TL:DR because I don’t trust other fiction.

I toddled down a rabbit hole this morning.  I say toddled because I got myself out so quickly instead of losing 2 hours to doomscrolling.

I was following a series of increasingly strident flags declaring that THIS  is “the great gay American novel.”  And I mean, I like great novels and gay people and am interested in America and anyone who has the nerve to lift the curtain.  But like I always do, I started by reading the worst reviews. That’s where the gold is, the truth, the ick, or in some cases “this was too horny for me and had too many queer characters” in which case it’s a one-click buy. But sometimes it’s:


That’s a one-click read, that review. If it inspires such vitriol then either it’s a masterpiece or a steaming turd.

Ah.  The latter.

Because I’m absolutely not a little bit sorry, but The Great Gay American Novel is not allowed to be a goddamn Kill-Your-Gays trope.  Not a fucking chance.

We’ve heard those stories. They’re called queer history.  Despair, isolation, mental illness, and often the only defence is to destroy all human feeling in your soul so you don’t have to cope with the fact that if everyone knew you for who you are, they wouldn’t just hate you, they would want you dead.


Boooooooorrrrrrrring because it’s horrible and spiritually deadening and it still happens in real life all the time and so we don’t need a 700 page novel about a loser who spends the whole book being awful to everyone and experiencing zero emotional growth but he just happens to be a gay man in a book about gay men so that makes it THE GREAT GAY AMERICAN NOVEL. It just feels like more trauma porn: look, here’s a walking, talking tragedy, let’s zoom in closer on all his faults. Now closer. NOW CLOSER. 

Look, I haven’t read this book and under no circumstances will I ever read it (ok, a million dollars but I get half in advance.) I am basing my opinions on one review and the blurb of the book. And an interview in which the author said they didn’t believe in psychology and that people who were broken should essentially just stay broken.

That’s when I realized I’d *never* read the book, nor probably anything else this author has written. The way to help someone who is broken is to see them, hear them, love them, help them. “I see your pain.  Your pain is real.  Pain ends.  I trust you. I believe you.” You don’t shrug and then take character notes.  I refuse to read 700 pages about someone who refuses to grow, who gets no help, and whose main characteristic is being an irredeemable piece of shit.  Just sounds like a novel about straight people.

*and write

An incidental cruelty

Hi, welcome to adult-diagnosed ADHD for women, where today you’ll learn that:

While scientific evidence is still emerging about how changing hormones can impact ADHD Janine feels the link was undeniable. Oestrogen helps to modulate the release of dopamine in the brain. When Janine’s level of oestrogen began to drop as she entered perimenopause, the ADHD symptoms she had been able to manage became much harder to deal with.

ADHD can have a significant impact on people’s lives — even when you’re an adult – ABC News

I was today years old when I learned that. You might not have been masking intentionally. Your ovaries were doing it for you. As their function declines, so does your dopamine supply. An incidental cruelty. Aging isn’t a punishment, it simply is, but that doesn’t make it easier.

Might explain why I recently got back into Drum & Bass. I’m rather a connoisseur of dopamine stimulation (within the boundaries of my enduring motion sickness and terror of deep water) and there’s something about playing a belting dj mix as I rocket around my empty kitchen at 5 am that helps the rest of my day run smoothly. I’ve already invoked some chaos, gleefully triggered some joy. It’s a smooth run from there.

5 – Pattern

stay busy stay too busy to think

this will work for a while

all the tricks work for a little while

but you become immune

too tolerant of everything

too tired of reflecting

you are so tired from thinking that you have no energy for anything else

avoidance is a kind of lying

if you’d only stayed busy

if you’d only not started getting up alone

hours and hours to pick apart yourself

to feel yourself unravel

to knit yourself anew to contain the rest of the day

but you’re fraying

the pattern is an old one

thumb print blurred

missing corners

the needles slip

your fingers cramping

and there is never any less day

stay busy

or you will come


This is the 5th in a recent series of poems and statements building up around a common theme of identity. I am writing them more for myself than the public, as a tool for introspection, which is why this is the first I’ve posted.

