Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Not the best day I've had...until it became a good one...

It started with me not being able to find parking close to my job, thanks to a Prius that had taken 2 spaces on the street. I wound up having to park the next street over and walk through a private parking lot. I fussed and fumed the whole way.

I spent the day prepping for a couple of archive jobs next week and the week after, one of which includes flying down to North Carolina. Oh Boy. I also pulled together the beginnings of a quote for another job even as one of the cats decided I had to be her personal brush and butt-patting slave.

En route home was accompanied by the usual idiots who can't seem to keep their cars in their lane. Almost got sideswiped. Then a clerk at a drug store was chirpy and happy as she questioned my ability to use a discount card I had...and was surprised when I got $4.50 off on my purchase.

When i finally got home, I found a canvas print I'd ordered of Southern Justice sitting by my door. Not only was it just okay, painting wise, the dimensions were off. Not by a huge amount, but enough to feel odd enough to check them and see the original had been compressed, lengthwise, to fit a standard canvas frame. Two of the characters are elongated while the one on the ground is squished. Now I can't even look at it.

But ... then I got an email from BookLife with the evaluation of The Alice '65...and it was very positive. Here's basically what they said:

Plot: This book is a madcap caper with delightfully zany characters and enough fun switcheroos to keep readers hooked to the end.

Prose: The writing is strong, striking a perfect balance between action and interiority. The dialogue of the many characters is varied and natural.

Originality: This book is clever and unique. It parallels Alice in Wonderland nicely, with it's kooky characters shuffling the protagonist along a twisty plot.

Character Development: The characters really drive the novel. The protagonist is complicated and kind. The side characters work well in service to the plot and theme.

And this was off the uncorrected proof I sent them. I can even use some of it as a blurb on the book's jacket if I want. So I guess I've got nothing to really whine about, anymore.

Still seeking a good photo to use for Adam and Casey, but I did find the perfect image of Gertrude. I'll start working out the positioning, tomorrow, since I'm off, and try to get an idea as to whether or not this will work.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The search begins...

I'm looking for a good photograph of a guy to use as the basis for Adam's face. I want a certain expression, but do you think I can find it? No way. I've dug through Shutterstock, a website geared to male models and Google, and I'm coming up empty handed.

I've got some that are close and I might be able to manipulate them into the look I want, but it would be so much better if I could find the exact right one. I suppose I could just make him up, completely. I've got the raw materials needed, and I could start right in.

I want to get onto it to keep myself away from beginning the rewrite of A65. I'm putting it off to give people time to send in more feedback, and hopefully I will get some more. But I've been through this many a time and it's not promising. Not even family members have responded.

Of course, a fair portion of this evening was taken up paying bills and spending an hour on the phone with the IRS over a notice I received. I owe back taxes and have a payment schedule set up, with deductions to be made straight from my bank account, but I got a bill that suggested it hadn't been done, yet...and turns out that is the case.

So right now it's all about the waiting and wondering what to do next to keep my mind off the waiting and wondering. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I know what I want...

Still tired from the trip but back home and ready to start in on The Alice '65's cover. I know what I want for it, but I don't know if I can execute it well enough. I'll be trying that, this week. In color pencil. With Adam, Casey, Gertrude and Lando on it. I just need to figure out whose faces to use as templates.

I can't go with someone known, like Russell Tovey or Daniel Radcliffe, so will hit Shutterstock for some models. I wonder if any of the Englishmen I know would be willing to let me use them? There are a couple who'd be nice...

There was also a bartender at The Bear Hotel in Divizes whose face would have been great for Adam. He had a slightly remote yet almost sweet face and wore glasses, but I didn't ask him. I should have. I did try to sneak a shot but it came out very blurry.

I really want to get more feedback from people before I start in on the rewrite...but I feel like I'm ready to go on that, too. I want to get a copy of A65 off to Publishers Weekly to see about a review, and if they do work one up, have it out around Thanksgiving, at the same time as the book. But I can't ask till I have a good cover and the book is well-corrected.

I've got a dozen articles to read about how best to get A65 known, so there's more to do. It won't be easy working up all of this...and I'm already worrying myself about it...but it has to be done. Maybe by the time I'm set to do Place of Safety, I'll know what I'm doing.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

In Toronto...

Everything went according to how it should, with the packing and finalizing of the shipment, then I spent the night in a full-fledged hotel instead of a B&B...and it felt so comfortable, I didn't go into London. Would've been a nightmare, anyway, what with that bomb that sort of went off at Parsons Green.

I've taken the District line. It runs down to Wimbledon, where I've done two packing jobs. You have to wonder what kind of devil lives to convince some idiot to try and kill people who've done nothing to him. Just slaughter anyone you can because some religious freak tells you to. I'm beginning to think civilization will be destroyed by the proliferation of the stupidly weak.

And I apply this to all religions, not just Islam. Christians have been killing each other for centuries, as have Hindus and Jews and even Buddhists. Once people reach the point of "my God is better than your God," it's the end of the line. The only real way to stop fanatics is to kill them, because if they're weak-minded enough to be won over by some butcher, then won back over by some enlightened soul, they'll have the capacity to revert to slaughter-scum, again.

