Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Nyle silences me...

I just spent 4 hours trying to update one of my websites to reflect my screenplays...and GoDaddy so screwed me up with their nonsensical web designer, I wound up cutting two pages and only doing half of what I wanted. My rent on GoDaddy ends in December, on this page; I'm looking into other hosting sites. I shouldn't have to spend a month learning how to use a design tool that's supposed to be user-friendly; I don't have the time...or inclination.

So...away went the evening...and up went my blood-pressure...and here's something to keep my mind in check.

This is Nyle DiMarco dancing...the guy who cannot hear a thing...cannot hear the music...has no idea what U2 sounds like...so I'm shutting up about my whiny shit...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Limbo...

Still drifting and waiting to see how the fourth proof of OT looks before I continue on. I kind of like the feeling...but are my characters joining in? No. So farr as they're concerned, there's no rest for the writer.

Dev and Reg have come knocking on my brain, asking me to let them take it over and get Underground Guy done. So have Adam and Carli, over The Alice 65 and Carli's Kills...but since I have those two in solid screenplay format and on InkTip and have a few people thinking about them, they don't have the firepower needed to make me pay anything but a fleeting bit of attention, right now.

Mine To Kill is also making a lot of noise. Seems the characters like some ideas I had while doing the drive down to DC and New Haven and NYC and home, week before last. Can't say I blame them; it would be a wild story...which may be the best reason to do it. I just don't know if I should work it up in script form or novel. See if I can really write a Steven King style psychological horror story...with no adjectives. I may reread his book.

What surprises me is...not a word from Brendan, so far. I hope I haven't driven him off with my fear and procrastination. It's just, his Place of Safety is so important to me...and I want to get it just right...and I'm very intimidated by it...

Which is probably why I should do it next.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Facebook ads are nonsense...

I set up a Facebook page for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and added a small advertising budget for it. Just to see if things would be different from the last time I did this. Back then, I tried to get interest going for David Martin and The Lyons' Den. So far as I can tell, all I got was clicks on the ad from people in India, Thailand, South America, maybe Africa but I won't swear to that, and no sales from any of those places.

Well...it's the exact same thing, again. People from everywhere except my main markets -- the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan -- are clicking on the ad and I'm getting charged for it, but they will never buy my book. I think they do it because it gives them points or money if they do enough of them. I dunno. I just know Facebook ads are a crock.

Fortunately, I also limited the amount of time on it, so after 7 days the ad ends and the charges stop...and the clicks and "likes" will also end. Just like they did for DM and LD.

You have to wonder how Facebook gets away with this.

Recuperation

Just need to recharge my batteries after finally getting to the end of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Granted, I won't have the hard copy of the book till late next week, but that's fine. I've gone as far as I can with it and pretty much know I could easily work on it the rest of my life and would never be completely done. It's time to let it go and move on to my next project.

Since I already had the raw materials on my computer, I worked up a dust jacket for a hardcover edition...and I like it. But...I also updated my sales on my other books and find that 75% of them are e-book. I don't make a lot of money off them because I keep the price low -- probably another reason the ebooks sell so much better -- but it is reality. Seems the audience I reach is more iPad oriented than paper.

I'm trying an iPad out, myself. I inherited one and have spent part of the day hooking up to my WiFi and upgrading as best I can. It's more advanced than my MacBook so I can do banking on it; I can't on either of my other two computers and flat out refuse to on my phone. I'm also a twitter, now -- @kmswrites. I can do it on that instead of my phone, though that got hooked in, too. The i'Pad's nice and light, so maybe I'll shift some of the ebooks I have over to it and read them en route to San Francisco, next week.

I'll only be there for a couple days -- in Berkeley, actually. Packing up an archive. I got tantalizingly close to going to London to get another archive, but that wound up being too small to justify my expenses. Dammit.

I think the reason I so love London is I lived there as a child. My first three years of school were there, and I learned to love tea and rugby and fog and French and even dreary days. I still like to walk in the rain, of which there is a lot in the UK. Every time I've been there, I've felt like I was returning to one of my homes; my other is LA. San Antonio never was, even though I have family there and spent 25 years of my life in that town, much of it with my grandmother.

