Thursday, June 13, 2013

Movie Review: Gunless

So after I watched The Warrior’s Way, Netflix streaming throws a couple other Western type flicks my way like it does when you give a movie you like a high rating. One of them was the movie Gunless, a Canadian flick I’d never heard of. This is the description from the Netflix site:

Fleeing the law, infamous bandit Montana Kid (Paul Gross) heads north to hide out in Barclay's Brush, Canada (population 17), where nobody seems to understand the code of the Old West. For starters, the gunfighter is amazed to find that nobody even owns a pistol. The Kid slowly warms to the town, and especially to the sassy and outspoken Jane (Sienna Guillory), but is forced to strap on his six-gun when the posse comes looking for him.

I shrugged and went, “Well, it’s not like it costs me anything if I end up not liking it and turning it off. Whatever. I still have clothes to iron.”

See, that’s when I get the bulk of my movie watching done. When I’m ironing clothes. Betcha didn’t know I was all that domestic, eh?

Anyhoo, I thought I’d give it a try. The opening scene features Paul Gross, sat backwards on a horse, his hands bound, a noose around his neck, a limb dragging behind, and covered (and I do mean covered) in pigshit. Dramatic, spaghetti-type western music plays over the open.  I’m here to tell you a movie starts out like that, you know that no matter what happens next, it’s probably going to be a lot of fun.

The town the Montana Kid’s horse has taken him to happens to be over the Canadian border. It’s a tiny little town with a handful of quirky, colorful folk living there, none of whom own any sort of firearm. The Montana Kid is a quick tempered gunslinger and a notorious outlaw, and demands to be taken seriously.

I won’t spoil it for you. Suffice it to say he isn’t.

The humor in this movie is quiet and quick, and in typical Canadian fashion, charmingly self-deprecating. There’s a scene where what starts out as a serious conversation devolves into a bunch of people bickering about semantics. What I so love about that is that that really happens in real conversations. It’s stupid and annoying and oh-so-very true to life. And the Montana Kid, having lost control of a situation in which he (once again) attempts to play the part of the scary badass gunslinger, ends up being completely unable to assume the role he’s used to because he’s basically being ignored by a roomful of bickering nerds.

It’s sort of like watching The Man With No Name sitting on the can reading a newspaper, if that makes any sense at all.

So, having said that, I don’t want to give the impression the movie’s all comedy. It’s not. The characters are very well thought out. Their motives are realistic and their emotions are very real, very human, and in some cases, downright heartbreaking. The characters (and this is very important to me) grow and change and evolve. They bounce off each other with such a familial ease that you absolutely believe this little town existed long before the Montana Kid’s horse carried him here. One of the things I liked best about it was the this: you know how there's always that trope where someone is "wanted for a crime he didn't commit?" Well, Montana Kid makes his first appearance as someone who narrowly escaped a botched hanging and there is a very good reason someone tried to hang him. And that reason is that he's actually guilty of being a dangerous criminal. He doesn't even try to deny it. The gaggle of not-too-bright local screw-ups think having an outlaw in town is cool and exciting, and mention how many men he's said to have killed. He corrects their count...they've stated too few. The best thing about that scene? The fact that he wasn't bragging when he said it. It was more of a confession, although he's not seeking repentance. And the look on his face when he says it speaks far more than the words coming out of his mouth. The Montana Kid might be in a humorous situation, but he's a far bit worse than a lovable scallywag. He's an unrepentant killer, and I applaud the movie for having the guts to portray him as such in a movie with so much humor in it.

Paul Gross is brilliant in the lead role. It’s a bold choice for a film to have its main character and leading man spend the first twenty five minutes of the movie covered in shit and offending the other characters with his stench. And also with his big mouth; he's frankly an ass. That's kind of risky, isn't it? I mean, who does that? Most of the time, movies go out of the way to convince you to root for the main character. But then, this movie is not like other movies. The way this movie tells the story is a bit different than your normal formula, and the characters are unusual and quirky. I really love that.  If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to guess you do, too. 

Graham Greene is also awesome as the deadpan native scout quietly humoring the uptight and harried Canadian Mountie with whom he travels. Who is also awesome in his own right. Hell, the entire cast does a great job.  

