Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eurovision winner

Sweden took this year's Eurovision competition...and justly. Doesn't hurt Måns Zelmerlöw is not only kind of cute (like a ferret) but also has a strong stage presence and powerhouse voice.

It is one of the best songs. Most of them are usually pretty generic. Yay, Sweden...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Am I a hawk?

As I work on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, I feel like I'm circling around searching for something specific. Like a hawk circles looking for the stray field mouse or gopher or rabbit to have for din-din. And like that hawk, I won't know what it is till the damn thing moves and catches my attention.

This brings to mind the phrase “hawk’s eye,” meaning not only keeping a close watch on things but also having insight into what's happening. Or, like in my case, trying to sense the subtle meaning behind actions being taken by my characters.

And there are meanings...I know there are. I refer to Jake as a wolf throughout the story, as in lone wolf but also one of a pack and the sort of animal that mates for life. He's been disowned by his parents, so he's seeking to form a new pack. He's joined with Antony and brought Matt in. He senses his uncle was doing the same thing -- building a family to take the place of the one he'd lost. People who believed he was sinful and immoral, even as they committed much greater sins.

That brings to mind the hypocrisy of people like the Duggars, who hold themselves up as paragons of virtue while fighting gay rights...and hiding the fact that their oldest son is a pedophile. And the worst part is, they did everything they could to keep it hidden and him out of jail. No...actually the worst part is how the Duggar matriarch argued against a trans-gender non-discrimination bill in Fayetteville by painting gay men as the worst of the worst, while knowing full-well she'd helped her son avoid criminal penalties for raping a number of pre-adolescent girls.

Of course, hers isn't the only example of right-wing-religious hypocrisy. One preacher went so far as to tell a troubled gay teen he should commit suicide because he was going to hell, anyway, only to be caught seeking sex from men on Grindr, himself. It's all so damned ludicrous and soul-destroying, you have to back away from the news just to keep your sanity.

Of course, this is what Jake's going through, in the book. So I guess I'll keep circling to see if something grabs me and then dive down to grab it.

Hope it's a tasty morsel.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Halfway is better than no way...

I'm at the end of section 2, where Jake realizes his uncle has been murdered and he's deciding to find out by whom. A lot's been set up, and I can see it beginning to expand into a vague sort of chaos, so I'll be focused on focusing the story on Jake and his own turmoil. Sometimes I use lots and lots of action to hide the fact that I don't know what the hell is going on...and just hope it turns out for the best.

Having a printout of the story is helping. I can jump back and forth to make notes, which is pretty damned hard to do in Word. And there's something about actually seeing it on a page that makes me read with more care. Of course, it's also intimidating. The damn thing's over 500 typed pages and fills a 6" ring binder to the max. If I dropped it on my foot, I'd be crippled for life.

At the same time, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It becomes more real. On a computer, you're dealing with different shades of light that can vanish if the power is cut off. And you're limited to the screen you're looking at. Other pages deep in the memory of your computer are available, sure, but as I said...they're not as easy to access.

I think that's why books will always be with us, no matter what some people say. Electronics only work so long as there's a steady source of power, and if that's disrupted, how can you do anything in the way of reading or watching films or writing? You can read a book by candlelight; you can't read a tablet whose battery's run down. You can write with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper; you can't if your computer's not getting electricity.

A book is as perfectly developed as is a wheel, and is just as essential to life, really.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love is love...

I gave up on Christianity a long time ago because of how so damn many followers of Jesus thought this was worthy of attack and/or death.

What the hell is so wrong with two men being in love? Or two women? Why is it anybody's business but the loving couples' if they want to marry or not? Raise children or not? Why is it okay to deny millions of Americans the same basic rights as others? Religions cannot answer this except to refer to fearful ideas concocted two millennia ago...back when people thought the earth was flat and our bodies had humors instead of blood flowing through our veins.

I'm getting into this because it's part of OT. Palm Springs is a battleground used by right wing busybodies as a testing ground for their new push to re-criminalize faggots. The town is so deeply entrenched in the gay psyche, with between 25 and 50 % of its population being gay, they figure if they can turn people against the queers there, they can do it everywhere. Apparently they think it's okay for conservative perverts to stick their noses into private bedrooms and legislate what's allowed to go on in there.

