Friday, August 28, 2015

Publisher’s Note: Writing Like the Wind

Publisher’s Note: Writing Like the Wind

Bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith has been busy. Very busy. His fans will not find this statement the least bit shocking. And I have oh so many things to tell you about.
First off is Dean’s latest Ghost of a Chance novel, Heaven Painted as a Free Meal, which officially publishes tomorrow. This is Dean’s third novel in that series, which mixes superheroes, ghosts, urban fantasy, and a whole lot of fun.
Here’s the synopsis:
Poker Boy and his team have saved the world countless times. The Ghost of a Chance agency follows a similar charge. Superheroes and ghosts, all working for the greater good.
But as two new members join the Ghost of a Chance team, both ghosts and superheroes face a challenge that threatens to end the world.
The Ghost Agents, including newly dead recruit Elliot and almost dead Deanna, team up with Poker Boy and his team to save the living.
Amazing Stories calls the Poker Boy series “unlike anything else out there. It’s quirky and a lot of fun.”
If you’re looking for an entertaining book to read as the last days of summer draw to a close, pick this one up.
And if you follow Dean’s blog, you know that he spent all of last month writing a short story a day. Well, that project, called Stories from July, is now in my hands, and I’ll be publishing the entire collection, including Dean’s blog posts about writing those stories, in September. So, stay tuned for more information on that.
But I have to say publicly, wow, Dean, wow. Thirty-two stories in thirty-one days. Plus, he created two brand new series. I can’t emphasize enough to you readers how impressive that is. If you aren’t following Dean’s blog, you really should check it out. You can find it here.
And finally, Dean’s galaxy-spanning Seeders Universe novels have gotten a brand-new look. If you follow this blog, you know I’ve been busy with rebranding projects, and this series is the latest. I’m very pleased with how they’ve turned out. So, if you haven’t started the series yet, now’s the time. You can read more about each of the books by clicking on the covers.
So, projects, projects and more projects. The busier Dean gets, the busier I do. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Forgotten Books: The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Forgotten Books: The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Losers have always interested me more than winners. There's a line from a Leonard Cohen poem "The simple life of heroes/The twisted lives of saints." I'll take the saints (though Cohen isn't talking about folks the Vatican bestows sainthood on that's for sure).

My formative years were the Fifties. The films that influenced me the most were the noirs my father took me to and such fare as The Sweet Smell of Success and A Face in the Crowd. No heroes there. The same for my preferred reading (in additon to the Gold Medals and sf)--Hemingway, James Jones, Irwin Shaw (short stories), Graham Greene and Richard Wright among others. No heroes there either. Same for theater (I was writing terrible plays early on). O'Neill, Miller, Williams. Not a hero in sight.

We call a good deal of crime fiction dark. But is it? Cops replaced cowboys and now we have Cops (or investigators of any kind) with Personal Problems and reviewers think this is some kind of dangerous fiction. Not to me.

The constraints of commercial fiction are such that you risk losing a sale if your protagoist is an outright loser. The Brits were way ahead of us Yanks. Derek Raymond has spawned two generations of daring writers. The first time I read him I was struck by how much the texture of his prose reminded me of one of my five favorite books of all time, Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. I read fifty pages of it the other day. What with globalization the world is once again as Orwell described it in the Thirties.

The literary writer Brian Moore (who started out writing Gold Medals and Dell originals under three different names) made a brief early career out of losers. The Lucky Of Ginger Coffee, for only one example, is about a daydreamer most people love but who is ultimately a selfish man whose daydreams are destroying his wife and children. He can't accept that he's an average guy--a loserbyhis lights. And that turns him into a dark loser indeed.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's work is filled with losers. Handsome, poetic ones, yes, but losers nonetheless. Winter Dreams, as one of his best stories is called, describes the near lifelong love of a man for woman he can never have. He has great business success but he is a loser because he can never have her. The last few pages will give you chills.

Here we have The Pat Hobby Stories. They are set in the Hollywood the late Thirties and feature a once prominent screeenwriter who is reduced to virtually begging for work at the various studios that once wined and dined him. The Fitzgerald myth is so tied to the notion of Romantic Loss that we forget that he was also funnier than hell. And causitc.

As Arnold Gingrich said shortly after Fitzgerald's death, "These stories were the last word from his last home, for much of what he felt about Hollywood and about himself permeated these stories."

And damned good stories they are, too. Not major Fitzgerald but cunning and crafty tales of bars, studios, whores of both genders, unhappy winners and drunken losers.

My favorite here is "Pat Hobby and Orson Welles." The luckless Hobby is hanging around the writer's building trying to cadge anything he can get--even a B-western--when somebody mentions Orson Welles. And Hobby almost loses it. Everywere he turns he hears about Orson Welles--newspaper, magazines, radio, movies. Orson Welles Orson Welles.

Fitzgerald uses Welles as a symbol of generational turn. Hobby and other men his age were major players in their time but now their time is gone. One studio head admits (reluctantly) to Hobby that he doesn't know what the hell all the fuss about Welles is either but dammit the young people on his staff swoon every time his name is mentioned. So this studio head and others push enormous sums of money on Welles. Hobby bitterly wonders why Welles doesn't stay in the East where he belongs---with the snobs. The West, dammit, is for common folk. (Well, except for the mansions and Rodeo Drive.)

