repackaging at all. I love Dr. Who and Sherlock Holmes a lot more now than I did when I was first introduced to them, and what student hasn’t peeked at some study guide to get a gist of something screwed up like Gravity’s Rainbow?

Unfortunately, he was not quite satisfied with my answer concerning the internet (I mean who ever is?). He implored, “But you’re a writer.”

“No,” I tell him, “you have it all wrong. I’m a reader who writes.”

There. That’s it. That’s my advice. You want to write, read. And read multiple genres, nonfiction, poetry, and Drews has some fantastic screenplays you can download (I recommend The Three Kings right off the bat).

I’ve been reading R. Thomas Brown’s Hill Country lately. The book came highly recommended. It has one of the best openings I have read in a long, long time. The characters are stark, sharp things and the way he drew the place is remarkable. It’s as if he took Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town, chewed it up, let it dissolve into his bloodstream, then slashed his wrists all over the page.

Nothing Matters by Steve Finbow is next up.   I mean, how can I pass up a noir poem?

And Eric Coyote shared this promo with me which certainly piqued my interest, but everything must be read before John Horner Jacob’s new book, This Dark Earth, comes out this summer.

Now back to work you filthy cretins.

Glam from Across the Pond

Richard Godwin has a new book. Maybe you want to check it out. From the the author Richard Godwin:

Image

Designer goods, beautiful women, wealthy men, a lifestyle preyed on by a serial killer.

A killer who is watching everyone, including the police.

Latest headlines?

No, an outline of my second novel, Mr. Glamour.

My debut novel Apostle Rising was published in paperback by Black Jackal Books last year. It was about a serial killer crucifying politicians, and sold extremely well, received excellent reviews, and sold foreign rights to the largest publisher in Hungary.

Now Black Jackal Books have published Mr. Glamour, and I’d like to tell you a bit about it. The settings are exotic, and the pages drip with wealth. The story’s told in my usual style, and my readers will know what that means. I have been told I write with a blend of lyricism and graphic description. I like to explore what motivates people and I certainly do so with the leading characters in Mr. Glamour.

The two central cops, DCI Jackson Flare and Inspector Steele, are unusual and strong in their own ways, as reviewers are already picking up. At the beginning of the novel Steele hates working with Flare for personal reasons. She doesn’t by the end, and the investigation takes them both on a journey which changes them and their opinions of one another.

Let me give you the setting if you are tempted to read Mr. Glamour.

Something dark is preying on the glitz of the glamour set. There is a lot about designer goods and lifestyles in Mr. Glamour. The killer knows all about design, he knows what brands mean to his victims. He is branding their skins. And he has the police stumped.

As Flare and Steele investigate the killings they enter an exclusive world with its own rules and quickly realise the man they are looking for is playing a game with them, a game they cannot interpret. The killer is targeting an exclusive group of people he seems to know a lot about.

The police investigation isn’t helped by the fact that Flare and Steele have troubled lives. Harlan White, a pimp who got on the wrong side of Flare, is planning to have him killed. And Steele has secrets. She leads a double life. She is an interesting woman who pushes her sexual boundaries in private. She travels a journey into her own past and rescues herself. And in a strange way she is helped by the killer she is looking for. And Flare has some revelations in store.

As they try to catch a predator who has climbed inside their heads, they find themselves up

against a wall of secrecy. The investigation drives Flare and Steele to acts of darkness. And the killer is watching everyone.

Then there is the sub plot.

Contrasting this lifestyle is the suburban existence of Gertrude Miller, who acts out strange rituals, trapped in a sterile marriage to husband Ben. She cleans compulsively and seems to be hiding something from him, obsessed that she is being followed. As she slips into a

psychosis, characters from the glamorous set stray into Gertrude’s world, so the two plots dovetail neatly with one another.

And when Flare and Steele make an arrest they discover there is far more to this glamorous world than they realised. There is a series of shocks at the end of the novel as a set of fireworks go off. Watch out for the highly dramatic ending.

It is already picking up some great reviews.

