Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gonna be a New Yorker...

Albeit in the Western end of the state, which is really more like Pennsylvania and Ohio and is geared more towards Canada than the US. But I informed my landlord I'm renewing my lease -- for some weird reason I have to give them 60 days notice -- and things are going well enough with the job that I want to keep it. And they say they want me, so...

It helps that my sister, Jeri, is taking over mom more and more; I can tell because whenever I talk to mom, she tells me she doesn't want Jeri involved in too much and complains about it. Right now, sis put in an offer on a house not far from Northeast Baptist Hospital for mom to live in, instead of a rapidly declining apartment complex, so it's looking better. If my brother, Shawn, would drop by every now and then just to see how mom's doing without being asked, it'd be even better...especially since Kelly, my youngest brother, needs someone to rant to about how mom and Jeri are running his life. Can't say I miss that part of my life there, though it does pop up on my weekly phone call, once in a while.

Of course, this means shifting my driver's license and health and auto insurance to NY state (I'd rather not, but they won't cover me if I stay here; I'd have to move back to Texas)...and that's bumping the price up. That or I get second rate coverage. Still looking into options on that. And on what it actually takes to get a NYDL. Oh, and I'll have to shift my Honda over to here, too. I'd been thinking about getting a new car but I'm leery about the cost. We'll see how it goes. I have until September to decide on that.

The thing is, as much as I complain and whine and bounce around with POS, I am getting it fits and starts but it is still moving forward...and being up here has helped because I don't know anybody and there's really nothing else to do. I'm stuck at 99K in words but only because I trimmed back some repetition in the other parts of the book. So if I'm here for another 8 months, I might actually get done with a solid first draft by the end of the year.

My latest book just showed up on now I'm published six times over -- 4 books of dark gay erotica and two that are really more like character studies. It won't mean anything once I start trying to get POS published, but it does feed my ego. Kitty cat like the strokes, he does.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I have to wonder...

At the changes in my life and directions I wound up taking that brought me to the point where I'm parenting the story of an Irish Catholic boy from the ephemeral to the page. It's like some hysterical joke being played on me by the Cosmos. How can we find someone who is the complete opposite of the main character in this book...someone who still has a hint enough of the knowledge needed and language spoken to understand it...and then drag him into its birth? Wouldn't it be funny to make him responsible for it making sense not only to those who never set foot in Ireland but to those who lived through the period in the area as what is now seen as a disaster unfolded around them?

The more I learn about Brendan's life, the more I know I know nothing about it. Yet still I'm the designated spinner of tales, and it's overwhelming, at times. I sense what he wants me to relate...I can feel it shifting about behind my chest, using my heart as its hiding place and letting itself be seen only by way of brief shadows cast against my mind's eye. These moments come in spurts then stop and wait, and it smiles to itself in sweet remembrance of all the times it's let me follow the wrong path only to finally reveal what I've written has no truth or meaning.

But I don't understand why I was shown these paths to begin with. Are they tests to see if I can recognize what is and should not be? I don't think so. I don't think I'm digging deep enough, somehow. I don't think I'm really being mislead as just carried into a different part of the story and told to sit still till it's the right time for the rhyme and reason to make itself known.

I think this because I wrote a section where Brendan is nearly arrested by the British and while trying to escape winds up falling through a door to land on his back and look straight up at the ceiling only to see a hand with a pistol appear above him, aiming in the direction from which he fell and then firing. Sounds pretty Hollywood, right? Except...I remember dreaming about this image and not knowing the why and the wherefore of it. It was a flash in the middle of some night and it woke me, it was so vivid, and then it appeared in this chapter, and I think, "That's just the right place. That's where it's meant to be." Except...I don't know.

Sure, you can explain it by claiming I dreamed it and merely decided to use it here, but my writing is not that calculated. I've tried to be, with my scripts. Honest. I've tried to put in everything I'm told a great screenplay has to have at the point where it has to happen according to all the script gurus...and when I do that my work turns out like crap. It's not until I listen to my characters and let them pick and choose what will and will not be here and there that a story works for me. And works against script readers and evaluators, who look for what they're told to look for by those very gurus.

But that's how I am -- almost self-destructive while being the guardian and protector of the words I've been given. You know, even my erotic novels are not really erotica. They're brutal stories about people being betrayed and then betraying, in return...and what sex there is in them feeds into that theme. And the same theme is building in "Place of Safety" -- albeit without sex being used as a weapon of revenge. And if anything comes across as wrong or untrue or unreal in it, the whole book will fall apart. And that very nearly panics me. So I wonder if this dream is appropriate for this moment. But it's locked itself down right where it wants to be. And I can't move it. So I guess it stays.

Thank God I never had kids; it's fuckin' hard being a parent.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Busy day

Kept me from doing much besides work. All sorts of things kept popping up and at the same time I was trying to write that article and research some things I wasn't sure about and discovered there's a lot of weird information out there about the right way to pack books for storage, including some from a well-respected group who actually suggested using bubble-wrap to protect the books when anyone in the antiquarian trade knows any sort of plastic around the book increases the chance of condensation getting on it and mold and mildew getting a firm hold on the paper.

