Rock and a Hard Place Issue One: Summer/Fall 2019

Published September 20, 2019
Click Here to Purchase

A young man envisions ending his life.
A woman celebrates seclusion beneath the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
The homeless struggle to carve out a place safe from the night.
Shocking acts stain the walls of a truck stop.
Crucifixion comes for a priest who rats out a cartel.
A girl sells beautiful flowers, brazenly taken from gravesites.

In Rock and a Hard Place Magazine, no one escapes. The guilty and the innocent fight side by side, railing against desperate times, facing similar fates.

Featuring Works by:

Judson Michael Agla
Chris Bahr
S.A. Cosby
Karen Di Prima
Jeffrey Eaton
Dustin Engstrom
Juleigh Howard-Hobson
Russell Johnson
Kathleen Kilpatrick
Allan Leverone
Laird Long
Andrew Novak
Richard Risemberg
Katrina Robinson
Cindy Rosmus
Gundrun Roy
SJ Rozan
Peter Rozovsky
Jacqueline Seewald
Alex Skopic
Lenny Specht
Albert Tucher
Tim Walker

Rock and a Hard Place is a fiction magazine publishing new work focused on the plight of the marginalized, poor, depressed, and desperate. In our pages, you’ll find stories about people battling to overcome poverty, the criminal justice system, disease, the horrors of abusive relationships, the weight of addiction, the trenchant structures of racism and discrimination.

These are stories of desperate people.

And what they do next.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS (In order of appearance of work)


GUDRUN ROY lives in the North-East of Scotland, and has been writing since she was nine years old, when she finished many stories about her guinea pig’s adventures. More recently she has had a few short stories published online in 101 Words and The Literary Yard.

KAREN DI PRIMA’s fiction has appeared in Crack the Spine; The Broad River Review; Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars; Image OutWrite; and now Rock and a Hard Place. She has also written for The Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia Lawyer, NJ Lifestyles Magazine, and others.

KATHLEEN KILPATRICK grew up in Boston and moved to Southwest Florida in 2004 where she found employment at a swamp (literally). Although she loved working for the National Audubon Society and having alligators as co-workers, she took a leap of faith in 2017 and left the wetlands to work at JWC Publishing, an editorial/ghostwriting firm. She is now co-owner of the firm and engaged to Mr. Jacobs. They took their business on the road and now combine work with pleasure as they travel the continental US in their twenty-five-foot Class A motor home. In 2019, Kilpatrick founded Northern Dawn Awards, home of the Northern Lights Book Awards, which honors children’s literature of exceptional merit.

CINDY ROSMUS is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybodys from West Side Story. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun Honey; Megazine; Dark Dossier; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and now Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of the Webzine Yellow Mama. 

SJ ROZAN is the author of sixteen novels and more than seventy short stories, and the editor of two anthologies. She has won multiple awards, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, Macavity; Japanese Maltese Falcon; and the Private Eye Writers of America Life Achievement Award. Her latest book is Paper Son

ALEX SKOPIC is an English and Political Science student from the backwoods of Pennsylvania, where he writes short fiction in his spare time. His work has appeared in The New Accelerator magazine, among other places.

ALBERT TUCHER is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, who has appeared in almost 100 hardboiled stories in venues including The Best American Mystery Stories 2010. Her first longer case, the novella The Same Mistake Twice, was published in 2013. In 2017 Albert Tucher launched a new series set on the Big Island of Hawaii, in which The Honorary Jersey Girl is the third and most recent entry. He recently retired from the Newark Public Library.

JULEIGH HOWARD-HOBSON’s work has appeared in many places, including The Non Binary Review, Hip Mama, Ghost City Review, Workers Write, The Tishman Review, Zizzle, The First Line, Prime Number, The New Southern Fugitives, Liar’s League, The Ginger Collect, Whistling Shade, Going Down Swinging, Infinity’s Kitchen, Levitate, The Valparaiso Review, Dead Housekeeping, The Grief Diaries, Fine Linen Journal, Imperfect (History House), Weaving the Terrain (Dos Gatos), I am Strength (Blind Faith), Missing Persons (Beatlick Press), Under The Light of A Neon Moon (Madville Publishing), “The Literary Whip” (Zoetic Press podcast) and many, many other venues--both in print and in pixel.

