Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jacqueline Susann & Fifty Shades of Ripoff

So, I mentioned in a previous post that I was reading Leon Uris' TRINITY. I finished it,and let me tell you, it was awesome. It was one of those epic novels, where I was taken back in time to Ireland in the 1800's and the journey ended in 1916. Uris is a master story teller, who perfectly mixes historical events with creative writing. As I also mentioned in a previous post, I read the sample of his novel EXODUS, and will surely be readin that as well. Where TRINITY was wriiten in a more serious, almost literary style, which works well considering the era it takes place in, it seems like EXODUS has much more contemporary, modern style.

Now, you're probably wondering (maybe not) how this somehow ends up in a post about Jacqueline Susann. Well, like I almost always do after I decide to read a novel, I do some research on the author. One of the interesting things I found while reading about Uris, was that although he sold a ton of novels, he was not taken very seriously as a writer, by the literati / academia.  He was essentially the poster child for the modern day, pop culture, mega-best selling, celebrity author. As I connected the interweb research dots ( links) about Uris, it lead me to Jacqueline Susann , who took this cutural / literary phenomenon to a new level.

I was intrigued enough by what I learned about her, that I read the sample of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. I liked it and ended up getting it from the library. I really enjoyed it. Sure, it had a soap opera type style to it, and what was considered  outrageous and provocative when it was published in 1966, is certainly very tame nowadays, but it was entertaining, especially getting an inside view of the entertainment industry in the 40's. 50's and 60's.

I have moved on to the LOVE MACHINE, which right out of the gate, gets down and dirty in both details, language, and subject matter. This one I really like and it seems like Susann has decided to push the boundaries in both storyline and wrting style. Where she perhaps pulled back in VALLEY, she goes full-throttle with LOVE MACHINE, and it works well.

Now, here is an observation, not scientific, but I am in tune enough with pop culture to hopefully at least suggest this. A lot of contemporary novel, TV, and movie writers have been greatly influenced, maybe even ripped off Susann's novels. If you have read her novels, you will surely notice that MADMEN has poached many details and style, Brett Easton Ellis surely must have read her novels.

But, the most blatant rip-off I can think of is the author of the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY totally, and liberally re-used many of Susanns ideas, etc....If you had never heard of Jacqueline Sussan or read any of her novels, you would never know this, but it is undeniable.  I find this ironic, because although Sussan was heavily panned for her style ( lack of talent) at least it was groundbreaking and original, and in my opinion, she actually had writing talent. But, who am I to judge, the FIFTY franchise made millions, and I guess the author could be considered the "new" Jacqueline Susann ( minus the writing talent and original ideas), but really, she should give credit where it is due, especially for those who think she came up with it on her own.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A REVIEW: ANGEL BABY by Richard Lange

Finished ANGEL BABY by Richard Lang and posted the below review on Amazon. If you get a chance, I highly recommend it as a novel to read.  Also finished TRINITY, by Leon Uris and it was just awesome. Up next is VALLEY OF THE DOLLS by Jacqueline Sussan, which certainly has its place in pop culture, for many reasons, which I'll post about after I finsh reading it.

5 STARS: Great Action Packed, Fast Paced Story
I have been a fan of Richard Lange since I read his excellent short story collection, DEAD BOYS. From the opening chapter of ANGEL BABY through the satisfying ending, I was fully engaged and entertained. The story always moves forward with a very high "what happens next" factor. It's a well written novel in both story and style and has a cinematic feel to it. Have read online that the screen rights have been purchased and after reading the novel, can certainly understand why. ANGEL BABY is certainly one of the best crime thriller novels I have read in some time.

As I mention in the review, I was first exposed to Richard Lange's wrting when I read DEAD BOYS and really, really dug it. In fact, I might re-read it, which is something I very rarely do.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sanda Seamans over at Shotgun Honey!

If you are not familiar with Sandra Seamans, who is not only a writer, but a tireless promoter of writers and writing, you should be. Her blog, My Little Corner, is a wealth of information and is updated (big thanks, Sandra) almost daily.

Very happy to let you know that she has a very good story, Notes On Friday Night, on display over at the Shotgun Honey site. Big congrats to Sandra!

You can check out her story HERE

And make it a point to check out Sandtra's blog HERE

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dead and Dying: Free Today thru Sunday

For those who might be interested, I have crime short story, DEAD AND DYING, available in Kindle format at Amazon in the US HERE and UK HERE. It is free today thru Sunday. If you do read it, I hope you find it entertaining.

