Friday, March 30, 2007

New Spinetingler!

Yep, the new issue of Spinetingler is finally up and ready for your reading pleasure. Looks like a great issue & I'm looking forward to reading it over the weekend. There's an author profile on Tim Maleeny as well as a brief review of his debut novel, STEALING THE DRAGON written by yours truly. Not to mention some great short stories and interviews (Ken Bruen!). Go check it out!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Where My Thoughts Are...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Yep, I'm writing a lot, reading a lot and blogging not much at all. Sorry about that, but I'm finally getting into a groove, so it'll probably be spotty posting at best for a while. I'm reading some pretty good books right now and it's entirely likely that I'll feel compelled to blab about them at some point, but for now...yeah, you get the picture. Not that my life is all that damn interesting at the mo' anyway...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Virtual Bar for Crime Fic Folks

If you're into crime fiction, as a reader or a writer, then you should check out Crimespace. Created by Aussie freak-boy, Daniel Hatadi, Crimespace is a great place to hang out and meet lots of other cool people. It's my first foray into a MySpace-esque social network thingie, and I have to say I'm really having a blast. So, y'know, if you're into that sort of thing, stop by, pull up a chair and check it out. I'll be your friend...I really, really will!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Early Fire Season

It's that time of year again. I'm not talking about the first flowers of spring, or the early hair-pulling of tax preparation. I'm talking about fires.

There are two burning in the Prescott area right now - one of which started as a controlled burn & jumped the lines. That one is about 10 miles from my house. I'm not especially worried, but I have to say that I flashed back on the Indian Fire of 2002. That fire started a little over 1/4 mile from my old house, right smack in the middle of the national forest. We had to evacuate & I was sure our house was gonna be charcoal. We were lucky. No, really. Our house had been red-tagged, as in "screw it, let this one burn, we can't defend it." Less than a year later, we moved to the other side of the mountain, closer to town, at the edge of the tree-line rather than deep in the Ponderosa Pines.

Two fires this early in the season is giving me the heebie-jeebies. We had a super dry winter with almost no snow or rain & spring is pretty much here already. Add in the fact that Arizona's in the midst of a multi-year drought (I think we're something like 8 or 9 years in), and I'm worried. It's time to get the run-away box and emergency suitcase packed & ready by the door.

Think I'm kidding? When a forest fire gets up on its metaphorical hind legs and starts to run, there's no time to worry about getting your important papers, meds, or clothes together. You grab your shit and go. Last time I had just enough time to collect the dogs, dump the contents of the desk drawers into a suitcase and toss in the laptop and whatever clothes came to mind, all while the fire fighters stood in my driveway telling me to hurry up, get out, get gone. For whatever reason, my panicked mind skipped right over shirts and socks. Plenty of pants and undies, but not a single pair of socks. It was both hilarious and freaky to think "this may be all I've got left" as we waited for news about which direction the fire was going, how many structures were lost, etc., etc. I didn't like it very much, but it helped me get my priorities straight pretty damn quick.

I can hear a plane flying over my house right now. Betcha a dollar it's a slurry tanker making a last run before the sun goes down. Like I said, I'm not worried about this one, but I'm not getting caught without a plan - or socks! - this fire season.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Number 1 Fan Girl: Why Ken Bruen Rocks...2x

Crime fiction encompasses a huge variety of sub-genres, offering something for just about everybody. Don't like a lot of violence? There's whole array of so-called "cozy" mysteries for the more genteel reader. Want a little paranormal with your murder and mayhem? Have no fear, plenty of ghosts & ghoulies available to hold your interest. Like some steamy sex with your steaming corpses? Yep, you can get that too. P.I. stories, police procedurals, amateur sleuths, cat detectives, complex capers, international spies, serial killers - the list goes on and on.

And then there's Ken Bruen.

The first time I read a Bruen novel (THE GUARDS, the first of the Jack Taylor books), I thought,now this is what I'm talkin' about, this is exactly what I've been searching for. The rhythmic elements and deft way he has of finding exactly the right word or phrase kicked the novel up way past ordinary. I'm still not sure how or why, but Bruen managed to take a deeply damaged character and make me care about him, made me silently cheer him on, even as I watched the character screw up over and over and over again. And the unexpected gift was the humor running through the novel like a ribbon of dark, sparkling humanity. Literary magic.

Hooked, I started digging around and was thrilled to find that Bruen's been a busy man. I've got plenty of his novels and short stories to keep me busy - thank the writing gods for that! I'll tell ya a secret, though. I'm taking my time. While it's easy to race through his writing (most of his work reads like water), I'm savoring each one, taking my time to let the words roll around in my mind, watching to see how he does it.

AMERICAN SKIN, Bruen's latest novel, broke my heart. I read a lot of blurbs and reviews that emphasized the fast pace and the violence, but in my opinion these are lesser elements. A deep river of love runs through the story, feeding the loss and guilt that constantly threatens to drown protag Stephen Black. Bruen moves back in forth in time effortless, taking his reader from Ireland to New York, Las Vegas to Tucson. The effect is both disorienting and intoxicating. If you haven't picked up this book yet, you're missing out.

Of all the crime fiction writers I've read over the years (and yeah, I've still got a TBR list a mile long), Ken Bruen is the one who gives me hope for the genre. I'm not knocking the potato chip writers (you know what I'm talkin' zip through the book, it's fun, but ultimately forgettable). There's a place for those books, but I crave more than empty lit calories. Bruen transcends the genre, taking crime fiction to a new level, while asking more of and giving more to his readers. The man writes, a rare commodity.

I don't want to write like Bruen - that would be like wanting to be a counterfeit artist - but I do hope to find the clear, authentic voice of my own. Bruen's work inspires me to keep reaching, to dig a little deeper, not to be afraid to speak the truth and shame the devil. Even when it's an ugly truth. Do I sound like a total fan-girl? Yeah, well, I am. So sue me.

I'm not going to say that Bruen's books are for everyone. If you don't like violence (and if that's the case, then I'm wondering why the hell you'd be reading crime fic in the first place), or if you can't cope with profanity, then you probably won't be all that excited about his books. Your loss. Me? I'm gonna go finish up THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS. I've got 3 of his books more set aside for when I can't stand waiting any more & need to be reminded of what truly excellent writing is.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig

If you haven't seen West Bank Story yet, you really, really should check it out. It's the funniest thing I've seen in ages and totally deserved the Academy Award it won last month. The log line of the short film sums it up pretty well..."a little singing, a little dancing, a lot of hummus."

So (obviously), I'm back from my hiatus and have a small mountain of work to get through. Honestly, I'm stoked to get back to my normal(ish) life. Once the desk gets cleared, I've got some ground to make up with the writing. I'm actually looking forward to that, too. I'm back, but I have a feeling blogging will be sporadic until I've cleaned up the work flow. I'll be running around & catching up with ya'll over the next few days. I understand there's a new crime fic thing somehow related to MySpace, so I guess I'll have to see what that's all about. Maybe tomorrow...

Went to the Lucinda Williams concert in Tucson a few days ago and have to say it was wonderful. I just adore her voice & song writing. Oh yeah, and her band kicked ass, too. One of the better birthday presents I've gotten! Weirdly enough, it was my first time to visit Tucson. Yeah, yeah, lived in AZ for almost 10 years now & still haven't been to the Grand Canyon or Mexico, so give me a break. Anyway, Tucson is now in my top 10 liveable cities list (and I really, really don't like city living, to that's saying something). Will definitely be going back soon.

It's good to be home. I guess that's pretty much all I wanna say today.