Anyway, that's my arrogant rant for the moment. Right now I had three happies hit me, and surprises will abound when I tell of them.

1. I got a book titled "Battle of Bogside" published in 1970 and written by Russell Stetler. I don't know how much use it will be in actual fact, but since it was done so quickly after the actual fighting, just over a year later, it may have ideas and attitudes I'll find useful.

2. I got two Loreena McKennitt cds -- "The Visit" (which is good but her early work) and "Book of Secrets" (which is elegant). I listen to her sing and I think of my first Irish stories -- "Darian's Point" and "Return to Darian's Point" with the first section I have yet to write, "Darian's Point Begins". As she glides through "Night Ride Across the Caucasus" I can see the ending of DPB, from the point where Keevan Ui Briuin accepts the evil bargain that becomes the curse on his bloodline and crosses the sea to the island of Inish Ciuin to meet his fate on Darian's Point. It'smusic like this that kicks me in the creative pants.

3. I went to buy milk at a Topps grocery store...and they had SANDWICH SPREAD! I just stumbled upon it. One of my favorite foods -- hell, comfort food -- is tuna mixed with Sandwich Spread on toast...or Waverly Club Crackers...or just some lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers with a dash of Thousand Island dressing. You can get it anywhere in the Southwest (I once bought three jars in Phoenix when I was driving back to LA from a packing job in Tuscon) but this is the first time I've seen it up here.

Man...I live a weird life, where finding friggin' Sandwich Spread is one of the high points of my day.

So...guess what I had for dinner?

Oh, and I have to share this -- a photo of Union Station in Washington DC. This is where Hitchcock shot "Strangers on a Train" -- one of his classics -- and it's changed a lot. But these guys have always been there. But take a look at the lower right corner.So tell me, how the hell do you escape that fucking state?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I focused on going through the last section of "Place of Safety" and plotting out the rest of what needs to be done for the story as well as making notes about what is referred back to and needs to be added to the opening two sections. I'm having problems with it, in that by the time Brendan returns to Derry, the British and RUC have a solid network in place of spies and informants, so it'd be hard for him to wander about the city without being caught onto. Plus civil liberties had been so curtailed against the Catholic population by this point, they would need no reason to arrest him and hold him as a terrorist. No need for a real trial or even to bother telling his family where he is.

It's funny, what the Brits and Prods were doing in Northern Ireland 30 years ago the US is doing now to its own people. If someone someplace high enough in the government decides that person is a terrorist...or now even a terrorist sympathizer, thanks to the Supreme Court, all you have to do is offer humanitarian support to any group deemed to support terrorism, then you are supporting terrorism as well. And matters of degree don't matter. Give medicine to people who take it to Palestinians under Hamas, you can be charged with supporting Hamas by proxy. And then you don't necessarily have access to a trial; you might just be charged in a kangaroo court and put away till you're crazy, as happened to one American citizen charged with aiding and abetting the enemy.

And it's not just in this country. In Canada, relatively liberal country, a judge gave the police the right to arrest anyone they want to if that person gets too close to the G20 summit. So far nearly 600 people have been arrested. He also said the cops can use methods of crowd control -- like noise cannons -- on protesters if they feel the need. Noise cannons can damage hearing not just of the protesters but anyone who's nearby. Lesson being, don't hang around to watch what happens.

And in Minneapolis, homes of people just planning to protest were raided and trashed by the cops with impunity. On top of this, I just learned that of the hundreds of people arrested during the Miami conference of the G20, not one was convicted of a crime. So the whole point of these arrests are to intimidate -- to end discussion of what those in charge are doing -- to make all of use act like simple sheep and do as we're bid by our masters.

I guess we're seeing the end of Democracy in the world and a return to the feudal style of civilization. How disgusting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I don't like DC

Yeah, it's a pretty city. And it's one of the world's great capitols. And you got lots of big wide boulevards and open spaces and people from every corner of the world...but just try walking along those open spaces and boulevards in 95 degree heat -- there ain't no shade. And on half those nice big boulevards, there's no place to stop and sit and get something to drink; you have to hop off onto a smaller street. It's beautifully planned but completely soulless and not at all interested in the needs of human beings. I couldn't live there.

I spent the day at the American Library Association's Exhibition and saw thousands of librarians milling about getting free books and information on how to make their libraries more 21st century and finding authors to sign those books while a man in a Cat In The Hat suit looked on, or in a booth made up to look like something out of "The Hobbit" or "Harry Potter" or something like that -- it's true, I took a picture to prove it. I made off with a little swag, myself -- mostly pens but a tote bag and note clip and a signed copy of a cook book for my mother from a girl who's from Shiner, Texas and we BOTH agreed Shiner Bock beer is the best there is. My feet hate me. I had a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich that had no right to call itself that (and did not sit well in my tummy). I got damn near dehydrated because all they sell in that joint is spring water and I wanted Perrier or San Pellegrino, some kind of sparkling water.

