Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Monday, November 5, 2012

My City In Ruins

            Nestled between New York and Philadelphia, New Jersey and the people who live here, are the Rodney Dangerfield of the 50 states.  It’s been that way ever since the 13 Colonies broke away from England.  Mocked for everything from our accents to our attitudes, viewed with disdain and condescension by neighbors across both the Hudson and Delaware, this state is often the butt of late night TV show jokes.  People who don’t know anything about New Jersey think we speak like characters out of the Sopranos and only understand geography when we can attach a highway exit to the map.  Like the caricatures on a dumbass show on MTV or Real Housewives capture the essence of who we are.
            But New Jersey is more than oil refineries on the Turnpike and gridlocked highways filled with rush hour commuters.
            For those of us who were born here, who grew up here, or who live here, this state is much more than that.  We are 127 miles of coastline and sandy beaches, the untouched beauty of the Pine Barrens, acres of farms, and rolling hills.  We are generations of families who have built lives here and raised children and made a difference in the world, in big ways and small.  We are tough and resilient, filled with hard-assed attitude, and we know what it takes to roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty, and get the job done.  We are the best of all people. 
            We are a state filled with courage – brave, spirited, caring people who love our families, friends, and neighbors with a fierceness nobody else can match.  Our identity is forged in the strength we find in each other.  We are the gritty toughness of a Springsteen song and the beautifully written words of a Toni Morrison novel.  We are a state of farmers, fishermen, truck drivers, blue collar laborers, doctors, lawyers, and executives – sons and daughters of immigrants from all over the world.  We identify with the underdog, and cheer on those facing the longest odds and toughest journey.
            We are everyman.
            So much of what I learned in life, I learned growing up in New Jersey.  This state is a part of me and who I am.  I am proud to be from New Jersey – full of that unique blend of edginess, attitude, energy, and strength, and filled with a love for the people around me.
            New Jersey will rebuild and restore what this storm tried to take away.  The spirit we own can never be broken.  Don’t tell us how hard it will be and don’t try to stop us from doing what needs to be done.  We are about overcoming odds and taking on all challenges.
We are more than a punch line in somebody’s joke.
            We are what this country is all about.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Boxing And Hard Road

Boxing has been a part of my life ever since my grandfather first taught me how to throw a punch.  I grew up listening to stories about fights and the fighters he loved – champions like Dempsey, Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler, and Rocky Marciano.  I used to shuffle around the kitchen like I was Sugar Ray, flicking my jab at an imaginary Jake LaMotta until my mother chased me outside (when I got older I turned into Smoking Joe Frazier or Benny Briscoe – my favorite Philly fighters - but it didn’t matter because she still chased me out of the kitchen).  Saturday mornings were spent at the local barber shop, studying the black and white pictures of fighters tacked to the walls, reading Ring Magazine, and listening to the old guys arguing about who was the best pound for pound fighter they ever saw.  Baseball, football, and hockey were seasonal – boxing and the arguments about it remained constant throughout the year.  When I got older I tried my hand at boxing in the local YMCA, and for years afterwards I worked out on a heavy bag in my basement, still imagining I was Ali, Hagler, Mike Tyson, or Bernard Hopkins.  It was always semi-comical to be sitting in a business meeting, dressed in a suit and tie, with hands that were bruised, swollen, and scabbed over from too many brutal nights pounding the leather.
I owe it all to my grandfather.  He instilled in me a love of the sport and a deep appreciation for boxing that showed me how no other sport offered what boxing did.  It had (and still has) everything you could ever want – at its core it is a simple contest between two opponents matching skill, desire, strength, determination, and sometimes, a little luck. 
But boxing is more than that.  It is about passion and sacrifice - a sport for those who often come from nothing and risk it all for a chance at greatness.  Boxing provides the opportunity to achieve immortality for guys who have no other way to find it. I was always fascinated by the sport.  By its purity.  By the dedication and self-discipline it took to be successful.  By what was needed to rise against the odds.  And by the loneliness of each fighter’s existence - in the end, it was always about the fighter getting in the ring alone.  For a kid who grew up by himself, even though he was surrounded by friends, it struck a chord somewhere deep inside that still resonates today. 
In more concrete terms, boxing is about rising from the canvas when you’re knocked down, holding on when you’re being pummeled in the corner, and surviving to fight another round. It is about fighting with everything you have, all your heart, all your skill, and all your ability, and then embracing your opponent when it’s over because he has done the same thing. In boxing you battle more than your opponent – you battle yourself and the hand you were dealt. You battle adversity.  You battle critics and people who tell you that you’ll never make it. You battle your size, your intelligence, your speed, your age, your character, and most importantly, your will.
            Boxing is just like life.  It takes all that was good, bad, noble, and awful, and puts it in the center of the ring. No other sport demonstrates that the ones who are great in life aren’t always the ones who win, but those who fight the hardest to win. It proves that skill, money, and talent can only go so far, and that the true measure of success is in the size of your heart and the strength of your will. It is the ultimate test of man against man, and man against himself. Greatness, like failure, is always just one punch away.  It is the ultimate in competition. 
Maybe I didn’t get all of that from my grandfather – not in those words, but that’s what it turned into.  For a kid like me, it was about beating the odds when nobody believed in me and everyone told me I could never win, no matter how hard I tried.  Boxing was about proving everybody wrong.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fight Card Updates

