Space Unicorn Zombie, or “How to build a good industry/community”

If I listened to the advice* of my Facebook ‘friends’, the beginning of this post would read:

“The Space Unicorn Zombie Erotica Anthology beginning is a very delicately timed story of an editrix living in a hole in the ground…”

Of course, those were all separate suggestions—and some of them led to threats about the perpetrators getting their hands duct-taped to chairs—but they all added up to a preposterous, if entertaining, premise for a blog post.

Taking random suggestions from the internet for a blog post topic sounds silly, doesn’t it? But it’s something most beginning writers do every day. There are hundreds, if not thousands of writing advice blogs, books, and programs out there, written by everyone from best-selling authors to the kid down the street who published the first short story he ever wrote on his blog yesterday.

I remember when I was a newbie writer. If someone had actually published something, I considered them something like a minor god: they’d done something incredible. I read all those things, went to panels, listened and soaked everything in. If you’d told me that sacrificing blue chickens gave me a higher chance of publishing, I’d probably have done it.

And then I learned that not everyone who said ‘this is how it’s done’ actually knew what they were talking about.

Now I’m the one writing blog posts, sitting on panels, running workshops, and I’ve realized just how much bad advice is out there, and how many people don’t know how to tell the good from the bad.

There’s no way to root out all the bad advice. Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors, and other watchdog organizations do their best to keep an eye on the business and keep the worst sharks out of the water, but that still leaves a lot of self-help gurus, get-rich-quick schemers, and just over-eager amateurs out there.

We talk a lot about keeping ourselves safe from predators and bad advice, and about keeping the industry safe. We don’t talk enough about nurturing the newbies, bringing up the next generation of writers. Clarion, Shared Worlds, and other workshops set the foundation of a professional career, but there needs to be support for the writers around the structured programs, too.

I firmly believe that anyone who wants to break into a business needs to set themselves up as well as they can. Do the research, read the trade magazines, attend the right panels and shows.

I also believe that we should make an effort to support, mentor, and encourage the writers around us. This isn’t a competition. As small and connected as the writing community is, the person you’re mentoring today might be acquiring your book for a publisher tomorrow, or writing the book that changes your life.

As professional writers, we have responsibilities:
Support our colleagues.
Look out for each other.
Educate ourselves.
Commit to spreading good, solid advice and calling out the bad.
Remember we aren’t in a competition here.

*I am either coming down with a cold, or suffering from nasty allergies, so I make no promises about the coherence of the above, as evidenced by the fact that I have the phrase ‘Space Unicorn Zombie Erotica Anthology’ in a professional post.

Fight Fiction: a History Part II

A novelist, screenwriter, television personality and half the creative genius behind the Fight Card series, Paul Bishop recently finished a 35 year career with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective Of The Year.  He continues to work privately as a deception expert and as a specialist in the investigation of sex crimes.  His books include the western Diamondback: Shroud Of Vengenace, two novels (Hot Pursuit / Deep Water) featuring LAPD officers Calico Jack Walker and Tina Tamiko, the thrillers Penalty Shot and Suspicious Minds, a short story collection (Running Wylde), and five novels in his L.A.P.D. Detective Fey Croaker series (Croaker: Kill Me Again, Croaker: Grave Sins, Croaker: Tequila Mockingbird, Croaker: Chalk Whispers, and Croaker: Pattern of Behavior).  His latest novel, Fight Card: Felony Fists (written as Jack Tunney), is a fast action boxing tale inspired by the fight pulps of the ‘40s and ‘50s. His novels are currently available as e-books.


Continuing our look at the hope and appeal offered by fight fiction …


Paul Bishop


As the ‘70s progressed, the public became primed for a change in their fight fiction.  Unlike with prior generations, this change in popular entertainment would not be  tied to the socio-economic factors of the day.  Instead, a blurring of the lines of fact and fiction – especially in the world of boxing – was occurring, reflecting the hyper embellishments of celebrity being inflicted upon larger popular culture as a whole.

