Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let It Go

I seem to have spent a lot of time looking back recently, maybe that’s just a natural thing to do at this time of year or perhaps it’s my age. Life has a nasty way of creeping up on you when you’re too busy with it to notice. You’re thinking about the report you have due on Friday and the leaky tap in the downstairs bath that needs fixing and that expensive sounding noise coming from the oily bits of your Explorer, and all the while the clock is running. I have undoubtedly passed the point where I have more behind me than I have out in front. Either way, 2014 is just about done and I can’t help thinking that’s a good thing.

There will be no ‘best of’ lists or ‘shelfies’ on the blog this time around. I have read very little this year and written even less. While there have been one or two high points, like ONE EYE PRESS publishing my western novella GOSPEL OF THE BULLET and our Katie turning 21, 2014 has for the most part been an exercise in frustration and futility that I would rather just forget. But so what? This year will soon be last year and I for one am done bitching about it. As of right now I’m also done looking back. Onwards to 2015!
Whatever your wish for yourself during the coming year I hope it comes true. Stay hungry, stay free, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Five is Alive

‘Tis the season to be jolly, so why not give the gift of fear this Christmas? You could dress up in a red suit and set out on a spree of eggnog fueled home invasions or alternatively you could just stay home and pick up a copy of Demonic Visions Book #5.   
This latest installment in this series contains another fifty tales of the macabre that will have you checking the closet for monsters and sleeping with the light on. I’m back for my fifth go-around too with a dark story of guilt and regret found within the eye of a perfect storm.
There is no need to wait for Halloween to roll around again; you can snag a copy of DEMONIC VISIONS #5 right now for your kindle or nook.
Happy Horror-days!

Monday, December 8, 2014

OEP Sale

Those good people over at One Eye Press want to help you fill your virtual stockings. In the spirit of the season all their Kindle editions are on sale for just 99¢ each throughout the month of December, including my western magnum opus, Gospel Of the Bullet. If you prefer your holiday reading old school then purchase the paperback and OEP will throw in the e-book for free. You can't say fairer than that. 
Click HERE to be magically transported to an Amazon winter wonderland.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Last Rites

Duck you suckers!

Hey, wait a minute, isn’t that one-eyed Frigga again?

Ain’t that always the way? You wait ages for one Shotgun Honey story and then two come along at the same time.

Well, this isn’t your usual ride and this time it’s only partly my fault.
I’m delighted to say that my brother, life coach and partner in crime, RYAN SAYLES and I are equally to blame for the very first collaborative story ever to be published at Shotgun Honey. I know, cool right? Right.

The idea of writing colab stories is something we’ve kicked around the Zelmer Pulp locker room a few times, but for one reason or another we never really got around to doing it. So back in the summer Ryan and I decided to give it a shot. LAST RITES is the result. It's kind of a love story or maybe a love gone bad story would be a better description. We actually wrote the second half of it first. That was on me. I took the girl’s part, because Ryan told me I was in touch with my feminine side (yeah, whatever, bro). When I had the ending down, I sent it over to Ryan who set the whole thing up beautifully from the guy’s point of view and seamlessly linked the two halves together. I kind of hate that he did it better than I could have, but I’ll get over myself. Telling a whole story in just 700 words can be tough, as I’ve said on here before. Telling half of one in 350 was an absolute blast.

I’m kind of proud of the fact that we have broken some new ground with this one. Maybe one day we’ll try a longer piece, but for now why not hop on over to SHOTGUN HONEY and give us a little sugar, sugar.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lights Out Tonight

In June of last year I had a flash story published at SHOTGUN HONEY. I took the title and my inspiration for it from the Springsteen track of the same name. Eighteen months down the road and that piece is now about to be published again, this time it’s alongside stories from guys such as Dennis Lehane and James Grady.
If you are wondering just how in the hell shooting the shit on Facebook with my sometime editor JOE CLIFFORD turned into the most anticipated book of 2014, you can read about it HERE and HERE. I know a lot of people have been waiting a long time for this. If it’s any consolation I guess I’ve been waiting all my life. TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND hits the shelves on December 1st.  You can pre-order it right now from Amazon. There are way better stories in there than mine, but like the boss says, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Roadkill Review: Wake Up Time To Die by Chris Rhatigan

WAKEUP TIME TO DIE is a stunning collection of shorts from author and All Due Respect front-man Chris Rhatigan. I had the privilege of reading this long before its summer release date, but being a lazy SOB it has taken me this long to getting around to reviewing it.
WUTTD is a hard book to slap a label on so I’m not going to try. The stories in this collection run the gambit from crime to horror to something else entirely.  Chris Rhatigan has the wonderful knack of making the familiar seem strange and the strange appear down right odd. These 12 superbly crafted tales are full of loners and losers that exist in the space between the edges. Their world is a place where Furbies pack heat and nothing is how it seems.
Rhatigan cuts his noir with Novocain, his prose is sharp as a junkie’s needle and his premise as hazy as the morning after. WUTTD is by turns darkly humorous, somewhat disturbing and always entertaining. Read this and I guarantee you’ll be jonesing for another hit. The highlight for me was “The Things I Need To Be A Hitman” which may just be the best short I have read this year. This is one habit you need. Go buy the book, you can thank me later.
Kneel before AMAZOD

