Throwing Darts

they sold the lot on Main St where they never built that high-rise 

but good luck building anything in this economy 

the air is too hot

the scent of cigarettes boiling off the other passengers

as I wonder what’s the point of poetry 

what can we make from words?

what words 

still let themselves be made into anything?

I told her I only read poetry 

that reading a whole book

takes years

the feelings stacked one atop the next

gravy over cake

no differences between sorrow and a theorized joy beyond the writer’s means

a poem is a mouthful 

a minute’s grace

a massacre in millimeters

the barest bruise

a slap in the face 




if only all truths were so easily digested 

instead of sticking in your gut

dragging you along with them 

to end up inside out 

yet in writing poetry 

we feel that same laceration

spilling ourselves

spoiling the calm completion of a blank page

for nothing more than one vain moment’s proof

that we existed





# OF DAYS TO GO: 134

TOTAL WORDS WRITTEN:  934,411 (of 1,000,000 = 93% OF MY GOAL)


A lot of benchmarks are not useful because they achieve a specific practical goal but because they make you feel better.  This is true in writing as much as anywhere else.  A few weeks ago I thought it would be fun to set a goal of writing a million words by the middle of 2023.  That’s not lifetime, not spotty rough drafts, but fully formed pieces of writing I’ve completed in the last three years. 

I had about 110k to go to reach this, and I was feeling confident.  That’s only two novels, and I have two novels in the planning stages which shouldn’t take more than a few months to bring together (to all the writers who never seem to do any writing: another world is possible.) 

Then I found out that WordPress logs your word-count.  And that I’d written 52k words for this blog over the last three years.

You better believe I counted that.

So now the total stands at a thrilling 934,411 words written (and most of them published) since the start of the pandemic. If I wanted to show off, I’d dip back into 2015 and pull the numbers on the two standalone novels and the five part contemporary series I completed while tending the reception desk at one of the country’s biggest real estate brokerages.  Thanks, Joey.  I couldn’t have gotten this far without you.

So I’m editing this book, see…

and the word count keeps goes down.

which is why I don’t track daily word count.  What matters is the books.  The end result. 

don’t muck around and seek the unattainable goal of perfection, but don’t deprive your writing of the time it needs to be excellent.

excellence and perfection aren’t the same. 

set a standard and keep meeting it. 

that’s all you gotta do.

A sign from the gods

Or: how do I choose what to write without needing to choose?

My “to-be-written” pile is pretty intense. Maybe down to a dozen by now but still that’s a lot of books.  Somewhat less than a million words, if we average 60,000-65,000 words per book.  Absolutely doable within a few years, because it only took three years for the first 850k.

Now I’m left with the start of three series but no ends.  While none of these series have made me rich, neither has anything else I’ve written, which I take as a lack of exposure, not quality.  My readers exist, they just don’t know it yet. And one of the most satisfying experiences for a reader is a completed series.

I started publishing under a disposable pen name.  Under that name, I released my first full length novel, a bonkers erotic romance about fin de siècle swingers who ball their way across Europe and back.  At the end, our plucky if rather sticky heroes are forced to separate, one couple to try their luck in New England, the other trio setting off for Imperial Japan, to reunite with yet another 1890’s hornbag.

I wrote the New England book last summer, mainly as I’d already written a big chunk of it at the time I wrote the first. It’s an equally bonkers novella involving archaeology and (God help me) turn of the century reproductive rights that ends with another hasty escape, this duo of sticky heroes absconding cross country to the amoral paradise of California. 

I’ve since rereleased the first book under my current pen name.  Despite my strange ambivalence after the fact (is it too raw? too filthy? too political?  a ridiculous piece of slanderous trash?) I’ll be putting out the second book in April.  And yet…I haven’t written the third book.  I was still not sure that I would.  But part of my faith is accepting synchronicities at face value.  I don’t believe things happen for “reasons” but I’m not going to ignore it when it seems like they do.

The first standout was this post about late 19th century Westerners having “samurai” portraits painted on their trips to Japan.  You can still get this done, and I have a revolting photo of myself as a geisha from a visit to a television company’s theme park/historical recreation site/active film set (Japan’s a hell of a drug.)

