2015 For Jim

Most people make resolutions. I make goals. I actually met a few of them ahead of time this year. So what’s in store for Jim?

  • Winter’s Quarterly, the first of which goes live as we pass into 2015. You get four of these puppies this year.
  • Nick Kepler comes to an end in February with the release of Gypsy’s Kiss.
  • Speaking of Kepler, I plan to put him together in one neat package, The Kepler Omnibus. Then that’s it for Jimmy Winter as an independent author.
  • “Dick” will release four novellas in advance of the science fiction novel I wrote last year.
  • Holland Bay will finally go to an agent. How will that turn out? Stay tuned.
  • In April, I will finish the bachelors degree I should have finished several presidents ago.
  • This summer, as part of my plan to run the 2016 Flying Pig Marathon, I plan to run my first half marathon. Originally, this was going to be the Flying Pig, but illness has thrown off my training schedule.
  • Aaaaaaand in June, I will celebrate seven years of marriage to Nita.

The Year In Rearview

2014 was either a giant suckfest or a decent year, depending on who you are and what bullshit on Facebook you believe. Here is a look back.


Chris Christie prematurely ends his 2016 campaign for president by causing traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge.

Vladimir Putin tests his super-villain skills by annexing the Crimean Peninsula. The Ukraine does not approve.


Jay Leno officially retires, handing off The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon. This time, NBC manages not to screw over Conan O’Brien… Um… Wait…


Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappears. I keep having visions of a smoke monster.


Nigerian girls are kidnapped by an extremist group. Ann Coulter takes this opportunity to prove what an utter failure she is as a human being.


A US Army sergeant is successful brought home from Afghanistan after being held prisoner by the Taliban. Congressional Republicans blame Obama.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling learns that being a billionaire does not excuse one from being a racist douchebag.


The World Cup begins. Radio pundits suspect American interest in soccer is a gateway to socialism.


LeBron James returns to Cleveland. Yea?

Germany scores a Brazillion goals against Brazil in the World Cup.

Russia, or maybe the Ukraine, accidentally shoot down Malaysian Flight 17. Vladimir Putin is singled out for an atomic wedgie when leaders meet for a G8 summit in Australia.


A white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shoots an unarmed black man. The police department is ordered to stand down and let the state police handle things when the local police do stupid things like harass camera crews and try to confiscate smart phones. Yeah. That’ll really calm down the population.


Sorry, ladies, but George Clooney is off he market.

Scotland decides to remain in the UK. Doctor Who, on the other hand, decides to be Scottish. Much Scottish ale is consumed.

ISIS attempts to take over the Middle East. Apparently, they forgot that Turkey is a member of NATO.


The number of deaths from Ebola in the US skyrockets to match the number of people who have been married to Kim Kardashian. Never mind that bubonic plague still outpaces Ebola in America.


America gives the Senate to the Republican Party. Which apparently makes Obama’s job easier.

Officer Darren Wilson is not indicted, setting off a wave of protests.


Kim Jong Un screws with Sony Pictures. Barack Obama screws with Kim’s Internet.

The Year In Jim, 2014 Edition

‘Tis that time of year when we look back on the year now ending. Unlike other year end lists, I’m going to look back on what’s truly important. Me.


You know how I’m always saying I’m going to take up running every year? Yep. Did that again.


Nita and I celebrate the sixth anniversary our first date.

Nita let’s me have the house to myself for a weekend. Was it an orgy in partying or a really productive writing weekend? Actually, I drank beer and fell asleep.


Noro virus: Like ebola without the hemorrhaging.

My Dick finished a novel.


My Neon, on April Fool’s Day, blows a sensor. By Tax Day, I become the proud owner of a Volkswagen Jetta. My family is no longer embarrassed to ride in or drive my car.


I start revising Holland Bay based on edits from Brian Thornton.


New job! And a year before I’d planned to go looking for one.

The sixth anniversary of the happiest day of my life.


My annual trek along the Little Miami Bike Trail makes it all the way to Yellow Springs, near Dayton.


I begin my final year of school


Holland Bay goes to an agent. She asks for revisions.


I’m up to running 3 miles three times a week.


Aaaand we get a treadmill.