Here's the pitch: When three Irish American friends are reunited at a wake in their Massachusetts hometown, one of them learns that sometimes, revenge and redemption can mean the same thing. 

My view is:  It is a crime short story where Standy By Me meets The Big Chill and although it is mostly  fiction, it was inspired by some real life characters and events from my life.

Have A Great Weekend.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Warriors...Can You Dig It?

Watched The Warriors last night. It had been a long time since I had seen it. I saw it at the movies in 1979 when it came out. I was 14 and back then thought it was awesome.  I have to say, I still enjoyed it 34 years ( yikes!) later. If you didn't know it ( I didn't), the movie was based on a novel by Sol Yurick.

After doing a bit more recon, I also leaarned the theme of the story was influenced by ( and this is some heavy, historical type info) Anabasis by a Greek solder and writer named Xenophon. Pretty interesting, to me at least.

I hear / read they are remaking The Warriors, and it's scheduled for release in the Fall of 2014

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rusty Bones 2013

Just wrapped up the summer lacrosse season with a new team I joined, the New Hamphire Rusty Bones. It was a great experience and my fellow "Bones" were a great group of guys. Although we lost our first 7 games, we beat our arch rival, the Manchester Elder Statemen, in the last game of the season.  This season was important for me becuase I missed last season due to a nagging knee injury. I had arthoscopic surgery in December to clean up a torn meniscus, so it was a huge win for me to play again, pain / injury free, and I'll hopefully be able to play indoor throughout the fall and winter.

If you like contact sports, putting on the gear, a great physical workout, and the comraderie of a team sport, lacrosse is the best it gets for us older guys, who are trying to hold off going the golf / softball route.

If anyone who reads this, lives in the New England area and has played, or wants to play, and is over 30 years old, check out the OLDE NEW ENGLAND LACRCOSSE LEAGUE site HERE. I'm sure, you can find a team you can play for.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Leon Uris: Trinity & Exodus

One of my teammates on the lacrosse club I play for recommended that I try reading novels by an author named Leon Uris, specifically, Trinity. He also mentioned Exodus. I got Trinity from the library last week and I am really loving it. It's about 900 pages and has an "epic tale" feel to it.  I'm 300 pages in and can't wait to keep reading. I also read the sample of Exodus, and will surely be reading that one next.

There is nothing better for an avid reader ( for me at least ) than finding out about a new author, who delivers the goods. Kudos and thanks to the late Leon Uris for the entertainment and knowledge broadening experience his wrting has provided me with!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Eva Dolan Talks About Her Debut Crime Novel

Over at Lloyd Paiges's site, up and coming crime author, Eva Dolan, talks about her debut ( 2014 release) crime novel LONG WAY HOME. This little snippet from the blurb got my attention.

"When a man is burnt alive inside a suburban garden shed"

You can read the complete interview HERE

Best of luck to Eva!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ray Donovan & Angel Baby

Really digging a new Showtime series, Ray Donovan. All the ingredients I like and reminds me of a Sopranos  or The Brotherhood type of series. Jon Voight is also in it. Lots of subplots going on every episode. If  I had to list two negatives, it would be the Elliot Gould character and Ray's wife, who is really channeling the whole Carmela Soprano vibe, and butchering the Boston accent.

Reading an excellent novel, Angel Baby, by Richard Lange, who wrote one of the best short story caollections I have ever read, Dead Boys: Stories. Warner Brothers has snatched up the screen option rights to Angel Baby. Great news for Richard and I wish him much luck with getting it to the screen. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Results Are In: Kick-Ass Opening Line

Over at Chuck Wendig's site he's announced the 3 winners of the Best Kick-Ass opening line contest he has been running for about a week. There were over 400 entries. Including this from me:

The people in the woods wear black hooded robes, have oblong white faces, and black dots for eyes.

Anyway... you can check out the winning entries and runner ups HERE

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thrillers, Killers -n- Chillers Closes its Doors

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the tremendous site, Thrillers, Killers -n- Chillers has closed up shop. This was a great site and hosted some terrific stories over the years. I had my first short story featured there and I still remember when Col Bury emailed me to let me know my story had been accepted. It was such a great feeling.  All is not lost however, as Davis Barber is taking the baton and hosting a new site called, Thrillls, Kills, -n- Chaos.