In boxing, the anger, power, and sheer showmanship of Muhammad Ali – the man who would become boxing’s greatest ambassador – had revitalized the public’s fervor for ring action.  Ali’s larger than life love-me-or-hate-me-I’m still-The-Greatest personality overshadowed the ever darkening machinations of the trademark spiky-haired head and grasping fingers of promoter Don King.

In 1971, Joe Frazier fought Ali in a bout hyped as The Fight of the Century.  Frazier prevailed over Ali, who was returning to boxing after being suspended for over three years for his refusal to obey the draft.  The defeat sent Ali on a quest, fighting contender after pretender to the heavyweight throne in an attempt to obtain another title shot.

The Rumble in the Jungle in 1974, pitted then world Heavyweight champion George Foreman against former world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali.  This fight, coupled a year later (1975) with the climax of the bitter rivalry between Ali and Frazier – dubbed The Thrilla in Manila – returned boxing to the world stage like nothing that had gone before.

Norman Mailer’s bestselling non-fiction work, The Fight, documented the greatest fight of the greatest life with all the power of a great fictional narrative, ushering in a culmination of self-involved journalism.  All of which laid the ground work in preparing the public for the little film that could go the distanceRocky.

Rocky not only detailed the winning underdog story of a fighter who only wanted to go the distance – an achievable, if difficult, goal believed in and desired by the everyman of the day in his everyday mundane life – but was, in the actual inception and creation of the film itself, an underdog story to rival its fight fiction plot.  Sylvester Stallone was inseparable from his onscreen persona as he fought for his screenplay and starring role against all studio odds – and then went the distance as Rocky would go on to win three Oscars ©, including Best Picture.

Rocky and its (eventually) five sequels were hits and misses with the critics, but not with the public.  The average Joe began to see the hype of the real world fights and fictional movie fireworks as almost one and the same.

Fight stories were back in the public eye in a big way.

In 2000, fight fiction morphed yet again with the publication of the pseudonymous F.X. Toole’s, Rope Burns: Stories From The Corner.  Each story in the collection was a gem.  But unlike the tales populating the fight pulps of old, the stories in Rope Burns gave a whole new human face to the world of boxing, a deeper meaning – all leading to the brilliant Best Picture Oscar © winning film Million Dollar Baby, based on several stories from the collection.

The stories in Rope Burns proved to the wider public, yet again, what fans of fight fiction have always known – the world of the sweet science, at its best, has always been a reflection of what it means to be human, what it means to struggle, what it means to be hit in the face with the daily and millennial challenge of survival as individuals, as families, and finally as a race.

In the new millennium, the economy is struggling again.  Today, the ever exploding popularity of mixed martial arts tournaments (MMA) has again brought the fighting arts back to the forefront of the public consciousness.  In MMA, the everyman sees in the caged octagon a release of his or her own frustrations at the state of the world – the stark struggle to survive in a time and place where the rules have change, where the action is  faster, more brutal, and yet possessed of a choreographed beauty.

Simultaneously, the thirst for fight stories has also increased, as shown by the popularity and critical acclaim for such MMA-themed novels as Suckerpunch by Jeremy Brown, The O’Quinn Fights by Robert Evans, The Longshot by Katie Kitamura, Choke Hold by Christa Faust, and many more.

Traditional boxing novels are also flourishing.  Every Time I Talk To Liston and Las Vegas Soul by Brian DeVido; Pound For Pound, F. X. Toole’s posthumously finished novel; Waiting for Carver Boyd by Thomas Hauser; and more, continue to tell the tale of the tape and the story of the squared circle.

By the end of 2013, the Fight Card series (along with spin-off brands Fight Card MMA and Fight Card Romance) will have published twenty-seven plotted tales of fistic mayhem from some of the best New Pulp authors working today, each sporting a stunning cover created by artists Keith Birdsong and David Foster.