SARS comes to the Winter household. Which means I don’t run from a week before Christmas to… Well, by the time you read this, we’re still waiting.

Friday Reviews: 7 Grams of Lead by Keith Thomson

7 Grams of Lead by Keith Thomson7 Grams of Lead

Keith Thomson

Russ Thornton blogs about spies. He’s not a conspiracy theorist. It’s his job. So when he notices a scientist was shot with a 7-gram lead bullet (unusual if you now anything about guns and ammo), the bad guys plant an eavesdropping device.

In his head. With the help of an NSA hacker, he discovers a former senate candidate has a similar one in her head. When they have them removed, it becomes a cat and mouse game across the Caribbean as they try to outwit a cold-hearted entrepreneur named Canning. Canning has two things on his mind: Revenge and money, and he wants both from a terrorist set on attacking Washington, DC with an electro-magnetic pulse.

Thornton knows an awful lot about spycraft for someone not a veteran of black ops. Then again, his love interest is a beautiful tech billionaire who proves every bit as resourceful as Thornton himself. Canning is a sociopathic genius whose insight sometimes strains credibility. But this thriller is a twenty-first century answer to James Bond with all the tech geekery of Tom Clancy at his finest. But Thomson keeps things moving, detailed in his tech wizardry without getting bogged down in it, and nowhere nearly as dry as Ian Fleming. The sexual tension between Thornton and Beryl Mallery is delicious while Canning makes Hannibal Lecter look like a nice guy with an eating disorder. There’s a movie in this somewhere.



Repost: A Very Kenwood Christmas

My first Christmas in Cincinnati found me doing my first ever Christmas Eve shopping dash.  I ended up at Kenwood Towne Center, the mall nearest the then-inlaws’ place.  Big mistake.  In looking for a parking place, I wound up in a standoff with another guy waiting for the same parking space to open.

I stared.  He stared.  Somewhere nearby, a car stereo blared the theme from A Fistful of Dollars. Finally, the car pulled out and away.  It was on.

Or was it?

Before I or my nemesis could get our feet off our respective brakes, two women in expensive sedans whipped around us and shot into the same parking space.  Or tried to.

As Michio Kaku will explain on his many television appearances, two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  What a waste of a Lexus and a BMW.

My nemesis and I got out, looked at each other, then watched the two vicious ladies cuss each other out.  One of these ladies was a eucharistic minister at my church at the time.

“You know,” I said to my nemesis, “it’s really not a bad day to walk.”

“I’m parking over by the Kroger,” he said.

“I’ll join you.”

Half the Kroger lot was empty.  Nemesis and I parked without incident or conflict.

I suspect the two ladies got lumps of coal in their stockings.

Annual Tradition: ‘Twas The Night Before Festivus

‘Twas the night before Festivus
And all through my pad
We were scrounging every scrap
Of mystery meat to be had

Mystery meat!

CC 2008 by Father Jack

We looked to the west
We looked to the east
For the perfect loaf to serve
For the Festivus feast!

Tomorrow we dine
On questionable fair
And then the grievances
We shall each air

My girlfriend, she’ll recall
Something I said
Two years ago
And smack me in the head

And I, in return,
Will turn up the heat
Reminding her she leaves
Down the toilet seat

The feats of strength
Astound us a lot
For I once carried her mother
As though she weighed naught

Christmas stripper. Or Christina Aguilera. I get confused.

CC 2006 DRG

My girlfriend moved,
Not to be outdone,
Took off her clothes
For some Feat of Strength fun.

For her Feat of Strength,
A Festivus Miracle,
Was to do her stripper dance
On the Festivus pole!

Hanakkuh is somber,
Christmas too crass.
But a Festivus for the rest of us
Is always a blast

Friday Reviews: Sky Blues by Vicki Hendricks

Sky Blues by Vicki HendricksSky Blues

Vicki Hendricks

Ever wonder why someone would jump out of a perfectly good airplane? It’s the rush. That’s what wildlife vet Destiny Donne learns when a handsome skydiver walks into her office asking for help with a lion cub he’s not supposed to have. His name is Tom and he smooth-talks his way into her bed and lures her into the world of skydiving. Yet Desi, as she’s called, finds herself played against Tom’s estranged wife Swan. Soon, Tom is talking murder. Desi must kill, Tom tells her, or be killed.

