Wednesday, April 10, 2013

30 Days of The 5-2 Blog Tour: 4 Poems

Yup it's time for my semi-annual blog post.
I've got 4 poems in support of Gerald So's 30 Days of The 5-2. A couple of them are older but unpublished, (So therefore, new.) and two new ones. I hope you like them all.
See ya in six months.


'We need the money
We need the money
We need the money!'

Her mantra never changes,
banging around from room-

Rifling through my pants
pockets and under the
couch cushions for the
thousandth time.

'Get up! Get up! Get up!
It's time to go!'

I don't want to leave,
even though I'm
coming down and these
walls will bleed in a few hours
and so will I.

But she needs me there
as muscle, as flesh and blood
comfort food, and to let her
know how much I love



The patter drip under the sink
reminds me that I need to
take a wrench to the garbage
disposal sometime before
tomorrow night, or I won't
hear the end of it

For weeks.
Tomorrow is a ways off.
Tomorrow is
weeks away.

Tonight I'm watching
the seconds ooze black
and leathery. Piling on
top of each other.

My stomach churns,
a grinding pit,
a cement truck
Bile trickles its way
up my throat

and out onto the hard
tile floor,

Mingling with the dealer's
tacky blood.
I can't remember when
he slipped on the steak



Her lips trembled





Against my mouth.

The force of her

Trying to power

Blue smoke


My lungs.




It's a best practice....

When your partners discover
You two fingers deep in
Your ass

At 3 AM

The day after a job

Stuffing diamonds up in there,
That you tell them
You really miss

All the anal sex

You were getting
While you were in

Thursday, December 13, 2012

next big thing memery

So typically I don't go in for the whole meme thing, but Richie Narvaez asked if I would do one, and I like Richie's writing so I figured why the hell not? Anyway, here's my next big thang....

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?

2) Where did the idea come from?
I kept toying around with this image of a young man filling his pockets with dirt and then the idea struck me. 

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction/Horror/Crime/Literary Fiction. It basically falls under my favorite genre of whatever.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m only 32,000 words in, so no one yet except Brian Cranston as one of the sub characters

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I tried to sum it up for Frank Bill the other day and this is what I came up with: It’s the story of a young husband and wife, both are addicts, the wife dies, and the remainder of the story is of how her death effects the remainder of his life and the lives of their loved ones before and after her death (and in one instance way, way after her death.) I know it sounds kind of artsy fartsy, but I’m enjoying the process right now. 

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Fuck if I know, it’s only 32,000 words right now. 

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Still working on it. Started in on it about three weeks ago, so I imagine I still have another couple months on the first draft before I start editing.

 8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don’t know? Maybe A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan or Patti Abbott’s forthcoming novel, Home Invasion. 

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See answer #2 

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Yeah, I’m going to sound like an asshole saying this, but I don’t care if it piques the readers interest.

I'm going to end this whole meme thing right now by tagging 5 people who are probably way too busy to complete it: Frank Bill, Matt McBride, Hilary Davidson, Scott Phillips, and LitReactor crony, Rob Hart.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Free Stuff's Reason Enough to Blog, Right?

So here's what I should be doing: I should be in New Hampshire right now with my wife and daughter. I should be getting ready for a lovely day of sightseeing and the usual touristy whatnot that goes along with westcoasters visiting New England in the fall. (yeah, leaf watching.)

But here's what I'm actually doing: I'm huddled on my living room couch, my comfy blue blanket around my shoulders, a small stack of books on the coffee table along with the tv remotes. I've got Oldboy on, and I'm planning on watching the entire Vengeance trilogy through out the day.

I'm also hacking my lungs out.

I also have a low grade, but diminishing fever.

I also have a constant, throbbing body ache which makes normal activities, such as typing, kind of physically taxing.

I have walking pneumonia and this is how I'm spending my first vacation in nearly a year-and-a-half.

I sent the girls out east, because I didn't want my little illness to shit in everyone's punch bowl, and I'm spending my now abundant free time catching up on my "just for fun" reading.

And I'm blogging.

