Monday, December 20, 2010

So you got a Kindle (or iPad) for Christmas?

Now that you have a new toy to play with, you'll want to start downloading some good books to read. Well, here are some great deals on books you won't want to miss!

Tom Saunders's wonderful novel, Inappropriate Happiness. Only 99¢! Read my review here.

Pamela Erens's The Understory. $7.99! Winner of the Ironweed Press Fiction Prize; A Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; Finalist, William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

If skullduggery and murder in the world of NASCAR sounds appealing to you, check out GC Smith's White Lightning. $5.00!

If you like short stories, Tom Saunders has two collections that I highly recommend, Roof Whirl Away and Brother, What Strange Place Is This? Only 99¢ each!

Cliff Garstang's award-winning collection of linked stories, In an Uncharted Country, Only $3.99. Winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Mid-Atlantic--Best Regional Fiction 2010.

Mary Akers's award-winning collection of short stories, Women Up On Blocks, Only $3.99. Winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Short Story Fiction 2010.

If you like lively, sexy, and funny fiction, then the irrepressible Susan DiPlacido is right up your alley. She has three recent, highly received novels: Lady Luck, only $2.50; House Money, only $3.99; and Shuffle Up and Deal, only $2.50! She also has a wonderful collection of award-winning short stories titled American Cool, for only $2.50.

Finally (and of course), I'm not opposed to plugging my own stuff. If you want some comedy on your Kindle, check out my novel, Into the Sunset, Only 99¢!

If you like time travel, check out my novella, The Chambliss Tapes. 99¢!

Then there is my collection of short stories, Stories From Sunset Hill. Only $1.00!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Fab Faux

I saw The Fab Faux on Saturday night at Terminal 5 in Manhattan. They're a Beatles tribute band, but they're not cheesy—they're not 50 year old men wearing Mop Top wigs and Beatle boots. They are all accomplished session/studio musicians with impressive resumes. The leader of the band used to be in the Letterman show's band, and they've all played with some of the biggest names in rock.

On Sat. night, they played the White Album (my favorite Beatles album) in its entirety. They nailed it. Every little nuance, sound, and utterance was included. Highlights for me included "Glass Onion," "Yer Blues," and "Helter Skelter." They brought in a horn section when needed, as well as a cello player and a violinist. They even had a harp for the final song, "Goodnight." (And yes, they did the entire "Revolution 9.") Denny Laine (Wings, Moody Blues) came out and joined them for several songs, including "Revolution" and his own "Go Now" during the encore.

Here is the band performing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" a couple years ago.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

John Lennon 2010

Hard to believe it's been thirty years since that crazy bastard shot John Lennon. Lennon was just getting started, too, with the second phase of his solo work--a more mature side, which was evident on the final work he did. Here's one of my favorite songs from that final period, Nobody Told Me. Love the bass line!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Inappropriate Happiness now on Kindle!

Tom Saunders's wonderful novel, Inappropriate Happiness, is now available for the Kindle on Amazon. I reviewed the old-fashioned paper version of this novel last year here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Eclectica Magazine interview with Susan DiPlacido

Eclectica, the fine literary magazine, was kind enough to let me interview the always funny Susan DiPlacido for their Oct/Nov 2010 issue. Susan published three novels this year, so there was a lot to talk about. Read the interview here.

My review of her latest, House Money, published by Mundania Press, is below. Check out my review of Lady Luck here.

House Money, reviewed

Susan DiPlacido's latest novel (boy, how many times have I said that this year? Oh, right—three) is a Las Vegas gangster caper mystery, but at heart it is a character study. Protagonist Eva Russo has seen enough murder in her life, and—besides the fact that she can't be a made man in the Mafia even if she wanted to be—wants to pursue her own life outside of the mob. She wants to be known as more than the "boss's daughter."