Big thanks to the kind and talented writers who put so much time and effort into making TKnC such a great site: Matt Hilton, Col Bury, Lee Hughes, and Lily Childs...WELL DONE!

You can check out the final TKnC post HERE and the new Thrills, Kills -n- Chaos site HERE

Friday, April 5, 2013

Chuck Wendig's Kick-Ass Opening Line Challenge

Over at Chuck Wendig's site, TerribleMinds, he is hosting a "Kick-Ass Opening Line" challenge. Basically,  all you need to do is come up with your best opening sentence. Find out more, and hopefully give it a shot HERE

Thursday, March 28, 2013

No More Dodgeball

The Windham, New Hampshire school system has removed dodgeball from the gym class curriculum. The reason is to put a halt to the perceived bullying aspect of this longtime gym and playground activity. Myself, I always loved playing dodgeball in school. Never was the champ, but enjoyed it. I can see what they are trying to do, as it is not unreasonable to think that some students are singled out, or ganged up on as targets. This is causing quite a bit of controversy and discussion locally and it appears nationally, as the story gains traction in the media.  Nothing surprises me these days, and I think this decision might be a bit extreme. I would think the potential of getting hit in the face might have been a more worthy reason to evaluate the status of dodgeball in schools, just saying.

Anyway, if you care to read more on the story click HERE, and I would certainly love to hear where you stand on this subject.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

10 Days of Madness Begins

Over at the Leaky Pencil blog, which is hosted by Chris Allinotte, the 10 Days of Madness extravaganza kicked off today.  Benjamin Sobieck and Angel Zapata kick things off. This is the 3rd year of  "the madness",  and  I was very thrilled to be included in the inaugural offering with a story called "Heart Shaped Hammer".

Anyway....head on over to the Leaky pencil, give the story's a read, and let the authors know what you think. Click HERE to be transported to a world of madness.

Friday, March 15, 2013

PBS and Hooked On Downton Abbey

I have been a big fan of PBS for a long time, starting with Sesame Street and the Electric Company as a child. Hell, I remember my mother being hooked on I Claudius way back in the day.  As an adult, Masterpiece Theater has had some great ones: Inspector Morse and Robert Louis Stevenson's, Kidnapped, really did it for me. Recently, I got hooked on Call the Midwife, but oh man, once I starting watching Downton Abbey, it was like a crack addiction. It is the kind of show that makes network TV and even cable  shows, look ridiculous ( or even more ridiculous than I already thought they were) 

Pictured above is the main villain, Thomas (superbly cast and played by Robert James-Collier). This guy is a weasel's weasel. What has drawn me to this show?

1. The high quality of the production.

2. Almost the entire cast was unknown to me
3. Superb acting and story line
4. Does not rely on all of the old standbys of network TV...sex. pretentious music for every scene, over- used / over-paid actors, product placement, and placing style over story.
* There is liberal use of  "someone always overhearing private conversations, or walking into a room at just the right time". This is the trademark of soap operas, but it works very well in this case.
5. I don't feel like my intelligence is being insulted, and actually feel like I am learning something about history / society along the way.
6. The cliff-hanger factor is huge. I want to know "what happens next".
7. My wife and I watch it together and we talk about it! Did the same with Call the Midwife as well.

I was late to the game on this show. We started watching season 1 on Netflix ( via my kids Wii system) about a month ago. I immediately, purchased season 2 at Walmart for $30.00, and then season 3 ( UK version) at Barnes and Noble for $40.00. We burned through these in record time, and loved every single minute of it.  Now, as we have told friends and family who had not watched it, the seasons 2 and 3 DVD's are on a wait list, after they got hooked after watching season 1.

If anyone has seen Downton Abbey, would love to know your thoughts, as I would love talk about it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Ghosts of Belfast: Movie Update

Stuart Neville has shard his thoughts on the film version of his excellent, and one of my favorite all-time novels, The Ghosts of Belfast. The film title is Last Man Out and it looks like Pierce Brosnan is lined up to play Gerry Fagan. I you have not read this novel, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Check out Stuart's take, on his blog HERE

Over at the My Book, The Movie blog, I was pleased to find out about a novel by Stephan Talty, that I find very intriguing.  Here is the elevator pitch:

"In this explosive debut thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water, a brilliant homicide detective returns home, where she confronts a city’s dark demons and her own past while pursuing a brutal serial killer on a vengeful rampage."

