Hello People!

Tonight I was a force of nature. 1336 words in 1:15. First night like that in ages. I also had enough ener­gy to clean out my cub­by­hole of poet­ry. I dis­cov­ered I can drink black cof­fee and be con­scious for 16 hours with­out sleep­ing half the time away. I can promise the two were unre­lat­ed! All by cut­ting carbs. Of course my blood sug­ar was still sky high, and there was a near-con­stant back­ground of almost-threat­en­ing voic­es, but still. It was a good day.

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News of the Land

So yeah. About that nov­el. As many of mine do, this one topped out at 56K. I have not been able to hit the mag­i­cal 80K-and-read­i­ly-agentable mark in some time, so it's like­ly, with edits and addi­tions I have yet to enter, Comes the Flood will be around 60K, which will lim­it my sub­mis­sions strat­e­gy some­what. Still, I think it's a good book, or will be when I've pol­ished the shit off its heels. I fin­ished this nov­el in May. Since then the pandemic's got­ten worse, I spent a month in a par­tial hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and have slept the large part of those days in total with­draw­al mode. With­out the kids and Heather I don't know what I would have done. As a result, Tough fell behind and the lion's share of the read­ing load and all of the edit­ing fell to Tim Hen­nessy, to whom I am eter­nal­ly grate­ful. We're catch­ing up and back to posti­ing sto­ries, and will be adding three new staffers this week so we hope­ful­ly will nev­er have to take time off again.  I have a chap­book ten­ta­tive­ly due out begin­ning of the year and I'm tak­ing some time off from the nov­el to write some last poems for it. Here's hoping.

I keep buy­ing books as if I'm going to read them, and I just haven't been able to keep up my usu­al pace, even with poet­ry. I'm going to top off this year at about eighty. Plans for next year include more read­ing, 150 books read, two writ­ten and com­plet­ed nov­els, one of which will be the final book in the Ridgerun­ner tril­o­gy. I'm get­ting my first tat­too. I'm 51 in a month. I'm tired of fuck­ing around. Now if my brain just cooperates.


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Tonight felt sat­is­fac­to­ry. It wasn't a big fat adren­a­line dump like last night's writ­ing, but it went well. I could have writ­ten more, but I didn't want to leave it all in the page and flat-out exhaust myself either. A plot turn's come up though, and my out­line is no longer viable for the sec­ond half of the thing, so tomor­row I'm draft­ing a new out­line. I'm a lit­tle scared of doing it, frankly, since the writing's been going so well. I just need to stay vig­i­lant, not let myself get a cou­ple days out of sorts. So tomor­row there will like­ly be no update, as I'll be work­ing on the out­line all night tonight and most of tomor­row out­side of my fam­i­ly com­mit­ments. It'll all be fine, right?

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1147 of rough­ly 39300

On nights like this, there isn't much to say. Heather had half the day off so after mend­ing fences from last night in the ear­li­er part of her shift and because of being on the phone near-con­stant­ly in our new Covid-nor­mal in the sec­ond half, I start­ed writ­ing much ear­li­er than my nor­mal 9:30 PM, and so by din­ner­time now I've got­ten my words in and may even be able to write again lat­er on dur­ing my nor­mal time.

I do have a nor­mal time to write. 999 times out of a thou­sand, I'm writ­ing at 9:30 PM every night, and I write until I get to 500 words with­in the hour or a thou­sand, or some­times, rarely, more. More often than not when it's going well, I get a thou­sand words, so that's what I judge by: 500 min­i­mum, the Gra­ham Greene pre­scrip­tion, as described in The End of the Affair, but a thou­sand mark­ing out a good strong day's writ­ing. More than that, the Mus­es are smil­ing on me. Last night, a bad night that made me feel shit­ty until I sat down to write this after­noon, like a hang­over. Tonight? Some­thing else again. The only way through is forward.

