Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Side note...

When looking for an artist's style to use for Owen's painting of Jake and Dion, I found this guy -- Zan Varin. This one's called The Painter. I love his brushwork and use of color. Very intense. I may ask him what it would cost to commission a work off the photo I used for that painting, initially.

Trying to work it differently...

I sit too much, working at a desk and then at home, writing. So I've changed my workspace. I have an artist's table that's adjustable so I raised it to waist-level and now stand when I'm working at the computer. It's proving to be more difficult than I expected, physically, but I've noticed my legs seem to like it. My lower back doesn't, nor do my shoulders, though those might be taken care of with a slightly higher position on the table. We'll see.

I just don't want to turn into a slug. These last two driving forays wound up adding ten pounds to my already too high weight, so I'm also trying to eat better. I've had salad for dinner three nights in a row, now...and it's done nothing to even hint at dropping this additional weight. Not promising.

I've taken this coming week off. No salary during this time since I'm self-employed, but I needed the space and I have enough put aside to cover a full two weeks, if need be. I need to give my apartment a serious cleaning and dig into finishing the next draft of OT. We'll see how that goes.

I sent another couple of scripts out to be considered by producers -- Blood Angel, my erotic vampire script set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and Find Ray T, my off-beat action script about a spoiled Hollywood actor forced to help the Russian mob locate a snitch who's hiding in the witness protection program. No great expectations -- I haven't even heard from the guy who's got two of my scripts under consideration -- but if you don't send them out, they don't even get considered.

Such is the life of a writer.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Again with the never make plans...

My possible trip to LA got blown up by three possible jobs -- in Washington DC, NYC, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I now cannot even think of making plans until we have final verification or refusal of quotes we sent out to them all. At the moment, it looks like two of them will be prior to Seattle's book fair and one immediately after, and two of them are 5-6000 books so I'll be spending a week on them, even with help. And this time none of them are truly interesting books -- all 20th Century.

I also found out a job I thought we'd lost is still possible. That one will be interesting -- lots of 16th and 17th Century volumes from a major collector of novels and travel. And another job in Chicago of 17th and 18th century travel. Something to look forward to.

Then there's Hong Kong. Again. Ticket's set. Hotel's set. And since I'm leaving out of Toronto, I'm taking the bus up and back so I won't have to deal with jet lag on the return.

I'm still having fun with OT...but last night I couldn't wind down from the job so watched Akira Kurosawa's 1949 film, Stray Dog, again. It's about a rookie cop whose pistol is stolen and used in a series of crimes. His growing guilt at having lost the pistol begins to tear at him as he tries to track down the man who has it...a man he comes to learn is so much like himself. Parts of it go on and on but there are so many moments of beauty, it doesn't matter. And Toshiro Mifune shows why he became a huge star. He was 28 when this movie was made, but he anchors it...with Kurosawa's able assistance.

God, he was a beautiful man...

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I'd initially planned to take off last week and this week along with next week. Looks like I'm only getting some of next week, not to mention if I do get another week of vacation time in October, it will be short and in LA, not here.  Not that I mind...but I'd planned to do so much -- finish a decent rewrite of OT, clean my apartment, clear out some crap I didn't need or use -- and now I won't have that time.

Today my whipping travel and work craziness caught up to me and I got really down. It's hard to concentrate when that happens, so I figured I'll get solid on the writing over the weekend. Except I have a rash in the crook of my left elbow. Don't know where it came from, but it's itching like crazy. I've been slathering it with Campho-Phenique, which helps the itching. But not what I need right now.

I do like how cool it's been -- today it got up to a whole 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Dog and cat being sat for were happy. The office cats stay upstairs, away from it all, now. I think they think they're being punished.

Lots coming up in the way of travel, again. NYC, DC, LA, Seattle, Hong Kong, maybe even Calgary (big maybe but still fun to consider). Nothing Euro-centric...dammit. Not that I haven't been hinting.

Project Greenlight has reared its ugly head, again. I entered the first three and did okay in one and two, but got cut out of 3, completely. That's when it started coming out how the whole thing was more of a scam way to do a reality TV show on how hard it is to make a movie, and that's why their choices were so bizarre. Every one of the winners wound up having connections to the people running the show.

It's like when I found out the Sundance Writers' Lab every year said it would accept 12 applicants but in reality only chose 4-6 from the people who submitted applications; the rest were given to people who'd exhibited films during the festival and had a new project to workshop. Which meant your odds were even worse if you submitted, though they never were very good.

