“Heritage” at Shotgun Honey

Shotgun HoneyI’m pleased to report that my new short story “Heritage” is now available at Shotgun Honey!

“Heritage” is set in Superior, Wisconsin, where my father was born and raised. The action takes place on a snowy New Year’s Eve.

This is my first story at Shotgun Honey since December 2012. I was an editor at the site for most of 2013 and all of 2014 and 2015. It’s a thrill to be back as a writer!

Like many of my short stories, “Heritage” shares its title with a song by The Throes, a great band.

I hope you enjoy it.

“It Bothers Me” in Thuglit

ThuglitThe March/April 2015 issue of THUGLIT (available for Kindle and in paperback) includes stories by Eric Beetner, Rob Hart, Ed Kurtz, Bracken MacLeod, Mark Rapacz, Devon Robbins, and Scott Loring Sanders.

That’s what insiders call a great lineup.

The same issue features my short story “It Bothers Me.”

Though entirely fictional, “It Bothers Me” is set in the very real town of Wilmot, South Dakota. (Wilmot, not far from the South Dakota-Minnesota border, is so small that — as of the date of this post — Google Street View doesn’t even cover Main Street, just the two state roads that essentially serve as the town’s eastern and northern boundaries.)

My paternal great-grandparents lived in Wilmot, and I visited the town with my wife and parents a few years back. We didn’t get to stay as long as we would have liked, but every person we met in Wilmot was kind and had a warm smile.

Those people are not in my story.

Wilmot, South DakotaHere’s the opening of “It Bothers Me”:

Returning home wasn’t in my plans when I left Los Angeles. But the next morning, after filling my beat-up F-150 at a Flying J near Albuquerque, I plugged my old address into the GPS. Didn’t decide to do it, just did it. And followed the coolheaded British voice all 1,150 miles to Wilmot, South Dakota.

First thing I did there was visit Seth’s grave.

Pick up the March/April 2015 issue of THUGLIT to read the rest. (It’s currently available only for the Kindle, but should be available in paperback soon.) I hope you enjoy it!

By the way, as with many of my stories, I stole the title for “It Bothers Me” from a song by The Throes.

“Alive” in Needle Magazine

Needle Magazine Winter 2014-15I’m stoked to have ended 2014 with a short story in the same issue of NEEDLE Magazine as David Corbett, a tremendous author who was also a fantastic teacher in the LitReactor class I took from him a couple of years ago.

My short story “Alive” is in the Winter 2014-15 issue of NEEDLE, along with stories by David, Sarah Askins, Jeff Barr, C.M. Beckett, Nigel Bird, Kim Bradley, Steve De Jarnatt, Paul J. Garth, Ed Kurtz, Elahzar Rao, Chris Rhatigan, Albert Tucher, and Laura Woollett. Scott Morse did the excellent cover art.

“Alive” — which borrows its title from a song by The Throes — is set in January 1953. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Grigor Dragunov remembered when Leningrad was Petrograd. He also remembered when it was Saint Petersburg. No matter what the government decided to call the seaport city, it was a miserably cold place to live at the end of January. A bone-chilling wind leaked through the thin walls of his small third-floor apartment, and the moment he stepped out of bed his arthritis flared up. He swallowed two aspirin, as advised by his doctor — assuming the fool had a genuine medical degree, which Grigor doubted — but experience had taught him a better way to dull the pain: vodka.

NEEDLE’s always a fantastic read, full of top-notch fiction. I can’t wait to get my hands on this issue. You can buy a copy here.

By the way, David Corbett’s teaching a four-week LitReactor class starting January 13. Sign up for The Craft of Character. I promise you won’t regret it.

“Just One Moment” at BEAT to a PULP

Just One MomentThe e-zine BEAT to a PULP is one of my favorites, so I’m thrilled to be there with a new story, “Just One Moment.”

Published just in time for Valentine’s Day, this story starts with a romantic dinner at a fine restaurant in the City of Brotherly Love…

Angelina’s fingers slow-danced on the backs of my hands and her eyes dove into mine. “Just one moment,” she said. “Let me see if what we are was meant to be.” Her intoxicating smile tickled my brain.

Outside our favorite restaurant, early evening light grew dim and powdery snow covered Philadelphia’s streets and sidewalks with a fresh white blanket.

What could possibly go wrong?

One of the scenes in “Just One Moment” is set at PPL Park, the home stadium of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. Built on the banks of the Delaware River, it’s a spectacular venue. (The stadium is actually in the City of Chester, not Philadelphia.) Highly recommended if you ever get a chance to go.

