a weblog for readers and writers

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Brood X Has Something to Say

Hear the sound of those Cicadas all around us? Incessantly buzzing day and night? It’s almost as though they’re announcing something.

I was inspired to write “Cicadas” shortly after Brood X burrowed back into the ground. “Cicadas” was a short story, and one of my first to be both published in an anthology and featured on the radio. You can listen to an abridge version of the story as it aired on Baltimore’s NPR station, WYPR, at the link below—complete with Cicada sound effects as background music.

I recently revisited the characters from my story, “Cicadas,” at my writing desk. I had a few pages of basic notes for a sort of anti-love story that corrects itself, and as I hashed out the details I realized the characters from “Cicadas” as older people would fit the roles well. I also realized that Brood X was inching its way back toward another emergence and that it could take place seventeen years later, when the Cicadas were back in full force.

The result: my forthcoming novel, Wrecks and Ruins. 

Get a taste by listening to the original “Cicadas” at the link.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cicada Love Songs

The last time Brood X emerged, I was amazed at the change in the landscape—the look, the smell, and most of all, the sound of my Baltimore neighborhood transformed into an eerie alien landscape, something out of an old 1950s bug-eyed monster movie, the sound of aliens hovering on the horizon.

I was inspired to write “Cicadas” shortly after Brood X burrowed back into the ground. “Cicadas” was a short story, and one of my first to be both published in an anthology and featured on the radio.

When East Baltimore’s Patterson Theater hosted a Write Here Write Now reading in 2006, “Cicadas” became the first short story I read aloud to an audience as an author outside an academic setting. “Cicadas” would go on to be read on Baltimore’s NPR station, WYPR, in 2008, and published as the opening story in New Lines from the Old Line State: An Anthology of Maryland Writers (Maryland Writers Association Press, 2008).

Brood X is back. What better time than now to listen to the story they inspired last time they were with us? Take a ten-minute listen below—Cicada sound effects included!



Friday, June 18, 2021

A Writeful Welcome for Readers and Writers Alike


About fifteen years ago, I started this blog, Writeful: a weblog for readers and writers. Around the same time, I was writing a book columnist for Gather and wrote for them a short literary column called Lit Bit.

Lit Bit (and Gather) lasted a few years, but Writeful lives on. Aside from one three-month hiatus early on when I was still figuring out what I was doing, I’ve maintained the blog ever since.

What began as a place to report on advice from writers I’d met (everyone from Tom Wolfe and John Irving to E.L. Doctorow and Elmore Leonard) soon shifted into a place to report on my own writing.

For those who have been reading through the years, thank you for sticking around. For those new to Writeful, welcome. I hope fellow readers and writers continue to read my attempt at a mighty yawp.

Come in and know me better. There are years of blog posts to explore. See how it all began at the link below.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Addicted to your smartphone?


We are all guilty of looking at our phones too much. But as someone who enjoys unplugging for travel and hiking and writing retreats, I also know that when you unplug for a few days or weeks, we normally don’t miss nearly as much as we would by staring at our phones.


In my short story, “Comments Left,” I tried to imagine a new trend that could be as altering as smart phones have been over the past decade. Let’s hope it doesn’t come true, but if it did, at least we might not be staring at our phones as often.

Sounds intriguing, right? Read “Comments Left,” which was published in the Spring issue of The Virginia Normal


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