I started this blog as a place for my raw, ragged thoughts then stupidly went and made it a component of my writer’s online persona.  I wish now that I had kept it separate, but anyway I have never been a private person so if this is how I meet the world, so be it. 

you are so tired from thinking that you have no energy for anything else
avoidance is a kind of lying

The distance between thought and action (and speaking is an action) can be difficult to bridge.  Poetry is such a bridge: metaphoric, image-making, employing rhyme and meter to produce a sense of coherence, a miniature tautology, a universe complete unto itself.  Meaning from non-meaning, because the best poems are so light they might blow away on the next breeze. 

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Aldous Huxley, Island

The Keeper

swearing cheapens everything

it fucking does

I went away to practice my elocution

why do you have to sexualize everything

you’re the one who insisted on the mountains

the snow like cream

the foothills dank with fir

sappy air that ignites when you snap your fingers

such danger

much fear

I went to practice elocution

the shape of words and

the morals

to every fairytale

eat the apple: sleep a thousand years unchanged

then fuck a prince

“so what’s the catch?”


Have I written any poems this year?  I keep posting old poems to Insta because I’m lazy and I need content. I don’t write poetry with any diligence. Only when the words need to be poems and not my standard prose. 

But I went to an indie book fair yesterday.  Everyone in my town is a poet or knows a poet.  Pretty, pretty books everywhere. This is what I bought:

A photo of two books laying on a desk.  The book on the left is “Poetry is Queer” by the author Kirby. It has a light purple cover with a picture of a surreal phallic shape outlined by white buttons and filled in with googly eyes. This shape is passing through a circle of white buttons.  The book on the right is “Dream Rooms” by River Halen.  The cover is mainly black with bold white text and a colourful photo of hundreds of pieces of discarded chewing gum.  Both books are very, very queer.

Who the heck am I?  I mean this week…

I can overthink anything.  You name it, I can lose myself down a rabbit hole of reverie that will touch on any and every topic my pick-n-mix brain can associate with it.

So when it comes to who I am as an author, you better believe I have come at this hot mess of an identity crisis from every angle under the sun.  Total anonymity.  Full disclosure.  Pen names that had nothing to do with my real name, and one that is an amalgam of names by which I’ve been known all my life. This is before I start thinking about gender, both mine and my characters.

Everything feels up for grabs, as if I am remaking the world if only in a very narrow way.  But what set me off?  Why think about any of this?

I was interested in joining a book promotion with a group of other authors.   LGBTI+ books were siloed off in their own category, regardless of genre.  Most of the authors in the category were cis-presenting white women writing thinly veiled fanfic of Buffy (everyone’s a dude and they all bang) and/or Brokeback Mountain (everyone’s a cowboy and two of them bang.)  If that’s your trot, as Chuck Tingle says, let’s trot,

I usually go a different way.  Because I’m a pernicious troublemaker who has never found a foothold in the mainstream.  But what does this mean for my career?  If I write about diversely queer characters, am I doomed to scrabble at the margins, never gaining a fan-base, never writing a book that other people truly want to read? Can I really survive the long hours, months, years to build a following?  Other people are making it work, though they started sooner, have a head start so to speak.  My genre is certainly niche, but it exists and the reader base is committed and growing. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

So why didn’t I join the promo?

Because I hadn’t done all this thinking yet.  I hadn’t come to terms with the ever more obvious truth that I really only want to write about queer love. Y’all straights got plenty to read.  I want to tell a different story.  Love is love, however, even if you’re the straightest arrow ever drawn, and being bi (though maybe I should start saying ‘pan’ as gender is a social construct and doesn’t really exist) I’m fine with heterosexual unions.  I just don’t much care to read or write about them.

Perhaps the most valuable thought that came up is the difficulty of straddling certain genre divides.  It’s one thing to write a historical paranormal shifter omegaverse time travel story and quite another to put both a straight and a gay romance arc into that story.  There’s an ick factor around romance a.k.a. kissing that cannot be denied or even overcome.  Many people find out they’re a certain orientation by a bit of exposure to what it turns out they don’t like.  When that first kiss makes your skin crawl but not in a good way and you realize you can’t kiss that sort of person ever again.  

