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.
Believe 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 →
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.
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
Here 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.
The new episode of the RT20 Podcast is now live and I’m proud to say it centers around two of my favorite topics: books and soundtracks. I joined host Steve Reynolds and fellow Blacksmith for Literary Progress Brian Cogan for a lengthy discussion of music and writing and how the two intertwine. As expected, we talked about my new book, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, and the soundtrack I created for it. We also waxed poetic about our favorite soundtrack music and songs that inspired us when we wrote. In between all the jabbering, Steve spun a selection of songs hand picked by Brian and I, including some great stuff by Iggy Pop, Glenn Branca, John Carpenter, Neil Young, The Dead Kennedys, and others.
Jalin M. from Palmdale, CA
Greg H. from University Park, PA
Rudy M. from Centennial, CO
Lauren W. from Davis, CA
Shad C. from Dover, NH
The books and CDs have already shipped, so watch this space for a few photos from the winners. Sadly, their is no home version of the game for the people that didn’t win. But I can’t thank them enough for showing their interest in an indie-pubbed book and entering the giveaway.
The story so far: It is the hottest day of the year. And for some reason, the portly Albert Claimus is sweating it out on the streets of New York City. Working as a somewhat high-priced sketch artist with a dubious pedigree, Claimus delves into impressionistic portraiture, much to the dismay of his subjects. However, we soon learn that this is a cover-up. Claimus is on the run. But who is after him?
Once again, this installment includes a new illustration by Chris Sinderson.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Metronome. Perhaps because it is so arresting — one cannot avoid noticing it upon setting foot anywhere in Union Square — but also because it is so uniformly hated by the locals. The interesting part is even most born-and-bred New Yorkers have no idea what this public art piece is, let alone it what it’s called. Many don’t even realize that the bank of LED digits to the left is actually part of the overall piece. But it is part of the fabric of New York City, especially Union Square. When I was writing the story that would eventually become “The Metronome Winds Down,” I made the protagonist somewhat numbers obsessed (you’ll find out why upon reading it). At two crucial points in the story, he enters Union Square, and is confronted by the ominous presence of the Metronome. I actually used this photo for the single-story eBook version of “The Metronome Winds Down,” which is no longer on sale, but luckily you can still read it in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners.
View other other photos from the Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners series here. And you can click here to get the book and soundtrack.