A budding artist, the book opens with Eva's first art show. But due to the power play of someone (Dave “The Sheik” DeSantis) who works for her father (mob boss Joe Russo), Eva is pulled into the gangster life to revenge her father's murder, and reclaim what is rightfully her family's—namely the Oasis, a Vegas casino. That's the basic plot, but DiPlacido makes it come to life with her dialogue, tension and pacing, and well-rounded characters. She also gives the bad guy (The Sheik) meat to his character so he's not just a cliche; though he's not the sharpest tool in the shed, you can see things from his perspective, and understand why he did what he did. But Eva and her cohorts are smarter as they execute their plan to get the Oasis back in their control.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Bookseller's Sonnets, reviewed

Author Andi Rosenthal deftly weaves together past and present in this wonderful debut novel, The Bookseller's Sonnets. Because of its religious plot, people will want to compare it to the Davinci Code; while it does have cinematic potential, as that novel did, it is more multi-layered, modern, and taps in to character, prejudice and identity much more than the Davinci Code; it is more than just a religious mystery. Lead character Jill Levin, a curator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in present-day Manhattan, receives an anonymous donation. It is a 500-year-old handwritten manuscript that—if it is truly authentic—is the diary of Margaret, the daughter of St. Thomas More. What is written inside has the potential to rock the worlds of both Judaism and Catholicism, but may affect Jill's life even more. Rosenthal's writing is crisp and fluid, and I couldn't wait to get home from work every night and crawl back into this world she created. It is a true page turner.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The King and I

This is just incredible, but my baseball/time travel story "The Chambliss Tapes" is the #1 free download on Amazon Kindle's free list, Sports category, and Baseball>Essays & Writing category. Sitting up there at the top along with Stephen King's own baseball story, Blockade Billy, which is the #1 paid download.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Chambliss Tapes—free for Kindle!

I don't know if this is related to the post below, but Amazon has lowered the price of my novella, The Chambliss Tapes, from 99¢ to FREE. That's right, free! In a little more than two days, it has been downloaded over 500 times! Check it out here. It is currently the #1 free download in the Kindle Sports section.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Frugal Kindle

If you have a Kindle, you should check out The Frugal Kindle. They spotlight highly-rated books under $9. It's a great idea, especially with the battle that has been raging between Amazon and the book publishers—the publishers wanting to price their books at $15, while Amazon wants to keep the prices lower, so more books can be sold. Anyway, The Frugal Kindle featured my comic novel INTO THE SUNSET on Sept. 30. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My story "After the Fall" in new anthology

What is Humpty Dumpty up to these days? I'll tell you, that egg is living a hard life, his former life shattered beyond repair. Where did it all go wrong?, he wonders as he pounds down the drinks in his favorite pub. Well, it all went wrong when he climbed atop that damned wall, of course! This is what my story "After the Fall" is about, and it is included in a new anthology titled Ten Modern Stories of 2010. Available on Amazon and the other usual places.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Josh Holloway as Rockford?

When it was announced that NBC was rebooting one of my all-time favorite shows, The Rockford Files, Dermot Mulroney was announced as the new Jim Rockford. Well, he has similar hair to James Garner, but otherwise I didn't know much about him. But the latest rumor has that Mulroney is out and they are considering Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) instead. I have to say, I'm excited about this rumor. Rockford is about much more than hair—it's about attitude, it's about being a "smart mouth." Holloway as Sawyer was definitely that. I hope this comes true.

UPDATE: It all seems to be coming together. Just read this online: "Former Lost star Josh Holloway has admitted that he would love to star in NBC's forthcoming remake of The Rockford Files." Make it happen, guys!

Here's a clip of Garner as Rockford:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sleeve Sprouts

Attention men—you may be a sufferer of this recently-named affliction. But fear not, there is now help and support, if not yet a cure. Click here for more information about Sleeve Sprouts. Women are not known to suffer from this disorder. The first woman sufferer is still being sought.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lost in America

One of my all-time favorite film scenes:

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

If you're not familiar with this band, you should be.

