Tag Archives: urban fantasy

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Neo Noir Story Bundle

Category:blog,Book Tags : 

Y’all, something kind of amazing happened a few weeks ago.

A few weeks after launching the Eight in the Chamber Box set I got an email. It was a fairly simple email of introduction and a request: would I be willing to participate in a big box set of Noir-style novels for Story Bundle.  Story Bundle is built on the same premise as the original Humble Bundle.

Humble Bundle went like this: here’s a bunch of independently developed games you probably haven’t heard of and you tell us how much it’s worth to you. That’s how much you pay.

Story Bundle is built in the same vein as Humble Bundle.  Here’s a bunch of cool books you probably haven’t read and they’re chosen around a theme. How much is that worth to you? That’s how much you pay.

Brilliant idea.

Well, I got that email and I immediately thought “Oh, sure, Scammy McScammerson, you want my book. Hah!”  Then I thought, Oh, what if this is for real. This would be a cool thing to be a part of. I better do some research.

So, I asked around. I talked to people. Did some reading. What I found is that Story Bundle was legit, and all the people involved had fantastic reputation.

I emailed back that I’d be thrilled to participate.

So what’s the deal with this Story Bundle?

Kate Sullivan, the intrepid founder and once-mastermind of Candlemark, put together a fantabulous StoryBundle of neo-noir speculative fiction. From space opera to swords and sorcery, from horror to urban fantasy, corrupt elves, werewolf cops, ghostly soul-whisperers, and Twitter-obsessed superheroes, it’s all there— just take a gander at that snazzy lineup!

Did you see the Concrete Goodbye cover in there?  Looks pretty cool, huh?

Yeah, I thought so too.

So what’s the deal? Well, like the inspiration Humble Bundle, the Story Bundle costs as much as you think it’s worth. It starts with $5. For that $5 you get Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double.  If you think it’s worth more than $5, you pay more than $5!

Now you’re like “That sounds pretty good, but I see more titles than the ones you just listed right there.”

And that’s because if you go up to the bonus level you can get ALL the titles: Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double, Green Light Delivery, City of Devils, Deep Space Dragnet, Hard Times in Dragon City, Fresh Hell, The Coconut Swindle, and if you sign up for the Story Bundle Newsletter  you get The Tau Ceti Transmutation!

How much do you think that’s worth?  Well, that’s what you’ll pay!

Did I mention that you can set 10% of your purchase to go to charity? Yeah, that’s right, if you buy the Neo Noir Story bundle, you can help make the world a better place.

That’s you doing dope stuff. Heck yeah!

What are the charities? Two that sit close to home for me. Girls Write Now and Might Writers. What charities are these?

Girls Write Now helps mentor girls so they can develop writing skills, leading to a more successful future no matter what path they decide to choose. From young women exploring writing to seasoned professionals practicing their craft every day, GWN is a community of women writers dedicated to providing guidance, support, and opportunities for high school girls to develop their creative, independent voices and write their way to a better future.

Mighty Writers’ mission is to teach Philadelphia kids to think and write with clarity. Our free programs combat the literacy crisis in a city where nearly half of high school students drop out and some 50% of working-age adults are functionally illiterate (can’t read bank statements, fill out job applications or easily comprehend news articles).

I have volunteered for a writing program like Girls Write now. The one that I worked for was for boys and girls in economically disadvantaged Texas schools to help teach kids how to write. The book those kids produced that year ended up in the George W. Bush presidential library.

I know, cool right?  Something I worked on ended up in a Presidential Library.

But, hey, Story Bundle!  $5 gets you Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double.

If you go bonus level you can get ALL the titles: Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double, Green Light Delivery, City of Devils, Deep Space Dragnet, Hard Times in Dragon City, Fresh Hell, The Coconut Swindle, and if you sign up for the Story Bundle Newsletter  you get The Tau Ceti Transmutation!

If you bought the Eight in the Chamber box set I was a part of you’ll recognize Alex Berg and Matt Abrams. They both had stories in that box set.

But here’s the link to The Neo Noir Story bundle: https://storybundle.com/noir
You pay what you think it’s worth. And you get to help make the world a better place.

Go you!

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The Art of the Con cover

The Art of the Con: How to Think Like a Real Hustler and Avoid Being Scammed

Category:blog,Book,Recommendation,Reviews Tags : 

The Art of the Con cover

4 out of 5 stars



A little history on why I’m suddenly reading books about Con Artists.  I had an idea for an urban fantasy series but instead of a standard detective like I’ve been writing with my Jack Story series, I decided to do something more fun; urban fantasy in a Sting/Ocean’s Eleven setting.

Which meant two things;
1) I had to watch Ocean’s Eleven and the Sting pretty much on constant loop. (skip Ocean’s 12 and 13.)
2) I needed to learn a lot about cons, con men, and how that all operated.

So, for Step 1 I bought the Sting and Ocean’s Eleven.  Great movies. Pulling off a heist or con is all in the setup and finding the motivation in their character. Like in the Sting they’re pulling the con in order to get revenge on a mob boss that ordered a hit on Luther, a venerated older con man. Played by James Earl Jones’ father, btw.

In Ocean’s Eleven, we don’t find out Danny’s motivation until we’re well into the 2nd act. If the movie has a writing flaw, it’s that one.  Oh, they set it up from the very first scene and sort of allude to it in conversation but it should be clearly sooner.

But it’s still a dang good heist movie.

The second- I needed to find books on con artists, cons, and the psychology of cons and the people who pull them.

I found this book: The Art of the Con; how to think like a real hustler and avoid being scammed.

And I have to say, it’s really good. It’s written by R. Paul Wilson, a man who has studied confidence games his entire life, and has produced, started in, and written TV shows about cons.

He breaks down the various types of cons from the short con that happens when someone walks up to you, to the mid game where you’re hooked into a situation, and the “big game” cons that take thousands of dollars from people.

Not only does he break some of them down, he runs the reader through how he pulled those exact scams on his various shows.

He even gets into the thinking of a con artist. In his view, and I would have to agree with it, that all con artists are motivated singularly by the desire for money.  They’re after the money, and they’re ready to do and say whatever it takes to get it. They’ll sacrafice everything- even their relationships- to get more money.  And they’ll blame you for letting them get away with it.

He also says that he’ll get into why people fall for the cons, but I feel like he’s less successful here.  This is why I rate it 4 stars out of 5.  He suggests rather than categorically states, that people fall for cons because they’re stupid or greedy, but because manipulated by social expectations and by the con artists.

I agree with all of those, but I also think that a fair number of people think they’re smarter than the con that they’re faced with. Like, take 3 Card Monty.  You can see that the game is rigged just by watching it for 3 seconds. But it’s easy to think everyone else is a sucker and we’re the one person who can pull this one out.

But overall, this is a really good book to read up on cons, how they work, and how the people who pull them think. If you’re looking for a book like that, I recommend this one.