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Anthony Neil Smith & Writers from Plots with Guns #1

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Greg Bardsley
Stephen Blackmoore
Victor Gischler
Harry Hunsicker
Justin Porter
Kieran Shea
Anthony Neil Smith
Gerald So

Gerald So: Hi, Neil.

Anthony Neil Smith: hello. so...a little light on people so far...

Kieran Shea: I've been following the psychobilly tour online. i assume you've recovered, neil?

Anthony Neil Smith: only enough to go on another road trip to Omaha this weekend. A real one. it was a long tour. 9000 words. *yawn*

Kieran Shea: barnes & n have been dragging on securing "yellow med" out here in annapolis. keep asking, they keep putting me off.

Anthony Neil Smith: if they say it's due in June, tell them that's wrong. Do you have a Borders? They're great about getting them in.

Anthony Neil Smith: All the B&Ns I dropped in at didn't have them. Sloooooow. But thanks for trying!

Kieran Shea: Yeah. The borders, it flooded the other day, lots of swollen books. closed.

Anthony Neil Smith: SHIT! Aw, and I was just starting to like Borders.

Harry Hunsicker: Greetings.

Anthony Neil Smith: Harry. See you in July, eh?

Harry Hunsicker: You bet. I'll be bleary eyed from coming back from Thrillerfest but I'll be there.

Anthony Neil Smith: We'll be bleary-eyed

Kieran Shea: Hi, Harry. I said hello to you at Crime Fiction U. in NYC--I was wearing the Thuglit tee.

Harry Hunsicker: Neil, did you ever hook up with Scott Montgomery in Austin?

Anthony Neil Smith: No, but we got a big event planned anyway. The OUT OF THE GUTTER guys helped set it up.

Harry Hunsicker: Hi, K. Nice to see you again.

Anthony Neil Smith: Schlitz is giving us free beer. In Austin, at Bookpeople, I mean.

Harry Hunsicker: Whoa. Free beer!

Anthony Neil Smith: Free SCHLITZ. Have to say the proper name. I'm a corporate shill now.

Harry Hunsicker: That's the best kind to be.

Justin Porter: Just figured this thing out. Christ I'm a retard. Sorry guys. Justin Porter here.

Anthony Neil Smith: When VG, SD and I tried to do a chat room for the Crimedog thing on CrimeSpree, it went down in hellish flames. We resported to email. It tooks days. Wow. I can't frakucking type today.

Justin Porter: No worries. This is my first time using IM, so I won't even notice I bet.

Anthony Neil Smith: Blackmoore. You play guitar good on those Rainbow albums.

Kieran Shea: HA! i love that!

Stephen Blackmoore: lol

Anthony Neil Smith: "Like a something in the daaaaark." Forgot the words.

Gerald So: Okay, anyone with a question can type ? and I'll call on you.

Anthony Neil Smith: No, that's Dio. I think.

Justin Porter: Okay. Sounds good.

Kieran Shea: Neil, on your blog you mentioned that PWG's 2 is coming out, can you let us in on what we can expect, besides mayhem?

Anthony Neil Smith: A bald guy with a gun. Patti Abbott, Bryon Q, Jimmy the Worm...all good stuff.

Stephen Blackmoore: Don't all bald guys have guns?

Anthony Neil Smith: Most.

Gerald So: John Stickney sends in the following: "I wondered what Neil has learned as an editor - what the role has done to improve his writing & what he immediately looks for when evaluating submissions."

Justin Porter: Good question.

Anthony Neil Smith: Learned what makes me want to keep going when I read a story, which helps for writing. And I want my attention grabbed and demanded. Not begged.

Anthony Neil Smith: Kieran, I still can't find that tequila you told me about. Damn! I'll have to look for it in Texas this summer.

Kieran Shea: Oh, I'll bring it with me to Baltimore, Neil. Plenty to go around.

Gerald So: Neil, are you consciously doing anything differently with PWG 2.0 that you didn't do with the first version?

