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.
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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

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
  • The RT 20 Podcast: Books, Soundtracks, Vagabonds, and Cogan(s) Part 1

    Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners soundtrackThe 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.

    Click here to check out Part 1. The song playlist for this installment is:

  • Dead Man, Acoustic Theme – Neil Young – Dead Man (Music from and Inspired By the Motion Picture)
  • Non Ho Tutto Il Giorno – Ken Wohlrob – Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners
  • Structure – Glenn Branca – The Ascension
  • Haunted House – John Carpenter – Halloween
  • Part 2 of the Podcast coming soon…

    And the winners are…

    Songs of Vagabonds Misfits and Sinners giveaway packageThe Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners giveaway is now over on GoodReads. I couldn’t be happier with the results: over 1,000 readers entered to win a signed copy of the book along with a copy of the soundtrack created by yours truly (check the photo to the left). The lucky winners were:

    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.

    #SongsVMS Photo of the Day: The Metronome

    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.
    Network The Entertainment Company in Hell's Kitchen

    decomP Puts Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners Next to Henry Miller on the Bookshelf

    But I’m not packing up for Paris anytime soon…

    decomP Magazine’s Spencer Dew chimed in with his thoughts on Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, and I was surprised to read his comparison between my work and Henry Miller’s. While I’ve always been a big fan of Herr Miller, I don’t consider him a direct influence on my writing style. Yet, Dew saw in the stories a certain bent that reminded him of Miller’s commitment to working class folk. Or as he stated:

    “Ken Wohlrob shares a certain ideal with Henry Miller, a commitment to ‘the streets’ as that which stands in opposition to ‘literature.’ As laid out at the start of Black Spring, Miller believed that ‘In the street you learn what human beings really are; otherwise, or afterwards, you invent them.’”

    It is an interesting take on my style. To be honest, I don’t write about the people I do as a stance against literature. I do it because these are the type of people I grew up around and lived next to all my life. So those types of stories and the fate of those characters are fascinating to me. There’s a lot of bad in those tales, but also a lot dark humor, that laughing at the struggle. And to me it makes for a potent cocktail, one that is neither for or against anything in particular. It’s just what I like doing.

    But I enjoyed Spencer’s review because it was well thought out and dissected my writing more than anyone has in a long while. And he gave me a few jabs as well, but that’s what makes for an interesting review. And I’m glad ultimately, he found more good in the book, than bad.

    “…in the end there is an ample dose, too, of the ‘accident and incident, drama, movement’ that Miller argued was the inheritance of being born and raised in the streets.”

    As for Mr. Miller, he’ll be joining Nathaniel West and Nelson Algren based on the reviews Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners has received so far. Not bad company to be in.

    #SongsVMS Photo of the Day: Sneakers on a Wire in Williamsburg

    I always loved this photo as it comes from one of those lazy summer days walking around what used to be the quiet backstreets of North Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This was when the industrial waterfront area was still relatively unsettled. There are no quiet streets left in that neighborhood anymore and the waterfront is now a string of condo towers. But this image also served a special purpose as the end sign at the conclusion of the stories in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. I thought it would be creative way of closing out the tales and giving readers another dose of the New York City character.

    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.
    Network The Entertainment Company in Hell's Kitchen

    The Pussycat Lounge Goes Down

    Gothamist reported this morning that dive shithole strip club the Pussycat Lounge has shut down. This New York City institution (of sorts) opened way back in ’69 and was a holdout of the old strip club model: a small dancing stage up above the bar (to keep the patrons at a safe distance), shitty drinks, dirty ashtrays, and an overall funk of human sweat and body odor. It never purported to be a “gentleman’s club” and other than the upstairs bar/club which hosted bands and dance parties, kept its grim, gritty interior intact. For some reason, it always reminded me of the strip club from Scorcese’s Mean Streets.

    I report this not out of any love for The Pussycat Lounge, but rather as a nod to it as the inspiration for the Beat Around the Bush strip club in “The Look,” one of the stories in my new book, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. I played at the Pussycat Lounge’s upstairs bar with John Hovorka and the Dawn of Mechanized Farming back in November 2006 (yup, that’s me laughing in the back). After seeing the true show — the grotesque scene of drunk Wall Street office types (still in suits), postal workers (still in uniform), cops (off-duty, but yest still in uniform), and hipsters slumped over the downstairs bar holding up dollar bills as they gawked at a group of not-so-attractive ladies parading on the tiny stage — I knew I had a great setting for a story. If you’ve ever been to the Pussycat Lounge, I think you’ll agree I got the grit of the place nailed down in “The Look.”

    Pussycat Lounge photo courtesy of Flickr user gbaron1