Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Long day...long night...

Didn't sleep much, last night, because the heating unit in my hotel was noisy and I could not shut it completely off. This is a brand new building and it's already falling apart. Doors that don't fit the frame. WiFi that's inaccessible. Toilet paper roll that falls off when you get close to it. Man...this was sad...

Then I picked up the shipment and drove straight back to Buffalo, double-quick to avoid driving at night with snow. Got to the storage room by 3:30...and almost wish I hadn't rushed so much. The countryside was glorious...like a Currier & Ives Christmas card. Evergreen trees bunched together and flocked in white. Other trees bare of leaves but with layers of snow along their outstretched branches, giving elegant form to them. Flurries...and clouds fluctuating between white and gray mixed with blue. Rivers, creeks and streams surrounded by black rocks and ice of all shapes, sizes and colors. Everybody says the stretch of the 90 between Syracuse and Buffalo is boring, but it wasn't to me.

I had another idea about UG, en route, and this one I almost like -- bringing back a character from earlier in the story and having him involved in what's happening. Got a nice little page of notes. It adds another layer to the story and could be even more of a surprise. I'm not sure if it will work into the outline I have, right now...but I'm open to considering it.

I'm just not open to working on it, tonight...I'm already zoning...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Travel tripe...

I'm in a new La Quinta whose wifi has no protection. My laptop hates it so much, it won't let me use it. I'm using my phone's personal hotspot to be online. Irritating, but actually a good thing, in the end. It focused me on continuing with Underground Guy and I am now done with Chapter 2, dealing with Devlin's arrest and interrogation.

This is going to be a hard-assed story, in many ways. Dev's a real devil -- physically abused as a child, along with his brother; abandoned by their mother...who might actually have been killed by their father; full of fury and self-righteousness in his actions, no matter how extreme. It's already proving to be a fight in my head.

While driving to Albany, I had a nice, psychotic little battle over whether or not to kill one character. One side of me was pushing hard for it. Telling me to prove how blunt and vicious I could be. The other side was just as adamant that it NOT happen. That it was the wrong message for the story to send. The drive was just under 5 hours, and it went on the entire time.

I think it's settled, but truth is I won't know for sure until I write the section of the book it would occur in. I've gotten to where I know all too well any decision made now won't matter once I reach the point of really writing it.

It's like with How To Rape A Straight Guy...I had Curt's ending all worked out. He was going to save Shayes, the guy thanks him, and then Curt would vanish to live a life on the run. Only it didn't come out that way. He'd told too much of his story...remembered too much of his past...to take such a cowardly way out.

So as I was writing it, Shayes drifted into catatonic shock, bringing this tenderness out of Curt. He bathes the guy and dresses him and they have a tender, almost (one-sided) romantic drive up to Santa Barbara where he leaves Shayes to be easily found. Then Curt hides in Las Vegas till he realizes he'll never be able to escape his actions so returns to LA, sees his little brother is going to be nice and normal and whole, cries in relief, and turns himself in. And at the end, he's back in prison, but a different man in many ways who realizes he's the one who messed up his life, no one else.

I have a feeling the same thing will wind up happening with the end of UG. The only things I know for sure that are happening are reversing the positions of a couple of main characters and changing the location of the big finale. Everything else is still in flux.

Which makes writing this scary...and exciting to me...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I never know what I'm doing...

Sometimes that can be fun. Sometimes I do things just to do them -- like travel to Berlin to spend New Year's with friends and see how the city's changed from the first time I was there. Or pick up and move to LA without a real plan. Or write screenplays instead of books -- instead of directing, even though that's what I told myself I wanted to do. I make decisions that follow no real logic but wind up taking me places I'd never go if I really thought about it. Sometimes it works out well; sometimes it doesn't.