Of course, Czar Snowflake tweeting never helps, especially when he sends one tweet about the bombing then gets back to whining about CNN or ESPN or MSNBC in his childish, adjective-laden way. I'm to the point where I honestly hope he has a stroke and doesn't die; I want him to live in his body for a long time and see if he thinks about his actions.

Rant over. Had a decent flight from Heathrow to Pearson. Wound up with a window seat; how, I have no idea. But I also watched most of Season Ten of The Big Bang Theory because there was a squalling baby on board that did not want to shut up. No writing done, but that's the way it goes.

Now I've got a headache and just want my bed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Turned out good...

The flight over to London was good and my trip to Devizes was easy enough. I ran into one snafu, where a bus driver refused to accept my ticket and I had to get a supervisor to tell him to. But I got there easily enough, and am in a small hotel that has uneven floors. Literally.

This job is all packed and ready for pickup. I'm heading to London the day after tomorrow to finalize the transportation then home on Saturday. I'm ready. I've got an assistant, here, who does not believe in silence, so it's been rough.

The job went a lot smoother than I expected or feared. They were ready for us and had lots of room to work in. Very helpful. England is expensive, even in a small town...a small town where everything but the restaurants and pubs closes at 5pm.

After tomorrow's pickup, I'm going wandering, if the weather permits. It looks like there's a lot of history, here. Aged buildings and a market square in the town center and churches with spires that are fascinating. The countryside is green and rolling hills do cattle, horses and corn fields.

I'm itching to get back to The Alice '65. I got some great feedback from a contact in England, and I want to start work on my book cover, as well. If the others I sent the story to can come back soon, that would be great. But so far it seems the story is solid and it's merely detail work needing to be done.

Devil's in the details.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Off on another job...

This one, I have no idea how it's going to go. I'm not dealing with books or the usual archives and only have a few photos that don't seem to cover everything that's being packed. Plus it's out in the middle of the English countryside, not far from the border with Wales, so no way I can order more supplies if I've underestimated or gotten the wrong sizes of box. But that 's half the adventure.

I'll be there a week with God only knows what kind of wifi access. And no time, really, for jaunting through London. Dammit. But what the heck; the farthest west I've been -- not counting taking the train from Holyhead to London off the Dublin Ferry, 12 years ago -- is Salisbury and Stonehenge. Should be interesting.

I've corrected the errors found by a couple of editors into my hard copy of The Alice '65. The story's still holding up, it seems. I also noted what ellipses and dashes I'd like to get rid of...which is a lot of them. Commas work just as well, as does making short sentences out of those bits. What's fun is how each editor found different mistakes. I'd say they both noted 80% of the same typos, then one caught a few that the other did not, and vise versa. And I found two that neither of them noticed, not to mention an inconsistency in one part of the story's details.

That's why I like getting as wide a response as possible. Makes it far more likely to catch everything. It's also interesting to get their different takes on punctuation. For example, one wants to remove as many commas as possible while the other despises semi-colons.

As regards commas, I do tend to be more old school about that. I use them for clarity, and while that can become a bit overly emphatic, it's not a killing point. Plus, I started learning grammar in England, so I may have the Oxford comma branded into my brain. I do know it took me years to get to where I didn't automatically spell "color" or "honor" with a "U", and I still sometimes say la-BOR-atory.

At least I'll be in a part of the world where no one will laugh at me for it, next week.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

"The Fire Next Time"

I'm reading James Baldwin's book about his life in the 30s, 40s and 50s, and it's interesting to see how little has really changed. It's not extremely detailed as regards actions, but his thoughts and comments are precise and intense. One struck me hardest.

It's when he's discussing the Nation of Islam's growing influence and white America's shock at the horrors of the Second World War. To his mind, what happened in a Christian nation like Germany destroyed any pretense that Christians or Christianity were superior to others. He could easily see it being done to African Americans in the US -- since it was still the pattern in the South, before, during and after the war -- and it's summed up in his understanding that civilizations are not destroyed by the wicked, but by the spineless.

It resonates today because he saw that Hitler did not really seize power, in Germany; he was allowed to have it. Same for the horrors that followed. Germans weren't stupid people; they knew what was going on...but far too many of those who thought the Holocaust was wrong and evil weren't willing to try and stop it. Some did, but when you're surrounded by cowards and fools, it's hard to get any traction on an honest resistance.

We have a similar albeit less defining occurrence happening now, with that diseased SOB in the White House being allowed to do as he damn well wants by the spineless Republicans as his attack dogs howl at those who fight back against him. What's more, they deride anyone who opposes his vile actions by heaping their own beliefs onto them -- calling ANTIFA and BLM racist and violent even as their side carries Nazi flags and spits racist chants while carrying assault rifles and wearing Kevlar vests.

