Saturday, December 19, 2015

Redhead of the Week Calls Badlands Home

Though still a little shaky in high heels -- at least stomping through futuristic wastelands -- actress Emily Beecham is fast becoming a triple-A-list television star. As The Widow in AMC's brand new martial arts drama series, INTO THE BADLANDS, Emily is without a doubt TV's prettiest villain in this reporter's recent memory.

I mean, what's more fun than a redheaded evil queen? Not only can she kick your butt with her karate, her smile, and her sex appeal, Ms. Em plays a murderer with a serious reputation for offing everybody and everything -- a real taste for blood.

Born in Manchester England in 1984 to an English pilot and his American wife, Emily is already a well-known English film and television actress, best known for her roles in The Street and The Village. But methinks her role as The Widow will make her a superstar.

Of course, you people know well I'm partial to redheads.

John Rankin, Esquire magazine's glamor photographer, said Emily had "that something special, that thing you just feel about someone ... she's one of the most exciting actresses out there."

We agree.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

TFA Sneaks into Fancy Party

Everybody knows The Famous Author writes screwball mysteries, right? The Austin Carr series is more about laughs than it is solving murders, and if there's any smart deductions going on, they happen in the brain of Mama Bones or Luis, not me, Austin Carr.

You know my weakness -- I'm always thinking with the wrong organ. Thus it will come as a shock to many in the world of crime publishing that TFA finds one of his stories inside a new anthology, LAST WORDS, and that his story contained therein is without a laugh. In fact, it's violent and cringe-worthy, in that a young prostitute shows readers one terrible night of her life. LUCHA, he calls it.

You can order a copy of the anthology from Amazon right here.

Edited by ace crime writer and designer Liam Sweeny, LAST WORDS is published by Joyride Press, and features short stories by Les Edgerton, David Jaggers, Paul David Brazill, Steve Weddle, Court Merrigan, Todd Robinson, Tess Makovesky, Christopher Pimental, Gareth Spark and Angel Luis Colon in addition to TFA. The anthology is described as a "collection of hard-hitting stories from eleven of the best writers in the crime, pulp and noir genres."

Tell me how TFA got in that group, I'll tell you where Judge Crater is. He's sneaky, that's all. In other startling news, TFA isn't getting paid: all monies from the sale of LAST WORDS are going to the prison-reform organization, Nation Inside. Also, in case you're wondering, TFA likes the above back cover better than this front cover.

Can't imagine why.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How a Fortune Teller Got TFA Published

TFA --  I can be lazy, so when several scribe friends wanted to waste a whole day of our one-week writing retreat by visiting Cassadaga, Florida, the Psychic Capital of the World, I quickly agreed. I thought the whole idea of psychics to be silly: "Don't they already know we're coming?" But we'd been working long hours for several days and any reason to goof off sounded good, even a road trip to a town of mind readers.

Guess who had his life changed.

No, I am not kidding. And I'm sharing this personal a story because I hope the lady's lesson for me might also help other writers. A swift kick in the pants never hurt anybody I know.

Maybe you've heard of the place, or even been there. I first learned about Cassadaga during the drive from a sunny Florida beach into the state's swampy interior: Seems the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp was founded over a century ago by a self-proclaimed "trance medium," George P. Colby from New York State. George said he was guided to the spot by his Indian spirit guide. Today, Cassadaga is a busy, apparently thriving home for professional fortune tellers, psychics, palm readers and true spiritualists -- men and women who, according to their guidebook,  practice "science, philosophy and religion based upon the principle of continuous life."

That doesn't mean they're vampires; it's more of a reincarnation thing. And I learned a lot more about it during my private session.

A dozen places offered to tell our future or mend our psychic cracks, but three of us were drawn to one place in particular. We all said it looked friendly, welcoming. One of my friends went first, and she came out twenty minutes later astonished and speechless. I paid my money.

I walked into an odd but warmly decorated room. Brightly colored blankets and trinkets and colored rocks covered all surfaces. Incense burned near an empty chair, and I sat across a cloth-covered table from one of the most astonishing people I've ever met. Not her looks; not her dress. Not even the words she eventually spoke to me. What I encountered in her presence and no one else's, before or since, was a physical sensation of caring. This benevolent, welcoming lady exuded a golden spirit of kindness. She was there to help me.

