Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sketching along...

Today I spent prepping sketches for the A65 video. I have 8 left to do in my sketchbook, then comes coloring in. Even though I had worked out some thumbnail ideas and a set of slightly larger drawings to prepare for this...they changed even more. I found a great castle to use for Merryton College and, after a couple of false starts, got the idea of the interior of the chapel down solid.

I also adjusted the angles I'd initially aimed for into something a bit more dramatic and indicative of movement as opposed to mere illustration. We'll see how they turn out in color. What's nice about working on these is, I don't pay attention to social feel a lot less stressed by this time of night. I hope to start sharing completed images next weekend...but not sure if I'll be ready, yet.

That's because I can't do much till Thursday, next week; I'm off to LA for a quickie job. Fly in Monday, pick up and pack on Tuesday, fly back on Wednesday, all a very last-minute scramble. I'm meeting with Carrie, the person doing the reading for A65, and her husband, Karl, for dinner Tuesday night...and since my flight's at 5:25 pm, I won't have time for anything else. Dammit. Besides, My buddy, Brad the cinematographer, is in Texas shooting a movie.

But I'm excited about this job because it's for an icon in gay literature, and I didn't even realize he was still running around writing. I'll have a copy of his first book with me, just in case I can get it signed. That would so cool. But with my luck, I'll only get to deal with his assistant.

I guess it depends on how much of an obnoxious fanboy I want to be...but doesn't matter. I'm happy to even be part of this. When he was young, he was gorgeous and he helped set up dark gay lit...

I'm also thinking of taking August off and going to Ireland, again. I've been there so many times but never got to visit a couple of sites I'd like to see, dealing with ancient Irish history. They're in the southwest of the island, where I've only done the Ring of Kerry. I'll have to think about it, figure out the cost. I'm getting my credit cards paid down nicely and don't want to run them up, again...but the catastrophe of Notre Dame made me realize if you put something you want to do off for too long, it'll wind up being too late.

Besides, what good are credit and money if you don't use them?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Politics kills creativity...

All this uproar over the Mueller report and Barr's disgusting manipulation of it over the last few days has thrown me off my game. I haven't written anything on APoS. I haven't worked on my sketches for A65. I've been dealing with idiots online who still support that SOB in the White House and accuse everyone else in the world of lying about him and what he's doing. It's enough to make you think mankind ought to be made extinct, if only to give Mother Nature a chance to start over and maybe do it right, this time. Jesus.

So I'd get angry and sad and hurt and disgusted and dangerous...often within the space of 5 minutes. Y'know, I don't believe in God, but Czar Snowflake's presence is damn close to proving to me he does exist, because that excuse for a man is the embodiment of evil; his sociopathic, animalistic behavior heavily laced with sadism and cruelty is Satanic, in everything. And he calls those like him to him -- demons to a demon.

The one funny part is, those creatures who work with him stupidly think he'll be loyal to them, when he's the type who chews you up and spits you out the second he's gotten everything he wants from you. Loyalty is a vile word to him, as he's proven over and over. I will not be shocked when he tosses his own sons under the bus to protect himself.

I'd pray he has an aneurism or cardiac arrest, but for those to be effective he has to have a brain and a heart, and he has neither. He's just a beast. And he fucking infuriates me.

I've never liked him. He's always struck me as a con-man, even when he was touting his book and doing that insipid reality show. I saw him as being two levels below Dillinger; at least that guy was honest about what he was -- a hood who killed people. This bastard in chief isn't even on the same level as the boiling clouds that evoked the Wizard of Oz, in the movie.

So last night I had to step back. I had a pounding headache and I know my blood pressure was way up. Fortunately, I learned about a Channel 4 sitcom called Derry Girls and joined Netflix so I could watch it. The story follows four friends in high school in Derry, circa 1992, just as the Troubles were beginning to wind down from weariness on both sides, and showed how typical and untouched their lives were. I took in all 6 half-hour episodes...and they cleansed my pallet. I'm hoping Season 2 comes along soon.