Anthony Neil Smith: Well...I'm more picky and grouchy about submissions...I try to keep it smaller (staff and # of issues) so it won't overwhelm me...Last time, it threatened to become a business. I can't afford that! It's just an out of pocket labor of love.

Harry Hunsicker: ?

Anthony Neil Smith: Also, trying to bring in more artist/photogs instead of stock stuff or doing it myself.

Gerald So: Go, Harry.

Harry Hunsicker: Have you considered going the other way and doing a print version, like MURDALAND?

Anthony Neil Smith: Nope. Not unless someone want to underwrite me. Too expensive. I think we reach more readers online.

Stephen Blackmoore: ?

Gerald So: Go, Stephen.

Anthony Neil Smith: But the OOTG guys make you think. Nice looking thing they do.

Stephen Blackmoore: Speaking of reaching more readers online, what's your traffic been like since you reopened the doors?

Anthony Neil Smith: I don't know. I haven't checked my stats in a while. But it's more than before, for sure...more ways to get the word out, too, than we had 5 yrs ago.

Anthony Neil Smith: What do the PWG authors think of the mag? Before you submitted? Now?

Gerald So: go ahead, anyone.

Kieran Shea: I have to admit, I only read the anthology. I was excited to have a new window online for aspiring crime guys like me. for a little flavor, I am being strafed right now by the Blue Angels. commissioning week here in annapolis

Anthony Neil Smith: Blue Angels are cool. They were in a Van Halen video once. But the song sucked.

Justin Porter: When I first started submitting stuff online, (stephen you wise-ass. Now I see him) Plots with Guns was not open. So I was stoked to hear when it went back up and even more stoked when Neil decided to print that piece of trash I sent him.,

Anthony Neil Smith: Good trash.

Justin Porter: Thanks. The format is awesome. Nice and simple and of course, I love the design and the artwork.

Gerald So: Anyone else want to answer Neil's q?

Stephen Blackmoore: I'd always liked it. Was sorry to see it go before I had anything to submit. Afterward, I feel teh same way, but just proud to have a piece in it.

Kieran Shea: Me too.

Greg Bardsley: So, I had no idea that Plots with Guns had such a deep reputation amongst writers. I have been blown away at the props I have gotten from other writers for getting into Plots with Guns. Just got a nice note from an author last night. Never got notes like that before with other stories. I had always wondered weather these stories were gong into a black hole or not.

Anthony Neil Smith: ?

Gerald So: Go ahead, Neil.

Justin Porter: That's a good point. It feels a bit like the old guard of online crime fiction. In so far as anything this young has an old guard.

Anthony Neil Smith: How about all the online crime fiction mags? Do they each have their own flavor (bad grammar!)? Like, ThugLit's gone a good way.

Kieran Shea: what got me about PWG #1 is the diversity--the tones, the subjects.

Greg Bardsley: I have found that Plots with Guns kinda has its own community, which is pretty cool

Anthony Neil Smith: Another new thing I'm looking for: Transgressive crime fiction. Don't play it safe. But don't shock just for the hell of it. Really get to me. Like, does Irvine Welsh's FILTH fit into Crime Fic? Sort of. Does Bardsley's "Upper Deck"? Kind of. But if you like one, you'll like the other, I'm betting.

Justin Porter: Thuglit is off the chain. They've just scored an anthology of their own.

Harry Hunsicker: Trans-what?

Anthony Neil Smith: Who else do we like to read who is "on the border" of crime and lit or subversive fiction.

Stephen Blackmoore: Pre-op or post?

Justin Porter: Will Christopher Baer is a personal favorite.

Greg Bardsley: Love ThugLit's energy and creativity...I've read some seriously good pieces on Thuglit lately

Anthony Neil Smith: "Transgressive". Nice word for "dirty sex and drugs and violence".

Gerald So: The online mags have different flavors to me, but quite naturally. I don't consciously try for one with Thrilling, but we have one.

Kieran Shea: banks, palahniuk, huston, guthrie---

Anthony Neil Smith: No she-males, Blackmoore. Not unless you pay.

