Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Non-Noir Entertainment

Dead Head (Dirty Business, #3)Dead Head by Rosemary Harris
Ms. Harris is a wonderfully entertaining writer, and you will love DEAD HEAD if you enjoy hanging out with odd but appealing characters and laughing out loud. The protagonist Paula -- a financially challenged landscaper -- has a tongue sharp enough to fell trees, knows where to kick aggressive males, and owns a very funny view of the world. You will grin, giggle, and occassionally spit over her comments. Here's one that made everyone stare at me on the airplane: "She made disparaging remarks about my hair and alleged cup size. It went further south from there...still I stayed on the line. I was fascinated by her lung capacity. Perhaps she was a swimmer?"

Paula's sidekick Babe owns the Paradise Diner, and Babe's comments, straightforward attitude, and kind wisdom make your smile widen whenever the story turns back to the hangout. Ms. Harris's series (this is number three) gets lumped into that popular "hobby cozy" sub-genre because Paula is a gardener, but not so you'd notice. Ms. H will work her magic regardless of your assumed tastes.

If you've had enough of Janet Evanovich's same ol' same ol' plots, try Ms. Harris. Rosemary is also funnier.

Friday, August 19, 2011


With both hands, I lifted Nataska’s mask from the blanket and pulled the Black Ogre’s likeness over my wounded face. A new current of dark strength raced through me, as if the black spirit flowed directly into my heart. I took comfort in the darkness, the cover such a screen provided my inner feelings, perhaps my soul. This was natural. All living things must have a black kachina to go to, a killing spirit of fierceness when they are attacked.

When I looked around in my life, I saw that everything in this world both ate and was eaten. Nature sought us out for slaughter, and staying alive on this earth meant protecting your darkness. We each needed the ability to wage personal war, to struggle for our lives. To run AND to fight.

While the white man and half the world criticized me, saw me as villain, I knew I fought for my people, my culture, myself. I fought for all the forgotten people everywhere in this harsh world. A place where everything is still eaten alive.

I have reached inside my black kachina, mined a vein of lust to kill the white man. I have done it because I must.

And with the determination of a desperate man, I light the candle. I care not if the fire engulfs us all.

A complete manuscript is available from TFA's agent, Grace Morgan. BLACK KACHINA is a 70,000 word thriller.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

TFA Dumps Me for a Doll

So yesterday I'm sitting around the house, thinking up a new adventure for myself and Luis, when the phone rings. It's The Famous Author. To my shock and horror, he says, "Sorry, Austin. You're on the back burner for a while. There's this scary kachina character that needs my attention."

Ok, ok. I've been through this before. First it was Mama Bones with her own series. Then TFA said she was taking over my blog. Ha. I've heard this kachina stuff before, too. TFA has been whacking away at this story for years, actually writing the first sentences back in 2004 at some Oregon writers retreat with people like Elizabeth, Lorin, and Roman. They had me down in the mold-infested basement.

So when TFA says I'm on the back burner, I know better. He can't write anything but Screwball Mysteries. I put the hard squeeze on him. "Come on, TFA, who are you kidding? Has anybody read this kachina story yet?"

"Well, yes. A famous newspaper book reviewer read the first 50 pages and said it was awesome. My beta readers said it was the best thing I've ever done. And yesterday, the agent said this book was "going to make both of us some money."

"She always says that."

"Not really. In fact, she thinks stockbrokers are about as saleable as spoiled milk. You're a pariah, Austin."

"So who's the star of this new book? Your agent?"

"Ha. Nope. This is a story about a guy who dresses up like Nataska, The Black Ogre, and then wrecks havoc on Southern California."

"Sounds boring."

"My agent doesn't think so. Says we're hitting three NY thriller publishers with it next week."


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chilling Bluegrass in Prose Form

The Famous Author loved Scott Montgomery's review so much, he made me steal one of the best lines and print it here: "An album of chilling blue grass tunes in prose form."

If you want to read the whole review of Frank Bill's CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA STORIES, you'll have to go to the website of this Austin, Texas bookstore (and community) where Scott's review and Pick of the Month was featured in the newsletter. Read another review that compares Mr. Bill to -- gasp! -- Cormac McCarthy.

Clicking on my blog's headline works, too.

TFA says Farrar, Straus and Giroux doesn't print everybody's short stories. Perhaps we should have a look. Heck, if we can get TFA to spring for the cash, we might even buy a copy from this nice Texas bookstore.

TFA and other short story writers ought to at least take a peek at the style and wit that landed a top agent and then this FSG contract. Sounds like Frank Bill has provided TFA and other fiction-hacks with an entertaining form of education.