Monday, July 26, 2010

You can Mad Men yourself!

...On the Mad Men website. That's me there with the cast of Mad Men!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mad Men Marathon

Mad Men Marathon. Mad Men Marathon. Mad Men Marathon. Say that three times fast. Season 4 of Mad Men starts on Sunday, July 25 on AMC. But I have a lot of catching up to do. Before this past Thursday, I had only seen the first season. Currently, I am in the middle of a Season 2 marathon. Season 3 next. Can I catch up by the 25th?

In case you've never seen it, here is one of the coolest openers to a TV series ever.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Congrats Homer!

I love The Simpsons, so I was happy when Entertainment Weekly, to mark their 20th anniversary, released their list of the Top 10 greatest TV and film characters of the past twenty years. Here is the list:

1. Homer Simpson
2. Harry Potter
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
4. Tony Soprano
5. The Joker (played by Heath Ledger)
6. Rachel Green
7. Edward Scissorhands
8. Hannibal Lecter
9. Carrie Bradshaw
10. Spongebob Squarepants

I can't argue with the choice of Homer as #1. He may be the best character in TV history. Harry Potter at #2 is a good choice. Buffy seems a little too high on the list at #3. Tony Soprano deserves to be on the list. But what's up with Rachel Green (Friends) as #6? I don't even know if she was the most memorable character from that ensemble cast, that also included the more memorable and quirky Chandler and Phoebe. And where is George Costanza? GEORGE COSTANZA!!! Cosmo Kramer? Michael Scott? Jack Bauer? Dwight Schrute? Sawyer? Or even Bart Simpson for that matter?

Rachel Green? Really?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pearl Jam MSG 5.21.10

I saw Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. This was the last show of this leg of the tour before they take a break, then head overseas, and they didn't hold back. They played two hours and forty-five minutes. Just look at this setlist. They were relentless, opening with five rockers before even taking a breath to say hello. Seriously, this was one of the LOUDEST shows I've ever heard, and I mean both the band AND the crowd. They did a good mix of old and new stuff, and even broke out "Hunger Strike" during the second encore, with Ben Bridwell, the singer of opening act Band of Horses, taking on Chris Cornell's half of the vocals (see video below).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lady Luck review, and a fun interview with Susan DiPlacido

The funny and talented Susan DiPlacido has just released three new novels. That's right, three! They are LADY LUCK; SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL; and HOUSE MONEY. I have a lot of reading to do. LADY LUCK was the first one I sunk my teeth into.

Las Vegas showgirl Sherri DiPedi gets knocked in the head with a neon sign and wakes up as the current incarnation of Lady Luck. Or does she? Is she just crazy? And what about her step father, who may have killed her father to steal his business and marry his wife? Is that all in her head too? Or will she be the next one bumped off?

Inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, DiPlacido does a great job of weaving all the characters and their plot lines together. People better versed with Hamlet than I am with get all the little nuances that relate to the Shakespeare masterpiece. But you don't need to have just read Hamlet to enjoy this crazy ride.

LADY LUCK is classic, vintage DiPlacido: Las Vegas, humor, capers, romance, punchy dialogue, booze, and food. (Surprisingly, it's a bit light on her usual racy sex scenes.) DiPlacido does a good job of switching POVs to keep the action moving, and letting the reader see what is going on concurrently with the various characters. Her writing is very visual, and it's a wonder nobody has snapped up the film rights to any of her novels yet. Are you listening, Hollywood?

Summer's coming. I suggest you pour yourself a drink, go sit by the pool, and dive into Lady Luck.


I had the opportunity to ask Susan about Lady Luck. Here is the interview:

DC: You just released two new books—LADY LUCK, and SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL under the Neon Fiction imprint. Another novel, HOUSE MONEY, was also just released by Mundania Press. I labor over a book for five years, and you seem to sneeze them out at will. What's your secret? Are you on steroids?