This is a book filled with boozy grief, hilarious bitterness and a fascinating look from the inside as to what writers went through under the old studio management.

As Fitzgerald himself said, "This was not art, this was industry. (Who) you sat with at lunch was more important than what you (wrote) in your office."

A fine little collection.

Gravetapping: THE SHADOW BROKER by Trace Conger


Posted: 26 Aug 2015 06:03 AM PDT

Ben Boulden:
Finn Harding is a private investigator who lost his license for unethical, and really, illegal behavior. A corporation hired him to do a background check on a CEO candidate; what it really wanted was access to the candidate’s medical records. Finn got the file, but he also got caught. Now he is trying to make a living as an unlicensed investigator, which limits the pool of clients to those who work in the shadows (i. e. the wrong side of the law). 

Finn is approached by a man who runs a website called The Shadow Brokerage where stolen credit cards, social security numbers are bought and sold. The website was hacked, and the hacker is extorting Finn’s client for $50,000 a month to keep the information secret. The client, a man named Bishop, wants the hacker found, and dealt with. Finn agrees to do the finding, but he doesn’t want to know what “dealt with” means. The job goes sideways, and Finn finds himself running for his life.

The Shadow Broker is an entertaining private eye novel. The setting is Cincinnati, and Finn lives on a decrepit house boat on the Ohio River. He has an ex-wife, a daughter he fears losing, and a father living in a nursing home who wants out. It is written in both first and third person—Finn’s perspective in first—and the author makes it work very well. There is a bunch of violence, and Finn makes a number of bad moves. The prose is smooth, the story interesting, and there are a couple very nice twists.

The Shadow Broker is a finalist for the 2015 Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award for Best Indie P.I. Novel, and I hope it wins.

Purchase a copy of The Shadow Broker at Amazon. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Book: When Somebody Kills You: A Rat Pack Mystery

   Just a quick mention that WHEN SOMEBODY KILLS YOU, the 10th book in my Rat Pack series, featuring Frank and Dino as well as Judy Garland, was published in the U.S. Aug. 1st in hardcover, and will be released Sept. 1 as an ebook. When I started writing this series I don't know if I anticipated getting to 10 books--and beyond?
  Here's what the Historical Novel Society had to say about it:

When Somebody Kills You: A Rat Pack Mystery

In this tenth installment of Randisi’s fun Rat Pack Mysteries, our favorite pit boss, Eddie Gianelli, is asked to help out yet another friend of Deano and Frank: Miss Judy Garland. Judy feels as though she’s being followed, so Eddie steps in to keep an eye on her, enlisting his good buddy, Jerry Epstein, to help him discover what’s really going on. It doesn’t take long for Eddie to become skeptical of Judy’s newest fiancĂ©, and to wonder if perhaps the young actor is out for more than just Judy’s companionship. Unfortunately, Eddie also has his own big problem: it seems someone in Las Vegas has put out a hit on him, and it’s not clear just which powerful figure has decided to take him out. Could it be mobster MoMo Giancana, or someone related to the Kennedys? Or someone else entirely?
This novel, like the other mysteries in the series, is good fun that weaves real people and events effortlessly around a mystery that is plausible enough to have happened just that way. Eddie always seems to get himself involved in serious problems despite his best efforts, and his usual cast of cohorts is there to keep him alive while he figures out what’s going on. Randisi is an expert in bringing the era to life, using the Rat Pack members fully and giving Old Vegas a personality all its own. This book is just as good as the others in the series, and is recommended as quality escapism and intriguing mystery at their best.

Joseph Lewis

Joseph Lewis

I watched Gun Crazy last night and was struck as always by the folk tale power of the story and the bravado with which it was directed. Mystery writer Mike Nevins has written a long and to me definitive piece-interview on Lewis' career and through it I came to understand Lewis' notion that to have suspense you first need to have characters who are slightly askew. You never quite understand their motives so you never quite know what to expect from them.

Most evaluations of Lewis' career speculate what he would have done with A picture budgets. He ended up doing a lot of TV work. He made a good deal of money but presumably wasn't as satisfied with his Bonanza stories as he was with his more personal work. He started in westerns and finished in westerns.

As for what he would have done with A-picture money...who knows. But there's at least a chance that he was most comfortable working with the money he was given. Hard to imagine that pictures as gritty as Gun Crazy and The Big Combo could have been shot the way he wanted them to be in an A-picture environment. These are films that took no prisoners and Hwood, especially in those days, wasn't real keen on grim movies.

I found this evaluation of Lewis by David Thomson, my favorite film critic:

"There is no point in overpraising Lewis. The limitations of the B picture lean on all his films. But the plunder he came away with is astonishing and - here is the rub - more durable than the output of many better-known directors...Joseph Lewis never had the chance to discover whether he was an "artist," but - like Edgar Ulmer and Budd Boetticher - he has made better films than Fred Zinnemann, John Frankenheimer, or John Schlesinger." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)