Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, November 28, 2015


A meeting between Dev and his sister-in-law, Diana, changed directions, today. Initially, I was going to have it all happen in his hotel room, but then she took a walk before they got to the meat of the moment and that part now occurs in a pub near Piccadilly Circus. But by doing that, she showed Dev she thinks...or knows...his room is bugged by the cops and she doesn't want them to hear anything she has to say. So now he's aware of their surveillance and his paranoia is making itself known...including realizing Tawfi may be the real target of their investigation.

I'm in that lovely space where I have no idea how this will pan out. Which direction it will go. Anything. This moment wasn't part of the outline, meaning the characters are taking over and interacting with each other like they damn well want to. Which makes me so happy. That's when the story really comes alive for me.

And I have fallen in love with my characters. I honestly do not know if other people will feel the same way about them. The story takes a while to get going, something I cover up with Dev's kidnapping and rape of Reg and the following interrogation. Those take up over 100 pages of the 241 I have so far. It's not until page 145 that Dev begins to take matters into his own hands, and then only haltingly.

At the rate this is going, I'll wind up with 750 pages of story. The Steven King of gay-sex-murder-suspense-mysteries. But without his ability to wring terror from anything. I've read his book on writing and it has influenced my style. I'm trying like crazy to cut down on the use of adjectives, but sometimes I just have to have them. They're like an addiction that I can't completely free myself from.

Maybe that's the problem my first reader had with OT -- not enough adjectives...

Friday, November 27, 2015


I've gone back through the first 105 pages of UG to make sure I'm headed in the right direction, and then I wrote another bit between Devlin and Tawfi that sort of hints at Tawfi being the killer. Not sure what that's all about, yet...unless it's to involve Devlin even more in the investigation. Guess we'll see where it winds up fitting.

This pass-through cut about 5 pages from the total, mainly because of repetition. Devlin overly explains what's going on with his brother, Colin, and refers to the same story about Colin's wife a couple of times when once is sufficient. But I also added something...later in the story, after Devlin and Tawfi have connected for the second time...


Tawfi lay his head in the small of my back and ran his tender fingers across my skin. He stopped, a couple of times, then moved on. Finally, he said, "You have some curious scarring."

I closed my eyes and just nodded.

He shifted to look closer at them. "There's an odd consistency to them. May I ask, what happened?"

His fingers whispered over them, gentle. I kicked myself for removing my shirt. I said nothing.

"Devlin, you're not sleeping. If you do not wish to answer, merely say so."

Not wish to answer? God, there was nothing more I wanted to do...but the words clawed at my throat, refusing to let go.


"My father," whispered from me.

Tawfi drifted down to lie beside me, his eyes locked onto my face. "He beat you?"

I could not keep his gaze...had to look away. Give the vaguest of nods. "And my brother. And mother."

He let his fingers glide up to mingle in my hair. So soft. So tender. More words released themselves.

"He had a belt. With this buckle. And if I was being a brat, he...he could have it off and whipping at me in two seconds. Then Colin would get between us and it'd catch him. This was after mom was gone. It kept up till I...I took it away from him. And beat him with it. And threw it in the East River. After that he...he focused more on Colin. And I let him. I went off to college and left Colin with him. After I'd let him protect me. After I'd let him get hurt for me. I left him with the son-of-a-bitch. The only thing that saved him was...our father died. Eleven years ago. Almost twelve. And I still don't believe it."

Tawfi put his fingers to my lips. I looked at him. Realized I was weeping. Could just barely make out his eyes were hurt.

"Now you know what I am," I said. "An animal that only cares about itself. You'd be smart to keep away from me."

His fingers drifted over to caress my eyebrows as he whispered, "It may not be appropriate to reveal this so quickly, but I would hate my life, if I did."

I shifted to kiss the palm of his hand, then said, "So would I."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Met the challenge...

But nowhere near the end of the book. 56,726 words written. Maybe 50% done...maybe 60%. Looking over my outline, I'm hovering right around the halfway point, but this part of that is pretty detailed so I can't really say. Whatever; it'll be what it'll be and I'll deal with it once I'm done.

I'm not completely happy about Devlin having a reason for going after Reg. Makes him a bit more reactive than I wanted -- or he wanted -- yet it makes sense for the story. And since Reg became ex-Army and was wounded in Afghanistan, that keeps Devlin's actions more on the animalistic side and helps to jolt him out of his brutal intentions. Without him realizing, of course, until he's well on his way to redemption.

It was nice not having to deal with anything during Thanksgiving except my writing. I'm off till Monday, when I go to Wyoming. Have to change planes twice and I'm staying in a Motel 6, but it will be interesting. Maybe. Dick Cheney land, so I dunno...