The epitome of this insanity is Ted Cruz saying the left wing is too obsessed with sex. The right wing spits out laws governing women's bodies, contraception, hell, even family planning, down to the point where some of them want trans-vaginal probes before allowing an abortion and call rape illegitimate unless it suits their idea of what it is...but it's the left obsessed with sex.

Just listening to the clowns and their supporters is enough to make you wonder if you're in some alternate universe where up is down and stupid is smart. I honestly want to slap the shit out of those people, it's so insane. The only thing I can do is fight to get someone into office who doesn't put up with that crap. So I'm pushing for Bernie Sanders as President (since Elizabeth Warren won't run) and refusing to support Hillary or back Barack in anything, since they were the ones who slapped lefties like me down during O's first term. Something O's started doing, again, and doesn't seem to think will matter to us. I want honest liberals in office to start countering the vile, despicable, diseased crap coming out of the GOP and too many parts of the Democratic Party.

And I'm putting as much of this anger into OT as be warned...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"The Blood of Others"

I finally finished it, and I think it's going to factor into the book version of The Alice '65. Because it's a classic of existentialism but I felt it was self-indulgent, in the extreme. The style changes, constantly, from third person to first and back, again, often without rhyme or reason. One sentence it's about Jean Blomart and what he's doing, or Helene and her self-involvement, and suddenly it's a first-person account of what they're doing and thinking. Very distracting, and not in a way that's experimental or engaging or thought-provoking.

A while ago, when I first got the book, I wrote a small piece about Adam working in his father's book shop and wanting the read the book, and his father telling him to ask him mother about it, since she'd read it years ago. I didn't know why that came up...but now I do. Adam's mother is a strong woman who found Helene to be childishly drawn and locked into doing things for the man she loves instead of just for herself.

It's not until the last 10 pages she senses there is more to her life than that, that important things are going on around her...and then she's dead. She's not even given the right to have her death explained except in the most oblique of ways...and I'm not giving anything away about the story, by saying this; it starts out with Jean sitting with her as she dies from a bullet wound.

He's given all the existential angst you can imagine. The intellect. The caring. The curiosity. The action.  The sensitivity. All Helene does is want him to love her, and when he doesn't she drifts about with nothing to anchor her. And that's what Adam's mother disliked about the book -- it was written by a woman to glorify a man.

I think that reflects on what Casey's doing in A65. She's pissed at Lando and wants to get back at him instead of just realizing he was a shit and being glad to be rid of him. Granted, her ego's hurt. Her feelings. And that's not easy to let go of. But she's using Adam to smack the guy down, meaning she's still making her decisions based on Lando's actions.

I'll need to work it in better, but it's given me a hint of where the story wants to go. I halfway think the reason I decided to read the book was to get my mind working on it so I could segue in once OT is done.

Hmm...serendipity strikes again...maybe...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Back to before...

I've dug into The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, again, and the time away from it has been good, actually. I've already noticed a couple of spots where I say the same thing twice, just in a slightly different way each time. Not needed.

But overall, the first 86 pages are mainly like I want them. I'm up to where Jake's in Palm Springs and about to have his first run-in with the cops. It's later in the story that I'll need to make corrections. A fair number of them, too.

I got my information back from the Riverside DA's office, finally, and I've gone too TV-DA in some spots. Plus one bit with a judge will no longer work because it's just plain nonsense...which I hate, because I liked it. But it flat out would not happen the way I have it...dammit.

I'm also putting the local DA's office in its new building, behind the Larsen Center and across from the new jail. I've taken too long to pull the story together, and I don't want it to be dated before it's even out there. Oh, well. My own damn fault.

It's been over 4 years 3 years since I published a new book...not counting David Martin. That's really more of a novella telling a fable. Nor do I count French Connection Blues (or NYPD Blood, as it was initially called) because that was not mine, officially, and the initial edition was a fiasco...which I, fortunately, had little to do with. Or unfortunately...because I like the new version's look a lot more, so maybe that's how it should have been from the outset.

