Q & A

Late last month, gentleman scholar, and all-around good guy Colman Keane was kind enough to shoot a few questions my way for his site Col’s Criminal Library. I’ve taken the liberty of copy/pasting  said interview onto this site because, sometimes, I’m lazy like that. If you’d rather read the original, just click HERE.

A hearty thank you to Mr. Colman Keane for the lovely Q & A. Enjoy!

I’ll assume the writing isn’t full time, so what’s the day job?

You assume correctly. I moonlight as a condom tester. Kidding, I work for a company that does horseracing data. Not as exciting as a rubber tester, but it pays the bills.

Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the uber-cool Verge Le Noir moniker isn’t something your parents came up with – is your real identity a well-guarded secret? Why not publish your books under your real name?

No my parents are not that cool—at all. I’m just a cat who’s scared of his own writing so he hides under a too-cool-for-school nom de guerre in order to appease the God’s of writerly things. My name is not a well-guarded secret, I’m not in the witness protection program or anything as exciting as that, matter of fact, my writer bio has just been updated on Amazon where I use my real name, (and new mug shot) I will however, still use my pen name because is way cooler than my real name which is Virgilio Feldman. Try fitting that on a small book cover.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Honest to the Gods of Beer? Doing this Q & A. And having people read the stuff I write.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have one; I slip the writing whenever I can. I’m lucky I get to write at all. I typically try to cram as much writing as possible on my days off. Sorry ladies…

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

I’ve only done it in my short novel Desperados sparingly—and it’s mostly overly exaggerated anecdotes from an acquaintance here and there, or family members, but for the most part I don’t do it.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I like to let the characters take me wherever they want to go, so I make it up as I go along. Most smart writers swear by plotting, I see it as painting yourself into a corner and that doesn’t jive with moi. Maybe I will try it someday.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Nothing’s off limits I hate censorship.

Desperados features the journey of a young immigrant coming to America from the south, any parallels with your own life or are you a home-grown American citizen?

Good question. I was lucky enough to migrate legally to the U. S. from Honduras about thirty years ago. I did mined a few things about my life for Desperados, lets’ see: I’m from the same Islands that the character Lester talks about, I was once duped by a cousin into becoming a bracero in the State of Georgia for about two months in hell, we lived in trailers in the middle of nowhere making shit money, on the weekends we would shop at a Piggy Wiggly. A manager of a restaurant I used to work at did the orange juice bit to a waitress once. The character of Leonide or Leo is based on a good friend of mine who hails from the Ivory Coast by way of France but that’s where the similarities end. These are the few things I can think of from the top of my head; the rest is pure imagination and research.

I believe you’ve self-published all your work to date, is that a conscious move? Have you tried the “traditional” route via an existing publisher?

A conscious move indeed, I don’t know anyone in the publishing business, and I won’t know how to approach anyone on that side of things, besides they only seem to be interested in bestselling authors and celebrities. They want an established brand. So yeah I’m self- published all the way. For every one of my books though, I hire a professional editor, a book formatter and make my own book covers. I just don’t see what a traditional publisher can do for a guy like me. I honestly don’t see it. For prestige? Piss-off. The world doesn’t need another ‘tastemaker’ or ‘bouncer’ at the exclusive writers club. My humble opinion and it can change, but for now I’m happy as a clam in salt water doing things this way.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

In a scale of one to ten, I would have to say One Hundred. A Hunter Thompson quote comes to mind, he said: “It’s like trying to wrestle a T-bone steak from a hammerhead shark.” Similar to that or thereabout.  Although a lot of it is my fault, I’m a lousy salesman, I don’t know much about promotion, pushing product etcetera, etcetera. I’m still learning, for the most part I just concentrate on writing an entertaining story.

Your works so far are Desperados – a novel, Killing Crows – a long short story, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets – two short story collections. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?