Of course Matti would have this done, I thought.  Get talked into it by Shigeru.  Get teased about it later by Paul, who would offer to do better with his camera. The scene unfurled before me, so fully formed I haven’t written it down because it’s whole as is.

At some point prior to that I bought this book. I pick up a lot of books for pennies at yard sales and thrift shops, and couldn’t tell you when or where I got this.  Flipping through the other day, I found excerpts from a diary kept by a Japanese man in 1905, written in Roman script. Romaji, as it’s called, is a transliteration of Japanese syllables into Roman letters, i.e. what English is written in. This is what we read outside of Japan.  Okinawa, Osaka, Tokyo: these words are written in romaji so that non-Japanese people can read them.

In 1905, a poet kept a diary that almost no one could read.  A Japanese person would not know the characters, and Westerners did not speak enough Japanese. It is as a consequence deeply personal, even more than most diaries, which are only secret if kept secret.  This was a confession, all the writer’s fears for the future, his abiding existentialism encoded in a book only he could read.

Chills, baby, and they were multiplying.  Much of Oh Vienna! is built around diary entries.  Matt keeps a journal of his scientific “inquiries” into human desire which devolves into a open-hearted testimony to his first love. It is to reunite with that love that Matt and his companions travel halfway round the world.  The next book clearly needs a diary to structure it, and perhaps that’s what I always found missing from Book 2. On I went, shelving this in the Very Interesting section of my mental library.

And then…and then KJ happened. Again.  Charles’ books repeatedly tear me apart, and have in a way ruined me for most other books.  So when she posted the covers of the Japanese edition of The Magpie Lord…

I cried. I’m crying right now.  I don’t know why, other than the books are so beautiful and the story so touching yet vivid and lively (and filthy, did I mention filthy?) and her characters are perfect and I want to be so good a writer that I deserve a set of books this fucking beautiful.   Hitch your wagon to a star, right?

Not that my next book will deserve such a tribute (that enough people in Japan want to read it that they translated it, designed new covers, and are printing paperbacks.)  But the river flows downhill, and all rivers become the sea, and I don’t know what I’m trying to say with this except I’m writing that next book.  The last of the Libertines. Okinawa, Mon Amour.  Spring 2024.

A new fighter has entered the arena

First, the good news: the hardest book I’ve ever written is done.  Not done because editing etc but I have finished the so-called Zero Draft.  Writers might know what I mean by a Zero Draft: that ugly, clunky, maybe horrible bunch of words that you have pasted together with spit and prayers in the hope that it tells a story similar to the one you imagined.  I found calling it anything else inhibited my ability to get the dang words on paper.

Now can put “An Inconvenient Earl” aside for a little and focus on, oh, I dunno, anything else on earth.  Like the new challenge I’ve set myself. This one is way more achievable.  Fifty thousand words less than what I tried to write in the second half of last year.  That attempt was side-lined  by post-Covid brain fog, which believe me is real and just as bad as everyone says.  

My humble goal for the first half of 2022 is to reach a total of one million words by the middle of this year.  I don’t mean all at once. I mean since I started seriously grinding at the self-published author game, in February of 2020.  I’m only about 120,000 words away. 

Two novels by June?  No problem.

Oh hey, while I’ve got you here…I’m building a list of pre-release readers for this and other books. Comment or message me if you’re interested in free books for life (and maybe even your name in the credits!)


That’s it. That’s the post.  I have finally shed the post-Covid brain fog.  And to anyone suffering from “long Covid”: I have tasted a tiny bit of your pain and I offer every bit of sympathy and funding you require to navigate this blameless nightmare.

Ok, here’s the rest of the post, because AS IF that’s all I’ve got to say.

I have hated writing this book.  Every word, every freaking *keystroke* was a gargantuan effort requiring all my will. Up until the last week.  Now it’s a dream come true, the chapters falling together like someone else wrote them for me and I just have to fit them together.  A perfect side character stepped fully formed out of my brain and performed a key role in the story while earning himself a lead role in a future book.