I went there to see if my company ought to have a booth at next year's convention...and I can't see it being worthwhile. There is so damn much going on -- they filled the entire exhibition hall from end to end, probably the equivalent of two football fields in size -- unless we put it right in the middle of it all (for a LOT more money) we wouldn't even get noticed. I can't tell you how many booths I saw that looked lost in the middle of the flash and dash. BUT the flights down and back were easy, riding the train from Baltimore's airport was fun and I had an open seat beside me all the way so got some editing and plotting done on POS. Meaning, I don't feel it was a complete waste of time...but I am exhausted.

Positive thing is, Brendan's over his sulk, and I'm sorry for being such a flake. Looking back over my posts, I seem to bounce around non-stop, from this to that to the other. But thinking about it, I've always been a bit like that. Maybe it's getting worse in my old age or during my slide in Alzheimer's...or severe dyslexia...and I don't notice it as much. Hell, even my handwriting's gotten worse. Looks like this piece of junk's out of warranty and falling apart.

Hope I last long enough to finish the book.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Brendan's still sulking

And I'm depressed. I get like that after stumbles like the one, yesterday.

Tomorrow I'm making a quick trip down to Washington DC and back, just to check out the American Library Association's convention. My company is trying to figure out ways of increasing business with them and I'm at the forefront of research on it. Today I spent working on an article about the best way to pack antiquarian books for storage or transport from one city to another, along with illustrations. I e-spoke with a woman in charge of a rare book journal affiliated with the ALA and she likes the idea. In fact, she wants me to include art and maps, too...both of which I've worked with. So I have the research and about 1500 words worked out along with 10 preliminary sketches. Needless to say, it was NOT busy at the job.

What this means is, no writing done till Sunday...unless I try to do it on the plane, again. That didn't work so well, the last time. I dunno, maybe I was doing too good the last week, as regards POS, and had to trip myself up in some way to keep from getting too big a head on my shoulders.

BTW, it seems the GOP in Texas has finally revealed itself for what it truly is -- the new Puritans. Their platform calls for making all sodomy illegal (even that between husband and wife), repealing no-fault divorce and a myriad of other nonsense straight out of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter." And there are still idiots in that state who support them. Another reason to stay the hell away...or go back to fight the madness. Hell,I don't know.

The whole country's in a mess. Even New York has a candidate for governor who's forwarded racist e-mails and claims the current governor, David (?) Patterson, a black man who has extremely restricted vision, is a junkie because he once said he tried cocaine...and do you think that candidate's the least bit sorry for saying or doing those things? Hell, no.

Jesus, it's like the right wing has been struck blind to how they come across to people. I used to think that'd be a good thing...until I saw how many idiots are still willing to follow them straight off the cliff, just like lemmings. And thanks to our morally bankrupt news media, they'll gladly take the whole country with them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Here we go again...

I'm an idiot. Plain and simple. Still dreaming dreams that have no chance of succeeding and willing to toss aside any plans I made in hopes that this time, after all the times those dreams have come crashing down around me, this time it'll succeed. It's ludicrous...and the mark of insanity, as I understand. Not that I ever made claim to being of sound mind...or body. Hell, just read some of my writing; I'm friggin' psychotic.

Story behind this little rant? A gentleman who owes me more than $6000 called me in the middle of the day to say he almost had everything in line to begin making some training films -- he's buying a few cameras (what he described sounded like Reds but I couldn't find out from him if they were) and they'll be idle between shoots, so he's also just about got the funding AND distribution together to start making micro-budget films for rental or cable or overseas consumption or whatever and wants me to both provide some of my own scripts (I only have one that really fits his parameters) and shift some books that he has the rights to into scripts. He also wants me to come help him with them.

So...I'm thinking, "This is a way to get back to business..." and it's come at the perfect time because I need to let my landlord know if I'm renewing my lease...but then I remember something. My promise to Brendan. This means jettisoning it, and he is not at all happy about that. And that's when I start looking at the situation as it truly is.

This guy can't even pay me the money he owes me now, yet he's talking about buying $20-30K in equipment to shoot these training videos (and what sort of training they're for, I don't want to know) and the money's gonna roll in and there's nothing specific being discussed. And what does that remind me of? A certain son-of-a-bitch I joined with to make a movie 18 years ago. I wrote a fucking great script! It was the first time my characters took over and lead me places and had he shot it like it was written, it would have kicked ass.

Instead, he blew half his budget on buying an editing suite...and didn't come to the set prepared...and fired an experienced DP three days before shooting began...and...dumb shit that I was...I kept thinking, "It'll all work out." It didn't. I damned near lost a couple of friends over it, and I think the experience drove a very talented actor out of the business. And then the SOB blamed me for writing a script that was "too queer," even though he rewrote it and made it into such a racist piece of trash, I'd have killed him if could have found him, the day I learned about it. And here I am, still wanting to fall for the same bullshit.