Advance praise for Mr. Glamour:

“Richard Godwin knows how his characters dress, what they drink and what they drive. He knows how they live— and how they die. Here’s hoping no one recognized themselves in Godwin’s cold canvas. Combines the fun of a good story with the joy of witty, vivid writing.”
Heywood Gould, author of The Serial Killer’s Daughter.

“Smart, scary, suspenseful enough for me to keep the light on until 3AM on a Sunday night, Richard Godwin once more proves to fans of crime fiction the world over with Mr. Glamour, that he is not only one of the best contemporary writers of the procedural cop thriller around today, he is a master storyteller.”

Vincent Zandri, author of Scream Catcher.

“Richard Godwin’s top-of-the-line psychological police procedural driven by its heady pace, steely dialogue, and unsparing vision transfixes the reader from page one.”

Ed Lynskey, author of Skin In The Game.

“Mr. Glamour is a striking effort from one of the most daring crime writers in the business. It is the noirest of noir…and hellishly addictive.”

Mike Stafford, BookGeeks Magazine.

“This first rate detective thriller will have you gripped from the start. Richard Godwin is an author not to be missed.”

Sheila Quigley Author of Thorn In My Side.

“Mr Glamour is, in every sense of the word, the real McCoy: genuine hard boiled detective fiction.  Lean, gritty, and tough, it’s a journey into the heart of darkness … you won’t soon forget. Connoisseurs of Nouveau Noir will have to add Richard Godwin to the list of writers to watch!”

C E Lawrence, author of Silent Kills.

“Involving and compellingly sinister, Richard Godwin’s Mr. Glamour portrays cops and criminals, the mad and the driven in a novel of psychological noir. Read it while snuggling with your stuffed teddy bear for comfort.”

— Gary Phillips, author of Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians and Killers

“This is one outstanding novel written by one amazing author.”

Fran Lewis Review.

I think Mr. Glamour will appeal to mystery and crime aficionados, to readers interested in psychological profiling and designer lifestyles, to thriller and noir fans, and to anyone who enjoys a fast paced narrative with strong characters.

Mr. Glamour can be bought now at Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

at all good retailers online and in stores in April. If you Google it you should see a range of options come up.

And you can find out more about me at my website

and my stories here

By Chad Rohrbacher

Off The Record

Luca Vesta edited a fantastic pulp anthology that will benefit charity.

I can’t say enough about the editor or the fine group of authors he was able to assemble for the book. Not a bad read in the lot. I’m actually pretty honored to be asked and included with all these fine people.

Do yourself, and some kids, a favor and check it out. And while you’re reading, listen to the sound track on YouTube.

From Amazon: ‘Hitmen, cons, winos, bag snatchers, killers and psychos, the wronged, the vengeful and the damned, all darken the pages off this superior crime anthology. Off The Record is seriously cool.’ – Howard Linskey,         Author of The Drop, named in The Times best reads of 2011

38 writers, 38 short stories based on classic song titles…

The best writers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, come together to produce an anthology of short stories, with all proceeds being donated to two Children’s Literacy charities.

In the UK, National Literacy Trust. (http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/)

In the US, Children’s Literacy Initiative. (http://www.cliontheweb.org/)

Stories from –

1.Neil White – Stairway To Heaven
2.Col Bury – Respect
3.Steve Mosby – God Moving Over The Face Of Waters
4.Les Edgerton – Small Change
5.Heath Lowrance – I Wanna Be Your Dog
6.AJ Hayes – Light My Fire
7.Sean Patrick Reardon – Redemption Song
8.Ian Ayris – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
9.Nick Triplow – A New England
10.Charlie Wade – Sheila Take A Bow
11.Iain Rowan – Purple Haze
12.Thomas Pluck – Free Bird
13.Matthew C. Funk – Venus In Furs
14.R Thomas Brown – Dock Of The Bay
15.Chris Rhatigan – Shadowboxer
16.Patti Abbott – Roll Me Away
17.Chad Rhorbacher – I Wanna Be Sedated
18.Court Merrigan – Back In Black
19.Paul D. Brazill – Life On Mars?
20.Nick Boldock – Superstition
21.Vic Watson – Bye Bye Baby
22.Benoit Lelievre – Blood On The Dancefloor
23.Ron Earl Phillips – American Pie
24.Chris La Tray – Detroit Rock City
25.Nigel Bird – Super Trouper
26.Pete Sortwell – So Low, So High
27.Julie Morrigan – Behind Blue Eyes
28.David Barber – Paranoid
29.McDroll – Nights In White Satin
30.Cath Bore – Be My Baby
31.Eric Beetner – California Dreamin’
32.Steve Weddle – A Day In The Life
33.Darren Sant – Karma Police
34.Simon Logan – Smells Like Teen Spirit
35.Luca Veste – Comfortably Numb
36.Nick Quantrill – Death Or Glory
37.Helen FitzGerald – Two Little Boys
38.Ray Banks – God Only Knows

