Sunday, January 30, 2011

Contest--The Lincoln Lawyer Give Away!

As most of you know, I'm a pretty big fan of Michael Connelly, (If you you've never seen my video interview with Connelly, check it out right HERE)but I'll be the first to admit that Hollywood hasn't always been kind to Connelly, but that's about to change (Hopefully)with director Brad Furman's adaptation of Connelly's first Mickey Haller novel, The Lincoln Lawyer.

So to celebrate the release of the Lincoln Lawyer, Crimefactory along with the good folks at Little, Brown publishing and Lionsgate films are giving away five copies of the Lincoln Lawyer and five posters of the theatrical release.
To enter, just leave a comment with your e-mail address and five entrants will be chosen at random, the deadline to enter is February 10th and the contest is open to all.

Also make sure to check out the Lincoln Lawyer's official website right HERE
and the theatrical trailer below:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentine’s Day Massacre Fundraiser

I know, I know, folks, I've been slacking over here at Day Labor, but between starting a new, much better day job, a vicious strain of the flu knocking both me and the tot on our asses, plus my own writing.....Well, you get the point, as usual I'm busy. But I do promise that through the month of February I'll be on a more or less regular schedule.

Alright, so enough of my rampant excuse making and onto what I'm here for today.

Every body knows what a big fan of Dennis Tafoya I am, right?

And most of you know that Cam and I published Tafoya's story, "How to Jail" in issue #3 of Crimefactory, right?

And you know there's a couple of talented film makers who want to make "How to Jail" into a kick ass short film, right?

The one down side of putting together an independent film is financing the freaking thing, and you have to do all kinds of tap dancing and shucking and jiving in order to put the cash together.

Well, the guys at Killing Joke Films have put together a little fundraising event to get "How to Jail" off the ground.

Check out the press release below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Paul von Stoetzel (651) 491-5718,

Valentine’s Day Massacre Fundraiser event for the film “How to Jail” written by novelist Dennis Tafoya.

Killing Joke Films presents The Valentine’s Day Massacre Fundraiser for the short film “How to Jail,” which is scheduled to begin production on April 1st in the Twin Cities. This event will include a raffle involving signed books and memorabilia from both author Dennis Tafoya the production of “How to Jail”. The event will also include a book signing with the author and a staged reading of “How to Jail.”

The short film “How to Jail” will feature Twin Cities actors Peter Christian Hansen and Ryan Parker Knox and will be directed by Paul von Stoetzel. The film will be produced by Killing Joke Films in conjuncture with Chris Buekers, and will be filmed by the Academy Award winning cinematographer Geoff George.

The adapted short story “How to Jail” by Dennis Tafoya was originally published in Crime Factory Magazine in March 2010. Tafoya has published two novels with St. Martin’s Minotaur. After a strong debut with Dope Thief in 2009, Tafoya followed up with Wolves of Fairmount Park, which has garnered critical acclaim. Tom Nolan of Wall Street Journal calls Tafoya’s sophomore effort “(A) mesmerizing and most impressive book... Tafoya is finding his own original voice, one that will make readers sit up and listen." Tafoya is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and the Liars Club, a Philadelphia-area writers group.

February 18th at 7:00 PM

The Black Forest Inn Banquet Room,

1 East 26th Street, Minneapolis MN 55404

Sliding scale $15-$25, tickets will be sold at the door.

If you can't make it to the fundraiser you can donate at BRUTE FORCE FILMS

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rawson's Top 5

Like most years since I turned 30, 2010 flew by for me. It was an exciting year, I met and interviewed more than a few of my idols, helped revive a magazine, and started writing reviews along with pumping out fiction. The other thing that set 2010 apart for me was that I read 80 novels this year. Don't get me wrong, I've always been a prestigious reader, but this year there didn't seem to be moment that went by when I didn't have my nose in a book.

I enjoyed most of them, but there were more than a few that left me shaking my head and performing a sky hook into the garbage can with them and even more that left me saying Meh. But there were some truly great reading moments with novels where time stopped moving and I was so absorbed by story that nothing existed outside of it. The following lists are the best of what I read this year.

