So it’s been some time since I updated. It’s been a hell of a year. My health went to hell in a hand-basket, and I wrote a ton of poems as a result. I read many books, and bought many more. The family went through some junk, and I went through some junk. Boy howdy.
On to the important stuff: even through the hellish landscape that has been 2019, I have gotten work done since my last update. A poem appeared in Black Coffee Review’s Fall 2019 issue called “Pissing In Public Urinals,” which was received with many quizzical looks and sidelong grins, but generated more praise than many things I’ve written more recently. My story “Easy Tiger” appeared in The Desperate and the Damned anthology. ‘The Russian’ appeared in Mystery Tribune in Summer 2019, and finally, the pieces de resistance, the two books I have that have come out this fall, Kraj the Enforcer: Stories, out in October from Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books, and Apocalypse in A‑Minor, a miscellany of poems,from Analog Submission Press, due out on November 18th. Here is the cover copy for Kraj:
Meet Kraj—pronounced krai—a low-level errand boy and hit-man masquerading as a bouncer for Tricky Ricky Gutierrez, nefarious owner of the Twist, a club in upstate Elmira NY. A place that has both a LGBTQIA night and a cowboy country night, this cockeyed corner bar in northern Appalachia supports Ricky’s illegal schemes, and serves as a rural balm for Croatian-war refugee Kraj.
Kraj plies his trade over a short span, moving from petty theft to strong-arming tips from people at the door, breaking up redneck fights, protecting the club’s nubile female staff and collecting gambling debts owed Tricky Ricky. Kraj eventually gets sucked further and further into Ricky’s underworld plans, where he wants to be seen as a man on the come-up, but he has problems moving up in Ricky's organization will never solve. His sister Ana, missing since the Croatian War for Independence, never strays far from his mind.
Kraj, together with his sometime girlfriend Cami, newly become manager of a franchisee McDonald’s, and his manager Mikael. negotiates his way through underground fight clubs, prostitution rings, drug deals, petty thievery, and of course, murder. Tricky Ricky gives Kraj a great deal of rope and autonomy to operate.
Will he hang himself with it or swing?
As far as the future goes, I have two stories in the final stages of consideration for different anthologies, plus the story “Big Poppa” coming out in Goliad Review. I also have a novel. The Enforcer’s Revenge featuring Kraj, the protagonist of my most recent book, in edits. I said I’d given up on that one due to a number of complicating factors. but I may have found ways around. It will take time and opportunity that I don’t have right now, so it may be a year or two before I can fix it. I also have another full, if short, novel finished, one whose bones are strong, but no agents are interested, because it only runs 55K. Too short for submission. It’s called Sunset Approaching, and it hearkens back to my earlier work, a more Appalachian book in setting and tone. I hope to place that with a university or independent press sometime in the near future.
And finally, I’m in the midst of collecting a bunch of Appalachian stories that I’ve published in various journals since Mostly Redneck came out, some crime and some not. They fit pretty well as a collection, so I’ll be shopping that around soon enough too. I have a private investigator novel I’m working on sporadically. set here in Revere, where I live and write. I have high hopes for that, at least high compared with my goals for 2019, which was basically to survive. I’ve done that, despite innumerable challenges, and I remain hopeful in spite of crushing depression, anxiety, and psychosis, and I only hope I stay well enough to do the work that is in me to do.