Here are links to my monthly columns for The Washington Independent Review of Books, as well as short stories, essays and interviews I’ve published, along with a note about each piece. For information about my collaboration with DJ Alkimist, stories + music, visit

Absence of Malice (5/17/18)

I attended the Malice Domestic convention for the first time, and realized I should have been attending it long before this year.

Vision Test (4/12/18)

I wrote about my early love of John Updike's writing, and how it stands up to today's morals. The answer: Maybe not too well?

What Led to the Flood (3/8/18)

A joint essay with me, Hilary Davidson, Gwen Florio, J.J. Hensley, and Shannon Kirk about the societal issues that led to our stories in The Night of the Flood.

#OwnVoices (2/1/18)

I wrote about the #OwnVoices movement and Ruby Ibarra, your favorite Filipino rapper that you've never heard of (it makes sense when you read it).

Monster's Ball (12/28/17)

Had the pleasure to write with my film expert pals again (Scott Adlerberg and Dr. Margeurite Rippy) about films we used to love, but now...not so much.

Four Books I'm Thankful For (11/23/17)

My Thanksgiving Day column was about four books I'm thankful for since people need something else to talk about during Thanksgiving dinner besides politics.

When Statues Fall (10/19/17)

So many news stories about celebrities falling into moral disgrace. I decided to write about it.

An Interview with Eryk Pruitt (10/6/17)

I interviewed one of my favorite writers, Eryk Pruitt, about his work in novels, film, and podcasting. He likes to do things.

Film? Study. (9/14/17)

7 classic movie recommendations that are perfect for contemporary times, with recommendations from my smart cinephile friends: Scott Adlerberg, Radha Vatsal, and Marguerite Rippy.

5 Rappers to Book (8/1017)

5 Rappers that readers would totally probably maybe like.

Wonder Women (7/6/17)

A comparison of Wonder Women to literary feminist utopias and also Family Guy. It makes sense.

Invisible Touch (6/1/17)

I wrote about how an Abby Mott concert gave me goosebumps, and then asked a bunch of DC/MD/VA writers for their favorite "goosebump" lines in literature.

No, YOU'RE Stupid (5/4/17)

A writer dissed The Great Gatsby in a Vice column. This was my defense.

Honorable Mention? (4/6/17)

My thoughts on the decision to include NWA's debut album in the National Recording Registry. Spoiler alert: I was against it.

Free Speech May Cost You (3/9/17)

I wrote about Milo Y. and his missing $250,000 advance.

Dear Cupid (2/9/17)

The third installment of my Valentine's Day advice column. Contains a new approach to using Post-It notes.

The Long Life of Short Fiction (1/12/17)

My thoughts on why the public doesn't read short stories. Short answer? I'm not sure.

Review of Crime Plus Music: Twenty Stories of Music-Themed Noir (12/26/16)

A mostly-positive review of an anthology of crime fiction short stories inspired by music.

5 Gifts for the Bookworm in Your Life (12/15/16)

My annual holiday gift-giving guide, this time targeted to bookworms.

8 Books to Comfort and Console You (11/17/16)

A lot of people were really bummed after the 2016 election so, with the help of eight local writers, I wrote a column listing books that help comfort people.

Just Words (10/20/16)

The 2016 presidential campaign pushed sexual assault to the forefront of public discourse, so I addressed it here.

4 Highlights from Bouchercon (9/22/16)

Written after I attended Bouchercon, the conference that makes everyone all sentimental.

An Interview with Jen Michalski (9/6/16)

I had the chance to interview Baltimore superstar, Jen Michalksi, about her new novel, THE SUMMER SHE WAS UNDER WATER.

Nelson Algren: An Introduction (8/25/16)

My thoughts on one of the best writers you've never heard of, Nelson Algren.

On Meeting Famous Writers (7/28/16)

An FAQ on how to act when you meet a famous writer. Based on my bad decision-making in the past.

4 Patriotic Books in Honor of the 4th (6/30/16)

That title might be a little misleading, because a lot of the column is devoted to hating fireworks.