One time it didn't was when I moved from San Antonio to New York to go to graduate school at NYU. If I'd thought it through, I'd have gone up, first, to see if I could fit in with the city. Instead I piled all my things into someone else's car and moved. And found I could not fit in; I wasn't able to handle the massive change in attitude and atmosphere. But I was stuck there for months until I made enough to return to SA and apply to UT's graduate school...which worked out better.

Truth is, however, 20/20 hindsight tells me the moment I graduated with my BA, I should have moved to LA and begun working in film. My mother and father were back together and living in Glendale, so I'd have had a place to stay till I was on my feet. But I let fear talk me out of that. That's one thing I can be too damn good at.

So now I'm working on Underground Guy, again, and I don't know why except it's ready and I want to. And...truth be told...I know once I get into Place of Safety, again, I won't be able to shift focus to anything else. Brendan and I are talking, again, and he's shining a light on how he wants to be portrayed, so I'll need every bit of concentration I have to be able to do it right. And he's telling me to get this thing out of the way, first, and prove to him I can go as far as he needs me to go. Which will be quite far.

What's interesting is, I'm no longer afraid to dive into Brendan's story. Not really. I finally accept that I was so locked onto the details of his existence, in Derry I was forgetting his is a story that can be told in any part of the world, right now. It's wrong of me to even think of hiding from it when all I need is to just tell it. He'll guide me. He'll show me what should and should not be there. And the details will work themselves out. I know this, now.

But the truth is, if I really knew what I was doing, I wouldn't be doing it.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Distraction needed...

To keep me from starting rewriting or polishing on A65, and since I seem unable to do anything about the cover art until I've exhausted every other avenue besides me doing it, I'm working on Underground Guy to get a first draft done. I've got about 350 pages written but some are disjointed and need connection and the structure is off, still. But I'm finding I can't work out what the real structure of the piece is until I have at least an idea of what the story needs.

With A65, I had the script, and that worked as a skeleton to add the meat and blood to, working and working at it till it finally said, "Here, already!" So I'm making myself do that with UG. It's a harsh book but it may ease some of the building pressure in my chest over the absolute hate I feel for Czar Snowflake and his abominable crew, especially now that people are dying in the West Bank and Gaza over his appalling decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thus recognizing the city as Israel's capitol.

It's like he's trying to bring about Armageddon. Seriously. His world...his whole reason to be is to cause chaos around him and the US and, now, the Middle East. He has destroyed America's trustworthiness, destroyed the world's opinion of us. Other countries can no longer believe we will keep any agreement we make, because even if we do sign on to it we might elect some idiot who will trash it, in a few years.

What's worse is his disciples, the people who voted for him and think he's doing a great job. They've become cultists following Dear Leader off a cliff and dragging the rest of us with them. This is beyond insanity, beyond self-loathing and self-destruction...it's a mass-murderer's mentality holding too damn many people across the country, injecting them with the idea that when they die they should take as many people as they can with them.

How do you stop that diseased sort of mentality?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Piddly stuff...

This evening was spend completing the migration of Bobby Carapisi from Pronoun and Kobo to Kindle. Figuring out how to do something on many of these publishing sites is damn near impossible. Just getting BC delisted from Kobo took nearly 2 hours of searching, IM-ing, being shifted from one department to the next, sending messages and waiting for an email response before someone finally told me how to do it. Ugh.

What made it easier was me using my new mouse on this laptop instead of the trackpad...which still did its best to harass me. Works well, though, and it weighs next to nothing. It even came with a couple of AA batteries. Much liked.

I'm headed over to Albany, on Sunday, back on Monday, then down to DC on Tuesday and back the same day. Snow is expected, and one of the clients is a very nervous person, so this may be a slow drive. There's another possible job coming up in NYC, but I don't think it'll happen. I'd like to see Macy's Christmas windows, but NBD if I don't.

I've added a couple more ideas to A65...but no rush on it, now. Hell, I doubt I'll get this proofing edit back by Christmas. The person doing it might be affected by the fires. They've got their cars packed and ready to go, just in case. I won't whine about that; the fires in SoCal are too damned intense for me to do anything but hope they'll be okay.

