Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Down day...

I stayed in the hotel all day and worked on A65. I just didn't feel like being out and about and doing things I'd done a hundred times before. I'm flying up to Seattle, tomorrow, for the book fair so won't have a lot of time to work, after this, and I have a fridge in the room so stocked up on what I needed. Put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and went to work.

It was slow-going, because I was cross-referencing two versions of the story that were similar in 75% of the wordage, but I not only got it all input, I had new ideas and added little bits to make it fresher. I'm now through 92 pages, not counting the notes I have in the rest of the hard copy.

I think from this point it will move faster. I have about 50 pages of changes I lost, completely, so will dive into that portion like I'm doing it for the first time. The only real major change that I can recall losing is when I switched the descriptions of Casey's and Lando's mansions. I decided to make hers Spanish-style and his modern cubist; works a lot better for them as characters, but I lost everything I did to make Lando's even quirkier. Oh well.

I got the first rough of artwork for the cover and it's going to be nice. I had a couple of small changes to make so am waiting to hear how the artist feels about them. For LD he was pretty easy-going on adjustments I asked for. I try not to be too demanding, but if it's not right, it's not right...and I want the cover to be right.

I'm going to do a different design for the hardback version. Maybe a photo of the actual Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with a shadow of Gertrude mixed in. Not sure, yet. I've been looking at new hardbacks and their covers are a lot simpler than paperbacks. I know they can get away with that largely because of publishing house advertising and sales, yet it might be better for me to emulate them than like I did with LD and OT.

I'm finding my free promotion on Kindle and BookLife got me nothing for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Lots of people looked and nearly 600 downloaded a free copy, but not one review, yet, nor one sale. It's like the book is dead in the water. My next hope is it gets a review from "Publisher's Weekly", for which I still await word.

I hope this doesn't happen with The Alice '65.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A long trip on a packed plane

Southwest is making it harder and harder to travel easy on their flights. I flew from Chicago to LA on a brand new 737 Max 8 that was delayed half an hour due to technical issues, and packed solid. And even though I scored an exit row seat, I couldn't open my laptop enough to make it easy to use. The new seats have more of a sloped back so that even though the tray has more room, the monitor on my laptop couldn't open all the way.

And there was a screaming child on the first half hour of it all. And I do mean screaming. God, do I mean screaming. I got a headache from it because it was only three rows behind me. Didn't help I was already out of sorts. I finally downed some Advil, made myself eat some of the food I'd bought but decided I didn't want, had a couple of DDPs and began to feel better.

I then input the changes for the first chapter, and added a few new ones. At the rate I'm going, I will not have this book ready by Thanksgiving. It hasn't reached the point where I'm completely happy with it, because I'm still coming up with ways of making it better. I like it, like the characters, like the process of the story, but it still needs too much work for me to consider it completed...and when I feel like that, I know it'll be at least one more draft and a polish before I can even begin to think about publishing.

Oh well...it's more important the story be good than be done by a certain date. This will also give me a chance to get feedback from some British book people I know, if they're willing to read it.

Y'know, on this trip to LA, I just don't feel like seeing anybody. All I want to do on Friday is veg. This hotel's goofy, even for a Best Western, but once again I've got a suite. And it being LA, I had to let the valet park my car. Totally flustered me because I had to get all my stuff out and put packing materials in, and climb stairs to get to the second floor so I could take an elevator to the third floor, so by the time I got to my room, I needed a drink. Wound up having tea...which actually worked.

It's been a weird couple of trips, and I blame it on early flights. When I go to Key West, the end of next week, I'm flying at a decent hour. I'm also close to deciding I want to use a carrier other than Southwest and go Business Class. I'm too old and cranky to do this cattle car crap for much longer.

You may now refer to me as mean old man Kyle.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

In Chicago, again...

Where it's pouring down rain, at the moment, but at least it didn't do that when I did my work. I was smart enough to get everything to my hotel and into my room before it started. Even bought a dinner to nuke so I wouldn't have to go out, again.

I wound up with a nice suite in this Best Western, along with decent WiFi. It's a new building from the looks of it, and this area seems to be hotel city. The best thing about it is, I had a counter to work on as I packed the shipment. Made things so much easier, which I needed; I had to get up at 4:45am to catch my plane and I've been very cranky. I got a message asking me not to come to the location till 2pm, so I could have come on a later flight.

