Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Yep, I don't know who voted for me, but I certainly flogged THE CONCRETE MAZE enough and now I'm shortlisted or nominated or whatever the term is for a Spinetingler Award. The Tinglies?

Mighty proud especially considering the copmany I'm keeping - very upscale. Honored to be admitted among them. I've even read some of the other works on the list which is not often the case.

In any event, I would say "Vote early and often," but it appears only one vote person per category and it had better all be on one email. So vote early and vote carefully...Torres has two Rs and ends in an S.

I should also note that I've added yet another ill-tended blog to the Blogiverse: The Classical Critic. It's new and about classical music. Essentially, it will consist of my occassional ramblings about the CDs I buy and the radio stuff I hear.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Oh, Fudge...

Why I wasn't told, I'll never know. Of course, this is one anthology I'm not in. Still, if you haven't heard, Jen Jordan and a slew of others have put together their wits and come up with EXPLETIVE DELETED - a book which started life with a more colorful title...

In any event, the book has an impressive bunch of stories and it makes a wonderful Christmas gift...for a particular type of family. No doubt that's what the good people at Bleak House were thinking about with this release date.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Favorite New Show

When the season began, I thought there would be a lot of shows that I'd like. CHUCK looked good, but quickly bored me. JOURNEYMAN looked like it might interest me, but it didn't. PUSHING DAISIES was cute in its first episode...and the second...and will probably never get past being cute though I got past it. Didn't like THE BIONIC WOMAN the first time it was on and didn't bother with it the second time.

I was hoping for RAINES to come back. It was my favorite from last year. But it got cut. Because of the writer's strike, they're bringing back other shows that failed last year - OCTOBER ROAD, for instance. Not RAINES though. Probably because I let people know I liked it.

This year, one show has captured my attention and actually kept it. I didn't think I would like THE WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB, but I do. I had a prejudice - ashamed to admit it, but there it is - I thought if it was based on a James Patterson novel (or is it a series) then it wouldn't be any good. Surprised to find that I like it quite a bit. The conceit may not be the greatest ever - these four women's careers intersect every week. Seems unlikely, but okay. Unlikely doesn't mean bad. It just means "fiction". Anyway, Angie Harmon has shown more acting chops in a handful of episodes than she was ever allowed in L&O. The other ladies, whose names I don't know yet, are all very capable and the stories have been pretty good. Subplots which show the women's private lives (esp. Harmon's - maybe because she's the tallest?) don't bog down the storyline. I'm a happy man.

Now, if there is another good sohw out there, please let me know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Honorable Mentions...

They say that getting honorable mention in a contest is exactly like losing...Nothing else. That's all they say about the issue. I, on the other hand don't really know who "they" are. So for me, honorable mention feels something like winning...not exactly like it, mind you. Winning often involves cash prizes whereas honorable mention usually involves being mentioned...

All this to say that I nailed down a couple of honorable mentions for some Precinct Puerto Rico short stories. The first is an honorable mention from the Al Blanchard award people at the New England Crimebake. The story is called "Caring for Jose" and I really think it's my finest PPR short story after "The Valley of Angustias" which was published in AHMM last year. The people at Crimebake sent me a framed certificate. Very nice. The honorable mention does not come with publication so if you know of an outlet looking for a 5k story, please do tell me.

The people at Mysterical-e let me know that my PPR story "Fiesta" earned honorable mention in a contest they were running. This does come with publication, so that's a plus. The story centers on the pleasantly endowed sheriff of the next town over from Angustias, Susanna Ortiz.

I also sent in one of my favorite short stories "Murder at DynaCorp" to a place called Notorious Press. They let me know it's a contender for publication in an anthology they're putting together for next year which concerns funky means of murder. (Or something like that.) If actually selected, I get $50 and publication. This story takes place in the not too distant future at a place called DynaCorp andit turns out that someone has been, well, murdered.

I was writing a horror story a while back, and everything was going well with it, but it creeped me out. That's not all that difficult to do, really, but there you have it.

Listening to Joshua Bell playing the Brahms. The middle movement is about as delicious a piece as you'll want to hear. Sadly for Bell, I heard Heifitz play this just this past week... Still, a good showing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Concrete Maze ist ein Buch der wechselnde Stile...

No clue what the title of this post means. I'm guessing "The Concrete Maze is a great book." In any event, it's my first review in German so if you parlez vous the lingo - take a look over at Internationale Krimis.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It would be crude...

to suggest that you should vote for THE CONCRET MAZE over at SPINETINGLER, but if you've read it and you liked it, I will say that you could spend the two minutes you'll need in worse ways: flipping channels between a variety of TV shows you don't really want to watch, for instance. Or raking leaves. In any event, if you don't want to vote for TCM, do vote for someone. It will make Sandra happy.

