Tag Archives: Walter Conley

The Best of 2014: ADR Books

My choice for Publisher in 2014: ALL DUE RESPECT.

All Due Respect began as a crime fiction website in 2010. Founded by Alec Cizak, the site originally posted one story a month.

In 2012, Chris Rhatigan assumed the role of Editor and upped the frequency to twice per month.

All Due Respect: The Anthology (Full Dark City Press) appeared in 2013; among its contributors was Mike Monson, who would soon become ADR’s Associate Editor. 2013 also saw the launch of All Due Respect Magazine, a quarterly journal containing non-fiction as well as fiction.

This past summer, Rhatigan and Monson announced that they would be issuing novels, novellas and short story collections via All Due Respect Books. Their flagship title, you don’t exist, was a pairing of unique, but oddly complementary novellas by Chris Rhatigan and Pablo D’Stair. ADR has since published Mike Monson’s Tussinland, Two Bullets Solve Everything by Ryan Sayles and Chris Rhatigan, Prodigal Sons by Mike Miner, and Revenge is a Redhead by Phil Beloin Jr.

What I’ve read so far is exactly what I had expected, what they have always brought in both hands: crime writing that is honest, intense, uncompromising, diverse and wickedly entertaining.

You should read it, too….

you don’t exist

Tussinland

Two Bullets Solve Everything

Prodigal Sons

Revenge is a Redhead

And keep an eye out for the following: The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinson, Love You to a Pulp by CS De Wildt, Uncle Dust by Rob Pierce, Crooked Roads by Alex Cizak, and the “Selena” novellas by Greg Barth.

For updates, visit:

All Due Respect’s Blog

and

All Due Respect on Facebook

WRC


Flash Fiction by Dana King

Dana King is a rarity for me: the kind of author I enjoy with two minds, thinking Goddamn, this guy can write, even as I’m carried away by the story he tells. GRIND JOINT was one of the best novels I read in 2014. On a personal note, I have great admiration for the way he writes cops. My father was a policeman. I grew up around them. In my opinion, no one captures the flavor of their conversations better. I’m pleased to be able to share the opening of his forthcoming novel, BAD SAMARITAN:

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BAD SAMARITAN
By Dana King

Trouble is the residue of my design.

I could have left him alone. Should have, depending on who you ask. Found myself handy to Rush Street after a long day, stopped for a beer and the beginning of the Sox game. Saw him slap the woman, locked and loaded for the second when I slid a forearm under his armpit, grabbed his wrist, and pulled until the shoulder separated.

It took time for him to collect himself. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“You know why.” Slid back onto my bar stool.

Hard to make it sound threatening with tears in his eyes, arm pinned to his torso. He did his best. “You have no idea who I am.”

It occurred to me he had no idea who I was, either. So I gave him my card.

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Dana King’s new release, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, follows the Shamus-nominated A Small Sacrifice, featuring Chicago private investigator Nick Forte. He also writes a series of police procedurals set in the economically depressed Western Pennsylvania town of Penns River. Classically trained, he has worked as a free-lance musician, public school teacher, computer network engineer, software sales consultant, and systems administrator. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Corky, and daughter, Rachel.

Dana King at Amazon

–Walter Conley


Drag Noir

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I’ve been working on a long project this year, but there have been a few calls for submissions I couldn’t let pass. Fox Spirits’ DRAG NOIR anthology proved irresistible. A line of dialogue—what would become the opening line of my contribution—popped into my head at work, the night before I saw the call. I typed it out and the story wrote itself. It takes place in my fictional town of Wellesport, Connecticut and introduces new characters alongside established ones. I do plan to revisit the newer residents, although I have no idea when or where (perhaps reader support will bring about the publication of Drag Noir 2?)

Editorial description and Contents:

DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot.

Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury, The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin, Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky, No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon, Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker, Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates, Trespassing – Michael S. Chong, Chianti – Selene MacLeod, The Changeling – Tracy Fahey, Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett, Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates, Protect Her – Walter Conley, King Bitch – James Bennett, A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill, Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan, The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden

You can purchase it here: Drag Noir @ Amazon

Visit the publisher’s website to check out their catalog and get links to merchandise: Fox Spirit Books online

Or follow them on facebook for updates: facebook.com/foxspiritbooks

WRC


Allen Miles on Writing & This Is How You Disappear

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I was never cut out for a career. I’m too socially awkward and I never found anything that stirred my passions enough to attempt to forge a livelihood from it. I have a job, but I refuse to be one of the arse-kissing yes-spitters in my workplace so I’ll never get on the ladder. I have found people who I get on with at work and they have similar principals/flaws (same thing, these days), which is why they’ve become my friends. If I enjoy any success in my lifetime it will be through something out of the ordinary, and I’ve known that since I was about twelve years old. It was obvious by the age of about eight that I was never going to be a professional footballer, due to my lack of a left foot and inability to, as my Dad said, “Get my head up”. By the age of fourteen I wanted to be a musician. I learned, very slowly, to play the guitar, and wrote lyrics. By the age of seventeen I had met someone who thought similarly, and we put our plans in progress to conquer the world with our punk band. And we told exactly no-one.

This is the problem I have with my writing career. It was exactly the same as when I was in my band. Back then when someone would ask me if I was in a band, I’d raise a hand to my face, shuffle my feet, look at the floor and mumble “Well, yeah, sort of…” when I should have been drawing myself up to my full height, drilling my eyes into the questioner’s face in the manner of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and saying with all the arrogance in the world, “Damn right I’m in a band, we’re brilliant, and pretty soon you’re gonna be hearing all about us.” Even when we were in a position of promise, my inner-Costanza would race to the surface, making me spout forth a woefully misjudged joke or attempt to be ironic. I remember once we played a venue that was absolutely rammed with young emo kids who had come to see the band we were supporting, not exactly our market but one we certainly could have worked on. Rather than seeing the potential, I took the mic and sighed, “Good evening, we’re Sal Paradise, you won’t like us.”

The reasons I don’t brag about my literary endeavours are three-fold: The first is, I think, pretty acceptable. I hate it when people who have no interest in literature ask me questions about my book. The question is always “What’s it about?” and the answer I want to give is thus:
“It’s a collection of short stories and prose, based mainly on themes of isolation and escapism, it’s pretty dark but has a fair bit of black humour in there. . In many ways it’s a reaction to the way our society has become so fleeting and impersonal in recent times. I nicked the title from a Scott Walker song, and I drew lots of influence from the work of Albert Camus, Charles Bukowski and John Fante, as well as the lyrics of Elvis Costello and the life and times of Howard Hughes.”

But I don’t say that.

I say:”I dunno really, I just wrote a few stories about things that I’ve seen…”

Secondly, I worry that I’m no good. Well, not exactly that, but I’ve always been wary of becoming an Adrian Mole or Brian Griffin-type figure, someone who constantly tells everyone loudly that they’re a writer, and when they eventually produce a piece of work it is absolutely abysmal. These characters, along with hundreds of others that I’ve seen Facebook posts by or met on various writers forums, have absolutely zero talent but astonishing faith in their own ability. I’ve never been able to develop that level of confidence, precisely for the reason that if I did march about telling everyone I’m great, and they all buy my book, they might think it’s terrible, and despite me having 100% certainty that my work is brilliant, the consensus is, it’s shite. It’s not shite, obviously. My book is very good, but delusion is so common in the literary industry, and I’m terrified that I’ve succumbed to this disease. Last week I took morning refreshments with one of my best friends, she asked how my writing career is going, and I mentioned that there had been various developments, including interest from local bookshops and the possibility of a signing at Waterstones.

“Wow, that’s great,” she said, “When is it?”

I shrugged my shoulders and told her that I probably wasn’t going to do it as I was worried that no-one would turn up. Her facial expression hit some sort of mid-point between frenzied aggression and exasperation. This stylish, sexy and not at all kindly woman then charged up to me and pretended to wring my neck.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you constantly trying to sabotage your own success?”

I couldn’t answer.

The third reason is, I don’t like referring to myself as a writer. I have made very little money from my published work so far, and until I earn a living wage from it, I will describe myself in employment terms as an underpaid and undervalued healthcare assistant who works for the NHS, as I have no right to do anything other than that.

