Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Curmudgeon be I...

I went through a series of irritating emails with the powers that be at Caladex, wanting me to explain something I do not think I did or said...and which doesn't make sense to me. Supposedly, I noted on an XL Spreadsheet that I was going to work 22 hours over 2 days on one of the packing jobs I'm doing. It's one of the jobs that increased in size and I did say I'd be doing that over 3 days, but there's no way I'd do it for 2 and most certainly would not say that when I did the original quote. But since I don't have access to the spreadsheet, I have no idea what's going on or what I originally put down or anything.

I also got bitched out because I didn't get specific enough on another quote I revised, and because I thought they were having someone else in the office get some information from a company to go with that quote when they meant something else, entirely, that I wasn't even involved in and...and I got so fucking confused about this, I just stopped responding and had a late dinner.

Part of the issue is, I'm on a Mac while the office is all PCs, so I can't access the server to get my information direct instead of second hand. And part of the problem it's causing is, it feeds into my sense of incompetence. As if I need more of that. And...part of it might be that I just haven't eaten well, the last couple of days (no lunch, today), and LA's traffic is worse than I remember and it's hot and most of my friends are out of town...and I'm feeling stupid and inadequate to the tasks ahead.

And now I'm whining like a needy dachshund.

This is bullshit.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The usual WiFi issues arise...

I stayed at a Howard Johnson's in Tarzana that would not let me onto the WiFi except for a few minutes at a time. I'd get 2-3 emails done and one search on Google...and then I'd get the spinning ball of eternity, And there was no one to call to check into it. I used to think it happened because I've got a 10 year-old laptop...but I'm in a Best Western, now, that gives me zero trouble.

I'm caught up now on my emails and such -- I mean, I'm able to do some of that on my iphone, but there are somethings I need the laptop for, so...

Job 1 of what is now 8 jobs is done, and I probably sweated off 50 lbs doing it. This was in a storage facility in Tarzana, where it was hitting 100 during the day, and 55 boxes became 84, once I did the ephemera and electronics. I ran out of boxes, labels and tape. Never had that happen, before; I usually wind up with too much left over.

Tomorrow's should be easy...but I've said that before. We shall see how it goes.

I read most of Steven King's book, On Writing, during the trip to LA. I'd read it years ago and remembered a fair portion of it, but I'd forgotten his 10% rule -- like, if a draft is 300 pages, cut out 30 pages worth of writing. I don't know if that would work for A65 since it's only 63,500 words long. I feel it needs to be about 62,000...and there are spots where I can dig deeper...so we'll see what the response is once I get it done.

The trip was long and both my flights were late...but it looks like I was lucky to even get one. Lots of them were getting cancelled, going into Phoenix, because it was too hot for them to land or take off. The hotter the air, the harder it is to get lift. I guess that's why we landed nearly an hour late... near sundown, when the worst of the heat was over. I had to run for my connection and got to the gate just as my boarding number was going in...but at least it got going...and then sat on the runway for 20 minutes.

Climate change now affects air travel in ways that cost money, but Republicans still refuse to care,

Saturday, June 17, 2017

One of those days...

I spent much of today wasting time trying to find things I wanted -- like black or blue cargo pants or t-shirts with pockets -- but apparently too many placees think those things aren't worth selling, anymore. I found that JC Penney, which offers cargo pants on its website, is worthless when it comes to getting help in the store. "Go ask this person." "Go ask that person." "The clerk at the register will look it up for you." So I wait in line to talk with her and she says, "Go look on that table; that's all we have of the brand you're looking for." I gave up and left.

Old Navy was just as bad. "If it's not on the shelf, we don't have any." Which shelf? "Over there." "Do you have Pocket T-shirts?" "I think so, over on that table, maybe." Gag!!!

Same for Target and KMart, but at least at the latter store I happened onto some pants I could use. I'll have to alter the leg lengths, a bit, but I'm now situated for this trip. Along with 2 packets of pocket Ts I just happened to notice. Small wonder I hate to shop. It's an exercise in how much time you can waste.

Already 3 of the 8 jobs have expanded, massively. One went from 500 books to 800; another decided to add 250 volumes and 2 framed items to the mix; the third is more a methodology thing where the books have to have tabs put in them, thus increasing the time needed...oh, and he wants them delivered to a different location than his shop. Never a word till today, and I've already got my mailing labels printed up. I spent the time I wasn't wasting on shopping reworking my plans and needs for packing materials. Should be interesting.