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Blues, Mary The Blues

Is there anybody alive out there?
If there is then I expect you’ve been wondering much the same thing. Well, I’m still here...sort of. I’ll admit I have been letting this place slide of late. Life has developed this annoying habit of getting in the way of fiction. You know how that goes, right?
Anyhow, it’s high time I got back in the saddle and what better way to do so than with a brand new piece of flash fiction over at SHOTGUN HONEY.  I haven’t written anything this short for a long time and I forgot just how liberating it can be. Just like the Boss, “I’m sick of sitting around here trying to write this book.”  But distilling a whole story into just 700 words is also a real challenge.
That word limit is why I dig SHOTGUN HONEY way more than any of the other online zines.  You have to bring your A game, every single word has to count. Delta Blues is probably one of the tightest pieces I’ve ever written. It’s also one of my favorites. If you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned love story then head on over and check it out.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Maybe I should Just Shoot You In The Face

It’s been a long dry spell for Zelmer Pulp, but after several trips to rehab and one custodial sentence we’re back with new blood, fresh ideas and clean underwear.  

MAYBE I SHOULD JUST SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE is our first collective venture into the dark, gritty world of noir. For the ZP team that meant they were going home and it shows. This issue features stories from all the regular ZP offenders, including new fish, Benoit LeLievre and Gareth Spark. In an attempt to make us more attractive to woman we have added New Jersey Noir photographer Mark Krajnak to the ZP roster. His stunning photography appears throughout the book. We are also delighted to have our old pal and father of Brit Grit Paul D. Brazill along for this ride.  

The Tesla version is available right now for your electronic trickery at the princely sum of just 99 cents and a dead tree version will be arriving just as soon as we have slashed and burned enough rainforest. Check out this doozy of a trailer and then go buy the thing. You won’t regret it. Well, you might, but by then I’ll be like 3 cent’s richer and probably living in some offshore tax haven. Hammer down!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Good, The Bad And The Books

You’ll have to excuse the tumbleweeds blowing around this place of late. It’s been a crazy few weeks here in the Leek household. In between running around the country with the day job, Georgie and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.  I ain’t nobody’s bargain and putting up with me for that length of time is no mean achievement on her part. The following weekend our Katie turned 21. Both of these events resulted in me getting slightly drunk and a little sentimental, but I figure I was probably entitled. We also had a real scare when my niece, Marina had to undergo emergency surgery. Thankfully she is fine now and recovering well.

While all of this was going on in the real world I have been burning the midnight oil in an attempt not to blow a DEMONIC VISIONS deadline and trying to keep on top of all the other stuff that goes along with having three books drop in the space of a week.
THE BIG ADIOS western digest, which I edit with head honcho, Ron Phillips and deputy dawg, Ryan Sayles made the leap from webzine to quarterly print and e-book. The debut issue features killer stories from the likes of Tom Pitts, Jim Wilsky, Aidan Thorn and ZP’s own Gareth Spark.
Hot on the heels of TBA was another debut, this time in the form of Craig McNeely’s DARK CORNERS. Weighing in at nearly 300 pages this pulp spectacular has reviews, interviews and some really great fiction. I have a western in this inaugural issue, which lines up alongside crime, noir and sci-fi in a glorious smorgasbord of pulp and genre fiction. ZP are well represented here too with both Chuck Regan and Ryan Sayles in the mix. Craig and his team have produced a hell of a magazine. Seriously, you should buy it.

Finally, this week saw the much anticipated (at least by me) release of my western novella GOSPEL OF THE BULLET. I can’t tell you how much that means to me, but I can tell you how grateful I am to Ron Phillips and ONE EYE PRESS for publishing it. A big shout also has to go out to my uber-talented ZP brother, Chuck Regan for creating the gorgeous cover. The initial reaction to GOSPEL has been universally positive and also little overwhelming.  If you have dropped your dime on it already then thank you, I hope you dig it.
The next few weeks should see a return to calmer waters, as another Chris once said, it’s been emotional.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chatterrific: Chris Leek talks GOSPEL OF THE BULLET

I'm over at Chatteriffic today, talking with Gerald So about my new novella, GOSPEL OF THE BULLET and all things western.

Chatterrific: Chris Leek talks GOSPEL OF THE BULLET: Mitchel McCann may have lost a war, but he never lost his belief. The preacher kept his faith throughout all the blood and the dying; trad...

