Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fresh and alive...

I'm in Palm Springs for research into OT and, after a long but not-so-tiring drive (since I was sitting in a car and had Sirius Radio tuned to some electronica) and a good night's sleep, I'm about to do the rounds to make sure I've got everything in order for Jake's investigation of his uncle's disappearance.

I've worked up a list to check before meeting with a member of the Riverside DA's office in Palm Desert, then back to LA for scheduled events.

Order of investigation as intended (but not yet definite, and not in the order of the book):

1. The Airport and park near the airport (where Jake goes to run and think). And the area around there.
2. Trying to find a warehouse area
3. Home Depot
4. DA--Riverside
5. CPK in Palm Desert along with strip malls
6. Apartment buildings (for Owen to own) and grocery stores
7. Motel 6
8. Indio Jail/Larsen Center
9. Salton Sea
10. Dillon Road, headed for 29 Palms

I'll be loading up a tank of gas for this, I'm sure, and have dozens of photos...I hope. Sky's bright and clear, so that's good. Guess I better get going.

After my second cup of tea...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dunno how I did it...

I got all the books packed before I had to leave for the airport. 152 boxes. Don't know how except the librarians checking them off got going faster and finished quickly, so were able to prep the books for being wrapped. That and the help of my boss, who did a fair amount of librarian-goosing. I wound up with not even a dozen boxes left unused along with a little bubble wrap, most of a box of newsprint and three reams of tissue.

Maybe at a later date I'll dissect what went wrong with this job, but right now it's sufficient to say the man who got it going with us misrepresented the whole thing. Which surprises me. But in the end, the client seemed happy with what we did, and while they would have liked all the boxes to have been collected today, their building's service entrance is too small for anything but a glorified cargo van, and the payload on those things is not enough for the full shipment. So more than half went out, today; the rest will be collected in a couple days.

I got no writing done; I was too beat to even think. The only reason I can formulate coherent sentences right now is I took a nap on the plane. I also paid $8 for WiFi that is barely adequate. Won't do that, again.

Now it's back to zoning...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Not gonna make it...

It is not possible to pack 925 books, half of which are over-sized folios, in 6 days when each title has to be double-checked on a list and each box has to note what books are in it -- not with 2 people packing and no space to work. I've damn near broken my back trying to get this done, but it looks like a good 30-35 boxes of books are left to do, and they have to be done tomorrow because the pickup is Tuesday morning.

I can probably get 25 done...more if I could stay later. But I'm going to be dead tired in LA, and I'm plowing straight into another packing job there. God, I hope that one will be better.

What's rough about this gig is that one of my bosses is working with me on it, so we're going out to dinner to "strategize." Meaning I'm not getting in till nearly 8 and I've had a beer or two, and I'm beat to the nubs. So not one bit of writing done the last few days. Haven't even written in my journal.

I'm starting to go into withdrawal...

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Never was my thing, especially with people you've worked with all day. But we did it, tonight. We walked 1.5 miles through Chicago's busiest section to find a restaurant that had been recommended and had a good meal, no question. But after being on your feet all day and hefting boxes that weigh 40 -50 lbs around all day, all you really want to do is sit in a hot tub and vege.

Maybe tomorrow...we're only working 6 hours, which is not good. We're behind thanks to changes in the job's parameters after I'd already arrived to start packing. And no matter what happens, this is all being picked up on Tuesday. So Monday may be hellish. I've already bumped my flight from Monday to Tuesday and changed my car rental.

Anyway, that's my life and my living...such as it is, right now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Too pooped to piddle...

The last couple of days have been spent trying to make an impossible situation possible, if not probable. The packing job I'm doing in Chicago has taken on dimensions I was not ready for, and just trying to meet our commitment of a pickup on Tuesday am is going to take me working straight through, 8 hours a day. That's just reality.

Problem is, what do you do when the client rejects reality? Not much you can do short of saying, "So long," and turning down the job. So I'm working my ass off with an associate and getting back to the hotel ready to drop. Not much writing gets done, that way. But this is an important client so we have to handle the job.

Of course, my hotel doesn't have a tub for me to soak in; just a walk-in shower. Dammit.

I did read through some of OT, last night, just to see what's ahead, and I'm finding I set up too much too deeply in the narrative, so far. That'll take some finessing to make right, because what I was aiming for was an ex-gay chauffeur who worked for a disgraced politician being the actual killer. Which seemed a bit too much, even as I wrote it. But I was lazy and just did it as a way to get to the end of the story.

I never should have let that happen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Okay...OT has worked itself into 4 parts, and I'm done with two of them. This half worked itself down to 56,600 words, which is still more than HTRASG, en total. I may still be a bit on the wordy side, here, but it's better than it was. And when I go through it, again, it'll get tighter. I hope.

The second two parts stand at just under 60,000 words, but I'm thinking I'm going to get rid of one subplot; it comes across as a repetition of what's already happened. Thing is, it's also a catalyst for Jake to force a few issues...but at the same time, it's not fresh and as interesting as it could be. Which irritates the hell out of me -- falling back on the tried and true.

Well, at least it reads better, so far.