If we have lived past lives, I'm pretty sure mine was probably as a Cockney prostitute in Victorian London who wound up on a slow boat to California to work the circuit.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fourth time's the charm?

I've uploaded another PDF of OT to Spark, this time making sure everything was in order before I did it. And I've ordered my 4th hard copy proof; I don't even begin to trust the pdf proof they send out. Guess we'll see how it goes, this time around.

While updating the info on my ebooks already available through Smashwords I found out Rape In Holding Cell 6 had a problem. The way Smashwords works, you prep your book in a Word Doc (not docx) and upload it. They strongly encourage having a Table of Contents that links to chapters or headings in the book, which you can do in Word. But apparently if it's broken up too much, it becomes difficult to transition into mobi and such.

So I got a message that the file suddenly had multiple Tables of Contents and that needed to be addressed. That's where today went, and I've just uploaded it to replace the old version. If anyone out there has bought the ebook and had problems with it, let me know and I'll get you a clean copy via a coupon with Smashwords.

It would have been nice to know this two years ago, when I set the book up. But apparently the Auto-vetter that makes sure everything's in order didn't notice or doesn't notice such things. So now I'm waiting to see what happens, and I'll get a proof of this, as well. Guess I'd better check the others, too.

Just another way for me to have fucked up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I am my own worst enemy...

After a lot of back and forth with Ingram Spark, the people who are providing the Print On Demand services for OT, with me close to yelling at them over how crappy the proof copies were coming out, someone finally went into the files I uploaded and found that one part of my PDF was saved as 6x9 instead of 5.5x8.5. That's what was screwing everything up. Seems the first 12 pages of the book -- the opening section with the title, copyright page, Table of Contents and such -- got saved as the larger size when I shifted it to PDF...even though, when I looked at the Word Document and printer settings, it was all the smaller size. Then I merged that with the text, which was the correct size...and it all got saved wrong.

I have no idea how this happened, but now have to upload a new PDF of the text and start over. Meaning I'll miss my deadline of April 30th for the paperback. Dammit. I had planned to submit the book to Writers' Digest's Self-Published book competition, but the deadline is May 2nd and you have to send them a hard copy of the book. They want to see it, feel it, check it out all over the place. No way I can make it in time.

Shit. I can't seem to do anything right, the first...or second...or tenth time through. There's always some fucking mistake, somewhere, that makes me look like an idiot. Doesn't matter what I do to try and make it work right, somewhere, someplace there's an error...and I won't find it till the worst possible moment. Typos are nothing; everybody's got those. I see them consistently in my co-workers' emails. Bad grammar, missing words -- those are not unique to me. I go deep.

Half the reason OT took so damned long to finish is I kept finding logical flaws in the story. Inconsistencies. Bits that raised more questions than were answered. There are still aspects of the story I don't answer, directly; I leave it to the reader to work them out, if they feel like it. But bits I think I have explained suddenly don't make any sense because they contradict other parts of the story or character. I got damn near paranoid about it...and still am, a bit.

Dammit, if there was anything my masochistic psychoses didn't need, it was another excuse to beat myself up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Still marching forward

I'm now working on the dust jacket for the hardcover edition of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. I'm not sure about this one, however, because it's looking just like the paperback and I think they should be dissimilar. At least, that's what my gut's saying. It's just, I really like the way the paperback's cover turned out...if Ingram Spark will print it right. I should have the third proof, tomorrow, to see.

It's not like I'm in any rush on the hardcover, right now. I just want it available, but in order to set it up with Ingram I have to put a price of $29.95 on it. After the printing costs and discounts for the trade, if I go any lower I would make no money on it...and would actually be paying.

I had that problem when I did the paperback for Bobby Carapisi. I put a price of $15.95 on the book but discovered that normal trade discount is 55%, and if I offered anything higher than a 40% discount, I'd go into negative territory. What the heck...the e-books sell better, anyway, and I make as much on them as I do the higher-priced paperbacks. Maybe I'll let it go...