Oh well. While I was waiting, I had a late breakfast at McDonalds (their pancakes and sausage are an addition, to me) and worked in the changes I'd already made to A65's first chapter...and there were a lot. I didn't realize I'd done so much work on it. Got me all pissed off, again, at how I nearly lost it all. The positive thing is, I saw a couple more bits that needed refining so added them in, as well.

Of course, this means I'll need to do yet another printout once I've gone through this one all the way, and another red pen and get the last of the story done probably as I'm en route to Hong Kong, next month. I'm also close to asking a couple people I know in the British antiquarian world to read it and let me know if I've got everything right, as regards Adam's knowledge. I know a fair amount, but I can just see me making a major gaffe over something simple -- like maybe Quires aren't all that important, or back drop boxes are not the same as Solander cases.

So much to do, still...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

WTF Did I Do?

I've lost half the changes I made for The Alice '65. I cannot find them anywhere on either laptop or thumb drives. Apparently, the draft I worked on all weekend was an earlier draft of the story. I remember making a draft titled October 5th then, on Saturday, saved that draft as October 7th to differentiate between them...and I cannot find the October 5th one, anywhere. I've searched my thumb drives and both laptops, and it's nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, I'd printed out the first 92 pages of that draft, on Friday, but it means I have to go back through and re-input everything I did. So I'm now way behind schedule. I thought I'd completed this draft, but no such luck.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I positively despise computers, at the moment.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Alice '65 is done, again...

I just finished the latest draft. 301 double-spaced pages, 64,950 words. Tighter. More precise. Ready for more proofing. I'll think about doing that, tomorrow; right now, I'm brain dead.

The work today was mainly taken up with making the fight in the jet read more clearly. I don't know if a large passenger jet can even do what I have this one doing, but right now I don't care. It works for the story.

The nice thing about focusing on writing is, I can ignore the crap that Czar Snowflake keeps spitting out. A hurricane's hitting New Orleans, but the SOB's off golfing, again. Let the rabble take care of themselves and take credit for anything that goes right while blaming Obama for anything that goes wrong.

I wasn't crazy about Obama. He was not a real progressive. He did some great things -- the ACA, and saving GM and Chrysler, and bringing a lot of respect back to the US after Bush's disasters -- but he also increased the drone attacks that killed civilians and his plan to help homeowners wrecked by the financial collapse did next to nothing, almost deliberately, and he did not go after the scum on Wall Street and in the banks who caused the collapse. But this knee-jerk reaction by the right wing to lay everything bad at his doorstep is beyond ludicrous into diseased.

Considering the chaos exploding in the world and the vile actions by the GOP and its vermin followers, I'm beginning to think it may be a good thing for Mother Nature to make mankind extinct. Or at least cut us back to a manageable level. Right now, we're fouling our nest and turning on each other like rats trapped in a cage. It's truly frightening, and having a maniac with his finger on the nuclear button is terrifying.

I keep telling myself things have been worse in the past, which they have. Germany's 30 year war in the 17th Century killed off 2/3 of its population. The Black Plague wiped out half of Europe. Aztecs and Incas practiced human sacrifice. Tribes in Africa ate their enemies. Not so much of that, now. Just maniacs mowing down people in movie theaters or concerts or as they go to school.

What a world I'm bringing my tender little book into.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I'm close to hating my new laptop...

When I'm working on it, things seem to go bad far more often. I have to make corrections in every sentence, no matter how hard I try, because if I even brush against a letter next to the one I want, it inputs it. Or it pops up with a window that offers either an explanation of what a word means or access to some other window. And when I want to click and drag, I have to try to do it 3-4 times before it stops just opening the damned file and agrees to let me do what I want to do. Other times, even if I hit a key, it doesn't take.

I'm not the world's greatest typist, but in the previous paragraph, I had to make 14 corrections. Those slow me down immeasurably. That's half the reason I shifted back to my old MacBook to work on A65. I don't have anywhere near this much trouble on it. And it has a separate click pad from the track pad, making it a lot easier to do click and drag and highlighting and locating.

If this is the direction Macs are going, I have to rethink them. Because the reason I liked Mac was its ease of use and helpfulness. Now it's so tight and sophisticated, it's beyond my ability to use. And that pisses me off. If I have to have an artistic hand to fucking word process, that defeats the purpose.

I didn't do any work on A65, this evening; it was time to handle bills and my schedule and catch up on emails. I haven't heard from Zan Varin about my art for the book cover, yet, so sent him a message. I will finish inputting the book this weekend; I don't need to leave my apartment so can concentrate on it. Then Monday I'm printing it out, double-sided, to go over again.