An Interview with Jen Conley (6/11/16)

I interviewed my friend Jen Conley about her terrific debut collection of short stories, CANNIBALS: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF PINE BARRENS. As dark, but as beautiful, as it sounds.

Books? A Million (6/2/16)

So many good crime fiction writers in the DC/MD/VA triangle means too many good books to read.

Writing Like Django (5/5/16)

All about my attempts to put words to Django Reinhardt's music. So, that didn't work.

The Power of Negative Thinking (4/7/16)

I wrote this in response to the way writers bemoan everything online about everything ever.

Four Ways to Find Critique Partners (3/10/16)

I was asked to write a column about finding people to review your work. I came up with four ways.

Review of Blowin' Up: Rap Dreams in South Central (3/7/16)

I reviewed this book about Project Blowed and freestyle rap. Good book, but had a glaring omission regarding female rappers.

Valentine's Day Q&A (2/11/16)

My annual advice column for the lovelorn. And the forlorn. Just lornly people, in general.

Tough Research (1/14/16)

All about my next book. And all about that bass! But mainly the next book.

Rules of Enragement (12/17/15)

I wrote this column about people who take grammar too seriously. You'll probably hate it.

9 Writerly Gifts (11/19/15)

My annual holiday gift-giving column! Gifts writers should both give and receive.

Managing As Editor (10/22/15)

All about why I decided to become Managing Editor of The Thrill Begins. And, yes, mainly for the title "Managing Editor." Bad-Ass.

5 Ways to Not Suck at Readings (9/24/15)

Mainly drugs and alcohol.

Naming Names (8/27/15)

I wrote this column about writers selling out for marketing, and also nudity.

Alan Cheuse: A Reflection (7/30/15)

This column is about one of my old writing professors (and NPR Books reviewer), Alan Cheuse, who was involved in a terrible car accident.

An American Writer (7/2/15)

I wrote this about one of my favorite writers, James Baldwin, and what it means to be an American writer. Because the 4th was just around the corner and fireworks and stuff.

Marketing Mailbag (6/4/15)

I discussed everything I know about marketing in this mailbag. Worked out to four questions.

A Baltimore Story (5/7/15)

I wrote this about Baltimore, writing, the Freddie Gray incident, and how I "used" to be creepy.

Rappers Rewrite (4/9/15)

I wrote this about using the current movement in rap music, and how it relates to writing. No slang added.

On Violence (3/12/15)

I wrote this about using violence in literature, and also how insanely bloodthirsty Flannery O'Connor truly was.

Valentine's Day Advice (2/11/15)

My advice to writers and readers on Valentine's Day!

Artistic Worth (1/14/15)

Here's a column I wrote about judging artistic success. And also Toto's Africa.

Rookie Mistakes (12/17/14)

I wrote this column after my debut novel had been out for a year, summarizing what I learned. Contains a cruel fishing story.

Recommended Thrillers (11/19/14)

Here's a column I wrote for the Independent listing my four favorite thrillers of 2014. None of the writers I recommended can do anything for me, so it was very altruistic. Felt weird.

How Billie Holiday Sang Me Out of a Slump (10/22/14)

I wrote this column about Billie Holiday, L'Orange, first books and first loves. Somehow that all ties together in this essay.

The Neverending Story (9/25/14)

Here's a column I wrote on drafts. Not sports or vent-related.

Review The Empty Quarter (9/19/14)

Here's a review I wrote of David L. Robbins' military thriller, THE EMPTY QUARTER, for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Monsters' Ink (8/27/14)

I wrote a column for the Washington Independent Review of Books called Monsters' Ink (cute title, right?) about whether you can like an artist's work if the artist is morally reprehensible. Or, more to the point, Woody Allen.

First Time's the Charm (7/30/14)

Here's a piece that recaps my first experience at ThrillerFest, the annual convention for the International Thriller Writers.

To Be Honest (7/2/14)

Here's a piece I wrote for the Washington Independent Review of Books about why men suck and, also, artistic representation. I know, weird, right?