I read a book a long time ago, by Sinclair Lewis -- It Can't Happen Here -- about the rise of fascism in America. A U S Senator named Buzz Windrip leads his mob-like followers into forcing his election to the White House and immediately sets about destroying everything the Constitution stands for while claiming to protect it and promising instant prosperity. It's supposed to be something of a satire, but there are parts of the book that are absolutely chilling. Like one point where a doctor who says something wrong is immediately dragged into a courtyard and shot.

Donald Trump's push for the White House reminds me so damn much of this book, it scares me. It seems no matter how badly he behaves -- like making fun of a reporter's physical deformity or flat out lying about thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets for joy, in Paterson, NJ at the fall of the Twin Towers (something that did NOT happen) -- his poll numbers keep going up. People defend him. Say he tells the truth, even when faced of proof of the bastard's lies. It's insane.

Sinclair Lewis was right -- it CAN happen here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tomorrow's the big day for numbers...

I'll hit 50,000 words, and still have another ⅓ to ½ of the book to finish writing. So I'll keep going on it till Monday; that's when I fly to Jackson, Wyoming. All while I'm still coming down off jet lag and trying to realign my body clock. I guess maintaining the same schedule in Hong Kong that you have in New York makes things worse for you. I've been starving all day and can't keep my eyes open.

Since I'm not an automaton, the shredding of OT affected me...and what I'm doing with UG. These are two completely different types of stories so to hold them up to each other for evaluation by the same criteria is absurd. UG is a sex-charged murder mystery built on suspense and some character development. OT is a character-driven story that unfolds in its own natural way. UG starts off running at 90; OT starts from ten mph and works its way up to 120...then gears down.

What I'm trying to do with OT is make Jake and his world as real as I can while slowly upping the drama he's faced with -- Palm Springs under attack by homophobes out to take their city back. It's got a lot more going on, and I'm trying to show how insidiously that insulates itself into the town's society. It's a dark story but with some humor...I I guess if you don't buy into Jake as someone you want to follow, you aren't going to buy the book.

Thinking about it, I had a vaguely similar complaint lodged against Bobby Carapisi, a few years back -- that the story didn't get started until it reached Allen's letter detailing how he raped men. I guess I need to make it clear that, even though there is sex in the books, it's not the raison d'etre for the books. That never has been the case in my writing, though the sex does get pretty damned intense, at times.

I dunno...maybe I'm just writing a Russian novel, with hundreds of characters and each playing his or her own small part in the full story...and fancy myself the gay Tolstoy... I a baby or a big boy?

Got my first response to my latest draft of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, today, and it was pretty much a complete rejection. Boiled down to it needs to be cut in half and has too many characters. So...what does that mean? Well...nothing, just yet. I do have a previous response that isn't supposed to count; the reader wants to go back through to be able to give me better notes because he got lost in it...i.e. loved it. I'm waiting to hear from a couple of others, as well, before I make any decisions about what to do next. But it cuts you.

Doesn't help that I'm also still kind of off-kilter from the trip. The flight back from Hong Kong got off late, arrived late, and felt really, really long. And my brain was not doing well in the focusing department, so I watched their entertainment selections. First up was the first season of Prime Suspect...and damn it's still good. Better than 99% of the police programs on TV even now, and that's with it being 25 years old.

Another offering was SPY, with Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law and Rose Byrne -- and it was a hoot, to my surprise. It got a little silly in parts, when Melissa was being bad-ass, but overall? I'd watch it, again. I actually got startled into a snorting laugh in the middle of this deathly quiet airplane. I think I woke up a couple of people. Very embarrassing.

One major disappointment about Hong Kong this year, aside from the heat index being 9000? The lack of good-looking men to glance at. The best one was a book dealer from the UK, whom I've known for a while and sighed over for just as long, and whose name shall remain unknown...and who was smart enough to have his pretty wife with him. Dammit.

But outside the venue? Nothin'. I remember the first year I went to this fair, I practically stalked this gorgeous Frenchman up to The Peak. The weather was cool so I had on a pullover, and he was wearing a neat leather jacket. I got some decent photos of him...somewhere. I'll have to see if I can find them. Of course, he noticed me doing it and cast me a Get the F away glare. Not that it mattered; once on The Peak, half a dozen caught my eye...including a couple who were coupled.

Still...some spy I'll never be...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

And More of Hong Kong...

This is during a lull at the China in Print Book Fair.

An exhibit of Hong Kong boats at the Maritime Museum.

Another exhibit...

Real life on Hong Kong harbor.

The book fair is over and it was successful. Most everyone wants to come back, next year. I wouldn't be unhappy to do the same, now that I know someone here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A few more bits of Hong Kong...