Monday, September 8, 2014

The All New Badass Big Adios

Originating as a weekly online western fiction magazine, The Big Adios has graduated to a quarterly print digest with this debut issue featuring the works of David James Keaton, Tom Pitts, Jim Wilsky, Dawn Vogel, Paul Lorello, Robert Lowell Russell, Coy Hall, Aidan Thorn, Gareth Spark and Christopher Davis. Here you will find the west in all its guises. We’ve got the weird and the wild and a whole lot more besides.
The debut edition is out on 22nd September in both dead tree and electronic formats. You can pre-order it right HERE for your kindle doodad for the princely sum of a buck 99.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Gospel According To OEP

From the dark, weed smoke-entombed van came an English accented voice "Come, we have such sights to show you." – Brian Panowich.

As summer starts to fade like the beach town radio station on your long drive home. it's time for me to congratulate myself on avoiding the clutches of the reaper for another year. And it’s also time to get back in the saddle and tell you a little bit about my upcoming western novella, GOSPEL OF THE BULLET.  Well, actually it’s Ron Earl Phillips, head honcho of One Eye Press who is doing the telling, but I’m sure you’re good with that.

ONE EYE PRESS is excited as we hit the 6 week window to the release of our first western novella, GOSPEL OF THE BULLET by Chris Leek.
As a tease, please enjoy the cover reveal with art by C D REGAN. Chuck, as we know him, is a talented creator – designer, artist and writer – the whole enchilada. You can see some of his outstanding work in and on the many excellent ZELMER PULP collections.

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Price: $7.95 print $3.50 digital

Mitchel McCann may have lost a war, but he never lost his belief. The preacher kept his faith throughout all the blood and the dying; trading his pulpit for a saddle and delivering his sermons with a brace of Walker Colts. McCann still believes in God, but he is no longer sure that God believes in him. Now fate has given him a chance at redemption; the opportunity to save a life instead of taking one.

Justice Simpson was only seven years old when she lost father. She has been losing steadily ever since. The Yankee ball that did for Dan Simpson also killed his wife, Rosalee, although it took another nine years to do it. Alone and destitute on the unforgiving streets of Saint Joseph, Missouri, Justice knows that the sooner or later the bullet will find her too.

In the winter of 1872 the war is long over, but on the Kansas—Missouri border old wounds are slow to heal and they leave ugly scars. The past is something that neither the preacher nor the girl can escape.

All I can add to that are my thanks, firstly to Ron for making this happen and also to my ZP brother, Chuck for making it look drop dead gorgeous. As birthday’s go, this one is shaping up to be pretty good. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Zelmer Pulp Is Back!

That’s right, and this time we’ve brought friends.
While working on the Springsteen-inspired noir collection TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND with Gutter Books, we figured we'd be idiots not to capitalize on that tidal wave and we decided to start work on a noir collection all our own.

The end result is, MAYBE I SHOULD JUST SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE, a gritty no holds barred take on crime fiction that will leave you beaten, bloody and thirsting for more.  New Jersey-based photographer Mark Krajnak is contributing some stunning noir themed photographs to both the Springsteen collection and MISJSYITF, which will add a whole other dimension to our publications. The cover for MISJSYITF (above) is still a work in progress, but you get the idea.

If that wasn’t enough we have added 28.6% more awesome to the ZP gene pool with the permanent addition of Gareth Spark and Benoit Lelievre to the team. Gareth is one of England's leading noir voices and all-around hard-hitting presence, he came onboard as a guest writer for MISJSYITF and we soon realized we would be crazy not to ask him to stick around full time.  Ben is the eloquent but brutal mastermind behind the website DEAD END FOLLIES and author of numerous hardcore fiction pieces. There really wasn’t any discussion needed about inviting these two guys to join the party. Something just clicked. It just felt right. And there is no doubt that we will be stronger because of it.

Look out for MISJSYITF soon and for TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND in the fall.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Demonic Visions Book 4

Demonic Visions is back with another 50 tales of horror. The fourth book in this successful series includes many of the original writers from the previous volumes and one new addition in the shape of Ramsey Campbell, who is widely regarded as one of the best British horror writers working in the genre today. While I can’t hope to compete with horror royalty like Mr. Campbell, my story, The Persistence of Memory is probably my strongest work to date in this arena. In it I explore a different kind of Hell and how one person is doomed to live it every day.

If horror is your thang, you can pick up DEMONIC VISIONS #4 right now. It's available in both e-reader and dead tree formats from that evil on-line empire. You know the place, the one that keeps a roof over the head of us indie author types.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Roadkill Review: Federales by Christopher Irvin

Buy from Amazon
In a country where corruption is a way of life and drug cartels own the police, Federal Agents like Marcos Camarena are the exceptions, not the rule. Marcos had devoted himself to his job and worked hard to bring the men who are murdering his country to justice, but even good men have their limits. His wife has already left him and now with his life under threat Marcos leaves too. He quits law enforcement and moves from Mexico City to a small coastal town.

