Saturday, October 31, 2015


Hi folks,

Well, here it is... Halloween again. I've got my treats all lined up for the little tykes. Shots of expresso and a brand-spanking new cocker spaniel puppy for each of  'em! It's what I always give and the odd thing is I never seem to get the same kids back each year. It's always a new bunch. Go figure...

And, I can't wait until my favorite trick or treaters show up. I LOVE these costumes! It really captures the spirit of the holiday in a way that overused witches and zombies can't. Last year I gave this zany pair a puppy and shot of expresso and they came back through for seconds! My kind of partiers!

Blue skies,

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Hi folks,

I'm absolutely stoked that I've been invited to participate in a Noir@theBar event in Chicago, on Saturday, November 21, with three of my truly favorite crime/noir writers. If you're in town then, I'd love to see you. It's gonna get nasty up in there!

It's such an honor to share the stage with these guys! I absolutely cannot wait!

Blue skies,

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Hi folks,

First, thanks to a lot of people's generosity and warm, giving natures, Craig McNeely emailed me to say that he and his family will be able to get a place to live by tomorrow! He asked me to thank all of the folks we may have reached. I know that like me, you're glad that his two little girls, his wife, and himself are going to be able to get off the streets! This is where social media shows its soul.

Now, I have to brag on my son Mike a bit. Mike's kind of a Renaissance Man in that he's talented on many levels. When he was in grade school, he and his friends made a spoof movie on Saving Private Ryan, he retitled Saving Ryan's Privates, where he followed his friend Ryan around school with a movie camera, and every time he came close to a girl Mike and his buddy tackled him in a heroic effort to save their friend's "privates." In high school, he was a star pitcher who played on several outstanding travel teams all over the country and his h.s. team won the large school state title twice.

On the mound for Snider H.S.

On his uncle's Harley...
And, as an 8th grade basketball player.

Nowadays, Mike is the top salesman at the Rogers & Hollands' Jewelry Store in Ft. Wayne, and recently was awarded their top employee of the year from all 80 of their stores.

In his spare time, Mike has always drawn really abstract forms and posted them on Instagram. Just recently, his work was discovered by a major art dealer who is going to present them in an exhibition and for sale. Won't name the gallery just yet until it's cleared to do so, but the owner is a well-regarded name in art circles. Anyway, I thought I'd post the images Mike sent to her which are being prepared for exhibition and sale. I think Mike got his art ability from me since I have none left, whereas his mother still has a lot. That only makes sense, right?

Anyway, here's Mike's drawings:

He has literally dozens and dozens and dozens of these as well as "regular" artwork. I'm really proud of him and this may mean the dawn of a new career for him. Hope you enjoy the look at his weird mind... That, I know he got from dad...

Not to mention his sister, Sienna is an extremely good artist as well. His other sister, Britney, is the outlier as she's a computer guru... We can't point to any parent for where she got those skills... not from me, anyway! But, we do know she got her brains from her mother since I still have all of mine...

In case you can't tell, I'm so damned proud of all of my kids!

Blue skies,

Monday, October 19, 2015

Help out Craig and his family!

Hi folks,
A fellow writer and editor has recently fallen upon hard times and I'd like to ask those who can to help him and his family out. Craig McNeely and his family are homeless in New Orleans. I've been homeless there, but with a difference--I was by myself. I can't begin to imagine how it would have been if my family had also been there and in that situation.

Last Tuesday they lost their home and Craig and his two little girls and wife headed to New Orleans. He's there now and homeless and needs our help.

Craig has been a friend to me and to many, many writers over the years. He is truly one of the "good guys" in writing and really needs our help.

If you can, please visit the GoFundMe site and give what you can.

Below is Craig's message on GoFundMe.

My name is Craig McNeely. With my wife Emily, I publish the quarterly pulp mag Dark Corners and run the small press Double Life Press. You can see us up there with our two incredible kids.

In July of last year, the bottom dropped out on our financial situation. We were looking at losing our car and eviction after Emily's ex-husband skipped out on child support, and in the same month, the federal government decided that I was making too much money, even though I'm permanently disabled, now that I'm married, and dropped my SSI from $710 to $230. That's $1,100 we lost in a single month.

The following month, we lost our car and our cell phones, had our water and gas shut off, and were nearly evicted, if not for the assistance of a local church to keep a roof over our kids' heads. Still, we recovered. OCSE got involved and child support was reinstated, and we were able to get food stamp assistance. It's not easy for a family of four, including two small children and a husband in a wheelchair, in a rural town in America, but we were making it okay.