2014 will also offer a full slate of monthly Fight Card titles, including more tales from the Fight Card MMA and Fight Card Romance imprints along with more of the traditional Fight Card tales set in the noir-filled streets of the earlier decades.

Retro or modern, Fight Card novels will continue to provide inspiring, entertaining stories of tough guys caught in tough spots with nothing but their fists, wits, and fighting nature to battle against the odds.  The Fight Card novels are about characters and their individual journeys and how they can inspire our character and our journeys.

As Fight Card readers you can become part of the Fight Card team by writing reviews on Amazon with your honest opinions of the tales you’ve read, giving us shout-outs on your blogs, and visiting the Fight Card website at www.fightcardbooks,com/

Fight Fiction: a History Part I

A novelist, screenwriter, television personality and half the creative genius behind the Fight Card series, Paul Bishop recently finished a 35 year career with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective Of The Year.  He continues to work privately as a deception expert and as a specialist in the investigation of sex crimes.  His books include the western Diamondback: Shroud Of Vengenace, two novels (Hot Pursuit / Deep Water) featuring LAPD officers Calico Jack Walker and Tina Tamiko, the thrillers Penalty Shot and Suspicious Minds, a short story collection (Running Wylde), and five novels in his L.A.P.D. Detective Fey Croaker series (Croaker: Kill Me Again, Croaker: Grave Sins, Croaker: Tequila Mockingbird, Croaker: Chalk Whispers, and Croaker: Pattern of Behavior).  His latest novel, Fight Card: Felony Fists (written as Jack Tunney), is a fast action boxing tale inspired by the fight pulps of the ‘40s and ‘50s. His novels are currently available as e-books.


Cultural influences, tough economic times, and the hope and appeal offered by fight fiction …


Paul Bishop


The fight fiction genre has become an integral part of our cultural history – especially when economic times have been as tough as the character’s in a fight fiction tale.

Even before the explosion of fight fiction stories in the pulps of the ‘30s and ‘40s, Jack London was penning fight stories for the masses, such as his classics A Piece of Steak and The Abysmal Brute, among others.  Feeding the need of the everyman to rise above his daily struggle for survival through vicarious fight entertainment, London’s fight tales were devoured.

London learned to box by sparring with his friend Jim Whitaker, and his love of the sport never waned.  Wherever his wanderings took him, London always had a pair of boxing gloves, always ready to mix it up with any challenger.  Most often, however, London’s regular sparring partner was his wife, Charmian Kittredge, with whom he routinely sparred.

Even on the Snark, travelling to the Solomons Islands, or on the Tymeric from Sydney, Australia, to Ecuador, or the Dirgo from Baltimore to Seattle in 1912, Jack and Charmain would put on their bathing suits and square off for an hour of sparring before throwing buckets of salt water on one another.  Because he couldn’t strike back against Charmain as he would against another man, London developed an almost impenetrable defense, making him more than a challenge for any man he toed the line against.

London hated bullfighting and hunting, considering them without any sporting interest.  However, the specific mano-a-mano science of boxing fascinated him.  He always tried to attend professional fights as a reporter in order to secure a ringside seat.

In 1905, he wrote one of his most highly regarded fight stories,  The Game, which was serialized in Metropolitan Magazine. The story caused a clamor when critics claimed a fighter could not be killed by hitting his head on the canvas. London’s reply was a claim to have seen it happen in the West Oakland Athletic Club.

Eventually, lightweight champion of the world, Jimmy Britt, settled things in the San Francisco Examiner when he was quoted as saying, “With … nothing more to guarantee me that he knows The Game than his description of his fictional prize-fight, I would, if he were part of our world, propose or accept him as referee of my impending battle with Nelson.”

During the height of the pulp era on the ‘30s and ‘40s, Robert E. Howard was another writer who banged out fight stories while also engaging in the pugilistic arts. Even though as a child he was bookish and intellectual, in his teen years he took up bodybuilding before eventually entering the ring as an amateur boxer.