Marcos is done fighting the good fight. He has lost his crusade against the cartels. But when an old friend asks him to help the outspoken female politician, Eva Santos with hers, Marcos knows he can’t turn away.

Christopher Irvin shows us the real Mexico, the one that exists away from the Spring Breakers and the tourist beaches of Cancun. He does this by skillfully wrapping his fiction around the real life courage of an incredibly brave and determined woman, Maria Santos Gorrostieta (Google her, I’ll wait). This alone makes FEDERALES worthy of your time. However there is more than just political commentary here; there is also a damn good story. The easy paced narrative allows Irvin to give his characters real depth and I soon found myself deep in their world of paranoia, doubt and danger. Add to that a strong plot with a seriously good left turn and you know you’re on to a winner.
If I have one gripe, it’s that FEDERALES is just too short. I was hooked. I wanted to spend longer in the company of Marcos and Eva. There is bags of potential here, more than enough for a full-blown novel and I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that it was all over so quickly. As it stands FEDERALES is a seriously good novella, with Chris Irvin at the wheel it could have been a great novel too.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crime Storybundle

Is there anybody alive out there?  Yeah, I know, things have got kind of quiet around here of late. I blame the government. Well, I don’t specifically blame them for the lack of new content on my blog; I just blame them in general.

Anyway, you probably need to buy some new books, right? Good, thought so. In that case you should get over to Storybundle and pick up this month’s offer. For as little as $3 all in you can snag nine killer crime titles for your kindle machine, including titles from Jake Needham and Declan Burke. You’ll also get the EXILES charity anthology, edited by Paul D. Brazill. This features stories from some of the best indie crime writers working today, and another one from me. This deal is only available for another couple of weeks, so you best get on it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Casualties of War

Whatever your views may be on the Amazon / Hachette spat, please think carefully before jumping on board the 'boycott Amazon' bandwagon. As far as I can see, neither party is blameless and neither one is really in it for the good of the creative people who actually write the books. It’s all about the money. Regardless of which billion dollar corporation ends up having the biggest dick in this pissing contest, it is the small presses and indie authors who are getting a literary corn-holing.

I’m all for the freedom to choose. I want you to be able to purchase the books you love from a vendor of your choice. Amazon has the right not to stock Hachette’s titles in the same way that other bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble have the right not to stock titles published through Amazon’s publishing arm, Create Space. But as an author, who is signed to independent publishers I don’t have the luxury of choice. I know that Amazon has massive flaws, but it is the best and in the case of my self-published short story collection, SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM, the only viable platform I have.
Maybe, if people were to keep boycotting Amazon for the year or so it would take to make them financially sit up and take notice then things might start to change. It could even herald the arrival of new companies to provide both Amazon and the traditional publishers with some fresh competition, although somehow I doubt it. One thing I know for sure is that any prolonged embargo will mean the end for a lot of small presses and indie authors who depend on Amazon to get their words out into the world. If you stop buying your books from Amazon, for thousands of writers that means you stop buying their books period.
I have a day job. If you don’t buy my books I can still pay my mortgage and feed my family. That’s not the case for every independent author and publisher. It’s all about the money for them too.


Monday, June 2, 2014

All Due Respect #3

Go get some awesome!
ALL DUE RESPECT is back with another killer issue, featuring the likes of Jake Hinkson, Angel Luis Colon, Patti Abbott, Jessica Adams, Mike McCrary, Rob Hart, Alec Cizak, Jen Conley, and yours truly. Being published in ADR is a pretty big honor. High quality crime fiction magazines are hard to find these days and even harder to get into. ALL DUE RESPECT is right at the top of the tree.

Huge thanks to Chris Rhatigan and Mike Monson for allowing me to lower the tone of their excellent publication.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Roadkill Review: Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto

If you have heard of Nic Pizzolatto, the chances are it will be because you watched, True Detective. I saw the first couple of episodes, but found myself struggling to connect with the story. I’m not a big fan of ritual and occult themed stuff. However, I had no problem connecting with Pizzolatto’s debut novel, GALVESTON; in fact I couldn’t put the damn thing down.