However, things have become far more complicated this year. In July of this year, I suffered significant health-related setbacks because of my Spina Bifida, leading to several visits with doctors, and I'm now largely wheelchair bound. Since we live in such a rural area, medical specialists can sometimes be very far away, making it essentially impossible if you do not have access to transportation.

In addition, government regulations changed again, as they do, and we lost food assistance.

So, we are looking for help. Specifically, we want assistance toward getting a car. This will help me when I require medical attention, as is so often the case when you live with something like Spina Bifida. Transportation means opportunity. It means physical therapy for myself. It means not walking or wheeling to the grocery store and only being able to buy what we can carry back home.

Anything that doesn't go toward getting transportation will provide food and clothing for our children, and mobility and therapy aides (like a fitness wheelchair or orthopedic shoes).

Early on, I mentioned our magazine and press. Yes, Emily and I are book people. I suspect that's how many of you know us. Well, we are putting together a benefit anthology full of great and fun stories by many of the best writers I've ever known: James Reasoner, Stephen Mertz, Les Edgerton, Will Viharo. Ryan Sayles, Eric Beetner and more, with cover art by Chuck Regan.

Every contributor to this campaign will receive a digital copy of the anthology at the beginning of October. Also, if you would rather just purchase a paperback of the anthology, you can wait for its release and support us that way. Either way, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and generosity.

If books or cash donations are not your thing, Emily runs a small Etsy store  with handcrafted textile art pieces with a geeky twist. Head over there, check it out, and any purchases you make will also go toward our campaign.

Once again, thank you for all of your help. 
Craig McNeely

Us writers are among the most generous of any group--I know we're going to come together and help out our brother! Thank you one and all for your humanity. 

Blue skies,

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Hi folks,

Well, here it is… time to post my after-Bouchercon notes.

I’m fairly rested now after returning home to face over 600 emails waiting… When I’m at a convention like this the same thing always happens. I just can’t find the time to sit at the computer and go through emails. And, the first day I had trouble connecting with the hotel wi-fi, so lost time there. My roommate and best buddy, Jack Getze finally had to show me how to use a ‘puter… not the first time Jack’s come to my assistance.

My buddy, Jack Getze! Also, my hero!

I brought my remote-control fart machine to plague him and it worked well. I didn’t realize it would go off intermittently and I found out the next day that it kept going off all night and I slept like a baby, not knowing Jack was searching everywhere for it. He said he intended to bash it to pieces, but he finally found it and discovered there was a turn-off switch and kindly used it rather than destroying it.

The first night, Jack and our friend Kate Laity (known as Absolute Kate and she is… absolute…) had dinner at the next-door Greek restaurant and I kept setting it off whenever the waitress happened by him. She just averted her eyes while Jack’s blood pressure rose—at least, I think that’s what made his face turn red.

Me, Jack, and the indomitable Absolute Kate!

Jack, me, and Christy Campbell, the wife of one of my publishers, Eric Campbell.

We found out we’d made a mistake by getting our room at the Holiday Inn, thinking it was close by the convention, but as it turned out, it was eight blocks away, so we single-handedly brought the taxi industry out of the depression and made a lot of cabbies rich. And, ourselves poor… It turns out they have these rickshaws and Jack took one of those back to our hotel one night. I had to let him know how lame that was—the rich gaijin being towed around by the starving… well, you get the picture… Our room was fine except for the bathroom, which was smaller than my cell back in Pendleton. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a john that tiny. My feet had to stick out halfway into the hall to fit on the stool… But, the view was gorgeous. We were on the 19th floor, just one floor short of the top which was where the bar and restaurant were. Easy enough to get there! They’re getting better with B-Cons—in Albany, it was a disaster, mostly because there wasn’t a bar at the convention center. Didn’t they know we were writers and not evangelicals or the annual meeting of the Carrie Nation Society? We need BOOZE! It’s where all the business takes place. Next year, it’ll be in New Orleans and I don’t foresee any problems at all. Except, I don’t know if I can go. I’m going to have to check to make sure there are no outstanding warrants…

I’m just going to go over the highlights (for me) and that way I won’t feel obligated to name all the many great writers I got to chat and/or drink with. I hate doing that because I always forget somebody I should have mentioned and then I feel terrible. I’ll name a lot but not nearly all. There was a bunch of highlights and only one lowlight—I didn’t get to see the Notre Dame-Navy ballgame! (But, they won!) Hard to imagine since I wasn’t on hand to cheer them through the tough spots, but somehow they did it without my usual assistance.

