NEW FICTION: Bourbon & Blondes has arrived!

From the bus stations of Rt. 66 to the smoky, neon-tinged jazz dives of the big cities, these wanton tales of longing introduce us to vixens on the fringe and those shifty men that drove them there.

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Watch: The 'Bourbon & Blondes' Book Trailer

Get your shot glass ready because you're about to enter a retro world of showgirls, drifters, barmaids and thieves.

The eternal question for scribes?

In this new social media landscape, the question becomes: Is blogging dead? It just may be...

Watch: The 'Front Page Palooka' Book Trailer

Read the pulp novella that one reviewer called 'A potboiler in the style of old school writers like Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler...'

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Mark your calendars...

This newbie will be doing his very first reading at the New Jersey Noir At The Bar on Dec. 2. And the coolest part? The event is pegged to a bit of Jerrseyana, specifically Bruce Springsteen.

The event will feature some of lit's top noir scribes reading work from the cool new tome 'Trouble in the Heartland.' Featuring stories by Dennis Lehane, James Grady, Hilary Davidson, tales in the book are inspired by the songs of Bruce Springsteen.

In addition to this humble scribe, the hit list of writers scheduled to read includes: Erik Arneson, Jamez Chang, Jen Conley, Thomas Pluck, Chuck Regan, Joe Samuel Starnes, Kieran Shea, Wallace Stroby and Dennis Tafoya.

Door open at 7 p.m. at The Saint in Asbury Park. Readings start at 8 till 10ish, music to follow.

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Monday, November 10, 2014


Clockwise for top left, Michael Pitt, Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale and Steve Buscemi in the historical drama 'Boardwalk Empire.'


I recapped 'Boardwalk Empire' for my newspaper The Star-Ledger (and its web site since the show debuted in 2010. What follows below are links to very single episode.

Series logline: Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) navigates politicos and gangsters in a show set in Atlantic City during the Roarin' 20s and the dawn of Prohibition.


Episode 1: Pilot

Episode 2: The Ivory Tower

Episode 3: Broadway Limited

Episode 4: Anastasia

Episode 5: Nights in Ballygran

Episode 6: Family Limitation

Episode 7: Home

Episode 8: Hold Me In Paradise

Episode 9: Belle Femme

Episode 10: The Emerald City

Episode 11: Paris Green

Episode 12: 'A Return to Normalcy'


Episode 1: 21

Episode 2: Ourselves Alone

Episode 3: A Dangerous Maid

Episode 4: What Does The Bee Do?

Episode 5: Gimcrack & Bunkum

Episode 6: The Age of Reason

Episode 7: Peg of Old

Episode 8: Two Boats and a Lifeguard

Episode 9: Battle of the Century

Episode 10: Georgia Peaches

Episode 11: Under God's Power She Flourishes

Episode 12: To the Lost


Episode 1: Resolution

Episode 2: Spaghetti & Coffee

Episode 3: Bone For Tuna

Episode 4: Blue Bell Boy

Episode 5: You'd Be Surprised

Episode 6: Ging Gang Goolie

Episode 7: Sunday Best

Episode 8: The Pony

Episode 9: The Milkmaid's Lot

Episode 10: A Man, A Plan

Episode 11: Two Imposters

Episode 12: Margate Sands


Episode 1: New York Sour

Episode 2: Resignation

Episode 3: Acres of Diamonds

Episode 4: All In

Episode 5: Erlkönig

Episode 6: The North Star

Episode 7: William Wilson

Episode 8: The Old Ship of Zion

Episode 9: Marriage and Hunting

Episode 10: White Horse Pike

Episode 11: Havre de Grace

Episode 12: Farewell Daddy Blues


Episode 1: Golden Days for Boys and Girls

Episode 2: The Good Listener

Episode 3: What Jesus Said

Episode 4: Cuanto

Episode 5: King of Norway

Episode 6: Devil You Know

Episode 7: Friendless Child

Episode 8: Eldorado


WATCH: Anthony Venutolo on 'Boardwalk Empire'

'Boardwalk Empire' final season: Forever in the shadow of 'The Sopranos'

As 'Boardwalk Empire' ends, watch our favorite moments and tell us yours

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Friday, August 22, 2014


After crowdsourcing on social media which cover people preferred for my upcoming collection, it will be tough to come down to a final decision... There were TONS of responses. I love aspects of both. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Writers, rejoice! Here's a cool lil' app, that's currently enjoying the top spot in Apple's iTunes Store.