Quick note, folks. I know I said I would be writing individual reviews for each of my picks, but time managed to sneak up on me and kick my ass. Plus I had a hell of a time narrowing down my choices and I liked so many different novels that I decided to include a top five of my non crime reads and five notable crime titles along with my top five.
Anyway, here we go

My top 5 Non-Crime novels of the year

Yes, I read a lot of non crime fiction. For every two crime titles I read, I dip my toes into another genre. With 2010, I found myself reading a boat load of Urban Fantasy and Apocalypse fiction. In case you didn't notice, there was tons of both.

5) Rut by Scott Phillips
Phillips told me about this book when I was conning--I mean arranging for him to contribute his 'Under the Influence' piece for issue #1 of Crimefactory. Phillips has been one of my favorite novelists for a number of years and I was chomping at the bit to read his take on science fiction. Rut is very much an apocalypse novel, but it's a realistic take on Armageddon, where the end of the human race is slow and drawn out over decades as opposed to a sudden blinding flash of death and chaos. And, of course, the book is hilarious.

4) The Stairway to Hell by Charlie Williams
When I received this novel, Russel Mclean commented on how brilliant he thought the book was. In fact, he called it 'genius'. And Russel, he was right, this is not only a brilliant read, but is Williams best novel to date. Normally I'm not a huge fan of novels about musicians or the pursuit of fame, but Stairway to Hell is so damn funny my predisposed prejudice towards the subject was completely shed. Highly recommended to fans of Neil Gaiman's more vicious novels.

3) Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
Like I said of Victor Gischler, if there was a Kadrey fan club, I'd be the president. (Okay, vice-president, A.J. Hayes would probably be the president) I've put this book into the hands of more people this year than any other. And, yes, crime fiction fans will love it because along with being one of the best examples of Urban Fantasy released this year, it's also one hell of a hard-boiled read. Also on an only interesting to me note, Kadrey is the one author who I own entirely as e-books.

2) The Passage by Justin Cronin
This one got tons of ink this year, but there was a reason for it. The Passage is a fully realized, emotionally complex epic and outside of Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt novels, the Passage is one of the most original takes on the vampire novel I've ever read. It's also one of the most original takes on the Armageddon, where Cronin advances the remains of civilization not five or ten years into the future, but 80. Great read.

1) The Four Fingers of Death by Rick Moody
This was a bold move by a writer whose previous novels mostly dealt with the malaise of suburban America. Much like Rut, Moody portrays the end times as a slow burn, a culture ravaged by out of control consumerism, short attention spans, and bastardized politics has doomed us. This is a novel within a novel and both story lines are utterly compelling.

My Five Crime Fiction notables:

5) The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson
A slickly written, meticulously researched mystery with heavy noir elements. Davidson's first novel length effort is far from a perfect novel, but it is a highly enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to further entries in the Lily Moore series and where she takes her characters

4) Bad Juju and Other tales of Madness and Mayhem by Jonathan Woods
My favorite single author short story collection of the year. Woods is a master of the short form and each story in the collection is a insane nugget of desperation and over the top violence.

3) Broken Dreams by Nick Quantrill
What I like most about Quantrill's PI Joe Geraghty is that, yes, Geraghty's past life is fraught with tormented moments, but he is not over burdened by them. Geraghty has dealt with his pain and has moved on and is dealing with day-to-day life as opposed to letting it turn him into a self serving prick like most fictional PI's. Broken Dreams is a gripping, atmospheric read and like the Damage Done, it's not perfect, but it is highly readable

2) Print the Legend by Craig McDonald
My favorite ongoing series. Each entry in the Lassiter series keeps getting better and better. I can't wait for One True Sentence.

1) Requiems for the Departed edited by Gerard Brennan and Michael Stone
My favorite anthology of the year in a year over flowing with truly amazing anthologies.

I know this has been one long winded bastard of a post, but finally, here are my top five novels of the year.

My Top Five

5) Pike by Benjamin Whitmer
I commented on Facebook when I first started reading Pike that I felt like I needed to take a scalding hot bath every 50 pages or so. I still hold to this opinion. Pike is stripped down, working class noir. Each chapter is like a punch to the face and is one of the most carefully constructed novels of the year.

4) Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski
This genre bender is classic Swierczynski. Whip crack plotting, near nonstop action, and some of the most intelligent, personal writing of Philly's reigning king of pulp's career. One of the few novels I read multiple times this year.

3) Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff and Johnny Porno by Charlie Stella (tie)
Kostoff and Stella seem to be attached at the hip this year and with good reason. Both authors have produced the two best and, far from easily defined novels, of their careers. Yes, both are crime novels on the surface, but there's so much more going on in each of them. Both are tightly drawn character studies without an ounce of fat on either of them.

2) The Wolves of Fairmount Park by Dennis Tafoya
Tafoya's sophomore effort can be easily compared to the best of Richard Price and George Pelacanos. Tafoya skillfully handles this weighty, character driven tome with the deft skill of a far more experienced novelist. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Tafoya is the novelist to watch in the years to come.

1) The Cold Kiss by John Rector

The moment I cracked the ARC of the Cold Kiss open, I knew I would be including it on my ten best of list. Two hours later as I turned the last page, I knew it would be my number 1 pick. The Cold Kiss is a perfect balance of character, plot, and action. No, the plot of a young couple coming across a shit load of dirty cash and then being hunted down for it isn't the most original, but Rector manages to make it fresh by combining it with an intense locked room style mystery. By the way, if I was a betting man, I'd put money down that five years from now, Rector will be ranked as one of the most renowned thriller writers in the states. The Cold Kiss is an amazing, can not be missed novel

The Best of Whatever—Hilary Davidson

Top 10 of 2010

This was a strange year for my reading list. The more conferences I attended and writers I met, the more my TBR fiction pile grew. But I was preoccupied for months with writing a new novel, and don’t seem to be capable of reading other novels while I’m writing one. That meant I did read an extraordinary amount of short fiction this year, which is obvious when you look at my favorites… (listed in no particular order):

1. Thuglit Presents: Blood, Guts, & Whiskey, edited by Todd Robinson — Robinson is the person who gave so many crime writers working today their launch pad: Thuglit. This is the zine’s third anthology, and it’s a winner across the board with stories by Craig McDonald, Tom Piccirilli, Stuart Neville, Glenn Gray, Scott Wolven, and Derek Nikitas. (I have a short story in here, too — I’m one of those writers who owe everything to Todd, his partner-in-crime Allison, and Thuglit.)

2. Needle: A Magazine of Noir — I remember when Steve Weddle told me he had the idea to start a new print magazine. That was March 2010. By April, Needle had launched. In print, no less. Weddle, John Hornor, and their amazing team of editors work fast, yet brilliantly. This has become required reading.

3. Pariah by Dave Zeltserman — I was already a huge fan of Zeltserman’s work, but this novel convinced me that the man is the new Jim Thompson. Welcome to the heart of darkness.

4. 8 Pounds by Chris F. Holm — I’ve admired Holm’s short fiction for some time, and I’d read six of the eight stories in this collection at one time or another. Still, 8 Pounds felt like a shock to my system. There are threads of suspense and noir and horror that are woven through his stories, making them unusually powerful.

5. Borrowed Trouble by J.B. Kohl and Eric Beetner — I had the good fortune to get an advance read of this sequel to One Too Many Blows to the Head. Kohl and Beetner have vividly re-created 1941 Los Angeles, ripping apart the city’s glamorous façade to reveal the cold noir heart beneath. Look for it in February 2011.

6. Beat to a Pulp: Round One, edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash — Some of my favorite stories of the year are in here, including “Fangataufa” by Sophie Littlefield, “Killing Kate” by Ed Gorman, “Ghostscapes” by Patti Abbott, and “A Native Problem” by Chris F. Holm. (I have a story in this collection, too.)

7. Notes on a Scandal (What Was She Thinking?) by Zoe Heller — I loved the Cate Blanchett/Judi Dench film, but the novel is even better, not least because of its far darker conclusion. The tale of a schoolteacher who has a sexual affair with a teenage boy — and who is in turn preyed upon by another, older, teacher — makes for truly twisted noir.

8. Dope Thief by Dennis Tafoya — I bought this book in 2009 because Keith Rawson raved about it so much, but neglected to actually read it until I met Tafoya at a library event in New York. I’m actually glad I waited to read it, because I would have been tongue-tied when meeting him otherwise. Lyrical yet powerfully real, this is one book I recommend to everyone.

9. Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks — This novel had already won the Shamus and the Nero by the time I started reading it. Not going to make that mistake with Eyes of the Innocent, coming in February 2011.