I don’t need people putting my books down because of that mood.  Just because my edges are blurry as heck doesn’t mean I can assume the same about readers.  In fact, the longer I work in self-publishing the more I understand that I am not my target market.  For starters, there’s only one of me, and my tastes are unpredictable.  I need total strangers to see, want, then read my books.  Then to want to read all the others (in their niche genre interest, that is, which ought to be obvious from a glance at my books’ covers or I’m doing genre fiction wrong.)

The big promo has started and I’ve missed my chance for the year.  Such is life, and I can only wish that I’d been thinking clearer that month and been able to come to these conclusions while I could still get involved.  We do what we can, and in December 2022 that turned out to be almost nothing while I recovered from you-know-what.  Brain fog is real, yo, and it’s a sonofabitch.

Never Enough

I wanted it not to matter

for it to make no difference

for this to not be measured in these pounds of flesh

weighed and found wanting

we wanted to be free

not to measure

not to count

you mourn yourself

your particular futures

the claims you have made on them

usurped by raw fact

these things too must (sometimes) pass

“No fear exists except beginning”

It is enough

It is never enough

After, we swam in the river

trusting in the darkness

calling one another’s name

you forgot to answer and I

swam to you

blind in the blood warm water

the sacred dark

and when your hand touched mine

beneath the surface I forgot my

own name too


Representation matters (so don’t f*** it up)

For the first time in my writing life I paid someone to critique a manuscript. It took a week for me to get up the nerve to read the report, because folks, this book is my baby. In a way no book has ever been. There’s something about my main character that won’t let me go. The editor had a similar reaction. In fact, they said some of the nicest things I’ve ever heard about something I wrote. More importantly, they got it: the point, the vibe, the Universal Tropes driving the story.

That being said, the book is not perfect. It may in fact be deeply flawed. Nothing I can’t redeem, and absolutely worth the effort to do so because I want this book to SHINE. If my character Izzy resonates with other readers the way he did with someone I paid to be professionally mean to me, then this might be my first major success. It can’t be held back by a mediocre subplot, wishy-washy supporting characters, and accidental queerbaiting.

That last criticism hurt. With surgical precision, because it was true. For those who haven’t heard the term or perhaps don’t know the meaning, in modern media analysis queerbaiting means to present a character as if they are queer, but never allow them to be openly queer. Worse is when the queer-coded character turns out to be straight. For example Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory: would you have been at all surprised if he had been gay? You know, like Jim Parsons, the actor who played him?

That’s a good indication why queerbaiting is a problem. We see so few queer characters in popular media whose queerness is both present in the story and…not the plot of the story. Because not every story with queer characters needs to be a painful coming out story. Not every Trans character has to struggle with body dysmorphia. We don’t all get rejected by our families. And more to the point, most of the time we aren’t thinking about our orientation. It’s just a fact about us, like the color of our hair and eyes, or whether or not we can stand the taste of coriander. But by not letting characters be openly queer, it traps queer people in this shadow realm of not properly existing in the public consciousness.

Some might argue that the queer agenda is taking up too much air these days. As much as I can speak for the LGBTI+ community at large, we certainly didn’t plan to become ammunition in the culture wars. But the cats are out of the bags, we are out of the shadows, and that’s simply the way of things now.

Which is a lot of words to say, I fucked up. I did myself what I decry in others’ work. Telford seems gay. Possibly asexual. So why did I bend over backwards to make him kiss a girl? Honestly, it was nothing more than carelessness. I am so dialed in on my main character Izzy that I just kind of did whatever for poor Telford. He deserves better. And Izzy deserves my best.

More posts to come on this process, I’m sure. It’s the longest book I’ve ever written and I think it’s going to change my life. If I get it right…

Why choose?

Reverse Harem and the (r)evolution of Romance writing

If you aren’t an avid ebook reader, it’s likely you’ve never heard of the genre, which has begun to call itself “why choose” because algorithms are prurient snitches. Yet it’s the strongest trend in self published romance, with no signs of slowing down.