I'm going to read now, and drink cof­fee, and maul a cat while I do. On deck, Cocaine and Blue Eyes, by Fred Zack­el, Sim­ple Jus­tice by John Mor­gan Wil­son and final­ly, Stoneb­urn­er, by William Gay. I'm halfway through the Zack­el, a third through Sim­ple Jus­tice and I haven't begin Stoneb­urn­er yet, though I've owned it and start­ed it a few times. I can already tell it's not top-notch Gay, but it's inter­est­ing, as the master's minu­ti­ae often are.

Edit in: 11:23 PM. Got an extra thou­sand words in for over 40K now. Halfway.

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538 words

Not a good night. Rough on the fam­i­ly, rough on me with John Prine dying, just pan­dem­ic close­ness rub­bing every­body, well me, the wrong way. I didn't, couldn't write last night, and I'm in a shit­ty mood, so I'm count­ing these words as des­per­ate and plead­ing with the mus­es to give  me just a few more over the next month or so. And I want to apol­o­gize to my wife pub­licly for being such a prick. I'm sor­ry, baby. That's all. You all can call this the con­fes­sion­al blog.

It sucks some­times, all the time, but most of the time you have to do the work any­way. But not always. Some­times, like last night, I couldn't imag­ine doing it, and I'm pay­ing for it in guilt all day antic­i­pat­ing when I can get to the key­board and make it right, and words won't come, like tonight. Waah waah wahh. I did­nt have to do it. I could stop. But I'm not going to.

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1027 words of 37700 total

Tonight was a come­down. I had lots of time over the week­end and took advan­tage of it, and tonight–not so much. Heather and the kids are sewing masks for fam­i­ly and friends so there are duel­ing sewing machines on either end of the liv­ing room table. Chal­leng­ing writ­ing envi­ron­ment, but I'd rather be in the mid­dle of things try­ing to write instead of the cliched lone­ly writer in his gar­ret keep­ing com­pa­ny with rats and roach­es but with no oth­er dis­trac­tions. I like my life occa­sion­al­ly, depressed and psy­chot­ic though I am most of the time. Thanks be to ther­a­pists and doc­tors and oth­er mir­a­cles of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ori­gins. I'm not going to go on at length except to say that I worked for my words tonight, and I can only hope the strug­gle doesn't show when I get to the final draft, how­ev­er far off or uncer­tain that may be.

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word count picture

1717 words today of 36500 total.

Hel­lo. One of the things you'll notice that's con­sis­tent about this blog is its incon­sis­ten­cy. A new year or a mile­stone hits and I'm eager to blog it and talk to the world, most of which I've been doing late­ly via Insta­gram and Face­book, leav­ing this, my main site, sta­t­ic and unin­ter­est­ing. So here I go again, pledg­ing to update with rel­e­vant news.

What's going on here right now is my stretch run toward nov­el num­ber sev­en, four of which have seen the gray light of  pub­li­ca­tion. Num­ber sev­en promis­es to be my most com­plex and longest nov­el yet. No more of the short­ie nov­els, at least not this time around. What I'll say about it right now–it's called Comes the Flood–is that it's unfash­ion­able as hell. It's a PI nov­el set in Revere MA, where I  have lived since 1996, pro­vides lots of local col­or in a time of very excit­ing and dynam­ic times, some of which I hope to com­ment on via the main action, though the tourist board and cham­ber of com­merce is not very like­ly to point to it as a guide or pin­point accu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the absolute­ly love­ly city in which Heather and I have cho­sen to raise our chil­dren.. I'm 36.5K into it, long enough to be able to see that it's sus­tain­able over the long haul, and ear­ly enough that I remain care­ful­ly excit­ed about the pos­si­bil­i­ties. It's time for the hard slog of the mid­dle now, and I hope to doc­u­ment dai­ly or near-dai­ly progress reports here.

Today was a week­end day, which meant I had a lit­tle longer to write. I got 1717 words in two ses­sions, and what I'm most inter­est­ed in is get­ting back to the out­line. I had a pro­duc­tive side-spin on the plot which sus­tained me for  cou­ple days, and now it's time to come back to the main thrust with addi­tion­al momen­tum. This is the first of my six, soon to be sev­en, nov­els to be out­lined. I won't do anoth­er nov­el with­out one, I don't think. It's been two days of high-ener­gy move­ment and promis­es to be even more fun going for­ward. I hope. So wel­come to the blog, the blog with new­found pur­pose. I come to it as I do to many things, a day late, unfashonably so, and a dol­lar short, but with a lot of enthu­si­asm. Hit me up if you have questions.

