I really liked this idea by Steven Soderbergh, so I’ll be updating this post all year. I used to use GoodReads and NetFlix to keep track, but that’s not complete, and it can disappear at corporate whim. This can too, but less likely.

All caps, bold: MOVIE
All caps: TV SERIES
Italics: Book
Quotation marks: “Play” / “Broadway Show”
Italics, quotation marks: “Short Story” (all this shit stole from Steven Soderbergh)

SCHITT’S CREEK (S3 1-6). Mr. Know-it-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, John Waters.
Criminal #11
“Ride-Along”, Ron Riekki (Akashic: Mondays are Murder).
“Playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”, Jamil Jan Kochai (The New Yorker).
“The Porcupine Method”, J. Danielle Dorn (Tough Crime).
“Found Wanting,” Douglas Stuart (The New Yorker). “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter,” Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld).
“Visitor,” by Bryan Washington (The New Yorker)
“God,” by Ben Loory (BOMB Magazine)
“A Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods,” by Maria Dahvana Headley (TOR)


(If you are looking for regular updates, you’ll want to subscribe to my newsletter, Goombah Gumbo)

I went to the first SopranosCon! Fittingly held in The Meadowlands, where so many mob victims fertilize the polluted muck, it exceeded all expectations. I met Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior), Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy), Burt Young (Paulie from Rocky, and also Bobby Baccala’s father), Kathrinne Narducci (Charmaine Bucco, and Mrs Bufalino in The Irishman), and so many smaller players. Over 50 actors were there, including Drea De Matteo (Adriana) who I only saw on stage, and Tony Sirico, who was too ill to make it on Sunday. Paulie Walnuts, get well soon! Here are some photos from the event. As you can see, they made it look like an Italian festival, with the banners. And of course, they had fresh zeppole for sale.

SopranosCon banner
just like it’s the Feast of San Gennaro….

I also met critics Matthew Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, who co-wrote The Sopranos Sessions, the invaluable episode by episode dissection of the show. We talked for a while about the show, crime stories, and how great it was to see everyone together again.

Me and Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz
Three Writing Goons

Everyone there was happy! Who would have thought that a show about a killer seeing a psychiatrist would have such a positive vibe? Dominic Chianese sang Italian songs on stage, Tony Darrow did stand-up comedy, Bada Bing dancer Diana Lynn was in a family-friendly costume… The organizers did a great job. It looked professional (and was). Great local food in the food court, with a replica of the Holsten’s booth and a Tony impersonator if you wanted an onion ring. The entry looked like a Turnpike tollbooth:

SopranosCon TollBooth

They made a maze to look like the Pine Barrens, full of quotes and photos of Christopher and Paulie as they searched for the Russian, in the most famous episode. There was even a van, with an empty Nathan’s hotdogs bag, and some packets of relish and ketchup, scattered in the fake snow! It was brilliant.

SopranosCon Maze
“he’s a fuckin’ interior decorator” … “really? his place looked like shit!”
SopranosCon Van
“mix the ketchup with the relish, it’s better!”
me and Burt Young
“I put one kid through college, I put the other through a wall”
me and Vincent Pastore
Big Pussy and Bigger Pussy
me and Dominic Chianese
Uncle Junior
The SopranosCon gang on stage
Sofia Milos speaks, Johnny Sack and others….

They are organizing a “MobMovieCon” in Atlantic City next year, if you are interested. I might go, depending on the guests. It’s refreshing, now that ComiCons have gotten overly huge, that smaller, focused cons like this can flourish. I was just talking with a friend who lamented that Chiller Theater, a New Jersey institution, seems empty now that the cosplayers and stars go to New York ComiCon instead.

This was a great time. I hope they throw another one soon!

Noir at the Bar NYC 7/14 and NEcon

Noir at the Bar (4)This July I’ll be reading at Noir at the Bar Manhattan with a gaggle of great writers. I’ll be reading a new excerpt from RiffRaff, the next Jay Desmarteaux novel. It’s at Shade, a cozy neighborhood bar right off Washington Square, where Anderson Cooper goes for savory crepes, and ThugLit Daddy Todd Robinson is often behind the stick. Come join us, it is always a fun time, and look at the roster!
July 14th 2019 6-9 PM. Shade Bar, 241 Sullivan Street, NYC. Hosted by Scott Adlerberg and Jen Conley. Readers: Ava Black, Hilary Davidson, Rob Hart, Adrian McKinty, Angie Kim, Alex Segura, Thomas Pluck, and John Vercher.

Jen Conley, author of the great YA novel Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry–which I called This Boy’s Life filtered through a Springsteen soundtrack–will be there, but not reading for some reason! We’ll see about that. It’s a great book for all people of all ages, but especially young teen boys, who don’t have a lot of fiction that addresses family problems and role models, according to schoolteacher Conley. I loved the book.

