Thoughts About Men

goatinbarI’ve always been drawn to old man bars with dark wood, black beer, and ideally a fireplace.

 On occasion, I wonder what it is that draws me in, and I’ve often assumed that I simply feel like an old man much of the time. Even as a teenager. But the truth is more likely that I know I’m missing something, and a part of me believes the old men have it. Maybe it’s wisdom or insight, but I suspect it’s both simpler and more complicated than that.

 I’ve had a number of men in my life who have taught me things, but most of my education was done by women: emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. I’ve learned kindness, compassion, and empathy, along with enough gratitude to prime a horse. I learned to read and write, and the most nuanced and interesting cultural critiques I know have always come from brilliant women. From my mother, to my high school teachers, to Naomi Klein, much of what I know I learned from women.

The men in my life have been more complicated. From a stern yet loving grandfather, to a wild minister and oft traveling father, I’ve had men about too. But along with the kind ones came the men who shook my hand so hard my knuckles nearly burst. I’ve had the boys who threw things and shouted insults as I passed by, and the old men who leered at me, seeing a sweetness that was obviously exploitable. I’ve had the boys who fell in love with me only to follow too closely and not listen to no, right alongside the boys who’ve threatened and harassed me for their own reasons.

For most of my life, men have been scary, unstable, absent, and maybe, on a good day, simply confusing. So, when I’ve had the choice, I’ve chosen the company of women. From college friends to church and work, I’ve preferred the safety and intellect of women, who at least I felt like I could understand. Even working with teenagers for years, it was always easier to sit with the girls and talk than it was to handle the ceaseless energy of the boys who needed me more than I knew.

But being comfortable in my feminine side doesn’t let me off the hook for the rest of it. The parts I’ve avoided–and often shoved away into a dark corner out of fear or concern–haven’t left me. Sometimes it was outright rejection, and sometimes it was pure ego, but those efforts were never going to work. I am not like those men, I proclaim. I would never do that or even think it. I understand, I care, and I can listen.

 So then I find myself wondering if old men might be less frightening than the young ones, or even the ones now my age, who seem just as lost as anyone. The bars offer a social setting where part of me hopes I might learn something. I might learn not to turn away, and I might learn to let go of the stories I’ve told myself about men.

But if it’s not wisdom, then what is it? If it’s not insight, then what can I gain? And if it’s not simply knowledge, then what’s the point? But I drink with them and listen to them laugh, and I see something out of the corner of my eye. I stop trying to process everything, and for moments it’s there all on its own. They are not teachers I’ve ever had before. They are not even trying to educate me, in fact, they’d be perfectly content if I wasn’t there at all.

It occurs to me, when I stay long enough, that these men are exactly what they are. They are angry or sad. They are drunk or abstaining, and they are not hiding. In fact, the bar might be the only place they don’t hide, but for a moment they are simply themselves, and I see men. I see broken and reborn men. I see strong men who are afraid, and I see men who have stopped trying at all.

Maybe I long to be them, and maybe I hope to avoid the same fate, but I’m drawn in all the same, wondering how to embrace something I don’t understand. Hoping to see a glimmer of something that makes me also feel like a man. Hoping that between the dark beers and the lined faces, I’ll find my own strength.

Leaving Books all Over the Damn Place

I’ve been leaving books all over the city in some vague hope that people will find them and turn me into a bestselling author making buckets of money every day from horny people all across the world.

And while that’s still a nice pipe dream, it’s been a whole lot of fun. Here are a bunch of places I’ve left them recently.


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Book Promotion Take Twenty-seven

dbi-lilliesIf I see one more person (myself included) tweet a link to a book with a note that says, “please buy my book!” I’m going to lose my shit.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the frustration, and I’ve been there. When I’m struggling to promote a new book, sometimes it feels like the only thing I can do is keep tweeting! Once I let a new book out into the world there is a feeling of helplessness that sets in, and it can make me do all sorts of stupid things.

Going into the release of my latest novel, Disgusting, Beautiful, Immoral, I decided to figure out a new plan. Anything was better than what I was doing and doing nothing wasn’t an option. The first idea I came up with was pretty simple: I set up a new blog based on the book, and started publishing one chapter a week, posting them each Friday. It will take 34 weeks, but once it’s done, the entire book will be free online for anyone to read.

Of course, I put a link to buy the whole thing at the end of each post, and I’m hoping that people enjoy the chapters enough they’ll want to buy it now rather than waiting until December 2014 to find out how it ends. But if they have the patience to wait every week for a new chapter, then god bless them. They’ve fucking earned that free book.