S.A. COSBY is a writer from Southeastern Virginia. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Thuglit, Crime Syndicate magazine, TOUGH and many others. His story “Slant-Six” was selected as a Distinguished Story in Best American Mystery Stories 2016. His story “The Grass Beneath My Feet” was nominated for an Anthony award earlier this year. His first crime novel My Darkest Prayer is available on Amazon from Intrigue Publishing. He still lives in Virginia with a cat, a dog and a cantankerous squirrel.

LAIRD LONG pounds out fiction in all genres. Big guy, sense of humor. Writing credits include: Blue Murder Magazine, Hardboiled, Bullet, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Albedo One, Baen’s Universe, and stories in the anthologies Bizarro, Action: Pulse-Pounding Tales, and New Canadian Noir.

JEFREY EATON has had a long tenure as a parish pastor in New Brunswick, NJ. Before that he was college chaplain and professor of religion at Hamilton College. His publications are in the field of philosophical theology. 

ALLAN LEVERONE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty novels and dozens of short stories. A former winner of the Derringer Award, given annually for excellence in short mystery fiction, Allan lives in Londonderry, NH with his wife and family.


KATRINA ROBINSON is a content coordinator and editor with SPARK, providing support to Microsoft. She currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina. She enjoys collecting vinyl, books, and clothes.

TIM P. WALKER ekes out a living as a legal researcher in Baltimore, Maryland. He intended to save “Doing Time” for a Neil Diamond-inspired anthology of crime fiction, but really, can anyone dream up a crime worse than the remake of The Jazz Singer? You can find some of his other works, including some other AM Gold-inspired pieces, in such illustrious publications as Out of the Gutter, Pulp Modern, the Baltimore City Paper (RIP), and the Atomic Noir collection.

DUSTIN ENGSTROM writes fiction – crime and speculative fiction mostly – but he’s prone to just calling it fiction, regardless of genre. Before he started writing fiction, he was an actor and playwright, studying theatre at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Many of his plays premiered in Seattle, including Private Accounts, Seattle Fringe Festival 2014; and The Cut, which received the Broadway World Critic’s Choice Award for Best New Play 2012. His fiction has appeared in The Colored Lens. He lives near Seattle with his husband and their two frolicsome cats, Bastian and Jiji. 

RICHARD RISEMBERG was born into a Jewish-Italian household in Argentina, and brought to Los Angeles to escape the fascist regime of his homeland. He has lived there since, except for a digression to Paris in the turbulent Eighties. He attended Pepperdine University on a scholarship won in a writing competition, but left in his last year to work in jobs from gritty to glitzy, starting at a motorcycle shop and progressing through offices, retail, an independent design and manufacturing business, and most recently a stint managing an adult literacy program at a library branch in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city. All has become source material for his writing.

RUSSELL JOHNSON is a North Carolina attorney who got so sick of billable hours that he started writing crime fiction. His debut story, “Chung Ling Soo's Greatest Trick,” was published by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and went on to win the Edgar Awards Robert L. Fish prize for best short story by a new author. Since then he has been published in places like Thuglit and Out of the Gutter Online and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

JACQUELINE SEEWALD, a multiple award-winning author, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Nineteen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including books for adults, teens and children. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies. 



CHRIS BAHR is an artist specializing in emotionally despondent imagery. Based in the eastern United States, his work lives in a haunting, timeless world inhabited by faceless figures and desolate landscapes. With his ethereal visuals he explores the themes of loss, fragility and mortality.

ANDREW NOVAK is a journalist and news editor in Washington, DC. He likes to read. He likes to write. He likes to take pictures with his camera. His work has appeared in Fluland, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter Online, Bizarro Central, CLASH Media, and the LOST FILMS anthology from Perpetual Motion Machine Press.

PETER ROZOVSKY lives in Philadelphia, works in New York, and shoots photos everywhere. He created Noir at the Bar and the Detectives Beyond Borders blog, and his writing has appeared in Maxim Jakubowski's Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction, Barry Forshaw's Nordic Noir, Sunshine Noir and elsewhere. His photography has appeared on the cover of crime novels and collections by Domenic Stansberry, Reed Farrel Coleman, Charlie Stella, Ed Gorman and others, and in Down and Out: The Magazine and Retreats From Oblivion: The Journal of NoirCon.

LENNY SPECHT is a graphic artist and illustrator from New Jersey. He won second prize in an art contest in fourth grade for his depiction of “Wild Goose,” and it’s been all uphill since.