Best known as the creator of Conan The Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and other sword and sorcery characters, Howard had a lifelong interest in boxing, attending fights and avidly following the careers of his favorite fighters.  He also claimed to considered his fictional fight tales – especially The Iron Man, and the adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan, the lovable, hard-fisted, and innocent semipro pugilist who regularly squared-off against dastardly villains in exotic ports of call – as among the best of his works.

Howard’s boxing tales and hundreds of other two-fisted stories flourished in the fight pulps such as Fight Stories Magazine and Knockout Magazine, helping a generation of readers to fight through the Great Depression and the tough years to follow.

During the ‘50s, the printed tales of fight fiction gave way to a wider appreciation of live bouts.  Television brought those fights into American living rooms for all to see.  However, as the public became jaded by the scandal of fight fixing and the real life encroachment of organized crime into the fight game, a new realism in fight fiction wrapped its hands with tape and pulled on battered leather gloves illegally loaded with lead.

Published in 1958, The Professional written by W. C. Heinz cast a harsh reflection of the seedy circus-like atmosphere of boxing with its assorted hangers-on, crooked promoters, and jaded journalists.  With his lean sentences, rough-and-ready dialogue, dry wit, and you-are-there style, Heinz brilliantly used the cynical eyes of fictional sports writer Frank Hughes to recount the trials of middleweight Eddie Brown and his crusty trainer, Doc Carroll, as Brown prepares for a championship fight.

Heinz’ novel is still as revered today as it was when Hemingway – himself an amateur pugilist and teller of fight stories such as Fifty Grand and A Matter of Colour  – declared it “the only good novel about a fighter I’ve read and an excellent novel in its own right.”

Like the fight fiction novels to be published in the ‘40s and 50’s. movies of those eras also reflected the public’s growing disenchantment with boxing in the ‘50s.  Humphrey Bogart’s last screen appearance in 1956’s The Harder They Fall – based on Budd Schulberg’s 1947 novel – dramatizes a thinly disguised account of the real life boxing scandal involving champion Primo Carnera.  Bogart’s character, Eddie Willis, was based on the career of boxing writer and event promoter Harold Conrad.  The book and film pulled no punches, showing brutal and brutish fight scenes coupled with the cynical and humiliating treatment of fighters by those surrounding them – which further reflected the middle class workers’ own feelings of punitive treatment by upper management.

Finally, in 1969, the noir edge of fight stories was capped with the publication of Fat City.  Written by Leonard Gardner, Fat City, set in the small-time boxing circuit of Stockton, California in the late ‘50s, became an acclaimed film from director John Houston in 1972.  As in The Professional and The Harder They Fall, the message of Fat City was a harsh metaphor for the impossibility of a public striving to get ahead while surrounded by forces determined to derail you at every turn.

What Is a Fight Card Romance?

Honored by her college for literary excellence, author Carol Malone has played make-believe all her life and started writing romantic tales in high school. Raised with four older brothers, sports was the center of her family’s life. To this day, she still bleeds Dodger Blue. Carol writes pulse-pounding, noir sports stories with a passionate twist, inviting fans to jump in a front row seat and cheer for the underdog.


In the world of new pulp writing, this question is turning heads …

Ladies Night

Carol Malone


Before I can tell you about Fight Card Romance, I need to explain a little about the traditional Fight Card.

In 2012, a dear friend of mine, mentor and author Paul Bishop, and his pal, Mel Odom, created Fight Card – a series of 25,000 word novellas inspired by the pulse-pounding fight pulps so popular from the ‘30s to the ‘50s.  In the 1920s, boxing as a sport began coming into its own – attracting the minorities, the Irish, the Italians, the Jews, and later the Blacks and Latin boxers – all trying to prove their metal in the toughest arena of all –the boxing ring, man-to-man.  Fictional boxing stories filled the pulps of the era with two-fisted action devoured by a rapt public. The Fight Card series was a return to this style of writing, bringing new fight stories to modern readers.

