Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Friday, July 27, 2012

SNHU MFA Graduate: Darren Cormier ... Transsiberian… HBO’s The Newsroom … Rough Riders ...


Meet Darren Cormier ... an SNHU MFA brother and graduate.  Darren is presently working in publishing. An avid runner, he is training for his first marathon: Hartford in October. He’s also a die-hard New York Mets fan (God bless him), having gotten hooked in 1984, Dwight Gooden's rookie season, Darryl Strawberry's second.

Here's his bio from his website (and that's Darren below):  My earliest memories are of reading the "funny pages" of the newspaper in nursery school. As a hyperactive child, my family would always say that when I wasn't moving, my brain was, and that the only thing that could get me to stop talking or moving would be to put a book in my hands. Given this love of books and reading, it only seemed natural that I would try my own hand at writing.

From the age of four, it seems I was destined to become a writer.  I have written and worked for newspapers, publishing companies, the biotech industry, medical publications, and short fiction. I have also worked as a bartender, cook, retail cashier, envelope stuffer, data entry clerk, and a very brief stint hawking Snapple on the streets of Boston.  I received my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University in July 2010 and my Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism from the University of Hartford.  I presently reside in the Boston area with a growing collection of books.

This is from the illustrious Merle Drown:  Darren writes inventive, original fiction.  His stories cover an amazing range in character and subject, from an estranged middle-aged Japanese couple to a young man grieving the death of his best friend to a former child musician trying, at last, to play the piece that flummoxed him.  Darren will give you belly pains of laughter, then on the next page break your heart.  Darren experiments in form and structure, but his stories aren’t experiments.  They accomplish what writers most want—they pull the reader into the vibrant world of his pages. An impressive artist, Darren is always daring something new and making it his own.

And here's the bio that appears on the cover of my book (and that's me at work above):  Darren Cormier was born in Massachusetts. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, where his short story “Opus No. 1” won the MFA award for fiction and was subsequently published in Amoskeag.

Darren’s first book, A Little Soul: 140 Twitterstories, is a collection of micro fiction, each story or section of a story 140 characters or less. Some of the pieces previously appeared in Raft Magazine, one forty fiction, and Thrice Fiction. The book is available for all eReaders and will be available in print in August 2012.

Some samples from Darren’s book:

Honesty is the Best Policy:  "I used to want to know where you went at night. Now I just want to know you won't ask me the same question."

On Reading Short Stories  Finishing a short story gives me a sense of accomplishment, small and clean. Novels are so big and messy.

'X' Marks The Spot  We had dug twelve holes before we realized the map was wrong. How to dispose of the shovels before mom used them on us was now the question.

The Lord of the Rings Reinterpreted  There was good. And evil. And there was a ring... …and a whole lot of weird names and dense prose while things named hobbits try to destroy it.

Darren is currently working on short stories and revising his novella "I'm Hoping This Will Work", which is about a young man in his mid-20s trying to overcome the death of his best friend which he feels responsible for. The novella was the centerpiece of his MFA thesis, a collection of short stories titled I Am My Own Nemesis.

Two paragraphs from the first page below:

"I am hoping this will work, that when everything is finished, the screaming phone calls, the booze, nameless women, nightmares, my inability to read more than five pages at a time, and the blood, all that fucking blood—when my front door is closed and locked for the final time, I’ll be throwing my clothes in the back seat, driving those two blocks, one coffee in hand, another in the cup holder, driving to pick up Andy, and we’ll drive like we always talked about, to Montreal, Madagascar, cross-country, straight across that Atlantic Ocean, anywhere, really it doesn’t matter;  we’re just driving, him and me, anywhere... ...  That’s what will happen, and I won’t be kneeling in my room amid a stack of books and scotch at noon, socks that haven’t been changed in three days clinging to my feet. I’ll be at work, sending him stupid forwards, making plans for later, for this weekend, or making plans with a girl that I will have met at a party.  He’ll answer the phone when I call. I won’t jump at the sound of tires screeching, I won’t be afraid to leave my house and walk to the center; the walk to Davis won’t remind me of everything from that night.  It won’t remind me of anything, because nothing will have happened."