With forewords from UK writer Matt Hilton, and US writer Anthony Neil Smith

 

 

By Chad Rohrbacher

On Turning 40 In The Year Of The Apocalypse

My 40th comes during the apocalypse. I’m not sure what to make of this, but I’m sure Alan Watts would’ve had some great philosophical insight that I would only half understand. Too bad he’s dead.

If you’re not into autobiographical rambling, you better stop reading right now.

Now get this straight, I’m not a big believer in birthdays. Being that it is early January, my birthday was always combined with Christmas. Since I’m of the Catholic persuasion (my family has 3 nuns in it, which makes absolutely no difference at all besides highlighting how family reunions were peculiar – not in a bad way, just different), I always found it odd people wanted me to share the big day with Jesus even though mine is in early January. That has to be some kind of sin in the Book. Whatever. People born in the summer can kiss my ass.

Like I said, I turn 40 in a few days, and I find myself stumbling through the forest of my mind catching something beautiful between the patches of poison ivy. Seriously. It hurts. If you know me, I’m a sentimental fool. I mean, Harry Crews and Chuck Norris would probably punch me in the mouth just because I’m one of those mild mannered guys. And while that would make a great anecdote to tell people at parties, I hate eating blended steak through a straw. I say all this because when I reminisce about all the great people who have impacted my life, who are a part of my life, I’m pretty content. The apocalypse doesn’t seem like such a big deal. I don’t even feel the need to store a basement full of MREs or get a shotgun. I do have a cool Swiss Army knife though and that will come in handy. It has a ton of gadgets.

Growing up, I went through some hard times with my family and more importantly with myself: drugs, fights, jail, rehab. I dealt drugs to support my habits and my habits were powerful. They were my religion, and I went to church daily. I saw things that I had no business seeing. At 5 or 6 years old, I was licking joints for adults. When I was 7, I got my first Playboy. In 6th grade, I witnessed the body of my neighbor, a kid in my grade, wheeled out with a .38 bullet in his head. By the time I was 16, I hung out with people double my age, bought drugs from guys who saw worse and were rougher than I ever was, and I constantly hurt the people who cared about me. If you ask any addict, my story isn’t that different than theirs. The only real distinction: I was lucky.

No one could help me, but people tried.

I read a recent study where scientists found that rats were extremely social animals. Go figure. In fact, one rat would literally help another escape a trap and share its food before eating any of it by itself. After watching reality television for over a decade, I’m not so sure we can say the same thing for our species. I can honestly say, though, luckily I had a few special people stay close to me. They spied me inside the emotional plexiglass, clawed at the walls, tried to free me. When I finally opened that door, they were there.

So that’s really what I’ve been thinking about lately: my family and friends.

I want to honor these people who were with me during the good and bad times. Unfortunately I could never do them justice, especially with mere words. Language is a frail, brittle thing that way. My problem is I cling to so many moments I can’t sift through them to find that one.  If only I could paint clear moments that say everything without saying everything. James Wright did that so well. Everything would be so much simpler if I could do that.

John Henry Newman said we have to train our mind to think. He argued that being smart, to regurgitate information, was easy but to use that information in new ways was true education. My grandmother never went to college, but she is one of the most learned women I know. See, I tear up every time I think about her. It’s stupid to tear up in a coffee shop. People look then quickly turn away. I told you I was a sentimental fool. Note to self: don’t write reflections on turning 40 in the year the world will end at a coffee shop.