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News Items Various and Sundry

So it’s been some time since I updat­ed. It’s been a hell of a year. My health went to hell in a hand-bas­ket, and I wrote a ton of poems as a result. I read many books, and bought many more. The fam­i­ly went through some junk, and I went through some junk. Boy howdy.

On to the impor­tant stuff: even through the hell­ish land­scape that has been 2019, I have got­ten work done since my last update. A poem appeared in Black Cof­fee Review’s Fall 2019 issue called “Piss­ing In Pub­lic Uri­nals,” which was received with many quizzi­cal looks and side­long grins, but gen­er­at­ed more praise than many things I’ve writ­ten more recent­ly. My sto­ry “Easy Tiger” appeared in The Des­per­ate and the Damned anthol­o­gy. ‘The Russ­ian’ appeared in Mys­tery Tri­bune in Sum­mer 2019, and final­ly, the pieces de resis­tance, the two books I have that have come out this fall, Kraj the Enforcer: Sto­ries, out in Octo­ber from Shot­gun Honey/Down & Out Books, and Apoc­a­lypse in A‑Minor, a mis­cel­lany of poems,from Ana­log Sub­mis­sion Press, due out on Novem­ber 18th. Here is the cov­er copy for Kraj:

Meet Kraj—pronounced krai—a low-lev­el errand boy and hit-man mas­querad­ing as a bounc­er for Tricky Ricky Gutier­rez, nefar­i­ous own­er of the Twist, a club in upstate Elmi­ra NY. A place that has both a LGBTQIA night and a cow­boy coun­try night, this cock­eyed cor­ner bar in north­ern Appalachia sup­ports Ricky’s ille­gal schemes, and serves as a rur­al balm for Croa­t­ian-war refugee Kraj.

Kraj plies his trade over a short span, mov­ing from pet­ty theft to strong-arm­ing tips from peo­ple at the door, break­ing up red­neck fights, pro­tect­ing the club’s nubile female staff and col­lect­ing gam­bling debts owed Tricky Ricky. Kraj even­tu­al­ly gets sucked fur­ther and fur­ther into Ricky’s under­world plans, where he wants to be seen as a man on the come-up, but he has prob­lems mov­ing up in Ricky's orga­ni­za­tion will nev­er solve. His sis­ter Ana, miss­ing since the Croa­t­ian War for Inde­pen­dence, nev­er strays far from his mind.

Kraj, togeth­er with his some­time girl­friend Cami, new­ly become man­ag­er of a fran­chisee McDonald’s, and his man­ag­er Mikael. nego­ti­ates his way through under­ground fight clubs, pros­ti­tu­tion rings, drug deals, pet­ty thiev­ery, and of course, mur­der. Tricky Ricky gives Kraj a great deal of rope and auton­o­my to oper­ate.

Will he hang him­self with it or swing?

As far as the future goes, I have two sto­ries in the final stages of con­sid­er­a­tion for dif­fer­ent antholo­gies, plus the sto­ry “Big Pop­pa” com­ing out in Goli­ad Review. I also have a nov­el. The Enforcer’s Revenge fea­tur­ing Kraj, the pro­tag­o­nist of my most recent book, in edits. I said I’d giv­en up on that one due to a num­ber of com­pli­cat­ing fac­tors. but I may have found ways around. It will take time and oppor­tu­ni­ty that I don’t have right now, so it may be a year or two before I can fix it. I also have anoth­er full, if short, nov­el fin­ished, one whose bones are strong, but no agents are inter­est­ed, because it only runs 55K. Too short for sub­mis­sion. It’s called Sun­set Approach­ing, and it hear­kens back to my ear­li­er work, a more Appalachi­an book in set­ting and tone. I hope to place that with a uni­ver­si­ty or inde­pen­dent press some­time in the near future.