Hendricks likes to reverse the traditional noir with women playing the seduced and men as the homme fatale. But where Miami Purity and Iguana Love had women stumbling into situations not of their making, and Voluntary Madness had a female protag sliding down the rabbit hole after a man hell-bent on hitting the bottom, Des strikes me as a bit too intelligent for falling for Tom, who is an obvious con man from the get-go. Yes, he oozes masculine sex out every pore, but his story about the lion cub being kept “for a guy” should have meant a phone call to the police.

But the main feature of this story is the sky diving. It’s one of Hendricks’s interests, and that shines through in this. In some ways, Des exists less to provide her with a channel for her talents in noir than she does to convey what it’s like for humans to literally fly.

The 87th Precinct

I’m about halfway through the 87th Precinct series, Ed McBain’s police procedural novels set in Isola, part of a fictional unnamed city that bears close resemblance to New York. While the city and its history parallels that of New York, it does have its own unique features. There do not seem to be any iconic buildings like the Empire State or the World Trade Center. However, the sections of the city correspond to New York – Isola is Manhattan, Calm’s Point is Brooklyn, Riverhead is The Bronx, Majesta is Queens, and Bethtown is Staten Island right down to being accessible only by ferry until the 1970’s.

It’s this fictional City that attracted me to the series, in many ways like Chris Nolan’s Gotham City (itself reinvented for the television series Gotham.) However, the real appeal is that the 87th Precinct is an ensemble work. Steve Carella, the no-nonsense, serious detective who features in most of the series, may be first among equals, but there’s a whole cast who get their turns as leads. In one novel, Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here, McBain (real name Evan Hunter, who wrote Blackboard Jungle and the screenplay for The Birds) bends himself in knots to get every then-current detective in the 87th into the book.

But Carella is the heart and soul of the series. A veteran and a family man, Carella is often the most focused member of the squad. Even when he’s not the central character, everyone turns to him for advice. Carella is frequently partnered with one of three detectives – Cotton Hawes, Bert Kling, and the tragically named Meyer Meyer. Hawes is a ladies man and originally introduced as a possible replacement for Carella. In his novel, Carella is seemingly killed off, only to have him recover in the final scene. (Which incidentally is one of the most emotionally intense scenes in the series.) Meyer is a patient man, his father giving him his first name as a joke that Meyer had to live with. Kling is a hot-headed young detective generally unlucky in love.

There are others. Arthur Brown, the squad’s only black detective (really a reboot of a detective killed off in the first novel, Cop Hater) is hip, suave, and popular. His polar opposite is the lazy, racist Andy Parker. However, McBain seems to grow tired of Parker by the mid-1970’s and demotes him to occasional appearances in favor of the racist, slovenly, but infinitely smarter and oddly likeable Fat Ollie Weeks. Weeks is that obnoxious uncle who makes you cringe but can’t help like. Parker is just an asshole.

There is also Detective Rick Gennero, promoted to plainclothes too soon and spectacularly dim. Hal Willis is the shortest man on the squad, though he can still kick ass. In the first half of the series, Detective Eileen Burke is almost completely absent. Though a later addition to the 87th, she shows up as an undercover detective from downtown.Her portrayal, too, is inconsistent. In her first appearance, Mugger, she’s a young officer annoyed with the boys of the 87th fretting that she’s putting herself in danger. In Fuzz, she’s portrayed as a young, sex-starved girl enjoying her cover making out with Gennero while trying to catch the Deaf Man.

Speaking of whom, the Deaf Man generally appears whenever McBain wants to shake up the series. He is an odd variation on Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes, usually undone by his arrogance.

The series starts out as a parallel to Dragnet, but it eventually takes on its own character. If it has a parallel in later years, it’s the eighties police drama Hill Street Blues, which also takes place in a fictional unnamed city. Hill Street, though, was a bit of a soap opera. Homicide, which also has a lot in common with 87th Precinct, was actually a retelling of real stories from the Baltimore Police Department. It’s a far cry from The Wire, perhaps the best known police show today, but there’s something comforting in the 87th Precinct’s slow pace of change. The series is divorced from the calendar the way a lot of literary crime is, but it still illustrates the changes in police work since its inception in 1956.