People…this is going to work.

“This” being my delusional but totally achievable dream of making a living from writing what I want. I’m releasing six books this year, not counting the short stories and re-launches.  I’m writing at least four, one of which is going to be done by the end of the week.  I have never felt more engaged with my writing career.

2023 is my year.  Yeah, right, we’re not supposed to say that anymore.  This is supposed to be a year for heaving a sigh of relief.  As a card-carrying Discordian (look it up yourself, ‘kay? Providing succinct answers is as close as we get to a mortal sin) I’ve waited my entire life for this numerological opportunity.  Me and the goddess, we’re lighting this year up like you’ve never seen. 

the soundtrack to my revival: Bop x Subwave’s set from the release party for their album “Renaissance.’ I have listened to this slapper of a set twice a day, every day since it dropped last month.  Tell me you’re a 90’s kid…

Love is like a tightrope walk: sometimes you can’t help but fall…

I’ve been writing all my life in one way or another. I first finished a first novel in 2015, a contemp romance that may never see daylight (I say that now, but ). 

Today I finished editing a book I wasn’t meant to write, featuring a character who was only going to appear in half a dozen steamy short stories then go away.  Instead I wrote all of those and then two more full length novels about the cheeky little bugger.  ‘The Old Razzle Dazzle’ is the second of those, the final book of the collection, the conclusion to Izzy’s epic, and I’d probably be more upset if I didn’t get to spend the next bunch of months talking about how much I freaking love him and his grumpy, gorgeous husband-in-all-but-name Noel.

The Old Razzle Dazzle: a uniquely queer Historical Romance. Coming soon to fine booksellers everywhere.

“Answer me these questions three…”

“…because I’m too lazy to search the archived threads”

There are three questions every baby writer seems to ask when they join the online author-verse and start fishing for trade secrets.  I used to answer these questions when I came across them on forums and chats, but they get asked with such regularity that I got tired of doing other people’s homework.  The internet is right there, people.

So please enjoy my arrogantly definitive answers to the three questions I see asked again and again and again:  

1) How do I keep my vague, fledgling story idea protected from being stolen?

2) How do I know if my writing is shit?

3) How do I learn how to write?

  1. How do I protect my ideas?

You don’t, because no one cares about your ideas.*  Honestly, ideas are cheap.  Cheap, cheap, cheap. Any writer with a serious habit will have so many ideas attacking them on the daily that they would have to live forever to write them all. Writers don’t lack ideas, and we don’t care about yours. Your ideas are likely not even as good as you think. They matter to you, and they may lead you to tell the best story you have ever told, but whether it’s some junk scribbled on a napkin, an outline you share on a critique group, or a book you give away as a reader freebie, no one will bother to steal your ideas, because they would still have to go through the effort of taking your ideas and writing a book with them, then making money out of it, which is the real challenge.

2. How do I know if my writing is shit?

Assume that it is. If this is your first attempt, your writing is 99.9% likely to be not the best you’ll ever do. Accept this fact from the outset. Accept that your writing will not match your expectations at first. The only way to get better is to keep writing. So if you have a precious, perfect, magical idea, maybe don’t start with it. Write some junk first. Get good at writing, then start on your Great Work.

Imagine you wanted to become a professional baker.  You don’t go from standing in the grocery aisle looking at the cake mixes thinking I can do better to turning out a six-tier wedding cake overnight.  Particularly if you’ve never made a cake before, you’re gonna have to make a lot of cake in between having the idea to make a wedding cake, and actually serving it. Make those shitty, crumbly, collapsing cakes you need to make on your path to nailing the perfect Genoise. There are no shortcuts. This quote from Ira Glass is another way of saying the same thing.

3. How do I learn how to write?

By writing, and by reading. Read books that are like the ones you want to write. Read well-written books of all genres. Read different books than you normally do. Read books about writing.  

But always be writing.  It’s a muscle, and you have to use it or it shrivels. Books take effort to write, and it’s healthy to assume that your first work might kind of suck.  At least compared to what you will capable of in five years. Read and write and read and write and read and write and read. Repeat until you die.