My grandmother survived a rigid and emotionally cold mother. She got through the depression and WWII. She followed her husband’s baseball career (drafted but was injured) and cared for him when another injury on the docks completely debilitated him both spiritually and physically. She watched over him during electroshock therapy and bathed him. She buried him. Now she takes out old photos and tells stories to her great-great grandkids. She recently received a Presidential award for volunteering but will only show it if we beg. She buys us goofy Christmas ornaments every year. She hates the Tea Party. She still says, “shucks,” “phooey”, and “fuddy duddy” in everyday conversation.

My mother and father have been immortalized in my poetry. At least moments. Shards of glass. I suppose I was following in the tradition of Snodgrass, Lowell, and Sexton in writing confessional poetry even though I didn’t know it at the time. When I was in graduate school, I remember reading a critic who said confessional poetry was “rather shameful,” and perhaps it was/is, but screw it. I did. Sometimes I do. That’s one of the nice things about 40: I accept who I was and who I am (even my insecurities).

My best man, Steve Ida, witnessed my bumbling through middle and high school. While I’m pretty sure his mother didn’t care for me (she only spoke Japanese when I was there and often went into her room to pray), Steve hung out, spent hours on Axis and Allies, and played a ton of pick up basketball with me. He was the fastest guy on the court, but the clumsiest one too. You know that screech of skin on hardwood? Yeah, that was Steve. And he always laughed about it. Every single time. Steve was the only friend who gave me the advice I didn’t want to hear.

Another buddy I keep in touch with, Dan, set me up with my wife. It was a blind date for prom. At first she balked at the idea; after all, it was only a few months before that I had sold her then boyfriend acid, but Dan assured her I was reformed. Against her better judgment she went. She told me multiple times she wasn’t sure why she said yes. I’m still not sure why either. Sometimes I tell her because I was hot and had a “history.” She tells me to keep dreaming. Prom night I ordered lobster (which I hate but I wanted to impress her), and talked her ear off. It’s amazing she saw me again. Then I met her family.

I don’t get people who dread their in-laws. From the very first moment I met mine I liked them. Gracious, kind, always looking to laugh. What most drew me to them was their openness with each other. My family was generally shrouded in silence, divided by rooms and television screens, but my wife’s family aired their thoughts, good or bad. They spent a lot of time at the kitchen table reading, ready for discussion. I hate to admit it, but I was terribly envious.

It’s interesting to reflect on the people who had an impact one’s life. It begins as a drizzle then turns into a torrential rain. Those people are like wonderful songs that make me sing at the oddest moments: Cutting a 2×4, walking the dog, staring out a coffee shop window.

I’ve met and nurtured some very important friendships over the years; well, I can count them on one hand. I went to undergraduate with Scott, a fantastic poet in his own right, who recently scared us with a liver transplant. A few others: Lowe, a fellow English instructor who, for 7 years, did construction and house painting every summer with me; Beth, the most giving, fun, caring person I have ever met in my life (seriously); and Steve.

Now the first time I met Steve was in grad school. He had a tie (green with polka dots I think) wrapped around his forehead like a doo-rag and played darts with steak knives. I believe it was the same party we painted abstracts on the kitchen wall and two friends decorated asses then pressed them on top of the abstracts. A color copy of sorts. Yeah, we threw out the brushes. Our families have grown up together and in the same direction – but he can keep the earthquakes, floods, and broken water lines. I’d write more, but he reads my bullshit blog sometimes and I don’t want to give him any more fodder for his ego. Besides, I’ll buy him some Bushmills and tell him I made it all up just to mess with him.

But I always return to my wife and 3 awesome daughters. I stare at the ceiling, pet the puppy, let my mind spin so fast I think it will just tear apart. My wife is stronger than I am. She’s more honest. She’s better with the kids. She experiences joy and frustration and love more deeply than I. She can garden while I can only dig holes. My wonderful children deserve dozens of posts each, but I have an aversion to writing about them in public forums. I know, I’m weird that way.

What does turning 40 mean? 2012?