Transsiberian … The Principessa Ann Marie and I enjoyed this one quite a bit.  It had us guessing what was going on and what would happen next.  I loved the scenery (the cold) of Siberia/Russia, while the Principessa shivered on the couch.  A great cast and a hell of a storyline will keep your eyes riveted to the screen.  I was searching for Emily Mortimer movies on NetFlix when I can across this one, but I wouldn’t know who she (or Tilda Swinton) was/were if not for a wonderfully dark movie called Young Adam I watched a few years back.  Transsiberian is a keeper …

HBO’s The Newsroom … Speaking of Emily Mortimer, here she is again … and although I haven’t seen all the episodes, what I have seen has been fun … I especially enjoy seeing the Koch brothers exposed for the 1% policy setting motherfuckers they are … and last night I watched as one of the characters did what I suspect many of us would like to do—punch that shit stirring imbecile and right wing radio God, Fat Limbaugh, in his fat face (minus the computer screen) …


Some more Stevie Ray for all a’yous ...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Penn State: Too Big To Fail II … Nazi Boy Scouts … KnicksINsanity ... Bachmann insanity … Rough Riders stuff …


Penn State: Too Big To Fail II … No longer able to stand the nonsense on WFAN, I’ve switched to ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the morning for my daily drive to work … the last few days one of the featured topics has been the Penn State scandal; what kind of punishment would be just, etc. Both Golic and Greenberg are of the opinion that the football program should not suffer the NCAA so-called “death penalty” SMU suffered a few years back when it breached NCAA etiquette and essentially ran a slush fund to pay its players. The reasoning both radio hosts give, while sound and accurate, is also one more version of Too Big To Fail. Essentially, if the football program is shut down for as little as one year, the rest of the school, along with vendors and everyone else dependent on Penn State’s football operation, would suffer unfair collateral damage. Their point is completely understandable. Ultimately, what officials at Penn State covered up would come down on way too many people who had nothing to do with the scandal, including (and last but not least), the student athletes in the football program.

The problem with that justification for keeping the program afloat is obvious: it proves yet another dollar first mentality, a too big too fail reasoning, exactly why the officials at Penn State covered the mess up in the first place—from fear the scandal would have impacted their program and thus the dollars it brings into the rest of the school and community.

TK suggests the following: Let the program stand with the following stipulations: the team is prohibited from NCAA bowl games/playoffs the next two years. ALL THE MONEY the school generates over the next two seasons is distributed throughout the school, the community and towards the victims of the scandal and NONE OF IT BACK TO THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM. The players are permitted to maintain eligibility should they want to transfer, etc. (same as at SMU) and anyone on the current staff remaining from last season is replaced forthwith (because they too had to know about Sandusky).

The Myth of Joe Paterno is further shattered (if that’s possible) when one takes into account the story of the one person (a woman) who did try and fight the power Paterno wielded. Her name is Vicky Triponey. She stood up to Paterno, and as a result, lost her job and nearly her career. She received threatening phone calls and was the target of internet smear campaigns. She was so ostracized in a community that is supposed to be “Happy Valley” that she didn’t feel comfortable going to the supermarket, because other shoppers would recognize her and turn away.

In a nutshell, the former vice president of student affairs stated (from the Freeh report): “I must insist that the efforts to put pressure on us and try to influence our decisions related to specific cases ... simply MUST STOP,” she wrote. “The calls and pleas from coaches, board members and others when we are considering a case are indeed putting us in a position that does treat football players differently and with greater privilege ... and it appears on our end to be a deliberate effort to use the power of the football program to sway our decisions in a way that is beneficial to the football program.”


Boy Scouts of America? … What’s up with the Nazi mentality of the Boy Scouts of America? Seriously … exclusivity is a bit passé, no? Firing a lesbian scoutmaster because why? Boycott the Boy Scouts of America … or demand they add homophobic to their title ... Homophobic Scouts of America.

KnicksINsanity … okay, so they usually have the highest (or one of the highest) payrolls in the NBA and make one disastrous decision after another, sign one disastrous contract after another and their returns on their “investments” have thus far yielded zero rings since 1973. They have exactly 1 (ONE) playoff win in the last 11 (ELEVEN) years (8 years of which they didn’t even qualify for the absurdly easy to qualify for the playoff/tournament) … so what do they do with the ONE (1) player to bring some EXCITEMENT to the city they represent in the last 11 years? They let him go to Houston … because they’re suddenly concerned about money? Now that would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. I almost can’t wait to see how well the two big guns they stuck themselves with (talk about bad contracts) perform together next season (and which excuses they’ll have next season) when the Knicks (once again) are a BUST.

Idiots … Go Linsanity Rockets! Go Brooklyn Nets!

Michelle Bachmann … okay, if this broad isn’t a certified psycho, then the definition of one needs to be redefined. From a Washington Post blog: In the warped universe where this American currently resides, there remains only one heroic person brave enough to save our beloved United States from secretly being taken over by a falafel-eating, Mecca-praying and Ramadan-fasting cabal of sinister Muslims duplicitously bent upon imposing Islamic sharia law upon our golden shores.