You know, film really is a sickness. It infects you and manipulates your dreams and makes you think if you just hang on long enough, everything'll turn around. Then it kicks you in the teeth any chance it gets and says, "What else did you expect, dumbass? You think I give a shit about you? Oh, and by the way -- break every promise you ever made so you can keep begging me to pay attention to you." wonder I freak out around alcoholics and junkies; I know deep down I'm an enabler to the nth degree...and actually fell into that trap twice in my life...and it was hell getting away from it, both times. writing done tonight. Brendan's sulking. And he has every right to. I'm proving to be a flighty steward of his life. You know, an intelligent man learns from his mistakes...but me? I'm an idiot, plain and simple.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The deeper I get into working on "Place of Safety" the more I see how this is only the beginning of this job, and my future goals need to adjust to it. I have a responsibility to Brendan and his story and want only to make it as good as I can. What that means is focusing on finding some way to live in the Derry area for a couple years, like I once said I did, so I can make better the details of his life there. So Seattle goes by the wayside, and changes begin.

The whole third section of the story has just exploded, so I no longer have a map to follow as I write it; I just let it go and see where it takes me. I've been avoiding putting up anything from the third section because I don't want to give too much of the ending away, but this wanted to be shared, and I don't mind doing so because it's in the middle of a major shift in Brenda's character.

He's now 25 and has secretly returned to Derry by pretending to be a friend of his from Houston, but after a confrontation with some British troops he realizes he's about to be found out and has sent word to a childhood friend, Colm Lemass, that he needs help to get back out of the country. He's hiding in a neighbor's home, waiting.

The morning of the next day, I was in the kitchen sharing a pot of tea with Daria, Mrs. Haggerty’s oldest, and she was handling it in a very proper manner, too. Across from us sat little Sean, not but three years yet still fascinated with us to the point of total silence.

“White or dark?” Daria asked with deep seriousness.

“White, please,” was my reply, just as serious.

“Milk first or after?”


“Sweet?” she continued in the same manner as she poured first tea then a dash of milk.

“Lightly so, thanks,” I smiled.

She put in half a teaspoon. Less than I was used to, but I was so enjoying the tenderness of the moment, I didn’t care. She offered me bread with butter and jam off a chipped plate and I took half a slice so she and Sean could have the three left. Then I sipped, and the tea was strong enough to pull out your teeth if it so chose, but a taste of the jam settled it on my tongue. It was just us three there; Jimmy Haggerty was off to his job and his wife had run down two doors to fetch an egg or two for breakfast. I was hoping I could be fed before the Paras returned...or Colm called for me...for I'd not have a good meal, after.

But then there was pounding on the door. Sean jumped, terrified, but Daria instantly turned to him and said, “Now, Sean, don’t be such a baby. It’s just troopers and they’ll be gone again, shortly.”

Sean looked at me with accusation, and it cut into me. A child of seven comforting a child of three, and both knowing what a knock at the door meant. That was not the way their lives should start out. So I smiled at them, in comfort, and quickly rose.

“It’s all right,” I said, grinning. “It’s just for me.”

As I strode down the hall to the door, another pounding began so I called, “Hold on, hold on,” in my best twang. I wasn’t about to add to their idea the Haggertys might have known who I truly was. My voice gave them at least a little cover.

I opened the door just as a stocky Para was about to use his rifle butt, and I slipped into to Adam’s attitude and snapped, “What the hell’s wrong with you? I said I was comin’!”

I thought for a second he was going to shift the rifle’s butt to my head, but another man stepped forward, one I’d not seen before.

“Are you Adam Landau?” he said, another true Brit.

“That’s me.”

“Let me see your passport.”

I handed it over with hesitation, knowing that’s the last time I’d have my hands on it. I hoped Adam had the sense to tell them he hadn’t seen it in weeks -- but he was no fool; the second he was called he’d know something had happened and would step back long enough to find out what was going on. As for Aunt Mari and Uncle Owen, I’d finally decided they had a story in place for if ever the day came that I was found out. So my one concern was for the Haggertys and minimizing the trouble they’d be in.

“I’d invite you in,” I said, keeping the twang, “but this ain’t my place so -- .”

“No need. You’ll come with us.”

“Wait, Mrs. Haggerty’s not home. I’m watchin’ her kids till she gets back and -- .”

“What’s goin’ here?” It was herself bolting from the house next door, a cloth holding eggs in one hand, another woman right behind her and just as angry. “Mr. Landau, what’s this?”

“It’s nothin’, Mizz Haggerty,” I said. “These gentlemen just want me to go clear somethin' up -- .”

“You bloody Brit bastards,” she snarled, “he’s an American. Just because you think you can treat us like this doesn’t mean you can the whole world!”

“What’s this?” asked her friend. “He’s American? Who th' devil d'yous bastards think yous are?”

Other women were coming out, just as vocal in their displeasure, and I wondered if this was a method of pushing back against the Paras -- surround them with loud angry females to confuse the issue. But a quick look at the soldiers showed me we’d not have a repeat of the night at Mam’s, for the riots of the last week had put them too much on edge to be willing to back down peacefully, and god knows I didn't want to be around another massacre.

So I turned to Mrs. Haggerty and her mates and said, “Ladies, it’s all right. Thanks. I don’t mind goin’ with ‘em. I’ll just call the ‘Merican consulate from their office and get everything straightened out in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. It’ll be fine.” I turned back to the man in charge with a smile and added, “It’s just a little misunderstandin’, right?”