Today I spent promoting my books on a specialized website and began re-reading John Rechy's City of Night, a classic book about being gay in the early 60s. He's got a great style that doesn't believe in using apostrophes and skirts around the issue of sex very neatly. He's from El Paso but now lives in LA and is 88 years old...

Which gives me hope for me...

Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre Dame is destroyed...

The roof and spire are gone, as are the stained glass windows. Some artwork was saved...but she's lost. Even if they rebuild, it will only be a copy.

Below are photos I took with my cheapie camera when I visited in July 1986. I used 400 ASA film -- Fuji and Kodak...until I discovered 800 ASA Agfa. I snuck a couple of photos inside before getting yelled at.

I always planned to it's too late...

This hurts beyond measure.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Balancing APoS with A65...

I spent today working out the opening of A Place of Safety...cut two pages and rearranged a lot...and here's what it's down to. Brendan's got a bit cheeky...

Those who knew Eamonn Kinsella -- and were being at least a little bit honest with themselves -- had to admit that were he born but ten miles to the west or north, his murder would have been seen as the fitting end to a hard and brutal man, and my poorly-disguised pleasure at his passing would have been accepted as understandable, if still inappropriate.

His body was found off the Limavady Road, in a ditch of flowing water, on a cold, blustery morning late in February. His coat had been pulled down his arms and his hands bound behind him. Every bone on every finger had been broken, several ribs shattered, an elbow dislocated and his face pummeled into the mere hint of a human visage. Blood soaked his shirt down to his trousers, the knees of which were torn and scraped as if he’d been forced to walk on them or been dragged. Some said his every tooth was torn out, as well, but the Coroner’s only comment on his death was the very embodiment of simplicity.

“Mr. Kinsella perished due to a bullet fired into the crown of his head.”

It was determined that he had lain in icy ditch, on his back, for a full day and night, which made it difficult to set an exact time of death -- though somewhere between midnight and four in the previous morning was quickly decided upon...and quickly disputed by one and all. For he was last seen being jostled out of McCleary’s Pub in his usual condition just after last orders, that night, and it was obvious to one and all that his death would have been anything but easy or quick. The reason for this? He came from Belfast and had once worked as a navvy on their docks, and despite it being years since his last position, his hands still held the calluses that job built, his back still carried the strength gained from it, and he had only just begun drifting into sloth. Such a man would not have released his grip on life without a full-on fight; it would have gone on for more than a few pathetic hours.

Word of his murder spread quickly, as bad news always does, and within the hour, many a man at the pub had sad remembrances of his bleak eyes and long face, all bringing to mind tortured poets and sad balladeers. They spoke of how he could sing so well as to make the angels weep, elegant tunes of Ireland's ruined past and her dead future. Others recalled melodious stories spun by him of fairies living in Oak glens that once spread forever across Ireland, or of gods roaming her once glorious green fields, or exciting tales wrapped around GrianĂ¡n Aileach, the ancient ring fort but six miles and a hundred worlds away from town, all brought forth in such beauty and perfection you'd have thought he lived through each one.

There were also tales set in times more modern, violent and furious and savage and dealing with the unnatural order of life on our fair isle. Even his enemies, of whom there were more than a few, acknowledged he had a true Irish heart, and in another time under better circumstances would have given the likes of James Joyce and Sean O’Casey a challenge as the bard of Eire.

A few wary souls even wondered aloud if he might well have lived through some of his tall tales, including those ancient, for it was hard to see how so much anger and grace could have been poured into one man in fewer than thirty-six years unless he had carried it over from a previous existence. Oh, the rages he could build about the horrors of being a working man without work in a land cursed by God, with a wife and five wains to feed. Barely living off the dole, they were, with naught but spuds burned over the open hearth and tea made from thrice-used leaves for their breakfast. Rags on their backs. A hovel of a dwelling on Nailors Row, and lucky to have that. No steady heat or indoor plumbing. Spuds for supper and dinner, as well. No prospects for a decent job as once he’d had, even though that one had been the worst kind of cruelty to his back...and wouldn't you please front me another pint, m’boy? Despite the reality that you’d never see a farthing of repayment from him.

Naturally, that last memory was minimized in honor of the dead. Hypocrisy is most acceptable at a funeral or wake.