The second thing I’m doing is leaving copies of the book hidden in different bars around NYC. It gives me a reason to tweet, a reason to Instagram and blog, and at the end of the day it’s fun. I have no idea if anyone who follows me will want to run off and find one, but I’m going to keep leaving them everywhere and see what happens. Who knows? I suspect I’ll start hiding them better and leaving more ambiguous clues, but we’ll see.

Have these things worked? It’s way too early to tell. Are they better than begging people to buy my book every ten minutes, purely out of frustration and a lack of other good options? Yes they are.

I have two other ideas (one related and one not) that I’m going to explore. If I actually manage to pull them off, I’ll let you know.

As for these? We’ll just have to wait and see.


Disgusting, Beautiful, Immoral

And the new novel is live! At least on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an e-book. Click on the cover in the right sidebar and you can choice where to buy it. Or simply links in the text.

I’ve also set up a blog where I’m going to post one chapter a week until the whole book is free online. There’s a screenshot below, but you can find it at

Thanks again for all your support! Let me know if you’d like a review copy and I’ll get you one ASAP.

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New Covers

Conventional wisdom in the world of Indie Publishing says that if your book isn’t selling well then change the price, change the blurb, or change the cover. Maybe change all three. We have control and we should use it.

I’ve done more with price than anything else, but today I got embarrassed by some old covers, so I decided to update them. To my credit (or shame?) I intentionally designed the older covers to be a little campy, and more porny than anything else. I assumed that badly designed covers might sell more books. I’m not sure that was sound thinking.

I redid three covers today, all with very different tones. They should be live on Amazon soon, and I’ll see if they make any shred of difference in terms of sales. On the bright side, they can’t go down.

Disgusting, Beautiful, Immoral

dbi-coverBack in January I spent a coffee fueled two weeks writing a novel set in New York City in 1999. It was the type of writing that got into my head and wouldn’t leave until I put it down on the page, and so for fourteen days I pretty much wrote non stop. I wrote at home, at work, and on the train. I wrote when I should have been doing most everything else.

Well, a book that takes two weeks to write takes a whole lot more time to edit. I re-wrote it three or four times on my own, sent it out to a few beta-readers, and then found a great editor to help me iron out more wrinkles.

And guess what? It’s almost ready for the world. It’s a long book (250 pages or so) and it’s a strange combination of being deeply personal and completely made up. Or more specifically I could say many of the details are true, but the story itself isn’t. In general it follows some version of myself back at 23 as I was struggling to figure out myself, my relationships, and my kink. It’s incredibly dirty, with more sex than I’ve ever written before, but there’s a whole mess of other things mixed in. And of course, there’s a New York that wasn’t all that long ago, but still feels like a different world.

Hopefully it will be available soon, and I’ll get to see what the rest of the world thinks of it. Until then, I’ll keep writing, keep editing, and see what comes next!



Silk Stockings!

After three years of working together, The Dirty Gentleman and I are finally releasing a collection of his photos in a beautifully printed book called Silk Stockings. We teamed up with Moleskine to produce a gorgeous, leather-bound, hard cover book with more than fifty original photos. The details (from the stitching to the pocket in the back) are classic Moleskine, and I think you’ll agree that TDG’s photos look absolutely stunning.

As we get closer to pub date we’ll get you all the details (including how to order one). We will also be announcing a contest/giveaway for one lucky follower to receive a free, signed copy of this limited edition book.

We are very excited.

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Please note the above photos are from a digital proof, not photos of the printed book. Those will come soon. 

32 Poems About My Penis

poems-cover Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 1.34.02 PMI have a new book out that I’ve been lazy about promoting. It’s called 32 Poems About My Penis, and it’s fairly self explanatory.

I don’t remember when I came up with the idea, although I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry. But a while back I was thinking about how I’ve changed as I’ve grown older and especially about my relationship to my own body. As a person with a penis, my feelings about sex have been wrapped up in my feelings about my sex organs, and those feelings have been all over the map since as long as I can remember.

Some of the poems are funny (like the one about my cat) some are ridiculous (because I think strange thoughts) but all of them are somewhat introspective, super honest, and generally me.

I hope you’ll take the time (and the $1.50) to give it a read. There is a print version as well for like $6, which I think came out rather nicely.


It’s on Amazon as an e-book and print book here.

Three Totally Amazing and Brilliant Cover Letters You Can Steal for Yourself

Dear Bob,

That’s right, I know your name is Bob. How do I know? I Googlified you, and discovered that the person who reads these things is named Robert, and Rob is a silly nickname.

But Bob, that’s not the important part. I mean, yes, I’m pretty much a wizz at the Googling, but there’s so much more to me than that. Once when I was seven I got a fish hook stuck in my nose, and I was able to remove it without later requiring major surgery. Which is just what I want to do for you, Bob. There’s a hook in the nose of your organization, and I have the skills, the nerve, and the grit to take it out.