Or I can buy them in bulk and get a good price, then resell them...but I dunno about that. Seems a bit cheesy and desperate. I might get a few just to send off and ask for reviews from magazines and such. And I guess I could haunt the modern market trade fairs to set up a booth and say, Look at me, I'm writing!

That and a bowl of Hershey's Kisses might get passersby to pay attention...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's official...

The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is now available on Smashwords for $1.99. They say. It's available in mobi, epub, lrf, pdb, and online reader...so I guess that mean's it's officially published. Finally. This hasn't been a long, hard road, no...and truth is, it's still not over. I'm still working on the paperback edition and contemplating the possibility of a hardcover one. But now I have a place to send people if they want to read it now.

It's still a fairly complex story. And, again, I'll be lucky if I make back what it cost me to put it out there. I don't do well with the salesmanship stuff. That I've gone so far as to link it to my website and on Facebook is more than I'd ever done prior to publishing myself.

Maybe I should Twitter...

My brain is now casting about for the next project to take on, since I'm so close to the end of OT. Is it reworking Mine To Kill? Is it completing Underground Guy? Is it finally getting back to Place of Safety? Is it a page one rewrite of The Alice 65? I got no idea. My head hurts and my eyes ache, so any thought of what's next is pretty much carved in shifting sand. All I do know is, Carli's Kills is set, as are Marked For Death and Find Ray T.

I do want to make at least a small change to Adam in A65 -- putting in a couple more instances where he talks in Latin and German and sings a book into the staging room, where it will be photographed. Quirky stuff.

I guess that's my middle name -- quirky.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Brain been Frankensteined...

As in, "It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" once more. This was one long, tiring, kick-me-in-the-balls week where everything seemed determined to run me into the ground. After that ludicrously long drive down to DC, I packed 2500 books of photography into 63 boxes that weighed an average of 50 lbs each. Shifted them all around this tiny room so I could keep going. Didn't do too bad, but my back, legs, and feet were not happy...and I just could not concentrate on getting the ebook for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor done.

So I hired a couple guys to come load the boxes into the van...neither of them over 30 and so damned spry and easy about those heavy boxes, I felt a hundred years old. Then came a 300 mile drive that ran into a backup that would do the 405 at rush hour proud. No reason, just...10 miles an hour for 28 miles. I left DC with more than enough gas to get me to my destination; I had to stop and fill up.

Then came unloading the van...which I had to assist in because the people taking delivery didn't get any help from the union guys. So I got nice and beat from that. Then I had to do a run into Manhattan so I could pick up some things to pack for shipment...and it seems half of NYC's streets are under construction, and just try to find parking, even commercial (the van had commercial plates). I'd planned to grab a bite to eat after I did the pick-up; instead, I wound up doing the illegal thing and rushing in and rushing out before parking enforcement could catch me.

What capped it off was, as I was backing up to get out of the parking spot, a woman walked behind me then screamed at me for backing up. Bitch saw what I was doing...hell, I was already in motion...but she still got snarly. And I got snarly right back. So VERY NYC.

Getting out of the city was no problem, but it was closing in on 2pm and I still hadn't eaten, so I pulled off the freeway into Parsipanny, NJ to have a burger at a 5 Guys. What they don't tell you in New Jersey is, once you get off the freeway, you can't get back on. I should say, there are ways to reconnect with it...if you go down this road then left on that avenue and circle around this spot and hit a completely different freeway that will take you back where you need to be. Thank God I had GPS on my phone; I'd still be there.

Of course, during a job like this I eat like crap and it caught up with me, so by the time I got home at 10pm, I was sliding into a nice depression. I thought a late-night breakfast at a diner wold help, like I'd do in LA, at Norm's. Couple eggs over easy, hash-browns, bacon, pancakes, toast...about 1500 calories but comfort food's always perfect at mindnight. Problem is, the only 24 hour diner in Buffalo is Denny's. Okay, I can live with that.

Wrong. It was in chaos. Took me 10 minutes to get seated. I got a pot of tea...and then I got ignored by every waiter in the restaurant. No, not ignored, looked at and ignored. No one would take my order. Even the manager said, "Someone'll be with you"...and no one came. I finally went to the register and said I'd like to pay for the tea...and it hadn't even been input. They let me have it for free. How nice.