Tricky question, like: who is your favorite child? The red-headed bastard is my favorite! In this case they’re all my favorite red-headed bastards. In all honesty; the last one I wrote—Desperados—is my favorite because is the closest I’ve come to cannibalizing parts of my life in order to write a good story. It’s a bit personal I suppose. I must say though; Shell Casings seems to be people’s favorite, even my editor liked it a lot.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

I’m juggling a couple of projects, but the one that seems to be ahead its call Two Iguanas Lounge and it features a couple of the characters from the short story: Lizards Lounge (a short story you can find in the book: Black Pills & Red Bullets) In Two Iguanas Lounge, I’ll introduce a private detective by the name of Troy Declan Molloy and a Lieutenant by the name of Samira Andrade, these two team up in order to take down a serial killer who’s terrorizing a small Arizona town. It’s going a bit slow. We’ll see how it turns up, in the meantime; I’ll be uploading to my website, some short- stories, and my ramblings as usual.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Bedding all the women who find the broke-ass writer irresistible. Kidding, the best thing about writing is coming up with bat-shit crazy scenarios in which your characters can play and then having people read it. It’s magical. Writing is a lot of fun, you can’t beat that.

The worst?

Meeting women who don’t fall for the broke-ass writer. Kidding, (somewhat). The worse is trying to get the story to the right audience. That’s brutal.

What are the last five books you have read?

  1. Lee Child’s Night School
  2. Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  3. Re-read Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch—brilliant book.
  4. You by Caroline Kepnes—well plotted, well written.
  5. The Sellout by Paul Beatty—quite possibly one of my favorite books from 2016

Who do you read and enjoy?

Love Elmore Leonard, Christa Faust is phenomenal, Charles Bukowski always kills it, Junot Diaz inspires, Stephen Hunter knows his shit, Dennis Lehane thrills and so does Michael Connelly. I really wish Diablo Cody would write another book, because whenever I need a chuckle I grab my copy of her book Candy Girl, and I swear; whatever pages you land on in that book, you’ll sure to find a giggle or two.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias— mind-blowingly good.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Falling in love from a plane without a parachute. A. k. a.  Reading, hanging out in dive bars or watching Netflix.

In a couple of years’ time…

Hopefully I’ll have a few more books; therefore I’ll—hopefully—have a few more readers.

 

The Lazarus Project.

Image: Canonical Ltd.

I have an old Acer laptop which I use exclusively as an entertainment center, I don’t use it for anything else because its old and I’m afraid that if I do ‘serious work’ on it; it might crap out on me. It was a windows 7 machine, but since Microsoft was giving away free installs of Windows 10 I took a chance and installed it. Fast-forward to four weeks ago; Windows 10 pushed a new update, which I took, but then when I tried to turn the machine back on it died on me.

About ten or so years ago, I bought my first Windows 7 laptop, it was great, but being the curious cat that I am, I became intrigued by an Open Source System call Ubuntu ( African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’), I like a challenge, so I installed Ubuntu into my Windows 7 machine, an action known as a ‘dual boot’ meaning: you can boot up the machine on either Windows 7 or Ubuntu. I was hooked.

As much as liked Ubuntu though, it soon became clear that I wasn’t ready for it, see back then you couldn’t play Netflix using Ubuntu, I mean you could, but you’d have to install a program call Wine and then find a ‘substitute’ for Silverlight which, I believe, is a Microsoft program that enables you to play Netflix, needless to say it was a major pain in the spine. The biggest problem of all? No Microsoft Word.

Ubuntu and the Open Source Community have a couple of writing programs that can give Microsoft Word, a run for its money. One is call Open Office and the other is call Libre Office this second one comes pre-installed in Ubuntu, wonderful programs, thing is though; most writers work on Microsoft Word. My book formatters only work with Microsoft Word. And don’t even think about sending an editor any document other than a Microsoft Word document.

