I Have Too Many Damn Words Inside Me


I’ve accepted it. I have too many damn words inside me.

Maybe the worst thing about having too many damn words: I’ll never be able to get them all out.

Maybe the best thing about having too many damn words: I get to curate which ones I set free.

(You know the worst thing about that best thing? It scares the hell out of me.)

I alone have the power to decide which words I let out. Like, nothing I say in real-life conversations or online or on paper gets through without me giving it permission. Every word in any form I ever communicate is my personal responsibility.

(I’m scaring myself again.)

But I should be scared. Because every word matters.

I want to remember that. Not occasionally, but at the exact moment I’m curating each of the too many damn words I’m going to set free.

Our Turn To Be Allies


It’s time for the LGBTQ+ community to be allies. Tomorrow is Sunday, ya know, “church day” for a lot of people. And there are some AMAZING people, who identify as Christian, who agree that love is love.

A lot of things will be proclaimed from pulpits tomorrow: some gracious, and some not. I’m thinking about those who love their faith and many of its beliefs but will struggle with the conservative response on marriage equality. Christians who are closeted, kids with different beliefs going to church with their parents, folks who are torn inside over things.

That’s tough stuff to deal with. The clash of core beliefs. The inner struggle to marry an accepting heart with an unaccepting faith.

So, be mindful of that, fam.

Anyone who has been an ally to us, deserves us as allies in return. Whatever they need, however we can support.

And not just Christians. There are loving people struggling in every belief system right now.

Love is love, and our love can’t stop at the borders of religion.

An Open Letter To Everyone From Back Then


Dear Everyone I knew “Back Then”,

Yes, I am gay.-ish sometimes. Or something like it. Somewhere on the spectrum at the far end from what the world calls straight.

I’ve always been that way.

Even “back then” when I was your classmate, co-worker, teacher, neighbor, friend.

But, see, at times, I was scared of letting that facet of who I am show. I had to hide it. Not for myself, but for you. For those of you who would, had I let you see that part of me, make a lot more out of it than I do. For those of you who, now that I’m not scared anymore, “just can’t believe it”.

In most ways I’m still exactly the same as when you knew me “back then”. The only thing that’s changed is that you now get to know all of me. If you choose to. And some of you can’t handle that. It’s too much. I’m not the person you thought you knew.

But that’s not really about me. It’s about you.

Coming out doesn’t happen just once. I have to do it over and over again.

It’s easy with new folks I’m just meeting “right now”. It’s no big deal, not even a thing. It’s just who I am, all of me, every facet shining right there in the open if they want to see it. But for folks I knew “back then”, revealing the fullness of me is a scary, anxious, pulse-racing thing.


Some of you amazing “back then” people have nodded, asked questions, maybe cried a little, hugged me, and transformed in front of my eyes, through the phone, or in my arms into a “right now” person. Thank you for that. I love you. Thank you for loving every facet of me, for having a heart big enough to appreciate all of me.

For you others, I’m sorry if you feel like I lied to you, back then, when I wasn’t strong enough, brave enough, to share all of me. Maybe that was wrong of me. I don’t know for sure. But I can’t rewind to “back then”, because I’m overwhelmed with joy, bursting with life, thrilled to finally be living with every part of me shining right here in the “right now”.

Maybe you can see how important that is to me. How much bigger my smile is, how much lighter I seem.

If not, okay, you can live in the back then. But me? Nah. I’m loving where I’m at right now.

Love and facets and more love,


Who Wants (or NEEDS) A Mini Writing Retreat?


I wanna do a mini, weekend writing retreat. Just get away, hang out, do some laughing, eating, writing. When & where depend on who’s interested. Here’s what I’m thinking:

– Sometime in July or August. Like a Fri night – Sun deal?
– At an AirBNB. Either one with multiple bedrooms available ~or~ an entire house. We’d keep the nightly price between $30 & $75 per person, depending on the place & # of writers.
– It’d be great to keep the travel time down for anyone driving. So, maybe in Ohio (near the lake?), Indiana, eastern Michigan (Detroit?), western Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh?).
– If you’re interested in organizing a regional thing outside this area, say so! It’d be fun to have a few writer cells connecting in person.