She held my hand and asked why I'd come. Did her touch feel magical? No. It was the feeling I had from being in her presence -- what I've already described. Maybe her assistants pumped drugs into the air vents. I don't know exactly, but when I explained why I'd come -- a lack of success at my fiction writing -- she told me about an internal conflict and pointed out the correct path. I knew instantly she was right.

"Your spirit guides are a monk and a Viking," she said. "You must listen more to the Viking."

I'm not going to talk about my family's history, or say another word about spirit guides, but if there are such things, monks and Norsemen could easily be following me. I took her advice in a less supernatural way, however: I decided Vikings work harder than monks. They also try harder. By listening to the Viking, she meant I needed to write more stories, read more books, study more craft, meet more people, go after my dream with a sword as well as a pen.

It shouldn't surprise readers to hear the technique worked. I had an agent in a year or so, a book published not too long after that. Clearly, something about that visit to Cassadaga changed my life. I believe that Viking kicked me in the ass.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

BIG SHOES (#4) Available for Pre-Order

The big thing about my temporary business partner, Angelina "Mama Bones" Bonacelli, her routine professional consultations can easily deteriorate into criminal activity and violence. Breakfast appointments have been raided by the FBI. Her Power Point presentation to a Jersey state racing
commission last summer ended in a fist fight, then later in the parking lot, automatic weapons fire. As a Jersey shore racketeer with direct ties to what's left of a once powerful New York crime family, Mama Bones packs an abundance of local power, not to mention a loaded nine-millimeter.

So begins my fourth adventure in Branchtown, New Jersey, that fictional city where truth battles the baloney at every intersection. Not scheduled for actual publication until the middle of next month, and brought to you by that new powerhouse publisher of modern crime, Down & Out Books, readers can pre-order BIG SHOES from Amazon here.

In BIG SHOES, I finally tell Mama Bones to let me go. I need my freedom. The death toll around Branchtown's stock and bond community has reached septic proportions. I'd rather sell used cars.

But Mama Bones has urgent matters that need my help; mainly that her wise guy boss The Turk wants to kill both of us. A stunning but troubled redhead follows me and Mama Bones into a dark world of racing secrets, child trafficking and old rivalries. Both of us must step up our game to walk in someone else's Big Shoes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Was Vincent Van Gogh murdered?

Vincent Van Gogh painted this peaceful scene one week or two before they say he shot himself. No one really knows, because no pistol was ever found. There was a bullet inside him, and though it struck no vital organ, he died the next day of infection because there was no doctor to remove it.

What if Vincent didn't shoot himself? Yes, he cut off his own ear in anger over a fight with Paul Gauguin, another artist, and yes, Vincent had suffered several bouts of mental depression, hallucinations and violent outbreaks. Thirty villagers once signed a petition to throw the "redheaded madman" out of Arles.

But what if he was murdered?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Katee Sends Me Her Picture!

Sure I had to donate some money to her charity, but that's half the fun of spending it. The dough went for another cause beside my own self-gratification. Hope you guys and gals can read what she wrote to me. Just in case you can't, the words say "You're a peach, Austin."

Darn right I'm a peach, Ms. Katee Sackhoff. And so are you. The star of the rekindled television series Longmire is a former redhead of the week, and The Famous Author also spent half a day on one of Katee's movie sets. But Kathryn Ann "Katee" Sackhoff is best known for playing Lieutenant Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on the Sci Fi Channel's television program Battlestar Galactica.

Check out her new website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Katee Sackhoff Saves TV Show

When LONGMIRE the television series was cancelled last year by a network we won't name, four million viewers cried "No freaking way!" And thankfully, after weeks of negotiation, Netflix stepped into the fan-rescue role, contracting to air the show's fourth season sometime later this year. Filming began this week in New Mexico.

It's a fun show, based on Craig Johnson's mystery novels, which I think of as a combo of cops and robbers plus cowboys and Indians. Longmire stars Australian actor Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, the nonverbal (strong and quiet) Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman and Adam Bartley co-star, as does the lady who graced our pages back in November as Redhead of the Week ...

