He Is Psychonoir

Heath Lowrance is a machine. A prolific writing machine. And what really makes me angry (in a truly envious way) is that his work is overwhelmingly fantastic. He’s graced the pages of so many premier crime journals, magazines, and anthologies that I won’t even attempt to mention them here. I did, however, link to his site at the end of the post so you can look him up there.

I was excited when Heath decided to drop by for a guest post and talk a little about his new novel City of Heretics.  Have a read and check out the book. You’ll like it. I promise.

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So Chad was kind enough to let me crash his blog today in order to tell you about a couple of new things I have out now—my second novel, CITY OF HERETICS, and a novella in the FIGHT CARD series called “Bluff City Brawler”. And I’ll do just that, in a minute. But first, I wanted to bend your ear about something I’ve been thinking of lately, if you don’t mind.

A couple days ago, a friend of mine made reference to the fact that I had “fans”. That is, folks who bought my books and stories on a regular basis. Not many of them, mind you, but some.

In the short period of time I’ve been doing this, it was the first time anyone had ever used that word… “fans”.

I didn’t like it.

It made me feel weird and uncomfortable. I puzzled over it for a couple of days, trying to figure out what, exactly, bugged me about it, and this is what I came up with: I don’t have “fans”. I have readers. There is a difference. “Fans” implies some kind of false separation between writer and reader, a separation I find a little offensive. It puts the writer on some kind of higher plateau than the reader, ascribes some importance to him or her that is totally wrong.

The writer and the reader represent the very definition of the term “symbiotic relationship”. They NEED each other. Really, one doesn’t exist without the other.

This is especially true with us independent and small press writers. In fact, in our case, the reader is MORE important. Without the reader, we’d be totally screwed. The reader who leaves reviews, who spreads the word, who shells out her hard-earned cash, well… that reader is the life-blood of the independent writer. If anything, the scenario should be the other way around—writers should be fans of readers.

I’m very lucky that there are readers out there who like what I do. I’ve become friends with many of them, via Facebook and various other social media sites. I’ve learned from them, and I never fail to be staggered by their generosity. I’ve come this far because of them, and I never, ever forget that fact. 

So, okay, I’ve got that off my chest and I feel a bit better, thanks.

Awkward transition time, then. My new novel, CITY OF HERETICS, came out just recently from Snubnose Press, and I’d be happy if you gave it a try. It’s a fast and nasty piece of work about a bad, bad man in a bad, bad city doing bad, bad things.

And my FIGHT CARD novella, “Bluff City Brawler”, is pure pulp, a boxing story about a fighter on the run after accidentally killing a connected mobster. It’s a fast-paced thriller with lots of action, totally in the spirit of the great old boxing pulp stories.

Two very different kinds of stories, but both equally worth your time, I promise.

And if you’ve already bought one or both of them, if you’ve left reviews or told your friends, well then, I thank you.

I’m your biggest fan.

Heath Lowrance is the author of the cult novel THE BASTARD HAND, a short story collection called DIG TEN GRAVES, and all sorts of other things that are bad for you. He currently lives near Detroit, Michigan.
You can visit his blog at www.psychonoir.blogspot.com

Catch him on Goodreads, Twitter (though he’s not a fan), and Facebook.

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KnockOut

Eric Beetner is a creative machine — Music: check. Book design: check. Directing: check. Writing some damn good fiction: check.

Wait, I had that wrong; he has a TON of good fiction. A couple of the many standouts for me include Fingerprints, which placed in the Watery Grave contest last year, and Bleeding Out which appeared in Thrillers, Killers, N Chillers. What separates Eric from a lot of writers is his sense of dark humor. If you liked Heathers, you know what I mean. If you didn’t (or never saw the film), there is no hope for you.

Revenge stories can easily become trite, overdone Mel Gibson knockoffs. Rarely do they rise to the level and character of, say, The Professional but Eric gets extremely close with his novella “Dig Two Graves”. Yes, I am referencing a lot of kick ass films, because that is how the novella plays out: a picture show (though not the last one — yeah, Larry McMurtry also rocks). The characters are well-drawn and the story a “fun” ride. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind stopping in and sharing some insight about the book with us like — where the hell did that come from?

WHY I’M STEPPING OUT OF THE RING

By Eric Beetner

This July sees the publication of my latest Fightcard novella, A Mouth Full Of Blood – sequel to Split Decision. It will be my fifth published work (not counting anthologies) and the fourth writing about a boxer or ex-boxer. Time to hang up the gloves.
I’m enormously proud of the Fightcard books and especially the two novels I co-wrote with JB Kohl, One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. I believe in the stories and while the Fightcard novellas rely a little more on boxing as a backdrop, in the co-authored novels there is very little actual fighting at all. They are solid mystery/noir novels which happen to feature and ex-boxer. But it’s so easy to get pigeonholed in this racket. I don’t want to become, “Oh, he’s the guy that writes those boxing books.” I do, and can do, so much more.

I was very excited when the new Pulp Ink anthology announced they were looking for stories with a crime and a horror element. I ran with that and my very dark horror-influenced story was accepted, and even inspired the cover art. Of the five completed novels of mine that remain unpublished (so far) all are contemporary set and there isn’t a pugilist in sight.

Such is the case with my novella Dig Two Graves. The dark revenge story was written after a small publisher put out the call for gritty vengeance tales told in about 25k words and using plenty of blood and action. Hell yes, I said to myself. When that publisher never even acknowledged my submission it ended up in the hands of Snubnose Press and found a home.