Tomorrow is laundry and working on the Switzerland and NYC quotes. All I can do is estimate how long it'll take and what I'll need for each, at this point. I'll have to leave the costing of the shipping to others. My flight leaves late Monday afternoon and I'm already needing to stop by the office to get some updated paperwork and get back home. Since I'll be gone so long, I'm taking a cab to the airport instead of parking; it's cheaper.

Nobody said it was easy...but seriously, does it have to be so hard? (He whined.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Respite...

The Alice 65 is all printed up and ready for me to dive in with my red pen. Kinko's ain't cheap when it comes to printing, but I can't get another printer of my own till I get a new laptop or desktop computer. The printers out now require a higher level OS than what I can do.

I'm about to embark on an 7 job tour of the west coast -- 3 in the LA area, 1 in Seattle, and 3 in and around San Francisco. I'll be in the Bay area from the 1st of July to the 14th...and maybe later, if a final job comes through. Plus there are two more large ones down the pike. I was planning to take the last 2 weeks of August off but may not be able to. All depends on when a New York one needs to be done.

I'm also looking at a possible trip to Switzerland, which would be fantastic. I've only been to Geneva and that was 30 years ago. I took the TGV from Paris and had a lovely ride. Had lunch on the lake. Took a boat tour and a late train back. This one would be deeper inside the country...and is still very iffy...but it's fun to dream.

I'll be focused on those two jobs, this weekend, working up costs and time needed for packing and the like, so won't do anything on A65 till after I leave, on Monday. If then. I want a bit of space between me and the book, so I can keep fresh with it.

I'm re-reading Steven King's book on writing, and also going to try and get into A Confederacy of Dunces, just to see what it's all about. And I have another Pulitzer Prize winner I'd like to read -- A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler. I'll be spending a lot of time on airplanes, so may as well make use of it since it's so hard to use my laptop on them, now.

Who knows -- maybe it'll help me improve my writing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Another draft done...

Okay...A65 is now in first real draft. 63,400 words and 258 pages. I've still got a lot of work to do on it to make it readable; I saw that as I dug through the last couple of chapters. So much still needs to be set up, better, and some aspects of Adam and Casey that I sort of glossed over can be brought out more, earlier in the story.

The big challenge is in keeping everything in Adam's perspective. It's his story with Casey as a strong second lead...which makes it hard to put her history into it without her doing some long bits of dialogue. Explanation. Exposition crap.

I get around that with Adam, to an extent, by just shifting into him remembering things that happened then him realizing he's been telling them to her. Can't do that with Casey. And I'm trying to avid the full-scale omniscient thing some authors do. Oh, well...I like the story and the characters, and I'm willing to keep my investment going till it bears fruit.

I can't honestly say this is still a romantic comedy. It's got the romance and comedic elements, but it's digging deeper into the characters in ways that mitigate the casualness of events around them.

Like Adam's former girlfriend, Cora, being controlling and casually cruel to him, and him accepting it. Still being in love with her even after she dumped him, got married to a truck driver and is about to have twins, by the man. What keeps it from being pathetic, I think...I hope, is Adam's concern about her future children. He thinks she tends towards Munchhausen Syndrome -- she wanted him to take up smoking then, when he became addicted, she'd be the good woman who helped him quit -- and plans to keep an eye on her in case she starts doing that to her kids.

I also have a scene where Adam finally catches on to what Casey actually planned for him and sees himself for how others see him...and sees how lost he's become...while sitting in a tub full of water with a black panther named Gertrude, who's in love with him. I can't tell if that's right for the story or me just being piquant.

Or if I'm being both at the same time...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Recuperated enough to do some writing

I have 3 chapters left to finish reworking...and a section I've already done that is as lumpy as hell. I'm still just over 63,000 words but found another spot that was repeating info already noted.

So I'm going to be lazy and post the bit where Casey and Adam have arrived at Lando's house for the after-premier party.
______________________

(Casey) led him into a room that was as tall as it was wide. Hundreds of lantern lights covered the ceiling and a hundred people danced, all in exotic masks of gold and chrome and white plastic, drinking neon-colored liquids through straws that lit up, and vaping on neon-outlined cigarette pipes. A DJ worked his turntables by a wall of a window that looked out on a yard and pool that were landscaped to within an inch of reality. All relatively normal, to Adam, except for one thing.

There was no music.

Barely even the noise of shuffling feet. Instead, it was spooky quiet as the dancers texted on their phones and read each others' phones and laughed at each others' phones and argued via each others' phones and blew fake smoke into the air and lit up their straws as they sipped. It was so bizarre, Adam had to check his chin to make sure his mouth was shut.

Someone slipped up behind him to place an elegant mask over his face and hook it behind his ears ... and music pounded into his brain, sharp and thumping, vibrating to the very tips of his well-pedicured toes. He jerked it off to find ear-buds built in to the ear-rests and a girl who couldn't have been legal age casting him a bewildered look.

"You hear the music with these," she said.

"Why?" popped out of him.

"Beverly Hills noise ordinance," she said, smiling sweetly as she wandered away.

"Dear God, Casey, is this how -- ?" But she had vanished, and he felt the weight of her purse in his coat pocket. "Casey?" She was not to be seen. "I'm bloody Gunga Din, to her," he muttered.

Then a woman of indeterminate age in near nothing couture oozed up to ask, "Did you say you were somebody?"

"What do you mean?" was all he could think of as a response.

"I hear you're somebody," her voice like a whisper trying to sound loud.

"Isn't everyone?" Adam replied.

She shook her head. "If you're not somebody, today, you're nobody, unless you were somebody, yesterday, or might be, tomorrow."

Adam blinked. "I ... I don't know who I could be but me. Today."

"Isn't that just like your type?" And she oozed away.

He backed to the window to watch the silent dancing increase in frenzy and --

Incense appeared before him. Sharp. Smoky. A woman dressed in flowing Indian robes with multitudinous beads dripping around her neck, hair frizzed into half a halo and held by headbands, she positioned the stick straight up to roll between her fingers. She nearly caught his nose with it.

"Careful," he said, bumping the back of his head against the glass.

The Earth Mother spun about and swirled the incense smoke around him. "Your aura needs serious cleansing," she said.

He coughed and tried to wave the smoke away. "I think Orisi did quite enough of that, thank you."

She gasped and grasped Adam's hands to look closer at the mandalas. "What exquisite work," she whispered, awe-struck. "The depth and lacy intricacy ... and so fresh ... "

Adam took his hands back and held them behind him as he said, "Julie did them."

The Earth Mother pressed closer to Adam, her eyes bright with joy and fire, the scent of cinnamon wafting about her. "Julie? There is a Julie Marshe-Croton who's renown for her henna designs. And she's English. Like you." She threw her hands up in front of his face, showing him elegant henna works on their backs, lacing around her fingers and coloring her nails. "My daughter did these. She worships Julie Marshe-Croton. And you say she's here? In Los Angeles?"

"I ... uh, yes, I ... I suppose -- "

"She is! Look at how the incense curls around your nose!"

Adam looked. It was!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Time goes slooooooooooooow...

Damn, today went by like a snail. I picked up a van and loaded in packing materials and supplies and got on the road at 1:30, heading for NYC. The hotel I aimed for was just under 400 miles off, which is about 7 hours since I stop and stretch my legs along the way...and that's all it took, but I would swear time was going backwards. It felt like 10 hours, minimum.

It's weird how that happens. Most days vanish around me, as if they're only pretending to be there. I can get started working on a story or researching something or trying to finish a job at work, and suddenly I'm running late. But occasionally it seems like no matter what I do, time ticks by at the slowest mode possible. And that was today.

I was constantly checking the time in relation to where I was -- like pulling into Syracuse, I thought I was running late but I was actually a bit ahead (mainly due to how fast I drive). And I got to Stroudsburg by 7, and had to keep reminding myself it wasn't an hour later. I stopped to have some ribs at a Chili's, there, then got caught in nasty traffic on the 80, due to a wreck. So I stopped, again, got gas, and still made it to the hotel by 9:30. On schedule, really, considering an hour for dinner and refueling.

I wish life would slow time down while I'm writing, giving me more space to work in, and stop just having it disappear before I know it, in every other way.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Working along on A65...

