Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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© 2013 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Plucker has moved!

 I have moved my blog to Wordpress- you can reach it at

This blog won't be updated anymore, but if you subscribe via RSS, or read through Facebook, etc you should seamlessly be moved to the new blog.

If you're reading this, then something went wrong.
If you followed with Google or Blogger, you will have to subscribe directly to my RSS feed:

If you got here with a bookmark, please go to and bookmark that page instead.

Thank you for your patience.

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Tingle your Spine for under a buck

The folks at Snubnose Press have lowered all their e-book prices to 99 cents for the month of June. That includes Spinetingler Magazine's Winter 2011 edition, which includes my story "Two to Tango."
The polarizing story of a county judge who gives a rapist a lenient sentence and is confronted by the victim, this is the only place to read it. And for a buck, you get stories by Patricia Abbott,  Mike Miner, Albert Tucher, and Court Merrigan and more:


Black Light Marker by Sam Wiebe
Two to Tango by Thomas Pluck
Boss by Dan Luft
Paul Little Learns the Art of Prison Sink Voodoo by Aaron Philip Clark
Under the Tree of Life S. M. Harding


A Straight Face by Court Merrigan
Breaking and Entering by Mike Miner
Lambs of God by Patti Abbott
Two and a Half Miles by WD County
The Last Hit by Liam Sweeny
Grind by Chad Haskins
Showtime by Albert Tucher
Cosmo in the Mourning by Gary Clifton
Moonshine by Seth Sherwood


In the Mouths of Insects by Shelly Wass
A Puppet’s Soul by Joseph Swope
Jessie’s Toothbrush by Michael Spohr

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guest Plucker: Craig Wallwork

I met Craig Wallwork on Twitter. As you'll find from his guest spot, Craig writes stories that are delightfully off kilter. His collection The Quintessence of Dust begins with the chilling tale "Night Holds a Scythe," where a father and daughter face an apocalypse where sleep brings death. It is free on Smashwords, and if apocalypse isn't your game, read on... the stories vary far and wide in scope, but the writing is on the level and solid as granite:

Every story is based on truth.  Any writer that says differently is lying, or a thief.  In my case, I have practiced the art of turning truth into fiction to avoid dealing with its severity or consequence.  Quintessence of Dust is my way of dodging bullets, and at times, living in denial. 

There is no secret to this practice.  It happens quite naturally.  I once suffered from chronic constipation one Christmas.  I put it down to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and not rehydrating my system.  New Years day I end up spending way too much time, and putting too much effort, into a visit to the toilet.  The result of which ended with me making an appointment with my doctor and him talking about a technique that involved eight fingers and a rubber glove.  The basis of this became Anal Twine.  The aforementioned method is not regularly practiced, don’t worry, but it did amuse me.  It was enough of a kernel for me to venture further into the hole (figuratively speaking) where a man who, suffering with anal fissure, discovers a bit of twine hanging from his rectum which, when pulled, removes his short term memory.  Writing that story took my mind of the pain and discomfort I was enduring at the time, more so than the cream I had been prescribed.

Likewise, I was diagnosed with a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It is where tiny fragments of debris in the inner ear labyrinth cause short episodes of vertigo when you move your head in certain directions.  Some days it would floor me.  I’d try and get out bed and it would feel like the invisible man had pushed me over.  It dissipates over time as the fragments become lodged in the inner ear, but during the episodes, it’s terrible.  About the same time I heard the term Gutterball, a ten-pin bowling reference that describes where the bowling ball drifts into one of the gutters before it reaches the pins.  I thought it quite an apt analogy for my condition.  But to write a story about this seemed too mundane.  So I asked myself, why would a person veer to one side or get dizzy?  If it was an inner ear problem, then what could be floating around in there instead of calcium deposits?  This led to the protag, Milton Ball, discovering a strange and wonderful truth to why he suffering with BBPV, a truth which pushes the boundaries of reality and brings meaning to his life.