As for myself, I’ll be reading “Red Sauce,” an excerpt from RiffRaff that was published in Vautrin magazine, if you can’t make the reading. I will also be attending Camp NEcon, the Northeastern Writer’s Conference, from July 18th to 21st. They take walk-ins, if you want to drop in. After that, I’ll be reading at Noir at the Bar Hoboken on August 4th, details forthcoming.

Left Coast Crime and Noir at the Bar Vancouver

I’ll be attending my first Left Coast Crime convention this year in Vancouver!

I will be on the Bringing Heart to Dark Stories panel moderated by Josh Stallings, with Robin Templeton, Barbara Petty, and Timothy Hallinan, on Saturday morning at 9:00AM. I will also be reading at Noir at the Bar Vancouver Thursday night, with a great roster of writers:

Meet the Beat Girls… release day for Murder-a-Go-Go’s!

I’ve been a huge fan of the Go-Go’s since I first saw the video for “Our Lips Are Sealed” on MTV as a twelve year old boy, and I still sing along with their hits in the car, and if enough beer has been applied, at karaoke. So I’m thrilled that I got to write a story inspired by “We Got the Beat.”

Wanna meet the Beat Girls? Grab a copy here: Murder-a-Go-Go’s

The lineup includes Hilary Davidson, Lori Rader Day, Susanna Calkins, Lisa Brackmann, Nadine Nettmann, Eric Beetner, Patricia Abbott, editor Holly West herself, and an introduction from Go-Go Jane Wiedlin!
I love the ’80s neo-noir look of the cover, too:


The blurbs are totally awesome:

“I always suspected that twinkle in the Go-Gos’ eyes was a coded invitation to a darker world. In the hands of these 25 stellar crime fiction writers, “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” become evil little gems. A totally rad read.” —Alan Hunter, Original MTV VJ, SiriusXM Host

“Shock and Awe, that sums up my reaction to MURDER-A-GO-GO’S. Shock to live in times when “The Whole World Lost Its Head” and awe at the response of these gifted writers. Buckle up for a ride that will leave “Skidmarks on Your Heart.” —Sara Paretsky, best-selling author of the V.I. Warshawski crime series

“Who knew those happy songs by one of my all-time favorite bands, the Go-Go’s, could inspire such dark, noir, spine tingling stories?!! It’s a collection of tales of distinctly female rage—the murderous kind and other wise—to keep you up at night!”—Alison Arngrim, TV’s Nellie Oleson and NY Times bestselling author, CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH

It’s available today, and I’m sure you’ll go totally head over heels for it. All proceeds go to benefit Planned Parenthood.

Order Link: Murder-A-Go-Go’s at Down and Out Books

Montclair Literary Festival Saturday March 23rd 2019

It’s almost time for the Montclair Literary Festival! The big day is Saturday March 23rd, and the guest of honor is Joyce Carol Oates. She will be interviewed by Jonathan Santlofer, author of A Widower’s Notebook, about her long illustrious career and her newest novel, the dystopian YA thriller, Hazards of Time Travel. The book is a gut punch, with nostalgia weaponized for reeducation, and a great read. Brad Parks will also be there, author of the Carter Ross crime novels, in discussion with Wallace Stroby. And I’ll be moderating a panel of New Jersey writers! At 4:00 PM in the Crescent Room of the Congregational Church (next door to the Montclair Public Library), join me and authors Dave White, Jen Conley, Wallace Stroby, and Marina Antropow Cramer–also a bookseller for over 20 years–as we discuss what makes the state beneficial and challenging to writers, and to write about.

If you’re on the fence about the after party, I will vouch. Great food and drink, and you get to rub elbows with every writer at the festival, so you can gush about how much you love their books while they try to wash down falafel balls and sliders with as much free wine or soda as they can guzzle. (This is the writer’s natural habitat). Hope to see you there!

2019-03-11 13_47_50-Saturday March 23 – Main Program _ Succeed2gether's Montclair Literary Festival


For your Anthony consideration…

I am trying to attend Bouchercon in Dallas this year. Some guy named Block suggested that I take a train there and write on the way, which sounds like a great idea. I mean, it works for him. So we shall see! I do want to go, as the hotel is right near Dealey Plaza and we just marked the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. If you haven’t read November Road by Lou Berney, it’s one of the best novels I’ve read that involve the event. I’m not a morbid tourist, but I’ve never been to Dallas, and I can’t go there and avoid it!

If you are attending Bouchercon, or did last year, your Anthony nomination ballot is in your inbox. Lou’s novel is eligible for best novel, and I bet you can read it before the deadline. My own short story, “The Third Jump of Frankie Buffalo” is eligible for best short story, and if you haven’t read it, click the link to go to Tough Crime and read it for free. My story collection Life During Wartime is eligible for best paperback original, and I only mention this because the con organizers didn’t opt to have a Best Anthology / Short Story Collection category this year, which is disappointing. Those and the novella category are the easiest ways for newer writers to reach a wider audience at the convention, and I hope they return next year.