Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rejection, and the Guy that Called Her Twelve Times in Two Minutes

I had some extra time to fool around on Facebook because my favorite morning gas station is shut down from Covid, and I happened upon an article, basically screenshots of a woman letting a guy down gently, and him blowing his stack. To his credit, he didn’t pull out the slew of words to describe unsavory women that don’t bear repeating here, but he did try to call her twelve times in two minutes.

Let’s pretend for a moment that I needed an excuse to fool around on Facebook early in the morning. Guys have a huge problem with rejection. And I don’t think we’re looking at just a simple case of toxic masculinity warping the mind of a young incel. I mean, I think it’s bigger to the extent that we all have a problem with rejection in our society that’s not in proportion with the basics of rejection.

See, basically, rejection (and acceptance) are a continuum in the process our species has for improving itself. If you do something, or put yourself out there in some way, you may get a blanket acceptance, a blanket rejection, or somewhere in between. You get the blanket acceptance? Great. What you’re doing is working. Keep it up. No real need to improve. Blanket rejection? Damn. But throw it away; it can’t help you. But anything in between, especially on the rejection end, says ‘you’re almost there, you’re close, keep perfecting, keep taking chances, keep taking shots.

I’m a writer. Obviously; you’re here. And I get more rejections than I get acceptances. And it sucks. But after I ice the wound a little with some [BLANK] I get back to the drawing board and take whatever I learned from the rejection, and I tweak the offering, or start something new. And as far as literary rejection goes, rarely do the agents and editors you submit to even write back, and when they do, they simply say ‘it’s not a good fit.’ Remember what I said about rejections that don’t offer you anything? Bingo. Also, don’t be a writer unless you’re familiar with the receiving end of a cat-o-nine-tails.

And the mechanism of rejection is instructive, but once you’re putting acceptance and rejection in the brine of competition, is all turns sour. And every thread in every American flag is competing with every other thread. Capitalism? Rich people competing over money. Democracy? Well-suited people competing for votes. Game shows? Hell, even most literature is based on a loser becoming a winner or vice versa.

So, back to Sir Calls-a-Lot, yes, he is unduly possessive, and he definitely couldn’t take even mild rejection (and it was constructive rejection, by the way.) I think we really undervalue the fact that we’re going to see stuff like this is a society based on competition. The worst insult one can be called in America is ‘loser.’ So when we look at people who have gravitated to the most pungent aspect of the male gender, the gender that designed the underpinnings of a hypercompetitive society, rejection is “losing,” and it ends up getting handled as such.

So my prescription, aside from an exorcism, which I always prescribe, is that we realize, in all areas of life, that rejection doesn’t make one a loser any more than acceptance makes one a winner. You’re either evolving or you’re not, and that’s all acceptance and rejection are for: road markers on life’s journey.

Join me on my podcast, whenever I decide to have one. Also, I have books on this site. Enjoy them as I enjoy your money.

Baring My Soul For Some Quick Sales

Facebook loves you if you have something to promote. They love you so much that when you provide the link (and if you’re a writer, it’s almost universally Amazon) they throttle your post. Basically this means that the hundred people who see your picture of your cat’s asshole, only ten of them will see you trying to hawk your book.

Now, you can always pay Facebook, and that’s really their point. But Facebook, who sells you that bikini ten days after you already bought it, is looouuusy at promoting your stuff, no matter how much you pay them/ Plus, we all broke out here. Broke, and that’s a Ramen-and-Mrs.-Dash=Healthfood-Eating Fact. So, what do we do?

I don’t write for my health. Writing is stressful, lot of moving parts in an 80,000 word story. And yet, I’m not writing for a mansion either. I mean, making some passive income every month, hell, enough to pay the power bill after taxes, that would be sweet. And I create universes, and I’m not bad at it. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with a few – thousand – people?

So here we are. Here you are, on my website, and hopefully Facebook hasn’t bollocksed me up here. I’m going to treat you to a link to each of my books, and I’m going to try to describe them like I’m a disinterested cab driver showing off his bobblehead collection.