This theme continues in other stories within the collection; A Neck That is Not Thicktells the tale of a man who believes all his bad luck, and all the atrocities he has experienced in life, can be attributed to having a thin neck, so much so he considers hanging himself, his ultimate quandary being how big the noose will have to be.  Next time you see a picture of me, check out my neck.  Night Holds a Scythe is the story of a father chasing the sun to try and keep his three old daughter alive after a strange illness takes over the world whereby to fall asleep means death.  I have a three year old daughter and one of my worse fears was her dying in her sleep.  I once took a coach trip from Middleborough University to Manchester and fell in love with a girl sat next to me, even though I only saw her arm throughout the whole trip.  The basis of this became Morning Birdsong and the Hell Demons.  180 Degrees Shy of Heaven is a story about a person I know, and how the famine of sex in his marriage led to much hilarity in the office.  Skin was loosely based on my morbid fascination to be submerged underwater, the experience being compared, you might say, to returning to the womb. Men of Blood, a story about a Minotaur living in today’s society, was probably the most personal of all the stories, and recounts the life I had while sharing a house with one of my friends, a person I saw as a much stronger character than I.  And the list goes on. 

My truths are so deeply buried in the fabric of these stories that to speak so candidly about them would have been too hard a process to undertake.  Issues of regret, acceptance, love and remorse are so delicate that handled without care or proficiency would do each an injustice.  Therefore, I place these issues within absurd and strange worlds where zoophiles falls in love with a talking camels, a man faces his sins while the devil’s breath is upon his shoulder, and infidelity manifests itself in the art of chocolate making. 
They say truth is stranger than fiction.  After reading Quintessence of Dust you may disagree. 

Quintessence of Dust is available to buy from KUBOA in paperback for $2.95:
Or you can download an e-version for free via Smashwords:

Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels To Die Upon a Kiss, and The Sound of Loneliness.  He lives in West Yorkshire, England with his wife, daughter and two chickens.  Find out more about him via his website:

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: City of the Lost

City of the Lost
City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love pulp. I especially love well-written pulp, and this is great pulp. It's also my kind of urban fantasy: a bad-ass hard-boiled crime tale that begins with a living death worse than zombies, delves into Nazi mad scientists with razor-fanged homonculi, demonic barkeeps and a sharp urban bruja. Blackmoore keeps you guessing and the story is full of surprises, from this world and the beyond. He keeps it on the level and never wipes out into the realm of the ridiculous. I hope there are more Joe Sunday tales in the haunted L.A. that Blackmoore has envisioned in this balls-out entertaining psychotic romp through the underworld.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Car Culture

Cars are part of the American DNA. Other countries have car culture, but the closest to America's suicidal romance with hot rods is Australia, home of Mad Max. The open space helps. In Britain, they can tell your caste by your accent. In America, it's often by your car. And if you ride the bus, you're at the bottom of the pole. In suburban New Jersey 'riding the bus' is racial code for poor and black.

I saw this old Charger for sale on the way to work today. The body is in good shape, it has the floor shift, but unless the badges were lost, it's a six-banger or a 318 V8. It got me thinking about how cars are the face we wear. Some dream of cars they could never afford to own, others just want to get from point A to point B. For the latter, these rules don't apply. But in America, land where advertising controls the language, everything means something. In the novel in progress, Tony "Baloney" Giambotta is the friend of our protagonist. He went to school for computer science, but became a mechanic when his father died, to honor his blue collar roots, in self-destructive fashion. Let me get inside his head and give you...

The car castes of New Jersey.

You drive a beater, we know all about you. You either can't afford better or you just don't care. Either way, we judge you.

If it's a minivan or a wagon, you're a hard-working parent with too many kids, and we get out of your way. You're either distracted by them if you're mom, or pissed off that you're stuck with a minivan, if you're Dad.