Continue reading ““Just One Moment” at BEAT to a PULP”

“For the Honesty” at The Flash Fiction Offensive

TFFO LogoI’m thrilled to have a second story up at Out of the Gutter Online’s The Flash Fiction Offensive today.

“For the Honesty” is about the loving relationship between Bruce Burton and his wife Amber, how Bruce gives Amber a gold bracelet with a diamond charm, and so on. (That all happens in just the first sentence.)

With setup like that, “For the Honesty” must have a happy ending, right? Whether it does or not, I’d love to hear what you think. TFFO makes it easy to leave comments on the story.

Fall On Your WorldMy first story at TFFO was “Sole Operator,” which stole its title from a song by the band Poole. “For the Honesty” takes its title from a song by The Throes (both bands feature several of the same members), from the album Fall On Your World.

The editors at TFFO are Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts, who also happen to be great writers (notwithstanding their shared poor taste in football teams). I highly recommend Joe’s collection of short stories, Choice Cuts, and Tom’s novel, Piggyback. Check out their websites for more info.

“Blow Out the Candles” at Shotgun Honey

Shotgun Honey LogoThe good people at Shotgun Honey posted my story “Blow Out the Candles” yesterday. It’s about a detective investigating the death of a 17-year-old girl.

Shotgun Honey editor Ron Earl Phillips described the very short story on Twitter as “a literary amuse-bouche.” (I had to ask Beth what an amuse-bouche is, but now that I know I love the description.)

A few notes for those who may be interested: “Blow Out the Candles” is set in my home county, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Detective Peter Eckert, the only character who speaks in the story, first appeared in “The Murder of Ernest Trapnell,” which was published in Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine in 1998. And the song “Blow Out the Candle” appeared on The Throes’ 1993 album Fall On Your World.

I hope you enjoy “Blow Out the Candles”!

The Throes LIVE in Concert: Upcoming Dates

All The Flowers Growing in Your Mother's EyesI make no secret of the fact that I love The Throes (Twitter, Facebook). I’ve been a fan since their first album, All the Flowers Growing in Your Mother’s Eyes, was released in the fall of 1990.

They’ve been kind enough to let me borrow (some would say “steal”) their album and song titles for some of my crime fiction stories. (So far, six published or accepted stories co-opt Throes album or song titles.)

But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that The Throes recently posted on Facebook that they’ll be appearing live in concert three times in the coming months. If you’re able to get to one, I highly recommend it. The dates and locations are:

  • December 23, 2012: Jammin Java in Vienna, VA. (Note: This is a fundraising event; The Throes may only perform one song)
  • December 27, 2012: IOTA in Arlington, VA. (Note: They’re billed as Poole for this event, which is another band most of The Throes are in)
  • February 1, 2013: Lion & Bull in Haymarket, VA.

“Sole Operator” at The Flash Fiction Offensive

The Flash Fiction OffensiveSeveral months ago, my friend Harry Evans (drummer for The Throes and lead singer of Poole) challenged me to “write a story called ‘Sole Operator.’ 1, 2, 3… Go!”

So I did.

And much to my delight, the good people at Out of the Gutter Online’s Flash Fiction Offensive decided to publish the result, my first story to appear there. (The email I received saying they accepted the story said, “You are a twisted muther.” I hope “Sole Operator” lives up to that high praise…)

SPOILER-TYPE DETAILS BELOW. Read the story here before continuing.

Among Whom We ShineSince “Sole Operator” is about a rock band and is set in 1996, I thought it would be fun to include a few references to bands and artists who were popular around that time. So tucked into the story are nods (some larger than others) to Sade, Robert Palmer, the Cranberries, and Vanilla Ice. (I’m inordinately proud of the Vanilla Ice reference.)

The story’s title, “Sole Operator,” comes from a song on Poole’s album Among Whom We Shine. I borrowed a few lyrics from that song as well.

NoteboredThe “influential indie rock mag” Notebored is also appropriated from real-life: I worked at a magazine called Notebored in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Editor Brent Hershey, publisher George Metzler, art director Ned Bustard and I (thinking back, I’m not sure I ever had a real title) had a lot of great times putting that mag together in our office on the top floor of a barn in Atglen, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a video from Poole, “Supermerica,” from the album Alaska Days: http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/7946342 (That’s Harry on lead vocals.)