I may now be the only one to acknowledge that he drank too much, but that was not viewed to be a true problem; as many a neighbor said, most of the men in this pinpoint of the world were of the same bent. In fact, it was one of the few comforts offered in their existence. Nor was him being quick to temper now discussed. After all, whispered more than one, sometimes anger was the only emotion men like him were allowed to hold forth. And if his wife was seen at market with a fresh bruise over one eye or across one cheek, or out walking her wains around till her lord and master had raged himself into weary, drunken sleep...well, she was hardly known for her gentleness. Comments often accompanied by a click, click, click of the tongue.

So now that he was dead, his sainthood had begun, and it was abetted by the closed casket at his wake. Circumstances dictated his burial be quick. It was paid for only through the intersession of Father Demian, a priest who’d so often visited the man’s home in times of violence or distress in the years prior, and who comforted the new widow as best he could when she wailed, “What’s to become of us? How shall we live?” Over and over, to the point where even those sympathetic to her wondered if her laments were more from her sense of guilt for often having wished him dead than at the fact that he was.

And while I may have agreed with them, it was wrong of them to cast judgment. Only a man’s blood may determine the meaning of his passing.

So how did we live?

The burned spuds and weak tea for breakfast were replaced by porridge and milk, and fish and chips could be bought, on occasion. For the one benefit of having to deal with poverty on less than half the dole's payment was that Kinsella's widow knew how to stretch a ha’penny the length of a mile. Even better -- because the widow had five with another soon due, those who ran the town were forced to promise better lodgings for us once the last of the Rossville Flats was completed.

If there were room still available on the queue, of course. Can’t make promises one might have to keep.

So for me there was no sorrow at his death. And as mentioned, while it was deemed inappropriate, me being his second son, I sensed even then it was for the better of us all. Though to be honest with myself, my feeling was colored by the recent occasion where he’d nearly crushed my right hand because I dared wish to keep the shilling I’d earned helping Mrs. Cahan clean her shed instead of hand it across so he could have one more pint of porter. And never once since has my mind changed its belief.

However, Eammon Kinsella lived and died in Derry, Northern Ireland (Londonderry for those who cannot be bothered to learn the city’s proper name). And upon his death, he was lionized for who he was, that being a Catholic man, as memories of the brute he was were quickly forgotten. And when it was discovered he was killed by two drunk Protestants who swore they’d only meant to have some fun with the Taig (which was as high a pile of shite as could be imagined but, of course, was accepted as the most reasonable explanation by the Constables) his martyrdom to Mother Ireland was carved in stone. A poor family man trying only to keep kith and kin together as he slaved for the pennies tossed his way by Loyalist scum.

It would bring full-throated laughter from even the most forgiving of men, if they were being honest with themselves.

Still...that would have died off, as well, but for several Catholic schools being attacked, that year. And the discovery of a band of Loyalist mental defectives who, sensing the growing restlessness of the oppressed in Ulster and the push already starting for civil rights, stupidly thought killing a few of us would remind the Papists who was still in charge. They formed a new group called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, and in their deluded minds would become bigger and better than the Ulster Volunteer Force -- and were certain love, respect, and honor would come their way from similar-minded Protestants -- as they showed that bloody IRA who was the true master of this world. Instead, they wound up simple murderers, banned, and imprisoned at Long Kesh.

But in honor of their foolishness, the Derry Corporation, who still ran the city, then, decided no Catholic would be relocated till it was time to redevelop their street. Meaning we kept living in that hovel for three years more -- Ma and the girls in the front bed, me and the lads in the back -- even as life settled into a fresh direction around us.

So that was my new beginning at the ripe old age of ten, feeling joyful and free even as the subtle reality of my bright new world surrounded me, waiting for the best moment to bring forth the fullest impact, growing closer and closer to an explosion of hatred and brutality made only the worse by it happening in a supposedly civilized part of the fast-dwindling British Empire.