Who knows, anymore?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sometimes silence is wrong...

As I was driving from Rochester to Buffalo, Public Radio was live-broadcasting a concert being given by the Minnesota Symphony in Havana, Cuba. It was all Beethoven, including a piano concerto with choral accompaniment. The piano was played by Frank Fernandez, who's considered a hero in Cuba for his ability with music and work around the world. A couple of Cuban choirs provided the voices. It was raining off and on, during the drive, but that only added to the beauty of the music...and colored my mood a bit.

Earlier in the day, I drove through Scranton and stopped to visit my aunt, in Carbondale. The night before, I'd received a call to inform me she had terminal cancer. If I wanted to phone, the next day, I should check first to see if she was up for it. Instead, I changed my route home, had lunch at a Mickey D's in Carbondale, got some flowers, and texted to say I wanted to drop by in 15 minutes. Didn't give them a chance to say no.

She's 84 or 85, and looks every day of it, but hers has been anything but an easy life. A child of divorce (and abandonment by her father, my grandfather) she converted from Presbyterian to Eastern Orthodox Catholic, had 7 children, two miscarriages, buried my grandmother, two children, her husband and a grandchild, and worked as an RN for nearly 30 years. My uncle was in the Air Force, so they lived all over. In fact, my oldest cousin was born in Japan. When I was growing up, I often wished I was part of her family, not mine, because around them I felt safe and brave.

While there, I learned about the death of her grandchild, a year ago. Second cousin to me. He was thirty-three. I hadn't seen him since he was seven and only got hints of how difficult his life was after his mother died. And the only reason I found out was, I asked how he was doing. The response? "Oh, you didn't know he passed?" When I asked what happened, all I got was, "He was in with the wrong crowd." The casual dismissal of it still leaves me breathless.

This is the side of the family that pretty much ended contact with me after they found out I was gay. I was told about a couple of deaths after the funerals, never about weddings or births or anything else. I didn't even know Carol had moved to a new house until she responded to a Christmas card I'd sent by saying it had gone to the wrong address...but fortunately, the postman knew her so brought it to the right one.

I visited for nearly two hours, until she was beginning to need some pain relief, then headed on. The next time I hear from my cousins, it will be to say they've buried her.

I've shed no tears over this. I'm hurt, sure, but I no longer feel any real connection to them. I'm more affected by what my characters go through on the page. In fact, as I drove and listened to the symphony, Jake gently touched me and asked me to finish his story. And I realized just how long I'd been writing The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and felt shame at having not completed it, yet. That is my next project.

I've finished MFD and sent it off...and it is what it is. I could easily spend the next five years finessing it, but I'm not doing that, anymore. It's ludicrous. Ben's set, and I have everything I wanted in the story. I'm happy with how it turned out. In fact, the ending wound up more gentle than I expected, so he's happy, too.

If anyone ever wants to know why I feel so much closer to the characters in my mind than real people, this whole post gives you a partial explanation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chris Salvatore...

Like I've got nothing else to do...
I found a new look for Daniel -- an actor named Chris Salvatore. The guy isn't that different from Zachary Quinto, but his sensibility is closer to Daniel's fragility. His brows are a bit manscaped, but that's NBD. Plus, he's the exact right age for it. In fact, I think it would be perfect if a movie got made with Chris as Daniel and Zachary as Ace. And Ryan Gosling as Van. I don't dream much, do I?

He's been in several Eating Out movies and some other work. A gay actor who's doing his thing. He's even got a little series on YouTube and posted a fun video with his elderly neighbor, Norma. Check it out at ; it's very minimalist, but try not to laugh at Norma's comment about Italian sausage.

I sent him a message on FaceBook asking if I could send him a copy of the book. Crazy, I know, but what the hell. The worst he can do is yell at me for posting his image on The Lyons' Den page. I'd do the same for Russell Tovey and The Alice 65, but all I can find on Facebook is fan pages, and that's worse than useless.