Review No-Accounts, By Tom Glenn (6/6/14)

I don't write a lot of book reviews, but here's one I did for the Independet. The novel deals with the AIDS crisis in DC in the 1980s. Beautiful and sad.

Off-Limits? (6/4/14)

Here's a column I wrote for the Indepdent and swearing and sex in writing. Contains no swearing or sex.

You're Going to Suck at Parties (5/2/14)

I had the honor of giving a speech to the graduates of Marymount University's (my Masters alma mater) English department! I guess the other guy canceled! Anyway, and in all seriousness, it was a huge honor. Here's my advice to them.

Laura Lippman and the Great Debate (4/9/14)

My first piece as an official contributor to the Washington Independent Review of Books, which served as a response to Laura Lippman's thoughts on self-publishing.

In Defense of Pop Fiction (2/14/14)

I wrote this for the Washington Independent Review of Books, one of my favorite sites. It's about how I came to writing thrillers, and why thrillers don't suck.


Shotgun Honey (May 2018)

Always an honor to have a story in Shotgun Honey! One of crime fiction's best homes. Anyway, this one is super short and it's about a threesome.

The Orphans

The Night of the Flood (Mar. 2018)

Me and 13 other writers collaborated on this novel-in-stories, about one night in a fictional town after it's hit by a massive, man-made flood. I also edited the book (along with Sarah M. Chen) and you can check out my story, "The Orphans," inside. It's a really cool project, and I had the chance to work with some good friends and great writers.

The Lobster Tank

Noir at the Salad Bar (July 2017)

My story was selected for inclusion in this terrific anthology. The requirement was that each story somehow tied into food. I set mine in the noir'est place imaginable, a Red Lobster.

Red Room

"short stories + music" - collab w/ DJ Alkimist (Jan. 2017)


"short stories + music" - collab w/ DJ Alkimist (Nov. 2016)

We All Do What We Can

"short stories + music" - collab w/ DJ Alkimist (Oct. 2016)

Becky Says Bye

Shotgun Honey (Oct. 2016)

I was really honored that this story was published by Shotgun Honey, one of the best crime fiction sites out there. I read a version of this at D.C.'s 2016 Noir at the Bar.

You Would Have a Queen

"short stories + music" - collab w/ DJ Alkimist (Sept. 2016)


The Line

Out of the Gutter (Jan. 2016)

Like "Beautiful as Hell," I read this story at a Noir at the Bar (New Jersey), sent it out for publication, and Out of the Gutter accepted it. Usual stuff - jealousy, stalking, and magnum-sized condoms.

Beautiful As Hell

Yellow Mama (Oct. 2015)

I read this story at a Noir at the Bar in Baltimore, and then sent it out for publication. Happily, the terrific folks at Yellow Mama made it part of their Halloween issue. It's about a guy who's rashly kidnapped a woman. Hilarity ensues! Not really.

I Just Want to Love You

Crime Factory (Oct. 2014)

Here's a short story I wrote that was published in the excellent magazine Crime Factory. It's about a sociopath trying to break up with his mistress. Like a romantic comedy, but the opposite.

My Grand Romantic Gesture

The Menda City Press (Fall 2012)

This is the second short story I published with the Menda City Press. I wrote this during a graduate school creative writing seminar, saved it and brought it back to life a year or so later. Do you like cutters? Yes? Then you'll like this piece.

Past Matters

The Zodiac Review (Fall 2012)

Here’s another bit of flash fiction that ran in the Zodiac Review, a cool little quarterly webzine. Do you like dysfunctional marriages? Then click the above link!

The Outer Banks

The Menda City Press (Feb. 2008)

The Outer Banks is my favorite of my short stories, mainly because it does what I think a short story should do. I was thrilled when the nice people at the Menda City Press accepted it.

Goodbye, Baltimore

The SN Review (2008)

I wrote this story for my friend and promised her that I wouldn’t publish it. Then I promptly sent it out anyway and, after it was accepted, asked her if she was okay with the story appearing online. Happily, she was cool with it, and didn’t even mind my hastily–broken promise.