Stephen Blackmoore: How about in installments?

Stephen Blackmoore: I think all the magazines have their own sensibilities. They're labors of love and it shows.

Greg Bardsley: Definitely.

Justin Porter: Well, its the dichotomy between Mystery fiction and crime fiction. One as an almost proper feel to it, while crime fiction has got so much flavor. It captures more of the human element I believe. And for anybody who follows crime in the news there is shit out there you literally can't make up.

Justin Porter: Why no she-males?

Stephen Blackmoore: One of the things that always struck me about PWG is that it's not just raw in the stories it has but in its visual style as well. It's always felt very rough. In a good way.

Anthony Neil Smith: Well...okay. She-males, too.

Justin Porter: Haha.

Justin Porter: Haven't stuck one of those in a story yet.

Greg Bardsley: But it's a good question: Why not?

Anthony Neil Smith: It needs to LOOK good, I think. I get annoyed with online sites that look bland. Why should I stick around? I can go look up shit on YouTube instead.

Justin Porter: That's a good point. I almost get a little worried when I send a story to a site that doesn't have a slightly warped appearance. I think to myself, "Shit, they're not gonna print this."

Gerald So: I'm with you there.

Kieran Shea: Hear, hear, Justin, on crime news, I mine the district attorney press releases in Maryland daily. it's amazing

Stephen Blackmoore: ?

Gerald So: Go ahead, Stephen.

Stephen Blackmoore: Geek question. Do you hand code all teh HTML or are you using any content management?

Kieran Shea: ?

Anthony Neil Smith: Huh wha duh? I use Dreamweaver and Photoshop. WYSIWYG

Justin Porter: WWJD?

Anthony Neil Smith: He'd kick our heathen asses is what he'd do. And then forgive us. Softie.

Gerald So: Go, Kieran.

Kieran Shea: Harry, what's the Mystery Writers of America think about online publishing in the crime scene?

Harry Hunsicker: I don't beleive MWA has an official position on that.

Kieran Shea: hmm

Justin Porter: haha. My reply to that question is usually "who cares."

Anthony Neil Smith: The MWA wants us to all get off its lawn! Crazy whippersnappers!

Harry Hunsicker: Darn straight. You are a member, aren't you, Neil?

Amthony Neil Smith: Not anymore. Expensive, and, well....I used to be. Let's say that. I got tired of Margery leaning on me for dues. Like an enforcer, that one.

Greg Bardsley: I think the online stories have a chance to reach folks who never would've read them, which is cool

Justin Porter: ?

Gerald So: Go, Justin.

Justin Porter: This is a general question for everybody.

Justin Porter: Even as prevalent as reading things on a computer screen has become, what with news-sources and multi-media, there are still so many people who I speak to who don't read anything longer than 1000 or so words on a screen. I'm not sure where this question is going, just looking for thoughts.

Anthony Neil Smith: Oh, man, I tend to not want to read online that much myself. I read faster online, though. I can blaze through stories.

Kieran Shea: but I think this goes back to neil's desire for stories that blast off the page

Anthony Neil Smith: Maybe it's a good thing for that. It makes me read right then and there.

Greg Bardsley: Definitely. ... I do find myself printing out the pieces I wanna read.

Greg Bardsley: they blast off the page, grab me and if it's long, I'll print it out.

Stephen Blackmoore: I think the tech limitations sort of force that to happen. People are reading on smaller and smaller screens. More things are showing up on ipods as much as on full size monitors.

Justin Porter: That's all true. It's that need for an immediate grab in your work. It forces us all to make them pop from the very start.

Anthony Neil Smith: Isn't there a trend in Japan for novels being written on cell phones and sent to other cell phones? I heard about this.

Kieran Shea: oh God.

Justin Porter: Yeah. A few people have even scored publishing deals like that.

Gerald So: yes, me, too.

Anthony Neil Smith: All the kids these days type ALL THE TIME, but they have no clue about paragraphs, grammar, etc.

