Down Gallow’s Way Published in Underground Voices’ 2013 Anthology: Red Moon District

Underground Voices Red Mood District CoverUnderground Voices Red Mood District Back Cover

Just in time for last-minute holiday shopping, Underground Voices has released their 2013 Anthology featuring a selection of potent tales including my very own short story, “Down Gallow’s Way”.

The anthology, titled Red Moon District, can be purchased online through Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

Pick up a copy and support indie authors, an indie publisher, and most importantly, your ol’ pal Dave.

Here’s an excerpt from “Down Gallow’s Way” to wet your whistle…

So when I moved into Clementine’s house just off the pike, the little blue rancher with the overgrown lawn and rusted metal fence that stood in the center of a clusterfuck of lesser homes and doublewides nestled at a fork in the road, we were in the middle of that blasted April heat wave. After the wretched winter of the snowpocalypse where we were hit with record snowfall amounts and left to trudge through mountains of the stuff that seemed like it wouldn’t melt until May (it was gone by March), it seemed a welcome slap in the face to be hit with record heat just after Easter. Clem’s AC didn’t work, and I was no handyman. So we spent those nights in Saundra’s chilled-to-the-bone doublewide drinking beers and watching the Phillies’ games, passing Lil’ Bibbs from knee to knee, bouncing all the way until he was as Clem liked to say, “right tuckered out.” Bibbs was, of course, always out on the road working. He was probably doing more laying of pipe than driving I imagined, but Saundra seemed blissfully oblivious.

Underground Voices started as an online literary magazine in 2004 publishing hard-hitting, raw, dark fiction, flash fiction and poetry. In 2006, it started publishing an annual print edition, alongside the monthly online issues. In 2009, they expanded into a small press. And finally, in 2013, they decided to become an independent book publisher only, publishing 1-5 books a year.

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Issue Three of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine Now Available

Issue Three Cover Final

The third issue of The Stone – our special mystery/crime issue – is now available for download at Amazon.com through the Kindle app!

Here’s a preview:

My medic jacket had lost most of its initial warmth once dampened by the constant snow, yet I still tightened it desperately around me, my only safe haven from the frozen field. The snow illuminated the world before me, creating a blank canvas out of the barren field, spoiled only by the occasional dead tree. Under different circumstances, it may have been beautiful.  —  from “Dolls of Ice” by Delun Attwooll

I lived at Siding Number Two, a spur line off the Southern Pacific railroad that carried oil into Bakersfield.  Our little town changed her name to Taft in 1910, the year I was born.  My daddy used to tell me that the town was forced to change its name, because I had arrived in it.  Since I was never sure that he was telling the truth, I called it by its original name, Siding Number Two.  No matter how you dressed her for the dance, this town had an asphalt tar underbelly that no amount of commerce could wash off.   She partnered with men so corrupt that folks were too frightened to talk about it.   Fueled by greed and intimidation, there were two things that kept this town alive, oil and rail. Born to the west desert plains of the fertile valley, she was set down smack in the middle of two oil leases, the Midway Sunset and Buena Vista.  A product of the transient oil boom, she attracted the hardiest and most desperate of souls.  Nobody planned to stay here long much less die in this town, and I was no different.  —  from “Siding Number Two” by Mary Redmond

The next morning, Benjamin examined the spider web and found the lifeless lightning bug wrapped tightly in a cocoon in the spider’s feasting section that also featured a smattering of other tiny gnats and houseflies.  The tiny rear end bulb responsible for last night’s light show was detached from the rest of the body and lay on the floor underneath the web in a smoldering of dirt and dust.  The spider, of course, was nowhere to be seen, leaving behind its macabre display for the boy’s fevered imagination to run wild with monstrous images of the arachnid’s size and power.  Benjamin hated that feeling of knowing that spiders were always around him, hiding everywhere, always within a few feet, sometimes just a few inches from him, often undetected, waiting for that moment to come crawling over his face while he slept, the tiny ones creeping into his ears and nostrils, the big ones nesting in his hair.  This feeling often left him petrified at night.  — from “Night of the Spider” by D. H. Schleicher

So go ahead and roll back The Stone to uncover great stories in the digital age. Continue reading

The 7th Annual Davies Awards in Film

Hollywood zeroed in on real drama and history in 2012, and they hit their mark.

Hollywood zeroed in on real drama and history in 2012, and they hit their mark.

A Look Back at 2012:

There’s so much to say about the year in film that was 2012. In many ways it was like two distinct years. The first half was grim and borderline torturous with the only bright spots being two films that came out of the blue to depict with great grit and emotion man vs. his own nature (guised as man vs. nature) in The Grey and The Hunter. In the summer, we were met with art house films critics were too eager to gush over. Yes, Moonrise Kingdom was Wes Anderson’s most charming film in a while, but it was still a Wes Anderson film. And yes, Beasts of the Southern Wild had a cool title and interesting set-up, but it really didn’t make any sense.