Roy Cady is a bagman for the New Orleans mob. The newly diagnosed cancer in his lungs and his past indiscretions both mean that his time is nearly up. Roy knows that the routine job he is sent on by his boss is just a thinly disguised attempt to hasten his demise. The hit doesn’t go as planned and a blood-soaked explosion of violence somehow ends with Roy as the last man standing, or as Lleweyln Moss put it, the ultimate hombre.
The last woman standing is Rocky, a beaten-up teenage prostitute who turned the wrong trick that night. Roy is no knight in shinning armor, but even a hard bitten ex-con like him can’t bring himself to leave this young girl to her fate. They take off together, heading west along a road littered with dive bars, low-rent motels and shattered dreams. Neither Roy nor Rocky seem to have much of a future and it’s hard for them to see what’s coming when they have to keep looking over their shoulders.
Nic Pizzolatto’s concise prose paints a colorful yet unsentimental picture of the south that at times reminded me a little of Gifford or Crumley. Although Pizzolatto's descriptions of the run-down towns of the gulf coast almost verge on the poetic in places, they never get in the way of the story. His characters soon become flesh and you find yourself being pulled into their ashed-out world of tough breaks and faint hopes. It would require a heart of stone not to feel for Rocky as she tries so hard to keep from fucking-up again.
While the narrative is prone to jump around at times and there is nothing particularly ground breaking about the plot, these picky gripes are easily washed away by the sheer power of Pizzolatto’s writing. GALVESTON may just be my read of the year. It’s a brutal, haunting and beautifully doomed piece of noir with a finale that feels like a knife being twisted in your guts. As John Travolta once exclaimed, I say, god damn what a rush!
Seriously, you need to read this.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology

While I was kicking back in Croatia with the family, EXILES hit the street. This charity anthology from Blackwitch Press is the brain child of Brit Grit supremo, Paul D. Brazill. The stories in this collection all share the common theme of ‘Outsiders’ and when Paul asked me to contribute I was in like Flynn. I mean who wouldn’t be? Just look at this line up.


All proceeds from this anthology go to the Marfan Foundation, in aid of people suffering from Marfan syndrome and with the Kindle edition priced at 99c / 77p there really is no excuse for you not to buy a copy.
You can read about the inspiration for my story, Shut Out The Light over at Paul’s blog today.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Light 'Em Up

Well, here it is. My debut short story collection, SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM has just staggered out into the daylight like a used car salesman after a liquid lunch, blinking in the harsh glare and wondering what the hell those stains are on his pants. This is kind of a big deal for me—the book that is, not the stains. Smoke 'Em is my first solo publication and as such, the crutch afforded me by the other writers that have previously surrounded my work anthologies and collections has been pulled away leaving me feeling a little exposed. And now, just like that drunk salesman, my words will have to stand on their own.
SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM documents my rite of passage as author. The eighteen stories in this collection stretch all the way back down that dusty highway to where I started out. They show you how I got to where I stand today and there are some new ones which will take you little further on up the road to where I am heading next.
Putting this collection together wasn’t just a case of vomiting every story I had into the Amazon dumpster and calling it a book. I was very careful about what I brought with me and what I left behind. Ryan Sayles helped me a lot with that. In fact Ryan helped me a lot, period. The end result is a book that I am damn proud of.

You can pick up Smoke 'Em right now for a shade under two bucks. That works out to around 11 cents a story. I don’t know if any of you good people out there will actually buy the thing, but many thanks if you do, I hope you dig it.
Click here to buy from Amazon UK

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Willy Vlautin has to be one of the world’s best kept secrets. His heart breaking, beautifully written novels seem to slip past largely unnoticed, while his band, Richmond Fontaine have been releasing some of the best alternative country music you’ll find anywhere for better than a decade now, again mostly under the radar.

The debut album from his new outfit, The Delines should go a long way to changing all that. This latest venture sees Willy’s painfully honest lyrics given a new, more soulful sound by the gloriously world-weary voice of Amy Boone (The Damnations). The end result is just simply stunning.

COLFAX is an exquisite collection of songs, full of regret and longing that are in turn both moving and inspiring. This is late night music to be played soft and low; a soundtrack to the small hours that tugs at your heart like the memories of a lost love. Check out the beat-down beauty of it all right here and then do yourself a solid, go buy the album. You can thank me later.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Maybe I Should Just Shoot You In The Face?

Apart from working through the frustratingly slow process of getting our Springsteen based crime anthology, TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND (did I mention both Dennis Lehane AND Ryan Sayles are in it?) out into the world, it’s been quiet pretty on the Zelmer Pulp front, too quiet. 
All that is about to change with this dark hit of Noir. The talented Isaac Kirkman is taking a well earned break, but MAYBE I SHOULD JUST SHOOT YOU IN THE FACE will feature stories from all the other Zelmer regulars, Brain Panowich, Chuck Regan, Ryan Sayles, Chris Leek and our very special guest, Gareth Spark. Add to that an introduction by Brit Grit Legend, Paul D. Brazill and you have a book that will bring world peace, stop global warming and get you pregnant*. This puppy should be rubbing up your leg in the next couple of weeks.

*These are lies. This book will not do any of those things and any conception that may occur while reading it is purely coincidental.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Roadkill Review: The Axeman of Storyville by Heath Lowrance

Buy from Amazon
The Year is 1921 and Gideon Miles has left the badlands of Wyoming for a new life in New Orleans. The retired US Marshall is now running a swinging nightclub in the heart of the city, where the jazz is always hot and the beer served ice cold. Miles may be on the wrong side of sixty, but when the town’s prostitutes are targeted by a vicious axe murderer, he once again finds himself on the trail of killer.