Just so you know, I've published five novels.

Oh, and Ken Bruen has published many, many novels.

Not that these are your only two choices, but...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

300th Post, so therefore rather random...

The giveaway of the best hardboiled novel you will read this year* is still going strong. Mailed out 16 copies of THE CONCRETE MAZE yesterday, have a few more to mail out tomorrow, then I'll be caught up. I've ordered another 20 copies. Trying to earn an Edgar nod. The book is good, but it's not in the hands of very many. I'm doing my part...

This next weekend will be taken up with an activity I haven't devoted time to since August - writing. Rewriting, actually. THE CONCRETE HEART was too violent and with a central character who just misses out on being sympathetic. Can't have that. Must have sympathy otherwise there's really no point. Just a little difficult to make this very, very bad man sympathetic. Yes, I know, I know, I can turn him into a rather sweet seven year old girl with pigtails, a blackjack and a cigarette lighter, but that's not a direction I think I can go. Least not with readers following me.

I haven't had much time to devote to reading either since the semester began in earnest. Am reading Island of Exiles by IJ Parker. Cracking good story so far. Will report on a couple of other books I managed to tackle at B'Con and in the days following.

Currently trying like mad to figure out exactly what it is I should be teaching students when I'm teaching Composition. I'm a decent essayist (did I tell you about my 1100 word article in the NY Times of all places this past summer? Or my article in Mystery Scene? And my other article in Mystery Scene? Or the one in SPINETINGLER?) but it's terribly difficult to pass skills on to students and I spend each semester (14th year now) banging my head against a brick wall as students (many, but not all, thank God) seem to have only a small sense of what I want to impart. I know some veteran Comp instructors have stopped by from time to time. If there are strategies that work, please let me know. The brick wall is bricky as ever being refreshed each term with a new brood of students, but my forehead is turning mushy.

Spilled a massive amount of soda on my computer keyboard. Now one of the CONTROL buttons sticks as does the space bar if you don't smack it hard enough. I'm guessing this is a problem that will magically work itself out. I hope.

* By a Puerto Rican living in Connecticut.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Which I Bid to Become the Ken Bruen of The Bronx...

Ah, so many stories, so little time. The latest copy of SPINETINGLER has a story by myself that tries to tell some of what motivated me to write "Early Fall" in the BRONX NOIR collection. It turns out, it is based, in part, on a true story. As any of my students will tell you, I've got a story for just about every occasion, including noir ones.

In any event, the latest Mystery Scene has the backstory to my latest novel, THE CONCRETE MAZE. More true stories. That one, however, is not available online. The SPINETINGLER one is. Check it out.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Carol Burnett

I'm watching American Masters on PBS and they're profiling Carol Burnett. Why isn't her show on DVD? I mean the whole thing. I know it'd be a 40 DVD set, but I'd buy it. Just thinking.

Random ARC giveaway

First up is an ARC of book #4 in the PRECINCT PUERTO RICO series. This one was creatively called MISSING IN PRECINCT PUERTO RICO because, well, someone goes missing. In any event, I found a copy on my shelves and would be happy to part with the ARC. It is, however, a tough book for some readers. It is about a pedophile ring and has a chapter (#5 if I recall correctly) that makes some parents cringe as we are taken into the mind of a sexual predator.

Unlike all foreign films which are invariably marketed in the US as being about LIFE...LOVE...AND LAUGHTER....this book is rather dark. Please don't take it so that you can tell me I'm evil. I know it already, and sales figures have proven it as well.

The book is redeemed by a shocking scene of police brutality if that's your thing.

Second, there are three ARCs of Book #3 in the series. This one was called BURNING PRECINCT PUERTO RICO. The title came about because, well, no need to go further, eh?

In any event, this one has a police officer being shot while flying through mid-air. Not your everyday occurence. Also, our hero, Luis Gonzalo, falls down during a shootout and lands in a patch of Hostas plants.

Anyway, of course, there are still a couple copies of THE CONCRETE MAZE to be had for the asking. Hardboiled/noir.

Another giveaway coming soon if I can remember.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Website's down...

No idea why, but I can't get to my website. Can't get my website email. Not even the spam. Clueless in Connecticut, but it's been like this for a few days now. Sorry if you've tried contacting me that way. It hasn't worked. Try here in the comments section.

Thanks for the patience.