I think once you look through my resume you’ll discover I have all the mad skills you want, and probably some that you don’t. None of that matters. What matters is that I can do it. I will do it. And you want me to do it.

Trust me, Bob.


J.L. Scholkington

ps. I also know that you live at 145 Maple Drive in Torrington CT. Say hi to Sally and Kimmie for me. I hope her recital goes well this weekend. ;-)


Dear Sir, Madam, Mx, or Other,

Did you see what I did there? I am not the most politically correct person in the world (screw that) but I’m no dummy. As a white-cis-heteroflexible-polyamorous-libertarian, I understand that meaning is located in all of us and it’s our job as Americans to create our own selves no matter how weird they may be.

But let’s get down to business. I. Will. Do. Better. Than. Anyone. Else. You. Are. Interviewing.

It’s a big claim, but as a white-cis-heteroflexible-polyamorous-libertarian I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about myself. In fact it’s safe to say that no one knows me better than I do. Not even my therapist or life coach know me this well. So, trust me on this one, and remember that there’s nothing as important as a self-aware person in the workforce.

Sure I might make mistakes, but I know it. I may be a little racist, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the fact that I don’t take orders well from women, but that awareness is what makes me so good at my job. If you can handle the real me, the raw me, than we can do amazing things.

Why don’t you give me a call and we’ll started. Together, I can do it.


Triumph L. Johnson-Smith


To Whom it May Concern,

For the last fifteen years I have worked tirelessly to bring about change through the revitalization of systems, people, and environments. From my multi-faceted–and fully integrated–approach to project deployment, to my holistically-based-values-driven problem solving, my skills are in high demand throughout the industry.

I’ve worked with big and small organizations across a multi-tiered layer of industry bases to insure expert levels of service located solutions, often times with highly quantifiable success rates. If you’re looking for an expert doer, who recognizes the difference between just talking about something, and moving it through the process steps necessary to launch actionable institutional events, you’ve found them.

After looking through your organization’s collateral, both online and off, I am convinced that you won’t find a better thought leader than me. Especially one who has such a long track record of bringing about revolutions in digital media spaces while keeping his eye firmly on the traditional media which still continues to drive our environmental and eschatological frameworks.

I look forward to hearing from you soon,

With generous and kind regards,

R. P. Smunchkin

Seven Things I Learned From Writing a Novel in Two Weeks.

photoBetween January 3rd and 17th I wrote a novel, which I’m currently calling Disgusting, Beautiful, Immoral. The total came to just around 107,000 words which is far longer than anything I’ve ever written. In comparison The Island on the Edge of Normal was around 60K words by the time it was published.

I’ve since sat back and thought about what the experience was like. Here are a few things that I’ve learned:

1.  I like to write in bursts. I knew this, but I had never really allowed myself to write this way. I’ve done some epic sessions before, but this time I gave myself permission to write the way it felt easiest.


2.  I had to let go of other things. Like cleaning, meeting friends, and generally being a responsible adult. This required permission from my partners as well as myself. But I felt guilty about writing so much, and I finally had to ignore that feeling in order to keep going.


3.  I overthink things. I’ve known this is true, but I hadn’t realized how much it impeded my ability to put words down on a page. Should that really happen next? Is that realistic? Can I seriously write another sex scene? Didn’t I just do that? Writing so quickly let me do far less of this than I might otherwise. I had some moments towards the middle and end where I started to wonder if I should go in a different direction and I had to decide to trust my instinct.


4.  Writing a whole lot is disorienting. I found myself stuck in the world I was writing, and often had trouble focusing on the people around me. I was distracted at work, at home, and everywhere else I went. At times I felt nearly drunk, although I wasn’t drinking all that hard during the process.


5.  I can’t control when or how ideas arise. For months I’ve been trying to come up with an idea for a new novel. I’ve started at least five different books and never got anywhere. I kept at it, and kept thinking, but when this novel started it felt completely new. It wasn’t something I had considered, but it just kept on coming and I had to write the words down. I had to let go of all the other things I thought I might write. It was nice to know that ideas do arise like this, but I can’t make it happen, and I have no idea if it will happen again.


6. I can write far more quickly in first person than anything else. When it comes to simply putting words on a page, I’m enough of an egotists to know that first person is key. I can write about me all day long.


7.  I like it. This is simple, but I think valuable. This was not a miserable, gruelling experience. It was fun, exciting, thrilling, and easy. It took up a lot of time, and it was hard work, but I enjoyed it completely. Rather than feeling exhausted and overwhelmed when I was done, I thought to myself, what’s next?


So, there you have it. I’m not sure if it will be helpful to anyone else, but it’s been to think about. I’d love to hear how you write, and what you learn from yourself by your process.