It's a never ending process...at least, the way I do it, it is...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

One of those moods...

I honestly do not know what it is, but nothing was making me happy, the last couple days. I'm tired, sure, from this whirlwind trip...getting up at 4am to catch a plane so I don't have to pay for another hotel night, not eating well the whole trip because I'm in a part of the country that believes in salting everything a dozen times and slathering it with butter -- even a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Greenville's airport was a disaster; what they call a Margherita pizza was more like soggy toast with tomato paste, Cheez-whiz and six (6) nickel-sized leafs of basil.

So I get in after midnight, sleep till 10, don't go into work till noon, work like crazy to catch up on all the changes to my schedule, next week, and grumble and mutter, then after I leave can't figure out what I want for dinner because I've got nothing at home figure, "Y'know, I like Indian and this one place has really good curry." But then I think, "I want a real meal and that's only almost one."

Still I talk myself into it, only to have the waiter hover over me and try 5 times to fill my glass with water, even though I've told him not to. Then the Samosas are fried to a crisp and the beer is middling and it takes forever for my lamb curry to arrive, and I just want to leave.

So I come home with leftovers and somehow talk myself into working on A65...and that made me happy. I feel like Adam and Casey are my children, and they've grown into lovely adults right before my eyes. I'm at the next morning, after the chaos of Lando's party, and Adam's being tender and caring about Casey, understanding why she did what she did, and she's enjoying being with him and it all looks good for them...until a brutal crisis in the next chapter. Then it's all roller-coaster time.

When I finished for the night, I checked on BookDaily's promo to find 354 people checked out OT, which was good, I guess. Amazon did the business of getting it known, too, with an additional 200 "clicks" on the offering. Whether that will turn into reviews is still up in the air; I don't even know if any of these "clicks" wound up with people actually downloading the book; that info's not offered. But I've done what I can, for now. The next couple months will let me know if it's worth the money.

Hope it is.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Spending the night in Dillard, Georgia...

Man, some of the places I go to. This is in the northern part of the state, where the Smokey Mountains begin. Some lovely scenery and that's about it. Next week I do another round of trips to Chicago, LA and Seattle, then after that is Key West. I keep thinking there's something in the background I'm forgetting at the very end of the month, before China in Print in Hong Kong...meaning I gotta get my butt in gear if I want this book done by Thanksgiving.

I'm trying an experiment with OT, right now -- giving away free ebooks for 5 days, through Kindle and BookLife. It started Sunday, and so far nearly 500 copies have been downloaded, making it a number 1 in gay mysteries; I took a screenshot as proof.

So that part of the experiment was good. Next comes seeing if I get any reviews out of it and then whether or not it makes people open to paying the whole $1.95 for it in ebook.

But if this does work, I'm using it for A65. I got another chapter done, even though I'm exhausted. I was up at 4am to catch my plane down here, so for much of the morning I was Mr. Grouch. Good thing is, I scored empty rows on my flight to Atlanta and then to Greenville. Better for all concerned.

Now I'm fading and that's enough for the night.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

And a bit more of A65...

Continues from yesterday's to the end of Chapter 1 --

-----

"So what about that bloody Erasmus? Been on the shelf a week and you're expert on it and — "

“It's set to photograph,” Adam said.

That is when Hakim, their unctuous, fastidious, self-proclaimed office manager, popped in to snap, “The provenance better be right, this time.”

Adam huffed. Once, when researching a manuscript copy of Richard Wagner's Die Nibelungen for The Arts Council, he'd neglected to put an umlaut over a "U" in his transcription from the German. Never mind it was he who realized it and informed Hakim before the provenance was sent over, the man now acted as if Adam's work was constantly riddled with errors.

Adam meant to respond with an off-hand, “Of course,” but instead shot Hakim a glare and noticed Elizabeth was about to pass with a thick volume bound in vellum. He bolted over.

Wait, is this Die Schedelsche Weltchronik?” he asked, in German. “The one found in Romania?

The book had caused quite a stir around the department — an original Nuremberg Chronicle, by Hartmann Schedel, created at the end of the Fifteenth Century and considered the first and most exquisite example of illustrations being integrated into printed books. This one had been discovered in some attic in Bucharest and was being offered to Merryton, for sale. Photos had been sent and most of the staff thought it was a legitimate copy, as did Vincent.

And Sir Robert. Butterworth. The most recent addition to the governors. He was the one pushing the expansion of the rare book collection, and he was more than a little perturbed when Adam insisted the binding did not look original and the photographs were of pages too easily reproduced. He had overruled Adam and now the book was here for consideration.

