Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Heading home...

Straight into 3 feet of snow, as I understand. But I'm in Atlanta waitin' on a plane and it looks like we'll be on time. Delta's doing a lot better this direction than when I was heading down to Bermuda.

I really don't like that place. It's all very casual and easy, and they don't follow any schedule but their own. I arranged to have the books picked up between 9 and 11am and got there 15 minutes early to get things ready...and they were already there. Fortunately, they hadn't knocked on the front door, yet, so I get the owner ready and we were done and gone in half an hour. That was good, at least.

Shuttle to the airport was set for 1:45 so I'm working on my laptop in the hotel waiting area and at 1:30m I'm told they're waiting on  me. In the middle of an email I had to send. Irritating. Then the flight to Atlanta left 20 minutes early. It's crazy.

I'm whining, I know, but when I'm working with a schedule and want to get a certain number of things done, having someone else mess with it throws me off. Doesn't help the resort I stayed at had nothing else around in the way of restaurants so I'm pretty much stuck eating second rate overpriced hotel food.

Bitching done. I'm not using my laptop on the flights but reading Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...and I was worried about repeating myself in my writing? Jesus, he notes the same details over and over and over. And this is a huge bestseller. I'm kicking back on my beef with me.

Good to know about this kind of thing.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Brendan's conversations with me...

I've settled into an interesting pattern with Brendan while working on APoS...I read, I ask questions, he gives me a yea or nay...and if I'm unsure, we discuss. The current one was me asking him if he believed in God. He's a Catholic boy raised in a household that is devoutly Catholic, but his immediate response was, "No."

Did he ever believe in God? He's not sure. He believed in the idea of him, but more by rote than faith. He points out he never became an altar boy and always kept his distance from the priests. Even at the age of 10, when kids are still caught up in the same rituals their parents follow, he's doing religion by the numbers.

The discussion evolved into how Danny, one of Brendan's best friends, was a strong believer and an altar boy and everything, but he lost it all and has been searching for something to replace the emptiness he feels. He finds it in the idea of chaos, and becomes part of PIRA in order to further that end.

Man...I love having moments like this. I feel like I'm back in touch with Brendan, completely, and we're going somewhere with the story. Not fast; I don't want to screw this up by pushing too hard. I've assigned all of this year to it so even if I do finish a first draft it'll be reworked and redone and restructured until it's good enough to actually call it a first draft.

I'm not a quick writer. I'm not good when I push too hard; I wind up going the easy route. If I let the ideas and details come to me in their own time, then I know all will be well. If I keep working on the story, I know I'll find ways to tell things that sound true and interesting.

As I packed the last of the books, today...and this was the hardest part because it included a huge Johnson's Dictionary...I thought of A65 and how much better the book is than the script I initially wrote. I pushed a bit too much on that one and what came out was surface and adequate. By digging into the story to put it into novel form, it took on a whole new life to where it's almost a completely different story.

That's my goal for APoS -- something new and alive and captivating and heartbreaking...and I don't aim for much, do I?

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rolling along...

I'm about 2/3 done with the job so should be finished early, tomorrow. There's a marathon running about the island so no idea if I can go anywhere, but we shall see.

I finished reading Peggy Deery, basically a biographical story about the one woman who was shot on Bloody Sunday...and it's a bleak book. She had 14 children before her husband died from cancer, and they lived in dire poverty...except for the times when she was able to finagle money out of the British government for compensation for things like falling in a pothole or being shot by British troops. One son got involved, off and on, with the IRA and was blown up by a bomb he planned to transport. Another died in a bar brawl days before his wedding. It's just one thing after another.

Brendan and I had an interesting conversation about this book...and he doesn't want his life to be that downbeat. Which is a funny thing for him to say. But as he points out, "If I'm living someplace that's falling down about me, I'm not going to stand around and let it." He's good with his hands and just gets down to fixing things, and if it means helping himself to materials being used for redevelopment...his justification is, "They'll throw half of it out, anyway."