10. Crimefactory — I love the fact that Keith Rawson, Cameron Ashley and Liam José pulled this magazine from the ashes and set it loose on the world again in 2010. It just gets bigger and better with every issue.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Davidson's first novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, will be published by Forge in October 2010. Her short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Crimespree, Spinetingler, The Rose & Thorn, Crimefactory, Needle Magazine and Well Told Tales. Her first published story, "Anniversary," is in the anthology A PRISONERY OF MEMORY (Pegasus, 2008), and her "Son of So Many Tears" will be in Thuglit's upcoming anthology (Kensington, 2010). When she's not writing about murder and mayhem, she's on the road as a travel writer. Visit her online at

The Best of Whatever—Poker Ben

PokerBen’s Top 10 Whatever list 2010.

This is in no particular order.

10. The TV show Justified.
This little show starring Timothy Olyphant is a winner in my book. The pilot was based on the Elmore Leonard short story “Fire In The Hole”, and features EL’s series character U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Who knew there were still U.S Marshals? From the kick ass pilot to the gripping season finale, I was hooked. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in season 2, which starts February 2011.Season 1 dvd available January 25th.

9. John Rector’s The Cold Kiss.
It’s hard to believe this was JR’s first novel. A young couple tangle themselves up with a gut shot man, who has a bag full of money. Mix in a horrible blizzard, and being stranded at an old motel full of crazies. This gem of a novel takes off like a rocket and doesn’t let up until the final page. Rector’s 2nd novel, “The Grove”, is sitting on my Kindle waiting to be enjoyed.

8. The Amazon Kindle.
Speaking of the little guy, it definitely deserves to be on my list. I love having the ability to buy a book, and almost instantly have it available at my finger tips. It’s also nice to have the larger print size available when my eyes are tired, and it’s great for traveling.

7. Needle Magazine.
I love being able to stay up to date on the latest sewing and knitting trends. Oh wait, not that Needle Magazine. I meant the one featuring all the awesome crime fiction/noir stories from today’s who's who in the industry.

6. Crimefactory Magazine.
I can’t mention a crime fiction magazine without mentioning the best one of all in my opinion. It’s got everything a crime lover could want, and a lot more. Not a bad purchase price either. Yep, Rawson and company know how to deliver the goods.

5. Ken Bruen’s The Devil.
What can I say about KB that hasn’t already been said. The man is an extraordinary writer. The Devil is the latest installment of his Jack Taylor series. Everything Bruen writes is gold in my eyes. He could write a computer manual and I’d read it.

4. Red Dead Redemption - PS3
First Rockstar games buts out the awesome GTA series, then they take GTA and drop it into the wild west. Yee Haw!

3. Getting my graphic design work some exposure.
I started off just screwing around in Photoshop. I then made Keith Rawson a banner for his blog, sent it to him, he actually liked it, and used it. I did the same thing for Anthony Neil Smith’s blog. He liked it, and down the road actually hired me to design a book cover for his upcoming E-book edition of Psychosomatic.My latest work was for the banner of this blog. All I can say is I’m thrilled. Who knows maybe this hobby can turn into something bigger down the line.

2. Don Winslow’s Savages.
This was my first Winslow. It knocked my socks off. To describe this book in one word---FUN. This isn’t your standard thriller. Sure its got great fleshed out characters, and an intense plot. It also has one sentence chapters, made up words, slang, lists,the author speaking directly to the reader,sex drugs,music. Pretty much the everything but the kitchen sink. You’ll just have to read it.

1. Winter’s Bone.
Both the book by Daniel Woodrell, and the movie directed by Debra Granik. I first fell in love with the book, but after seeing the movie recently, I love it just as much. WB tells the story of Ree Dolly, a 17 year old girl living in the Ozarks struggling to take care of her sick mother and younger siblings. Her father, a meth cook, has gotten in trouble with the law and has put their house down as collateral on his bail bond. He disappears ,and it’s up to Ree to find him before they loose their home. You will not soon forget this powerful tale. It will stick with you long after you’re finished with it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ben Springer (aka Poker Ben) is Crimefactory’s graphic designer at large. He’s created the banners for Bloody Knuckles, Callused Fingertips, (Keith Rawson’s much under used blog) Day Labor, Anthony Neil Smith’s blog, Herman's Greasy Spoon and the cover to the e-version of Smith’s first novel, Psychosomatic. He’s also written reviews for Spinetingler Magazine