Writers, what other hugely general advice do you find yourself constantly giving?

*you always own your ideas, even if you haven’t lodged them with a copyright registry.  Please consult legal professionals for more nuance, but having your ideas stolen should be one of the last things a fledgling author needs to worry about.

The 200k Challenge: Update 6

A long exposure photograph of the night sky taken with a wide angle lens so that the dark horizon curves. At the centre a man stands in silhouette gazing up at the glowing stars.

“Another One Bites the Dust”

# OF DAYS: 108

TOTAL WORDS WRITTEN:  115,108  (of 200,000 = 57% OF MY GOAL)

CURRENT WORK IN PROGRESS:  “The Untouchable Sky”


CURRENT WORD COUNT: completed at 20,650

Creativity is a strange phenomenon.  I’d been fiddling around with a few characters for a while, to the point they’d become part of my general mental background.  Adrian, Lord Lear (the extraordinary man in the excerpt above) is one, and for reasons I cannot recall (here’s the strange bit) I decided to attach a wholly unrelated character to the book coalescing about him.

The end result being I’ve basically contracted myself to write another half a million words. Some of which will be an epic trope mash-up of urban paranormal and queer historical with a dollop of something like time travel and way more body horror than I thought, but here we go regardless. The other chunk of words belong to a trilogy of supernatural tales set in the Canadian wilderness just before Confederation, staring an ace Irishman who moves water with his mind and an Australian hiding from his betrayal of country and family.  Plus lots of (big) snakes. 

I am however not allowed to write any of those books for at least two months. Because they aren’t remotely planned enough to be worth my writing time. Remember, I have to hammer out another 85k words before the end of the year. Planning is my jam, my scene.  Discovery writing defeats me at any stage past that of building the barest synopsis. 

Instead I’m going to write what I swear to any god you name will be my last story about  someone getting kidnapped. Writers develop habits, of daily practice and of plotting, and one of mine is clearly kidnap-as-a-plot-device.  And it has to stop. Aside from been there done that, it’s not the most uplifting theme to be known for.  Yes, it encourages heroism, but it’s also super ick.  I wrestled for an entire year with the inciting incident of my next planned book, and only now that I’ve satisfied my ethics am I ready to write.  So ready that I have a full synopsis, all of my chapters plotted, and about ten thousand words already banked, waiting to be polished into a readable draft. Plus three other stories I could use to distract myself.

I guess I can count it a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project as I’ll be starting on November 1st along with tens of thousands of other writers, all doing our best to nail down at least 55k words before the month is up. A month is however too short a time span for my word count, especially when I’m attending a conference in the middle (more on that anon, because it’s going to be a doozy.)

But 85k words in 67 days? Bring it on.

200k challenge update #3

a CGI rendering of the circular keys of an old fashioned type writer. The five white keys in the center of the image spell the word 'story'

# OF DAYS: 35

TOTAL WORDS WRITTEN:  56,900 (of 200,000 = 28% OF MY GOAL!)




I added about 14k words to this draft in a week. 4500 of them today. Some of the words are once again pre-drafted sections, but I haven’t counted them before so hey, they count.

I wasn’t even planning to start work on this novel until Monday of next week. Like my other planned works for this year/challenge, this book is partially written, and I had hoped to get it done by the end of August.  At this rate it should take a bit more than a week. 

At This Rate…aye, there’s the rub. I can’t assume I’ll keep it up. I already have plans for tomorrow that preclude writing all day. And tasks to do next week that are important enough they can’t wait much longer.  I’ve just about mastered the art of kicking the can down the road, as they say, and write most of my to-do lists with post-it notes so I can shove all the tasks onto next week’s schedule with impunity.  

In essence, I write to be a writer, not to be a publisher.  I like the writing parts very much, but if I want to make any money (and even if I aim to get a Big Five publishing deal in the future) I have to do all the other things too. I’m getting better at those other things thanks to automated scheduling apps and general habit-building.  Such as this blog which is coming up on a hundred posts. For someone habituated to not finishing things, this all comes as surprise.

But I like surprises.