In case you missed it, Fight Fictioneers Magazine Volume 2 was recently releasedThis is a great magazine for fans of the Fight Card series and for boxing fans in general, and this issue features some great articles, essays, and stories by Fight Card authors (including me).  Free copies are available for fans and friends – just shoot me an email or leave a comment.

Upcoming Fight Card releases through the end of the year will include books by Robert Evans, Robert Randisi, and Mike Faricy.  2013 will include more titles and a few surprises, and I plan on getting back in the ring with another Fight Card tale of my own.  You can find more info at the Fight Card website:

If you haven’t checked out Fight Card, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Edge Of The Road

I took a turn as a homicidal maniac - my latest story "The Edge Of The Road" is up at The Killing Pandemic.

You can check it out at:


Friday, June 15, 2012

LOST EXIT Free Promo Weekend

For the next three days, LOST EXIT will be offered for free.  You can head over to Amazon and pick up a copy, just in time for Father's Day or an afternoon at the beach or to read when you're bored watching the NBA Finals....pick up a copy, pop open a cold, frosty Bud, kick back, and enjoy.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stephen King On Writing

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”

 You can read more of Stephen King's tips on being a good writer here


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Splat Goes The Hero"

Great essay from Jack Ketchum over at Lit Reactor on writing.  Beyond the obvious topic of violence and pain, Ketchen gets into the process of getting it right for the reader (nailing that voice, the emotions necessary in every story, and the action).  Check it out here

And if you haven't discovered Ketchum, he's a "must read."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Atlantic City, 1957

Professional boxers Roberto Varga and Michael Boyle were once pals growing up at St. Vincent’s Asylum for Boys in Chicago. Under the guidance of Father Tim, the fighting priest, they learned values, respect, responsibility, and how to fight fair.

But those lessons didn’t stick with Boyle. Two years after leaving St. Vincent’s, Boyle and Varga face-off in the ring with Boyle pounding out a bloody, lopsided decision, Varga swore wasn’t on the up and up.

In the seven years since, their careers have taken different paths. Guided by unscrupulous manager Tommy Domino, Boyle is positioned for a title shot against Sugar Ray Robinson. Varga, however, has struggled in a career still haunted by the bloody loss to Boyle.

When the boxer scheduled to fight Boyle in Atlantic City breaks his hand two weeks before the fight, Domino scrambles for a replacement. He finds Varga toiling in a Philadelphia gym and offers him the rematch Varga has been waiting years to get. For Varga, it’s a chance to finally even the score, a chance to get the title shot he’s always dreamed about. But Boyle is not the only formidable foe aligned against Varga.

Redemption comes at a bloody price – a price perhaps too high for Varga to pay.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Coming Soon: Fight Card (Hard Road)

If you're a fan of boxing and/or noir, head over to Amazon and check out Fight Card.  Some excellent writers like Paul Bishop, Mel Odom, and Eric Beetner have already contributed and more writers will be a part of this great series throughout the coming year (my entry: Hard Road will be out later this spring).

Check it out!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Top 10 List of Writing Tips From Famous Writers

A Top 10 List of Writing Tips from Famous Writers…

10. Work according to the program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time! (Henry Miller)

9. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. (George Orwell)

8. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page. (Margaret Atwood)

7. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.” (Elmore Leonard)

6. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing. (Henry Miller)

5. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. (Neil Gaiman)

4. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. (Margaret Atwood)

3. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. (George Orwell)

2. Don’t overuse exclamation points!! (William Safire)

1. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip. (Elmore Leonard)

(with thanks to Streets, Bridges, Harbors for letting me steal this.....)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Death By Killing

Absolutely Kate Pilarcik - writer, editor, publisher, and promoter extraordinaire (in no particular order of skills) has listed my story Who's Got The Action as one of her Top 5 picks over at Death By Killing.  Death By Killing is Chris Rhatigan's site for reviews of short fiction - you can always find some quality stories as well as a few surprises there on a regular basis.  You can check out the link to Kate's list here, and find links to some of Chris' stories as well.

Get over there and check it out!