Oddly, at the multiplex things were clearer as some of the heavy hitters were well above average. The Hunger Games offered a new series positively literary when compared to the god-awfulness of The Twilight series (finally put to rest this year). Many people didn’t like it, but I still got a kick out of Prometheus while The Dark Knight Rises was a fine conclusion to a fine trilogy. Even The Avengers (overrated by fanboys) was above average…though it was still a comic book movie. This trend continued into the fall with the best James Bond film of the modern era, Skyfall, lighting the box office on fire.

Quietly simmering beneath all of this pop-culture hubbub was a snarky good year for neo-noir with the twisty sci-fi yarn Looper at the multiplexes and art houses runneth over with films like the Russian melodrama Elena, Friedkin’s southern-fried piece of Americana trash Killer Joe and the Twin Peaksian French entry Nobody Else But You.

But it wasn’t until the fall that things got real and filmmakers tapped into history to deliver highly polished professional products of the most prestigious order.
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Issue Two of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine Now Available

The second issue of The Stone is now available for download at Amazon.com through the Kindle app!

Cover art for Issue Two comes courtesy of award-winning British photographer Eleanor Leonne Bennett, and inside you will find great stories from three continents.

Here’s a preview:

Stretching my long legs in perfect tandem one after the other in rhythmic fashion simultaneously thumping the ground below my feet, I spring forward—yes, I am running. At a speed either unknown to me or at the speed of light, or so I thought. Running for my life to catch a day-train to Bangalore—the Brindavan Express. – from “Train of Thought” by Prakash Jashnani

All across town clocks were tossing off seconds with loud clicks, obnoxious tapping, or with silent digital precision, and he knew that just because he couldn’t hear them didn’t mean they weren’t out there and that the ticking wasn’t happening, and more importantly, that time wasn’t running out. – from “Deadline” by Vince McGovern

Directly in front of the window, a large white ferris wheel slowly turned up, towards, and away from the window.  Up, towards, away, up, towards, away.  Here and there flashes snapped from inside the tinted windows of the ferris wheel cars.  Miek wondered if she would turn out in any of those tourist photos, a small face peering out of a window facing Dam Square, only discovered when someone’s weekend away in Amsterdam was over and their photos uploaded to their computer.  – from “The Trip” by Amanda Perino

The thought of being alone with Ritchie made Jerry nervous. Yes, the Dunwoodys had a three year-old daughter named Ritchie. Jerry had been totally against it, but it was the trend amongst all of Stephanie’s girlfriends that year to apply boys’ names to their newborn daughters. In Ritchie’s preschool class there were two girls named Sam (just Sam), a Billy and a Bobby.  – from “Puddle Jumpers” by D. H. Schleicher

So go ahead and roll back The Stone to uncover great stories in the digital age. Continue reading

The 6th Annual Davies Awards in Film

A Look Back at 2011:

At times entering a movie theater was like wandering into a vast wasteland in 2011…but there was light…I swear…

Box office receipts were down in 2011 – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a very solid year for cineastes.  A sluggish economy; the ascendance of launching specialty films through VOD; and an unseemly glut of similarly minded, awkwardly titled sequels, prequels, threequels, reboots, preboots, 3D flicks, animated tales and family films left most moviegoers either broke, confused or disillusioned.  Despite this seeming rut, there were still plenty of diamonds in the rough both in the art houses and the cineplexes during this long, weird year in film.  Like Smetana’s Die Moldau (used so righteously by Terrence Malick in The Tree of Life) these great films whispered to us quietly at first, almost like a hum from the distant past…and then announced themselves with bombast.  Memory, myth and the magic of cinema were boldly on display for those willing to indulge.

For those lucky and daring enough to see it, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul took us down the cosmic rabbit hole and cycled through time in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (a film technically from 2010, but that didn’t see its limited release stateside until March 2011).  It was a fitting way to start the year, as what emerged from this cosmic cycling for the observant filmgoer was nostalgia run gloriously amuck.  All year-long nostalgia was evidenced in just about anything that gained traction – from multiplex concoctions like Super 8 and Captain America, to art house fare like Midnight in Paris and The Artist, to populist Oscar-grab flicks like Hugo and War Horse.  This longing for the simpler, happier days of the past seemed to be at war with films overwhelmed by an impending doom (see Melancholia, Take Shelter or even Margin Call). Filmmakers were simultaneously hung over from the global economic crisis and fascinated by the 2012 apocalypse predictions.  Meanwhile, the big studios lazily greenlit a ton of stuff we’ve seen before…but in handing these projects over to up-and-coming directors trying to prove something rather than the usual hacks, films like X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol were far more entertaining than they had any right to be.  Continue reading

Introducing The Premier Issue of The Stone Digital Literary Magazine

The Schleicher Spin is proud to present a unique new “experiment” with the premier issue of The Stone!

The Stone was founded as a way to bridge the gap between classic storytelling and new technology.  Our goal is to provide great stories to the masses in a modern user-friendly format, through the Kindle App, at an affordable price ($1.99 USD for four stories) – cheaper than downloading music. 