I honestly couldn’t tell if he was a corporal or captain or just a top sergeant -- but at least he was smart enough to hold his tongue and nod. He pointed to one of two PIGs and said, “In there,” then begrudgingly added, “Please.”

I let two of them lead me around to the back of the first beast, in tandem, the ladies still hurling curses at them, and the first one opened the door as the second kept close watch on me and the others made for the second PIG and a Saracen that was behind it but as I was about to get in I noticed movement from above, like an arm waving from behind a chimney, and looked up to see a single, dark, perfectly-shaped brick softly hurtle over the roof to slowly, slowly curl downward, spinning gently like it weighed nothing as it drew closer and closer and I gasped and turned away from it because it was getting so close I thought it might hit me but instead saw it slam onto the bonnet of the PIG behind me and ricochet into the chest of a Para that was about to get in. He cried out and collapsed and his mates swung into full battle mode as the once-growing throng of women burst apart like petals off an open rose and they scrambled back to their homes while more stones came pelting down on the Brits -- and on me.

I was clipped in the back and hit full on my left hand as I scurried away from the PIGs to find a place of safety and saw the Paras taking cover behind the vehicles and a corner house, rifles prepped ready to fire, and I cried out, “They got bullets!” with no hint of Texas in my voice then. That’s when the commander grabbed me and slammed me into a doorway, snarling, “Right, you’re from bloody America.”

I burst into laughter at the fury in his face -- I couldn’t help it, he was so fuckin' comical. So he punched me with his pistol, cutting open my left eye, and my head rang and blood poured yet still I laughed. It was insane -- the chaos a few stones can bring and the stupidity of the anger these bastards dared show against those they occupied and futility of it all in the face of the world’s disinterest and the fact that Mam was gone and would never get to see any of this finally crush the spirit of those who lived here and no one would learn the lessons of the place because we were now a template on how to fight back against the oppressor and none of them could see it and this stupid bastard thought he could beat me into ending my laughter when it was beyond my control, all of it, all of it.

Then I heard gunfire from the Paras’ rifles and laughed even harder as I choked out, “You stupid bastards, you’re shootin' at ghosts!”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I passed 99K in words on POS and am feeling good...always a danger sign, but I don't care. The story's speeding up, now and I'm along for the ride, whether I want to be or not. I honestly don't know if this stuff I'm adding is going to work in the grand scheme of the story since I want it as real as I can get it and some of it's a bit too close to Hollywood stuff. But it's a foundation from which to build and I'm not going to stop it now to edit out the silly parts.

We had Houston-style rain in Buffalo, today. Stifling and still, with the humidity pressing in on you until a downpour began, firing straight down like it we a monsoon without the winds. I saw a rabbit out in it for a bit. a scrawny little hare with that gray-brown fur and eyes circled in white, giving it a startled and yet mournful look. Apparently this is a normal occurrence in the the city -- rabbits as the local rodents. Wild.

Y'know, I'm brain let's share something from the new world in the old world. Here's Shanghai spaced over 20 years. Consider this -- when Steven Spielberg shot "Empire of the Sun" in 1987, the curve in the river looked exactly like it had in 1941 so he needed nothing in the way of special effects shots to age up the city. The bottom picture is just 23 years later and you're reminded of "Blade Runner." Creepy.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Gave me a headache. Stems from not eating a lot the last couple days to give my body time to calm down. So now I'm slopping Bengay onmy neck and shoulders and popping Advil...and working at POS. Didn't help that I went for a long walk around a lake in a park I pass every day. It's on Delaware and across from the cemetery that holds Millard Filmore's tomb. I parked and walked down to a pavilion then circled the lake and walked back to the car. It's not the first time I've done it, but I've been eating a light lunch at work so normally by this time I'm getting hungry...and I was starving. Fortunately, I had a small packet of nuts with me so that held me a little while. Didn't help I left the shop late thanks to a last-minute shipment from New York to London. Thing is, I've been so sedentary lately I need to do something to get my blood circulating better. I can't just sit at a computer all day and night and lose weight. All I'm losing is muscle.

So I walked the lake and got some groceries and had a bite to eat but it wasn't much an then about 9 my neck started aching so I had a cup of tea and toasted a couple of waffles and am just now beginning to feel better.

I had another interesting development pop up last night before I went to bed as regards Brendan and Father Pat so worked that in while it was still fresh enough, this evening. And sure enough, it worked beautifully in showing some changes in Brendan while leading into the last third of the ending section.

But now I'm dog-tired and can barely keep my eyes open, so I'm ending it short of my 2000 words, tonight. Maybe I'll make up for it, tomorrow...but that matters is the story is moving, again.