Heath Lowrance is the man in charge of Edward A. Grainger’s character in this taught and exciting thriller. His evocative rendering of The Big Easy in the roaring twenties provides a wonderful backdrop to the grizzly murders being investigated by Miles.
Many will be familiar with the real life and still unsolved axe murders that took place in New Orleans during 1918. Lowrence has taken these events and skillfully woven his fictional narrative around them. The end result is a tightly written novella, which is never found wanting for either pace or plot. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Big Adios Submission and Release Schedule

Just in case you missed it, here's a quick update on TBA.

The editors of The Big Adios would like to thank everyone for a successful submission cycle. Our first cycle concluded yesterday, April 14th. A lot of good stories that should fill our first two issues. We do apologize for delays in responding to submissions, but we don’t want to make any quick decisions and we will be reviewing the final stories over the next couple weeks with final decisions by May 1st.
You guys have made it hard to decide. Because this is our first magazine release, balancing production and standards we have decided to delay the release of issue 1 until September 8th, with the second issue falling in the first/second week of December. We want to make this just right for our readers and our contributors.
Thank you for your support and good luck to those eying final selections.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Roadkill Review: A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones

When hunter, John Moon accidentally shoots a runaway girl while poaching deer on state land he has to make a choice. His dilemma is made worse by the drugs and cash he finds hidden at her campground. Whatever he decides, the consequences will be something he can neither predict nor control.  

A Single Shot is a taught thriller that drags you along in the emotional wake of John Moon’s guilt and necessity. Early on the plot put me in mind of Cormac McCarthy’s, No Country For Old Men, but as the story progresses it is soon plain to see that John Moon is more than just a cut and paste rehash of McCarthy’s, Llewlyn Moss. Moon is a man with a strong set of beliefs, he has his own code. But his downward spiral started long before he pulled the trigger and in the best traditions of noir no matter how hard he tries, his subsequent actions only seem to hasten that decent.  
Make no mistake this is a gritty and harrowing novel that deals with some pretty dark subject matter. The narrative is largely well paced and genuinely engaging, but it does suffer from occasional unexplained flat spots, which can leave you feeling a little puzzled, like finding a few feet of smooth blacktop in the middle of a rutted farm track. This minor grumble is more than made up for by Jones’ wonderfully authentic dialogue and his strong sense of place.
I fear that many of those lured in by Daniel Woodrell’s curious and at times almost disparaging introduction will have their resolve sorely tested by the disturbing nature of A Single Shot. The violence and the graphic sexual scenes will no doubt alienate a lot of casual readers.  
While A Single Shot may never be a book that is clutched lovingly to the breast of mainstream country noir, if you are an aficionado of the genre it is a book that you won’t want to miss. I found it to be a well written and thought provoking read.
Thanks to my buddy, Brian Panowich for turning me on to this one.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Demonic Visions Book 3

The third volume in the DEMONIC VISIONS series, edited by Chris Robertson is here. This edition includes 49 tales the macabre from some fine horror writers and another one from some hack called Chris Leek.
There is no doubt that I always feel a little out of my comfort zone writing in this genre, but I figure a good horror story should make you feel uncomfortable. My contribution to this edition is, WET WORK. It’s the story of man fighting his demons, both real and imagined. I tend to write psychological horror, rather than all out splatter and gore, although having said that there is some face melting involved in this one.  

The E-book of DEMONIC VISIONS BOOK 3 is out right now and a dead tree edition will be available in the next few days. If horror is your bag, check it out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Roadkill Review: The Big Rain by Paul D. Brazill

Luke Case is a down-at-heel newspaper hack with a nose for trouble and a taste for strong drink. In this, the forth installment of his story we find him walking the dangerous back streets of a rain-washed Toulouse. Just like Luke’s earlier European adventures in Warsaw and Madrid and Grenada, THE BIG RAIN is chocked full of seedy characters, double dealing and old scores that bleed like open wounds.
Paul Brazill is a writer who knows his business. He delivers the kind of dark and gritty story that ticks all of the boxes. His easy style and wry sense of humor make THE BIG RAIN a very enjoyable read.

All of the Luke Case stories can be read as standalone works, but if you want to really immerse yourself in Luke’s world of dive bars, bad deals and dead ends, I recommend starting with, RED ESPERANTO and going from there. If you like your noir dark and moody with plenty of style then you won’t be disappointed.   
I haven’t reviewed anything on here (or anywhere else) for a coon’s age. I’m going to make an effort to review more regularly from now on, but I ain’t making no promises!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gospel of the Bullet

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that One Eye Press will be publishing my western novella, GOSPEL OF THE BULLET. Here’s the official word.

Knights and Preachers, One Eye Press Announces New Singles.
On the coattails of the release of Federales by Christopher Irvin, One Eye Press is enthusiastic in announcing the next two releases from the Singles Line.

To those who picked up a copy of Federales our next release for June 10th is no surprise. White Knight by Bracken MacLeod has a little excerpt included in the back of the debut Singles release. Bracken hit One Eye Press by storm last year with submissions being accepted in all three publications: Shotgun Honey, Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, and The Big Adios. And with the release of his first novel, Mountain Home, when we were offered a chance read his novella White Knight, how could we say no?
White Knight by Bracken MacLeod (June 10, 2014)

Once, he had imagined himself slaying dragons and making the monsters pay. But his armor was wearing thin as the women who drifted through his office haunted him with the same, hard-bought lie: “I want to drop the charges.” Every bruised face and split lip reminded the prosecutor of the broken home he’d escaped. So when Marisol Pierce appeared with an image of her son and a hint that she was willing to take a step away from the man abusing her, he made a promise he couldn’t keep.
A promise that could cost him everything.

Now, he’s in a race against time to find the boy, save the damsel, and himself from a dragon no one can leash before everything in his world is burned to cinders. This is his last chance to be a White Knight.
Some men only know how to do hard things the hard way.

Our third novella is a western that tests a man’s faith in Gospel of the Bullet by Chris Leek. Chris Leek is also a contributor to Shotgun Honey and Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, and has  been a valuable editor for The Big Adios. The man spins a fantastic western yarn that we’d swear that he has Missouri mud shipped to the UK just so he can become one with the West.
Gospel of the Bullet by Chris Leek (September 16, 2014)

Mitchel McCann may have lost a war, but he never lost his belief. The preacher kept his faith throughout all the blood and the dying; trading his pulpit for a saddle and delivering his sermons with a brace of Walker Colts. McCann still believes in God, but he is no longer sure that God believes in him. Now fate has given him a chance at redemption; the opportunity to save a life instead of taking one.
Justice Simpson was only seven years old when she lost her father. She has been losing steadily ever since. The Yankee ball that did in Dan Simpson also killed his wife, Rosalee, although it took another nine years to do it. Alone and destitute on the unforgiving streets of Saint Joseph, Missouri, Justice knows that the sooner or later the bullet will find her too.

In the winter of 1872 the war is long over, but on the Kansas—Missouri border old wounds are slow to heal and they leave ugly scars. The past is something that neither the preacher nor the girl can escape.
Chris Irvin and Bracken MacLeod are both damn fine writers and I’m honored to be in such esteemed company.

GOSPEL OF THE BULLET was a real blast to write and it’s a book that’s very close to my heart. I’m really stoked that y’all are going to get the chance to read it.
See, I told you the western ain’t dead!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Smoke Em If You Got Em

Yeah, I know it’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been up against it of late. This is largely my own fault as I tend to follow a writing process that consists of several weeks of intense planning (procrastination) followed by a brief period of blind panic and actual writing when I realize the deadline is only two days away.

In between times I’ve been working with Ryan Sayles on putting together a collection of my short fiction. The result of this madness will be unleashed on an unsuspecting world in the next month or so and just to whet your appetite here’s a sneaky peak at the awesome cover, designed by Kit Foster.
SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM includes eighteen tales filled with loners, losers, cheap women and cheaper liquor. You know how I roll. But this isn’t just a case of grabbing everything from my hard drive and dumping it into a book. Ryan and I thought long and hard about the feel and content of the collection. I wanted SMOKE EM to provide new readers with a good introduction to my work and I also wanted to give the select few that have actually heard of me something new to chew on. I think it will do just that—at least I hope it will.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Springsteen and I AKA Trouble In The Heartland

I had to keep quiet about this project for a long time, but seeing as it blew up Facebook yesterday, I guess I can talk about it here too.

Let’s roll the clock back a few years…okay, quite a lot of years. Its 1984, I’m fifteen and my face times its breakouts to co-inside perfectly with any social event involving the opposite sex. I steal cigarettes from my pal’s mom, because I think smoking them makes me look cool (trust me kids, it doesn’t, but you’ll probably still do it anyway.) I have a leather jacket, bad grades, and an unhealthy obsession with Pat Benatar. In the middle of all this, Bruce Springsteen releases the BORN IN THE USA album and for me, nothing is ever quite the same again. Here was a dude singing about Vietnam, blue collar Joes and the broken American dream. I may have been living an ocean way, but those songs spoke to me, and I mean directly to me. Dancing in the Dark? You better believe I was. Bruce told me how it was and I listened—I have been listening ever since.