Rough Riders reviews and news ... Stella’s capers are populated with criminals who are more clever than smart and lawmen who get stymied by clever but eventually prevail with smarts. A delight.Booklist (Wes Lukowsky)

Stella writes about criminals and cops, killers and cons, as if he knows the territory. This is one of those books that you rip through, eager to see who'll be the last man standing, as you never know who'll get the next bullet. Big, grim, boisterous, funny, and frightening all at once. Check it out. Bill Crider

Stella’s characters’ voices sound authentic: no macho posturing — just their brutal, hard world. This is one of the leaner crime novels currently out there. For those wanting a serious character piece where the payoffs deliver, reach for ROUGH RIDERS. —Bruce Grossman (Bookgasm)

Rough Riders has a plethora of characters, many of whom you won't want to like but just might. What seems like true dialogue spews from mouths, FBI and locals alike. I found it very hard to put this book down, even to eat a meal. Author Charlie Stella has a way with words that makes him a master at his craft. Don't miss this one.Bookloons Reviews (Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth)

This is a fast and furious thriller that brings back the antagonists in Eddie’s World in a good, the bad and the ugly storyline. Rotating between the northern Great Plains and the New York area, fans will enjoy this action-packed noir although the Feds are too scandalously uncaring about collateral damage or simply deadly avarice.Genre Go Round Reviews (Harriett Klausner)


Some blues for all a’yous ...


Friday, July 13, 2012

SNHU MFA Graduate Dillon St. Jean … Penn State ... Shroud Magazine ... Rough Riders …


Dillon’s been writing since he was little. He was Creative Editor of the SNHU Observer, President of the Creative Writing Club at SNHU, and a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. He graduated from SNHU with a B.A. in Creative Writing and English in 2010, and received an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Creative Writing Program. Now in 2012 he’s graduated again with an M.F.A. in Fiction and no idea what he’s doing next. Fortunately his short story “The Men Who Dispose of Giants” was just accepted by Isotropic Fiction (and that’s what I’m talking about!)

Dillon St. Jean’s novel, Harvey the Clown, is a comedic look at the fear of letting down the people you love, at the expense of your own happiness. Harvey Hobbs is a nineteen year-old clown who works for his father and has lost the ability to laugh, but doesn’t know how to get out of the job without hurting his father’s feelings. He explores the reasons for his unhappiness to see if he can get out of his life in clown shoes.

Dillon read from his novel at graduation and was absolutely wonderful. Hilarious and poignant. Wonderful stuff ...

Dillon rocks!

It was as obvious as it first appeared. An institution, an athletic program and a coaching legend were more important than young kids. The mistakes made back in 1998 (if not earlier) are unforgivable and no less so than janitors who clammed up from fear of their jobs or a graduate assistant who ran home to Daddy for help on what to do when what to do couldn’t be more obvious (stop the rape).

Whatever happens, Penn State deserves it. Paterno was fortunate to have passed before his disgrace went viral, but only those wearing loyalist Penn State/Joe Paterno blinders couldn’t see what was obvious when this scandal first broke. One has to wonder how long and in what form the next college athletic scandal will take center stage. Based on how so much is swept under the rug (because of the dollars collegiate sports represents), my guess is it won’t take long at all.

And yes, the statue needs to go ...

Shroud Magazine ... a couple of fellow SNHU MFA brethren (both graduates and award winners: Tim Deal and Jason Korolenko) are featured in the 12th edition of Shroud Magazine. I have a short story in there too (it takes place on the campus of SNHU and involves Star (shutter) Island somehow ... if any of yous remember Tommy Red from Baltimore Noir’s Ode to the O’s, you’ll remember Tommy Red. Click on the link and support the arts and Shroud magazine (but a dozen copies)

Jason Korolenko VISITATION DAY


It’s official, the books have been signed and will be on their way to California domani ... the release will coincide with the opening of NFL camps and the start of my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills greatest season ever ... Go Bills! Go Rough Riders! And if you’re still in the mood to buy stuff ... pre-order a copy of Rough Riders today!


For Harvey ...

Friday, July 6, 2012

SNHU MFA 2012 Graduate, Robert Greene … A Tragic Honesty … Beware of Mr. Baker … RIP Cliff ...