A hopped up old Civic, lowered to asphalt-scraping depths, a coffee can for a muffler and the tires spaced out wide for tight turns? Odds are you're Hispanic, and you want to race to the next light.

Old BMW, in nice shape with a sweet set of rims? You're a young black man with a good job. You've got the good tunes cranked up, you're cruising the limit because the cops pull you over for breathing the wrong way.

A used SUV with a red Rutgers 'R' sticker on the back? You're a college girl driving mom's old car so you don't die after you crush some poor working family in their beater, while texting.

A new SUV with a Montclair State sticker, and you're the mom worrying about your daughter in your old SUV. You are yelling at her on your phone, telling her not to text and drive.

If you drive a new BMW, Audi or Acura, you're a single male, probably white, with more money than brains, driving too fast for your skillset. You are most likely listening to Disturbed or some angry band that makes you think Fight Club wasn't a satire about how stupid you are.

Prius. Okay, we get it. You saved the planet. We're not worthy.

Mustang, 350Z or Camaro, your Dad is working class and spoils the shit out of you. You think you deserve it. You wish you could put the pedal down for more than 2 seconds in this tiny, congested state, and you like watching people flinch at your exhaust note. A Challenger, and same thing but you're over 50 now and had to buy it yourself.

Escalade, Infiniti or a Lexus, and you're trying to be an extra on Jersey Shore, if you get your tan just right. Sure, Dad co-signed the lease, but you're money. You get in the clubs, don't you? Why don't these drivers get out of your way, don't they know who you are?

Buick or a Cadillac and we pass you, because you're too old and driving too slow.

A late-model Nissan, Toyota or Honda sedan, or a Ford Escape and you're just trying to get to work alive.

A Subaru, you have children. You can't afford a Volvo. You think 3 days of bad snow a year is worth investing in all-wheel drive, because you worry about everything. Also, you are considering a colon cleanse.

A pickup truck, and you run a landscaping business and like Toby Keith.

A Chevy or a Charger, and you're a cop.

A Corvette or a Porsche, and we all know the penis pump didn't work.

New Mercedes or Jaguar, and you're a boomer or just shy of it, and think you did enough for the Earth, and now it's time to do something for you. You're talking on the bluetooth that your son set up for you, and why don't these other cars realize you're in a hurry, and get out of your way. The nerve of some people.

Ferrari, you work down the port for your uncle. You look at porn all day and are paid $400,000 a year for it.

Bentley. You're not a rapper, and you can't name any rappers, either.

Chrysler 300. You can't afford a Bentley or a Cadillac.

Rolls Royce. You are former Newark Mayor Sharpe James. You are in jail.

And if you drive a Mini Cooper S, you're a snarky crime writer who just commuted through all that. You think you look like the Italian Job, but look more like 'clown car.'

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Killing Floor

Killing Floor
Killing Floor by Lee Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had to see what all the fuss was about. Jack Reacher is coffee-junkie drifter who strolls into a sleepy Georgia town looking for the grave of an old bluesman. He's also a retired Marine MP, so when the cops converge with riot shotguns to frame him for murder, he convinces them he's not the killer, and decides he'll solve the crime himself. He charms a hot policewoman, and when the bad guys play rough, he churns through them like a harvester. The story is good, light fun. The novel is now 15 years old, and we've come to appreciate shorter, faster thrillers, but this one still holds up. Oh, there's one coincidence to swallow when we find out who the murder victim is, but Reacher is an amicable hero and I like a novel that admits killing people is not all that difficult with the proper weapons and inclination. The tricky part is getting away with it. When it comes to unstoppable killing machines, I prefer Joe Pike, but Reacher is a good read if you know what you are getting into. And to get into the movie discussion, Tom Cruise is a horrible choice. I imagined Reacher as a big blond chunk of American prime for the ladies (and 10% of the men). That dude playing Captain America should have fought for the part.
Verdict: This is a good story that feels a bit dated and unsure of itself, the shaky start of a series that eventually defined its thriller genre. If I'd read it in '97, I'd give it another star. The teaser for the 2nd Reacher novel, DIE TRYING, felt like a huge leap forward. I'll be giving it a try soon.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Make good art

No matter what, make good art.
Fake it until you make it.
Don't worry.
Enjoy life, especially the success.
You'll do well if you are pleasant to work with, good at what you do, and submit your work on time. And you'll likely do fine if you only do two of those.
Make up your own rules. The rules are changing; no one can predict them. So go do amazing things, successes and mistakes, and make your own rules.