And the spineless media goes along with it. Even FaceBook helps them. It's been revealed that company allowed ads filled with lies and propaganda from Russia supporting that excuse of a man who's now president to be spread on its pages in exchange for money. No vetting. No care taken. And we're only just now getting a basic, "Oops," followed by a so-what shrug. They're too big to punish or fail, and too few people are willing to take them to task.

On top of that, when some right wing vermin complains about you for any reason, FaceBook suspends you, without a second's thought. But it lets Nazis post swastikas and KKK symbols and nothing happens unless the company is shamed into it. Tells you where their sympathies really lie.

I don't know what to do about that. Americans have become too much like Germans prior to the war. "Just leave me alone and let me live my life, and I won't care about what happens to anybody else." James Baldwin saw it for what it was -- a dead conscience.

And I'm not sure it can be revived.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Too clever for my own good...

Well, it seems a stylistic choice I made is falling flat, and I can understand why. In The Alice '65 I used ellipses to indicate pauses in the storytelling, and they're not going over well with anyone who's commented on it. The consensus is, it slows down the momentum and takes you out of the story. I thought it was clever, but it turns out to have been rude, crude and totally misconstrued.

It's not as if I'm wedded to it. I can take them out. Sometimes they're needed, but nowhere near to the extent I used. And reality is, I was already thinking they'd become overwhelming. This just backs up my inner critic.

This isn't a first, for me. I once got into the habit of putting a period after dashes at the end of a sentence and have no idea why, because nowhere can I find that as being justified. I will put a question mark, still, for clarity, but I'm getting rid of the nonsensical dot.

The latest comments also mirror those made earlier -- that the story's sluggish in the first two chapters. It doesn't really get going till Adam is on the plane. I need to address that, because it's one of my failings. I need the info in there but have to work harder to make it palatable and natural, and right now it isn't. It took me a lot of work to get that handled in The Vanishing of Owen Taylor; A65 is just as worthy of the focus.

On the positive side, they all like the story and seem to care about Adam. No real comments on Casey, yet, but it is much more his story than hers. And no one has come forth to say I've mucked up this or made no sense with that.

The latest job in San Francisco is done and ready to ship. Then Saturday I'm off to the UK. Looks like I'll miss all the fun of Hurricane Irma. I was going to do a job in the Florida Keys; it now looks entirely possible that will be blown away by a record-breaking storm. But the right wing says that climate change is a hoax.

Goddamned idiots.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

First notes on The Alice '65...

Mainly dealing with typos, punctuation and missing or extra words. The only real comment was, the opening chapters are a bit too long. Which I can understand, and I will try to trim them, but I need the opening bits for later reference as Adam's world changes. And at the end, to show how much it's changed.

Something commented on, and which I'm contemplating changing, is my use of ellipses and dashes to indicate pauses and hesitations. I'd already cut back on them, some, but I can see their point that they slow down the read. It might be better to get rid of a lot more and make shorter, Hemingway-like sentences to replace them. I'll have to think about it.

I've already noted the needed corrections in my printed copy. Now I'm just awaiting more comments to see what to do, next. Hopefully, it will be along the same lines, but you never know till you get them.

Tomorrow I'm off to San Francisco to collect another author's archives, to ship to a University they've been donated to. This will give me time to think about what I'm going to do with Place of Safety. Brendan's not going to put up with more delays...and I don't blame him.

I'd be irritated with me, as well.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Could it be...?

I wonder if I'm still avoiding Place of Safety, but this time using the idea that once I get started, if I have to shift back to A65, it will kill my momentum and hurt what I'm aiming to do? It's an important project, to I'd rather not stop and start on, like I have so many others. And today, I woke up thinking of the dozens of other projects I want to write, once P/S is done...and that depressed me. Going at the rate I'm going, I'd have to live to be 95 and be at least as sharp as I am, now, to get them all done. Not sure about that.

Since no one wants my screenplays, I've been aiming to shift them into books. Like I'm doing with The Alice '65 and did with The Lyons' Den, and started to do with Bugzters and The Golden Sea. I've got 23 original scripts I've done...well, original for me; no one else involved in the writing. By that measure, it includes my adaptations...except for Straight On Till Morning, since I don't have the rights to that pair of books.

Of these, four would work best as stage plays, if I can sit myself down to do them right. Two of those I'd want to do as musicals -- The Cowboy King of Texas and Cyber-tribes...something I've never done before. That would definitely mean collaborating with someone who writes music, which would be a lot of work unto itself.

Of the rest, they would need a fair amount of reconfiguring, and couple just plain wouldn't work, as they currently stand. We-come, for instance; totally conceived to be a low-budget sci-fi horror movie. I just can't see that as a book.

And then there are the projects I've had in the planning stages forever. Like The Six Days of Jemmy Tee (which would do better as a book) and Uplanders (which really should be a movie). However, Blood Angel would do nicely as an erotic romance. Same for Carli's Kills. So...

So either I shut the fuck up and get my ass to work, or I blow all of them off and die with nothing but regrets.

Oh, that would not be the way to go.