Maybe I should Twitter...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MFD is 95%...

I just did a once-over and found some typos and inconsistencies, but overall it works. I think the reason the ending comes across as glib is I'm rushing the telling of it, so I'm going to let it breathe a bit more. I thought about cutting back one more character, but then I'd have to rework the ending and I don't feel the honest need to do that.

I've got a company in Toronto that has expressed interest. I'm to send it to them this weekend, once I've input the corrections. That's surprising, because I mentioned it's set in London...but the fact is, they could shoot a good portion of it in Canada and just the necessary bits in the UK. Or maybe they have a deal with a British production company. I dunno. I'm just glad they didn't ignore me.

I was reminded this morning about how ludicrous it is to drive in NYC unless you absolutely have to. These people are the worst when it comes to double-parking. Or delivery trucks stopping on a one-way street with one lane of traffic to drop off one box, backing traffic behind them till they get damn good and ready to go. It's insane.

But I am seeing parts of the city I've never been to, before. Like this morning, I passed Grant's Tomb. It's an amazingly lovely area, too, along that stretch of Riverside Drive. And headed back to the hotel along Clayton Powell Thomas Boulevard, I saw a church spire that's like a combination of Gothic and Gaudi. For a Baptist Church! I never knew Baptists to be that ostentations. Obnoxious, maybe, and too damn sure they know it all when it comes to God, but filigree? Don't think so.

Of course, only some of my family was Baptist -- like my Aunt Elsie and her husband. The rest of us were Presbyterians...which makes sense, considering that side of the family has Scottish roots (or Dutch; apparently that depends on how the name Clark was spelled when they got to America -- with an "e" or without).

I will say, my Aunt Elsie was the sweetest woman who ever lived. I never saw her cross, and she was always very appreciative of everything she got. When I lived with my grandmother (who was her older sister), we'd invite her over for Mexican food -- homemade enchiladas, Rice-a-roni Spanish rice, and refried beans from a can, with buckets of iced tea (unsweetened but with lemon and sugar available). Man, she loved how I made "enchi-lallies." And we usually sent her home with a plate to heat up, later. She lived almost till she was 90, probably because she was so sweet.

Hmph, then by that measure, I should have died twenty years ago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 "Hyena" for me...

The only time I can see the movie is 9:10 pm Wednesday night. Meaning the earliest I'd get back to the hotel would be well after midnight, and I have to be at the packing job and done and out of the city by 3pm, Thursday. Dammit. Such is life in the big city.

I'm in the basement of this hotel, BTW. Surrounded by junkyards and car repair shops. I had to order Chinese food to get dinner. Tomorrow I'm eating in Manhattan, even if it's a junky little dive diner. It's better than the delivery guy asking you for a $5 tip instead of the $2.70 you gave him on top of the $8.30 tab. And that's for food I couldn't really finish eating. This is what you get for $130 a night in New York.

The room reminds me of the time I spent a summer in NYC, being an asshole. I'd been accepted to NYU's graduate school in film and stupidly said no, after I got up here, because they wanted me to go for 3 years instead of 2. Biggest mistake I ever made in my life, and I think I knew it, down deep; which may be part of the reason I turned into such a jerk.

Anyway, I was staying in a basement apartment with no windows and a subway half a block away. When the lights went out, it was pitch black. This place is a bit like that -- but with a window up high. And the train above-ground instead of below. And no roommates to drive crazy.

The drive was long, this time, partly due to this minivan having issues. It's a Chrysler and usually they're really nice, but I think the one I wound up with need serious servicing. It's short on power, even when doing the cruise control. It rides rough. And the brakes feel weird. Not squeally or grinding or anything, just...uncomfortable. Maybe a little spongy. Like there's air in the line. I'll take them to an Enterprise once I drop off the shipment, on Thursday; ask them to check the brakes. Maybe bleed them.

I had another idea of something that needs to change in MFD -- the reason Ben finally starts paying attention and realizes he's being used. I sort of hint at it -- seeing Aurelia having a fight with her father -- but it should be more overt. I think I'm being too subtle or obscure, here.

As usual.