Kieran Shea: and you can speak to this, you're the prof.

Justin Porter: I believe at the moment, they've mostly been romances. One was featured on the front of the New York Times. She wrote the fucking thing on her commute to work.

Stephen Blackmoore: Yeah. It's happened here, too. There's also a service, through the Gutenberg project I think, to send single chapters or a few pages of novels to people at a time thorugh text messaging.

Justin Porter: Christ.

Anthony Neil Smith: I should let students text me their papers.

Gerald So: Oh, please no.

Justin Porter: You really want to read that shit in l33t speak?

Stephen Blackmoore: Roxxors!

Anthony Neil Smith: What did you call me, bitch?

Gerald So: I'm going blind.

Stephen Blackmoore: Sorry. there's a Z at the end of that

Stephen Blackmoore: ?

Gerald So: Go, Stephen.

Stephen Blackmoore: On the topic of shorter fiction online, has anyone run into having trouble writing longer pieces? I keep wanting to write novels the way I write short stories, which means getting things going fast. Sometimes that doesn't work with a longer piece.

Anthony Neil Smith: It works for Duane Swiercynzski.

Anthony Neil Smith: I have a harder time writing short now after several novels.

Justin Porter: That's what I've heard too, about Duane.

Anthony Neil Smith: I hate "flash fiction" though. Ugh. I'd rather have 2000 words that *feels* like 1000.

Justin Porter: The problem I run into is time. Work and life, when I sit down to write I most often think in terms of short fiction. I can't even bring myself to dredge out the 1st draft.

Victor Gischler: Am I virtual yet?

Anthony Neil Smith: You're virtually something.

Gerald So: You're here, Victor.

Victor Gischler: nice

Justin Porter: ?

Gerald So: Go ahead, Justin.

Justin Porter: Neil just answered my question. I don't mind flash fiction at all, but I enjoy it more as an exercise.

Anthony Neil Smith: I read your mind!

Justin Porter: Scary thought. I hope you brought hip-waders and mace when you where digging around in there.

Anthony Neil Smith: Others? Flashers?

Victor Gischler: ?

Gerald So: Go ahead, Victor.

Stephen Blackmoore: Flash fiction's okay, but it feels like it's just a scene rather than a story

Anthony Neil Smith: Like a joke with a punchline.

Stephen Blackmoore: Yeah

Victor Gischler: When's the next issue going live, you lazy bastard...I need my fix.

Kieran Shea: flash fiction feels, cheap, like a gyp.

Anthony Neil Smith: Within the next two weeks. Do you not read my non-blog?

Victor Gischler: I thought maybe you were just managing expectations.

Stephen Blackmoore: I thought you burned the date into your forehead with a soldering iron.

Anthony Neil Smith: Why the hell would I do that?

Gerald So: :)

Victor Gischler: Because chicks dig it?

Justin Porter: Hope he pays the electric bill. Otherwise it's back to the hammer and wood-chisel.

Anthony Neil Smith: Aw, yeah. Then there it'll be...then crossed out, then again...

Gerald So: Oh, here's a question. What is noir to (all of) you?

Victor Gischler: Neil loves this question

Stephen Blackmoore: French for black?

Greg Bardsley: Have no F'n idea...but I guess it feels like a slightly stylized form or slightly/lurid dark crime fiction

Anthony Neil Smith: Noir is fucked-up shit that can't get unfucked-up. And I know it when I see it. And it tastes best with porn.

Justin Porter: For me it's the difference between noir and hardboiled: The same storylines, except in Hardboiled the main character has all the tools needed to solve the problem, and in noir, they don't.

Justin Porter: Everything tastes better with porn.

Kieran Shea: Running around the bottom of society's well, Looking to claw out to the light, or at least drown on your own terms. that's what I look for.

Harry Hunsicker: Noir is going after the woman you can't take home to meet mom. Again and again.

Justin Porter: "Drown on your own terms." I like that. I always go for that woman.

Anthony Neil Smith: I just like to see people pushed to their max. Noir does that. Hard-boiled, however, doesn't. It's kind of less interesting because of that.