I've also contacted a couple of book dealers I know who aren't too far from the Skirbal Fire, in the Sepulveda Pass. That's the one in that video of cars slowly driving past the hillside flames, in silence...but that one looks like it's getting to be under control. Still...many of the items these people have are irreplaceable, so I bet it makes for sleepless nights.

The conspiracy freak in me halfway thinks these fires might have been set by alt-right scum to burn what they see as a liberal state down. But the areas the fires are in tend to be conservative, more Republican leaning places, so that shoots it down. Still...it's a real Hollywood thought.

Hmph, I can be both shallow and cynical at the same time.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lovely day...

Stayed home, again, because I'm still coughing up a lung...just not quite as bad as before...so decided to see what I could do about my laptop's evil trackpad. Called tech support at Apple, which is free since I only bought this MacBook Pro in late July, and we tried a number of things. Turned all the options off on the trackpad. No good. Reset the SMC. No good. So he came into my computer, after I re-logged into my wifi, and he tried a few things. No good.

So finally I double-saved everything, just to be safe, and reinstalled Mac High Sierra. No good. Now I can either send it in for servicing or use a mouse instead of the trackpad. I ordered a bluetooth one through Amazon, and also ordered a DockCase so I'll have additional USB ports and everything.

Good thing about this? Tech-guy let me know he hates trackpads, too, and refuses to use them. So right now I've got the mouse from my desktop plugged into my one extension, so I can deal with this...and it's calmed me down a lot. Nice to know it's not just me hating on this thing.

I also took care of some other crap with my health insurance and dental plan along with sorting through more financial crap. I'd love to get an assistant...somebody cute, like Chris Evans...but I can't even afford a maid, once a week. Still...I'm now signed up for Silver Sneakers, which means I can use the YMCA for free. Can't say no to that. I need to get more active, anyway; my legs are starting to lose strength on me.

Through this, I was also setting up an overnight trip to Albany to pick up some books, and making sure everything was ready for a one-day trip to DC the day after. I also made notes about some ideas I had for A65. By this time, it was 5pm. Making dinner and answering emails and FaceBook stuff and wanting to nap convinced me to just watch a movie. So I fired up my old MacBook and watched Citizen Kane. Still a great movie.

And I'm still playing avoidance on the artwork for A65.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Lump...

I stayed home to nurse my cold and started to feel better, for a while, but now it's reasserting itself. My left eye aches and is watering. My chest is tight. I wonder if this is really a sinus infection and not a cold. Possible. I've always had problems with the left side of my head. It's where my headaches usually start and my allergies are worst.

Feeling so measly, I did easy stuff -- like a quick mock of A65 as it is now. A hardcover would be about 188 pages long at 5.5x8.5 inches, so I'd need to keep it at $23.95 to make anything on it. But the paperback would wind up at around $10.95, if done at 5x8. I can live with those figures.

I spent most of the rest of the day scouring Shutterstock for photos to use, just in case that photographer doesn't have anything like I need. I found some good ones for Adam (by doing some creative requests...like man in suit falling and following some of the good ones to other pages). Same for Casey and Gertrude, but the vines...there are 2800 pages of them, and most are enhanced licensing. Y'know, if I have to draw the friggin' vines I may as well do everybody. The whole damn cover.

Which has me thinking...wondering...am I really just being a wuss about doing the cover art myself? Should I try to work this up? What I've been trying to do, before now, is emulate someone else's style of art. Like I'm saying, I'm not good enough to do this so should either copy or shouldn't even try. The coward's way out. But I'm so unsure about how me doing the sketches will turn out, considering how this one of Adam looks...

Shit, I'm too fucking old to be threatened by my own sense of inadequacy.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Going old school...

I've attached a mouse to my MacBook Pro in order to get around that insane trackpad. Whoever designed that thing hated people. And I'm going to use my old MacBook to work on the polish of A65. Its keyboard is a lot better. I'm upset that this new super-duper faster than a speeding bullet laptop is so delicate and demanding, it's like I have to completely relearn how to use a computer. I don't have time or interest for that shit.

