News & Reviews

International Writers Inspiring Change says this and more about A Farmhouse In The Rain. “Highly recommended. A taunting and compelling read that will remind you that people are connected in ways which are not entirely explicable–and possibly that love is the most powerful force in the world.” Read the entire review at: http://writersinspiringchange.net

Midwest Book Review calls A Farmhouse In The Rain “a consistently compelling page-turner of a read and highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections.”

Here’s what The US Review says about A Farmhouse In The Rain. “Kilgore has penned a well-written book with an almost Shakespearian feel to it. Filled with suspense, sacrifice, and subplots that interlock smoothly, the author’s dark chronicle of lives bound together by fate is a solid addition to the the World War II genre.” Read the full review at: http://theusreview.com

A Farmhouse In The Rain is referred to by Pacific Book Review as a “literary creation and a well-mapped and well-managed mystery. Kilgore is as comfortable penning scenes of the grim realities of combat as of the tenderness of long awaited love.” Read the full review at http://pacificbookreview.com

An Unkind Winter, Joe’s short story of 1942 Chicago where the war was continents away but fate wasn’t, is being published in The Twisted Vine’s Literary Arts Journal, Fall 2015 Edition. It would also have been included in the Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Anthology but the Twisted Vine appears a month ahead of the Post’s anthology so (based on their rules) the Post had to scratch it. Competition is alive and well in the literary community. But you can read it if you like at twistedvine.org

The Story Shack published Joe’s short story, The Wager. It’s flash fiction that puts you in the middle of a bet you can’t afford to lose…and survive.

The Painting, Joe’s short tale of one man’s astonishment at seeing an event from his past depicted on canvas, and the man’s obsession with finding out who painted it, was published in the new 2014 issue of The Write Place At The Write Time. It’s a story that makes us all wonder if we ever really know the people we think we know.

Joe’s short story, Incident On A Windswept Hill, was published by The Story Shack, which called it “sad, but full of drama.” It details the execution of a soldier in the field, and the recrimination that lingers long after the event.

Online literary magazine, The Zodiac Review, published Joe’s tale of the occult, The Rangoon Eye. It involves a robbery, a precious stone, and unintended consequences that can befall those who tempt fate a little too far.

Anthology Inclusion: Joe’s short story A Grim Dark Bar In A Cold Wet Town (see synopsis in the second paragraph after this one) was included in The Writing Disorder’s anthology, The Best Short Fiction of 2012. Order a copy at their website.

Online literary journal The Writing Disorder published Joe’s short story, “A Grim Dark Bar In A Cold Wet Town”. It’s a tense bit of noir that unfolds between the regulars and some mysterious newcomers to a watering hole where the occupants inside are as menacing as the weather outside.

Literary Magazine thewriteplaceatthewritetime.org published Joe’s short story “The Voice”. It’s a political parable that’s neither Democrat or Republican. Rather, it’s a chilling tale of acquiescing to the things we think we want to hear. And in so doing, giving up far more than we get in return.

The Write Place at the Write Time previously published Joe’s tightly constructed take on murder for hire,“The Auckland Assignment”, in their anniversary edition.


Those Who Trespass Against Us was featured in the 16th issue of Storychord. Two parallel narratives unfold in lockstep.  One from a convicted killer, the other from his executioner.  As each unburdens his soul, a singular story of loss, betrayal, and revenge emerges.


The Gesture was the first place winner in the Western Romance category of Moonlight Mesa’s 2nd Annual Cowboy Up Short Story Contest. It takes place in the modern West and tells a story of two far-from-young dreamers whose romance blossoms in a highway diner most people simply pass by.

It was be published, along with Joe’s western fable, Ned, in a Moonlight Mesa short story anthology.


Drinking Whiskey in the Backyard — one man’s exploration of his attitudes and his behavior following a long anticipated, yet dreaded event — was published in The Wilderness House Literary Review.


The online literary magazine Bartleby Snope published Joe’s short story, Sin and Sombreros. It’s a tale of one man’s attempt to deny destiny and the unintended consequences that follow.


Joe’s western fable “Ned” scored a second-place finish in MoonlightMesa.com’s 2009 Cowboy Up short story contest. It deals with the surprising fate of a young ex-con in Arizona, circa 1870, where the times were almost as hard as the people.


Ramble Underground published Joe’s short story, THE BOULEVARDIER, in its Winter 2009 Short Fiction Story Contest Winner Edition. It captures a day in the life of a shopworn urban gigolo plying his trade with less and less enthusiasm.