I just finished redoing Chapter 11 and have a whole 66 pages left to complete in this rewrite. Most of them require simple changes. So far, I've added 10 pages and the wordage is just over 63,000...and I can cut more. I still think 62,000 is the target size. Then comes printing up a copy to do more corrections on and then another polish...and then feedback.

I should be done by the end of the week. Tomorrow I'm headed down to New Jersey to pick up some archives, and coming straight back, so I'll have my evenings and weekend to do it. I will be so glad, because the following week I start a series of jobs on the West Coast that could keep me there for a month -- LA, SF and Seattle. Up and down the coast.

I guess I need to really be thinking about a cover for A65. I have some ideas, and I do like how OT's turned out. Same for RIHC6, LD and PM, since I wouldn't change a thing in them, but I'm not completely happy with HTRASG or BC...so maybe I should get some professional help on this one. I have contact with a man in England who does this and might be open to doing it, but first I need to get the book ready enough to let him know what it's about.

When it comes to P/S, I've had that cover set in my mind for years. It all just depends on if I can license this black and white image to use. The font needs work and I'd cut the "A Novel" bit. Don't know if I'd add a short blurb...that feels wrong, somehow. But I can decide once I hunker down and start back to work on it.

And this is the next book I'm finishing...no matter what.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Editing galore...

One good thing about posting snippets of The Alice '65 is, for me anyway...I get taken out of it and can see where to cut. Like the part I posted on Tuesday...got rid of 7 lines that were overly emphatic about a point made earlier. For example, this little conversation is now --
-----
"I just spent two hours in a freezing theater watching a man I used to love pretend he loved me. I need a double-dose of Midol. Triple."  Her tight face-mask was back on.

"Head?" Adam asked. She merely nodded. He slipped behind her and set his fingers on her shoulders with his thumbs pressing against her spine. "Here."

He began to run his thumbs up her neck, light and easy.

She tried to pull away, saying, "Baby, no -- "

"Just relax," he said as he pushed on.

Casey sighed. "Oh, Adam. Baby. Magic fingers"

He had to chuckle at that. "Told you, mum's a physical therapist. She knows how to make pain vanish. And she would give you the stick for letting your shoulders become so tight." He let his voice soften. Grow close to wistful. "But your skin ... the, um, the result of Orisi's cleansing products?"

"Same crap he used on you. If I didn't, I'd never get styled in this town, again."

"Was reaction good for the film, at least?"

"Who knows?" It took her a moment to continue. "Those cookies and juice, that should never have happened."

"No worries."

"But that's how my mother makes pain vanish." Then she sighed. "More and more, lately." Adam kept rubbing. "I think she's lonely. It's just been her and me since daddy left."

"Surely she has friends."

"You know what a friend is, in this town? Somebody you see once a year. Maybe twice. Three times? You're in a relationship. I bet you have lots of friends."

"I don't know about lots," he said, still rubbing. "People from university. Mates on the team. Neighbors. The spouses and families of David and Beryl."

She almost turned to look at him. "You keep inventory?"

"These are people I've been around forever. Who know me. Understand me. Let me be."

"People say they understand me, but they don't. Nobody does. Not even me."

"Doesn't everyone feel that way?"

"Yeah."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quick posit for more of A65

Changing planes in Charlotte and had to walk a mile from one end of a terminal to another. Literally. So here's a touch more of A65 to give me a breather. This is after the premier's let out and Adam is looking for Casey, when...

-------

"Why you out here?"

Adam jumped around to find Casey beside him, her mask gone and irritation in her eyes.

She continued with, "The movie was half over before I realized you weren't coming."

"I had no money for food," he said, "and needed to use the phone and couldn't get back in."

Casey looked at that usher, and the irritation vanished into weariness. "He the one who stopped you?" Adam nodded. She all but growled, "You should've just waited in the limo. Plenty of food and water in there."

"Where is it?"

She looked around to find a dozen limos now on the street, none of them theirs. Others were parked in a nearby lot while a few were obviously on standby in front of a higher-end hotel.

"I'll send him a text," she said. "He'll be right up."

She took back her purse and pulled out her phone ... and frowned. "Adam, there's money in here; why didn't you just use this?"