Justin Porter: The thing that pisses me off is how ready people are to toss a novel or a story under the "noir" banner. There's a lot of stuff that I've seen people put there that doesn't really deserve it.

Greg Bardsley: Huston has a pretty involved perspective/personal-definition of noir on his website

Kieran Shea: So does hardboiled actually exist anymore? legit-like? or is it all nostalgia?

Anthony Neil Smith: The more noir, the better. But there's too much "noir light" out there. Allan G prefers Grand Guiginol.

Justin Porter: I think current hardboiled is today what it was then, easy pulp entertainment.

Anthony Neil Smith: Hard-boiled exists. It sells well. It's all over P.I. books. Like a nice little jacket it can wear. Crumley is still hard-boiled and not noir, I think, but I love the man's work. Amazing stuff.

Justin Porter: He's amazing.

Greg Bardsley: I tell you one thing, there are certainly not a whole lot if boo editors out there looiking for hardboiled manuscripts,

Anthony Neil Smith: I guess I just like stuff where people have guns and curse.

Justin Porter: Finally read "The Last Good Kiss" this year.

Gerald So: I think you can be hardboiled today. To me, it's not about showing off. It's genuine toughness.

Kieran Shea: How about stansberry--he's a moody one.

Justin Porter: Haven't had the pleasure.

Greg Bardsley: "Dope" -- excellent noir

Justin Porter: Yes it was.

Anthony Neil Smith: Genuine toughness. As long as I can buy it. I want to believe it's real. Not just a put-on. So I want to see my P.I.s scared of stuff.

Greg Bardsley: ?

Gerald So: I agree, Neil. Go, Greg.

Justin Porter: The human element goes missing a lot. And to me, my favorite stories are always the ones in which the main character has to become so much like what he's fighting in order to survive. That change makes good story.

Anthony Neil Smith: Yeah, like Batman. Become what you're fighting. Cool. Or Vic Mackey from THE SHIELD.

Justin Porter: LOVE the shield.

Anthony Neil Smith: Inspiring stuff.

Greg Bardsley: How do you guys balance time for short stories and the bigger novel projects? I always feel like I'm at odds with conflicting interests. Only so much time, ya know?

Anthony Neil Smith: Most of the time goes to the novel project for the year. But if I get an idea for a short, I type it out (usually opening lines and notes), then save it for later. If it grows and grows, then I sit down and bang it out.

Justin Porter: When somebody figures this out let me know. I find myself constantly sprinting from one end of the seesaw to the other.

Anthony Neil Smith: But I write fewer shorts nowadays. Maybe three a year as opposed to six or seven in the old days.

Stephen Blackmoore: I use short stories to take a break from something larger I'm working on.

Greg Bardsley: I try to find logical breaks between projects, like when I'm waiting to hear back from a reader or my agent

Justin Porter: I stopped bothering. Whenever I try and reach for balance everything becomes so much more chaotic. I've stopped trying.

Anthony Neil Smith: There's no balance. The Force is a lie. You're all going to die.

Kieran Shea: brutally

Justin Porter: Use the fork, Luke?

Gerald So: I've tried to plan for novels, and it's worked to some extent, but I always try to write what's most immediate (which is often a short). If I get away from that, I get blocked.

Stephen Blackmoore: If I try to structure things too much it all falls apart. Embrace the uncertainty.

Anthony Neil Smith: Not brutally, either. Messily, though.

Justin Porter: God I hope so. Who wants to go gentle?

Stephen Blackmoore: First timers?

Anthony Neil Smith: Me! Me! I want to be asleep or out of my gourd so I don't realize it.

Greg Bardsley: "Who wants to go gentle?" .. "first timers"? what kind of chat is this?

Justin Porter: The good kind. Here, drink this.

Gerald So: It's a PWG chat for sure. Any last questions?

Kieran Shea: PWG #2? when?

Justin Porter: ? for Neil.