I'll use the Pro for trips, since it's lighter and does work well enough when in other cities and countries, but for day-to-day, it's too much trouble. Which pisses me off. It cost nearly $2200 but isn't half as good as my old $1500 MackBook.

The big difference is, I can get internet access easier and do emails well. But if I want to change a name on a file, I have to wait 2-3 seconds after clicking on the file name before clicking a second time to get me into edit. Otherwise, it just opens the thing up. And if I want to click and drag, it takes me 4-5 times trying before I hit it right with this laptop.

Seriously, I spent ten minutes in my A65 folder just trying to shift a number of Shutterstock images from the main folder to a new one specifically for them. I'd highlight 5-10 images, hold-click on one to catch them all...and the highlight would vanish. Or it would open then up instead of move them.

And when I'm typing, which I don't do very well to begin with, if I'm not careful when I'm shifting or spacing and brush against the trackpad, suddenly I'm in another part of the document typing, or I've highlighted four lines and by hitting one letter I've wiped them out. And it's not just me. My associate at Caladex got the same style computer and she's having the same issues.

I did do work some on A65's cover, today. Just to see what would happen, I used my sketch and did some filtering on it...and it came out okay. I do like it on a soft yellow background and the positioning is exactly what I want, and I found a font that's intertesting. So there are possibilities.

And I finally heard back from one photographer I'd tried to contact. I resent through Twitter and he answered me, there. He doesn't have access to models, anymore, but he's got a huge file of old photos and thinks he may have something I can use.

That would be so much better...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Feel like crap...

I got that damn cold and it's made me achy, uncomfortable and grumpy as hell. Poor sleep. Nose driving me nuts. Coughing. Grr...but I still managed to work on A65's cover, some. And hate what I did. I like the pose of Adam hanging on by one hand...but not the artwork.

It looks cartoonish, and that is not what I want. I want it to look polished and smooth and professional, not like some second-rate graphic-arts wannabe. But I don't know what to do to achieve it short of a full painting...which is no guarantee.

I'd already contacted a couple of photographers about doing a photo of Adam like this and gotten no response. Nothing. Not even a refusal. I may hit up some artists to see what they can do...but I don't know. It might be better to abandon the idea.

I won't have it done before the end of the year. I have a friend editing A65 for me, someone whose grasp of grammar and writing is better than mine. But she can't get the corrected manuscript back to me till almost Christmas. Then I'll need to input the changes and on and on...so there it goes.

I finally gave in to my aches and grumpiness and watched a movie -- Judgement at Nuremberg. There's a speech given by a judge who's on trial, Ernst Janning, that pretty much sums up what America is in the middle of, right now -- a demagog using fear and blame to build a solid political base as a step-stone to complete control of the country.

This is what we're facing, today, with that bastard in office, just not as eloquently.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Starting in...

I've worked up a strategy for building the cover art on the hardback's dust jacket. This evening I worked on the title and my name in off-beat lettering. Not completely happy with it, yet, but it's getting there. Tomorrow I'm starting on Adam's figure and then Casey's...and then Gertrude's. After that comes the vine background and assembling it all. See how it holds.

A lot depends on how I feel. That cold seems to be settling into my chest and I am not happy about it. Dunno where it came from, since I wasn't around anyone who seemed ill. That's why I think it's a long-term one I've only been able to beat back a couple of times but never kick away from me.  Irritating.

The GOP is going to pass their hideous tax bill in the Senate, despite massive protest against it, and the House will go along, I'm sure. Their donors have demanded it, and the chaos surrounding Michael Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI is helping them. Like it was orchestrated. The bastards are voting on it now, with it not even printed for people to see. It's partially handwritten, even! This is fucking sick.

I'm getting pissed off, so screw it -- I'm drawing another hot bath to sit in and read.