But I'm just not blogging about my pal walking pneumonia, I'm blogging about books, specifically an anthology project my pals Jimmy Callaway and Matt Funk are involved in called Uncle B's Drive-In Fiction. 
Here's the skinny on the anthology:

"Six low-budget novellas by Jimmy Callaway, Alec Cizak, C. J. Edwards, Garnett Elliott, Matthew C. Funk, and David James Keaton. Featuring cover and interior art by Sarah Hailey. Edited by Elisha Murphy. 
Remember rolling into the drive-in, elbow out the window, hand squeezing the wheel of your dad's Ford, hoping to find a spot in the back row of cars? Remember watching some B horror, cheapjack action or western flick, trying like mad to get to second base? Edited by Elisha Murphy, six pulp writers join forces in Drive-In Fiction to conjure up those dark, sweat-laced back seats lit only by the glow of the big screen. Within these pages are six down and dirty novellas all written in the spirit of those films from the golden age of the drive-in. Inside you will find:

The Shunned Highway by Garnett Elliott 
When a group of unwitting bikers, the Crusty Losers, pick the wrong gothic mansion to throw a party in, they release a highly contagious alien fungus. What follows is a leather-clad hellride through 70's America, with rogue CDC agents in hot pursuit. Who will survive the fiery showdown in post-hippy San Francisco? Read The Shunned Highway and find out.

A Woman And A Knife by Matthew C. Funk 
A ruthless killer stalks Jenny Childs across the wretched territory of central Ohio, and a haunted cop races against a failing mind to save her. But young Jenny holds a twisted secret that could doom the men on her trail. 

SUCK by C. J. Edwards 
Indianapolis PD Rookie Homicide Detective Rae Simmons has been assigned a case nobody else wants, the torture and murder of a young prostitute named Cherry. What she doesn't know is that someone else is hunting the killers too. With her victim's body missing, gang bangers turning up dead, and a Catholic Priest telling her a demonic force is out for blood, Simmons must track the killers and face down dark powers beyond her comprehension. 

Lupo Danish Never Has Nightmares by Jimmy Callaway 
Organized crime produces few heroes. Lupo Danish is not one of them. But in this case, he'll just have to do. He often sleeps, but Lupo Danish never has nightmares.

 National Trust by Alec Cizak 
Tommy Doyle has his hands full navigating the minefield of his surrogate family of small time Irish-American gangsters. Set during the Watergate scandal, Tommy gears up for a final bank heist to settle some scores. "Who the hell dresses up as Nixon for Halloween?" he asks. Exactly.  

Tap Tap Tap (Snap Snap Snap) by David James Keaton 
A porn director in the twilight of his career becomes increasingly delusional as he begins to notice sexually transmitted tattoos infecting his "talent." Even his imagined relationship with the Virgin Mary statue down the street can't stop an inevitable showdown between him and the wannabe stuntman he accidentally spit on and his plot to either kidnap a police dog, detonate the local drive-in where the latest porn epic will debut, or detonate a police dog, whichever comes first."

Sounds pretty awesome, right?

The biggest issue with selling books in this day and age is with so many of them coming out week-after-week is it's pretty tough to gain attention for your book. So what the always luscious Jimmy Callaway is doing to help gain some attention for Uncle B's is he offered to buy a comic book of the readers choice if they buy and review Uncle B'sDrive-in Fiction.

Well, I've decided to up the ante and make this offer: If you buy and review Uncle B's, Jimmy will still buy you a comic of your choice, but I'll also send you a copy of Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels. I'd appreciate it if you reviewed Both Barrels, too, if you're so inclined.

But wait, there's more....

If you're not into writing a review, but are still down with getting some free stuff, if you simply buy a copy of Uncle B's Drive-in Fiction and send a proof of purchase to Callaway or myself (BTW, gang, the proof of purchase has to be from after today.) I will send you a copy of one of the following novels:

Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko (Great novel, particularly if you're into Bukowski or Dan Fante.)

Shatter by Michael Robotham

Cliffwalk by Bruce DeSilva

and last but not least,

Big Maria by Johnny Shaw

That's a lot of good writing there, folks, particularly Big Maria, which I'm now in my second reading of. Mind you, with these books, Jimmy's not going to buy you a funny book and all that's required is a proof of purchase, but once again, honest, responsible reviews are always welcomed. If you're up for it, you can e-mail me your proof of purchase yo rawsonkeith(at)gmail dot com or you can contact Jimmy Callaway right HERE

Okay, one last thing before I let you go.

As most of you know, I'm a hired geek over at LitReactor, but on top of being a kick ass online lit mag and community, it's also an educational website where writing intensives have been taught by the likes of Christa Faust, Stephen Graham Jones, Craig Clevenger, David Corbet, and Jack Ketchum, just to name a few.