Anthony Neil Smith: Oh yeah. PWG #2 will come out when I damn well feel like it...or in the next two weeks.

Gerald So: go, Justin.

Anthony Neil Smith: I should just abandon a real schedule and do it whenever I want. Anthony Neil Smith: Some years, 2 issues. Some years, 9.

Stephen Blackmoore: Keeps 'em guessing.

Justin Porter: Are you going to enforce any kind of policy about writers submitting who have been previously published by you?

Justin Porter: Go for chaos. Fuck deadlines and order.

Gerald So: I agree.

Anthony Neil Smith: I generally don't run back to back issues with the same authors, but I like trying to build an awesome little Black Mask 2.0 club, too...I like to see repeat authors. I like watching a big archive build of their stuff...Like Tribe, or Wolven.

Justin Porter: That's good to know. Obviously though, with a submission you'd hold something an issue couldn't take for another, future one right?

Victor Gischler: are you ever going to solicit ... or just see what comes over the transom?

Justin Porter: That's an interesting ?

Anthony Neil Smith: If I like one, I'll hold it, sure.

Justin Porter: Cool.

Greg Bardsley: ooh, good question. I get the sense the Murdaland gang solicits.

Kieran Shea: any themes like Out of the Gutter?

Anthony Neil Smith: I've solicited before. But right now, it's the transom. If we get desperate, maybe we'll ask Harry to start sending stuff under a pen name.

Anthony Neil Smith: No themes for now. I like just watching the issue come together organically.

Anthony Neil Smith: That's what happened with #1...

Gerald So: I like that approach.

Justin Porter: What does everybody think about themes?

Harry Hunsicker: I've got a nice story about a Vicar who investigates a burglary at the tea shop.

Stephen Blackmoore: Are there cats?

Victor Gischler: More of a rhetorical question: When will big shot New York publishing catch on for an anthology?

Anthony Neil Smith: Oh, I don't know. When I kiss their SEX IN THE CITY loving asses? Will never happen....

Greg Bardsley: Can't stand them

Harry Hunsicker: Fluffy cats.

Kieran Shea: but I loved that xmas issue of thuglit with s. doolittle's

Anthony Neil Smith: ...after Greg's story, I knew how I wanted the rest to "feel". With #2, it was Jimmy Callaway's.

Victor Gischler: theme issue: Plots With Knives ... just once.

Kieran Shea: yes! or power tools

Greg Bardsley: ha ha

Justin Porter: OH YES! Plots with Knives!

Greg Bardsley: Plots with Mace

Anthony Neil Smith: PLOTS WITH NUKES

Harry Hunsicker: Actually, that would be kinda cool. Knives. Cutting. Blood.

Justin Porter: Haven't you been watching the news, Neil?

Justin Porter: There's your plots with nukes, right there.

Anthony Neil Smith: I meant street level nukes. The news is stupid.

Justin Porter: Hahah.

Anthony Neil Smith: News. Ha. I'm an American, damn it! I *am* the news!

Anthony Neil Smith: Just kidding.

Gerald So: It's 5 mins past 4:00 here. Should we wrap up?

Justin Porter: Alright ya'all. I gotta head to work. Been fun talking with everybody.

Anthony Neil Smith: I am thankful for all the awesome writers who give me their stuff for free. I hope they think they're making a good deal.

Gerald So: Thanks, Justin.

Justin Porter: I know I made an awesome deal. Thanks for what you've decided to do, Neil.

Anthony Neil Smith: You guys are the best...and the next generation of big shot crime writers.

Kieran Shea: Just learning the craft.

Harry Hunsicker: Bye all. Neil and Gisch, see you in Dallas.

Stephen Blackmoore: Thanks for putting it out there.

Victor Gischler: See you soon, Justin.

Justin Porter: Absolutely.

Victor Gischler: Yes, Harry. For sure!

Gerald So: Thank you all for attending.


Plots with Knives!

Now yer talkin' - such a much more intimate and visceral way to kill someone.

My most recent story submission is a plot with knife. OK, more like porn wih knife.

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