So I had to say goodbye to Ubuntu. That is, until my old Acer laptop got fried by that Microsoft Windows 10 update, but now that I’ve installed Ubuntu 16.4. 1 LTS; its ALIVE! My old Acer works like its brand spanking new. (Now, if we could find a way to make the formatters and editors of the world change their tune and be more flexible, then I think peace would surely come to the Middle East—yeah right). By no means am I a pro at all things Ubuntu, I’m still learning, so if you have an old computer collecting dust and you like a challenge; go try Ubuntu, plus you don’t need anti-virus for it. (Most viruses are made for the popular guys like Microsoft and Apple).

Try: Ubuntu 16.4. 1 LTS  You can find different Ubuntu flavors HERE.

Plus, it has some popular nifty cousins, known as Distributions or Distros, such as:

Zorin OS 12  

Linux Mint 18 Sarah 

Elementary OS  

A GR Give-Away Adventure

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Image Credit: userlogos.org

Here’s a great concept that any self- respecting, indie, self-publisher can’t overlook: The Good Reads giveaway. For those of you who don’t know; it’s a way for an author to set up a giveaway of any books he or she has published, and it’s on the Good Reads website. The process is free and painless (only hardcovers and paperbacks though-no e-books- which means that the author has to buy the books and pay for the postage) the understanding is that by doing so the author may gain exposure, new readers, perhaps folks may sign up to the author’s mailing list, and best of all; the author may bag a few reviews. There are no guarantees but hey, why the hell not? It’s about having faith right?

And so, with a bag full ‘o faith I went through the process three times with my two collections of contemporary pulpy crime fiction. I had a busload of entries, once the winners were selected (the winners are pick randomly by Good Reads) I jumped for joy, bought my books and mailed them out.

Almost a year later and its cricket’s central on my end. Zero, zip, nada. Self-doubt crept in; I must be a really sucky writer- I thought, and the few readers that got the books probably didn’t want to hurt my feelings (As stated on the Good Reads give-away rules; you the author may not contact the winners or any of the give-away entrants, failure to comply with this rule will get you, the author, banned—not that I would do such a thing, but there it is, just so you know.) Whatever, I moved on, went about my life as usual; writing a few things here and there, but mainly working on another book. Then one day I went to visit my favorite sub-reddit which is r/selfpublishers on Reddit. While reading a tread about effective ways to get the word out about your books; someone mentioned that a fair amount (if not all) of the entries and winners on the Good Reads giveaways are SPAM—talk about a sinking heart.

Okay whatever this commenter is probably bullshitting-I thought.

Three weeks later, I read an article saying that Good Reads is planning on expanding their author give-away program to include e-books—woo-hoo! Upon further reading though, the article mentions that it’s going to cost the writers/publishers one hundred plus smackaroos to do this new thing. On the comments section of this article a few authors weigh in by saying:

Katie M Klosterman:

“My print give-away with Goodreads resulted in every book showing up for sale on Amazon less than 48 hours after they were received. I will never do another. I am not convinced about this being worth over $100.”

Jeanne Felfe:

“So people got your free books, then turned around and sold them used? Sux.”

Katie M Klosterman:

Exactly…told them (Goodreads?) and they didn’t have an answer…

I would like to provide a link to this article but I was reading it on my cellphone at work, however, I did manage to get a screenshot of the above exchange.

Screenshot

So it seems that the only winners here are Good Reads which is own by Amazon, moral of the story? I should have done my research.

I’m currently in the process of editing a short novel which I’ll publish soon. (I know, I know; regular readers of my rants are sick and tired of reading about it. Editing is a biach. Bear with me please.) The question is: will I do a Good Reads give-away? Zero, zip, nada—nope…then again; as an indie, self-publisher; I can never say never. It’s about faith after all. Right…Right?

My 2 cents.

Drops the mic Obama style, and walks away in shame for saying that.

Monthly Bullet Points

 

S’up Playa,

Welcome to what I hope will become a new—end of the month—feature to this site. A feature in which I’ll get to rant, rave and opine about stuff  I been up to over the course of the month (hmm, when I put it that way it doesn’t sound too appetizing) Anyway, if you’re still interested, in this post I will be covering: The Punisher, hood living, favorite reads and the most popular post on this site. Enjoy.

