What is No Tears for Old Scratch about?

Old Scratch Cover FinalHere’s a quick description to give you a hint…

“Welcome to Knob’s End—The Holiest Town in America.”

So reads the sign that greets a mysterious stranger as he steps off a bus one dark night in upstate New York. But life is not so great in the small town of Knob’s End. The economy has tanked, jobs are drying up, and people are losing their homes. Led by their local pastor, Father Balano, the citizens’ only source of pride is an award-winning community display—“The Graveyard of the Innocent.” Once the stranger arrives, however, life in Knob’s End begins to unravel. Soon, a child is missing and the sins start stacking up. As the stranger stirs the pot, he can’t avoid confrontations with menacing old ladies, anarchic metalheads, pugnacious Christians, and the ghosts of his own past…

No Tears for Old Scratch is a dark and humorous literary tale about an outsider who suddenly finds himself lost in a veritable dead-end.

El Mano Negro’s “A Man’s Home is His Tombstone” Out Now

El Mano Negro’s brand new EP, “A Man’s Home is His Tombstone,” has finally arrived. The EP includes three new songs: “The Thin Man Never Saw It Coming,” “Go Down to the River Esmerelda,” and a cover of a Johnny Cash’s “San Quentin” (done-up in our own dust devil voodoo blues style). You can listen to the new tracks below and you can pick up the EP from Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play. You can also stream it via Spotify. And if you dig it, don’t forget to check out the Memento Mori EP.

El Mano Negro’s “A Man’s Home Is His Tombstone” Out August 27th – Pre-order now through BandCamp

Here it is… the brand new El Mano Negro EP with three new songs, including a cover of a Johnny Cash classic (done-up in our own dust devil voodoo blues style).

You can pre-order the EP now from Bandcamp and get to stream the songs right away. Once the EP goes on sale August 27th, you’ll receive an e-mail with a link so you can download your copy.

James Salter on Writing and Travel

James SalterJames Salter discusses the relationship between writing and travel from an old Paris Review interview:

INTERVIEWER: Does the travel help your writing?

SALTER: It’s essential for me. There is no situation like the open road, and seeing things completely afresh. I’m used to traveling. It’s not a question of meeting or seeing new faces particularly, or hearing new stories, but of looking at life in a different way. It’s the curtain coming up on another act.I’m not the first person who feels that it’s the writer’s true occupation to travel. In a certain sense, a writer is an exile, an outsider, always reporting on things, and it is part of his life to keep on the move. Travel is natural. Furthermore, many men of ancient times died on the road, and the image is a strong one. Kings of Arabia, when they are buried, are not given great tombs. They are buried on the side of the road beneath ordinary stones. One thing I saw in England long ago struck me and has always stayed with me. I was going to visit someone in a little village, walking from the railway station across the fields, and I saw an old man, perhaps in his seventies, with a pack on his back. He looked to be a vagabond, dignified, somewhat threadbare, marching along with his staff. A dog trotted at his heels. It was an image I thought should be the final one of a life. Traveling on.

Brett Amory’s Dark Light

Brett Amory Waiting 79

I was lucky enough to catch the showing of Brett Amory’s new “Dark Light” series of paintings at the Jonathan Levine gallery in New York City this past weekend. Quite amazing stuff. I was completely hooked by Amory’s use of shadow and light — scenes of lonely denizens drifting in and out of the lamplight, past rundown stores, as they move down rundown streets. Think Edward Hopper’s darkest hour.

Check out one of the video interviews with Amory posted on the Levine gallery blog.

So To Speak – Brett Amory, Episode 1 from lenny gonzalez on Vimeo.

My Publishing Heritage

With a Ferry Boat by Mario J Della TorreBelieve it or not, I am not the first writer in my family. Granted, I don’t come from literary stock. The kids in my generation were the first family members to actually make it to college. And even my own writing history is less than traditional — no MFA, no creative writing classes, not even a single writing workshop. I just had a crack at it as they say.