The Drop

Bewildering Stories (2008)

I don’t write a lot of flash fiction, but I wanted to give it a shot. A traditional short story is hard enough to write, but flash fiction presents even more challenges.

Pay It Forward

The Thrill Begins (5/17/18)

I didn't write this one; it was written about me by one of my closest friends and favorite writers, Jennifer Hillier. As a Hispanic, I'm incapable of blushing, but this is the closest I've come in a long time.

UrbanAMA: The Night of the Flood

UrbanAMA (4/1/18)

Sarah M. Chen and I did a video AMA (Ask Me Anything) through the terrific UrbanAMA app about The Night of the Flood. You can see my big dumb face say stuff!

Podcast: The Night of the Flood

Crime Syndicate Podcast (4/1/18)

Michael Pool was nice enough to have me and Sarah M. Chen on his podcast to discuss The Night of the Flood. And why we're so mistakenly fond of vigilantes. 

Review: Adult Entertainment

DC Metro Theater Arts (3/12/18)

I had the chance to review Elaine May's "Adult Entertainment." Features nudity and frequent mentions of Yale University.

A Look into The Night of the Flood

Crimespree Magazine (3/5/18)

Crimespree Magazine invited a few of us to discuss what led to our stories in The Night of the Flood. So I wrote a little introduction and Sarah M. Chen, Jennifer Hillier, and Angel Luis Colon gave some background.

Interview: The Night of the Flood

The Big Thrill (3/1/18)

Sarah M. Chen and I were interviewed by Basil Sands about The Night of the Flood in ITW's The Big Thrill. Also included a picture of me and Mario and Luigi. That's not relevant to the book, FYI.

Interview: The Night of the Flood

One Bite at a Time (2/21/18)

Dana King interviewed me and my co-editor, Sarah M. Chen, about our work with The Night of the Flood. We used the opportunity to talk smack about the other contributors, obviously.

Review: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

DC Metro Theater Arts (2/12/18)

Anyone who knows me knows my deep hardcore love for Bille Holiday, so I jumped at the chance to review "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill."

Debut Author Spotlight: John Copenhaver

The Thrill Begins (2/1/18)

I interviewed D.C.-based writer John Copenhaver about his debut thriller, DODGING AND BURNING.

An Interview with Sara Jones

DC Metro Theater Arts (12/13/17)

I love Sara Jones's voice, so I jumped at the chance to interview her for D.C. Metro Theater Arts. We talked about her career, some of her favorite singers and, of course, Susan Lucci.

Review: Snow Day

DC Metro Theater Arts (12/4/17)

I reviewed another kids' performance for DCMTA. Fun one for the holidays! This is what you do when you write and have a kid.

Review: Drumming with Dishes

DC Metro Theater Arts (10/10/17)

I don't just write violent crime fiction. Well, I pretty much do, but I also reviewed this children's show for DC Metro Theater Arts. I'm layered.

Writers Passport: In Conversation with Leye Adenle

The Thrill Begins (9/28/17)

I interviewed Nigerian author Leye Adenle (EASY MOTION TOURIST) about his writing for The Thrill Begins series, Writer's Passport.

An Interview with Nicole Atkins

DC Metro Theater Arts (9/6/17)

I had the chance to interview one of today's best (and my favorites) singer/songwriters, Nicole Atkins! I definitely recommend checking out her music. You know, if you like things that are awesome.

Monday Inspiration: Aymar and Alkimist

Do Some Damage (8/21/17)

The writer Marietta Miles was nice enough to feature and interview me and DJ Alkimist on our collaboration! Very cool to appear on Do Some Damage, one of my favorite crime fiction sites.

On Submission

The Thrill Begins (7/20/17)

As part of The Thrill Begins' spring feature, "The Tough Times (And How I Wrote Through Them)," I wrote about what it's like to be on submission and wait. Spoiler: Not fun, you guys.