SD: Not steroids, but ample vodka. And I'm also lazy. While most writers are diligent and work hard, I just sort of come up with an idea and then type it up as it amuses me and then I'm mostly done. Revisions are work, so I don't do much of them. Rewrites blow, and finding the perfect metaphor or turn of phrase can be laborious, so I don't do that stuff and it really cuts down on the time investment, let me tell you!

DC: LADY LUCK is a fun read, with great dialogue. The characters seem so real. Do you have imaginary friends, and walk around all day talking to yourself out loud? For that matter, are YOU real, or a fiction-writing bot that some bored IT person wrote a code for, and now can't control?

SD: Thanks for that, Don. I don't have imaginary friends, but I do often talk to myself -- aloud. (Again, with the vodka.) But as far as I'm aware, I am not ensconced in the Matrix and am a real person.

DC: LADY LUCK was inspired by William "the Bard" Shakespeare's Hamlet. Did you know another definition of bard is "a slice of bacon placed on meat or game before roasting"?

SD: As someone who prides myself on loving food and knowing all sorts of dumb minutiae about it, I'm saddened to admit that I did not know that. I only recently found out what a lardon was. But though I didn't know the technical term, I have eaten plenty of bacon-covered meat. Now I have a fancy name for it to annoy people with, so thank you.

DC: Tell us a little about writing LADY LUCK. But first—you're not under the delusion that you are, in fact, Lady Luck, are you?

SD: That's a terrible question because the answer makes me sound like a nutjob. I don't think I'm Lady Luck, but I do think I'm pretty lucky. I have streaks where my luck goes sour, but I also have had streaks that impressed (and pissed off) some pretty inveterate gamblers. So I do consider Lady Luck a friend. As for writing Lady Luck, it was fun. It was easier than most books because I had a blueprint (and a damn fine one) already laid out for me, so I just had to embellish. No wonder people plagiarize -- it's really an easy way to get stuff accomplished! But Hamlet has always been one of my favorite works, and there's a lot of black humor in it that appeals to me. I also always felt really bad for the prince, because he wasn't a bad guy, and the whole crazy or not thing is such an inspired nuance. So I wanted to make sure and touch upon that, and I thought the whole question of luck was a good way to do it.

DC: You like to use recurring characters in your novels. That wasn't a question, but a statement. Feel free to expand on it.

SD: I do like my recurring characters. (Again, with the lazy.) I think they're kind of fun, and hopefully they are for readers, too. And it does make writing easier, because by now I know how they should behave in certain situations and their verbal ticks are by rote. Maybe they are sort of like imaginary friends when I'm writing. Also, I just think it's funny to keep bringing these same characters up in all my books. There's got to be a vanity streak in me for doing that, or maybe I'm just sly with cross-promoting that way.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free Smashing Pumpkins

If you're a Smashing Pumpkins fan, check out their website. They're doing a cool thing: giving away their new CD, Teargarden By Kaleidyscope Vol. 1, one song at a time. They have posted four songs you can download for free. The songs sound really good, which isn't a surprise: This is the follow-up to their last CD, Zeitgeist, which is one of my favorites by them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Snakes Can't Run

I just found out about the new novel from Ed Lin. It was released March 30, and is titled SNAKES CAN'T RUN. This is the second book to feature NYPD detective Robert Chow, following 2007's fantastic This Is a Bust. Check out my review of THIS IS A BUST here. Okay, I'm off to order the book now.

Here is the trailer:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Opening Day 2010

Today is Opening Day for the Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium, their second season in the new ballpark. Of course, they brought home their 27th World Series Championship in their first season in the new home last year. Today they get to raise the championship banner and distribute their World Series rings. Meanwhile, the deconstruction of the old Stadium is nearly complete...

These photos are from, taken by Tom Kaminski.

Friday, April 02, 2010

iPad Mania!