But I was not the first…

In 1975, Mario J. Della Torre, Sr., a cousin of mine who in that strange Italian twist was the same age as my parents, published his magnum opus, With A Ferry Boat They Robbed The Bank — Italian Style. Two years in the making, this comic crime-caper told the story of Meme, Co-co, Pepe, and Senor Dadone, a pack of feisty Italian immigrants who want to stick it to the man by robbing a bank in New Jersey. They make their getaway in… you guessed it, a Ferry Boat on the Hudson River. Not just a crime novel, there are endless inside nods to the Italian-American community. And comedy, New Jersey Italian style:

Just then, something happened which you would never expect at a Bank robbery. Co-Co had developed severe gas pains. He had to go to the toilet.
Continue reading

Gritty Literature eBook Sale: Get Vagabonds… for $2.99 and The Love Book for $.99

Calling all eBook and lit enthusiasts: you can now get the eBook versions of both of my short story collections for just under $4. That’s right, my new collection, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits and Sinners, is on sale for $2.99 and my previous collection, The Love Book, is available for the low, low price of only $.99. You can get them for your favorite reading devices including Kindle, iPad and iPhone, and Nook.

This is a bit of an experiment (for a limited time) to see two things: (1) are literature and short story readers as price sensitive as genre readers, and (2) are genre readers — many of whom champion independent authors in mystery, paranormal romance, and crime fiction — willing to jump out of their typical reading list. I don’t expect to hit any bestseller lists, but I suspect it might yield some interesting results (or prove me yet again to be a blasted idiot).

Click on the links below to get your ebooks. And it goes with out saying, if you like the stories in either book, be sure to post a review on the site you got it from or on any of the book sharing sites such as GoodReads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing.

Buy Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits and Sinners eBook
Amazon Kindle | iBooks | Barnes & Noble Nook | Smashwords | Scribd

Buy The Love Book eBook
Amazon Kindle | iBooks | Barnes & Noble Nook | Smashwords | Scribd

Part 3 of Claimus Flees Manhattan Now Live on Undie Press

Claimus Flees Manhattan Part 3“Suspects. Who are the suspects? Who could access Claimus’ apartment? Well, other than mother…”

Part 3 of my brand new 6-part story, “Claimus Flees Manhattan,” is now live on Undie Press.

The story so far: It is the hottest day of the year. Albert Claimus has been forced from the sanctuary of his home by a strange incident — an uncanny intrusion on his personal space. Now, forced out on to the streets, Claimus goes to the only safe place in all of Manhattan — a bar — to narrow his list of potential suspects. While seeking solace in a glass of whiskey, we learn who may have it out for our non-hero and get an eerie glimpse in to the love life of Claimus.

Once again, this installment includes a new illustration by the great Chris Sinderson.

You can still read previous installments here: Part 1 | Part 2

“Claimus Flees Manhattan” is also in my new short story collection, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, which you can grab just about anywhere (but here’s a handy link with places where you can get the book or eBook):

And there’s even a soundtrack I created for the book, including a theme for “Claimus Flees Manhattan.” You can grab it off iTunes or BandCamp.

The RT 20 Podcast: Books, Soundtracks, Vagabonds, and Cogan(s) Part 2

Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners soundtrackHere is part 2 of the RT20 Podcast featuring host Steve Reynolds, fellow Blacksmith for Literary Progress Brian Cogan, and yours truly discussing music and writing and how the two intertwine. There are more songs from our favorite soundtracks and artists that inspire us to write, as well as further pontificating on how all three of us use that music as part of our writing (including Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners in my case). Herr Reynolds even had the audacity to throw in a Steely Dan song. That’s right a Steely Dan song. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds who art in somewhere, save us.

Click here to check out Part 2. The song playlist for this installment is:

  • Main Theme – John Ottman – Usual Suspects Soundtrack
  • Tocatta – Arvo Pärt – Collage Over B-A-C-H
  • Holiday in Cambodia – The Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
  • Repo Man – Iggy Pop – Repo Man Soundtrack
  • Reel Ten – The Plugz – Repo Man Soundtrack
  • Nemesis – Shreikback – Oil & Gold
  • Aja – Steely Dan – Aja
  • Red Right Hand – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Let Love In