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Incident Report

Incident Report No. 87

Photograph by Dacian Dorca (CC BY)

The Incident Report No. 87 features highlights from the Small Crimes posts I run almost every day. If you don’t have the time to read the daily missives then this might just be for you.


Several months ago, Chris Rhatigan, publisher of All Due Respect Books, asked if I’d like to help out his plan on resurrecting the All Due Respect zine. The idea was simple: we would publish hard-as-nails crime fiction with a touch of drinking money sent to the writers. I was already used to reading a slush pile. Years ago I use to read the slush pile for a literary magazine in Boston but reading so many stories again was definitely eye-opening with what makes or breaks a short story.

Luckily for y’all, over at Do Some Damage, Rhatigan lays down some guidelines that could be followed when writing short stories.

You don’t need a twist to construct a good short story. In fact, one of the most common mistakes I see is writers constructing stories that are built around a twist. In other words, the first three-quarters of the story seems to express, “wait for it, wait for it, the twist is coming!” Every part of a story should be engaging—not just the end. A related problem is that twists are so common that the law of diminishing returns kicks in. I would imagine most readers have seen plenty of twist endings. 

Simple plots that are handled with expert care and focus on a natural progression of events tend to make stronger stories.

Throughout Rhatigan’s “One Approach To Writing Short Stories”, he also recommends some great examples by Tom Pitts, Paul D. Brazill, and Stephen D. Rogers.

https://downandoutbooks.com/bookstore/goldberg-slow-down/


Over at LitReactor, Max Booth III wrote about trigger warnings in horror fiction and, not surprisingly, there’s a lot of carryover to the crime fiction genre.

Imagine the following scenario: You are lounging on the couch wanting nothing more than to chill out with a cool-ass horror book. You are enjoying everything going on in the story until—whoa wait what the absolute fuck suddenly—you’ve come across a random rape scene, and now instead of having a good time you are reliving a past traumatic experience from your own life. Your entire goddamn day is ruined. Replace “rape” with “suicide” and it’s the same outcome. All you can think about now is a lost loved one who took their own life or perhaps the long struggle you faced overcoming personal suicidal ideations. Or, to continue with one more example, imagine reading a book where a young child dies in a gruesome manner soon after losing your own child. No way are you in any mental state to possibly continue reading. Shit like that is very likely to wreck you.

I feel I’m giving this essay short shrift, but it’s quality especially given Booth’s wearing of multiple hats in the horror genre: writer, editor, publisher, reviewer, and fan.


The fifth book of Dana King’s Penns River series, “Pushing Water” (Down & Out Books), recently came out, and King has been busy. There’s his Do Some Damage article about writing police procedurals which is quite informative.

It bothers me that so many people think what they “learn” in cop and courtroom novels and shows are how things really are. It creates unhealthy ideas of how law enforcement works, or doesn’t. To feel one has to choose between realism and entertainment is a door to lazy writing. There’s no reason the story can’t be both.

Then King’s off to be interviewed by Dietrich Kalteis at Off the Cuff.

I read cop memoirs to get an idea of how they think. I still leaf through Connie Fletcher’s books of cops’ stories. Adam Plantinga’s books 400 Things Cops Know and Police Craft are wonderful resources. Ask some cops how cases get solved and they’ll tell you it’s usually because someone talks.

But wait there’s more!

King interviewed Tom Pitts on the eve of his upcoming release Cold Water (Down & Out Books). Pitts talked about his new book.

I think the Everyman facing insurmountable odds is a powerful theme, and very relatable. I wanted to write something akin to Joe Lansdale’s Hot in December or Cold in July, but my own version. And in Northern California. And I wanted it to play out in a few locations, not just San Francisco. I think the suburban sprawl is under-represented in fiction. Gentrification has made the big cities so banal. Where’s the hunger, where’s the struggle, where’s the passion? In the burbs, baby.


Other Articles

Adam Scovell on reading crime fiction during the pandemic (3:AM Magazine)

Alex George on letting it all burn, “Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work” (Lit Hub)

“The Comprehensive Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with an Editor” by Chantel Hamilton (Jane Friedman)

“Author Spotlight: Andrew Davie” by Scott Cumming (Eight Million Books to Read)

Rachel Howzell Hall and Alex Segura discussed crime fiction (Writer’s Digest)

“The Origins of Scandinavian Noir” by Wendy Lesser (The Paris Review)


Book Reviews

“This Letter to Norman Court” by Pabo D’Stair (All Due Respect Books) (Col’s Criminal Library)

“Love is a Grift” by Graham Wynd (Fox Spirit Books) (Sonia Kilvington)

“We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine) (Dead End Follies)

“Dead Man’s Mistress” by David Housewright (Minotaur) (Kevin’s Corner)

“Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron) (So Much To Talk About)

“Sordid: Five Crime Stories” by Harry Hunsicker (Kevin’s Corner)

“Broken Dreams” by Nick Quantrill (Fahrenheit Press) (Ian Ayris)

“The Waiting Rooms” by Eve Smith (Orenda Books) (Crime Fiction Lover)

“Rock and a Hard Place Issue #2” (Eight Million Books to Read)


Featured Books

“Shotgun Honey Presents Volume 4: Recoil” edited by Ron Earl Phillips (Shotgun Honey)


“Throwing Off Sparks” by Michael Pool (PI Tales)


“The Good Book: Fairy Tales for Hard Men” by Tom Leins (All Due Respect Books)


“We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)


“Nightmare Asylum and other Deadly Delights” by Sonia Kilvington (Close to the Bone)


“The Brooklyn Trilogy” by Robert J. Randisi (Down & Out Books)


Thanks for stopping by to read Incident Report No. 87. If you’d like to read more posts like this, please click here.