So after I watched it, the very first thing I did (after giving it five stars) was to call up Pam Slice and say, “Okay. I got one for you now.” 

Just watch it. Let me know what you thought of it. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hard Heads (prequel)

Howdy, folks. 

Been a crazy week over here. I have to say, this book thing has been very exciting, very fun, and also very stressful. So many details to attend to. My "to do" list is very, very long. 

I'm going to ask you all to do me a favor. Two favors, really, if you don't mind. 

One is to give FDM a vote over at Top Web Fiction when you think about it. The votes go away after a week, so in order to stay on the top list, one has to have votes coming in fairly frequently. The link is there if you scroll down on the right sidebar. 

The other is if you enjoy reading FDM...even if you aren't interested in buying the book but you still like to read it on the site...would you consider writing me a few words of review over at Amazon? Granted, the reviews do carry a bit more weight if you are a buyer at Amazon, but even if you're not, people vetting the story are only going to help me out. I don't care if you're a buyer or a blog visitor, what I need more than anything are a few words here and there from folks who enjoy the story, regardless of how they read it. I'd be much obliged for that. 

Thanks for your support!

“Aunt Gennie! Where are you? Aunt Gennie!”

Genevieve Lynch hurried down the stairs, sudden worry quickening her steps when she heard the shrill quality of Fiona’s voice from down below. The boys and men that worked at her husband’s mail station could be a bit of a handful at times, and Gennie instantly knew something bad had sent her niece dashing frantically into the house calling for her.  “Fiona? What’s...?”

“It’s Saint.” Fiona stood at the bottom of the stairwell, gripping the curved monkey tail of the bannister with white knuckles. Her face was flushed, worried. “He’s unconscious in the parlor!”

“What? Good heavens!” A surge of fear went through her and she grabbed the younger woman’s shoulder with a palsied hand. “What happened? Is Mr. Hungerford still here?”

Fiona nodded, hurrying after her as she headed down the hallway. “He’s in the parlor with him. Luis says his horse head-butted him.”

Gennie turned into the parlor and strode as quickly as she could manage to the sofa, where her young stagecoach driver sprawled out cold, a ruddy and darkening lump on his forehead. “Oh, Peter.” She bit her lip, turning to the circuit farrier who knelt beside him. “Mr. Hungerford...what happned?” Her heart surged in her chest as she swept Peter’s disheveled forelock back, her hand shaking more than usual. Of all the crew, she supposed Peter Bari might have been her favorite. There was a fire in him that reminded her of when she was young, when Erastus was a swaggering, handsome, southern rake. She considered all of the crew “her boys”, and she loved each of them, but Peter was a young Erastus born on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. She realized she was probably far fonder of him than was seemly. And if Erastus ever finds out I think that, he’d be apoplectic. “How long has he been like this?”

“A few minutes.” Mr. Hungerford lifted one of Peter’s eyelids with his thumb. “Longer than I would like, and that’s the dinkum oil.” He briskly slapped Saint’s stubbled cheek with his fingers. “C’mon, mate, rise and shine. Jersey was acting up and tossed her head right into his face. Knocked him cold and sent him into the dirt. He fell off his horse and landed hard. I sent Luis for the Doc and some ice.” He was arranging throw pillows underneath Saint’s shoulders and neck and loosening his clothing. “ really need to open your eyes, mate. This isn’t good.”

Fiona was bringing in a basin of cool water. “You two were quarreling again.” She said, her tone accusing. “I could hear you from the kitchen.”

Mr. Hungerford did a double take. “Now, Miss Fee, I didn’t do this, love.”

She raised an eyebrow and her gaze met Gennie’s. Gennie frowned and looked expectantly at the farrier.

“ Struth, Missus Lynch...I didn't’ lay a hand on him.”

“Need I remind you, Mister Hungerford...” she said, giving him a stern look. “That I had to step in and defend you both to Mister Lynch after that last row you had that left you both injured in Sheriff Holt’s jail? That it was necessary does not please me.”

“I realize that.” Embarrassed color bloomed in Mr. Hungerford’s cheeks. “And I swear to you Bari and I weren’t fighting.”