Anno Luce

This was my first book. It’s about the return of Jesus and the end of the world. NOT preachy, or even that religious. Kind of punk rock, slacker, grungy kind of story. I wrote this in between going to Louisiana for Katrina relief. A lot of complicated emotions with this. I published it myself – there wasn’t really going to be an agent or publisher for a book like this. There probably is now, but, you know, bigger fish…

Anno Luce: Anna’s Book

This is a prequel to Anno Luce. Before Jesus. I mean, he was around, just that this story kind of sets that all up. Lots of psychics and abilities, and some scumbags. This was a personal one for me, because I incomporated someone I lost in it. But this had the same publishing issue – no specific market – so I published this one myself. It is good, but it got buried under other stuff I was doing.

The Serpent and the Sun

When I first started writing books, I never believed I’d be able to do it. It was a mystical thing to me. Then I ended up writing three big novels in short order. This is the third. It’s a post-apocalyptic story from an alternate universe where the asteroid Apophis struck Nicaragua. This is a really good story, and I feel strongly that if I hadn’t already published the first two books myself, I would’ve sent this out to agents.

I should say at this point that publishing your own books is not ideal. But sending out requests for representation by agents (a.k.a queries) is, for most people, a soul sucking experience, a sea of ‘no,’ if they even get back to you, and if the choice is to kill yourself (as a writer) or go ahead and get your book out there yourself… you do the math. I didn’t want to wait ten years for an agent to say “maybe.”

So, onward and forward.

The Man

This one is a fun little novella. Four stories, four main characters, no names. Again, really just a fun story. A prophet in a Maine seaside town who’s been having nightmares of a future fifty years ahead of where he started. Story starts when the day catches up to his first nightmare – 9/11.


The village of Prattsville, New York was nearly wiped off the map by Hurricane Irene (this is real.) This story is about two weeks in the recovery. It’s fiction, but based off true events. And it’s a novella.

Welcome Back, Jack

This is the first Jack LeClere detective novel I wrote. This one was published by Down and Out Books. I wanted to write a police procedural that was just brutal, and a cop that wasn’t the broken degenerate stereotype I saw in so many cop stories.

Presiding Over the Damned

This is the second in the Jack LeClere detective series. In the aftermath of the first book, a young girl is brutally murdered, and the search for her killer promises to rip open every crack in the city. The city of New Rhodes is a major character in this book.

Miner’s Kill

This is the third, and perhaps final story in the Jack LeClere detective series. This book explores the darker side of privilege and wealth in New Rhodes, and the greater area. Each of these books takes from the ones before it, so I think you’ll be pleased.

Below are short story collections. The first is Dead Man’s Switch, which I put out. Second is Street Whispers, which was put out by All Due Respect Books.

Dead Man’s Switch

Street Whispers

Introducing… God!

No, this is not a Lordy Jesus post. This isn’t even about God per se, except that God is a character in the latest manuscript I just finished. Was it hard to make God a character? No. It wasn’t hard. It’s never hard to make a character. It’s just really hard to do it well. And I hope I did it well.

I’ve written two manuscripts in six months, which is an absolute record for me. But I didn’t know if I was going to be able to write at all, not books anyway, after my dad died. He was my best friend, and he was also my first beta reader,

Dad wouldn’t pick apart my books. It was a pretty up/down vote, which in his tact meant “It’s good” (down) or “It’s really good” (up.) I really miss that. I really miss him. And I don’t know if the stuff I’m writing now has the same heart as the stuff from when he was alive, but I hope so.

It is not going to be out for a while. In fact, Troy Love Story isn’t going to be out for a while, and this manuscript is two out. But my hope is that I haven’t lost my edge, or that I can pick it up in the edit. And if your parents are still alive, give them a hug. You will miss them.

Why Representation Matters

As it usually does in my little bunker, my latest thought came from a social media post, and the many comment. Really, it was one comment, and the many replies to it. Got me thinking, and reflecting.

The comment was about the lack of inclusion in the writing community, though it could really have applied to any writing community. In this particular case, it was the dearth of black writers. And, of course, someone had to bring up this age old gem:

Do we need to see color? Shouldn’t the best writing come up on its own?

And I have a few problems with this line of thought. On its face, it’s agreeable. The best writing should come up. But even now, in the less inclusive, white male dominated writing community, the best work doesn’t always rise to the top. We severely underestimate how much of any writing community is a popularity contest. Hard work makes a great writer, but the ability to schmooze makes a successful writer.

