Saturday, December 31, 2011

That Was The Year That Was

So. 2011.

Man, what an ass-kicker. Just to get this out of the way, there were huge swaths of this year that blew monkey chunks. Much turmoil, panic, putting out of fires, deaths in the family, medical crap, assorted financial bullshit. We're still picking up some of the pieces.

That said, it's also been one of the coolest years. And here are some of the things that made it that way.

My first novel, CITY OF THE LOST drops next Tuesday and this was the year of getting it ready to go. Galleys, cover art, copyedits.

I've got a long way to go before I really understand the details and the ins and outs of this stuff, but going through the process has been a hell of an education. Every thing I've learned has not only shown me how little I know, but also helped give me details on what I don't know. Seeing the holes in my knowledge as opposed to just knowing they're there is a big shift.

The second novel for my publisher, DAW Books, DEAD THINGS, was turned in over the summer. Technically, it's the third one I've written. But it's the second that will get published (provided my editor doesn't throw it back and say, "This is crap! Write another one!") and the first I've written under contract.

I like it. After spending some time away from it I think it's got some problems. Hell, I know it's got some problems. But it's a complete novel and I think it's pretty solid. And the folks who've read it have had good things to say about it. And also some not good things that I haven't quite figured out how to fix, yet.

But that's for 2012.

Thanks to Mr. Chuck Wendig I got a chance to contribute a short story and some text to a kick-ass transmedia project called PANDEMIC that ran at Sundance. Can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Thanks to my cohorts Eric Beetner, and Aldo "Mysterydawg" as well as some pointers from Jed Ayres and Scott Phillips who started the whole thing back in St. Louis, we finally got off our asses and kicked off the L.A. edition of Noir At The Bar. It's been a blast and a half and we plan to keep it going as long as we possibly can. There are some damn fine crime writers in the Southland and we'd love to have them read to a room full of drunks.

We've already got three lined up for 2012 in January, March and May, and are making plans for more and better. Personally, I'd love to be able to look back in 10 years and say, "Damn, have we been doing this that long?"

Los Angeles has an eclectic literary scene and it's a trip when I realize that we're becoming a part of that. It's an experiment I'm proud and happy to be a part of.

For 2012 we'll be figuring out better and more ways to promote it, finding some possible new venues so them Valley folks who don't want to brave the Westside can swing by, and more writers we can promote and have read.

To say that I'm an editor for NEEDLE: A MAGAZINE OF NOIR is kind of stretching the definition. I haven't been asked to do much in the way of actual editing. I read slush, giving me a chance in the last year to read some amazing crime fiction.

And looking at my queue right now I see I have a lot more to read. Huh.

Anyway, I wouldn't be doing that if it wasn't for authors Steve Weddle and John Hornor Jacobs, the brains behind the operation. Steve's willingness to stick to his vision of a print only magazine that's 100% pure ass-kicking fiction and John's killer design sense have made NEEDLE one of the most polished, slick and impressive publications out there. It's a labor of love.

And speaking of NEEDLE, I have to give a shout out to my fellow readers of slush, Matt Funk and Dan O'Shea, two amazing authors who consistently deliver the goods.

This last year saw my zombie short story WORLD'S GREATEST DAD appear in the Halloween anthology DEADLY TREATS edited by Theresa Weir / Anne Frasier. I like that story a lot. It was fun to write and even more fun to read the other stories in that anthology.

I turned in a short story for the DON'T REST YOUR HEAD anthology being put out by Evil Hat Productions.

I got some gaming work that I can't talk about, yet, but trust me, it's awesome stuff and I'm collaborating with some outrageously talented people.

I posted a few short stories here at L.A. Noir that I'm particularly proud of.

A horror western about a U.S. Marshal who gets more than he bargained for when he goes after an outlaw in a seedy, little mining town.

An ugly little story about a rookie gangster's first night out with the big boys.

A short piece about a homeless vampire who just can't take the beatdown she's been getting any longer. This one shows a bit of my writing process, and it's set in the world of CITY OF THE LOST and DEAD THINGS.

What's really made 2011 special is all of my readers, my friends, my family, and especially my wife.

Thanks for following me, reading my insane ramblings and not calling the cops. I've made some great friends, met some awesome people.