IFC Tower behind the Central Ferry Terminal

 A ferry about to head for Kowloon, as seen in the distance.
Kong Kong Central with the ferris wheel now working.

Doing the tourist thing...sort of...

Down day so went to Stanley to get a chop made and then changed buses to go up to the Peak, but I've done all these things before so didn't spend much time there. Just gonna share some of the photos I shot:

 This is a shot of Pier 9 from the Maritime Museum; I only shot it because of the old man using a fishing line to try and catch a fish...

These two shots above are Refuse Bay en route to Stanley, while the one to the right is one the road to there...
Stanley is an ugly little town so I focused on its bay...
These two shots are of Happy Valley, a suburb of Hong Kong...if the city has suburbs...

From the Peak...very gloomy and completely repetitive...

A couple of skinny high-rises by Stubbs Road coming down from The Peak..

And a pagoda-style Chinese house nestled on the road back to Central Hong Kong...

If I'm here next year, I think I'll just take a tour bus to see what I'm missing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Upside down..

I've been totally out of whack since I got to Hong Kong. The flight left at 1:20am and arrived at 5:30 am local time. I did a fair amount of writing, but after a while I zoned so dozed, a bit. I cannot sleep on an airplane. Hell, I can't even sleep with someone else in the room; I'll doze and wake up and doze and wake up all night. But that little bit kept me going till 1 pm, so I could get everything done that needed to be. Then I crashed until almost 9 and had to eat in the hotel because everything else around me was closed.

I stayed up to work on UG some till 3am...then took a nap before heading over to the book fair venue for the move-in. I really like this venue -- the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. It overlooks the harbor, is a nice open space, and since the restrooms are downstairs I caught a glimpse of the exhibit on Chinese junks...and want to see the rest. But I was beat so came back to the hotel to nap, some.

Letting Dev be his own little devil has made the story more least, to me. He now bounces between regret at what he did to Reg, to anger at being treated like scum for doing it, to confusion as to why he cares about what he's done since he never did before.

At first, he thought Reg was like a vice decoy out to mess with someone over what Dev considers nothing, but then he learns Reg was trying to help catch a serial killer by putting himself in danger...and it messes Dev up. He hated cops thanks to how they brushed off his father's physical abuse of his mother as well as himself and Colin, his brother, but Reg's action have jolted him out of regards him; Dev still has a visceral dislike of the Chief Constable trying to question him. I'm still playing it cagey by having his earlier assaults be against men who've wronged him or his brother in some all kinds of roller-coastering here.

Officially, I'm up to 46,000 words and maybe halfway done, but I'm still in the process of shifting Dev's attitudes over what I've written so I'm only just over 40K. I'll make the challenge number, but I don't think I'll have the book done by the end of the month.

Last night I had a nice meeting with a friend of my buddy, Brad Rushing -- Scott Hessels, who is an artist living in Hong Kong and commissioned by Hong Kong to make conceptual kinetic sculptures. He used to work in film but, like many independent filmmakers, was barely etching out a living. Then he shifted to sculpting moving image and programming works of art...and now he's being exhibited all over the world. Fascinating man.

We went to a bar called 208 on Hollywood Street, -- an Italian pizzeria with 2 for 1 Peronis -- and sat and talked. I had more beer in those 2 hours than I've had in the previous month, but it was fascinating. He's led a much-more out-there life than I have.

Unless you consider the books I've written...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

En route to another adventure...

I'm currently in Toronto's Pearson Airport waiting for my 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. I took a bus up so did some work on UG as we drove...well, tried to. It was a small bus and really needed new shocks. There were parts of the freeway undergoing resurfacing and you could feel every bump. I still managed to shift Dev even closer into being an asshole, and that's making him happy.

The plane is supposed to have power outlets on board, so I'll be able to get more done. I'm still at about 30,000 words in good condition...which will be in better condition once I'm done with Dev. And probably shorter. Some parts are unnecessary and others are redundant. Plus Dev's confrontation with Sir Monte would be better served by being more focused on his being willing to fight back and less on his being upset by what happened with Reg.

I'm still not clear about a couple of things -- like why the cops release Dev, after he's arrested, instead of holding him for as long as they damn well want. I need a reason for that, in order for Sir Monte not to come across as a fool...and to avoid just letting it happen so the story can move forward.

I once started a script where I didn't have a similar situation worked out, and it stopped cold at that point. Everything leading up to it was going great...then I had to get the lead out of jail and could not make anything I came up with work. So I put it aside. I knew the ending, but every bridge I tried to build to it came crashing down.

That happens, once in a while, and I learned a long time ago if I just slap something on thinking it won't matter, I'll turn out crap and people will think I cannot write. Why churn out shit if it's going to hurt you more than help you?

I have some friends who I think would agree.