Art and Fame, a study by Columbia Business School, found that success in the art world was more driven by an artist’s social connections than by any objective measure of creativity. Not that creativity isn’t important, or that a creative misanthrope can’t find success, but social networks are critically important for the success of creatives.

So it isn’t so simple as the cream rises to the top. There’s a social component to this. There are cliques like there are with anything. There are writer’s conventions with the same old panelists, anthologies with the same old contributors, the names everyone knows. Marginalized voices aren’t always kept out because of bigotry, not blatant bigotry. It’s more of a laziness that comes from knowing it’s a problem, but not a problem important enough to make the collective effort to fix.

I am a marginalized voice. I battle a severe mental illness daily. More than one. And I know at least what it’s like to feel “otherness” and have to spend more energy that I should have to to conform to the expectations of a “norm.” I haven’t been able to go enjoy networking at cons because my anxiety wouldn’t let me travel, and tele-presence, which we all adjusted to in a New York minute when we had to, wasn’t seen as worth the investment just to satisfy a small number of outliers like me.

The above paragraph is not a boohoo on me. I’m fine. And I’d like to think I’m a good enough writer to make a meaningful contribution to the zeitgeist. But the more barriers there are to me finding a place in the social network of my fellow writers, the fewer opportunities I will have to contribute my unique experience to the collective unconscious. And the more apathetic the writing world is about actively finding POC, women, LGBTQ+, disabled, and mentally ill writers, the greater our collective loss.

It is a moral imperative to go out and bring marginalized voices into the network of “in the know.” It’s the right thing to do because it is what’s fair to those writers. But there is also a historical imperative to do this. Art, writing and music is the flesh wrapping the bones of history. If it’s not preserved, it will decay. And we need to make sure future generations can see the whole body of our work.

Lithium, and Other News

Every time I get on this blog, I make an earnest vow that I’m going to post regularly. And if you go back to the last post, December of 2020, and the post before that, sometime in 2018, you’ll know how good my steadfast vows are. Gas station ground beef patties are more dependable than me.

But I do have news. In fact, a lot of news; maybe I should spread it out over a few posts. Not my style, though. First up in the news category, I got a contract from Bronzeville Books to publish Troy Love Story. It’s going to be edited by a writer that I happen to be a fan of, Joe Clifford, and that is just tops. And the publisher, Danny Gardner, was very moved by the manuscript, and after a long phone conversation, I got that feeling so rare to writers, that my work was vindicated.

So I had some time between hearing from Danny and getting the contract. If you aren’t a writer, know that patience is a must because the process can feel like it’s taking forever. So, out of nervous energy, and maybe a tad of the magic mojo that we all get sometimes, I started writing again. And only a few days after I signed the contract for Troy Love Story, I had my next manuscript, which is tentatively called ‘Lithium.’

Lithium is the story about mental illness, family, and homelessness. I hope it is powerful, because I left a lot on the field with it. In fact, I might have to switch over to scifi for the next manuscript just to refresh.

And that’s pretty much what I got going on right now. I’m going to try to post here, you know, with the stuff I don’t feel is pithy enough for Facebook.

A New Start

My life as a writer, and as a person, is a never-ending swing dance of great intentions, ferocious energy, big plans, and no follow-through. I have this website to keep you abreast of what I’m doing as a writer, and maybe the sporadic nature of posts tells you everything you need to know.

Nevertheless, I’ve got a new book out. In fact, I have two new books out. There will be more to come on them, but I’d like to just show you so that you’re aware.

First book is called December PT11083: A Travelogue for Losing Someone. I lost my father to a tragic, traumatic accident in December of 2019, and, as a way to cope with the loss, I took notes of my grieving process, and the culture and customs of loss. I wish to get it to anyone who it may help, and the ebook is free (the print book is cost.)

The second book I have out is the third in the Jack LeClere series. It’s called “Miner’s Kill.” It’s a story about the top homicide detective in New Rhodes and the investigation into the murder of a high society pillar and the seedy underbelly he called a playground.

There will be more to come, but don’t expect miracles. I write this to “you” knowing that “you” are the void, and I’m catalouging my experiences for a posterity that likely won’t be there. But do text me, won’t you?