Check who Stephan thinks would be in the movie cast, as well as finding out more about him HERE

Friday, March 8, 2013

TeamNerd Reviews: Grimm Tales

While surfing the net, I found a very detailed review of Grimm Tales via the TeamNerd Review blog. I had a  story in this anthology, Divided We Stand.. A lot of the stories took it to the chin, but some seemed to really impress. The main complaint was the overuse of Hansel and Gretel, which I can certainly understand,  but the authors had no idea which fairy tale the others were choosing. My take from the beginning was to try and use one that I thought no one else would use, so  in that respect, I lucked out. As I read through each story review, I was cringing waiting to see what was in store for my story. But, I was somewhat spared.

Divided We Stand

Author: Sean Patrick Reardon

Mini-Review: This short read like a scene from within an already ongoing scene. It’s hard to wrap your head around what the hell is going on until closer to the end. The ending was good though.

Anyway, you can see the full review and check out the TeanNerd Review blog ( which is a really cool site) 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Banshee on Cinemax

Recently got turned on to a new crime series, Banshee, which is on Cinemax. Really digging this. It is totally over-the-top in terms of violence, language, and sexual content. Just about everything about it screams inappropriate, and of course, I am all in!  Here is the premise, which at first glance almost seems absurd, but they make it work and pull it off. 

Banshee takes place in the fictional small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. After serving 15 years in prison for stealing diamonds from Ukranian gangster Mr. Rabbit, the unnamed protagonist travels to Banshee to find his heist accomplice and former lover, Anastasia. When he finds her, the protagonist learns that she is now a married mother of two living under the assumed identity of Carrie Hopewell. Later, when the incoming Sheriff is killed, the protagonist takes on his identity as Lucas Hood, becoming the town's new Sheriff. Banshee sees Hood struggle with adapting to his new identity while dealing with the machinations of local crime lord Kai Proctor, and remaining hidden from Rabbit.

The opening couple of scenes are action packed, and really kick things off with bang. It has all the ingredients I love in a show, although, just my taste, they could cut down on the sex scenes, and dedicate more of that time, to story. It's got the brutality of Oz, the small town dynamics of a Stephen King story, and best of all everyone is a bad guy at heart, even the "good" guys. It's one of those shows where you belief system surely needs to be suspended, and compared to Downton Abbey ( which I really love as well) It is one of those "guilty pleasure" shows.

I love villains and Banshee has plenty. Here's my top 3;

Kai Proctor, played by Ulrich Thomson
* intimidating and wealthy  Banshee businessman who considers himself above the law. Disowned by his Amish family, Kai has a hand in nearly all of Banshee's criminal enterprises.

Job, played by Hoon Lee  ( also a Massachusetts native, extra props for that)
* cross-dressing hair stylist and genius computer hacker who plays a key part in Lucas' criminal endeavors.

Olek aka Widowspeak played by Christos Vasilopoulos
*head henchman and bodyguard of Ukrainian mob boss

An extra special villain bonus goes to the character "Albino" who appeared in one episode.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Addicted to Books

While over at the Kindle Boards, there was a discussion thread focusing on websites / blogs that offer free book publicity / promotion. I'll be slowly checking them out, but I did register for one already, Addicted to Books. Nice, user friendly site, and I received an email from them when my novel, Mindjacker, was featured. Nice touch!

The link to Addicted to Books is HERE

Friday, January 25, 2013

Great News For Luca Veste

Luca Veste, crime writer based out of England, shared some exciting news. He has signed a 2 book deal with Harper Collins imprint Avon.

Details of Luca's good, and well-deserved fortune can be found HERE

Luca is also the publisher / editor of the short story crime collections OFF THE RECORD I and OFF THE RECORD II, which can be found HERE Best of luck and success to Luca!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Just based on the cover alone, I have been wanting to read BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig for a while now. So....when I checked out Spinetingler Magazine's Best Crime Fiction of 2012 lists HERE where R.Thomas Brown listed it among his favorites, it motivated me to read the sample on Amazon. I liked it for, the nice opening chapter, excellent dialogue, but ultimately for the cool writing style. I will be surely be purchasing it later today, and when done reading it, will follow up with a review.


And Chuck's website is HERE