Have a happy new year folks. Let's kick the unholy hell out of 2012, shall we?

Friday, December 30, 2011

In Which I Show You A Pretty Picture

I'm guest blogging today over at author Chris F Holm's place and talking about CITY OF THE LOST. All part of the official Shilling Of The Book.

But today I'm not talking about the book so much as I'm talking about the art inside it by comic artist Sean Phillips.

I say it better over there, so go on and take a look, would ya?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In Which I Feel Sorry For A Botanist With An Unfortunate Name

CITY OF THE LOST is out next week, people. NEXT FUCKING WEEK!!!1!!

In fact, thanks to Mr. Thomas Pluck, there are reports of it already out in the wild.

And thus today begins the cycle of unrepentant book flogging!

You know, like spanking only not as fun.

And we start it over at the digs of crazed Scottish author Russel D McLean where I talk about the dangers of a missing O, Scottish botany and startling profanity.

In other news, and I'll be talking about this every single day until it happens, I'm a signin' me some books!

Come one, come all! I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach and San Diego next week, Noir At The Bar later next month and up in San Francisco in early February at Borderlands Books. Still finalizing the date on that one.

Friday, January 6th at 7:30pm at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach.

View Larger Map

Saturday, January 7th at 2:00pm at Mysterious Galaxy San Diego

View Larger Map

And then we're doing Noir At The Bar on Sunday, January 22nd at 8:00pm at The Mandrake Bar in Culver City. Still finalizing details on that one and we'll have more later. But mark the calendar.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lovecraftian Noir - FATALE by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

I got a surprise in my inbox yesterday.

FATALE, the latest collaboration between Sean Phillips, who did the artwork for CITY OF THE LOST, and writer Ed Brubaker.

I have nightmares like this.
And holy shit is it good.

The story, at least this part of it, bounces between Dominic Raines and Walt Booker in the late 50's and Nicolas Lash in the present day with Josephine, a mysterious woman who doesn't seem to age, connecting them. She has a secret, probably more than one, and a power to draw men in and control them, though she seems to see it as more curse than boon.

Aside from the fact that trouble follows her wherever she goes and her ability to create obsession is in full force, we don't really see the curse part in action, yet, but given some of the hints dropped in the first issue I get it's gonna be a whopper.

Brubaker does an excellent job of laying down the groundwork for future issues, putting forth questions I get we're going to be spending a lot of time trying to find answers for. Who's Josephine? What's her secret? What happened to her during the war? Brubaker uses the shifting perspectives of his four protagonists to great effect, dropping hints of past horrors and future betrayals.

Phillips's artwork jumps off the page, capturing the characters' joy, shock and terror. When Phillips shows us Walt and Josephine together, Walt standing there sucking on a cigarette, his face completely hidden in shadow, Walt's utter contempt is palpable.

And it's all enhanced by Dave Stewart's coloring. The muted tones really add to the noir feel.

When done well, and this one is, first issues are a delight to read. At the same time they leave you itching for the next one and a month feels like a long time.

FATALE comes out next Wednesday, January 4th from Image Comics. Find a store near you and grab a copy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The List of Awesome Things

CITY OF THE LOST comes out in one week. And you know how I'm gonna celebrate this pseudo-not-really-a-milestone?

By NOT talking about it.

Over the next week I'm gonna be flogging this thing like a sub with no safe-word. Today, all you gotta know is right there over on the sidebar and that you can pre-order it here.  Or if you're of a more technological bent, go here for the Nook version or here for the Kindle version.

Today I'm gonna pimp other people's work. Stuff I've read, or stuff I want to read, or stuff I've read that you can't read, yet, not because you're not awesome, because you are, but because the publishers have these things called "schedules" and "production runs" and other such impressively business sounding words.

And so here, in no particular order, is a


Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
CRIMINAL: LAST OF THE INNOCENTS The CRIMINAL series is one of the best collaborations in comics and the latest, LAST OF THE INNOCENTS, is a whopper. Brutal, poignant, and deliciously fucked up. Brubaker's story-telling is top notch and Phillips' art (who did the cover and artwork for CITY OF THE LOST, by the way) makes the story pop.

FATALE - Supernatural noir with Lovecraftian hints. I haven't read it, yet, since the first issue's not out until next week, but I so want to get my hands on this.