Self-confessed vintage typewriter collector Ton Hanks (Yes, THAT one) has created the ultimate iPad app that helps you channel your inner-Hemingway or Bukowski by creating the illusion of punching those keys on a vintage typewriter.

Launched Aug. 14, the app,which works even better with a Bluetooth keyboard, features three different models and comes complete with sound effects and that infamous ring at the end of each line of type.

It's currently free. An upgrade is available for all three typewriters, different colors, ribbons, etc.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014


The namesake of this blog was brash, crass, drank too much, womanized and fought like a scrapper. But when he hit the keys, the writing had a delicate grace and, most times, the result was indeed poetic. We lost him on March 9, 1994 but the writing, legacy and spirit lives on.

Happy birthday, Buk! Pouring some on the floor for you today. For everyone else, enjoy this definitive documentary, 'BORN INTO THIS' a must for any Hank fan.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


I'm excited to announce that my pulp/noir novella 'Front Page Palooka' is finally available in just about every format via most e-book points-of-purchase. In addition to the 500-pound gorilla Amazon, my gritty tale of one writer's journey through the 1954 American boxing landscape can be found at:

If the dead tree edition is more your thing, snag one at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble. As always, if you're gracious enough to buy a copy, please feel free to write an honest review at the point of purchase or on GoodReads (or both).

Subscribe to my newsletter for upcoming book news, pop culture goodies, noir delights and all things gin-soaked. Never spam - just utter coolness from time to time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


'Venutolo embraces the noir. No, really embraces it. With gusto. If you're gonna do it, do it right. That could be protagonist Nick Moretti's motto as well...'

My New Pulp Award-nominated noir novel 'Front Page Palooka' is now available for 99 cents - that's 99 pennies, people... Feel free to snag a copy at this price for a limited time and, as always, feel free to leave a review.

Subscribe to my newsletter for upcoming book news, pop culture goodies, noir delights and all things gin-soaked. Never spam - just utter coolness from time to time.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


WRITERS EMPOWERED: Indie publishing podcasts deliver the blueprints for success.

It's official. It's a great time to be a writer. The Kindle and e-reader boom has ushered in a golden age of publishing where - for the first time in recent history - writers realllly hold the cards. No longer are they slaves to the legacy publishing machine because millions of scribes are in complete control of their royalties, marketing and overall quality control of their books.

Prolific indie scribes like Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey and JA Konrath have given legions of wannabe writers the confidence needed to pursue their dream of being published. Those trailblazers proved that circumventing the Big Five could be done. Throw in Amazon's direct printing subsidiary CreateSpace and the proof is further in the pudding: Never has there been a time where the average Joe can sustain a healthy living as a full-time writer.

In fact, in a recent rant post, Konrath unleashed some venom towards the traditional model of publishing:

"If the Big Five think that e-book sales aren't continuing to eat away at paper sales, or that more and more authors are choosing to self-publish, or that Barnes & Noble will be around forever, or that they can relax because the tech revolution is over, they are whistling past the graveyard, and I don't give a shit.

What I do give a shit about is newbies buying into the continued nonsense that finding a publisher is the only way to succeed. The religion parallel applies here as well. There are a bunch of fat cats happy with the status quo, and they keep recruiting the naive, the hopeful, the uneducated, much like missionaries bringing bibles to the third world, getting the savages to kneel at the altar. Savages who wind up no better off (or even worse off) once they convert.

Legacy publishers NEED authors to feel that they're the only way to succeed. Because without authors, the Ponzi scheme of publishing (the few successful writers supporting the entire infrastructure, including authors who aren't successful) collapses. ...

... Let me make this crystal clear: AUTHORS DO NOT NEED PUBLISHERS.

It is 2014. All the forms of distribution open to legacy publishers are open to indies. We can reach as many ebook retail outlets as the biggest legacy publisher, and we can reach them faster and better. We can control our prices. We can control our titles, cover art, and content. We can also get into bookstores... "

That said, there is hard work involved. The modern writer needs to know much more than plot structure, pacing and dialogue. Creating your digital platform, navigating social media, maintaining a mailing list (complete with auto-responders) and becoming your own PR guru that would make Sydney Falco jealous is what's expected these days. It's a lot of heavy lifting.

So where I am going with all this? Last year, I wrote my first novel - a pulp for the FIGHT CARD series and now I'm working on a follow-up of collected flash fiction pieces. Naturally, in doing all this, I wanted to make sure that I had as much knowledge and exposure possible. The more I searched online, the more information I found. There were oodles of scribes doing exactly what I wanted to be doing and it was empowering. And the kicker? They were all (pretty much) following the same basic principles.