 © 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Noir at the Bar NYC: June 3rd.

Crime writers Todd "Big Daddy Thug" Robinson, former editor of ThugLit, and Glenn G. Gray, author of unforgettable medical tales that make your innards squirm, are throwing a Noir at the Bar shindig in NYC on June 3rd. I'll be there, and you should be too. There will be story readings, revelry, and prizes. Because these guys are a real prize.

It will be held from 6pm to 9pm on Sunday June 3rd 2012 at Shade NYC, right off Washington Square in Greenwich Village. Address is 241 Sullivan Street.

If you're planning on coming or would like to read, contact me via the "Kontactr" button to the right, and I'll hook you up with Todd and Dr. G.

Let's do this thing- we can't let sunny CA and St. Louis have all the fun. 

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© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Blast: Bird, Ellison, Abbott, Beat to a Pulp and more

Several books by authors I admire have hit the streets recently. But first, let me get this out of the way. My friend Sabrina graciously opened the door of her blog to me, and I have a guest post up about why I wrote "Little Sister," my story for last year's Lost Children Charity Anthology.  Sabrina is a great friend, and my ideal reader: a passionate fan of crime fiction, who likes a story fraught with action, real stakes, and bloody thrills. She always puts her heart into her reviews, and if you like thrillers and noir, I highly recommend you follow her blog.

First up, my friend Nigel Bird- one of my favorite short story writers- has written his first novel. Some are calling it "teacher noir," about a Scottish schoolteacher who tries to help one of his troubled students, and ends up in over his head. Nigel is the author of the excellent story collection Dirty Old Town, and last year's smashing novella Smoke. In Loco Parentis is available at Amazon.

Megan Abbott is one of noir's rising stars. She began with powerful nods to the classics, and last year she wrote The End of Everything, a daring novel about an abducted girl in the Detroit chi-chi suburbs. I first read her in the L.A. Noire story collection, where her tale of Hollywood sleaze "The Girl" knocked me out of my socks and into next week at the same time. Now she's tackled the high octane and brutally competitive world of high school cheerleading with DARE ME, and Dave White gives it a great review at his new blog, Beer 'n Books. Dave is an IPA hound, but he has great taste in beer. He also writes a pretty good yarn himself, like Witness to Death.

Buy Dare Me at Indiebound
Beat to a Pulp Round Two is out, and editing superstar David Cranmer has put together another stunner of a collection. This time Charles Ardai, Bill Pronzini, Patricia Abbott, James Reasoner, Glenn Gray and Steve Weddle are on the card, among other champs, contenders and ringers. And look at that cover. David is one of my favorite editors to work with, and he really knows how to rope together a collection. Maybe he learned a little from Cash Laramie, his western marshal?

And last but not least, the first author to influence me and make me pick up the pen was Harlan Ellison. Maybe you've read of our infamous correspondence? Well, Harlan began writing juvenile delinquent tales, before he broke the chains from pulp SF and created his own audacious flavor of speculative fiction. And some of those tales were racy, collected as "Sex Gang," under the pseudonym Paul Merchant. They've been out of print, until now. Kicks Books is releasing them with the only slightly less squirmy title, Pulling a Train.

I don't see the Ellison book available at my local indie or at Amazon yet, but these are what I'll be reading this summer... once I catch up and read Dead Harvest, The Adjustment, City of the Lost, Edge of Dark Water, and That's How I Roll!

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

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