Well recently, Johnny Shaw, (Dove Season, Big Maria, and editor of Blood & Tacos) joined the ranks of LitReactor's instructors. Here's the dope on Shaw's first class:


Writing is rewriting. 

People say it all the time, and it's true. Your first draft, it's like a big block of stone. Huge and unwieldy, but full of hidden possibility. The true art of the process comes from chipping away at the stone--the extraneous sentences, the non-essential characters, the navel-gazing tangents--and finding the story.

Your story is the sculpture inside the rock.  

And we've recruited Johnny Shaw to help you find it. He has an MFA in screenwriting and has lectured at Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara. He's the author of two highly-praised novels. One of which, Dove Season, was lauded by In the Woods author Tana French for "a smart, fluent rhythm and crackle that pull you forward, and its full of sharply observed and often very funny details. The author is excellent at creating a sense of place with a few deft strokes..."

Shaw knows how to edit his work down to a fine point--to find that sculpture inside the block of stone--and he'll show you how to do it too, in this four-week course that focuses on the skills necessary for a successful edit. 


Week 1: Writing is Rewriting
  •  Now that you have the stone, its time to sculpt
  • Dont change sentences in chapters you will eventually cut
  • Expanding and exploring themes to their fullest potential
  • Integrate the parts of your story to make a cohesive whole
  • Pacing & clarity

Week 2: The Craft of Story Structure

  • Know the rules before you break them
  • Traditional dramatic three-act structure
  • Aristotle. Thats right, I said it. Aristotle
  • Seeing the story from a distance; how the parts make a whole
  • Structure as a tool for the pacing and momentum of your story

Week 3: The Scene is the Thing

  • Three minutes is a long scene (and whatever the equivalent is in a novel)
  • Finding the conflict and focusing in on it
  • The writers objective vs. the characters objectives
  • The function of the scene as it ties to the whole and the theme

Week 4: Character and Dialogue

  • People doing stuff, not characters in scenes
  • To be original, make the characters act like real people
  • Dont get cute with the dialogue
  • Read it out loud. Have someone read it to you
  • Good dialogue illuminates what that characters arent saying
  • It can always be faster, it can always be funnier (even if its dramatic)


  • A clear and concise knowledge of traditional three-act story structure, and the ability to create and use that structure to go beyond that tradition.
  • Essential tools for scene construction and pacing, that help to imbue each moment in a scene with conflict and momentum, using clear objectives.
  • Keys to developing characters and writing dialogue that illuminate what the characters arent saying, as well as what they are.
  • Finding the thematic strengths of ones story and getting the most from the themes and getting to the heart of the most important question you face as a writer: Why the story exists.

The class sounds all kinds fun, and you're learning straight from a guy who has 20-years of experience at the art of re-writing, so if you're interested in finding out more about the class or to register, click right HERE.

Anyway, time for a nap. Good night, y'all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Hate Blogging, But....

So it's time for my annual blog post ...

Yeah, I don't use this thing too much. I'm not going to make excuses, or make promises that I'm going to start doing it with greater frequency, either.

It is what it is, besides, I blog enough over at LitReactor and Spinetingler as is (By the way, if you missed any of my columns and whatnot, you can catch up on my shenanigans HERE and HERE.) but sometimes you have to let people know what you're up to beyond faceybook and twitter interactions, and, of course, to sell you books.

And I've had a few of those hit in the past several weeks.

First up is:

Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels

Here's the full line-up:

Andrew Nette
Cameron Ashley
Chris Holm
Dan O’Shea
Frank Bill
Frank Wheeler Jr.
Garnett Elliott
Glenn Gray
Hector Acosta
Holly West
Jen Conley
Jim Wilsky
Joe Myers
Julia Madeleine
Keith Rawson
Kieran Shea
Matthew C. Funk
Michael Oliveri
Naomi Johnson
Nigel Bird
Nik Korpon
Patti Abbott
Paul D. Brazill
Peter Farris
Ray Banks
Steve Weddle
Thomas Pluck
Tom Pitts
Trey R. Barker

The anthology is 12, 000 kinds of awesome and you can pick yourself up a copy or six right HERE.