I soon turned to searching for podcasts for more information. And man, there were plentyof independent and self-publishing shows that are doing a spectacular job of creating blueprints for millions of writers. I couldn't get enough.

As someone who's listened to all of them, I figured I'd create a handy directory and my overall thoughts. In no particular order, here's a simple rundown of the self-publishing podcasts and why you should be listening.

(Many have asked me how I listen. It's easy. I bookmark ALL of these shows into the STITCHER radio app. Every time a new podcast posts that I subscribe to, it's waiting for me to be streamed in my queue. I'd be lost without it. Of course, these can aso be listened to via desktop as well as certain YouTube channels.)

The list...


Host: Simon Whistler

Overall vibe: Hands down, the most professional-sounding and best produced of the bunch, Whistler's approach is wonderfully conversational (he's also a professional audio book narrator) and the longer length of an hour-plus is definitely an advantage - especially if you want something more than the average 30 minute show. Whistler, who interviews a varied selection of different kinds of authors (he skews toward fiction), is coming up on a year of doing these podcasts and boy, they've become a favorite of mine. (Disclosure: I was a guest on Simon's show soon after I discovered it. To this day, it remains a favorite)

Simon also has a great writer resource page, detailed show notes and an incredible/extensive how-to video on building an author website (this one is a must for newbies). What's more, Whistler approaches each interview by specialty or subject matter and not rehashing advice from indie publishing and marketing gurus. This is what makes his podcast extremely refreshing.


Hosts: Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David W. Wright

Overall vibe: Make no mistakes, these guys are the rock stars and pre-eminent gurus of the indie publishing world. In fact, they've even written (like must gurus on this list) a bestselling tome on publishing success called "Write. Publish. Repeat" (a must read, btw). Over four-hundred positive reviews on Amazon can't be wrong.

Sure, there might be some complaints that their show is a tad too laid back, unorganized and lax, but if you can get through the initial chit-chat, they certainly get into the self-publishing weeds and that's where they bring the heat. Their publishing consistency and savvy have made them the go-to source for thousands of wannabe scribes. It works.

To show just how ballsy they are after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Platt, Truant and Wright recently got enough funding to let the world watch them conceive, conceptualize, outline, write, edit, polish, perfect, dress, publish and market a book — all in 30 days. Like I said, rock stars.

Tools: The guys provide one of the best resource pages online. Bookmark it because it's a must. 


Host: Tom Corson-Knowles

Overall vibe: Corson-Knowles is all business. The guy has built a mini empire on teaching people how to make money online as authors and each week he gives us a guest who is successful in book biz. His owns titles include "Secrets of the Six-Figure Author," "The Kindle Publishing Bible," "Facebook For Business Owners," "How To Make Money With Twitter" and "The Kindle Writing Bible."

One tiny gripe: I imagine I would love the show even more if there wasn't a distracting echo that seems more prominent on the podcast on not the vidcast. A decent mic or headset would probably remedy this.

Extras: In addition to his useful podcast, Corson-Knowles is the founder of and has a great blog on timely publishing trends.


Host: Joanna Penn

Overall vibe: If there is a grand dame of indie publishing, then Joanna Penn is it. This self-made and taught 'authorpreneur' has an incredible amount to offer and her essential podcast should be regularly bookmarked. Need more proof? Penn, who sports a soothing and dignified British accent to boot, is also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, voted one of The Guardian UK Top 100 Creative Professionals 2013, and voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers for three years running and named one of the Top 10 Blogs for Self-Publishers in 2012. Impressive.

Extras: Her web site is way more than a mere landing page for her platform. Penn, who also practices what she preaches, shares just about every aspect of her writing journey and offers up a slew of material and resources breaking it down to three comprehensive categories -- writing, publishing and marketing.



Hosts: Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen 

Overall vibe: One of the newest shows on the block is quickly becoming my one of my favorites. This dynamic duo has a great rapport and their zippy format is really a refreshing take on these podcasts. Each week, the pair focuses on different trends in the industry as well as the Top Five publishing stories and break them down one-by-one. For example, this was covered in just one episode:

  • How Bryan hit the top 25 in the Amazon Kindle store
  • How to use a rolling KDP Select Countdown Deal
  • What some authors are using to build their email lists
  • How to create a book bubble and how it could help you
  • The top Kindle ebook reading city in the U.S.
  • Why Jim agrees with J.A. Konrath on the Amazon-Hachette matter
  • What makes indie authorship a good business model
  • How many authors are earning a living through Kindle

Extras: Are there ever. Kukral is a 18-year Internet marketing professional who was named by Dun & Bradstreet as one of “The Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter. Also, he is the founder of, the popular community that provides book marketing tools and training for authors.