I think everything I write is somewhat inspired by pulpy action-driven tales, but Dig Two Graves would never have been allowed to be published in the golden era of pulps. Way too much talk about prison blowjobs. The story is dark, moves fast and I’ve been told has a healthy dose of gallows humor. I never want to admit my stuff is any kind of funny for fear of people urging me to seek help. But if someone finds it funny, that’s on them.

I’ve loved my time writing about boxers, and maybe someday I’ll go back to it. JB Kohl and I are into our second novel together in a contemporary set series. I have outlines for a few more novels staring at my on my desk and asking when I will ask them to dance. Really, I want to show readers I have more sides to my writing. You’ll never see me write a cozy, but there is more to me than just the sweet science. My ultimate goal all along has been to build a body of work, preferably a wide variety. I could never be the type of writer who does twenty novels all about the same character. I’d get bored. I already found myself repeating little riffs in the boxing books, so time to ring the bell and walk away.

Knock on wood, I’ve so far not run out of ideas. If anything, there are too damn many. When they start to get backed up in my brain the shouting makes it hard to sleep. Guess that’s why I’m a night writer. Who can rest when all these degenerates in my brain keep fighting to be let out?

You don’t get much more degenerate than Dig Two Graves, and I’m excited to know that the most twisted thing I ever wrote is still waiting to be published (maybe by myself, and maybe soon). I relish the days when I surprise myself and can’t wait to be able to surprise readers. Y’know, like a well-placed uppercut.

BIO: Eric Beetner is the author of Dig Two Grave, Split Decision and A Mouth Full Of Blood, as well as co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. His award-winning short stories have appeared in Pulp Ink, Grimm Tales, Discount Noir, Off The Record, Murder In The Wind, Needle Magazine, Crimefactory and more. For more info visit ericbeetner.blogspot.com

Imaginings

I love my children’s imaginations. I love seeing what they come up with, the plays and pet shops, the art and dances, the worlds they create.

My oldest is crazy about sci-fi and horror. How much she “gets” always impresses me. Her imagination allows her to understand things well beyond her years. And we have great conversations about the movies and books after.

Lately we’ve been talking about equality (except for last night when we were talking about demonic possession and devil spawn — seriously). She literally doesn’t understand people who hate others for absolutely no reason. She doesn’t “get” the fear. The need to control, or worse, let others control them.

Today I put out a collection of cyber punk short stories about control, or the lack of it. It’s been sitting on my computer since last year.  Big Pulp and Silver Blade published a couple of stories and people asked if there were any more coming out. I enjoyed the characters, so I wrote a few more and asked John Hornor Jacobs to put together a cover (which, btw, looks fantastic).

Here’s where it gets tricky; my kid wants to read the collection. In general, most of my stories are not quite kid friendly. My zombie and crime pieces usually don’t bode well for young audiences.I think all but the last story is ok for her. Interestingly, I am actually nervous about her reading my work. This adds a new layer to our relationship.

While I look forward to what she has to say, I’m also concerned she’ll think I’m nuts. Or realize that I am. I hope, though, she sees me as maybe more than that; she’ll realize I’m just some kid who still lives in his imagination and that that’s ok. I want her to always nurture her imagination; I want us to grow and discuss and think about the world we want to live in.

If you are so inclined, feel free to check out the collection at Amazon.

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.

 

Story and Song

Uh oh, two days in a row? What’s going on over here? Today we have a story published at a fine mag: The Flash Fiction Offensive. After you read this fine tale by Jim Harrington, take a look around.

The song, well, Southern Culture on the Skids is going to give us a funny look at the exasperation portrayed by main character the end of the story. Hell, it’s just plain funny.

A Lot Going On

Cormac Brown has a fantastic write up of the premier issue of Dark Valentine. He lays out some of the contributors, artists, and shares some of the themes of the magazine which can be found in PDF here.

While your checking out magazines, try a little poetry to go along with the fiction and artwork. Gerald So is one of the editors of The Line Up a magazine of crime poetry which has featured writers like Patricia Abbott, Sandra Seamans, Michael A. Flanagan, and others. Really interesting stuff there so go get some poe-try on.

Over at Twist of Noir, Cris Benton’s story,  is well worth the time to read.

Paul D. Brazil turned me on to Fiction Daily which bills itself as finding “good stuff to read in places you wouldn’t normally look”.

MediaVirus Magazine is another source for some really cool reads. Clearly the intertubes are a problem, because I’d do nothing but sit around and read if I could.

Hell Hole is Chris Grabenstein’s fourth mystery novel and Jen Forbus reviewed it for us at her site, Jen’s Book Thoughts.

Can someone please tell me why it takes so damn long to get Huraki Murakami’s new book, 1Q94, in English. It won’t be out until September 2011.

Flash Magazine is accepting submissions for its October issue while 977, which used to be nothing but flash is now up and accepts short stories as well.

If you have a crime novel manuscript sitting on your desk and you’re not sure what to do with it, perhaps you want to submit it to The New Pulp Press for review.

The sci-fi nior train

The series exploring Oscar and his Special Forces unit, Azreal, in the service of the PCG (Planetary Control Group) rolls along with a new story, “Furious”, up at Dark Valentine.

The set up story for the series, “Paint Me a Victim, Make Me a Cause”, can be found on Big Pulp.

The others, like “Power Surges” which was previously published at Pulp Engine, follow one of the characters in Oscar’s unit.

Again, “Furious” just came out in Dark Valentine edited by Joy Sillesen, and published by Katherine Tomlinson. What’s really cool about this magazine is not only the quality writing, but the fantastic illustrations that go with them.

If you like the series, “Breaking Knute” is in final edits and will be coming out at Silver Blade next month.