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Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook

Small Crimes: Thursday Reads

Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook | We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III

“Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook” features Harry Hunsicker, Nick Quantrill, K.B. Jensen, Jennifer Hillier, Eric Beetner, Max Booth III, and more.

Article: “How to Throw a Virtual Book Launch Using Facebook Live” by K.B. Jensen (Jane Friedman)

Book Review: “Sordid: Five Crime Stories” by Harry Hunsicker (Kevin’s Corner)

Book Review: “Broken Dreams” by Nick Quantrill (Fahrenheit Press) (Ian Ayris)

Audio Review: “Killer’s Fedora” by Lawrence Block (Col’s Criminal Library)

Podcast: Jennifer Hillier joins Eric Beetner for the latest episode (Writer Types)

Photographs: Big Lonely City #100 (Fragments of Noir)

Book: “We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook”. For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Delinquents, Reading, and Finding Bodies

Throwing Off Sparks by Michael Pool  | Delinquents, Reading, and Finding Bodies

“Delinquents, Reading, and Finding Bodies” features Rachel Howzell Hall, Alex Segura, the problem with reading in a pandemic, book reviews, and much more.

Conversation: Rachel Howzell Hall and Alex Segura discussed crime fiction (Writer’s Digest)

Article: A neuroscientist on why it may be difficult for you to read (Vox)

Short Story: “A World Full of Strangers” by Stephen J. Golds (Bristol Noir)

Book Review: “Love is a Grift” by Graham Wynd (Fox Spirit Books) (Sonia Kilvington)

Book Review: “We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine) (Dead End Follies)

Book Review: “Dead Man’s Mistress” by David Housewright (Minotaur) (Kevin’s Corner)

Book Review: “Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron) (So Much To Talk About)

Film: K.A. Laity watched “The Party’s Over”, directed by Guy Hamilton (Punk Noir)

Photographs: Dave Jordano (Fragments of Noir)

Book: “Throwing Off Sparks” by Michael Pool (PI Tales)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Delinquents, Reading, and Finding Bodies.: For more Small Crimes, click here.

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Books

Small Crimes: Thursday Reads

Pushing Water by Dana King | Small Crimes, The Taco Bell Edition

Small Crimes, the Thursday edition, features Taco Bell, Willie Nelson, Chris Rhatigan, Frank Zafiro, Max Booth III, Spelk, Fragments of Noir, and Dana King.

Podcast: Chris Rhatigan interviewed by Frank Zafiro (Wrong Place, Write Crimes)

Book Review: “We Need to do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine) (Jay Wilburn)

Short Story: “Happy Hour at the Pussy Cat Club” by Laure Van Rensburg (Spelk)

Interview: “The editor of Taco Bell Quarterly explains how to make art out of a fast food brand” by Constance Grady (Vox)

Movie Posters: More Film Noir (Fragments of Noir)

Music: “All 143 Willie Nelson Albums, Ranked” – this is a seriously good article (Texas Monthly)

Pre-Order Book: “Pushing Water” by Dana King (Down & Out Books)

Thank you for stopping by and reading the latest edition of Small Crimes.

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Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads

The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson | Small Crimes

The Wednesday edition of Small Crimes features Colin Conway, Frank Zafiro, Chris Rhatigan, Matthew Ross, Paul D. Brazill, Russel D. McLean, Emily Hockaday, Jackie Sherbow, Curtis Ippolito, Barnes & Noble, and Michael David Wilson.

Interview: Chris Rhatigan talked to Colin Conway and Frank Zafiro, authors of “Charlie-316” and the upcoming “Never the Crime” (Down & Out Books) (All Due Respect Books)

Book Review: “Death of a Painter” by Matthew Ross (Red Dog Press) (Col’s Criminal Library)

Book Review: “Man of the World” by Paul D. Brazill (All Due Respect Books) (Crime Fiction Lover)

Book Review: “Ed’s Dead” by Russel D. McLean (Contraband) (Nigel Bird)

Article: The First Two Pages: “Talk to Me” by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow (Art Taylor)

Short Story: “Hook-Up Spot” by Curtis Ippolito (Punk Noir)

Submissions: “Exquisite Corpse Vol. 2” is looking for writers (The Exquisite Corpse)

News: The slow and agonizing death of Barnes and Noble as they stop selling new magazines (Good E-Reader)

New Release: “Girl in the Video” by Michael David Wilson (Perpetual Motion Machine)

Thank you for stopping by and reading the latest edition of Small Crimes.