I do think I'll use one of his friends...or maybe a couple of them, to contrast with him. Paidrig's family's more like Peggy Deery's as regards the poverty and a house falling down around them. Colm's the sneaky type trying to get away with something while Brendan just does things that need to be done without telling anyone he's doing them and sometimes gets credit and sometimes gets blame. Danny is anger personified and turns his hate into a force against the Protestants and British while Brendan just wants to live his own life.

The more I work on this story, the more I realize Brendan is an anomaly...and yet, it's perfectly clear that while just about everyone in Derry knew someone who'd been killed or jailed during the Troubles, the actual violence only directly touched a small number of the population.

Here's hoping I can keep this from being the kind of book that pities the poor downtrodden of Ireland from the lofty height os those not truly touched by their condition...

Friday, January 18, 2019

Ready for tomorrow...

Got my workspace set up but can't start packing till tomorrow so I hopped over to Hamilton to look around...and t's a rather bland town. Reminds me a bit of Stanley, in Hong Kong.

Especially these steps leading up from the street to...

...Queen Elizabeth Park par la ville, which was fun, with sculptures peeking out at each other.
Then there's Front Street, along the harbor...

...and the Sessions House...

But everything closes down at 5-5:30, except the bars and high-priced restaurants. And I do mean high-priced. Fast-food? Well...I did find a KFC, which I can't eat...but damn, the smell of their biscuits taunted me.

Even the bus is ridiculous -- $4.50 each way. That's nearly twice as much as the NY Subway! And I finally just hunkered down and had that $20 burger...and it was edible. Barely. And the fries were like you get from Or-Ida...

But...that's what happens when you're an island that has to import everything.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I do not like Delta Airlines...

My flight this morning was supposed to leave at 6:40, an hour I hate but I made it okay. But we didn't leave till 8. Problems with the front landing gear. But that's still fine; I've got time to make my connection in Boston. Except when we landed, the front wheels freaked out and the plane had to stop and be towed into the terminal. Which took another half hour. Then I had to run from one terminal to the next and got to my flight for Bermuda just as they had finished boarding...and I still needed a seat assignment; they wouldn't give me one till I was at the gate.

The flight down from Boston was fine. I lucked out with an aisle seat even though the plane was packed. Customs was easy...and very 1970s. The whole terminal here is. I think they're building a new one. The cab driver was nice and told me all of the places I should go, and the hotel is just across an inlet from the airport, so I can see it from my balcony...and hear the planes landing and taking off.

My hotel is nice but on a weird little hill that wanders down to the ocean. This is my view. I have to climb up about the equivalent of four stories to get to the main lobby and dining areas...and they have very strict hours for dining. I arrived at 6:10 to get dinner and was told I'd have to wait till 6:30 for the kitchen to open. But I could have a drink...at $10 a glass.

I headed off to another place and had a really good curry and a Guinness at room temperature! Loved it. There's a bus stop just outside the hotel to take me into Hamilton when I'm done, tomorrow.

Tomorrow is just overseeing the delivery of the packing materials and setting up a work station. The owner of the library isn't here till late so I don't get to start packing till Saturday.

Which is fine by me...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Off to Bermuda...

I'm not looking forward to this job in Bermuda. I like the books I'll be packing -- 17th - 19th Century Irish history and poetry -- but I've never been much for tiny islands and beaches. I got soured on them when we spent my sophomore year in Hawaii and I got second degree sunburn, twice.

There's also the question of whether or not the company I'm dealing with for the packing materials will bring me what I asked for and in usable shape. I've run into that in other countries, where the cartons aren't very well-built. And often their idea of scheduling is minimal, so I'm worried about whether or not these guys will pick up the shipment when I need them to so I can catch my flight home.

But...it's a job and needs to be done. And now I'll be able to say I've been. Woo-hoo.

What's really going to make this fun is the airplane trip. This is a low-cost package deal so first of all it's a 6:40 am flight out of Buffalo, and on top of that I don't get to choose my seats; they're assigned at the gate. So middle row it is. I'm taking a book and not even trying to break out my laptop.

