Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Quick links to Derry I don't lose them...

1971-- Free Derry

1979 -- including Grianan an Aileach...

Thursday, December 8, 2016


The last couple of days have been busied up by catching up with my sleep and by updating my website, GoodReads page, adding OT to BookDaily, sorting through a mess of paperwork, and working more on UG. Oh, and dealing with that little thing called my job. Now I think I'm basically on top of what's necessary. I hope. I'm sure I'll think of something to beat myself up with, later.

With UG, I'm liking the idea of accountability being its theme, more and more. What's already set up in the story is how Devlin's father was a brutal drunk who bought off the cops and priest whenever they were called in about him beating his wife and sons. No accountability for that. Nor for what Dev believes was the murder of his mother by his father. The police just shrug it off and the priest blames the wife and sons for provoking the man.

Now Dev only attacks people who deserve some form of punishment -- like one guy who reneged on a deal with his company and nearly drove Dev and his brother, Colin, into bankruptcy. What sends him careening into chaos is how he attacks Reg, the Underground Guy, a man who did not deserve punishment but was actually trying to help save lives. This makes him question everything he thinks he stands for.

The catalyst is the police finally finding the remains of his mother in the marshlands of New Jersey and calling him with the information, just before he returns home from his business trip to London. He needs to give them a DNA sample so they can verify it's her. He doesn't even tell Colin about it because he knows his brother would be unable to handle it. So it's almost like he's pulling his stunt in order to be forced to stay in the UK.

May be a bit too complex for the story, but I'm having fun playing with it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Life in the fast lane...

I'm done with the packing and prepping of my latest Berkeley shipment. It only took a day, but it was tiring. This house is one of those places where each floor is on a different level, and they're connected by a tight spiral staircase. Of course, the items I had to pack were on the top floor, but I was able to use the dining room, which is on the middle level, so only had to do the round-trip 20 times.

This shot is from that room. It's a beautiful house in a lovely area of tight, winding streets ... and the view is spectacular, as you can see... but I'd get tired of all the up and down pretty quick, not to mention it's a 15 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. But then again, that might be why the couple who own the place are still very spry, even though they're older than me.

Last night, I had dinner with Yue Shi, a Facebook friend who's a law student at UCB and who likes my books. He's from China but is a US Citizen, and we've had fun talking about his various crushes. We were going to do a French place but it was closed on Mondays, so we wound up at a glorified Pizza Parlor called Jupiter with a lot of Artisan beers and some odd sorority/fraternity thing going on. It was very loud. The girls wore streetwalker dresses, they were so tight and short, and the boys wore suits and tuxes. Like this was prom night. UC Berkeley is very odd.

Hell, Berkeley is odd. They drive at 25 mph and if someone even hesitates at a crosswalk, cars stop to let the person cross. Of course, the pedestrians are as confrontational as drivers are in LA. On many occasions I had someone bust into a crosswalk and double-dare anyone to hit them as they passed. Didn't even look to see if traffic was stopping. Spooked me.

I worked some on Underground Guy on this trip, and now have a complete outline for the story. I even have a couple ideas of what it's about -- acceptance or accountability. Right now, I'm leaning towards the latter more than the former, because much of the action is Devlin taking responsibility for his actions. And there's also how his father was never held accountable for the physical abuse of his wife and children.

Now I'm waiting for the redeye back to Buffalo and a nice long sleep in my bed. This La Quinta is very comfortable and quiet, and the mattress very nice, but it's still not mine and there was no tub; just a shower. I really wanted to soak thanks to those stairs.

But that's life in the big city.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Another trip...

This one to Berkeley for a couple days and taking a redeye back to Buffalo Tuesday night. NOT looking forward to it because I cannot sleep on a plane. I doze a little but that's about it. So today was spent catching up on paperwork and bills and wondering what to do next.

I want to get my head completely out of A65 so I can approach the story with a fresh eye, and the best way to do that is to do another project. Maybe I could finish a draft of Underground Guy; I have it about half-written...even though it's all over the place. Or I could do a new on -- like Uplanders, a post-apocalyptic story using Aristophanes' The Birds as its basis but segueing into darker territory, at the end.

Or I could start dealing with the information inundating me about Medicare and my new health insurance and the requirements of my credit cards and organizations I'm working with to try and keep Trump under some kind of scrutiny. I could even do research on how to promote my books better. Bump up sales. Research grants for writers. Do some painting or sketching...which would be hard to do on a plane. Or I could blow it all off.