 

  • Dare Devil season 2 has introduced The Punisher with an interesting variation on his somewhat familiar story. A story line which makes DD come across as a boring superhero. For those who don’t know; The Punisher is equal parts Charles Bronson (circa Death Wish) Rambo First Blood and Jason Bateman minus the sense of humor. I always liked the story of the deeply flawed Straw Dog known as The Punisher. Currently streaming on Netflix.

 

  • Rent tends to be on the ‘cheap’ side in the hood. But so is life. The other night, after work, I ran into my first CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS yellow ribbon tape; two blocks away from where I live. Great, and it’s not even summertime.

 

  • One of the most popular post/articles on this site (In the True Crime section) was also one of the most difficult to write. The story of the Bath Avenue Crew. I say it was difficult because the research for it was labyrinthine at best. It took a while to put it together in a somewhat coherent fashion, because there were a lot of contradictory accounts on the web about what went down. The story is so juicy though, that I even mentioned it in a short story I wrote recently (Killing Crows—which you can read right now by clicking on the book cover by the side bar of this site) I’m still puzzled as to why it’s so popular? Good SEO? don’t know but, It is indeed a pleasant surprise. Small victories.

 

  • It goes without saying that I have a long-ass commute these days, but it gets me reading. So I had the pleasure of polishing off a couple of hardboiled and visceral pulpy crime fiction novels: Money Shot by Christa Faust and Dog eat Dog by Mr. Blue himself: Edward Bunker (RIP) Keep an eye out for my take on these two books.

 

That’s it for now. ‘Till next time playa.

Hello From Crooklyn.

welcome2broolynMe on the phone with a potential mover;

Me, “Hey there, my name’s Verge and I’m looking to move on Monday. Can you give me an estimate?”

Potential mover, “sure thing pal, when are you moving?”

Me, “Monday”

Potential mover, “I’m sorry, can I call you right back?”

“Sure.”

CLICK.

I hate moving with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. But that’s the way life goes, always getting in the way of creativity.

After fifteen minutes of waiting for potential mover to call back I started calling other moving companies, actually scratch that, I called one other moving company and the guy on the other side of the line sounded really pleased to hear from a potential costumer.

Later, potential mover calls back, he says;

“So you wanna to move huh, where are you moving to? Buddy”

Me; “I’m sorry, I already hired somebody else to do the job. Thanks anyway.”

Potential ex-mover;

“Yeah sure no problem…”

CLICK

And just like that I said goodbye to Manhattan and said Hello! to Crooklyn (Crooklyn a 1994 semi-autobiographical film co-written and directed by Spike Lee—thanks Wikipedia—plus is the affectionate nickname I use when referring to one of New York’s toughest neighborhoods.)

Brooklyn is a different world (It seems that way to Me.) dig this: No Starbucks, Duane Reade, or even a Dunking Donuts for miles where I live now. No yuppies, no hipsters, no dreaded gentrifiers—and I fucking love it. (Okay I kinda miss Dunking Donuts.)

Remember I said I hate moving? Well here’s the thing; the moola I’ve been saving for the purpose of hiring an editor is gone, which means it’ll take a while for me to publish the short novel I’ve been working on for some time now. But do not despair my friends because it will get done. In the meantime I’ll be working on other material I’ve been wrestling with prior to my move to Crooklyn.  vergelenoir.com

That’s it, that’s what I’ve been up to these days, New Year, new home, new challenges.

Happy and Prosperous New Year my friends!

Fuhgeddaboudit.

CLICK…

Goodbye October

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Photo Credit: Unsplash/pixabay.com

There’s absolutely nothing better than October in the city that never sweeps. The leaves on the trees are turning, the weather is as cool as that suave detective by the name of Shaft, and Hallows Eve comes at us by the tail end of the best month of the year.

I love October in New York.