Composite Sketch

BOLO Books (7/7/17)

It was a geniune honor to be part of the BOLO Books composite sketch series! I love what that site does for crime fiction, and it was truly lovely to be part of it. 

Poetry Cabaret: Capitol Fringe Review

DC Metro Arts (7/7/17)

I reviewed a show for D.C.'s Fringe Festival that warned of nudity. There was no nudity. Here's my SFW review.

Reading Across America: Going Noir in DC

Literary Hub (4/20/17)

I had the chance to contribute a piece to the terrific "Reading Across America" series by Penina Roth, so I wrote about Nour at the Bar, and how it fits with Washington, D.C. (I host the D.C. series). Also includes a dismembered penis!

Writing Tips

Author Learning Center (4/14/17)

I was contacted by the Author Learning Center for an interview about writing and publishing. It was a video interview, and you can see my stupid face yapping about: On getting a book reviewed in the Washington Independent Review of Books; the Importance of Networking for New Writers; the Importance of Finding a Good Critique Partner for Your Writing: the Concept Behind The Dead trilogy

Debut Author Spotlight: Walt Gragg

The Thrill Begins (4/1/17)

I interviewed debut author Walt Gragg about his military thriller, THE RED LINE.

The Sword

86 Your Blessed Objects (3/29/17)

My friend Jenny Drummey started a new feature where writers write about giving up cherished objects. I wrote about why I can't keep a sword and a toddler in the same house.

An Interview with Johnny Temple of Akashic Books

The Thrill Begins (2/7/17)

I interviewed rock musician-turned-publisher Johnny Temple about Akashic Books, their "city noir" series, and their fondness of the word "fuck."

Podcast with DJ Alkimist

Thrill Seekers Radio (1/24/17)

DJ Alkimist and I had a fun conversation with the novelist Alex Dolan about our collaboration, and debuted our latest track, "Red Room."

A Q&A with Editors from Shotgun Honey, Spinetingler Magazine, and the Stand Magazine

The Thrill Begins (1/3/17)

I interviewed acquisition editors for three of today's best magazines for crime fiction about how they pick storiies for their publications, and what life is like in today's publishing world.

Podcast with DJ Alkimist

Authors on the Air (11/23/16)

DJ Alkimist and I debuted our new track, "Requiem," on this podcast, chatted with the host (Pam Stack) and took questions from callers.

Meet Your Region: MD / DC / VA

The Thrill Begins (11/14/16)

I had brunch with three local writers (Nik Korpon, Colleen Shogan, and Laura Ellen Scott) to talk about da writing life in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia triangle. Was it an excuse to get pancakes? Partly!

An Interview with M.A. Richards

The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins (11/1/16)

I interviewed debut writer M.A. Richards about his novel, Choice of Enemies. The interview ran in both of ITW's publications.

Alison Emerges

jmww journal (10/10/16)

jmww journal debuted "We All Do What We Can," the second track by DJ Alkimist and me. This essay explains the impetus behind it.

Cool Stuff Writers Do

SmokeLong Quarterly (10/5/16)

SmokeLong Quarterly interviewed DJ Alkimist and me about our joint effort, "short stories + music."

#30 Authors: Flood Gate

The Book Wheel (9/18/16)

As part of the annual #30 Authors project, I reviewed (lovingly) Johnny Shaw's novel, Flood Gate.

A Hot Night in D.C.

Spinetingler Magazine (7/21/16)

Eryk Pruitt read at D.C.'s third Noir at the Bar, wrote about it for Spinetingler Magazine, and interviewed me for the piece.

The Hard Truth

Fabulous Fictionistas (7/15/16)

My friend (and a terrific writer) Kim Alexander, invited me to contribute a piece about writing workshops to the Fabulous Fictionistas. So I wrote about the time a professor beat my work up.

An Interview with Megan Abbott 

The Thrill Begins (6/23/16)

I interviewed Megan Abbott for "Meet Your Heroes" week at The Thrill Begins. I love her writing.


Late Last Night Books (1/20/16)

The novelist Jenny Yacovissi interviewed me for Late Last Night Books. Topics included Star Wars, exes, and things I wish I'd changed.