Interested? Lmk! Let’s make it happen!

Poppycock To The Poppycockers

Sometimes I need a break from writing. So I take one. Of course, this goes against the one-size-fits-all advice of “you must always write everyday”. To use an old-skool word as my response to that: POPPYCOCK.

A friend found an old silverware box he wants to store his knitting needles in. He asked if we could trade art projects: I’d paint the box for him & he’d knit me about 300 miles of i-cord I need for a project.

I said yes. And I totally win on that trade. By a long shot.

His only criteria was that he’d like a spiral on the box, which was based on another super simple project I’d done before. I brainstormed, using what I know about his interests, to come up with a creative take on a spiral. I went with the tail of the Indian god Hanuman.

Here’s the project through its various stages:









I think it turned out great. And, while I wasn’t really in a writing ~mood~ before starting this project, I now feel the itch to write. This process, which is definitely not writing, freed up something inside me so I can dive back into that world.

Making art as a reset works for me. Writing every day works for some people. But not all of us. Those “always” & “never” writing rules used to bug me. Not because I felt guilty for not following them, but because I get plain annoyed with didactic advice.

I won’t give any here. But I will say this: POPPYCOCK to the POPPYCOCKERS. As unique as we all are, it’s ridiculous to believe we all can (or even should) follow the same process.

K. Well, Hanuman’s done & he’s nudging me to get back to the words. Thanks to him, I’m ready to do just that.

Astronomical Risk & Reward ~or~ My Stellar New Agent

Astropop fan art by Crystal Smalls Ord - @SmallsOrd)

So let’s say you write a book. Well, manuscript. And, since it’s your 6th, you rank them all in order, right? Maybe on a scale of omgsuckage to yes-zomg-THE-best-so-far. And this newest one, you know (no, KNOW) it’s your strongest, deepest, brightest. Your CP’s & beta readers, some of whom have read 2 or 3 of your previous manuscripts, absolutely love (no, LOVE) it & also feel it’s—by far—your shiniest.

Then, let’s say, your agent, who signed you with a completely different manuscript… doesn’t feel quite the same way about this newest one…

Your gut believes so strongly in this book (which you title If Found Return To Astropop). What it is, what it represents, its structure, the characters (no, the CHARACTERS), the ~things~ it explores. Honestly, you have no choice but to trust your gut. You need an agent who believes in this book as much as you do, who gets it through and through.

You’re scared as shit.

You worry.

You delay.

Finally, you find your tongue.

A conversation happens.

Your agent is way gracious. Your agent wants the best for you and your career. You believe you know what that is—how this latest manuscript fits into that grand plan. Thus and so, you find yourself plunging (again) into the query trenches. You’re excited and hopeful! (But also, part of you is freaked the hell out. Because what if you’re wrong? What if your gut lied like a capricious, little scoundrel? What if you just made a huge (no, HUGE) mistake?)

No turning back, there you are.

Well, there I was.

And the magic I believed in, the comets and rainbows I hoped for with Astro, rushed in and glowed deep down in that trench with me.

  • 2 days into querying: 3 full requests (WT-actual-F?!?!)
  • Overall comparison:
    • Previously queried manuscript: 35+ long weeks of querying, 5 requests
    • This manuscript: 5 short weeks of querying, 14 requests
  • This time around, at 35 days in: 1st offer of representation.
    • Then a 2nd.
    • And a 3rd.

The agent who wooed me, whose gut feeling matches my gut feeling? Well, I sent the query, and she requested the full the next day. A few weeks passed. Then an offer (A SACRED OFFER!) came in from a different (also amazing) agent. I nudged everyone: fulls, partials, outstanding queries.

This agent—MY NEW AGENT—I didn’t hear back from right away as I did with others. But, then, the very next day, an email to slay all emails. She was hella excited about the story. She wanted in!

DANCING. FLAILING. Composure. A phone call. Chat, discussion, vision-sharing. Questions, planning, gushing. So much Astro love. An understanding of my career goals, needs, and desires.