Gennie sat down on the edge of the sofa beside Peter, fighting her worry down where she could control it. She wrung out a rag and pressed it tenderly to his bruised forehead.

His lips moved, his voice whispered and slurred. “Testa di cazzo...”

Gennie’s shoulders sagged and she shot Fiona a hopeless look.

Fiona’s mouth dropped open. “Did he just say...”

“Mister Bari.” Gennie said quickly, giving his shoulder a barely-perceptible shake. He’s lying here insensible and the first thing out of his mouth is a vulgar insult aimed at Mister Hungerford. Charming.  “Peter. Wake up, dear.” How very like my husband. “Why was his horse...’acting up’, Mister Hungerford?”

The farrier leaned back on his heels and roached his hand through his unruly hair. “Jersey’s got a habit of tossing her head, mum, you know that.”

“I do know that. I also know Mr. Bari’s extremely good with her and she hardly does it anymore.”

“He was distracted.”

Fiona handed Gennie another cool rag. “I suppose he was, what with all the quarreling going on out there,” she quipped dryly.

Mr. Hungerford scowled, shaking his head. Clearly, he recognized a no-win situation when he encountered one. “Swagman was agitated as well. Any anyways, I’m not responsible for his carelessness or his horse’s habits.” He grumbled, peeking under Saint’s eyelids again.

Saint groaned and turned his head away from Mr. Hungerford’s prodding hands. “Vaffancu...” the words died on his lips as his eyelids fluttered open and he saw her. “Missus Lynch?” His brown eyes focused on her face and he had the good sense to look embarrassed. “Sorry...I...what happened?”

Gennie deflated with relief at seeing him open his eyes and speak. She gave him a tight, exasperated smile, exhaling hard. “Miss Jersey apparently decided she didn’t want to hear you and Mr. Hungerford quarreling any more than the rest of us do.”

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book News Heads Up

Just a few quick bits of news:

1. If you have a Kindle copy that starts out with the first chapter being "Welcome to Green River Station", an update is going to be available soon if you want to update to the final edition that starts out "Poker Game (prologue). I will let you know (and probably so will Amazon)and it should not cost anything.

 2. The paperback is now available directly from Amazon. It is also now eligible for Prime.

3. I am trying to get hold of Jenna Reid. Don't contact me via Facebook, because nobody over there will shut up about Game of Thrones and I'm trying to avoid spoilers. Contact me here or via email.

See you Thursday night,


PS. Since so many of you like the original cover so much, I've made it available as a small poster in the Cafe Press storefront. A couple of you suggested it. It does not have the graphic (so you can see that gorgeous sky Diego painted.).  However, if you want it with the graphic, or any other thing, tell me and I'll make it for you.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Finally! Book's Up!

Howdy all!

Kindle version of book up and ready to go! The print version, which is a nice, robust brick of a book, will be available in a week (or sooner. As soon as Amazon sends word it's ready, I'll tell you.). It spans from Chapter 1 to Chapter 103. Both versions contain ten new pieces of  artwork by Melissa Zayas, as well as ten more that you've already seen by Diego Candia and Liezl Buenaventura. Some of the chapters have been reordered and shuffled around a bit to where they make more sense, and the Poker Game chapter is now the prologue.

Those of you who've already read it, be aware I fattened up chapter 1 just a little, so it's a bit longer than the original.

I know a lot of folks really dug Diego's cover, so I plan on making it available as a print soon. Don't worry, it's not getting shelved; I love that cover, too.

It's been a real battle getting this thing done, and honestly, I don't think it's really sunk in yet that we're finished with Book 1. It seemed like such a monumental task, and I suppose it was. But we finally did it and I can't tell you have relieved and happy I am to finally hit this goal.

When you set out to do something like this, you really have no idea of just how much you don't know. It's not easy. But we've learned so much, and now I feel confident that Book 2 will (hopefully) be a lot less painful.

I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I would not have come anywhere near being able to do this if it was not for your support. I absolutely mean that. I know myself. I would have found a million reasons to stop writing if not for you all. 

So thank you. Thank you for giving my words wings and a place to fly. Here's the first part of the book series you helped will into being. Enjoy it.