The writing industry is a very cynical one, as are all what might be termed “creative” industries. You have to know the right people, and you are expected to pay homage to people whom you have no respect for. I don’t review other people’s work, mainly because I don’t feel I have any business judging them, and also because if I don’t like their work I would feel like a charlatan if I gave them a good review. The fact that I adopt this stance has hamstrung me in many ways, as I have very few friends in the business and I’m quite happy to keep it that way, which means I’ll get very few plugs, and very few breaks. My single proudest moment since I first wrote a story came not from reading a good review, not from signing a publishing deal and not from receiving praise from some big-wig in the industry. It came from a brief text message sent by my mate Wes, a builder by trade and a good man whom I don’t see as often as I’d like. It read:

JUST SEEN YOU IN HULL DAILY MAIL. HONOURED AND PROUD TO CALL YOU MY FRIEND.

A simple message of encouragement from a person that I like. Sometimes that’s enough.

I mentioned the very few friends I have made in the business, but those few have shown massive faith in me, and for this I am grateful. Mrs Hoffs, Mrs Johnson and Messrs Bracha and Quantrill have given me huge encouragement, and Darren Sant has shown an almost biblical belief in me from the day we met, blind-pissed at a all-night party. I’ve also had ego-boosting support from many of my work colleagues. To continue to sub-consciously sabotage my career would be to let them all down, so it ends here.

I am immensely proud of This Is How You Disappear, it is the best work I have ever produced, and it’s better than ninety percent of the shite that sells millions every year. It is not always pleasant, it is not a “light holiday read”, it will upset you in places, but it will also make you laugh. It will put images and thoughts in your head that you are not necessarily comfortable with and it will challenge your morale values, but it will also introduce you to characters who you may feel sympathy and affection for. If whoring myself at public signings and readings is what I have to do to sell this book, then so be it, I’ll do it, and if I make a living wage out of it, then, and only then, will I call myself a writer.

“I’m looking to open people’s eyes. I’ll fail, but in the process, I’ll get self-satisfaction. And I know that a minority, a strong minority, will listen, and that will be enough for me.”
–Scott Walker.

Buy THIS IS HOW YOU DISAPPEAR


Out Now: Exiles

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Available for kindle and soon in print, Exiles: An Outsider Anthology. Edited by Paul D. Brazill. I have a story called “Wetwork” in it. Check out the TOC below. $.99 US. Proceeds go to charity.

INTRODUCTION: HEATH LOWRANCE
REFLECTIONS ON A DECADE IN THE WILD EAST – COLIN GRAHAM
EATING THE DREAM – K A LAITY
MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO DELHI – CHRIS RHATIGAN
BOXING DAY IN MUROS – STEVEN PORTER
WE ARE ALL SPECIAL CASES – PATTI ABBOTT
NEVER A VESSEL LARGE ENOUGH – RYAN SAYLES
THE SOLOMON SEA – GARETH SPARK
AGENT RAMIEL GETS THE CALL – PAMILA PAYNE
THE WEATHER PROPHET – PAUL D. BRAZILL
THE RAIN KING – JASON MICHEL
DULLCREEK – CARRIE CLEVENGER
IN AMERICA – DAVID MALCOLM
THE PLACE OF THE DEAD – NICK SWEENEY
DISAPPEARING ACT –
TAKING OUT THE TRASH – AIDAN THORN
MISSING AN EAR – BENJAMIN SONIA KILVINGTON
WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR – ROB BRUNET
PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY – JAMES A. NEWMAN
DEAD MAN WALKING – TESS MAKOVESKY
SHUT OUT THE LIGHT – CHRIS LEEK
FLYING IN AMSTERDAM – MCDROLL
THE TRIBE – RENATO BRATKOVIC
WETWORK – WALTER CONLEY
DIGGER DAVIES – MARIETTA MILES SOBIECK
THE TENDER TRAP – GRAHAM WYND
FALLING THROUGH THE HOURGLASS – RICHARD GODWIN

Exiles at Amazon

WRC


Recommended: Rachel’s Folly

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Out Now: Monica Bruno’s debut thriller, RACHEL’S FOLLY. Available in Kindle and print versions.

Family therapist Rachel Richards’ life is about to come undone.

She has it all: a successful career, a beautiful house, a loving husband, and a son she adores. To top it off, her best friend is getting married. But who is this mysterious man who calls himself Jack and, more importantly, who is Rachel when she’s with him? After a night of drinking gone awry, Rachel is forced to face a dark part of herself she didn’t know existed. She must find a way to cope—with what she’s done, with the kind of person she might be—or lose her life in the process.