I hear it’s time for some kind of crisis. I need to start working out, get on a diet, buy a Mustang, pull an American Beauty and smoke dope while working at some burger joint, but the closest I’ve come to a midlife crisis is taking on a Ph.D. program full-time while working full-time (yes, I’m a dumbass). In 2012, sleep deprivation may bring on a nervous breakdown (though as long as I keep on my meds I should be ok). And the steady production of writing will slow down, but as evidence by last semester it won’t come to a complete screeching halt. Even if I’m blessed with just a fraction of positive feedback from people on my writing, I’ll be ecstatic. Snubnose Press (which has a family of writers I’m honored to be a part of) picked up my novel, a number of anthologies included my work, and I haven’t run out of ideas on future projects.

Turning 40 during the year of the end of the world means I spend a lot of time cherishing my family and friends and remembering to focus on the beautiful mysteries of life. 40 isn’t so bad. Maybe even a better age than any one I’ve ever had.

The Stomach Abides

As my stomach recovered from the last few days of pure and unadulterated gluttony, I felt like Mr. Creosote.

Then I started to drift off to sleep and was thankful that no only was I able to provide the feast, I was able to share it with my family. This leads me to the Lost Children. As described on its website:

30 powerful stories from around the world to benefit two children’s charities: PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children (www.protect.org) and Children 1st Scotland (www.children1st.org.uk).

Stories by David Ackley, Kevin Aldrich, David Barber, Lynn Beighley, Seamus Bellamy, Paul D. Brazill, Sif Dal, James Lloyd Davis, Roberto C. Garcia, Susan Gibb, Nancy A. Hansen, K.V. Hardy, Gill Hoffs, Fiona “McDroll” Johnson, J.F. Juzwik, MaryAnne Kolton, Benoit Lelievre, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Vinod Narayan, Paula Pahnke, Ron Earl Phillips, Thomas Pluck, Sam Rasnake, JP Reese, Chad Rohrbacher, Susan Tepper, Luca Veste, Michael Webb, Nicolette Wong and Erin Zulkoski.

It began as a flash fiction challenge when Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck donated $5 to PROTECT and £5 to Children 1st for every story at Ron Earl Phillips’ Flash Fiction Friday and Fictionaut. Now we have collected the 30 best stories to benefit these two charities.
Join us and make a difference while you read 30 great stories genres by writers from the U.S.A., Poland, Hong Kong, Portugal, India, Scotland, England, Canada, and one told by a Lost Boy of the Sudan to his teacher.

Approximately $2 per e-book sale and $4 per print book sale, depending on retailer, are donated for each sale. The full royalty paid by the retailer goes to these causes (50% to each). Ordering from Createspace gives the greatest donation of $5.49, and Barnes & Noble the least, $1.94. The first week of each month, detailed sales and donation reports will be posted here.

The anthology is now available in trade paperback at Amazon and Createspace for $9.99

Available for $2.99 in e-book form, for: iPad in the Apple iBookstore Amazon Kindle (read it on your computer with Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader, or on your phone with the Amazon Kindle App) Nook at Barnes & Noble Kobo, Sony e-reader and download as PDF, epub, mobi or Viewable Online at Smashwords

If you don’t have an e-reader: you can download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac app, the Nook for PC App, Nook for Mac App or view it online at Smashwords, or download it as an Adobe PDF file. You can also read epubs on the Adobe Digital Editions reader for PC and Mac.

Truly a good cause and great stocking stuffers.

Lost Children

Thomas Pluck and Fiona Johnson are awesome people. I mean, teh awesome. See, they put together this flash fiction challenge where for every story received they would donate cash money to a couple of select charities. Of course the response was fantastic and they reached deep down into their own pockets and sent some funds to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st UK.

They are at it again, but this time we all have a chance to be as giving. They put together an anthology of some great stories that came out of that flash fiction exercise and it will be sold as an ebook November 1st. Again, the proceeds will go to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st UK.

It’s an honor to be just one of the writers included in the anthology. Please look for it on November 1st.

 

The Cons

I’m a little late to the party, but the real question is: am I fashionably so?

BoucherCon in St. Louis = goodness.