This clip is from the new sitcom Modern Family. iPad is released April 3rd!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunset Daze/Into the Sunset

Apparently, WeTV has a new reality show in the works called Sunset Daze that follows the crazy antics of the wacky residents of a retirement home. My comic novel Into the Sunset, published in 2007, also has crazy antics of residents of a retirement community.

Hmmmm...Sunset Daze...Into the Sunset. Sunset...Sunset. Sounds kinda familiar.

The official page for the show doesn't have much info about when it will air, etc. Does anyone know anything more about this show?

UPDATE: The website now says that the first two episodes will air on Wed., April 28, 10pm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Into the Sunset

Last night was the end of the road for my novel Into the Sunset in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest (ABNA). The quarterfinalists were announced, which pared the entries down to 250 in each category, and Into the Sunset wasn't on it the list. Not all depressing news, however, because I also coincidentally received--on the same day the novel was eliminated from the contest--a glowing review from a happy reader on Amazon. You can purchase Into the Sunset on Amazon, Smashwords,, and many other outlets.


We all know how frustrating and demoralizing writing can be. Or, not the writing, but the submission/acceptance part. Do I think my novel is as good as at least some of the 250 that made it to the next round? Of course. Do I know that for sure? Of course not. I didn't read those other novels. But, still. It all seems so pointless and random sometimes. If two different reviewers had read my excerpt instead, I might have made it to the next round. Oh well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old Yankee Stadium Demolition

UPDATE 3/12/10. These photos are from, taken by Tom Kaminski:

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The future of publishing...

Brought to you by Penguin and Apple's iPad. This makes the Kindle look like an old-fashioned paper book:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I made it!

Or, I should really say my novel INTO THE SUNSET made it through to the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest.

Amazon narrowed the field of 5,000 entries down to 1,000 based on a (up to) 300-word pitch. So now I move on to the second round, where two reviews of my 5,000 word excerpt (the prologue and first two chapters) will determine if I made it to the quarterfinals. Only 250 move forward. The next date to worry about is March 23, when the quarterfinal list is released. Amazon readers will then get to read and review these excerpts.

So for now...I resume waiting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Was That David Byrne or KD Lang at the Olympics?

I know it's been a while since the Olympics opening ceremony, but is it just me, or did KD Lang look like she borrowed David Byrne's Big Suit?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Waiting is the hardest part...

Two days to go until Amazon announces the 1,000 novels that make it to the next round in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest.

On Feb. 25, I will find out if my pitch was good enough to make the cut and send me to the second round. If so, then my 5,000 word excerpt will be judged as follows:

Between February 25, 2010 and March 14, 2010, our expert reviewers, including Amazon editors and at least one Amazon Top Reviewer, will review and judge the Excerpts of each second round Entry. The expert reviewers rate each Excerpt on a scale of 1 to 5 on each of the following criteria:

a) Overall Strength of Excerpt
b) Prose/Style
c) Plot/Hook
d) Originality of Idea

So for now, I wait. Meanwhile, here's some Tom Petty and Eddie Vedder.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New U2 music on the way

Bono has told Irish newspaper the Irish Independent that a new U2 album, titled Songs of Ascent, will be available in June. I remember reading that this was the plan when last year's No Line On the Horizon was released. The names of some of the tracks rumored to be on the new CD are: "Winter" (which is on the soundtrack to the film "Brothers"), “Every Breaking Wave," "If I Could Live My Life Again," "Love Is All We Have Left," "Mercy," "Lead Me In The Way I Should Go," "You Can’t Give Away Your Heart," and "Kingdom Of Your Love."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Pitch

The first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest is "the pitch." This is the short, quick description, or "hook," that you need to describe your book. Similar to the sell copy on the back cover of a book, it is also known as the "elevator pitch"—what you would tell an agent or editor if you had him or her alone in an elevator for a minute.