First up is Robert Greene ... or as he insists he’s called at home and on campus, Robert William Wright Greene (a.k.a. Robbie 4 names) From his CV: Robert Greene is an award-winning fictionist, journalist, teacher, and all-around creative type who specializes in diving into the deep end and swimming to the top. “Robert is an amazing teacher. He challenges the kids, teaches them valuable skills, and keeps them engaged in the subject. He is always looking for new ways to teach, using many different methods old and new. He is one of the best.” – Beth Scaer via LinkedIn.

There’s more, amici ... much more. Robert also happens to run creative writing classes where he teaches and goes the quadruple extra miles with his students ... he’s a dedicated author, husband and all around nice guy. I considered calling him Atticus (because of his serious nature) but once I saw all those names, how could I pass on Robbie 4 names?

More from his website: R.W.W. Greene was born in Clinton, S.C. in 1971 but his family soon moved to Maine. He spent most of his growing-up years in a wee farm town. After taking a year off post high school to “find himself” and sell stereos at a big retail chain, Greene became a freshman at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. He majored in political science, minored in nearly everything else, and graduated in 1994.

While in college, Greene wrote for the student newspaper and was active in student government. Returning to Maine, Greene took a job driving a forklift and moving large boxes of candy at a distribution warehouse. Ten months after that, in March of 1995, Greene assisted in the launch of the Capital Weekly, a small newspaper covering the Kennebec Valley region.

Greene worked at newspapers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and upstate New York. His last newspaper gig was editing a motorcycle magazine called The Oxx. Somewhere in there, Greene worked as trail staff for the Stephen L. French Forestry Camp. (Essentially it was a shortcut out of jail for young felons. Greene played the role of prison guard, mountain guide and general-ed teacher.) He also served as communications director of an Albany-based think tank.

Check out Rob in the SNHU video  below ...

Greene works as an English teacher in New Hampshire. His classes include sci-fi lit, journalism, and creative writing. He lives nearby with his wife, their 15-year-old son, and two rather odd cats: Huzzah! and Jack. Greene was an MFA candidate in the fiction-writing program at Southern New Hampshire University. Now he’s an award winning graduate. He doesn't play his guitar nearly as much as he'd like.

Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH
MFA in Fiction Writing 2012
Thesis: “Leaving Home” a novel
Honors: Thesis earned the inaugural Lynn M. Safford Book Prize
Wheaton College, Norton, MA
BA Political Science 1994
Thesis: “Political Leadership According to Rob and Rost”

2010 Boys and Girls Club Teacher of Excellence
2009 Outstanding Faculty Member, Nashua High School South
1995-2006 New Hampshire Press Association award for sports-feature Writing, New England Press Association (NEPA) award for arts-and-entertainment writing, NEPA "Editorial Writer" award, Massachusetts Press Association (MPA) awards for editorial writing, MPA "Serious Columnist" award, Maine Press Association sports-feature award.

Most of yous know how I feel about the writer Richard Yates. He’s one of my very favorite authors. This semester I’ll be doing my critical essay on his works and I’ve begun rereading a ton his work and all the available resources I can find (and there’s a ton). One of the more interesting tidbits I learned (and obviously forgot afterward) the first time I read Blake Bailey’s wonderful biography on Yates was his meeting one of my very favorite comedians, Larry David. It happened through one of his daughters who was dating David at the time. Years later, David would parody the experience in a Seinfeld episode ... and here’s the background to now that came about.

I can’t say enough about Blake Bailey’s bio ... Amici, if you want to know about Richard Yates, this is the book to read. Incredible, really.

Beware of Mr. Baker … Another of my favorites (this time drummers) is Ginger Baker. Long known for his ability to get into the shit in pretty much all situations, Baker was also one of the most innovative jazz drummers on the planet. His fame was made with the rock group Cream, but Baker had been and remains to this day, a jazz drummer with chops most drummers can only dream of having.

I recently learned (by accident) about a documentary done on Baker and here’s the trailer. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see this baby!

On a very sad note, the other day I learned of the passing of one of the sweetest guys I ever had the pleasure of knowing. Cliff Radlauer was a true humanitarian first and foremost. He was also one hell of a bass player. We’ve been out of touch since he apparently became ill and passed from cancer and it was a true shock to learn of his passing. Cliff would go to animal shelters and take the pets about to be put down and nurse them for the duration of their lives. He was smart and kind and we’ll miss him at casa Stella, both Ann Marie and myself.

Rest In Peace, my brother.


Momma Stella is out of CCU and hanging tough ... we’ll be seeing her over this weekend again. I love my Mommy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

David Corbett ... Heidi Cruz (the Queen of the Schoals) ... Momma Stella Update ...