Oh, RIHC6v2 is beginning to move, too. I was sent a proof of the cover and it works neatly, looking almost the same as the first book but different enough to add to the story. I'm now waiting to see when it's available on Amazon -- I have a fan to whom I've promised an autographed copy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Easy Sunday

I'm not feeling so great so I kept everything low-key. I don't know if it was the beer I drank (one of those micro-brews that's local to Buffalo) or something I ate (I'm thinking samosas with mango chutney; I found an Indian food convenience store a couple miles form me and bought some frozen Samosas and had them for dinner, Friday night) or if it's just nerves...but my gut troubled me yesterday and is still being problematic...and for some reason I'm reminded of Thelma Ritter's line in "Rear Window" -- "When General Motors has to go to the bathroom ten times a day, the whole country's ready to let go."

Not that I'm like General Motors...except in the financial mess part...and having problems with my mental electronics...and no longer being of top quality (though I DO hear Buick's really grown to be a very good car)...

And except...I did get productive at the computer. I worked on section 3 of the story and I'm now at 95K+ in wordage and linked two chapters I hadn't planned on linking, yet. And what's interesting is, the timeline just got cut down to about 6 weeks for the last section because something surprising happened first with the British and then between Brendan and his mother -- she found out she's been wrong about him and he found out he's been right about her, and the British blundered about in their usual manner, precipitating events. Thanks everso, lads.

What's even better is, this may mean I'm more like 2/3 of the way through the story instead of just barely over half. We'll see how the rest of it turns out.

Now I need something to drink -- DP or tea, no mo' beer for a while, and then I think I'll stick to something like Guinness or Amstel Light...or both in a Black and Tan of a sort.

But I'll bet it WAS the chutney.

Making up for lost mind

My goal has been to write 2000 words per day on POS, but yesterday came up zeroes, so today I did more than 3000 and tomorrow will make up the difference. Right now I'm at 90,000 spread over 409 pages. There's a lot of fat in this and still some repetition, but it's getting there.

Part of yesterday's chaos extended from an argument I got into on a blog I used to follow. I say "used to follow" because the blogger banned me from it. It dealt with this photo of a Brazilian kid who's wearing a Star of David around his neck. Seems the blogger couldn't really believe this kid might be Jewish, apparently ignorant of the fact that there are many large Jewish communities throughout South America, and his commentary was touched with more than a little anti-Semitism.

He's done this before and I've called him on it before, but this time things escalated. Seems that liberal lefties don't like being considered anti-Semitic (as well as another word that isn't anywhere near as nasty as I could have used), even as they blast Israel for trying to defend herself and blame her for the mess in the Middle East. I don't say everything Israel does is right or decent or correct -- the Knesset seems to be run more and more by right wing religious freaks, Netanyahu is proving to be as big a catastrophe for the state as Bush was for the US, and let's not forget Ariel Sharon -- but I don't think the Palestinians are blameless in this mess; far from it.

What made this really nasty was, the SOB then posted my e-mail address on his site, and I've gotten some vicious messages from people accusing me of being a fake liberal and a right wing nut, to paraphrase some of the nicer comments. I had to block anyone who's not listed as okay on that address to keep them from coming in, which seems to have stopped it...but I honestly don't know; I'm not the most tech-savvy of people and may only have messed it up for people who have legitimate reasons to get hold of me. So much for internet etiquette.

What's sad is, that blogger and I agreed on just about everything else -- politics, the economy, social services, etc. But apparently he's one of those twits who thinks you have to see things 100% his way (I have a sister like that, who gets upset if you don't accept her opinion). Well...I guess this is part of the brave new world. I just think it's really sad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Battle of the Bogside begins

Still sorting brain out from last night, so here's a bit I've been working on for POS instead of any more whining on my part.

It's 12 August 1969 and Brendan is 13. Every year, the Protestant Orange Order and Apprentice Boys would hold a loud, in-your-face parade to commemorated the Protestant victory in the Siege of Derry in 1689. To use a comment from Wikipedia, "Derry activist Eamonn McCann wrote that the march, 'was regarded as a calculated insult to the Derry Catholics'." It was stupid on the Protestant's part to hold it, but stupidity is usually the main force behind blind stubbornness.

You always hear the drums first. They echo through the whole town, even from across the Foyle. Then come the fifes. Then you see the banners and flags held high and proud and then you see the Apprentice Boys -- ugly men in their dark, plain, too-pressed suits, most sporting bowlers atop their heads and brightly fringed sashes crossing their breasts, marching along in a manner that confused military precision with a Sunday stroll in the park. Many even brought umbrellas to add to the “casual” attitude they tried so hard to show. Constables would be everywhere keeping an eye on the rabble surrounding the marching zone, rabble who usually let the bastards pass with little more than an exchange of words. But this time, what with all the happenings of the past year -- this time their passage would not be smooth. And they bloody well knew it and made sure double the number of constables were about.

Oh, they jaunted, still, but with wary eyes darting about and movements that were jerky and fearful. Constantly so. They held their heads high, of course, but there was such a tension to it, I thought a few of them would snap their necks if touched wrong. It was almost pathetic, how intent they were on showing us Papists they’d not be intimidated, even after near ten months of constant back and forth.

Now I wasn’t on Waterloo to heckle them, this year. Something about the attitudes of people and the words whispered about made me think this would not be the usual march, and I’d wanted to return a radio to McClatchy’s and be paid before it began. I only barely made it, the rumble of the drums beginning just as I handed it over to the Mrs..