But what child can see the build of history around him? Even few adults can, in truth. Events occur that you’re a part of but at the time carry no meaning beyond themselves. You either rejoice when all ends well or weep when it doesn’t. So my father's death only held resonance for me in the most selfish of ways -- that I could now live my life in the manner I chose, that of a child filled with hopes and dreams and prayers and promises, believing himself now to be in a place of safety.

Friday, April 12, 2019


Okay, this is it. I'm finally at the point where if I know I do one more thing to this sketch, I'll screw it up, so I'm stopping. It's time to move on. Otherwise, I'll be at this the rest of the year and APoS will be dumped, again. Not gonna happen.

For sure this means I'm not doing 40 panels. Dunno how many, just yet, but it's not like I'm making a movie; I'm just adding visuals to a person telling a story, and I've already decided the next frame I was going to do was unnecessary. I had 8 frames plotted out for two paragraphs...and that's absurd. All I need for this are pinpoint moments to back up the audio and focus on the character...and to have each of them reach the same level of detail as this one means a week on each. I ain't gonna rush it.

I do feel good about this panel, I have to admit. It gives Adam a nice feel...nice look. I'm going to keep the focus on him, throughout. No cutting back and forth, like I was storyboarding a film. No supercilious angles. Just Adam going through his morning, unaware his world is about to be turned on its head.

I get too carried away with complexity, sometimes...almost to the point where it's its own reason to create, and that's just silly.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The beginning is nearly begun...

I think I've got Adam set, now, for the sketches. The scrape to his chin from the rugby match on Saturday. Russet hair neatly cut. A world of books behind him. I'm at the point where if I think I do one more thing to him, I'll ruin his image. I do still want to work on the shadow from the window and the foliage outside...but I'm on the fence. We'll have to see how I feel tomorrow.

Last night was awful. I got a pneumonia vaccine shot -- the 2nd part, so supposedly I'll need no more -- and my shoulder went nuts. Swollen. Achy. I developed a low-grade fever. Crashed into depression and became a full-fledged mess. I had trouble sleeping. But it's a lot better now. Shoulder still aches but also itches, which to me means it's healing.

Next on the agenda for sketches is Adam leaving for work. I have that planned out and it will be a lot more complicated, but I'm ready for it. I'm finding I don't like working with non-photo blue. Since I'm taking photos of the image, it shows up and I have to work to cover it. I may do the next image in soft graphite pencil, which is easier to erase.

I did enjoy the process of working on this image. It took 4 days to get right...maybe 5...but it's got the richness I wanted instead of the impressionistic feel. I guess this won't be ready for some I need to also work on APoS. See what I want to do with it, now that I'm not happy with the meh of an opening.

I may print out the first four chapters, cut 'em up, and tape them together in a mishmash of a telling...

Monday, April 8, 2019

A65 begins again...

Here we first pass at the opening image for the slide-show to go with the reading of The Alice '65. It's not there, yet, but it's a beginning. I'm already thinking I'm going to get rid of half the window and make that more bookshelves. His eyes need a bit of straightening out, and that shirt looks too big on him, around the collar; Adam would not wear something as loose as that because it looks unprofessional.

I've plotted out between 36 and 42 images to do, depending on how it goes along. I was tempted to use Daniel Radcliffe as the model for Adam but he's too well known, so keeping with the unknown kid I used on the cover is best. I'm not going to rush them; I want rich, full images. This has to look right and not just tossed together.

I went into my usual downbeat attitude, today, now that PM is done and gone. I get all keyed up working on a project and when I finish I feel lost for a little bit. I actually did nothing but sit at my table and listen to KCRW for a couple hours before rousing myself and starting on that sketch, and it kick-started me out of my funk.

I need to keep reminding myself that's what's always worked in the past -- doing artwork when I'm down. It's my comfort work...and while I soon learned I'd never be one of the great artists, I didn't care. It made me feel good to actually see something I created.

Something that never happened in film.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Swimming with Dolphins...

If I could swim, I'd be swimming with dolphins.
Creatures that always seem happy and free.
I'd dance in the surf and would laugh in the water
And live my life joyous while under the sea.

I'd care not one damn for what's thought by the others
Who make it their duty to snarl and to snap
At those deemed unworthy or wrong in their choices
While they, themselves, keep us all safe in their trap.