Chuck Wendig
Wendig's novel BLACKBIRDS isn't out until April, but I got a chance to read it in manuscript form. It's about a girl who can tell how someone will die by touching them. It's about cheating fate, the choices we make and what it really means to choose your own path.

It is one of the most fucking incredible books I have read in years. This book will win awards.

Sadly, you'll have to wait to read it. But if you'd like to get a chance to check out some of his other work, grab a copy of SHOTGUN GRAVY and DOUBLE DEAD. Fantastic reads.

Seanan McGuire
I'm a sucker for good Urban Fantasy. The operative word here is "good". And that's Seanan McGuire. Her Toby Daye series about a changeling who's more than she appears is brilliantly done and hits all the right notes. Start with ROSEMARY AND RUE and read on through to her latest, ONE SALT SEA.

And then there's her new Incryptid series starting in March with DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON about the Price family who has spent generations studying the monsters of the world.

Mira Grant
Seems like apocalyptic zombie stories are all over the goddamn place, but there aren't a lot doing post-apocalyptic zombie stories. And certainly not well. But Seanan McGuire writing as Mira Grant knocks it out of the park with her Newslfesh series. This is about what happens after civilization has gotten back on its feet again and still dealing with a zombie plague. And what do you know, we're still assholes.

The books are more about news, media and politics than zombies. Start with FEED, grab DEADLINE and then pine for BLACKOUT, which isn't out until February.

John Hornor Jacobs
SOUTHERN GODS One of the best books I've read this year. Set in the post-war South, SOUTHERN GODS is the story of veteran Bull Ingram, who's been hired by a Memphis DJ to track down a mysterious blues musician who goes by the name of Ramblin' John Hastur. Southern gothic, blues music and Lovecraftian horror. Jacobs knocks this out of the park.

Christa Faust
Nobody writes pulp the way Faust does. Brutal, rapid fire prose, poignant moments that make you pause and really think about what she's saying. Everything from her tie-in novels to her Hard Case Crime books is an exercise in how to do it right.

CHOKE HOLD is one of my favorite novels of the year and its prequel, MONEY SHOT is balls to the wall amazing.

Anthony Neil Smith
ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS "When two of the Twin Cities' “Lost Boys” — young Somali men drafted to fight for terrorists back in the homeland — kill a pair of cops on his home turf, detective Ray Bleeker is left devastated. One of the dead cops was his girlfriend. The investigation grinds to a halt when he discovers that the young murderers have fled to Somalia to fight in the rebel army. He's at his wits' end when the father of one of the boys, an ex-gang leader named Mustafa, comes looking for answers, wanting to clear his son's name and refusing to take no for an answer. Bleeker and Mustafa form an uneasy alliance, teaming up to help bring the boys back home to stand trial. But little do they know what Somalia has in store for them."

This one's on my TBR pile. I've loved Smith's writing ever since I read THE DRUMMER. He's a kick-ass talent who consistently delivers. If you don't read YELLOW MEDICINE and HOGDOGGIN', you are dead to me.

Chris F Holm
Another one you can't get your hands on for a couple of months. DEAD HARVEST is a pulpy supernatural novel about angels and demons and the poor bastards who get stuck in between them. This is a hell of a debut and you're going to want to check it out soon as it comes out.

Duane Swierczynski
Everything this man has ever written is fucking gold. But here are some of his latest. FUN AND GAMES is brilliantly violent. Then there's the follow-up, HELL AND GONE, which I haven't cracked open, yet, and POINT AND SHOOT, which doesn't come out until March.

But if you're really hard up for some Swierczy, check out his comic work. His run on DC's BIRDS OF PREY is phenomenal.

Ray Banks
DEAD MONEY is one of the first books put out by new publisher Blasted Heath. It's on my TBR pile, but his other work are phenomenal. SATURDAY'S CHILD is one of my favorite novels ever.

Caitlin Kittredge
THE IRON THORN is a Lovecraftian, steampunk, YA novel. Anybody else and it would have devolved into a mess of horror cliches and top hats with gears glued on, but Kittredge pulls it off masterfully. The follow-up, THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN is out in February.

And proving that she's a writing machine, I'd be remiss to not mention DEVIL'S BUSINESS, the latest in her Black London series. Great book from an impressive author.