It is also an astonishing indicator of where culture is headed. Because two out of every five ebooks sold are romance, and reverse harem tropes are EVERYWHERE.

So what the heck is it? Nothing more or less than a romance story where the heroine gets ALL the boys. Without having to choose between them, favoring one and only one. Without lying or cheating, with the consent of all the men, which is perhaps the most fantastical aspect of the genre, that three or more cis-het guys could get over their egos enough to get along with their partner’s metamour.

OK so what the heck is a metamour?

It’s the point at which the Why Choose genre gets really interesting. Because, pardon me if I’m wrong, but this is polyamory. A metamour is your lover’s lover. Not your competition, just “the other person who loves the same person as me.”

Meaning the strongest trend in romance writing is a vigorous, fun-loving, open-hearted repudiation of the nuclear family. One of the lynchpins of Western society, blamed repeatedly (and quite sensibly) for maintaining women’s inferior status. Less than half a decade ago, women in the US were being arrested for wearing pants. A wife needed her husband’s permission to open her own bank account. The assumption was nearly universal that all women wanted was safety. That women weren’t sexual, weren’t interested in freedom in being their own person, in existing for any reason besides replicating DNA aka having babies.

Oh, my sweet summer child…

That has never been enough. And hear me out, this is not some Sandberg gaslighting about how every woman miraculously can have it all aka a high paying high pressure job as well as a functional marriage, happy children, and time enough to seek personal meaning. Such women usually have nannies. And they are frequently miserable. The women, not the nannies, though I reckon a fair few of them are less than thrilled with what often functions like a sort of indentured servitude.

This is of course not universal. But that’s the point. Women want different things. Women can finally have what they want. And yes, RH is a book trend. It isn’t a sign of the death of marriage. But it is certainly a sign that the Overton window has shifted hugely in the direction of even more freedom for women. And for men, who must bear the brunt of being denied softness, emotionality, compassion. Who are taught they must defend their tiny tribe against an entire world which wants them dead. Truth is, the world usually isn’t paying attention. Truth is, modern marriage isn’t a siege state. Wives are not chattel, nor are they princesses, to be kept in a tower and denied the world.

Women are raw, and horny, and also nice and pretty and kind, but still red-blooded, salivating, alive. And we are tired of being told what to do.

There is a world filled with possibilities. Even it’s only words on a page or a screen. A world where women get exactly what they want, and men are happy for it to happen. So come on over! Sometimes the grass really is greener even once you’ve hopped the fence.

Tipping Points

A close overhead photo of eye liner pencils, lipstick tubes, and make-up brushes thrown together in a plastic box.

Like many of us, the last two years have eroded what remained of my ability to care about what other people think of me.  So I just put away all my makeup.

This is going to be a big old tip off if any readers weren’t sure where I stood on the gender spectrum. If you know me and you’re reading this, do whatever you want with the information. 

Curious?  Concerned? Indifferent? Nervous? 

So the fuck am I.

But I just put away my makeup.  This isn’t as big a step as for someone who was a real completist.  Having naturally good skin which I have maintained with sunblock and a tendency not to fuck with things, I have rarely used foundation.  In fact I’ve never contoured anything beyond a topographical map.  I have no serious attachment to any sort of skin care regime beyond washing my face with a soap-free gel when I shower, and using one basic lotion.

I am not young, (and you can read back through this blog to confirm this) and chasing the dragon of appearing young looks to me (sorry) like a fool’s game. Adherents to 18-step Korean systems, you do you, but my genes and my tendency to stay out of the sun mean I was never going to put any more time into my face than I do already. 

So I just put away my makeup.

Over the last few years I have invested less and less time in traditional feminine gender markers.  I don’t have a philosophical or even really logical reason for this.  But I look at dresses and I can’t remember why I liked wearing them.

Pretty dresses. Lovely things I’ve kept for years so I could lose weight and wear them again. I am sitting here right now thinking of what would make me put one of them on right now. My beloved saying “please wear this dress” would do it.  Or a costume.  But day to day?

I just put away my makeup.