Presiding Over the Damned – Interview at The Big Thrill

A little while ago, Tim O’Mara sat down with me (digitally) and he had questions. Good questions, all. I tried to answer them to the best of my abilities, but I must confessed, some were real wringers. Without further ado, I am providing the link to the original interview.

If the phrase “ripped from today’s headlines” weren’t so overused—and possibly trademarked by those Law & Order folks—I would use it to describe Liam Sweeny’s second Jack LeClere novel, PRESIDING OVER THE DAMNED (out now from Down & Out Books). Since I’m not going to use the phrase, let’s just agree that Sweeny’s novel could hardly be more timely than it is. Jack, a homicide detective in Upstate New York’s New Rhodes Police Department, not only has to deal with the lynching of a young black girl, he also has to navigate internal police politics and outside activists/agitators, all while recovering from the events of his last case, where his family was more than threatened.

Continued at

Happenings (a Mea Culpa)

I have to admit, friends and neighbors, that I have been snoozing. So let’s catch up. Since I last posted, I had an interview come up in ‘The Big Thrill’ for my book, Presiding Over the Damned, which was officially released in August. In other news, my volunteer work in the Red Cross has kicked into high gear with the devastation of hurricane’s Florence and now Michael. I have also recently taken on the position of Blog Editor at In fact, my work on their blog is what prompted me to come over and add this to my own blog.

I wish that I could say that I’ve simply been too busy to post on my own site, but that wouldn’t be true. I am a savant when it comes to slacking off and, conversely, giving myself busy work. Truth is, I don’t really know what to tell you all. I mean, I could tell you all about the writing conferences, book readings and events that I don’t go to because they’d be longer than two hours and my tolerance for other people is just shorter than two hours. That’s probably the truest statement ever to grace this space, and if I keep it in here, you’ll know me.

But things do happen. So let me just rattle off some life events, unencumbered by the expectation I have of myself that I have to write about things you actually care about. Cause frankly, that ship is about two hours off shore.

I’ve been deploying volunteers from the Eastern New York region of the Red Cross to disasters. This has been the noticeable ones, like Hurricane Florence and Michael, but we’ve deployed people locally, specialized volunteers to help a local community cope with a tragic vehicle accident that left twenty dead in Schoharie. Bear in mind, I’m not a ground troop. I have a souped-up computer and a phone that gets hot daily. I make calls and swing a mouse and my typing speed varies like the winds in one of those hurricanes. But I’ve learned a lot, some of which is not open to the general public, but if it was, I’d share.

I have accepted a job as the Blog Editor of I’ll be interviewing musicians and performers, and I hope to use my experience and talent as a writer to come up with some dynamite questions. Interviewing is new for me, and while I’d love to bring it here, I’ll have to see how it turns out. Interviewing writers means reading books, which takes longer than doing research on a local or regional band.

So I’ve explained what’s been happening in my life. I wish it was more fantastic, more spellbinding than deadlines and disaster deployments. Writers rarely have lives as exciting as the ones we write about. And I’m not a master of the mundane. I wish I was. Some writers can stub their toe and write a thousand words with an epilogue. I can’t, and that’s not a superior statement. I want to write that thousand-word story about how grandma cut me off this morning. Because that’s what I do. And if you pop on here and find my diatribe about how the people in my local convenience store can’t make two lines, you’ll know I’m hitting my A-Game.

But hey, carry on. And stop back for new stuff. I may surprise you.


Swan (Fake Stories About Real Pals)

The Leslie speaker surged and recessed, pushing out the sounds of the Hammond B3 like a rip current in a hurricane. Swan walked a funk-line with his left hand and peppered Jackson’s guitar riffs with the acrobatics of his right. He was surprised to hear DeeDee’s brushes on the drums, what with the firepower coming out of the rest of the gear. They fought about her bringing a mic, but only because he didn’t want to sing over her drums in the only PA at the gig. The crowd was telling him he didn’t have to worry. A glance at DeeDee was telling him she couldn’t hear herself and was playing by wire. She’d have to get a bigger slice of the night’s tips if he wanted to keep her next week.