So...I now know my usual pattern -- fight getting a project started, force myself to start it, get involved in it to the point everything else vanishes, and when the work is done, get lost in my uncertainty of what to do till I start fighting myself on what my next project will be.

Shit...guess I'm stuck in my ways.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rewriting and adding...and it's 50,051 words

I went back through the Adam parts of A65 and found places to add in memories and expand on actions -- like when Adam is being made over by Orisi at Casey's behest, and how it's his first taste of real Hollywood chaos. That expanded by over 400 words by letting Orisi jump to even more extreme extremes and Adam having to work his way through it so he can get the book he's been sent for. But this also sets him up for a compliment from Patricia, Casey's mother, regarding his legs and ass. Something he's never had before.

He also refers to his brothers and sister a lot more and discusses how his mother got him into ballroom dancing as a way to get him to exercise and not sit in a chair all day reading a book, which segued into him talking about the amateur football team he belongs to (soccer) and sets up a moment in the bizarre party at Lando's where people are dancing to music no one can hear unless they are wearing a mask.

Before I knew it, I'd passed 50K and met the challenge. Barely. And I haven't gone half as far as I could with this story, yet. It's still swinging between romance and comedy and drama with a touch of existentialism. Not sure what that means, yet, but I do know it's going to be interesting, at least.

But the main thing is, I met the challenge and didn't have to cheat to make it work. I did that on one book -- The Golden Sea -- and it hurt no one but me...but it did not help in any way, either. I have yet to return to the book because it would be like starting from the beginning.

I'm tempted to go through and do another draft of the book; make it more solid and consistent and ready for the serious rewrites I'll be doing. I'm going to focus more on my style, this time, and do everything I can to make this as polished a tale as possible, so I want the structure to be solid.

A new theme that seems to be peeking through the wordage is Loneliness. Casey's lonely. Patricia's lonely. Gertrude is lonely. So is Adam, even if he doesn't know it. It comes together in many ways, and it makes the ending more bittersweet than the script version because of how things work out, but still hopeful.

So far.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Done at 48,118 words...dammit...

So close and yet so far. The Alice 65 maxed out short of the total needed to meet the challenge. I'm brain dead, right now, so will go through my notes, tomorrow, to see if I can find another 1900 words to add in, but it's not promising. And I will not cheat. If I don't make it, I don't make it. At least I have a first draft of the book in decent enough condition.

The ending changed. In the script I had Adam staying on at the university, but because the betrayal is so raw in the book...he leaves. He ends his careful, cloistered existence for the big bad world of fending for himself. That cute happy ending I had in the script might work on film but it was wrong for here.

I also think I need to work out the timing for the ending bit around the jet. I don't think it's possible to get from Van Nuys to LAX in an hour, no matter how crazy a driver you are. you have to deal with the 405, and that is a nightmare just about any time of the day.

Hell, the whole book will take a fair amount of work.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Uh-oh...may come up short

I just cut a fair amount from A65 because it just didn't work within the structure of the story, and now I'm not so sure I'll make it to 50,000 words for this draft. Oh, I'm sure it will expand and deepen as I do rewrites, and I'll probably still wind up with 60,000...but right now I'll be hard pressed to hit above 48,000.

I guess that's good. It means the story is quick and easy. And I haven't yet gone into my folder to remind myself of ideas I'd cast aside for the screenplay, so I may still wind up with something close or barely over. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Right now, I'm zoning so am doing no good.

I'm at just under 46,500 words with 10 pages of script left to translate into narrative format. From the point where they have the fight in the private jet that's out of control to the end. All the final back and forth between Adam and the people he works with, too, which will expand as I do it.

The moment where Adam realizes he's been betrayed turned out pretty raw. I may need to smooth that over to keep the book's tone even. Maybe. It also may be that I have a couple things happen too often and will need to remove one or two so their impact is not lessened.

I'm back to not knowing what the story is about. The spine from which everything extends. The action moves along all right but I still need the unifier...and there's no telling when I'll find it. I didn't catch onto OT's till the next to the last draft...of 18 or 20, I don't remember.

Damn, I hope A65 doesn't take that many.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Getting there. Only 5500 words to go to meet the challenge, and 3 days to do it in. I'd be a bit further along but for some reason my dictionary has shifted to German. Dunno why, but all of a sudden it doesn't like anything I type in English so puts a red line under words like and and the. Very distracting.

It's going to take a fair amount of work to get this story into decent shape for publishing. Right now there are too many disjointed moments I've thrown in so I'd have them in the correct area. And I know there's some repetition of bits that I'm still thinking on, as regards to where they go in the book.