Well...I did a total crash and burn, and would have slept till noon but I had a dental appointment at 10, this morning, so had to get up for that. And I got the most sadistic bitch of an assistant. Lectured me non-stop about flossing daily, dug under my gums to clean, kept putting my head in very uncomfortable positions so she could dig deeper, and I came damn close to hitting her, once. By the time she was done, I had splatters of blood all over my bib. I mentioned how rough she was to the dentist and got the "It's tough love, to make you floss" crap. My mouth still aches. I think I'm looking for a new dentist.

Then I picked up my mail and saw the proof I'd ordered of OT...and went into crash and burn, again. The printed version does not resemble the PDF proof I got. The cover image is just crooked enough to notice, as is the interior text. I wrote them an e-mail asking about this then ordered another proof, to see if this was just a one-time thing. But it's not the capper I wanted for the week.

The one positive thing was I got a decent restructure of Mine To Kill worked out, along with the reason for the script and why it's important for Martha and (now) Matt to have their conflict. It's all about control and how sometimes that can be very, very bad. I did it as I drove, since there were many occasions where I was only piddling along.

I'll discuss the script (or story) more later. Right now I just needed to vent my frustration with a week that seemed insistent on making my life as hard as possible. And I do feel better.

Except for my mouth...which still fucking hurts...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Oddities occur...

Google Maps likes to play with you. I had to drive down to Washington, DC today to get ready for a packing job, tomorrow, so I checked to see how long the drive would be. It suggested I take a route that's fairly direct -- just 395 miles as opposed to 460, and would be 15 minutes faster...and it took me through the Allegheny National Forest (which would have been lovely if the trees were in bloom). So I figured, Why not?

Well...the reason is -- 1/3 of the roads Google had me go down were two-lane blacktops with lower speed limits, no-passing zones, lots of little towns where you suddenly had to go 25mph, and Sunday drivers. Next time I go to DC, I'm taking the Interstate the whole damned way. It may be 65 miles longer but it would have taken an hour less.

Still...that's just nonsense stuff you'll never know about until you try, and at least I let myself have a long, long adventure behind the wheel. What made this odd was, while I'm riding down the road, I'm also riding high on Carli's Kills, a low-budget horror-thriller I wrote, making it to semi-finalist in the Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship. Not exactly the Nicholl, but still a solid reaffirmation of my abilities.

Which, for some reason, led me to having ideas on how to rewrite a little psychological horror script I hadn't done anything with in years; why it came up, I have no idea. It's called Mine To Kill and is about the collision between an empathic-intuitive ER intern who can see the evil in men's souls and a brilliant woman who's obsessed with her cheating husband. He dies in a car wreck and she tries to bring him back to life...so they can kill the intern for letting him die.

I never could get it really come together. Parts are really good; parts are just slapped in place to make things happen. It's sort of been my step-child of a script...one I like but not my favorite...until this drive. Since I had so much leisurely time behind the wheel, my mind wandered into the story and I finally saw the problem -- I was trying to reconcile a very off-beat story about two wounded people who wind up as enemies with what I'd been told has to happen according to Syd Field and Save The Cat and all those crappy how-to books on screenwriting.

To start with, it's not a 3-act script; it's a 5-act. Which breaks the rules, just from the outset. I wrote Wide New World as a 5 act and people kept telling me it was all wrong, but with that one I could say I just didn't care. I accepted it for what it is, and for me to have forced it into a 3-act structure would have killed the story. I learned that from bad experience.

I also wrote a 2-act script and people said that was preposterous, that there is no such thing. Well, there is -- Psycho. The first act is Marion stealing the money to help Sam, in 3 movements; the second act is Lila and Sam trying to find out what happened to her, in 2 movements. People's dismissal of that is just a refusal to accept that not everything fits into a pre-cast formula. So I'm going to rework MTK in the way it wants to be and see what happens. I acknowledge that means most of the film industry will not consider the script worthy of attention...and maybe that's just me being arrogant or self-indulgent, I don't know.

I just know, when the story finally settles into its length and structure, I risk destroying it if I don't along...and I think MTK has finally decided what it wants to do.