I know you haven't forgotten Katee Sackhoff.

Well, obviously I can't reveal my sources, but I have it from a major figure concerned with the show* that without Katee onboard, this show was destined for reruns. The first network says they dumped the show because its viewers were too old, an audience profile advertisers didn't like. (I can't imagine why. Geezers like The Famous Author spend money, too.) And having Katee with the show -- she's popular with millions of young men because of her starring science fiction and fantasy roles -- convinced Netflix to stream the new season.

Thank you Katee! Here's her website where you can browse her private store for pictures, autographs and tickets to her various charity events. She works hard and not only for herself. I just sent away for a signed picture ... I hope she thinks I'm a peach.

Click here for Katee's store.

* -- Key words for journalism students are "major" and "concerned with." Could be a director, producer or six-foot, 250-pound fan.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Redhead Still Has Her Smile & The Cash

It's been over seven years since Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman first graced our pages. As Redhead of the Week on Tuesday, November 27, 2007, we reported Nicole ranked among the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. $130 million was the figure Celebrity Networth placed on her net assets. She'd won the Academy Award for Best Actress by playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours, starred in hit movies like Cold Mountain, Fur, The Stepford Wives and Bewitched, plus sold a ton of Chanel No. 5 by appearing in perfume advertising.

Unfortunately, times have changed. Though The Crimes of Austin Carr still loves Nicole -- we are forever loyal to our redheads -- the world of Hollywood has turned. She's too old for the big parts, they say, especially after her latest film "Grace of Monaco" bombed. One British critic -- where she was voted Worst Acress of 2014 -- described the film thusly: "A plucky woman fights to stop the super-rich having to pay their taxes."

Unsuccessful films like Grace of Monaco will not affect Nicole's current net worth but could cut the movie offers.

Born on June 20, 1967, Kidman received her breakthrough in the 1989 Australian thriller, Dead Calm. Performances in To Die For, Days of Thunder, Moulin Rouge and The Hours won her worldwide critical acclaim. In 2003, Kidman received her Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Kidman is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a successful recording artist.

Because she was born to Australian parents in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kidman has dual citizenship of Australia and the United States.

Thanks to Nicole, Wikipedia and Celebrity Networth

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ten Strange Things About TFA

As a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, TFA rode with the Associated Press and The New York Times on an oil tanker (The Arco Juneau) out of Valdez, Alaska. They were loaded with the first oil traveling the Alaska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, and were the target of multiple bomb threats -- something they told him AFTER they arrived at Cherry Point, Washington. Way to get the scoop, TFA.

He used to work with the grandson of a very famous New York mafia don.

He once delivered -- in person --  a rich dentist and the dentist's large campaign donation to California Governor Jerry Brown and his rock singer girlfriend Linda Ronstadt. She pretended TFA wasn’t there.

He didn’t get the job once because his shoes weren’t shined. What a dope!

His friends call him TFA (The Famous Author) because he is so NOT famous.

BIG NUMBERS is a conglomeration of exaggerated true stories: Fish drowning fishermen; brokers marrying their rich clients’ widows; men living in cars trying to make alimony payments.

TFA loves things from Mexico, especially Mariachis, chili Colorado and tacos.

He has a sometimes dog and a permanent cat that he grouches at for coming in and out of the snow.

He actually believes the third time is the charm because after two divorces, he tried one more time and has now been married 35 years to the same woman.  
He gets sinusitis every winter when the house heat goes on.

He grows secret vegetables in the wife’s flower garden every summer.

Thanks to Jack Getze for being the butt of this joke.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Silent Takeover by Mama Bones

I write funny, or screwball mysteries, but I scared myself silly writing Big Mojo, the third novel in my Austin Carr series. Maybe the book really is a thriller. What happened, a supporting character -- Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli -- took over as my favorite writing voice, and that is not supposed to happen. Austin Carr is my chosen speaker, the man whose strange ideas about life found voice inside the devil on my shoulder. Austin’s the star of the show. He talks in first person. It’s his series. Says so on the cover of every book.