Hammond Organ

The Bleecker Café was a political hangout in Albany. It was a quiet spot, where the music was no more than live background to deals struck in the shadows of the Capital building. Swan sometimes wondered, on a big tip night, what he was being paid to forget he’d heard. But that night was the night that the legislature took summer recess. It was the last night out in the city before they went home to their districts. Their mouths were open for drinks and gossip and off-season Auld Lang Syne, and they were on the floor, dancing like they knew how to, and throwing smiles, requests, and most importantly, tips around.

Swan turned over and aimed his voice low, “C sharp.” MacAvoy was a new pick up. He came in to a biker bar down by the river during one of the open mics Swan subbed for. He liked the cat’s blues lead, but maybe more the fact that, at the open mic, they seemed to be the only two musicians that gave a fuck. Going by MacAvoy’s inability to follow a chord progression or key change, he had quite a few fucks left to give. But at least he turned down when he was off in the weeds. Jackson had a spoon on his strings, improvising a slide. The crowd dug it, marveling at the ingenuity. They didn’t know Jackson couldn’t keep his hands on a real slide to save his life.

They played out the set and took a break around eight. Swan knew the waves of the gig, no matter what was happening down the road. The nine-to-twelve crowd was going to be crazier, but their requests were going to be closer to the songs a player has to put in their starter kit. Early crowds around there had a “let’s stump the band” feel. Swan wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Swan, MacAvoy and DeeDee were outside on the open patio. A penetrating rain was infusing the night air with the smell of ozone and the rejuvenation of an arriving cold-front. Swan even wondered if he had a sweater in the van.

“I’m trying to catch you, Swan, I really am,” MacAvoy said. “Can you play a few more blues tunes? Give me something I can go off on?”

“I could, but you can’t just go around being Stevie Ray Vaughan all day. You need to know the changes.”

“I know. I just don’t want to let anyone down.”

“Don’t worry. No one’s listening to you.”

“Oh, Swan, that’s rough,” DeeDee turned to MacAvoy. “Don’t listen to him. You’re doing good.”

Swan took out a cherry cigar. “When you get good, when you know the progressions and you know those songs, those deep cuts, you’ll play louder, and people will hear you. I’m not trashing you, it’s good that you play low. You don’t know a song and you step back. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But learn the songs.”

MacAvoy pulled the cellophane off a fresh pack of cigarettes. “I’m not used to these crazy chord-change songs,” he said. “Everyone I know rocks the one-four-five.”

“And that’s good when your set-list is five songs long, like those shows you guys set up. But doing a set like tonight, we’re going to go through sixty-, seventy songs. You can’t just sit there and jive out a one-four-five sixty-times, you know?”

Swan reached in his pocket for his black, plastic film canister and flipped aside the lid with his thumb. He pulled out a bowl made from threaded pipe, washers and the only piece he had to buy, the piece that right then was packed with sticky skunk bud. Even the screen came from the bathroom faucet of his boarding house.

“Mac’, go get Jackson. He’ll be a motherfucker if he don’t get any of this.” MacAvoy flicked his embers to the road and tucked the butt into his pocket before he dipped back in to pull Jackson off the two-for-ones.

“I’m gonna make him eat those cigarette butts.”

“Why does he do it?” DeeDee held her own smoke up to the glow from the streetlamp. “Put ‘em in his pocket?”

“He said he’s trying not to litter.” Swan leaned in and nudged DeeDee with his shoulder. “After the next set we’ll take him to the landfill and leave him there.”

They laughed. “You’re terrible,” DeeDee said.

“He’s a good cat,” Swan said. “He’s young. “When I was his age, I was in L.A., playing at a club that Pablo Escobar owned. I ever tell you that one?”

“I’ve heard it,” she said. “Not from you, though.”

“Oh yeah, Jackson showed up back—” Swan turned as the door opened and Jackson came out, trailed by MacAvoy. “Jackson, when did you show up in Escobar’s place?”

“I think it was around what, ’90? ’91? I just got divorced from Sandy, so, about then.”

“The place had iron bars on every window and cameras everywhere,” Swan said. “And you couldn’t take pictures.” He took a hit and paused his remembrance. “They paid us to

play Colombian music. I remember I had to go out and learn it. The owner gave me five hundred bucks when I showed up and told me to give it to a guy down the street. I spent a couple days with that cat learning folk rhythms. There were a thousand and twenty-four, and they wanted them all. But then they paid me good, man, real good. They were getting me whatever I wanted—drinks, drugs, girls—I just asked. And you showed up.”