Next up is: 
PROTECTORS: Stories to Benefit PROTECT:

The line up on this one is jaw dropping:

Patti Abbott
Ian Ayris
 Ray Banks
 Nigel Bird
 Michael A. Black
 Tony Black
 R. Thomas Brown
 Ken Bruen
 Bill Cameron
 Jen Conley
 Charles de Lint
 Wayne D. Dundee
 Chad Eagleton
 Les Edgerton
 Andrew Fader
 Matthew C. Funk
 Roxane Gay
 Edward A. Grainger
 Glenn G. Gray
 Jane Hammons
 Amber Keller
 Joe R. Lansdale
Frank Larnerd
Gary Lovisi
Mike Miner
 Zak Mucha
 Dan O’Shea
George Pelecanos
 Thomas Pluck
Richard Prosch
Keith Rawson
James Reasoner
Todd Robinson
Johnny Shaw
Gerald So
Josh Stallings
Charlie Stella
Andrew Vachss
 Steve Weddle
Dave White
 Chet Williamson

The line up is insane and all proceeds go to PROTECT. You can snag your copy right HERE.

Okay, last but far from least is:

Another stellar line up for this one, too:

James Reasoner
Jake Hinkson
Kevin Burton Smith
Garnett Elliott
Liam José
Sandra Seamans
Jerry Bloomfield
Thomas Pluck
Keith Rawson
Court Merrigan
Benoȋt Lelièvre
Chad Eagleton
Steve Weddle

So, yeah, tons of stories out there, I even have a few stories coming out from places where you don't have to pay for them in the next few months. 

HUZZAH for free stuff!

Anyway, see you in another year or so.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

30 Days of The 5-2 Blog Tour: Noble Masochists

"If I had any real balls, I'd be a poet."
- Daniel Woodrell

That line has become my mantra.

Every day when I sit down to write, it's the first thing that pops in my head. Because the act of writing, creating a story, novel, screenplay, whatever, it takes balls. .But being a poet ... well, you know going in that you're creating art for art's sake, and you have to admit, there's something noble about that.

Noble and maybe just a tad bit masochistic?

Anyway, for my  5-2 Blog post, I figured I'd get my narcissism and masochism on, and post a new poem.

Hope you like it.

How I Know She Loves Me

She squeezes my hand,
and palms me the twenty.

It's grimy, slick with sweat
and age.

She moves to kiss me,
but I avoid her lips,

And guide her to my rough cheek
because of the cold sore.

My beard causes it to seep,
she flinches as she pulls away.

I tell her I'll be right back,
we both know that's a lie.

I head out just as she leads
the old perv into the ladies


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Man’s Bullshit Opinion: What it Was by George Pelecanos

I’ve been trying to review What it Was by George Pelecanos for the past couple of weeks. I’ll sit down with a notebook or in front of the computer, start writing, and typically at the three or four hundred word mark, I stop cold.

Is it because What it Was is a bad book and I want to avoid the whole mess of giving an author a bad review? (Writing bad reviews and whether to publish them or not is a whole other kettle of fish, and I don’t have the time or the energy to go into that.)

No, that’s not it at all.

In fact, What it Was is exactly the kind of novel most fans of  Pelecanos want to see him write more of. (Here’s another can of worms thing: I actual like Pelecanos’ “urban” novels such as the Way Home and the Turnaround way more than his traditional crime novels.) What it Was is pulp fiction, plain and simple.

It has a clearly defined bad guy, two clearly defined, albeit morally sketchy, good guys, and possess all of the hallmarks of a typical Derek Strange novel: Sex, drugs, violence, music, food and set in the 70’s.

But what stops me in my tracks is this: Price point.

As you all know, Reagan Arthur Books pre-sold What it Was as an e-book for 99 cents. It’s a hell of a deal and from its current Amazon ranking, it looks like it’s doing pretty well overall because of the price point. What Reagan Arthur Books  also did was offer What it Was as a $9.99 paperback and a $35 mamajamma collectors hardback, and they released all three versions simultaneously. There’s was no waiting around for paperback, there was no waiting for the novel to become an Amazon deal of the day.

Reagan Arthur Books priced the e-book accordingly and readers are responding to it.

I applaud  Reagan Arthur Books  for doing this and it also makes me wonder why the other big six publishers aren’t following suit? Why it is that e-books published by the big six are still being priced at the $9.99 plus range?