"This arrived quickly," Adam continued, still in German.

Elizabeth sighed and snapped, "Adam, English."

He was so used to being reminded he was speaking another language, he merely asked, "Why're you taking it? It’s outside your area of expertise while mine is perfectly suited — "

“Vincent asked me to,” she snapped.

“Why would he do that?”

Hakim snorted. “You argued with him."

To which Elizabeth added, with acidic sweetness, "And Sir Robert, neither of whom likes being contradicted."

Adam huffed. Sir Robert had also put down a substantial deposit to guarantee the purchase because he felt it was too good an opportunity to pass up. He would not like being made to look foolish, but if the book did turn out to be a facsimile and not a first printing, it would be worth a fraction of the owner's asking price.

“Elizabeth,” Adam said, taking the book from her, “you must already see the binding is not contemporary to the book. More like Eighteenth-Century, at earliest, and — ”

He looked inside and huffed, again.

Elizabeth had put her initials on the first endpaper, in soft graphite. It was to show Jeremy by whom the book was catalogued so he could note it in his log, then it was to be carefully erased once photographed. But it was not supposed to be done until the book HAD been catalogued, something she had yet to begin.

Adam cast a glance of reproach at her then tenderly shifted to the title page — and saw that he was right; it had been slipped into the volume with such expert care, only one tiny crinkle showed in the paper. “Here you go; her title page is affixed — ”

Elizabeth cut him off with, “Adam, it's not a person; it's a thing.”

He cradled the book in one arm and carefully held the page up for her to see what was blatantly obvious. To him. “But look at the — ”

She snapped the book closed, clipping his nose with a corner of the front board and making him yelp, then she yanked it away.

“Give it here!” she snarled. “Hakim's right. Half the time you've got no idea what you're talking about.” And she stormed off.

Adam noticed Jeremy was snickering, and Hakim was glaring at him as if he were fully incompetent. This was not to be borne. When he was right about a book, he was right, and he knew he was right. But if he had to prove it, he knew exactly how.

He strode back into The Dark Chamber, aiming for a tiny lift situated in a back corner while rubbing his nose to keep from sneezing. The lift was the main way down to the basement, which held row after row of sturdy shelves packed with books on collectors and collecting, bibliographies, biographies, annual sales records, auction and dealer catalogues, correspondences, encyclopedias — over ten thousand volumes the department had gathered over centuries, for research purposes. Adam considered it a treasure trove.

The basement's one drawback was how dark and dreary it was. Electric lighting had been added a hundred years ago, when the shelves were much fewer, but had not been expanded. That left large sections in shadows so deep, Adam had to use the light on his phone to see or read the books’ labels.

Elizabeth had nicknamed it The Dungeon and hated to go down there for fear of rats or mice. Adam thought she was being too dramatic, for they had Henry the Fourteenth to handle vermin. He was a ginger cat named after the thirteen preceding him, and who was always happy to greet one as the lift door opened then wander off to be content in some dry corner till it was time to hunt for supper — which, considering his hefty weight, he was not wanting for. So perhaps Elizabeth had a point.

The lift was sitting in its place, ready to be used. It had been added at the same time as the lighting, and was barely large enough for one man and a book cart. Plus one had to take extra care when getting in and out as its door and gate were manual and loved to catch your fingers.

Adam sneezed then opened the door and the gate to step in and heard —

“Now, Jere, one of those is mine.”

He turned to look past the shelving and saw Jeremy framed in the doorway with both cups of tea in hand. His expression was as innocent as that of the angels on high as he said, “Sorry, duchess, but last I heard, no means no.”

“And I'm sure you heard it just last night,” Elizabeth snapped, appearing in the doorway with him. “Hand it over. It's my cup.”

“Come and take it,” he cooed, as he backed to his room.

Elizabeth followed him.

Adam sighed and absently closed the elevator door. He was not surprised she liked Jeremy. She could look him straight in the eye, when in heels, and you never knew what he might do from one moment to the next, while the track of Adam's future was straight and obvious till the age of death. Deviation not allowed.

Adam shook his head and absently closed the gate — and it pinched his left thumb. He yelped. It had cut his skin. He pulled a handkerchief from his suit pocket to wrap around it, then set the lever to Basement and started down. He had clean bandages in his rucksack so would get one when he came back up. Oh well, at least the day couldn’t get any worse.

Or so he thought.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Worked through A65's chapter 7, so...