And final­ly, I’m in the midst of col­lect­ing a bunch of Appalachi­an sto­ries that I’ve pub­lished in var­i­ous jour­nals since Most­ly Red­neck came out, some crime and some not. They fit pret­ty well as a col­lec­tion, so I’ll be shop­ping that around soon enough too. I have a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor nov­el I’m work­ing on spo­rad­i­cal­ly. set here in Revere, where I live and write. I have high hopes for that, at least high com­pared with my goals for 2019, which was basi­cal­ly to sur­vive. I’ve done that, despite innu­mer­able chal­lenges, and I remain hope­ful in spite of crush­ing depres­sion, anx­i­ety, and psy­chosis, and I only hope I stay well enough to do the work that is in me to do.

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Hello Again

FRiGG splash page

I promised to post more dur­ing this peri­od of time, but…stuff got away from me. On the pub­lish­ing news front, I've man­aged to place poems in four jour­nals over these last few months, Plumb, Ginosko, BEAT to a PULP amd FRiGG. I'll also have anoth­er Kraj sto­ry in Mys­tery Tri­bune com­ing up soon, and anoth­er in Goli­ad Review this fall. 

I'll be at Boucher­con in the fall too, late Octo­ber, ear­ly Novem­ber, so look me up or drop me a note via social media before­hand. I'd like to get togeth­er, as I don't get to min­gle very often. That's about all for now.

BEAT to a PULP splash page
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Happy New Year!

I pledge to post a lit­tle more, which means I have to have news to share or per­ti­nent info. You can find two recent sto­ries, one in Goli­ad Review, a long sto­ry I'm par­tic­u­lar­ly proud of at 9000 words, and anoth­er in Mys­tery Tri­bune. Oth­er­wise, I've added a page for my newest nov­el The Last Dan­ger, sequel to Ridgerun­ner, in which Matt Rid­er gets into even more trou­ble with the rene­gade Pittman clan and clings to his instincts to the detri­ment of near­ly every­one around him. Jay Gertz­man wrote up a nice pré­cis of the nov­el on Ama­zon if you care to look it up. I'll repro­duce some rel­e­vant bits here.

_Ridgerunner_, the first nov­el in this pro­posed tril­o­gy, showed Matt Rid­er as a man capa­ble of pro­tect­ing his fam­i­ly from the bel­liger­ent, bul­ly­ing Pittmans, who con­trol the region­al drug dis­tri­b­u­tion in upsate NY and PA. Matt con­fronts them with the steely (as in guns) res­o­lu­tion of a West­ern home­stead­er pro­tect­ing his domain from cat­tle­men who want to run him off it. Per­haps the name Matt Rid­er is meant to sug­gest this kind of clas­sic rur­al Amer­i­can inde­pen­dence, which came through vio­lence. The Pittmans kill Matt’s broth­er and Matt has killed two of them. As _The Last Danger_ opens, Matt knows he is a hunt­ed man. He also knows, as anoth­er fight­er against crim­i­nal says, PI Phillip Mar­low says, “I was part of the nas­ti­ness now.”

His broth­er, wife, and daugh­ter all won­der what Matt has become. Traps are many-lay­ered in this nov­el. The Pittmans have forced him to do drug runs. That at least pro­tects wife and daugh­ter. But Matt expos­es them, and his loy­al best friend, to increas­ing dan­gers as the nov­el pro­ceeds. So his des­per­ate need to pro­tect just increas­es a quick­sand-like immer­sion. His own vio­lence increas­es, and he rel­ish­es it. The more he tells him­self he is pro­tect­ing the fam­i­ly (which is his chief aim), the more his behav­ior makes that sin­cere con­vic­tion a Kafkaesque entrapment. 

I hope to pub­lish even more in 2019, includ­ing a col­lec­tion of Kraj sto­ries as well as some poems and short sto­ries. I'll attend at least two, pos­si­ble three con­fer­ences in 2019, so get­ting to hang out and have a beer with some of you is a very real pos­si­bil­i­ty. Thanks for hang­ing in there with me, and here's hop­ing for the best in 2019

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