The answer is, of course, greed. (Okay, here’s another hot point that I’m not going to spend much time on. When I say greed, I’m not saying it with any negative connotations; publishing—whether you’re a two person small press or one which employees hundreds—is a business, it’s there to make money, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, we all get it)  

E-reader technology is still new, people are enthralled by the fact that they can instantly gain access to a book, so like any business would, the big six are taking advantage of the newness. But the major issue I can see the New York publishing houses running into when the e-book “bubble” bursts (i.e., e-book tech becomes de rigueur) is that they’ll price themselves out of the market, not that they’re not pricing themselves out already.

In my eyes,  Reagan Arthur Books  is laying the ground work for what publishing should be doing: Offering a quality product at an affordable price and for every type of reader. Don’t make people wait around for the preferred format to become available.

It’s a solid model and one I hope continues.

But here’s another idea: Why aren’t publishers doing this with their newer writers? Hell, why aren’t they developing talent through an e-book exclusive line? It used to be publishers took the time to develop new writers; to foster their talents and build them into a solid earners and stashing a solid back catalog (Pelecanos, along with Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, and Laura Lippman are all of a generation of crime writers whose careers were built of this type of model.) over the years.

This model has virtually disappeared.

Now it seems—at least to my naïve eyes—that a novelist has two books in which to prove their worth and develop an audience, and if they can’t do it with those two books, they’re done.

But with an original e-book line—not just one which reprints classic back catalogs—it seems to me that this would be a way for publishers to take young writers like Matthew Funk or Holly West or Eric Beetner and help them develop an audience through e-books with the overall hope of transitioning them to a print market.

It seems like a solid idea to me.

But what the fuck do I know? I’m just some shitheel who exists on the fringes of publishing and I don’t understand that doing this kind of thing with an unestablished author would be too costly, or that the novels being produced by this type line would be considered inferior.

I’ve heard both of these arguments time and again when I bring this idea up and all I have to say to both is:


And I’ll keep calling it bullshit until publisher comes along and shows me—and what I mean by “shows me” is actual financial reports and maybe a couple of dull ass PowerPoint presentations— that I’m just talking out my ass.

Anyway, to get back to What it Was, it’s awesome, you should read it and if you haven’t read Pelecanos before, maybe What it Was will turn you on to his other books enough that you’ll want to read more of his massive, and affordable, back catalog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Publication Day ... Yeah, I'm having a contest.

Publication days for authors is a HUGE deal. It's like Christmas and your birthday rolled up into a nerve wracked whooper of a day and there's a few folks who are going through a day full of the jitters on this Valentines Day.

First is Hilary Davidson

You all know what a fan of Hilary's I am and her sophomore effort THE NEXT ONE TO FALL hits the street today and in celebration I'm offering a signed Advanced Readers Copy of THE NEXT ONE TO FALL and all you have to do is tell me what your favorite vacation was (domestic or international) in the comments section. If you want, I'll even have Hilary personalize it when she visits the Poisoned Pen on February 21st.

Here's the skinny on THE NEXT ONE TO FALL:

Travel writer Lily Moore has been persuaded by her closest friend, photographer Jesse Robb, to visit Peru with him. Jesse is convinced that the trip will lure Lily out of her dark mood, but Lily is haunted by betrayal and loss. At Machu Picchu, the famous Lost City of the Incas, they discover a woman clinging to life at the bottom of an ancient stone staircase. Just before the woman dies, she tells Lily the name of the man who pushed her.
When the local police investigate, the forensic evidence they find doesn’t match what Lily knows. Unable to accept the official ruling of accidental death, Lily hunts down the wealthy man who was the dead woman’s traveling companion and discovers a pattern of dead and missing women in his wake.
Obsessed with getting justice for these women, Lily sets in motion a violent chain of events that will have devastating consequences.

To Sweeten the pot, I'll throw in a copy of WILD THING by Josh Bazell, who will be at the Poisoned Pen on March 5th, so I'll get that signed for you, too. By the way, if you haven't already, you can check out my interview with Dr. Bazell over at LitReactor right HERE.

And here's the skinny on WILD THING:

It's hard to find work as a doctor when using your real name will get you killed. So hard that when a reclusive billionaire offers Dr. Peter Brown, aka Pietro Brnwa, a job accompanying a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist on the world's worst field assignment, Brown has no real choice but to say yes. Even if it means that an army of murderers, mobsters, and international drug dealers-not to mention the occasional lake monster-are about to have a serious Pietro Brnwa problem. 
Facing new and old monsters alike, Dr. Brnwa's story continues in this darkly funny and lightning-paced follow up to Josh Bazell's bestselling debut.

You know the deal with contests, U.S. residents and Cannucks only