It's gotten a bit darker but still has humor in it. Sometimes within a few lines of each other. It's going to be a rather odd book, once it's done. I just hope people want to buy it and read it.

En route back from Hong Kong I watched all of Season 9 of The Big Bang Theory and then watched the first Star Trek movie. BBT was funny, and ST was ponderous with SFX that did not hold up to the test of time. Last night, as I sat in the tub, I streamed 2 of the Hercule Poirot mysteries via Acorn. David Suchet plays Poirot and they were made in 1989...and hold up surprisingly well, production wise...but the mysteries were rather simplistic. I knew whodunit within 10 minutes of each.

Obviously not originally Agatha Christie.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Writing down the wrong path...

It's wrong. The two-voice telling of The Alice 65 is not right for the story. It's not what the characters want and I finally got it through my thick skull, last night, as I was trying to get to sleep. This is Adam's story. He should be telling it as he experiences it, no one else to explain anything. What's interesting is, Casey agrees.

I couldn't see it because I was too caught in shifting what was in the script to narrative form. I knew Adam's parts were working fine but Casey's were stilted and trite, not to mention dull. And then I realized she actually pulled out a couple of tricks and was showing me how to make even her sections into Adam's...and I was ignoring them. But now? Now I can see no other way.

I guess it's best to figure that out at 42,000 words than the 60K I'm expecting the story to be. Maybe even 65K. I'll have four chapters to change, but everything else is already Adam speaking and that's perfect. Right now, I'm at the point after the party when Casey and Adam are beginning to open up to each other. He's had his little freak-out. She's realized she went too far. Now they're sitting before a fire as his clothes wash and she tends to his injuries.

It's funny, but in researching romantic comedies it seemed the stories not told in third person were told from a woman's POV. I think that's part of why I tried to work Casey in, for those who wouldn't read a rom-com fom a male perspective. I don't know if this will lessen the book's chances of selling, but I can't take that into serious consideration. What matters is the story is right.

And the truth is, it is without question, Adam's story.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Still angry about the election...

It's now more than 2 weeks since Trump was elected to the Presidency, and I'm still angry and nervous about it. He's been so inconsistent and hateful, so far, putting a racist like Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General, a governor with no foreign relations experience like Nikki Hayley as ambassador to the UN, a billionaire named Betsy DeVos who wants to privatize all primary education so she can make more money, a notorious homophobe like Mike Pence as his VP, and an anti-semite like Steve Bannon as part of his transition team...this is the devil's wet-dream.

It's The Marx Brothers meets The Three Stooges mixed with Laurel and Hardy, and some people act like they're great dramatic actors, ignoring the fact that these fools will not only be setting national policy for the next four years but international...and their lead boy will have his finger on the nuclear arms trigger. If he has one of his 3am fits over some slight given him by the ambassador from Iran, our only hope to avoid Armageddon is a military coup.

People keep saying to relax, we'll get through this, not remembering that under Ronald Reagan, tens of thousands of gay men died before he even considered acknowledging the AIDs crisis, and he even refused to help his friend, Rock Hudson, when he asked for it. They forget that under Eisenhower, thousands of people's lives were ruined due to the HUAC Red Scare, the vast majority of them innocent of any crime. They seem not to know that this is exactly what the Germans said to each other when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, when no one really thought he meant to exterminate the Jewish race.

Anyone who tells me we'll get through this means they think they will and the hell with anyone else. It's usually wealthier, more educated white men and women saying it, almost all of them heterosexual, because we are the favored race in this country and they are the favored sexual orientation. But some African-Americans have also said it. Meanwhile gay men and women are being threatened and attacked, blacks are being attacked and killed, as are Muslims and (stupidly) Sikhs. The hateful rhetoric from Trump's crowd is only increasing, and the media are falling in line to make it all seems just like business as usual.

That Trump is now signalling he won't be registering Muslims or really building a wall and that gay marriage is the law of the land (for now) is not reassuring; he's been so back and forth on his positions who knows what he'll decide tomorrow? Who knows if he's really taking his instructions from Moscow? Who knows if he's even really a billionaire? So far all he's proven to be is an unstable man in a job that requires more than just stability but also awareness and compassion and understanding and self-control, none of which he has even begun to suggest he truly has.

Seriously -- when the president-elect feels like it's appropriate to whine about a group of actors politely asking the vice president to be compassionate and understanding, you know he's anything BUT strong...or intelligent. He's nothing but a schoolyard bully who can't even handle the drama kids.

And that makes him 100 times scarier than he's ever been.