The first day I got to participate in a panel and that was just a terrific experience. It was titled “Rough, tough tales for tough readers” or something inane like that. Our moderator, Eric Beetner, confessed he felt the same as most of us did—that we didn’t have a clue what that meant and so we’d just yak about anything at all… which is pretty much what we did. A great crew and we ended up having a great time and the audience told us the same thing they told every other panel they visited—that we were the best! We think so, too. Just a bunch of truly fantastic writers. Besides Eric, we had Trey Barker, Tom Young, Chris Pavone and moi.

Here we are... a bunch of gangstas...

We're just talking about blood and guts and Mom's apple pie...

That evening Jack and I were to be interviewed by Tom Pitts on the radio show, Authors on the Air, and the hostess of that show, Pam Stack, even came up from Florida to be on the set and to make sure we didn’t steal the equipment. As it happened, it was more than just us. About fifteen other writers crowded into the room and it was a blast! I don’t know how Tom Pitts does it, but he knows how to keep a bunch of balls in the air at the same time. Meeting the host of the series, Pam Stack, was a highlight of my trip. If you didn’t get a chance to hear it, click on this to do so:

Tom Pitts who emceed our radio show and is also one of my publishers. Look for BOMB! coming out soon from Gutter Books.

A room full of writers!

I get a question and I'm armed... if you don't believe me, look--I've got my cigarettes and my Jack... That's Pam sitting behind me and you can't see her shepherd's crook she uses to yank us from the stage...

One of the highlights of the convention for me was getting the opportunity to sit and chat with Allan Guthrie for a long time. He was being honored at Bouchercon as the International Guest of Honor. Al had approached me about a month ago about participating in a project (which I can’t talk about as of yet), and we got a chance to firm up our discussion on it and begin to move forward. Probably the most valuable time I spent! Plus, he’s just a really terrific guy. For a superstar of international acclaim, he’s just like your buddy down at the bar on a Saturday night. Your buddy who drinks tea...

Had breakfast on Saturday with Ro Cuzon, who's not only one of my favorite writers, but favorite pals. We have similar backgrounds so our conversations are full of shortcuts for things you might have to explain to straights. (BTW, "straights" is what outlaws refer to regular citizens...) He brought me up to date on current New Orleans and I told him stories about the old days there. Great time! The morning before, Jack and I ate breakfast with Patti Abbott and her husband, Phil and that was really cool.

Later, at the bar, I hung out with Mike McCrary who introduced me to Bruce DeSilva, of whom I'm a big fan. All through the convention, I got to schmooze with Kate Laity who always makes me laugh.

The next night, I was privileged to participate in the Noir @ the Bar that Eryk Pruitt organized and hosted at Common 414, a great bar next to the Marriott. I’ve taken part in some truly great Noir@Bar venues before with Jed Ayres and C.J. Edwards, but this was the gala event of all. Got to hear and meet some of the best noir writers on the planet!

All of these folks--Jed Ayres, Eric Beetner, Joe Clifford, Jen Conley, Christa Faust, Ed Kurtz, Steve Lauden, Tom PItts, Tom Pluck, and Johnny Shaw are, to me, the creme de la crme of noir writers. Very honored to get to participate.

I didn't know they attended, but wish I had known that David Hale Smith, Bryon Quartermous and some others were there as I really wanted to meet them.

Here we all are for the group shot. Lotta warrants out for this bunch...

I'm up!

Got to see and renew friendships with Travis Richardson, Scott Alderberg, Rob Brunet, John Gilstrap, Reavis Worthan, Dana and Corky King, Nik Korpon, Steve Weddle, Mike Dennis, Chris Irvin, Con Lehane, Terrennce and Rita McCauley, Jenny Milchman, Brian Panowich, Peter Rozovsky, Charles Salzberg, Scotty Montgomery and a bunch of others--sorry if I missed naming you!

And, I did it again. Acted like Doofus Fanboy. Saw Joe Finder (I'm a HUGE fan!), and went over and briefly introduced myself. That was it. Didn't do anything memorable like pick his pocket or fart loudly, which I now regret... He'll never remember me now... Wanted to meet in person Bill Crider, Reed Farrel Coleman, Libby Fisher Hellmann, Tom Franklin, and Steve Hamilton (who wrote one of my three all-time favorite books, The Lock Artist.