The Blunder was reviewed by The Daily Southtown. Click here to read the review in PDF format.


Review of The Blunder from The New York Crank

Suddenly, the U.S. economy makes “The Blunder” a novel for all of us

Advertising has for decades been the kind of business that gives the people who work in it nightmares. That goes most especially for the people who actually write and design the ads.

Objective judgments are difficult. Is that TV spot you wrote brilliant, mediocre, or just plain stupid? To some extent it depends on what your boss thinks. And what your boss thinks of your work may depend first on what your boss thinks of you.

For example, I once had a hostile boss who belittled a piece of advertising I had done. He didn’t like copywriters who were older than he was, and I was ten years older. I had to go around him to sell an ad to my to one of the agency’s clients. I was initially rewarded for my efforts with scowls, abusive language, a less-than-sterling job rating, and no raise.

Then the work I had sneaked past my boss won a major advertising industry award. Since my boss had “creative directed” the work (by telling me it was lousy and that I was a hack for doing it), he was entitled to share the award with me. Guess what. When we got up to the stage, my boss literally straight-armed me to grab his silver trinket and make an acceptance speech before I could accept mine.

The short, uptight
life expectancy of ad people

Even if they’re very good at what they do, advertising people have short career life expectancies. There are always exceptions, of course, but if you’re not the head of your department by age 45, or CEO by 50, your career probably will find itself on a sharp downhill trajectory.

There aren’t many creative people who last long past age 50 at most advertising agencies, much less the traditional retirement age of 65. As Piet Verbeck, one of the great creative directors of the 1970s and 1980s, and still writing ads today, once thundered in an industry publication, “The company cafeterias at most advertising agencies look like the Student Union.”

Since the endangered ad makers are often still highly productive when someone decides it’s time for them to go, new and usually younger bosses tend avoid firing them directly by playing mind games or worse to make them quit.

These have included moving a mid-level supervisor from relatively nice office space into the equivalent of a broom closet. Or badmouthing the employee at every opportunity. Or simply failing to invite the employee to critical meetings and briefings.

Consequently, middle-aged advertising people, often still with a child or two in college and a mortgage that isn’t quite paid off tend to suffer panic attacks and nightmares.

Life in a cardboard box

I once had my own recurring advertising nightmare. In it, I slept in a corrugated refrigerator carton in front of Bloomingdales, the Manhattan department store. It was always during the iciest, windiest day in February. Fear of homelessness made a kind of sense. Why the dreams involved Bloomingdales is beyond me, but I woke up trembling more than once.

So I think every seasoned advertising copywriter and art director will suffer a flash of recognition from the first sentence of Chicago copywriter and creative director Joe Kilgore’s book, “The Blunder.”

“Brice Lanning had become a relic,” it begins. And from there the nightmare grows, involving a much younger boss who takes away Lanning’s most important account, followed a drunken binge, an equally drunken attempt at sabotage, and a fast downhill slide into homelessness.

Shades of Steinbeck?

I don’t want to reveal too much more of the story, but I will tell you that Kilgore’s homeless character ends up on a long odyssey that takes him from sleeping on a dock on the Chicago River to the Southwest. (Kilgore grew up and spent his early career in Texas before moving to Chicago.) Somehow, the plot brought to mind the kind of agony and misery in America that I last saw explored in John Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath, about migrant farm workers during the last depression.

And that’s what suddenly makes “The Blunder” a novel not just for advertising people, but for everyone in this drowning economy. With banks failing, unemployment growing, George Bush all but hiding out in the White House, and John McCain’s campaign desperately trying to change the subject, the middle class suddenly is grappling with survival issues. Or had better start thinking about it.

The Blunder might be one place to begin, while you still have the $14.95 to pay for it.


New Millennium Writings recognized Joe’s short story, “Nightfall, which quietly captures a violent evening in the end of a disintegrating marriage.


Joe’s short story, The Last Word, a hard-boiled noir of escalating oneupsmanship, where a murder is committed in the first line and the murderer, as well as the victim, are not revealed until the last line, was selected for inclusion in the 2008 edition of Jared D. Vineyard’s The Creative Writer.


The Pat Hand, Joe’s portrait of Wendell Baines, a septuagenarian whose uneventful life culminates at a poker table with the best hand he’s ever had, but may not be able to play, was a contest winner in Writer’s Journal magazine.