Cohen and his website Build Creative Writing Ideas continually helps authors to conquer writer’s block and come up with new projects. He's also the creator of Bookshibition, a company that sets up social media events for authors.


Host: Shawn Manaher

Overall vibe: From building your author platform to selling more books with e-mail marketing, the shows are well-rounded and highly informative.

Extras: Manaher's site, Book Marketing Tools, is extremely professional but may lack some personalization other sites have. Nonetheless, it's set up as a bonafide author marketing portal with links to the podcasts as well as other useful tips to help the indie author.


Host: Chris Bell

Overall vibe: The podcast extension to the Indie Author Help Desk is another great show (albeit with the oddest opening) with a longer format. Why great? Because Bell interviews indie authors and not necessarily like-minded publishing gurus - which, for me, is always a better selling point.

Extras: In addition to free self-publishing tutorials, The Indie Author Help Desk offers author services from editing to marketing to platform creation.



Host: Nick Thacker

Overall vibe: Extremely professional with top-notch sound. Major props to Thacker, who, in a recent podcast, acknowledges the writer's lonely existence and has even broached the topic of writing through depression and the overall blues. We've all been there so it was extremely heartfelt.

Extras: High-quality resources which include a free 20-week online writing course, a page that includes links to what Thacker calls the Power 100 (useful web sites for writers) and tutorials on using Scrivener software. With over 200 articles on self-publishing, Thacker's online writing portal should be bookmarked.


Hosts: Wade Finnegan, Carl Sinclair, Trish McCallan, John Ward, David W Wright and the 'weekly' guest

Overall vibe: What started out as an informal Twitter coffee klatch has morphed into a must-listen (or watch) every week. The show has gone through a few tweaks and changes but now remains a solid show that features the best in the biz on a weekly basis.

Extras: While the podcast's platform doesn't offer much in the form of extras, it DOES offer extremely informative blog articles on almost every aspect of indie-publishing. These are not to be missed.

Let me know ... Have I missed any shows? Which are your favorites and why? 

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Saturday, May 17, 2014


I'm proud to present this snappy teaser for my forthcoming flash fiction collection, 'Bourbon & Blondes.' It's currently in the tweaking/editing stage and I hope to have it out by summer. I'll keep everyone posted.

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Friday, March 14, 2014


Rustin and Hart won't be back next season. Who would you like to see?

It's over. HBO's massive watercooler drama "True Detective" was a multi-layered wonder not seen since their other must-watch series "The Wire."

And on Monday morning, I had the distinct pleasure of playing armchair casting agent at my job (GREAT GIG, HUH?) and whip up a list as to who might be perfect next season on the critically-acclaimed drama.

Check out my dream casts and scenarios HERE and be sure to let me know what you think below in the comments.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


EXTRA! EXTRA! Tomorrow (at 3 p.m.) is the last day to vote for my debut novella 'Front Page Palooka' for the 2014 installment of the NEW PULP AWARDS.

The noir and hard-boiled tome is nominated in three categories including:




Good luck to my fellow FIGHT CARD nominees Terrence McCauley, Carol Anne Olsen Malone, Andrew Salmon and Derrick Ferguson.

To vote on the official ballot, click HERE. Any and all votes will be more than appreciated. Good luck to my fellow nominees.

Subscribe to my newsletter for upcoming book news, pop culture goodies, noir delights and all things gin-soaked. Never spam - just utter coolness from time to time.

Friday, December 27, 2013


LISTEN UP! I'm the guest on this week's Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast which is produced and run by the awesome Simon Whistler. Over the course of an hour or so, we chat about writing a book set in the 1950s, making awesome book trailers and about the FIGHT CARD series in general. You also hear an early audio version of my novella 'Front Page Palooka.'

Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I have the luxury of working with some of the finest working videographers and documentarians in the news biz. Check out the Star-Ledger's latest short film 'Being George' that probes the quirky fight to be a REAL American Idol. Who knew there was such infighting among George Washington impersonators in the cutthroat competition to re-enact his crossing of the Delaware? Grab some java or a nice, cold drink because this is a compelling watch... ~Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


LEADING MAN? John Bernthal in 'Mob City'

I've made mention of it here before... It seems that every TV network wants a piece of that retro pie. This time, TNT is throwing its hat into the ring with their ambitious three-week event 'Mob City' that's scheduled to air Dec. 4. Based on the John Buntin non-fiction book 'L.A. Noir,' the six-episode drama depicts the Los Angeles department's secret unit of cops and the brutal (and famous) gangsters of the post-war/pre-rock and roll era. I've managed to snag a screener of the first episode and I've come to a few conclusions and raise some appropriate questions.


Jon Hamm. Steve Buscemi. Jeffrey Dean Morgan. As the anti-heros (and respective leads) of their own vintage cable dramas, these thesps effortlessly carry their show. They're the soul and even though STARZ cancelled 'Magic City,' Morgan was certainly the glue that held that ill-fated show together(one can easily imagine him fitting in perfectly here).

Executive producer Frank Darabont (who met his leading man while he was the showrunner on 'The Walking Dead') has mentioned that veteran TV actor Jon Bernthal harkens back to the rugged leading men of film noir. When I read that, the record scratched off in my head. Physically, sure, Bernthal may ideal in a scrappy kind of way but I can't see him charismatically carrying this show as former WWII marine Joe Teague, now a grizzled LAPD detective. He's the second banana and a damned good one at that. He's not the guy I think of when I look for the poster child for my show. Even more odd (stay with me) is that when I found out he rubbed his head on 'The Walking Dead' what seemed like every episode nervously, I really made up my mind. Unfair? Maybe. Was it a character trait or weird acting tick? Click here to make up your mind. Either way, he's not the Russell Crowe Darabont may think he is.

IS HE BUGSY? Can Ed Burns pull it off?


I don't want to get hung up on casting again but Edward Burns as famed gangster Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel? Really? I'll be honest... Bugsy is a hard role to cast because not only was he movie star handsome, he was a vicious killer. On the big screen, Warren Beatty as the Las Vegas visionary was also a head-scratcher and Richard Grieco in 'Mobsters' was downright laughable. You can't just cast a haircut... There needs to be menace.

In his defense, Burns didn't show up in the pilot so I can't say whether he's any good but I'm hoping he'll surprise me. Up to now, he's always been an actor-director stuck in his mid-90s groove of New York bars and witty banter. Fun fact: Thomas Jane (who starred in Darabont's 'The Mist') was originally supposed to portray Siegel. We even see him in character via photographs during episode 1. When the show got picked up, Jane had another acting commitment so the gig went to Burns.

As an aside, as far as Bugsy portrayals are concerned, late actor Ray Sharkey delivered a bravura performance as a character based on the gangster in the 1989 Showtime miniseries 'The Neon Empire,' written by novelist and legendary journalist Pete Hammill. If you can find it on VHS, snag yourself a copy.


We've been down this road before and the results have proven woefully uneven. Last year's "Gangster Squad" was pretty much two hours of Sean Penn chewing up chunks of scenery; Josh Brolin squinting and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone playing dress up for the school play 'Guys and Dolls.'

This particular era of Los Angeles and its underbelly is difficult to recreate - especially with CGI. The aesthetic needs to be real or else it all just begins to look like a video game. Wanna see it done right? Look no further than 1997's "L.A. Confidential." Does 'Mob City' nail it? I'd say they're on the right track.


A noir is only as good as it's lady and we barely catch a glimpse of actress Alexa Davalos in the pilot. Here's hoping we see much more of her because after all, without a lethal dame, who gives a rat's patooty about gangsters, right?


The pedigree of Darabont is hard to overlook and it's obvious he assembled a top notch supporting cast that includes Neal McDonough, Hal Morrison, Milo Ventimiglia and Jeremy Luke.

There isn't a more seductive era than vintage Los Angeles and if Darabont can infuse its landscape into the show ala Michael Mann and 'Miami Vice,' he can't lose.

In the pilot, Simon Pegg is a standout as a low-rent club comic Hecky Nash who has a bone to pick with the mob. Who knew the guy had dramatic chops?


What's my verdict? 'Mob City' tries reallly hard. Sure, it has moody narration, a flawed, hard-boiled hero and enough shadows to make you squint. But is it bonafide noir? As far as the pilot is concerned, let's just say that 'Mob City' is the Domino's pizza franchise that just opened smack dab in the middle of Florence, Italy. The ingredients are there, sure... But sometimes you just want a gritty, old-school pie.