Chicago's been interesting. From what little I've seen of it, so far, it seems like a well-managed city with a decent transportation system. I turned in my rental car and was able to get from Midway Airport to my hotel in less than an hour on the train and bus. I'm staying right around the corner from the Hancock Tower, one of the city's high-rise icons.

I've also seen some I. M. Pei works, that were milestones in architectural history, and I'm only a few blocks from the water tower that kept standing after the fire of 1871. Sunday's a down day, so I may get some sight-seeing done. This town's been a major source of interesting architecture over the years.

When we were headed for Grand Forks, ND we passed through Chicago. We changed trains here and had a nine-hour layover, so went to the Natural History Museum. I still have the pamphlet from it. I was 13. I was impressed with the city, then; it's even more fascinating now.

One thing that wasn't impressive -- I was last in Chicago 15 years ago, actually in Lake Forest. But one day I came down and had a steak dinner at McCormick and Schmict's...and it was the worst meal of my life. A Caesar salad loaded with more garlic than lettuce; I could not eat it. A steak that was rare when I asked for medium-well; the waiter took it back and the chef tossed it on the fire, again, so of course it came out like beef jerky. A potato that had been rebaked at least twice...which you never do to potatoes. A glass of wine that was middling, at best. And a wonderful seat right by the kitchen. The damn thing was a la carte and cost me $100...and that was with them comping the potato!

Haven't been back to a M&S restaurant since.

Monday, December 8, 2014


On the flight to Chicago I hit a section of OT where I did a complete slash and edit, and dropped the word count from going up by 400 to under by 750. It would have been more but I decided to get wicked with it. This is after Jake's been beaten and arrested by a couple of Palm Springs cops. He's taken to a hospital to be checked out.
The next morning, a different doctor came in, checked my chart, checked my x-rays, poked and prodded my side, coughed like a guy who slammed through a pack a day, and finally said, "Cleared for release," without once looking me in the eye. The deputy on guard smirked.

"May I make a phone call?" I asked. Again, no response.

I was handed my jumpsuit and told to get dressed.

"I'm still due a phone call," I snapped. This time, at least I got a shrug.

I dropped the hospital gown and was just grabbing my briefs to pull on when the door slammed open and this Young Republican Female barged in -- sleek pinstripe dress-suit so sharp and clean, you could cut through paper with it; blond hair in a stylish bun; lips tighter than a hundred year-old nun's, made even tighter by the little gold cross around her neck; and if she ate more than a leaf of lettuce a day, I'd have been surprised. She was flanked by two massive uniforms of the Palm Springs variety.

“Mr. Blaine, will you come with us?” she said, a bit breathless.

“I got a choice?” I snarled, glancing between the two cops.

“Please,” she said. “My boss wants to see you in his office.”

"And you are...?"

"Elizabeth Ginty, Warren Philby's assistant."

Holy shit – THIS was the bitch Uncle Owen talked about? She's messing with me on top of the cops who busted him? Okay – total paranoia, here I come.

I croaked out a whisper of, “Ms. Ginty, I’m a citizen of Denmark. I ask to be granted access to representatives from my embassy or consulate.”

“Mr. Blaine, please," she retorted, "You're a US citizen with a criminal record who is in no position to demand anything more than the minimum required for any convicted felon.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa – she had access to my Texas criminal record? That crap was supposed to be expunged, as part of the settlement. Shit. That’s when I let a real snarl come into my voice. “Look at my personal effects, currently in the jail’s vault or whatever you call it. You’ll find my Danish passport. It has my picture in it and my signature. I became a citizen of Denmark fifteen months ago.”

She looked perfectly shocked as she asked, “You did? Why?”

I played up the pain angle with some grimaces and catches in my voice. “I have family there. And a -- a job.”

“That means you have dual citizenship. So the waters get pretty murky, here.”

I quietly choked out, “Lady, do you even know what waters we’re in?”

She gave off the barest of hesitations before she said, "Get dressed. We have to go."

Tone told me they'd pulled this same crap on him, once -- coming in while he was bare-assed, as if to put him on the defensive. Well, I didn't give a shit what the bitch saw, so I forgot the briefs and carefully forced myself into the jumpsuit, still playing up my achiness. “I need to pee, first.”

“You can do it when we get there. It's not far.”

The bitch. "Not far" wound up being five miles in Palm Springs lunch hour traffic. By the time we arrived at this blank low-slung office building, I was threatening to piss on the car's carpet, and her two bulldogs were quietly just daring me to try. I held it in.

Well, at least I now knew what Ms. Ginty looked like, and I could see why Uncle Owen had despised her. She hit me as one of those people who goes to church every Sunday and prays to god and thinks of herself as the purest of the pure even as she tears apart other people’s lives, all because those other people are the others. She probably had a husband who was her twin and maybe even two-point-five babies she’d been proud to bear in the face of the Femi-commies who wanted to abort all children and yap, yap, yap, like an excited Chihuahua.

Yeah, she had no idea what waters she was swimming in now.

Problem was, neither did I.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Crux of the story...