"It's not mine."

She looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. "Lando would've taken a fifty and kept the change."

"Your Lando is definitely quite odd," Adam said, glancing over at him still holding court in the lobby. "You sure you want to leave? Seems the patrons are not done patronizing."

"I just spent two hours in a freezing theater watching a man I used to love pretend he loved me. I need a double-dose of Midol. Triple." The tight face-mask was back on.

"Head?" Adam asked. She merely nodded. He slipped behind her and set his fingers on her shoulders with his thumbs pressing against her spine. "Here."

She tried to pull away, saying, "Baby, no -- "

"Just relax," he said as he began to run his thumbs up her neck, light and easy. Her skin was the softest he had ever felt ... and her shoulders were the tightest. "God, my mother would give you the stick for letting yourself become so tense."

A moment later she was murmuring, "Oh, Adam. Baby. Magic fingers."

He had to chuckle at that. "Told you, mum's a physical therapist. She knows how to make pain vanish."

She gave a soft laugh and leaned back into the massage.

He let his voice soften. "Skin the result of Orisi's cleansing?"

"That or I'll never get styled in this town, again."

"Was reaction good for the film, at least?"

It took her a moment to answer. "Who knows? Sorry you didn't see it."

"I will when it hits the local cinema."

"Thanks." Her voice grew soft. "Adam ... about the cookies and juice ... "

"No worries."

"That's how my mother makes pain vanish," she said, her voice trying to be funny but not quite making it. Then she sighed, "More and more, lately."

"Have you any idea why?"

"Lonely, I guess. It's just been her and me since daddy left."

"I find that hard to believe. She's an attractive woman."

"With bad taste in men. She thought Lando was cool, until he proved he wasn't. I think she just ... she liked him."

"Hasn't she any friends?"

"You know what a friend is, in this town? Somebody you see once a year. Maybe twice. Three times? You're besties, for life. I bet you have lots of friends."

"I don't know about lots," he said, still rubbing. "People from the university. Mates on the team. Neighbors. The spouses and families of my oldest brother, David, and sister, Beryl. We get along well. Connor and his wife, not so much. In fact, I don't think I've met any of her family. It's like she was raised by feral cats, to feed or be fed upon."

"Like Veronica," Casey sighed. A moment later, the limo arrived and she asked, "Feel like more champagne?"

"Um, no, doesn't mix with Guinness." He gave her shoulders one last squeeze, sending tingles into his heart. "All better?"

"Baby, I feel beautiful."

"You? Imagine."

She swatted at him, laughing. Then as they got in the limo --

"There he goes! There's our Adam!"

He popped up to look across the limo and see almost the entire bar outside watching him. He waved at them, got in, and appeared through its sun roof, laughing. Casey joined him.

"Is that where you were?" she asked, motioning to the patrons.

"I couldn't exactly wait on those bloody benches; they were covered in bird feces."

Casey laughed, pulled him close and waved at the group as they started to pull away. The group cheered and chanted, "Casey! Adam! Casey! Adam!"

Lando was still thronged with people, just outside the theater, but heard them and looked around.

Casey noticed, laughed and flipped him off, as the limo eased around the traffic.

All Adam could think to say, in a veddy Vincent tone was, "Casey! How positively horrid of you."

Still laughing, she opened the video app on her phone and showed him the Paparazzi twins were back on their motorbike, saying, "Wanna bet they got a good shot?"

He could just make out that were telling each other, "Blow up should be happening soon." "Then it's gonna be High Noon."

Adam looked at her. "Are we planning something to fulfill this dream of theirs?"

She gave him an odd look of appraisal, mixed with a wide grin, then she said, "Not anymore, baby. It just seems stupid, doing something like that. And I'm tired of feeling stupid."

She rubbed her arms so he removed his jacket and put it over her shoulders. She was surprised. "Adam, you don't have to -- "

"I'm from London," he said. "This is like a fine summer's night there. I'm quite comfortable."

She pulled it tight. "Thanks. Y'know, I do have to make an appearance at Lando's, then we'll head back to my place. Light a fire. Order in Chinese or Indian. Get you a good night's sleep. That okay?"

He let a long sigh out. "Sounds like heaven."

She kept her eyes on him for a moment longer, nodding. "Yes, it does. It does."