You know what? There are a lot more that should go on this list, but I'm getting a cramp in my fingers.  So how's about you toss a couple into the comments, yourself?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Awful Spry For An Old Guy

San Luis Obispo, CA

Dye packs are the whoopee-cushions of the bank robbing world. Seriously, they're comedy gold. Like blowing all the windows out of your getaway car as you pass the cops responding to the call, for example.

But besides being a good tagging tool, now they're good for age verification.

The FBI released a new video of the Geezer Bandit a guy who appears to be in his 70's who's been knocking over banks throughout California since 2009. It shows him walking out to his car and having the dye pack blow up in his face.

One of the theories that's been floating around is that the Geezer is actually a much younger man who is using an old-person mask made by one of the effects houses that sells those sorts of things to the general public. This video gives a pretty good indication that this might be true.

Because when that thing goes off boy-howdy does that fucker run.

Now having shit blow up in your face can override all sorts of things, like, you know, your bowels.  But stiff joints and arrhythmia are kinda tough to not feel, ya know?

Or are they?  In the interest of science let's set off a bunch of flash-bangs at random people and see how quickly they run away.

Oh, wait, we already have that answer.

Thanks, Oakland PD!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Imagine If His Initials Had Been IED

Los Angeles, CA

The vigilant eyes of the Sheriff are upon you workday commuter. They watch with raptor-like intensity for anything that may step out of the norm, for the hints of terror that dog the men, women and occasional midnight trannies of the Los Angeles public transportation system. And when they find something they SWOOP into action to protect you from greasy backpacks with an implied threat scrawled on in ragged Sharpie.

Union Station was partly evacuated yesterday when Sheriff's deputies caught sight of a lone backpack with the word BANG written on it. This caused much furor and gnashing of teeth. As well as the rush hour closure of the Red and Purple lines between Union Station and the Civic Center as the bomb squad sniffed it over to find...

That it belonged to a guy named Bang Bang.

Hooray! Once again paranoid vigilance saves the day!

Monday, December 12, 2011

How Do YOU Think I Should Whore Myself?

CITY OF THE LOST comes out in a few weeks and I'm getting ready to flog it the way a choir boy goes at it when he discovers nudity in National Geographic.

I don't much like doing self-promotion. The surest way to turn me off of anybody (writer, artist, blind hobo date) is the constant hard sell. The unending barrage of, "BUY MY BOOK!" feels like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Of course there's a balance there. How much is too much? That's subjective and for me it goes up and down depending on my mood and whether or not I've taken my meds.

Not that I won't happily pimp somebody else's stuff. To me that's different, though I'm not entirely sure why. I think it has to do with the idea that I'm sharing something that I think is cool and think that maybe you'll find it cool, too.

Instead of the hard sell I'd rather create some kind of connection with people and hope that they find what I'm saying interesting enough to want to buy the book. I have no idea if this will actually work. I also have no idea if I'm actually interesting.

Now I've got some guest blog posts lined up for the week that the book comes out. I've written a couple so far, and I'll be spending the next week or two writing more.

But here's the problem. I'm not sure what else to talk about.

So, here's where you, dear reader (all two of you) come in.

What would YOU like to know?

How I got an agent? How I got the book published? How did it get from point A to point B? My writing process (or lack thereof)? The music I played incessantly while I was writing it? How I feel about publishing, genre, writing in general? What's next?

If there's something you want to know about the book or its writing, or whatever, sound off in the comments below or over on Twitter (@sblackmoore).

Thanks.  I appreciate the assist.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gotham's Not The Same Since Bruce Hit The Bottle

Pasadena, CA

In the inky depth of night, where terror rules the street only one man can save this vile city of rats and scoundrels.

But he's gotta pick up a 40 first.

Seems the Dark Knight knocked over a liquor store in Pasadena last night. Guy walked in wearing a Batman mask and he and three other guys (no word yet on whether they were dressed as the rest of the Justice League or just Robin, Batgirl and Alfred), waved some guns around and walked off with some cash, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Lottery tickets.

When Bruce Wayne's playing a scratcher you know the economy's gone to shit.

Cops later picked up the getaway driver and the car, but no sign yet of The Bat. 

It's like he just melted away. Into the shadows. WooooOOoooOOOOoooooo.