“That owner was going to shoot me, I thought,” Jackson said.

“He told me he was going to shoot us both,” Swan said. “Me for bringing you. Fuckin’ Pablo Escobar’s joint.”

They stood out and watched the rain, and the voices that assumed themselves to be whispers were revealing themselves to be voices and gregarious shouts inside. The cabs were stopping more frequently, letting out new patrons in pairs. The nine o’clock crowd shook the rain off their umbrellas as Swan and the crew passed the plumber’s pipe, blowing the smoke toward the outside kitchen vent to let it mix with the smell of fried onion rings and chicken tenders.

Swan glanced down the street, exhaled, and passed the pipe to MacAvoy.

“That’s why ya gotta know all the songs.”

A Few Made Up Things About Authors

So I’ve got two kicked 11 oz. Starbucks coffees mixing with last night’s chicken ramen noodles to form a gastric concrete below decks. I’m restless and listless and nervous about the possibility of both success and failure, and I’m turning my pockets inside out with regret that I didn’t spend more on the Mega Millions or kept that money and used it to rent a tent at the local park for my book launch.

Hi, I’m a writer. I have a book coming out.

Writers get paid (sometimes) to talk about themselves. Oh, you thought that strong, central character was the product of research and cloth swatches and cologne/perfume samples? Ha! That was us. Not the clumsy ‘us’ that bumped into your cart in the seafood section of Hannaford. And it wasn’t the ‘us’ that called you when our satellite fizzed out during the Super Bowl (Oh, and sorry about that, by the way…) No, you’re reading the ‘us’ that runs through our head after that hour we spent in the DMV. Or the ‘us’ that just hopped off that love/hate roller-coaster we hopped on last summer. Or the ‘us’ that can’t bring back the daughter we lost last year about this time.

Maybe you might think, from what I wrote above, that writers are insecure dreamers. You’d be… fairly accurate. Not everybody, but most I’ve met. In fact, anyone I meet who brags about their writing ability, or their books, I don’t buy it. I’ll take it with a whole ocean floor full of salt. People who are fantastic at expressing themselves don’t have to write. They can just talk. Play tambourine, kumbaya or some shit. Writing, and I mean writing from the deepest part of your heart, is like controlling a full-blast fire hose with no training. Writing a book is like posting a phone full of nudes in your own name, you know, before that was social media currency. It’s tough.

It’s real tough to write, but there’s a huge community of writers that support each other. But we all exist, in this avocation (yes, sadly it’s usually an avocation) for you, dear reader. As sensitive as we are, as tough as it is, only some of the people I know are writing for specific empowerment or therapy. I mean, people do, and that stuff is damn powerful, but we’re mostly doing it for you. We want you to feel what we’re setting up in the plot and the characters. We want your skin to get gooseflesh over here, and we want you choking back a tear on this page, and by the fifth chapter, we want you to feel like you watched a deep, slow-motion papercut. Trust, none of that is for us. It’s for you.

We want you to feel the vibes we spent hours, days, weeks infusing into the many pages of that book on your shelf. And we do this knowing full well that most of the acclaim, praise and reviews are going to go to the few top people who already have a ton, and most of us will never really find out what you thought of it. And yes, we will bitch about that to ourselves. But not to you, because, no matter what you’ve heard, it is an unwritten rule in writing that the customer is always right. And that’s saying something in a subjective domain.

We’re the most ill-equipped hustlers to ever be given a sandwich-board. How many people had heard of James Patterson before he was smiling through his first round of TV commercials? Now he’s king. We’re the chroniclers and preservers of the world in which we live, and our best bet is to treat our books like Vince treats Sham-Wows. And I’m not even complaining, ‘cause I got a damn camera and I just need the right backdrop. It’s just how it is. We gotta sell ourselves. Books can only talk when someone opens them.

So I got a book coming out. And, in true form, if you buy one, I’ll double the offer (with a separate fee that coincidentally is the same amount as a book) for free! Call in the next ten minutes to claim this deal!