This book I believed in, this story & these characters which thrust me into this risky move? They found a champion. They found someone who understands them. They found someone so exuberant about them that a follow-up email illuminated my inbox approximately 60 seconds after our call ended. That was the best.

And that agent is none other than the phenomenal Sara Crowe.

Sara (can I say this?) Effin (There. I said it. Kind of.) Crowe

Listen, when I took that soul-shaking step to follow my gut, I had no idea how it would turn out. Was I reaching for a star I’d never reach? Would I languish in the purgatory of Queryland for eternity? Would any agent, any agent at all, connect with this story?

And, yes, PLEASE CELEBRATE WITH ME! (ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG) But I also want you to take something more sacred and magical away from this post. Something more than stats and timing (and Lucas doing weird things with parentheses & POV switches).


Others can guide you, and that’s an awesome, welcome, necessary thing at times.

But, ultimately, ain’t nobody got you like you got you.

At the risk of sounding like a damn greeting card and whatnot: be that unshakable mix of brave and savvy. Maybe it’ll result in a spectacular failure. Or maybe not. (More greeting cardiness coming. Brace yourself.) The only risk you’ll ever regret is the one you were too scared to take.

Or something.

Btw, did I mention? I have a new agent. Her name is Sara Crowe. And she kinda loves this risky book I wrote titled: If Found Return To Astropop. She digs it muchly, actually. And, wow. Just wow.

*commence astronomically uninhibited Squee Fest*

BONUS MATERIAL: Astro Ink Reveal

My tattoo artist is booked forever far out. Over 6 months ago, I scheduled a session for this past Saturday. Last Wednesday I received the first offer. Saturday, Crystal Ord’s fan art of Astropop was indelibly tattooed on my arm. As hard as it was, I waited until now, until this Offer of Rep post, to share that final image.

Here it is! Stage 2 of a gifted artist’s (and Astro fangirl for life’s) interpretation of non-binary Robin “Astropop” Chicory with a few beautiful symbols from the manuscript. I adore (no, ADORE) it. Muchly.

Astrotat1 Astrotat2 Astrotat3

Also, possibly my next tattoo???


Querying – Savvy Little Tip?

I sure do like some spreadsheets and charts

I’ve queried four manuscripts. As my craft developed, my stories moved closer towards marketable, and my aptitude for the actual querying process grew, the request rates slowly climbed.
1st queried manuscript = 2%
2nd queried manuscript = 3%
3rd queried manuscript = 7%
4th queried manuscript = 32% (so far)

That’s an unbelievable increase on the 4th one, like, BOOM. Even now, I’m floored by it.

The core of what writers must do is (we know, we know, we know) craft an amazing story. Solid hook. Identifiable conflict. Unique voice. Unforgettable characters. Consistent worldbuilding. Tight dialogue. Emotional resonance. [Insert a seemingly million other requirements here]. The writing has to be not just strong, but irresistible. And, let’s be honest, the story needs to possess the promise of $cha-ching$ flowing silently beneath the words.

The writing is the most important part, but it’s far from the only element we have to master. And every separate skillset only comes with practice. You know: effort, rejection, frustration, painfully starting over with a fresh manuscript, bringing the scars and callouses and wisdom into the process the next time. Trying again.

This time around, when preparing to query, I became conscious of something I’d been aware of, but never purposefully honed in on—the most common sample lengths agents ask for.
– 5 pages
– 10 pages
– 1 chapter
– 3 chapters
– 50 pages

This little lightbulb went off. Towards the end of my revisions, I focused on making sure those breaking points were loaded with as much tension as the narrative allowed at that point in the story. My goal: to (hopefully) leave the agent thirsty at the end of the sample, to spark that desire to request more pages. Which is the point.

We know to do this at chapter endings. But check this:

When querying, we need to treat the end of each of those sample lengths the same way we would a chapter ending.

For what they’re worth without context, examples of my breaking points:

5 pages

I sighed, and she pulled me closer to stain my cheek with what was left of her cherry-red lipstick.

“Katers demands I hang out with her tonight,” I said, pulling away. “She’ll tell me if I need to quasi-freak-out over this unholy union or totally Astro-freak-out.”