Halloween always reminds me of the writer Washington Irving, the man who first bestowed the nick name Gotham—an Anglo-Saxon word which means ‘Goat Town’—to the city of New York. October and Halloween also brings to mind his short story ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.’ Upon first reading this short at a young age, the image of a headless horseman roaming a little town collecting heads made a great impression on the overactive imagination of yours truly.

I love Halloween in New York.

A night when every good girl—for some reason ‘wink wink’—insists on becoming a slutty nurse, cop, doctor, zombie, stripper and every other slutty superlative slapped onto a ‘sexy costume’ and, every other dude becomes some kind of sociopath, serial killer, ‘wink wink’ a tranny or a pimp. In NYC we won’t have it any other way.

Goodbye October, we hardly knew ye.

However, we’re not gonna be sad for too long because The Day of The Dead is upon us, so y’all best get your Sugar Skulls, Calacas and Pan Dulce ready to celebrate with your dearly departed. Even though for some of us, the bones of our ancestors might be far away we still honor them, because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here staring at a screen, reading dribble and picking our collective noses.

Happy Halloween you crazy kids.

*Poof*

In Odd We Trust

I’m intrigued by oddities, the strange, and the unexplained. Went looking for some stories to post on here for ya, found a bunch of ‘em. Here are some my favorites. Enjoy.

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Photo Credit: sixpenceee.com/tumblr

In the year of our Lord 1883, Henry Ziegland—heart breaker that he was—broke up with his girlfriend. Then the distressed heartbroken girlfriend committed suicide. With a thirst for revenge the girlfriend’s brother, found Henry and shot him. Satisfied with his deed, the girlfriend’s brother committed suicide too. However Henry Ziegland lived. Turns out the bullet just graced him and lodged itself into a nearby tree. All was good for Henry (probably had a brood all over the state) then one day he decided to dynamite the tree with the bullet in it. After 20 years, the bullet finally found its intended target, impacting Henry in the head and killing him instantly. Final Destination anyone? (Source)

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Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

A lot has been said about Edgar Allan Poe. The man was a brilliant writer but, he will always be associated with the bizarre and the macabre . The following anecdote cements that notion. In the novel “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” written in 1838 Edgar Allan Poe wrote about four ship wreck survivors adrift in a small raft, whom after several days at sea, decide to eat the cabin boy (Poor bastard).  In the book the cabin boy’s name is Richard Parker.

In the year of our Lord 1884

A ship by the name of Mignonette sank, leaving only four survivors adrift at sea. The survivors decided to eat the cabin boy. His name? Richard Parker, poor bastard indeed. This case was the first of its kind where the remaining crewmen were tried for murder and cannibalism. Ever since the trial of this case, every university law student has to learn about the case as part of their educational curriculum. (Source)

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Image Credit: Square Enix Online Store.

Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action-role playing video game—combining first-person shooter, stealth and role-playing elements—developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive. (Thanks Wikipedia) During the production of this game, one of the artists forgot to add the Twin Towers to the rendering of the city of New York; this mistake was later explained as a terrorist attack.

This all happened in the year 2000. (Source)

 

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Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

Violet Constance Jessop (2 October 1887 – 5 May 1971) was an ocean liner stewardess and nurse. This lady was one lucky dame as she survived the following: The collision between the RMS Olympic and the HMS Hawke. She was on board of the Titanic when it kissed that iceberg. She was also on board of the HMHS Britannic when it hit a mine. This lady was a survivor in the true sense of the word; in doing research (Thanks again Wikipedia) I read that she was the first of nine children—of the nine, only six survived, and that at an early age she contracted tuberculosis  but, despite doctor’s predictions, she survived.

Way to give death the middle finger there Violet, or in her case it would be the ‘two fingers’ salute. (Source)

Her memoir is on Amazon

Reading this type of stuff is addictive right? Click on the links below for more weirdness.

In other weird news: The Ashley Madison maelstrom is being call ‘Black Friday’ by divorce attorneys. Go figure.