You don’t need a Kindle to read The Stone.  All you need is the free Kindle App!  Don’t have the Kindle App yet?  Click here to download it for free to your PC, Mac, iPad, tablet or smart-phone.

Have the Kindle App already?  Then click here to download The Stone Premier Issue now for only $1.99 (USD).

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Scratch Anthology Volume 3 is Here!

The Scratch Anthology Volume 3 has finally arrived – featuring my story, “The Ballerina in Battery Park”, as well as a bountiful cornucopia of award-winning short fiction and poetry from a cavalcade of damn fine emerging writers.

Got an itch for some great stories? Why don’t you mosey on over to Scratch and get your copy today?

The 5th Annual Davies Awards in Film

A Look Back at 2010:

In 2009, Hollywood went to war and for the most part blew us away if not with the actual quality of their output, with their audacity at least.  In 2010 they took a deep breath and dove back into the shadows and dark alleys of the mind.  It was the year of the Neo-Noir Renaissance.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (2nd movement) is probably one of the most recognizable and widely used pieces of classical music.  Filmmakers have returned to it over and over again – Tom Hooper just did for the excellent closing montage to The King’s Speech.  But I feel this piece of music represents clearly what the 2010 year in film was all about:  dark, brooding, steady, prone to dramatic swells, often formulaic, but very well crafted.  Tell me you don’t see a bit of the same madness in Carlos Kleiber conducting that we saw in Scorsese, Nolan and Aronofsky directing in 2010.

Unlike most years, it started off like gangbusters with two masters delivering wildly entertaining larks that owed as much debt to their own past efforts at they did to Hitchcock:  Martin Scorsese’s “in your face” Shutter Island and Roman Polanski’s more subtle and refined The Ghost Writer.  The trend towards neo-noir continued and reached its zenith in the summer with two polarizingly opposite films:  Debra Granik’s independent and devilishly simple Winter’s Bone and Christopher Nolan’s wickedly complex mega-blockbuster Inception.  Even some of the heavy-hitters at the end of the year, like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan or The Coen Brothers’ True Grit owed some debt to noir.

Overall, it was a solid, consistent year for films and a nice way to kick-off a new decade of cinema.  There was nothing earth-shattering or revolutionary, but there were plenty of reasons to be entertained in 2010… Continue reading

The Ballerina in Battery Park

The building was an older one, just a block from Wall Street in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, and its modest ten stories were dwarfed by towering modern skyscrapers.  The rooftop offered an amazing 360-panoramic view of the cavernous buildings that stretched into the clouds.  Their lit windows made checkered patterns against the enclosing walls of the city.  Looking out between the buildings was like gazing into the belly of a deep and narrow cave that stretched back forever into a darkness around the bend.

A grim view from a ferry taken from Jersey City to Manhattan.

About two years ago I made it one of my primary missions to hone my skills working in short fiction.  It was an area I had avoided and feared before (I am “davethenovelist” not “davetheshortstorywriter” afterall) but I decided it could be a welcome change of pace and something I could really dive into between novels.  It’s resulted in many stories and ideas, some of which I’ve now discarded or still linger to be fully fleshed out, others of which I have edited to death and/or submitted in various drafts to select literary magazines in print or online.  Along my journey, I read somewhere that the average writer will make at least 20 submissions before having their first story published.  Well, on the 13th try, I am finally seeing some returns on my investments of time and hard work. 

I am proud to say my short story, “The Ballerina in Battery Park” has been chosen for publication and awarded 3rd place in Scratch’s 2010 Spring Quarterly Contest.  In addition to immediate online publication it will be appearing in print in their annual anthology due out in the Spring of 2011 – stay tuned for details on how to purchase a copy!

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The Hook Brings Them Back

The calm between the storms: And just where do they plan on fitting another foot of snow?

They sure do like to rush the sequels these days.  Just barely 72 hours after Snowmageddon dumped 20 inches or more over most of the Mid Atlantic, the sequel was rushed into production and now we have Snowmageddon 2:  The Sleetpocalypse, arriving mid-week no less and snowing-in the same area (and then some) once again.   As Dickens would say…it was the best of times, it was the worst of times

But it seemed the perfect cabin-fever brew to stir up some inspired work on that novel…you know…the one I’ve been babbling about since — For the Love of Pete — April of 2008!  Though I have much of the outlining and research completed and even drafted a very rough first chapter, one thing I have been wrestling with is crafting that perfect, killer opening line.  They say you have to grab a reader’s attention instantly, and if you don’t hook them with the opening, then they are less likely to come back.   I decided to test that theory and thought what better way to procrastinate than to hit my bookshelves and crack open some of my favorite novels and current reads to see how the masters of their craft hooked readers with that opening line.  

I invite my readers and fellow bloggers to do the same and leave some of you favorite (or worst) opening lines to novels (or screenplays) in the comment form! 

Here are some of my findings: Continue reading