It was the same for the Nicholl Fellowships. I'd send award-winning scripts in and not even make the first cut. I read some of the ones that did get in and they were awful...but they were usually on a theme that hit the main judges right. It wasn't worth the effort or the entry fee to try and meet those requirements.

Okay, I'm being pissy, right now, so away I go.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Notes and noted notations...

I'm back in Buffalo and done with my work-work; next is sorting out the notes I made during the drive...and trying to decipher my writing. It's not easy scribbling down thoughts as you're traveling along at 70 mph.

I did stop along the way and relax by the Susquehanna River.

It's amazing how wide and beautiful it is...for miles and miles and miles...and pretty much consistently this shallow. Just north of Harrisburg, there's a statue out in the middle of it. I couldn't find a place to get a better shot (not without stopping on the 322 and maybe getting rear-ended), but it's just left of center in the photo...and I think it's a small replica of the Statue of Liberty.

It's nice not having to rush, sometimes...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Driving without music...

It makes your mind focus in some curious ways. I suddenly started wondering what would happen if I started OT at the point where Jake is beaten and arrested in Palm Springs and tell the lead up to that as he's in the ER being tended to. It's a more radical shift than I was intending...but I almost think it would be better, and would give me a bit more time to explain past events.

I've also had ideas for Carli's Kills. I've been trying to figure out a way to reconcile Zeke being willing to love Carli if he suspects or knows she's killed some of his friends. She lies. Flat out lies, and it's when he finds out she lies that the final confrontation begins -- his buddies know he's involved with her and want to know where she is, but he can't give her away. It'll be interesting to see if I can pull this off.

I'm currently in DC for the last part of this transport job, then it's home, tomorrow. I'm at that same Best Western in Lanham that I liked, but this time I'm in a room where the AC sounds like a jet liner planning to take off when it starts up. I'm not going to sleep till 3 while waiting for a call (I took a nap, so it's not such a bit deal), but having it shut down then start up with that slow winding whine is funny.

We takes our funnies where we can gets them.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ah, the daily grind

Sundays are for laundry, groceries and ironing...when I don't pt them off. Today I couldn't because I needed clothes to wear. So as I ironed, I watched a goofy old horror movie called The Human Monster. It has Bela Lugosi as a madman who uses a home for the blind to front for a scam -- he kills people for their insurance money. It was made in England in 1939 and looks it. It's 75 minutes long and kind of silly, and it took 4 writers to get it to that point.

Thing is, it was based on The Dark eyes of London, a mystery by Edgar Wallace, who helped develop King Kong before he died due to complications from diabetes. His books were huge in England after WW1, and he wrote about a dozen plays. He's thought of as the first writer to use cops as the protagonists in his mysteries as opposed to amateur sleuths or private detectives.

His first draft of King Kong was 110 pages and about 75% of it was kept in the final movie. If he'd worked on the script of THM, it probably would have been a lot better. It wasn't was just very B movie style.

It's in a box set of "classic" horror movies, half of which star Lugosi. I bought it because it has Carnival of Souls and I've never seen the whole thing...and because it was on special for $5.99 at a Dollar Store. It also has a silent film called The Last Man on Earth...and they do mean man; women are still around and all want him. It was made in 1924. The man's name is Elmer Smith.

This I have got to see when I'm not doing ironing.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Regained...and conflicted...

Two big things going on, right now. First off, regaining Jake's voice for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Jake is an angry man, still, something I've been trying to temper...and that's a disservice to him. The good thing about having the story shredded and dismissed was, it jolted me out of my locked mindset and let me see that half this story is about Jake coming to terms with his own past. Actions he took that he's now ashamed of...actions he can't accept have made him capable of handling the crap being shoved at him in Palm Springs. He talks a good game about not judging anybody...but he doesn't notice he's judging himself most harshly.

That released some fear and/or concern on my part. This story is just going to be what it's going to be. In fact, I think I held back a little too much, so we'll see how this draft comes together...and comes across. I do still think it's a bit too much on the strident side because I don't have a lot of humor in it. I'm not good at that and so...I am going to fight my own sense of inadequacy and try to put some in. God only knows if I'll be successful.