Told from three unique perspectives and set against the backdrop of an Austin, Texas both strange and familiar, Rachel’s Folly is an exploration of profound loss, morality, and the lengths to which we will go to save our loved ones and ourselves . . . from ourselves.

She could hear a dog barking in the distance as she moved through her childhood home. She was a little girl again. She could see her small, bare feet beneath her as she walked over the mustard-yellow, swirl-patterned carpet. She walked towards the kitchen and stood at the butler door, where she heard voices coming from inside. She hesitated. She stared at the small dry, dust-covered paint drip on the door panel, then, gently pushed the door open. Her parents were sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. Her father sat motionless with his bloodshot eyes fixated on a sweating glass of rum and Coke in front of him. His face looked drained, like he had been crying. Her mother’s head was down, her face buried in her hands. This is when they tell me they’re getting divorced, Rachel thought. Her mother slowly turned to look at her, streaks of black mascara running down her face. She looked angry and screamed, “What have you done?”

Rachel’s Folly @ Amazon

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Originally from San Antonio, Monica Bruno has lived in Austin since 2001. She’s an avid runner, dedicated yogi, loves indie rock music and live concerts. Rachel’s Folly is Bruno’s debut novel. It’s available for purchase on Amazon.com.

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My review at Amazon:

Rachel’s Folly is the best debut novel–one of the best suspense novels, period–that I’ve had the pleasure of reading over the past year. On the
surface, the book is a psychological thriller. While it succeeds in that respect, it is also a serious, thoughtful look at the consequences of adultery. How a momentary indiscretion can upset the balance of life not only for the participants, but for their surrounding friends and families, as well. A small cast of characters is developed with great care and insight. Nothing is rushed. This is a book you can immerse yourself in fully. When the big moments, the twists and revelations, do come, they are geniunely stunning. I expected the final confrontation to play differently, but laud the author’s decision to avoid the obvious ending and present another that was both surprising and true to the characters involved. Highly recommended.Monica Bruno is a writer I hope to see more from and soon.

Walter Conley


Recommended: 18 Days by Allen Miles

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Byker Books, having already produced one of the best catalogs of 2013, scores again with 18 Days by Allen Miles. 18 Days is part of their Best of British line. It chronicles the descent of its lead character, Davy Sheridan, into a whirpool of grief and self-destruction. Perhaps descent is too light a word. More like he’s dropped from heaven, smashes through the earth and cartwheels straight into hell. Then tries to dig himself through the floor. The magic of the story is in its telling: rather than advance point-by-point, 18 Days evolves through a series of variations, circling back on itself and a little further forward each time, the way a melody is explored by a seasoned jazz musician. And there passages such as this, which I was compelled to re-read as soon as I’d finished them:

“He approached the cemetery and its ostentatious gates and he took an overview of what he saw. In any other season except for this one, this place looked beautiful, peaceful, picturesque and tranquil. In spring it bustled with the joy of the new, the naive shade of the newly born green leaves on every plant and tree, the fresh grass bursting from the ground to give each grave an extra blanket on top. In summer the sun would affirm people’s belief in heaven as they wiped away their tears each time they came to lay flowers, and they would all say that the beams of ultra-violet were their dead relatives smiling down on them. When the autumn came, the cemetery became a hazy, sensuous oasis. The enormous trees would adopt the dozens of colours of fire, and the smell of the vegetation on the ground would make your eyes water. A low mist would hang over the gravestones and it would make you want to read a Dickens novel. But in the barren January chill, from where Davy stood and smoked as he prepared to enter, those very same enormous trees looked like hideous spectral claws reaching out of the ground to ensnare any spirits that might have had the hope of rising up….”

I won’t give away the ending. You’ll have to read the book to find out if Sheridan survives. And read it you should.

Also of note is the cover by Kenny Crow, a perfect complement to the story.

18 Days at Amazon US

18 Days at Amazon UK

Allen Miles is the author of The Night Out That Never Ended and Down And Out Down Hartoft Road, the screenplay Paradise (A Story of Shambolic Failure), and a collection of short stories and prose entitled Nostaligia And Its Long-Term Future. His website, Sitting on the Swings, is located at http://sittingontheswings.com.

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Walter Conley