Paul and Mel established a list of writers guidelines for the Fight Card series.   Originally, all the stories were to be set in the 1950’s – though this was quickly waived to include other decades.  The stories could be set anywhere in the world (and have – from the Australian Outback, to South Africa and Ireland), and a PG-13 level was established for language, violence and sex.

The main character in the stories did not have to be a professional fighter – they could be a reporters, sailors, fight manager, soldiers, or – in the case of my novel, Ladies Night – the boxer’s lady-love. However, the biggest rule was the stories must have boxing at its heart and resolution – usually the big fight conclusion. This didn’t mean ever story had to be about the championship of the world.  The characters don’t have to be contenders, and most aren’t, but all of them are facing extremely high personal stakes, if not certain destruction, if they don’t man-up.

The boxer in each story was to have a connection to St. Vincent’s Asylum for Boys, an orphanage in Chicago. Under the big-hearted, tough-love, dished out generously by the much beloved Fighting Priest, Father Tim – also known as Tornado Tim Brophy, a Golden Gloves champion himself as a youth – each boy under his care grows up believing he’s something special. Although cursed by some nuns and loved by others, the good sisters of the orphanage pray for Father Tim who manages to keep his ruffians in check by teaching them the sweet science of boxing. Boys who come to him with no food in their bellies, no love in their hearts, and no hope for a future, find Father Tim filling up those holes.

Each story is written to be e-published via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform under the shared pseudonym of Jack Tunney for cohesiveness. I wrote Ladies Night under the name of Jill Tunney.  Paperback editions follow on the heels of the e-books, this time under the individual author’s own name.

My husband Tim and I are part of a monthly writer’s group mentored by Paul.  When he asked my husband, Tim – an end-of-the-world sci-fi writer – if he wanted to take a shot at writing a Fight Card story, Tim declined. He’s not into sports – but I am. Raised with four older brothers, sports was an obsession. When I was in high school, I started reading and writing romance, and have since then written numerous manuscripts. So, I decided to take a dare and without Paul’s knowledge began pecking out my own Fight Card tale. I didn’t start out to necessarily write a romance, but the main characters dictated their story, I simply jotted it down. A year later, voilà – Ladies Night.

In Ladies Night, Jimmy Doherty is dropped at Father’s Tim’s doorstep, all alone in the world after tragedy takes his pa in WWII, his ma to her grief, and his only other living relative, Aunt Alice, to heart failure. Angry with God, furious with his own grief and fear of abandonment, what Jimmy craves most is a family of his own. Through an uncanny ability to recognize boxing talent, Father Tim knows Jimmy’s heart beats boxing, and gives him a shot at being a contender. Since all orphans must leave the orphanage at the age of eighteen, Father Tim wisely puts Jimmy on a train to L.A. to box for an old friend.

Jimmy meets Pops Dominic, his new manager and trainer – and Pops’ beautiful daughter, Lindy, who’s sweeter than apple pie. Jimmy can’t resist Lindy’s charms. She offers him acceptance, fierce loyalty, and love. Sneaking off to marrying Lindy raises Pops’ blood pressure, but having Lindy in his corner gives Jimmy what he hasn’t had in his life for nine years – a family.

When Lindy is arrested for murdering a boxer with ties to a gangster, Jimmy is forced to join forces with the arresting detective – who would like to do much more with Lindy than put her in handcuffs – in a desperate search for the real killer. Ladies Night – boxing, suspense and romance – proves love can be murder – in and out of the ring.

When Paul found out what I was doing, he couldn’t have been more supportive.  He had already created the Fight Card spin-off series, Fight Card MMA, and had a crazy notion to widen Fight Card’s readership even further with a Fight Card Romance brand.  Ladies Night became the flagship title for Fight Card Romance, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Find out more about Fight Card Romance and other Fight Card brands here: