"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of "The Collector" series, The Killing Kind, and Red Right Hand.

"A refreshingly new voice in noir." --Ed Kurtz, author of Nothing You Can Do and The Rib From Which I Remake the World.

"A glorious boilermaker of noir and East Coast gothic. The action is taut as a sprung snare and Bagley tightens the screws with every page." -- Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase and Blood Standard.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The spring '09 issue of Spinetingler is live, locked and loaded. This time around, there's new fiction by Anthony Rainone, Stephen D. Rogers, Fiona Kay Crawford, Graham "Crimespot" Powell and others. Sandra Ruttan interviews Russel D. McLean. Jim Napier talks with Phyllis Smallman. Brian Lindenmuth grills Craig McDonald. There are reviews of books by Linda L. Richards, Sean Chercover, Tom Schreck and more, more, more. All of that, plus an excerpt of Declan Burke's hard-hitting novel The Big O.

Short Houses with Wide Porches

There is an excellent review of Christopher Watkins' debut poetry collection, Short Houses with Wide Porches, at the Hayden's Ferry Review blog. Reviewer Meghan Brinson writes, "the relish with which the language of these poems captures and caresses the seen world is a reminder that though there may never be enough time to experience every detail of the ever-changing world, there is, however, enough time to enjoy it."

Friday, June 26, 2009

John Connolly: Of Blood and Lost Things

The 12th Annual Maine International Film Festival runs from July 10-19 in Waterville. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner is Arthur Penn, director of Bonnie and Clyde and Little Big Man.

For me, though, the big excitement comes from a short film about one of the best novelists in the crime biz, John Connolly. Check out this description from the festival's website:

John Connolly: Of Blood and Lost Things
Ireland 2009 Digital Projection 52 Minutes in English
Director: Maurice Sweeney
Print Courtesy: Tyrone Productions

Why hasn’t Irish born, best-selling author, John Connolly ever set one of his books in Ireland? His signature character, former NYPD officer, now P.I., Charlie Parker lives in Maine. Maine figures predominately in almost every one of his twelve books. In the latest Parker novel, The Lovers, the lead character works as a bartender at the Portland landmark, The Great Lost Bear. Shooting the majority of the film’s footage in Maine, director Maurice Sweeney shows the influence of the place on the writer and looks at how Connolly’s oeuvre constitutes its own universe, creation myth or parallel Bible. The topography of Maine and its bloody history reaching back to the early settlers are well used by the author in the crime genre, which has a long tradition in the US. Fans of Connolly’s writing will be delighted to learn more about him. Those unfamiliar with his books will be lead on a journey of discovery through images of Maine in winter combined with excerpts from his stories.

This film will be shown 6:45 pm on Friday, July 10 at Railroad Square Cinema. For ticket information and directions, visit MIFF’s website. In addition to attending the screening, John Connolly will sign books at The Children’s Book Cellar (owned by my friend Ellen Richmond). The Children’s Book Cellar is located at 52 Main Street in Waterville. The time of the signing has not yet been set, but you can bet I’ll post it here as soon as the information becomes available.

See you there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can't Get Enough Stark?

Over at Sarah Weinman's blog, there's an excellent post about Richard Stark's Parker novels, Parker's work ethic and Darwyn Cooke's soon-to-be-released adaptation of The Hunter. She's included some links for further reading and the whole thing is well worth your time. As much as I enjoyed most of Donald Westlake's work, the books he wrote as Stark remain my favorites.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Having a good Father's Day so far. I got some books that I'd wanted. This afternoon, we're grilling brats and burgers to go with Tonia's kick-ass potato salad. The kids are happy and having fun, despite the dreary weather. So, yeah...it's shaping up to be a nice, peaceful day.

I need to get some work done. Been having anxiety attacks about what passes for my writing career. I'm talking about bouts of panic that keep you awake until 3 a.m. because your heart races every few minutes and your mind can't shut down. All you want to do is turn off those negative thoughts and get some sleep, but they won't leave you alone. It isn't just Bitter Water Blues and the WIP that wound me up; there are other, more mundane problems, too.

So I'm working today. Writing, even if it's only revision, makes me happy and takes my mind off everything else. It's what I need right now.

Song for the day: "It Ain't Easy" by Shooter Jennings

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Good Day for Sophie

Sophie Littlefield's debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, has garnered positive reviews from both Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly. Kirkus says, "First-timer Littlefield creates characters with just the right quirks who charm even in the face of unrealistic plot turns." A Bad Day for Sorry is coming in August from Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur ($24.95). Watch for it.

Call for Submissions

Gerald So has announced that he and his co-editors (Richie Narvaez, Sarah Cortez and Anthony Rainone) are now taking submissions for the third issue of The Lineup: Poems on Crime. Go here for all the info. The Lineup #2 has been out for a month or so, and issue #1 is still available. And if you're a real fan--and you are, aren't you?--you can now buy The Lineup hats and t-shirts.

Hey, you didn't think I'd stop hyping this thing just because I'm no longer on the editorial board, did you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hey, Get a Load of Quertermous

Bryon Quertermous has put together a little collection of some of his nastiest (and that's saying something) short stories. But, wait a minute...I'll let Bryon give you the lowdown himself:

I collected three of my favorite stories that had been previously published online or in small circulation magazine but are now almost impossible to find and bundled them together in a collection I'm calling A Load of Quertermous.

Featured in the collection are the following stories:
"Load" - The tale of a sperm back robbery in Detroit gone off the rails.
"Mr. Saturday Special" - A little ditty about a private detective inFlint, MI who spends his daughter's birthday helping his ex-wife's lawyer save his son from jail.
"Alter Road" - A story that follows a preacher with a violent past whofaces the greatest test of faith and grace when his son is murdered by hillbilly meth dealers.

I've also written brand new introductions for all three stories discussing their creation and the inspiration behind them. This collection is available now for the amazing low price of $1.99 and can be had as PDF file for reading on any computer (or for printing to read on the train or in bed or wherever) or as a download for the Amazon Kindle. The Amazon download is immediate but the PDF will come once PayPal sends me an email indication a donation has been made and then I'll zip it off to the email address used for the donation. You can find all of the necessary information at http://loadofquertermous.blogspot.com

Here's a Question for You Readerly and Writerly Type People

Short stories that get expanded into novels.

Good? Bad? Cheesy? Drawbacks? Advantages?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Sign of Four

J. Kingston Pierce and the Rap Sheet mob challenged crime writer/bloggers to play this "Fours" meme. Since I was a good boy and got some writing done today, I'll take a shot at it.

4 movies you would watch over and over again:
The Big Lebowski
L.A. Confidential
The Goonies

4 places you have lived:
Utica, New York (I was born there)
Herkimer, New York
Hollywood, California
Friendship, Maine

4 TV shows you love to watch:
Doctor Who
Battlestar Galactica
Law & Order

4 places you have been on vacation:
The family camp on Haymock Lake
Pemaquid Point/New Harbor, Maine (my favorite place to go)
Tijuana, Mexico (don't ask)
New Hampshire

4 of your favorite foods:
tomato sandwiches
Spanish rice

4 web sites you visit daily:
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
The Huffington Post
Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine

4 places you would rather be right now:
At Pemaquid Point, no matter what the weather.
Heading due north.

4 things you want to do before you die:
See Bitter Water Blues get published.
Write and publish several other novels.
See polar bears in the wild.
See great white sharks from inside a diving cage. Seriously.

4 books you wish you could read again for the first time:
The Long Home by William Gay
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Norwood by Charles Portis
The Grifters by Jim Thompson

Tag 4 people you think will respond:
Chris Holm
Stephen Blackmoore
Keith Rawson
Clair Dickson

Kieran Shea in EQMM

Kieran Shea is one of my favorite "new" writers. The man has some serious chops. His story "The Lifeguard Method" appears in the August issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, available at newsstands and bookstores everywhere. It's a P.I. story, which Kieran admits isn't his usual thing. I can't wait to see what he did to put his own blood-stained stamp on the genre. You'll be sorry if you miss this one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Carl Brookins Digs UNCAGE ME

Carl Brookins, author of several mystery novels, read Uncage Me without flinching. You can check out his insightful review here.

Hat tip to Stephen Blackmoore.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where’d I Put Those Finnish-Language Instructional Tapes?

Juri Nummelin reports that the third issue of his flash fiction magazine Ässä is about to be unleashed upon the Finnish-speaking world. This time around, Ässä features translations of short-shorts by Joe R. Lansdale, Sandra Scoppettone, James McGowan, Patti Abbott, Paul “Braz Knuckles” Brazill and yours truly in addition to new writing by Tapani Bagge and Juri himself.

Cool thing #1: “One More Mess” is the first of my stories ever to be translated into another language. I'm still riding the buzz from that.

Cool thing #2: I have a story in the same magazine as Joe R. Lansdale, author of the "Hap and Leonard" series and Bubba Ho-Tep. That's not to say any of the other featured writers are slouches. They're all damn good. But I've admired Lansdale's work for at least twenty years and it's a treat to share literary space with him, even though I can't read a word of Finnish.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Queen of the Blues

Koko Taylor died yesterday, from complications during surgery. She was 80 years old. I had the great pleasure of seeing her perform at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in 1995. Man, what a show. Koko Taylor was one of the blues' most powerful, soulful and distinctive voices.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Maybe It's Just Me, But...

Most books in which the protagonist is a novelist, poet or reporter bore me to death. There are a few exceptions, like Tony Black's Gus Dury, Quoyle from The Shipping News or Laura Lippman's Tess Monahan.* After writing fiction most of the day, I don't usually want to read fiction about writers.

*Yes, I realize that Dury and Monahan are ex-journalists.