Some of OT that I've redone; Jake's in Copenhagen to meet with his uncle, who's also his employer. It's the beginning of Chapter 2, after his lunch with his step-mother in Paris and when he's received a couple of cryptic notes from Owen Taylor --

After the shower, I downed some coffee and went straight to dinner with Uncle Ari’s client. Even if I'd had the time for a nap, I don't think I'd have been able to sleep; worries about my uncle were already driving me away from my happy place.

First of all, Uncle Owen had both the American and Danish mobile phone numbers, and he knew my address in Texas. He also knew the American e-dresses I'd set up for Tone and me, so the legal crap could stay separate from the rest of our world. Why wouldn’t he contact me through one of those? Why send a note via snail mail? I mean, yeah, it made sense with that key...but a follow-up? And to Copenhagen, when he knew I only came here every couple of weeks?

This is how it'd been for the last eleven months. Ever since Tone was almost knifed to death, in jail. His scars are almost as raw as his legal situation, because he revealed all kinds of illegal crap a judge, deputy sheriff, assistant DA and pair of Texas Rangers were pulling. Crap that got Tone's lover, a guy names Collier Winston-Royce, killed. I got tied in because I'd been through pretty much the same thing.

You see, I made this woman who worked for the city pay for damage she did to a city car; I was one of the transportation schedulers, at the time. Her name was Loreen Cullingham and she was cousins with that deputy sheriff, Wilbur Nussewald. He set me up on a drug charge and I did twenty-one months at a state prison. Then she and Nussewald pulled even worse on Winston-Royce, setting Tone off on his war against them.

I'd been out on probation for just over a year when he and I connected, and damned if didn't he get me an exoneration. But to do that, he'd pulled some pretty illegal crap, and the great and glorious state of Texas was not in a forgiving mood.

Only now it had a new Attorney General and he wanted to "put all the horror behind us," so Tone's lawyer, a guy named Castillo, was pushing to get a pardon in exchange for "the great service Tone did for the state." It looked like they were about to come around, too, meaning we could return to Copenhagen and begin rebuilding our life together.

If Tone still wanted to.

I say that because the last couple months he's been distant and irritable. At first I'd shrugged it off; the negotiations between Castillo and the AG had kept going on and on, and half the time it was before a judge who wasn't in any rush to finish things, so yeah, when I said it was tearing at us, I meant it. But Tone and I'd been through too much together for us to give in. Which is why it was so weird that he was acting like he'd stopped even wanting to try.

And now Mira was asking me why I stuck around. That was too damn unsettling.

That last paragraph is the basis of the rest of the story. Why does Jake stick with Tone? And the resolution needs to address that.

Problem is, I don't have the answer, yet.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How do I do this?

I've jumped back into ...Owen Taylor and been cutting and combining through the first four chapters...yet somehow I've added a hundred words. How the hell does that happen? I thought for certain I'd have dropped at least a thousand...but no. Looks like the story's found its length and will stay there, come hell or high water.

I had debated adding a prologue to briefly explain what went on in RIHC6, prior to this story...but instead I worked it in by reworking a couple of paragraphs and decided to let the previous story be revealed as things went along. So far, I'm happy with the changes...but then, I haven't gotten into the areas that will require heavy cutting, yet. This is all just prep.

I reread some of Bobby Carapisi before starting, to remind myself that I do know how to write and to stop worrying about OT being perfect just yet. That one took a couple of years for me to finish, but now I'm proud of it. Even Allan's erotic dreams parts.

I guess I still fluctuate between having a writer's ego about his work and writer's uncertainty about it. Guess I always will. That could be good or bad...or both.

Monday I'm off to Chicago and into what looks like a difficult job. The only positive thing about dealing with book people when you're packing books is, I'm also a book person so I can talk to them in ways they understand. I'm finding that's not exactly what my boss wants, because he thinks it's revealing too much information or something along those lines.

Which doesn't make sense to me. All a book person wants to know is that their books will be handled with care. They don't see them as merely objects to enjoy but as part of their family. Their being. That's why Adam constantly says, in The Alice '65, "Books are my life." They are.

They're mine, too.

Friday, December 5, 2014


I've been in contact with the Riverside District Attorney's office and got the okay to send them some questions about their procedures as regards arrests, arraignments and how certain types of cases are handled. So off they went, this evening. I've read up and dug into how things work in most DA's offices, but I found when talking to a sheriff's representative that it's the details that count, and those range very widely.

For example, if you're arrested for assault, you usually don't get a bail hearing for about 48 hours in the jail in Indio, which could stretch to 96 hours if your timing's off. That did not work at ALL for what Jake was getting into, so it has to be redone, completely...but in a way that's probably for the better. So I'm trying to get the correct methods worked into the storyline in this next draft.

Jake's also open to discussing what he did in prison to survive...and it's something he's yet to come to terms with. He's headed for a world of deepening shadows and sharp drops into the void. But he's not going there alone. I'll be right with him.

I'm also going to fight to keep some humor in the tale. Bobby Carapisi got too caught up in its tragedy and that hurt it. I never thought of myself as that bleak of a writer, but I've heard from a couple people that they couldn't finish it because they knew something terrible was going to happen and they cared about the characters too much.

Which is an odd sort of back-handed compliment.