As for conflicted -- we have two book fairs happening on the West Coast the first and second weekend of October. The first one's in Pasadena on the 3rd and 4th; the second is in Seattle on the 9th, 10th and 11th. Since it was initially my plan to take some time off and that got messed up by these jobs, I've been given the opportunity to handle both fairs if I want to stay in LA through the week; I'd head up to Seattle on the 10th.

I want to...but it'd be at my expense for those 5 days and I really can't afford it. I'd need a car, gas, food, hotel...probably to the tune of $800. Doesn't sound like much, but I'm behind  in my taxes and have other obligations; I've already cut my monthly expenses to the bone so haven't any leeway to do more. But me being me, I probably will do it. Who knows? Maybe I'll sell a script by then; I've got a couple out being considered.

Yeah, and maybe I'll win the lottery, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shredded...and reacted to...

Well, I guess it had to happen sometime. Most of the feedback I've gotten on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor has been good and constructive and instructive. Some of it I kind of expected, some of it surprised me...but if three or more people say the same thing about what you've written, it's not their's yours. The general reaction has also been pretty much positive about the story...until today.

Just before my meeting in Springfield, I got feedback that tore the story to bits. Completely. "The mystery was of no consequence. Hated the connection to Europe. Felt it was more about being a gay man in America and who cares?" And on and on. The one positive comment was that I do know how to write...but I've become a bit too heavy and dark, not like another gay writer they've read whose touch is light and airy.

What's interesting (to me) is my reaction to it. As noted in this blog, I've had people diss my work before, down to the point where they say I should never write anything ever again. Comments like that used to affect me, but now I tend to shrug them off. You can't please everybody and anyone who tries will be viciously disappointed. And in reply to this I sent off my thanks and said that I appreciated the further verification of what others have pointed out -- that the story doesn't really get going till about page 150. That is something I'm working on.

But I also got kind of pissed off. Not at the criticism but at the dismissal of what it means to be a gay man in America. We've got religious and political leaders here saying gay men and women ought to be executed and denied the same rights as others and rounded up and put in camps or on desert islands, and they are doing all they can to marginalize us...and that gets a big shrug. In Russia you can be put in jail for being gay, or kidnapped and brutalized to death and nothing will happen to your attackers, and that gets a big shrug. In Saudi Arabia and Iran and under ISIS you can be executed for being gay and even gay organizations will try to minimize what that means...and still a big shrug.

This picture is what it means to be gay in too many countries. These kids in Iran were 15 and 17 and got hanged for basically jacking each other off. [UPDATE: I just remembered what it was they were accused of -- frottage, rubbing up against someone or something to gain sexual satisfaction.] The accusation was expanded to claim they'd raped a 13 year-old boy after the Western media got busy broadcasting it, and too many people decided that was an easier explanation to accept (coming from a regime constantly accused of lying and misrepresenting everything else about itself) than the idea that they were murdered for who they are. I'm not letting that get ignored, and I'm shocked that anyone thinks this can't happen in the US or Europe. Because it already has, too many times. Just look at the killing of Matthew Shepard; Elizabeth Vargas with ABC news went out of her way to help foster the idea that his murder was just a drug deal gone wrong, not a hate crime against a gay young man.

Now all of this is still par for the course, for me. I'm very left wing and despise those who despise me and others like me. But it's my deeper reaction that's interesting to me. I was pulling back a lot of the political commentary as being too much...and I'm stopping that, right now. I feel like I was giving in to opinions that this wasn't necessary. Well...Jake is my surrogate in this story, and if I'm using him to preach to the choir, so be it. I want it out there, not shrugged off, and if that means the book comes across as strident, it's fucking strident.

Because I just got reminded there are too damn many members of the choir who aren't listening or paying attention, so they need the preaching.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Changed plans...

I just drove over to Springfield, MA to meet with a trucker/warehouse company for an upcoming job. It was so last minute, I booked my car and hotel at 1pm and got here at 10:30pm. Nice enough drive but this time I was in a "compact" car that's really a skateboard with a steering wheel...and I felt every damn bump along the road. I'm driving straight back, tomorrow.

Thing is, I like being on the road. I feel free and can let my mind deal with things that need dealing with. The only down side is I'm sitting for long stretches and dealing with the idiot drivers out there.

I did get some thinking done about OT and ways to trim it a bit more. And another project about an older man with Down Syndrome going on a road trip from Buffalo to Key West with his attitudinal nephew began drumming at the back of my brain.

Another problem with driving -- no peace in what little mind I've got left.