Roll forwards again to 2014. I’m forty four. The acne is long gone, but now my face has a permanently bewildered look that comes from the realization I’m middle aged. I have a pack a day habit that I can’t kick, a wife that I love, a job I hate and an unhealthy obsession with Pat Benatar. I got to chase my own runaway American dream for a while and I know that my glory days are largely in the rearview mirror. I’m good with that (most of the time.) I’m still dancing in the dark, but I’m a goddamn writer now, so the world can go suck it.
Bruce Springsteen has now been providing the sound track to my life for better than 25 years and it should be pretty obvious to most of you that he is a huge influence on my work as a writer too. He’s the finest storyteller I know (and I know Isaac Kirkman.)
Anyhow, last year I was shooting the shit with Joe Clifford and we got to talking about how much we both dug Bruce Springsteen, and how his songs have many of the same qualities present in good crime fiction. Boom! We suddenly hit on the idea of a crime fiction anthology with stories inspired by Springsteen song titles. Joe was up for editing it, my ZP brother and fellow Springsteen fan, Brian Panowich was in like Flynn too. The rest of the Zelmer guys weren’t far behind. We started to invite a few people to contribute stories and the response was completely overwhelming. Who knew so many top crime writers were Springsteen fans?
What we first envisaged as a cool little anthology soon became something way, way bigger than any of us could have imagined. The eight months that followed have been full of lawyers, contracts, frayed tempers and frustrations, but thanks largely to Joe’s dogged determination and Ryan Sayles’ unfailing optimism, we made it. Like the song says: Talk about a dream, try to make it real.
Chuck Regan has once again delivered a killer cover. This isn’t the final version, but it’s pretty close to it. TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND will be available from all good bookstores (and probably a few crappy ones too) this summer. Profits from the anthology will be going to The Bob Woodruff Foundation, who offer help and support to our veterans and their families, so there really will be no excuse not to hammer down on this one. 

Monday, February 10, 2014



Well now, here’s a thing. Blackwitch Press has something a bit tasty in the works. EXILES is a charity anthology featuring around 20 tales of loners, losers and outsiders, all penned by seriously good crime writers, and it’s being edited by a great one, Paul D. Brazill. I have managed to blag my way into it too, but don’t let that put you off. I’ll let you know details of who, when and how much just as soon as I have them.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Time is burning me up right now, so things have gotten a little quiet around here. But here’s a cool deal that you might dig. Storybundle has some awesome books on deck and they can be yours for… well, for whatever you want to pay for them. 
This is how it works, you shell out $3 and you get the first four books, which include the Demonic Visions anthology, featuring yours truly. You cough up a ten spot and you get those four plus three more bonus books. So that’s seven books for less than a buck-and-a-half a piece. You even get to decide who gets the money, Storybundle or the authors. The books are available for Kindle, or if you’re one of those people who just refuses to admit they were wrong then you will be pleased to know that you can also get the bundle on your Nook and possibly even on your Betamax VCR.  

Hammer down right here: STORYBUNDLE
Radio silence and occasional static not withstanding, I’ll see you on the other side.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Adios Pardner

It’s time to say a big adios to The Big Adios, well, sort of. A little over a year since we started publishing online, the best short western fiction site on the web is breaking camp and heading off into the sunset. The last story will be published on the website next month. We were fortunate to host some damn fine stories from some very talented writers, unfortunately submission levels never really got out of second gear.

I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not as if there are a whole lot of other places putting out quality westerns. No doubt some of you are now nodding your heads in an, I told you so kind of way and saying how the western is deader than disco. I have made my views known on that subject before, both here and at the ZP BLOG. This isn’t the end of the road for the western or for The Big Adios.

Head Honcho, Ron Earl Phillips has taken the bull by the horns and in May 2014, in conjunction with Ron’s publishing company, One Eye Press, The Big Adios will begin a new life as a quarterly western magazine, featuring 10 thrilling short stories inspired by the Wild West and will be available in both digital and print formats. For all you writers out there, The Big Adios will now be a paying market.
We are accepting submissions through until April 14th to fill the slots for issues 1 and 2. If you are familiar the guidelines on the website then you already have a good idea of what we want, only this time we are looking for stories up to 5000 words, so you now have plenty of space to fully develop your characters and plots.   
I enjoy a good tale of blood, grit and bullets as much as the next guy. But see that box? Good. Now try to think outside it. I would love to read a story about the black cowboys of the Oklahoma Range, or the Asian-American soldiers who fought on both sides during the civil war, or the silver boom towns of Nevada or any one of a thousand other stories that are still waiting to be told. And remember, the American West still exists today; it’s the feel of the story that is important, not necessarily the time or even the place in which it is set.
Full details are available on the ONE EYE PRESS SUBMISSIONS page, so hop on over and as 80’s rock goddess, Pat Benatar once said: hit us with your best shot.
In the meantime please continue to stop by THE BIG ADIOS website; we have some really great stories scheduled to round things off over there.