I was able to meet a lot of fantastic folks: From the nicest people on the planet (yes, I’m looking at you Mr. and Mrs. Holmes), to the craziest bastards (ok, Cam, where do I get one of those hats?), to the most down to earth fellows (How does Mr. Rawson think of this demented shit when he seems so “normal”).

I hate flying. With a passion. On the way to St. Louis there was a problem with my ticket. It took over 30 minutes to get that addressed. The whole time I’m clenching my jaw while my wife, smartly, takes over and gets it straightened out. She’s good for me. A jail cell would have been a lot worse than being a little late.

On the way back, it was worse. First, my checked suitcase was over the limit because of all of the books I was taking home. I was glad I could get enough of the titles shoved into my carry on (even though my back is still sore). It would have been very difficult to explain to my wife why I was missing all of my boxers and t-shirts. Security was awful. I get in a line that snakes around the lobby like we were waiting for ribs at Pappy’s. I’m next in line to go through when 7 pilots and stewardesses break in line. “It won’t take long,” they say. Sigh. When I finally go through, it’s the usual routine: Shoes, belt, phone, change, computer, etc. Then I hear the dreaded, “Sir, can we put your bag through again.” I wonder if they are going for Ashley and Rawson’s Crime Factory #1 – I wouldn’t be surprised. “Sure,” I say. The swabbing of my bag arouses my attention though. The pulling out my pocketknife gets me shaking my head. Shit. I forgot it was in there. I’m surprised it made it through Greensboro, but whatever.

They give me two choices: check it which entails locating checked bag, bringing up to front counter, putting it in, re checking bag, and going back through security; or throwing it away. Goodbye sweet pocketknife I shall miss thee.

Ron Earl, my roomie, meets me outside the hotel and shows me the digs. Nice place. Close to main convention. Even better, he’s a nice guy who doesn’t snore. I stuck by him most of the time which was pretty cool.

I pick up my name tag and about 8 pounds of books then hit my first panel. Did I mention I hadn’t eaten? I was freakin’ hungry while I lugged books around.

Overall the panels  were pretty damn great. I was able to catch people like Scott Phillips, Frank Bill, Christa Faust, Tom Schreck, and others share their stories and insights. The panel moderated by Katrina Holm, Death by Good Intention, featuring Donna Andrews, Shirley Damsgaard, Rosemary Harris, Julie Hyzy, Joanna Slan, was perhaps one of the best out of the conference. Funny and insightful, it didn’t get much better.

It was wonderful meeting all my Twitter friends and authors I’ve only read. Some very good discussions with big man Kent Gowran, the sweet Sabrina Ogden, Thomas “shortest man alive” Pluck, the finger guy, Mrs Drew, KatKap (Kathryn Ryan) who is sitting on a gold mine of a story, the tallest man there, Jeidiah Ayers (who, btw, is the only guy who could pitch a children’s book “The Underwear Fairy” without smiling), the shady Matthew C. Funk and his partner in crime the cracked Callaway, Mattew McBride and Daniel O’Shea, the gracious Hillary Davidson (Yea, on the award for The Damage Done), that Andrew the Canadian Maneatingbookwrm, my good pal Barna Donovan, and so many more I can’t list them all here. Just an impressive, impressive group of people.

Now let me just say, I like food and I ate a lot of it. Alligator, ribs, oysters, more pulled pork. Jameson. Yes, it is a food group all by itself.

The biggest downfall of BoucherCon: I have too much fucking shit to read now and my wife is getting sick of the piles of books littered around the house. Eh, what’s a fella supposed to do?

I’m hoping the Snubnose family will be able to represent next year – and if you haven’t checked the crime family yet, go on and take a peak. Yeah, I’m blessed enough to in there with my novel KARMA BACKLASH which will be coming out in 2012.

Pics from BoucherCon can be found here.

Outside the Dream F3 #47

It has been some time since I’ve taken part in the Flash Fiction Friday challenges. But, this particular week I couldn’t let pass by without getting involved. See, for every story they receive the generous Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck are donating money to a few organizations that work to protect children. You like that don’t you? So after you read my story, go write one, and read the other powerful tales people are coming up with.