I’d have been done and out except she insisted on checking every channel on the radio to make sure I’d truly fixed it, as if I’d never done good work for them before. Normally I shrugged this low-level insult off, but this time I watched her do it, more than a little put out. And she noticed because she then said, “Good job, as always,” as she handed me two sovereigns, thinking that would lessen the fact that she didn’t trust me. So right then I decided to let her have Tully Gorman fix her next appliance that needed it and find out how much he charged for half the quality as me.

So with that taking twice as long as needed, back I was headed when I was caught up in the crowd on Waterloo behind police barricades and the march came down the street. And I made little effort to shift away from it all. After what had happened to Eamonn and Terry and the forced politeness I was being handed by people I’d been doing work for since I could first hold a set of pliers, I felt an anger pour into my heart and an unwillingness to just send words the way of those bastards, this year.

So the jeers began, from both sides, and I felt the hair on my neck begin to rise because I could sense the fury building around me and it fed into me, and the constables who were there sensed it, as well. Scuffles broke out as constables went to beat the Catholics who’d dared breached this public insult against order. And they swung their batons and hit some lads and the crowd swore horrible things at them and stones flew across at the RUC. I’m not ashamed to say that some of them came from my hand.

And I mean it as truth -- I’d never thought to join in truly striking back against the bloody Proddies before this; but suddenly I was joining in like it’s a part of my nature. This one fat bastard struck a lad across the back a few times with his baton so I lugged a stone at him. Hit him in his fat arse, meaning for sure I didn’t hurt him, but he swung around and roared like a bull that’s about to have a run at you and I danced back. Others in the crowd backed up, too. So I looked about and saw the RUC was charging the crowd, sticks waving in the air.

It’s like we flowed up Waterloo back to the Bogside, grabbing stones and anything else we could find to toss. The so-called “redevelopment” had left us plenty to work with and we made full use of it. Older lads raced to the front of me and let fly with a thunderstorm of stones, and I caught a glimpse of Eamonn with them. I called out to him but the clattering of the stones raining down drowned out my voice.

Another lad grabbed me and said, “Stay to the back of us. Build up piles of stones for us to use.”

“I can throw as well as -- .”

“You can’t throw as far as us. Help us keep ‘em out of the Bogside!”

He was right, so I yanked off my coat and ran to a nearby lot and piled as many stones and bricks and bits of metal as I could carry in it then ran it back to where other lads were making piles, and saw Colm and Paidrig with them.

“Hey, me Chinas!” I cried to them. They looked around, grinning like madmen. “Is Danny about?”

“Tossing stones,” Colm yelled back.

That was perfect. Danny had the best arm of anyone in the Bogside and an aim that was dead on. It was good the anger in him was being put to use.

People were running about, now. Some came to help. Some scurried home. Some dragged off their young wains to be out of harm’s way. I knew Mam and Mairead were with Rhuari, Caera and Kieran so had no fear of that for them. But the rushing about seemed like chaos -- or it must have seemed so to the constables since they came roaring in, again, arrogant in the certainty they were dealing with cowards and fools simply because they were chasing a few lads...only to find themselves met by yet another hail of stones and bricks from some of our side lying in ambush.

During this phase, I tossed a few, myself, and we were answered with constables suddenly scurrying back and helping mates away who’d been hurt and acting like sheep caught in a storm even as they began tossing some of the stones right back at us. I laughed at the sight of it, because it meant for once the bloody bastards were outgunned, and a thrill ran down me from head to toe and I screamed to heavens with joy. For the first time, we were making them run and not the other way around.

It went on for three days and the only reason London finally sent in troops was because the Irish Republic was hinting they'd send in the army if need be (though neither side will admit to this). To learn more about it, check out since this is a pretty good explanation of the time and anger being felt by all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Listening towards weariness in nothings

And if that makes sense, you're doing better than me because I'm so squirrelly, right now, I have no idea what the hell I'm even trying to say. I need a cup of tea...and doesn't that sound pathetic? But I'm on the phone listening to my mother talk about how things are overwhelming her and my sister, and mom's life is crashing right back to where she was before I moved to SA and my brothers and sister apparently can't take care of her like she needs. And I'm feeling torn because I couldn't find work in SA and had to take a job in the one place I could find one but it's 1600 miles away from there (and in many ways I'm happy for that) but I can't do anything about it except listen to her and handle what I can from here. Like finding out a bill she got that was freaking her out is just for her supplemental detail insurance because for some reason Social Security stopped deducting it automatically from her monthly check but now they will again because I called them when my brother and sister didn't have the time or something -- and I'm venting and sick over it so I'm stopping now because my focus is all fucked up and I haven't been able to do a damned thing all evening. I'll try to make up for it, tomorrow.

Shit, I'm out of milk.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Still working on POS and seeing more and more where it's headed. Here's a snippet...this is when Brendan's 14 or 15, I haven't figured out, yet.