Here's a tip, check with that Selina Kyle chick. I hear she's got a thing for him.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Holy Shit, It's A Book Launch - CITY OF THE LOST signing at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach

Yes, boys and girls it's actually finally really fucking here.

My first novel, CITY OF THE LOST comes out in January. And we'll be launching it Friday, January 6th into the stratosphere where it will explode into a thousand, flaming-

Wait. No. I've just been told that the fire marshal has nixed that plan.

Fine. FINE. Instead, we'll set it loose onto the Pacific like the fighting ships of old and-

Sorry, no again. Apparently being a trade paperback it's not much of a floater.

Okay, look. I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach (2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278) on Friday, January 6th at 7:30pm. We'll have books there. It is a bookstore, after all.

And I'll be drunk. NO. No, I'll be signing. Books. MY books. Or book. Singular. I mean, I've only written one, so far. But I'll be signing more than one copy. It'd be kind of silly to have people come down, scribble my name once and then send them all away, now wouldn't it?

I'll probably sign somebody else's book too, if you like. I can do a pretty passable Neil Gaiman scrawl. I mean, it won't fool the bank or anything. Or him. Or anybody, come to think of it. Hell, if that were the case I wouldn't be doing this writing thing in the first place, now would I?

So come on down, invite your friends. Buy a book. Learn to forge my arthritic scrawl. Listen to me read. In English!

There will be swearing, stammering, occasional flatulence!

There might even be cake.*

So pop on by that Friday night and join me for an evening of books, books and more books. And occasional signage.

*My lawyer would like me to inform you that this is not in any way an actual guarantee of the presence of cake, pastries, pies, cookies, rugala, malasadas, croissants, crullers, jelly donuts, Belgian waffles, Bavarian cremes, or any and all cake like objects.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Rise Of The Micro-Patron

That sounds dirty, doesn't it? Like some guy calling his member Herve Villechaize and then winking suggestively at the increasingly disturbed prostitute he's hired for the evening before suddenly declaring, "Welcome! To Fantasy Island!"

But no, that's not what I mean. Sorry to disappoint. That's patron as in Medici, not tequila.

In the last several months I've seen more people using Kickstarter to fund their creative projects. Some pretty incredible projects, too. Books, games, comics. It's all over the map. Ones that might never see the light of day, otherwise.


'Cause shit costs money and they don't have any. They don't have a publisher behind them, or a distributor. They can't take out a loan and they have no realistic expectation that they'd make a profit, much less have the cash on hand to pull in the people they need to get the job done.

We're not talking about dumping your whiskey-themed mystery backlist onto the Kindle here. We're talking about products that require designers, artists, writers, playtesters, printers.

We're talking some serious overheard, here.

Laura Anne Gilman, Will Hindmarch, Gareth Skarka, Matt Forbeck, Alex de Campi. Matt Forbeck. The list goes on.

When you boil it down, the Renaissance came about because a handful of bored Italians with money decided the place needed some sprucing up. So they tossed that cash at painters, sculptors, musicians.

Well, we don't have the Borgias, anymore. We don't have one guy who can be a patron to a bunch of down and out artists.  Of course, that also means we don't have quite so many politically themed poisonings, either. More's the pity.

But what we do have is a bunch of people with 20 bucks they can throw at something cool. Get enough of them together and we're talking some pretty decent coin. Enough to, say, get a comic drawn, or a game made, or a book written.

No, it's not the answer to the creator's prayers. The goals are pretty small. We're not funding their lives, we're funding the project. At best we're maybe putting a dent in their winter heating bills. A few thousand dollars to pay artists, designers and writers isn't much.

But I think it's the answer to the prayers of people standing around going, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" It gives you the opportunity to actively contribute to the creation of something. And at the end of it all, you get to share in some of that. You get a copy of the game, maybe, or a bonus story that nobody else gets.

It's paying it forward. It's letting them take a chance. People can ill afford to take risks right now and, perversely, they can't afford not to. Tools like Kickstarter can help.

At some point it might burn out. People might get sick of it and this model might fall apart. Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and others like it might go by the wayside and disappear. It's inevitable, actually. Everything ends.

But then so did the Medicis.  That took a few hundred years and look what they did. I think we can make some decent headway in the next twenty.