Looking back, examining Mama Bones' creation and early appearances, it’s hard to say when and how the change-over occurred. Austin did all the talking in book one, Big Numbers. Mama Bones tickled my funny bone when she showed up in book two, Big Money, by playing out a story I’d heard about one of my wife’s aunts who cheated at a church-sponsored bingo game. In my fictional version of this family story, the cheater — Mama Bones — was the mother of Austin’s boss and tougher than week-old tomato pie. She was hard-edged, owned a sarcastic sense of humor like Austin, but she also had a gigantic heart. And though no scenes were written from Mama Bones’ point of view in either book one or two, I knew she’d be back in Austin’s life.

Why? Because I enjoy making other people laugh, telling stories that crack people up, but I enjoy stories even more when it’s me doing the laughing. Pecking away at that tiny computer keyboard, I like to giggle and hoot while I’m making this stuff up, and I’ve discovered through the comments section of Goodreads and Amazon that if the scene, characters or dialogue make me chuckle or laugh, chances are excellent my fans will enjoy the work as well. Good thing, eh? Or maybe that’s why they’re my fans.

Another reason I knew I’d be coming back to Mama Bones was the wealth of tales I had about my wife’s old aunts and uncles, people now dead. The stories were safe to tell now and way too interesting for this writer to ignore. Thus, I have Mama Bones growing up in the summer resort of Asbury Park where her parents leased special soda-making equipment and illegal betting cards to venders on the Jersey shore, a business begun in the 1920s by her grandparents. Mama Bones’ grandma and grandpa were also political organizers, collecting cash from new Italian immigrants and boardwalk businesses, then delivering the bag money and the local Italian vote to whichever party paid them most.

I wanted to use this background, so in Big Mojo, the third and current series offering, I gave Mama Bones dozens of scenes from her point of view. Like I said, I’m not exactly sure when, but somewhere during the writing of her dialogue and thoughts, she became my favorite character. She was funny, tough and eccentric enough to keep me entertained, verbally abusing her son for being outsmarted by Austin; wondering if she should go for the Sig Sauer 9mm under her pillow; or creating a magic potion to dunk Austin in shark-filled waters.

Yes, I love people that make me laugh, and Mama Bones did the job. I tried her out for a bigger role in Big Mojo and she jumped on it — the whole relationship between her and Austin being funny because the two of them always try to out smart-ass each other. In addition to the humor, though, what gives their interplay a tough edge is underlying tension over Mama Bones’ beloved son Vic, Austin’s partner. Austin can’t be sure of Mama Bones’ intentions — or loyalties. One of Big Mojo’s climactic scenes is probably a good example. I don’t want to give the ending of book three away, but in book four, coming out later this year, Austin briefly recalls what happens in Big Mojo: “And while it is true Mama Bones saved my life several times, the most recent occasion involved only a last minute change of heart, her outlaw hand on a switch that could have ground me into mincemeat.”

I can't wait to find out what she does next.

(The lovely portrait adorning our page today is not actually Mama Bones. Mama Bones is a fictional character and doesn't sit for photographs. I think this is a portrait of my great friend, Carmela Mastria, a lady whose brains and brawn helped me create the Mama Bones character. Or it might also be Aunt Bea.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Motivation Comes in Many Shapes

MOTIVATION: The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

The big thing about humans, we're moody -- some a little, others a lot. One day the energy flows and we're ready to tackle life's problems like the Green Bay Packers. The next day, something's upset us, made us want to slack off a little, complain or even feel sorry for ourselves. It happens pretty much to everyone.

But as a writer, I really need to write every day. I can't wait for motivation in the form of inspiration or anything else. I need to write on the mediocre, busy, troublesome and totally gruesome days, or nothing would ever get done with my name on it. I'd finish a new book every decade. Thus, self-motivation is important to me. If I don't work through those bad days, fight on when I'd rather be in bed watching Star Trek reruns, I might as well take up painting.

So how do I motivate myself? Well, there's always the wife. If I did nothing around the house for too many days in a row, she'd either throw me out or nag me to death. This is why some guys secretly call their wives "The Whip." Also, the cat keeps me hopping, the self-centered furry beast forcing me in and out of my chair all day answering her latest whim, coming inside for petting, or going back outside to chase rabbits.