There are very few people I consider true renaissance men. One managed to convince me I needed to learn the difference between “then” and “than” (and a whole lot more). He was also the guy most responsible for my attempt to write and for finally getting published. Equally as important, he was also most responsible for me wanting to learn. Dave Gresham was an English teacher I took way back in Minot State College in North Dakota and he remains the smartest guy I know. About a dozen years or so ago, I got to meet another Dave/David (Corbett) with smarts anyone would admire. It was at the Toronto Bouchercon (I believe); one of the crime writing conferences I was anxious to attend as one of the new kids on the block. We were on a panel together (I forget the topic) and David Montgomery was the very gracious mediator. Although I’ve since opted away from such conferences, some fine friendships were formed at that one and I treasure those to this day.


His writing is as brilliant as he is; a a man of many talents and passions and about as well-rounded intellectually as one can get. Hell, I don’t even mind that he’s a San Francisco 49’er fan (mostly now because they are a true football team and no longer a gimmicky offense). David is featured at Murderati on Wednesdays.

David was recently kind enough to do a back and forth interview with me over at Murderati where subsequent comments got us into the stuff we really love (so screw football?) ... opera! Check out the interview here and learn some of what David is up to (including his upcoming book on writing), THE ART OF CHARACTER: Mastering the Craft of Characterization for Fiction, Film and TV.

A recovering Catholic, one-time bar band gypsy, and former private investigator with the San Francisco firm of Palladino & Sutherland, David Corbett has had his work hailed as "the best in contemporary crime fiction—or, if I may be so bold, in contemporary fiction, period" (Patrick Anderson, Washington Post).

Here’s David with some writing tips:


And here’s David briefly discussing how he met his wife and her influence on his first wonderful novel (purchased by Ballantine six weeks before his wife passed).

David is a hell of an interesting guy, amici. He’s also a terrific writer and like I said, one of the few true renaissance men I Know.

Continuing TK’s tradition of featuring SNHU MFA graduates, here’s a look at Heidi Cruz, the ONLY EVER SNHU MFA GRADUATE STUDENT TO COMPLETE THREE SENTENCES ON SHUTTER (a.k.a.) STAR ISLAND! That’s right, amici ... three trips to the big house (Oceanic)!

 Heidi is the official Queen of the rocky, wind-swept Isles of Shoals.

Heidi is an amazing woman. A horse lover like no other I’ve ever known, she owns one she named Sky (above). The picture above that was taken in Japan where Heidi lived last year and will be returning this October. An adventurous woman with a natural writing talent, she also works with horses in her native New Hampshire.

From her thesis novel: “War Emblem was a deep chestnut like the leaves of the fall. His body was so muscular that even from a distance, Kylie could see the veins standing out on his body, rippling with each stride he took at the gallop. He might as well have been a blur in the memory of her childhood.”

Good luck to Heidi! She’s now a graduate and well on her way.

Momma Stella Update ... this morning she was doing fine (her heart rate) but now has an infection they’re giving her antibiotics for. Zia (aunt) “Disney” Fran (her younger and only remaining sister) was there again this morning with her son Paul and we all had to wear gowns lest we exchange WTF disease with Momma. Oy vey ... if things continue the way they are now, she’ll be in rehab within another day or two (and I can regain some sanity from avoiding traffic for a few days).

This morning she was also telling one of the old Stella stories from way back even her sister didn’t know. Back in the day in Canarsie we had a family that lived across the street from us (the Strauss family) and amici they didn’t like us very much. Probably it had something to do with my grandfather (Pietro) tossing ash cans in the middle of the street and scaring the shit out of them (and everybody else on our side of the block) at all hours of the day or night and then laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. It also could’ve had something to do with the fact my old man was selling firecrackers in the neighborhood ... but who knows.

One day we were about to leave to visit Freedom Land in Jersey and Momma Strauss called 911 to report my old man: “Firecracker man! He’s the firecracker man! Arrest him, officer! He’s got a wooden leg where he keeps the firecrackers!”

Momma Stella let the two policemen into our house and told them to look wherever they wanted, but to please make it fast because “we’re taking the kids to Freedom Land and we have a long trip.” The law stepped inside the house, glanced in each room and said, “No problem, ma’am.”

Momma Stella then told her sister (this morning): “Franny, I was scared shit. The friggin’ things were in my bedroom closet, the living room closet and in Charlie’s room.”

Momma Stella bluffed her way out of that one, alright.

I love my Mommy!


Momma must’a had a poker face!

And if you couldn’t understand the words, here’s Christopher Walken to help speed the trip.