There's also the issue of getting around -- Bermuda don't believe in sidewalks, from what I can tell, so not wandering around by foot. I'll have to find some kind of transportation from the hotel to the house I'm working in. And the food is hellaciously expensive. $22 for a burger and fries? With nothing else around to counter it?

Fortunately it'll only be till Monday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I need to advertise more...

Apparently there was word going around that HTRASG, PM, RIHC6 and BC were out of print...which surprised me. I saw it in a Facebook group I belong to, so I let them know that wasn't the case and linked to my website...and sold several book in just the 24 hours since I posted it. Who knows how many sales I missed out on?

I'm not sure what kind of advertising I can do to counter this. I've noted on my Facebook pages and in GoodReads that I republished my first four books at a better price. I have a couple of separate pages for not only KMSCB but OT...and A65. I had pages for LD and BC, but they did nothing so ended them.

I used to get some traction from Tumblr, but they've gone all homophobic and freaky over adult content so that's pretty much dead. And Twitter is my political outlet, really. I guess I could start a second one for my books, but I've already got so many things going I don't know if I'd be able to keep up with it all.

So I guess I'll just keep plugging along. I don't want to take too much time from APoS. Right now I'm reading a couple of books that are surprisingly informative, mainly in little asides. Like one noting Springtown, a seriously bad pocket of poverty in Derry, was shut down in 1968. I thought it was still somewhat operational in 1970. I'll have to dig deeper into that because some characters are established as coming from there and I may need to change it.

Another was the astonishing number of children some women had in Derry -- 12 - 15 within a year of each other. And...the astonishing number of miscarriages and stillbirths. And those women are standing in photos with their adult children still upright and sturdy.

My aunt, who converted to Catholicism when she got married, had 7 kids, not counting a still birth and a miscarriage. Much of that's due to the Church's opposition to birth control, and antiquated attitude that is not only stupid but dangerous to the future of the planet.

You can always count on religion to do the wrong thing.

Monday, January 14, 2019

GoDaddy won't go away...

Another hour on the phone with GoDaddy trying to migrate my basic account to ultimate so it's better protected against incorrect viewings...and they tried to charge me another $35.00 to do it, even though I should have been able to do it on my own. I got angry and threatened to shut it all down and get a refund, so they backtracked and I got everything done for the price I paid, and it's good for 3 years.

Damn, that crap pisses me off. Sneaky-assed ways used to get more money out of you while doing all they can to keep you confused as to what they're doing. Like 3-card monte. Not fun. But we'll see how it goes, now, and if it's not working tomorrow, I'm shutting the fucker down. I have no patience with this.

On a lighter note, I got a book I'd ordered from a shop in Derry, Northern Ireland today instead of 4 weeks from now. Shocked me. And it's in good shape, too. It's mostly made up of posed photos of groups of kids and people at events or such, but it does have some images of the civil rights movement, including the family who squatted in Guildhall over demands for better housing. What's even better is it has photos of the Lough Swilly bus depot on Great James and of the barricades on Rossville and William Streets. So it was worth the money.

But I've run my credit cards up, again, and that's not cool. I want them paid down as much as possible so that by the end of the year I can get a card from my credit union at a decent interest rate. I only owe on two of them, but one has a rate of more than 12% and the other is nearly 18%. I hate that. I have another one that I use for business that I pay off every month, which would also happily charge me 18%.

Thursday I head for Bermuda to do a packing job...and damn, that place is pricey. Breakfast at my hotel would be $25 and a friggin' cheeseburger and fries is $23. If I want to dine, that starts at $45. And there's no public transport where I am. I'll have to grab a taxi to get to the house, at $15-20 per trip. I'd walk, but there aren't any sidewalks along that route. Ridiculous. I don't really like the idea of going to Bermuda, but it's to handle an interesting library of Irish history so...