Olivia nudged me from behind, jangling my keys.

Gma pointed at me. “Check in with your daddy first.”

10 pages

I pretend-counted on my fingers. “If we’re including wicked stepsisters, crazy stalkers, and secret boyfriends, then that’s, oh, I’d say, four-point-five. Ish.”

Katers rushed towards me and grabbed my sleeves. “Boyfriend? Why is this the first your supposed best friend in all of creation is hearing about this love connection?”

Love. Ha.

1 chapter

The shadow in the greenhouse shrank to normal size, then the light went out. I grabbed my suitcase and rushed to the house, inside, up the stairs, and into the dark bedroom designated as mine. I peeked through the curtains. Axel Chicory, formerly known as Daddy, looked so inconsequential, a lone silhouette crossing the big lawn.

The New Moon floated directly above him, but its magic had already run its course.

I let the curtains fall closed between us, then locked my bedroom door.

3 chapters

Setting my journal in the grass, I focused on the other book. Plain, black cover. Not the unnamable blue-black of the night sky. Truly boring black. I hooked my finger under the cover’s edge, half-expecting the wind to pick up or a meteorite to land in the orchard when I opened it.

But nothing happened.

So I turned the first blank page.

And then another.

Until I found words.

This journal belongs to:

I jettisoned the book and jumped up, smacking at my bare legs where the blasted thing touched them.

50 pages

The Heart of Joven.

Gpa had the young whiz-kid architect design the house around it. Ten sycamores planted by my Great-Gma decades earlier. Her hands began the grafting, and Gpa’s continued shaping it when she joined the stars. Axel and I had even touched and whispered to it. Four generations of the Chicory family recorded in the growth rings of a single being who had outlived two generations already.

The third was too busy to love on the tree. The fourth was too scared of screwing it up. Also, too wounded by the mere sight of it to look at it a nanosecond longer.

Among the million things we need to nail as writers-seeking-to-become-traditionally-pubbed-authors, this little piece is a secret weapon. I mean, it’s not a magic bullet. Nothing is. But it’s the savvy thing to do, a special tool to add to the toolbox we’re slowly filling. I believe it played a part—even if a small one—in that ridiculously unbelievable request rate. (Still reeling!)

We all need every hint, trick, key, and password we can get our hands on. Yes? I hope this one maybe helps you.

Invisible Ink! Yesss this manuscript garnered A LOT of requests in its 5 weeks in the trenches. And, maybe, perhaps, it has even gone beyond simple requests. 😉 Pretttty sure there will be another EXCITING post late next week…

Querying In A Surreal Sort Of Way


Something strange & beautiful has happened.

A lot of you, who know I’m “agented”, have asked about recent events & whatnot. And, I assume, agents could be swinging by to do a bit of sleuthing. *proffers tray of hors d’oeuvres* *uncorks wine*

Maybe we should start here: Publishing is a quirky kind of land. No two authors’ journeys are the same. There are certain boundaries & cornerstones, but there’s a lot of room to dance & frolic inside those borders.

As succinctly as I can explain where I’m at right now:
– The amazing Louise Fury is continuing to represent and submit my novel, Phreak Show.
– With her blessing (and a glowing reference upon request!) I’m seeking representation for If Found Return to Astropop & future manuscripts.

Weird, right? Maybe? Idk, it feels right for me & my stories & writing career.

It’s not a development I ever dreamed of happening. At the same time, it feels completely natural. I mean, this is the experience I’m experiencing, which makes it perfect & exciting. So here I am wandering through this magically surreal land where I’m on sub but also back in the query trenches. Strange indeed!

What I’m finding is, man, I’ve learned a lot of stuff (desperately want forward momentum, but there’s serenity in the process.