But my best self-motivation technique is to get angry, information I picked up accidentally one day coaching baseball. Yup, nine and ten year old children taught me that self-motivation is a lot like love -- some is better than others, but it's ALL good.

I coached Little League baseball over a span of six years and two sons. (My daughter said she'd quit if I participated.) My teams were always about having fun and learning the game's basics, not winning or pressuring the kids to perform. There were seasons when we did make the playoffs, some years in which a couple of our boys made the all-star team. But our players knew very well -- and their parents appreciated -- our team's focus was on having fun. (During the final inning of one championship game, the score tied and the game too tense, I stopped play and walked onto the field for a meeting. Everybody joined in the pitcher's mound huddle, even our three outfielders, the boys on the bench and the umpire. When there was total silence, I said, "So where are we going after the game -- ice cream or pizza?")

Okay, back to the motivation story: One year we went most of the season without winning a game. My boys were having fun, but they weren't very good or even dedicated. A bunch of wild fourth graders -- including my own -- is what I had for a baseball team that season. Near the end of the year we played the undefeated champions of our league, and I heard one of their coaches tell his players before the game, "We could beat these guys with our hands tied behind our backs."

I was incensed and called a rare team meeting minutes before the game. I told my kids what I'd heard. I told them I didn't care if we won or not, but said we should try our hardest, show the other team they couldn't win with only one hand. Make them play their best to beat us, I said. "Win or lose, let them know they were in a baseball game today." Parents told me later I was fired up when I spoke, and it turned out my little speech fired up the boys. We played our best game ever. We hit, fielded and ran the bases like a championship squad -- they grabbed line drives out of the air, chased down long fly balls near the wooden fence, made perfect throws and batted crucial hits with men on base. In short, those boys played the game of their young lives, and -- in a result that shocked the whole league -- we beat that undefeated team. It turned out to be that team's only loss all year. It was more than a wonderful moment. I still remember the excitement and pride my boys felt that day. It shined from their eyes. Pretty sure pride was shining in mine as well, because clearly my impromptu, anger-fueled motivational speech changed our season for the boys. We all learned a lesson about trying our best.

Ever since, I've understood the importance of motivation in human lives -- especially my own -- and I've never forgotten how the bad actions of otherwise good people gave those boys and me a reason to perform at a higher level.  I mean, anger made me a better coach because for the first time all year, I gave the team an uplifting speech. I believe what this all narrows down to, if and when someone makes you mad, see if you can't use that anger as fuel for something good.

So where do I find anger to motivate my writing on those darker days? Easy. I already mentioned the wife and the cat. Then there's the internet, television news and certain friends I can call on the telephone. Quickest of all is to look up the infuriatingly gigantic online sales numbers of a certain celebrity writer. I spent a few days with the man once and found him antagonistically smug.

Bottom line, I'll repeat: Motivation is a lot like love. Some is better than others, but it's all good, and we should latch on to the stuff however we can.

This was a guest post from my creator, Jack Getze. He is today greatly unmotivated.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Widow is Redhead of the Week

Half Irish, half Lebanese, Amy Marie Yasbeck is the widow of John Ritter and best known for her role as Casey Chapel Davenport on the sitcom Wings from 1994 to 1997. She has appeared on numerous television shows and co-starred in films like Pretty Woman, Problem Child, Problem Child 2, The Mask, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

Amy says she met Ritter at director Dennis Dugan's house during a read-through of Problem Child in 1989. Ritter suggested she eat a bagel and cream cheese. He thought she was too thin.

Her late husband John died on their daughter Stella's fifth birthday, and a day before Amy's 41st birthday. She released her book, "With Love and Laughter, John Ritter" in September of 2010.

She was born on September 12, 1962.

According to Radar Online, a Hollywood gossip site, Amy has "finally found love again — and it’s with one of the lawyers who helped secure her family’s financial future.

"Michael Plonsker, 56, was part of the legal team who filed a $64 million wrongful death lawsuit against Ritter’s radiologist and cardiologist, and the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. where he was taken after collapsing on the set of 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter on September 11, 200," Radar Online said.

Yasbeck, now 52, is currently starring in the online series Little Women Big Cars.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Amy and John.