What I AM looking forward to is a week in England, at Reading, packing a huge library of humor and satire. I'll have help for that so maybe I can pack in an extra day or two to wander London.

Ah, the life of a travelin' man...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

APoS continues...

I'm currently working on the Battle of the Bogside in August 1969 and the Celebration Fleadh that followed a couple weeks later. It's where Brendan and Joanna finally truly connect, because she's Protestant but sneaks into the festival and is caught out so he has to protect her and get her home. It's an important point in the story...so I'm taking my time with it...

I've brought in new characters, as well, who may turn out to be important, later. I don't know yet. But this is also the point where the IRA was seen as cowardly in the face of what happened, and members broke off to form the Provisional IRA...and Real IRA and on and on. There was no real need for them, at this point, since British troops were seen as protecting Catholics from the Protestants. That didn't start shifting till much later.

It's funny, but with all this talk of a wall along the Mexican border intending to keep out the hoards of illegal immigrants storming up from Central America, it brings to mind how the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is only about 310 miles long, not nearly 2000 miles. It was heavily guarded by Great Britain, a major military power, and supposedly shut down by non-stop ground and air patrols and guard stations and the like, but it remained as porous as if there were no troops along it, at all.

1240 miles of the US/Mexico border is the Rio Grande, from El Paso to Brownsville. You can't build a wall down the middle of a river, not even one as casual as this one is, so that means building it up off the immediate banks, since those can shift a lot in occasional flooding. Which means the US Government would not only have to seize land from private individuals to build upon, it would effectively be ceding all of the river and a fair portion of Texas back to Mexico. I cannot imagine that going over well in Austin.

The stupidity of the idea that you can even close a border keeps getting proven over and over -- Berlin, The Iron Curtain, the Maginot Line...even the Great Wall of China was not completely effective. It did keep semi-nomadic invaders out, but did not stop some large scale invasions, and even the nomadic people were able to breach the wall from time to time.

The stupidity of humanity is not to be underestimated...

Saturday, January 12, 2019

I know nothing...nothing...

Another long session with GoDaddy's tech support and still have to go back to it. I started out trying to change my avatar but couldn't work around its demand I do it through Gravatar, then I quickly learned my WordPress site was NOT set up exactly right, so we dug into that.

Now I've got it done except for one last action -- migrating it from a basic WP site to an ultimate one. That makes certain it's protected from kids and creeps who want to mess with it. I have to do that in a couple days.

Oh, but today's session wore me out...and I wasn't able to focus on anything for too long a time. So no writing done. No reading. Just a wasted day. Not good since I'm going to be traveling a lot over the next six weeks.

First, I'm heading to Bermuda for a packing job, on Thursday, and won't return till the following Monday. Another place I'd never have gone to on my own. I guess we'll see how it goes, with TSA and air traffic control being messed about by Czar Chicken Little's shut-down of the government and Republican leaders actually thinking it's no big deal for the 800,000 federal employees furloughed or working without pay.

After that is Miami for the Map Fair...which could be an issue. But then comes a job in Reading, UK, for a week...which should be okay since I'm flying out of Toronto for that. So even if the shutdown is still going on, I can make it. Just don't know if the border will be open for my return.

I'm stopping my commentary there, since I so despise Republicans, right now, rehashing this crap will only piss me off. I just pray that SOB in the White House gets indicted by Mueller and Mitch McConnell is removed as Senate Majority Leader, since he's a bottleneck to anything happening. There are people out there who think all of this is a good thing. Seriously. Though some are now actually saying, "He's hurting the wrong people" since it's begun to affect them. Fucking hypocrites.

I know America's always had selfish assholes whose racism is considered natural and their claims to Christianity unassailable. The only good thing about the last two years is, we can no longer avoid the reality that a large portion of the United States' population is racist, hateful, cruel and sadistic...as well as fucking cowardly. If we'd had people like that in control, we'd still have slavery and women would not be able to even have their own checking account, let alone vote.

God damn the GOP...every fucking one of them...