7 Things I've Learned So Far

Writer's Digest (12/29/15)

The terrific Chuck Sambuchino runs a series called "7 Things I've Learned So Far," and I contributed a column to it. I talk about not being an a-hole and posse'ing up.


Sirens of Suspense (9/8/15)

I wrote about my trip to the morgue for the Sirens of Suspense. What'd you do on YOUR summer vacation?

One Bite at a Time

Dana King's Blog (8/31/15)

The writer Dana King interviewed me, 20 questions-style, for his blog. We had fun! I talked about stalking exes online.

Suspense Radio

Inside Edition (8/22/15)

John Raab of Suspense Magazine interviewed me about You're As Good As Dead and writing and stuff like that. I don't want to brag but, I like, barely stammered.

Authors on the Air Podcast

Next Steps (7/15/15)

I was a guest on a podcast hosted by Nancy Cole Silverman along with Alex Dolan - both terrific writers. We talked about writing, male v. female characters, and pirates v. zombies. I only swore once!

Developing an Unforgettable Series Character

Crime Fiction.FM (6/23/15)

I wrote a guest post for the podcast Crime Fiction.FM about character creation, and how Tom Starks relates to Campbell's mythic hero quest. Just kidding; I don't know what that means.


The Baltimore Guide (6/22/15)

The Baltimore Guide did a really lovely interview with me. I talked about You're As Good As Dead and how Baltimore influences my work. And I barely use the word "lovely," so you know I really liked it.


SmokeLong Quarterly (6/16/15)

I was the Guest Editor for SmokeLong Quarterly, one of the best flash fiction pubs out there, and they interviewed me for the site. I talked about writing, violence, and my favorite TV show of all time (spoiler alert: it's Manimal).

Made It Moment

Jenny Milchman's Blog (6/15/15)

Jenny Milchman runs a fantastic series of "Made It Moments" on her blog. I wrote about it how I haven't made it yet.

What I've Learned Since I Got Published

Criminal Minds (4/13/15)

I detailed three things I've learned since I got published, including why lying matters.


Fast Page Turner (3/7/14)

The book reviewing site, Fast Page Turner, conducted a very nice interview with me about the Dead trilogy. They also reviewed I'll Sleep When You're Dead a week or so earlier. You can read that review here.

Finding the Right Publishing Path

Birth of a Novel (2/10/14)

I wrote about my own path to publishing, and the different options open to writers today. Also contains tips on how to sleep to the top (no judgment).

The Story Behind the Story

The Rap Sheet (1/29/14)

I wrote this for one of my favorite crime fiction writing sites, The Rap Sheet, about revenge. Contains a brief mention of Darth Vader.

Meeting Audience Expectations

Yvonne Ventresca's blog (1/24/14)

Here a piece I wrote about meeting audience expectations, and why erotica fans need some kissin.'

Five Tips on How to Get Blurbs

Buried Under Books (1/17/14)

Here's a piece I wrote about getting blurbs for your book. Or, as the kids call it, blurbin'!

Your Hero Sucks

Michelle Davidson Argyle's blog (1/7/14)

Here's a piece I wrote about heroes in thrillers, and the complexity of creating a compelling story with a flawed main character.

Creating a Fan Base with Serial Fiction

Tuesday Serial (12/5/13)

I wrote a small piece for Tuesday Serial about how I used my serial novella, When the Deep Purple Falls, to try and create enthusiasm for I'll Sleep When You're Dead. This essay has the words "sex dungeon" in it, for some reason.

Interview - Cathrina Constantine

Cathrina (11/16/13)

One of my fellow Black Opal Books' writers interviewed me for her blog. We discussed editing and orgies. Usual stuff.

Weekends in Baltimore


I wrote this small essay for The Big Thrill magazine when I'll Sleep When You're Dead was first published, and discussed why I wrote about Baltimore and some of the challenges with trying to capture a city.

This piece was then re-printed in Pen in Hand, the official publication of the Maryland Writers Association. You can read the issue here.