Here is my pitch for Into the Sunset, my comic novel that is entered in the ABNA:

Meet Wayne Benson. He's not a senior citizen. He doesn't require nursing care. He isn't even retired. But this healthy 30-year-old bachelor believes the comfortable life of The Sunset, an assisted-living retirement community, would be a soothing alternative to his young, hectic lifestyle.

Everything he desires—gourmet meals, laundry service, camaraderie, tranquility—is available for one all-inclusive monthly fee. The only problem? He isn't the required minimum age of sixty-two. So, he dons theatrical make-up and a grey wig to age himself forty years, and is immediately accepted into The Sunset. Now all he has to do is live a peaceful life.

Will everything go as smoothly as planned? Of course not! His elderly love interest becomes suspicious of his under-cover-of-darkness-only lovemaking, his neighbor wants to go to strip clubs and experiment with Viagra®, the head of security is more interested in extortion than security, and the woman who manages The Sunset may be onto his scheme. Can Wayne survive old age?

Amazon editors will read the pitches of the 5,000 entries. They will choose 1,000, and move them to the second round. These results will be announced Feb. 25.

Monday, February 01, 2010


This is why I've been waiting for an Apple e-book reader:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Into the Sunset entered in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest

Amazon is holding their third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and this year they are opening submissions to previously self-published books. Winner of the contest gets published by Penguin USA and a $15,000 contract. There are two categories this year, general fiction and young adult. The contest begins on Mon., Jan. 25 at midnight, EST.

And you, the Amazon reviewer, get to vote! There is the First Round, where the Amazon editors will read a 300 word pitch for each entry. The top 1,000 entries in each category will move to the second round.

The Second Round will be narrowed to 250 entries (in each category) by you, the Amazon reviewer, based on a 5,000 word novel excerpt.

The Quarterfinals are next, where Publishers Weekly reviewers will read the full manuscript. The top 50 move on from here.

The Semifinals follow, where Penguin USA editors will read the full manuscript and select three finalists in each category.

Then the ball is thrown back to you, dear Amazon reviewer, in the Finals, to vote on the three finalists to see who wins the grand prize!

I've decided to enter my comic novel, Into the Sunset, in this contest. I published it in the summer of 2007, and I am totally, 100% happy with the final product. But, you know, self-published books don't get any respect, and no one wants to review them. Though I did get a good review from Romantic Times Book Review, where they said, "Capone has a vivid imagination and a unique voice." My novel doesn't have to win this contest. What I'm looking for is more exposure for the book, a wider audience, and maybe the book will even catch the eye of an agent or editor.

I will update this blog throughout the contest. Hopefully my novel will move through some of the rounds, and you can then vote for me!

UPDATE 1:13 AM, Mon. Jan. 25
Boy, that was insane. The online equivalent of people getting trampled at Walmart on Black Friday. I was all logged in and ready to go with my Word files at 12 midnight. The entry page wouldn't even load for me until 12:27. Then the four steps took forever, just watching a spinning wheel after I hit Save. Finally my submission was complete at 12:52. Whew! I'm in! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tom Saunders interview

You can read a compelling interview with one of my favorite authors, Tom Saunders, at Eclectica Magazine. His novel, Inappropriate Happiness was one of my favorite books of 2009. (Read my review of it here.) Here is a little taste of the interview:

"It took me many years to begin writing. I wish I'd started sooner. I was just an ordinary kid brought up on a council estate, an 11-plus reject sent to a Secondary Modern school rather than a Grammar. No-one was expecting anything of us and we were educated accordingly. Writing wasn't something you'd remotely consider as a career. It was so out of the question it didn't even occur to me, to be honest, although I've always been a big reader."

You can order the book directly from the publisher, Reuben Books, or at Amazon UK.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lost Art

If you are a Lost fan, you may be interested in The LOST Underground Art Show. Here you can buy original art work based on the hit TV show, which begins its final season on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Personally, I like the "Lockeness Monster" (below) by Alex Pardee, which has already sold for a cool $1,200.