I’ve always been a fan of the unconventional. I’m a risk taker when it counts and rarely regret following my intuition. And I feel strongly that now is the time to find a champion for Astro & future books in the same vein. (There may be a recent post nearby about this exact thing…)

So, yes, I’m querying again. And the initial response to those first queries has been overwhelmingly positive. (Mindbogglingly so!) Exactly as I hoped for & believed. We’ll see how things play out. I must confess, I’m already imagining the amazing story this is going to make—one I’ll share at future conferences, etc. 😀

If anyone with a vested interest is curious about the details, please ask. And seriously, agents, Louise is approachable for agent-to-agent conversations. (And, for the record, I’m A-OKAY with you reaching out to me if Astropop’s premise interests you. https://lucashargis.com/if-found-return-to-astropop/ *winks forever*)


*skips across Publishing’s beautiful, bizarro landscape*

Scaredy Cat Writers


I think writers share a lot of common fears.

What if this thing NEVER happens:
– complete that first manuscript
– nail a damn query letter
– compose a decent synopsis
– sign with an agent
– score a book deal
– write full time
– win an award
– hit a bestseller list
– finish another manuscript ever ever ever
– etc

What if this thing DOES happen:
– end up with a bad agent
– accept a lowball offer out of desperation
– give away too many rights in one whack
– lose my creative soul in the process
– can’t make a deadline
– go broke and die of starvation
– the publisher folds
– only sell, like, 10 copies
– receive nothing but horrible reviews
– lose my mind
– etc

And I know some fears are more personal to each of us.

I’m fearful of a lot of those universal things. Right now, I also have a particular fear of a very specific kind. I have an uber-clear idea of the type of book—my brand, I guess—I want to write, what I want to put out in the world. And that is: amazingly written YA. (Duh!) Drilling down further: amazingly written, quirky YA. And to add one more layer, amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists.

Right now (as in RIGHT NOW) there seems to be a ?hunger? for that type of book. I saw evidence of it on editors’ and reviewers’ year-end lists. It was threaded all through the most recent #MSWL. I catch hints from publishing peeps. I’ve read some outstanding examples of it (Grasshopper Jungle, I’ll Give You the Sun) & see others in deal announcements and (promising!) books scheduled to hit shelves any day now (Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Seriously, have you read the first chapter that’s up RIGHT NOW? Do it.).

Here’s my twofold fear: like paranormal romance, dystopian, [insert past trend here], I’m going to miss the window. The craving will be satiated & it will go away. Honestly, how many of a certain type of book can the market hold? Publishers must “balance” their lists. Even if it could sustain more, a sense of familiarity & boredom sets in & acquisition shifts toward a fresher thing. And a second part to this, which feels even more personal: as amazing as the books mentioned above are, I want amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists, which is written by LBGTQ+ authors.

Maybe that niche is just too damn small?

Or maybe there are some AMAZING books with those attributes I don’t know of. Maybe they’ve already been purchased, are going through copyedits right now, and I’ll discover them soon. Maybe I have completely no idea of how any of the authors writing LGBTQ+ protagonists identify. There’s perennial favorite David Levithan, of course. Who am I missing? Help me.

Great books are great books. No doubt. I’m so thankful that the ones that exist do indeed exist! The teens and adults reading them deserve them. And maybe I don’t have the chops to create an amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists. But, damn, maybe I do. Maybe I already have that completed manuscript. Maybe the one I’m working on right now is yet another one.

But what if the entry window closes before I find out? How many phenomenal PNRs, or books-that-happened-to-have-vampires, or dystopians missed their window? How many ridiculously original works will never become published books because they didn’t make the cut-off? Because the timing was against them? Because the market was already saturated? Because it was time to move on? We’ll never know.

So, yeah, I have those big, universal fears shared by a lot of (most?) writers seeking traditional publishing. But I also, just like you, have another set of fears probably particular to a subset of writers, and even fears that are mine and mine alone.

Sadly, this post is more about what I’m scared of than providing a fix for those fears. I’m definitely interested in your thoughts.

Do you know of any new amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists, which are actually written by LBGTQ+ authors? TELL ME. PLEASE!

Forget my personal fear for a minute. What’s yours? What’s that specific ~thing~ that makes you fret & sweat when it comes to your own writing, hopes & publishing goals?

Spill your scaredy cat guts in the comments and let me know. Maybe by naming them, we can do something about them.