Here's a continuation of chapter 1,  from yesterday:

----

He decided to make a note for Vincent to suggest as much, but Elizabeth, the lovely young woman in cubicle number four, whirled in to remove her coat and sling it over the top of her half-wall, every movement brisk, controlled and beautiful in a slim, blonde, London sort of way. She removed her high heels, which brought her down to Adam’s height, and slipped into a pair of slippers as she asked, "Has Vincent been in, yet?" Then she pulled her hair into a ponytail.

Adam took a deep breath, catching the hint of a garden from her perfume, and shook his head. "You're safe. It's just gone nine."

"Thanks." Then she vanished behind her wall, and he heard her cry, "Bloody hell, my computer won't wake up."

That is when Adam's computer flashed that it would now allow him access to the database.

"Mine just now has," he said. "Took its time."

"But you shut yours down; I let mine sleep."

"Best do a restart, then."

"Well, Vincent can't say anything if I don't have access to the server." Then she got up and headed for the kitchenette.

Adam smiled, shook his head and turned to his computer to complete the provenance on the Orlando, then he dove into a copy of Erasmus' Morais Enkomion, which had been sitting on the incoming shelf for several days. He broke for tea at 10:55, had lunch at one, and finished the provenance by three, just as his mobile phone chirped a thirty-minute warning of a meeting Vincent had scheduled with him.

He stood and stretched, still a bit sore from Saturday’s scrums, neatened his tie, and carried the Erasmus to a short side hall while singing it a soft little song. In Greek.

"I see a book that's going to be took for Jeremy to photograph and put with all the rest. She's a lovely little book which soon will find her nook, and she will be considered to be one of our best."

He had sung the same song to the Orlando, albeit in Latin. It helped make the book feel welcome to her new home.

He took the Erasmus into a room they called The Dark Chamber — a smallish square with thick, solid shelves on the walls and two freestanding units. Its bare illumination came from sconces fixed high above and a single oval window of cut leaded glass up near the ceiling. Here, newly arrived books waited to be archived or photographed, after which they were set on the center shelves for their journey to a climate-controlled vault.

The photography room was just down a short hall from The Dark Chamber and was jealously guarded by a half-Scally, half-punk, half-Eastenders lad named Jeremy. He had jammed his computer, table, camera, tripod and light kit into a space little larger than Adam's cubicle and consistently whined about being cramped, which was no surprise, him being at least four inches taller than Adam. More than once he'd suggested swapping his space for The Dark Chamber, but Vincent consistently refused. Which made Adam very happy. He loved the room's tender play of dust and light and darkness, like it was wrapping the antiquarian volumes in the safety of shadows and silence.

He set the Erasmus on the to-be-photographed shelf, nice and gentle, then checked his phone to make sure his alarm was still set to remind him of his appointment. He had done it wrong more than once, but it looked all right. He figured he had time for an early cup of tea so popped into a kitchenette just across the hall.

He set the kettle to going and pulled down his cup — a black one with A room without books is like a body without a soul (Cicero) wrapped around it in white lettering. As he filled it, he caught a glimpse of Elizabeth slipping into The Dark Chamber with a drop-back box that contained a set of handwritten letters from Henry James to someone in the south of France. He thought it funny she was archiving them, since she had read none of his books.

"I tried Washington Square," she had told him, "but his style is so arch. I prefer Virginia Woolf."

Adam was shocked. "But how could you not have?"

"Have you read every book in German?" she had snapped. "Or Greek? Or Latin? Or made prior to 1501?"

"That's not the point, Elizabeth."

"Don't patronize me, Adam. I know Henry James well enough to make even you sound idiotic." Then she had worked on the letters all day, without a word to him.

He let it pass because it was now obvious that, while her specialty might be Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century literature, she was not a book person. He doubted she ever would be, though he was open to helping her learn, if she wanted.

He pulled down her cup, and plopped a bag into it, calling, "Cup of tea, Elizabeth?"

"Tea?" she called back.

"Water's hot. Be set in a flash," he said as he poured hot water into it.

"Quarter milk, no sugar?”

"Just the way you like it," he said, dolloping milk into both cups.

“No, thanks,” she called back.

Adam froze. He now had two cups of tea and only time enough to finish one. And they had to be drunk in the kitchenette; to take any sort of food or liquid back to your cubicle raised too great a risk of an irreplaceable book being damaged.

That is when Jeremy popped his head through the door and growled in his happy-puppy way, "Tea? You never make me any."

Adam had no idea how to respond except to say, “Didn't know you drank it.”