Here is my submission. Thanks to Fiona and Thomas for sponsoring and donating.

Outside the Dream

His skin was like rotting fish on a muddy riverbank. His bulbous eyes pushed against his lids, his dark eyebrows wild, and his bald misshapen head, battered, scarred, knotted from of fights long forgotten made all the stories of a boogey man seem true. When he smiled it seemed like his face was struggling against the brain’s impulses.

He loped down the sidewalk smoking his menthol cigarette. Toledo wasn’t much, but it was his. The burgeoning art district brought hippie middle-class college kids downtown. They watched middle-aged couples meander through small stands of pottery and glass bulbs, beads and fake jewelry. When it got dark, they hustled up their shit and scurried back to whatever suburb they came from. They liked to pretend poverty.

KaVon went to the river, plopped onto the grass, and watched the sun fall. He imagined God’s hand laying the sun down like a man might guide a child’s head to his pillow. After awhile, he stubbed his cigarette out and closed his eyes. He hummed some Junior Kimbrough. Soon he’d go to work.

When he awoke, the night’s chill already gripped him. He stood, cracked his neck, and made his way to the city’s landscape. It was quiet, only the argot of the city calling him. As he passed one corner, KaVon saw a girl’s face silhouetted by street light. When she noticed KaVon walking by, she stood into the light and grinned.

“You looking for someone in particular, honey?” KaVon just kept walking. He had things to do.

Ahead he saw them, three boys trying to be men. Two stood on the corner, 13 years old, but Jesus to fuck it was getting hard to tell anymore. One older man, Lamar, lounged on a stoop about fifteen yards away. “Ain’t it a little late, K?” The kids laughed. Lamar stared. “Maybe you want a little bump? Old times sake.”

“Light?” KaVon said pulling out a cigarette. Lamar nodded. When KaVon was close he grabbed Lamar’s head and brought his knee up. Lamar’s nose snapped, blood flowed. KaVon grabbed the .45 Lamar had under his leg.

“What the fuck, K?” one kid stammered.

“I want to know where Jonah is.”

“Jonah? I don’t know…”

KaVon put the gun to his lips. “Think. Hard.”

The boys shared a glance then one squeaked, “He stayin’ with Reggie.”

At Reggie’s place, a decrepit box of rotting wood, KaVon walked to the back door. He heard ‘Lil Wayne bumping and caught the aroma of smoke wafting out the window. As he stepped into the kitchen he spied Jonah: head back, eyes closed, pipe in his hand. KaVon turned off the radio and Jonah jumped, dropping the pipe to the floor.

“Fuck, lookit what you made me do. Reggie’s gonna be pissed,” Jonah said scooping up the contents.

“Leave it. We have business to discuss.”

Jonah’s eyes widened. The dark pools trembled. “I’m not doing that anymore. I told you.”

“I know what you said.”

“I won’t.” His bottom lip quivered.

“Problem is you never do what you’re told; you never follow through with your promises.”

Jonah jumped up, his slight frame rushing toward the yard. KaVon wondered why they always tried to run. His powerful hand gripped Jonah’s shirt and pulled him to the floor. The boy flailed, but KaVon’s forearm on his throat and hand over his mouth stopped the squirming quick.

“You gonna walk or I hafta carry ya the three blocks home?”

Jonah nodded. KaVon helped the boy up. As the tread back to Jonah’s house, the boy studied the sidewalk. “You just don’t understand.”

“Fuck I don’t.”

“I tell her how it is, but she don’t care.”

“You’re her golden boy.”

“What else am I gonna do, K? Wash dishes?”

“I’m doin’ ok.”

“That’s cause you have yer own angles. How much momma pay you to fetch me?”

“Enough.” They walked in silence. KaVon regarded the boy, his simple wish to be relevant, to imagine something beyond what he could see around him. “Don’t break her heart like I did.”

“My boys, they won’t let me go. You know that,” Jonah said.

“Listen, you do right by momma and I’ll take care of you.”

The boy nodded. KaVon put his arm around Jonah’s shoulder. He knew he was going to earn every penny that night.

By Chad Rohrbacher