One night, Jack and I closed down the Holiday Inn bar and while there met a fantastic writer who was just sitting quietly by himself, working on his next book, and now I've got another new friend--Jonathan Moore, who lives in Hawaii and wasn't impressed with the North Carolina weather. Wonder why not?

Met a fellow Texan who grew up close to me in Freeport, Texas in Brazoria--Ricky Bush. Lots of us Texans there! Missed seeing my friend Robert Lewis--bummer!

On Sunday morning, I dragged myself over to see my buddy Jack Getze moderate a panel and I’m glad I did. It was a primo panel and I got to meet a few more of my heroes I only knew from their books. Plus, Jack is a whiz at this emceeing stuff! Come to think of it, Jack’s a whiz at just about everything… including whizzing… He can write his name in the snow in fourteen languages…

I got lucky going to the airport, getting to share the shuttle with Jack Bludis, who I've been reading forever. Had a great conversation with him. 

I’d like to name every person I met, talked to, drank with, all those things, but that list would take forever to compile and I know I’d leave someone out. So, if any of you people read this, please don’t feel bad that I didn’t throw your name out—just know that I value our friendship, new or old, and that I’m so glad we got to spend some time together. I'll just show some photos and a lot of you will be in those.

Can’t wait until next year in New Orleans!

Blue skies,

And, here are some random shots...

Pam Stack, Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts and me in the background.

This was a great surprise! My buddy, Robin Deffendall, who runs the library at Fayetteville, N.C. who had me in to do workshops and yak last spring, showed up to experience B-Con. She's holding up (holding up is just a saying...) her list of five banned books for Banned Books Week... and my novel The Bitch made the list! Better than the National Book Award!

D.B. Corey and me at the bar...

Eric Campbell, me and J.L. Abrama, one of my favorite writers!

Uh-oh... that's not  blood on my cheek... might be better if it was... The moderator at Noir at the Bar, Tracy Coppedge, drew a heart in lipstick on me and this is how it ended up...

Toasting Debi Chowdhury at the Marriott bar...

Me and Tracy Coppedge, the MC at Eryk Pruitt's Noir at the Bar.

Tracy and me after I read...

And, nothing to do with B-Con but just a birthday gift from my friend Michelle McCarthy that I really liked!

And, then, I got to come home to my gorgeous wife, Mary! Best part of the trip!

Blue skies, Les

Monday, October 5, 2015


Hi folks,

Well, Bouchercon is right around the corner and I’m climbing on a plane on Thursday to fly to Raleigh, NC. As I have the past few B-Cons, I’m sharing a room with my buddy, Jack Getze, at the Holiday Inn. My purpose there is to drive him nuts… I’m bringing my whoopee cushion and some other things to help achieve that goal…

If any of you attend, I hope you’ll come up and introduce yourselves—I’d love to meet you in person if I haven’t already. You can find me in the bar… which bar?... all of ‘em… not at once, probably, but eventually…

So far, I have three big events scheduled. Two of them, you’ll need to be in attendance to see, but the third is a radio interview that you can listen to wherever you are.

1. I’m reading in Eryk Pruitt’s “Noir at the Bar” event on Thursday night at 7 pm ET at Common 414 (that’s a bar next to the Sheraton)...

2. Tom Pitts is going to do a live radio interview on Authors on the Air with myself and Jack Getze. Pam Stack, who runs this show, tells me they usually get about 250,000 (that’s a quarter of a million! Damn!) listeners for each episode and she feels this will be their biggest of the year. Check it out live at 8:30 pm ET/ 5:30 pm PT Friday evening at You can call in and bug us if you like, but remember… payback is a… I hope you’ll listen in! Trust me—it’s gonna get wild. I’m pretty sure that Jack, Tom and me are going to set radio back about a thousand years…

3. I’m on a great panel, moderated by Eric Beetner, along with fellow panelists Chris Pavone, Trey Barker, and Tom Young, titled “Rough, Tough Tales for Tough Readers.” Hmm… I think I’ll need to be packing… Check out the entire panel schedule here:

And, nothing to do with Bouchercon, but I have a guest post on Jenny Hansen’s blog Writers in the Storm, which goes live at 7 am ET on Wednesday. Check it out here:  

It’s gonna be a busy week!

Blue skies,