For when I was young, I swore I'd never falter
And hide from my life, but be honest and true.
Only now I look back and see that was just dreaming
As one always does till life's caught onto you.

So there will be no more of playing in shadows.
I've opened my world to the others' harsh glare.
I will write what I want, when I want, as I want to
And for their opinion -- I no longer care.

In short -- I sent my no-apologies script, Porno Manifesto, off to the Nicholl Fellowship and Austin Film Festival, just to see what'll happen. I know, I know, big deal -- and I expect nothing...but it felt good to let the script go as far as it wanted...and by God, it did. The sex is about as explicit as you'll see on cable...but the attitude and the damnation of it are a lot harsher.

I pat myself on the back, and happily so...

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Fun Saturday...

I participated in an author takeover of a group I joined on FaceBook. It's called M/M Banter and is for those of us who write male on male stories...mainly geared to the darker side. I ran it between 11 and 11:30am and had fun promoting my books, talking about the script for PM, answering questions, and learning about what other authors are working on and have published.

It's interesting to figure out what some people think of as dark. There's a fair amount of domination/submission stuff being offered, which doesn't really interest me. This slave/master Do what I say or I'll hurt you/Yes, sir stuff is okay...but too artificial for me. There's a fair amount of shape-shifting, too -- wolves and lions and such -- which can be fun, but some go so far as having torture, which I do not enjoy.

I should add, unless the story specifically calls for it. The murders in Underground Guy could be considered torture, and while I didn't go into much detail on them, the idea of the horror involved was necessary to build up to Devlin's breakdown.

Many of my books are considered pretty damn dark, but mainly because they're psychologically so. My characters have justifications for their actions, no matter how vicious and cruel they might be. And illegal. As they finally get to understanding who and what they've become. Even as light a book as A65 has a bit of that in Adam's past and his growing awareness of what he's gotten himself into with Casey.

Stripping out the internal reflection Alec has in PM, the book, revealed to me just how harsh his actions were. I haven't minimized them, at all. In fact, I expanded on what happens between him and his ex, Woody, and why Alec left him. It ties into the story a lot better, now, and the script still ends with a threat, like in the book.

I do wonder why I think I can get away with this. Why it hasn't come back to bite me in the ass. Maybe not being a best-seller's helped me, in that way; I dunno. I just know that today I got the script down exactly like I want it, so all that's left to do is a spell-check and one last read-through, and off he goes into the real world.

Ready and waiting.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Sneaking back to APoS...

Something I began wondering about, today, was if one of the problems I'm having with A Place of Safety is that it's not very interesting, at the beginning. Not exciting or even trying to grab you to make you want to read it. I find it interesting, telling Brendan's story from the age of 10 to 16...but I halfway think his first couple years are too deliberately typical. A boy and his mates, some rambunctious, some not, hinting at the ways they would go...a story told a thousand times before.

There's a reason for that -- showing how their lives were just like ours till history intruded -- but maybe I need to enter their world from a different direction. Something to make it fresh and alive and happening while still real. The civil rights turmoil doesn't really begin to boil until Brendan's 12, so the first chapters are...I Easy. Build slowly. I know what needs to be there but the way I'm working it right now is coming across as plain oatmeal instead of a 5-course champagne brunch. His story's better than that.

That could be part of it issue I'm having with it -- not so much that I'm afraid to tell the story (I am still pretty nervous about it), but that it seems pointless at the moment unless you know there's something more intense going to happen later...and I'm relying on people knowing The Troubles are coming to take the place of good solid writing. Which is lazy on my part. And sloppy.

There's a lot going on in the story, even in the beginning, however it now strikes me as busy work, not real development. This book needs a better way to be told than simple and straight, like I was least in the beginning...maybe the whole first section. sort of falls into doing that in the Houston section, as well, after Brendan recovers from what he saw in Derry. That starts out really well. I'm already happy with it up to the point where he begins working in his uncle's bar, illegally. Then it sort of settles into a monotone until he falls in love with a girl who's Cajun and black.

As anyone who's read my dark books knows, I despise monotone...