I managed to catch up to Danny up the Creegan pitch. It was misting and chilled close to cold, and he’d just shoved his hands in his pockets and juggered on through it. His hair shined from the moisture and his skin gleamed, almost softening the hard look on his face. A Saracen was parked in the middle of it all and the field was torn up from its running about, but Danny seemed not to care.

“What the devil’s got into you?” I asked him. “Colm meant nothing by that. He’s just happy there’s something for him to do and -- .”

“Then let him do it,” he snapped at me. “And you keep on with working both sides of the fence.”

“Oi! Just because somebody’s Protestant doesn’t mean they’re an arsehole.”

“You’re only saying that ‘cause of that little tart you got.”

I shoved him, nearly sent him to the ground. “You’re not to say a word about her! She’s a decent girl!”

He gave me a look so deep with hurt and sadness, I felt the bastard for being angry with him.

“It’s not just Protestants who’re arseholes, Bren. I know that. Christ, do I know it.”

“Danny -- what’re you going on about?”

“Nothing. Nothing.”

“Has it something to do with Father Pat?”

“What’s he to do with anything?”

“Father Demian then?” I only asked that as a last chance at getting him to tell me the trouble, but you’d have thought I’d shot him. He gave me the flash of a look, the same kind as I’d seen once in a stray cat that’d been cornered by dogs, wild and terrified and ready to spin into madness if it’d save itself -- or at least it would take a couple of the damned growlers with him. And it stabbed into me, deep. And then it was gone and covered with his usual sullen glare.

“And he has less to do with me, now, him being sent to America.”

“I heard he’s in England.” I hate to repeat gossip, but sometimes it’s necessary to get to the base of things.

And sure enough, that wild look flashed over him, again, and this time it caused him to catch his breath.

“Says who?”

“Mrs. Dougherty -- Father Pat’s housekeeper. She says he’s made a number of trunk calls to Nottingham, just to see how things’re going, as it were.”

He sat on a fence post that’d been pushed half over by a Saracen and lit a fag. And the thousand yards stare filled his eyes. For the first time since I’d known him, I was afraid for him...and a bit of him.

“You and Father Demian were close,” I said, real careful.

“You never liked him, did you?” I shrugged. He looked at me. “I can’t tell if you like Father Pat or not.”

“He’s all right,” I said. Danny kept looking at me, so I shrugged, again. “I just -- well, it hits me sometimes that his actions don’t match his words.”

“They don’t, do they?” He offered me the fag. I took a drag off it and handed it back. He smiled. “You ever gonna buy your own ciggies?”

“All I ever want’s a puff, now and again. And it’s you offered.”

“Aye.” He kept smoking and sent a harsh glare the way of the Saracen.

“Careful, lad,” I said. “They’re the only thing standing between Free Derry and the RUC.”

“They won’t, for long.” And I knew he was right. Something about the attitudes of the British Army was hinting that they weren’t happy to be pushing back against their fellow “Englishmen,” as if the Paisley-ites give a damn about them. But there’d been incidents of lads being roughed up while searched and good long chats between British commanders and the upper-level constables. Some lads said it looked too much like they were giving ear to the Unionists whilst ignoring those they’d come to protect, and only a fool wouldn’t see the point as valid “It’s like they’re waiting for an excuse to show the world a bunch of Paddies can’t shove anybody around.”

“I hope the excuse doesn’t come.”

“You would. You’re willing to trust people, still. Believe them.”

“I wouldn’t go so far as that -- .”

“Bren -- you know as well as me that Father Pat’s a two-faced bastard, but you’ll coach your opinion to allow him some benefit of the doubt.”

“Are you angry with him for taking over for Father Demian?”

“No, that bastard can rot for all I care. I’m pissed at him for lying about it, and making me the liar for it.”

“Christ, Danny, what happened?”

He give a long terrible sigh and said, “If I told you, you’d not believe me. There’s nights I think, maybe I don’t believe me. Maybe it was all just a bad dream. A child’s fantasy.” He sighed and kept a long silence, then said, “Nottingham, you say?”

“About what?”

“Father Demian.”

“It’s information come to me third hand. I don’t know it for a fact.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. All they’d want to do is move him to another parish and -- .” His voice trailed off and he sat in silence. And I had no idea what to say, so I just stood there by him, waiting. He let me have another drag on the ciggie then looked at me, almost sad. “You never were his acolyte.”

“Father Demian’s?” I asked. He nodded. “Never wanted to be.”

“Keep that wariness about you, Bren. Believe me that no one cares for the other, not truly, not when it means something more than words.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Place of Safety" Returns

And is leading me along. I wrote 2000 words, this evening. If I do that many per night for the next sixty days, I'll have 120,000 words...and a huge sprawling mess of a book. But I guess this works well enough. I worked on the last chapter of section 2, in Houston, before Brendan decides to return to Derry. It just seemed like time to jump in and do it...and now my brain is drained.

Nope, I got nothin' more to talk about...except I'm having ideas about a new story dealing with Antony and Jake, from RIHC6. But this book would be a bit less confrontational and be told from Jake's point of view. He wants to start if off with, "I love Tone. Always have and always will. No matter what he does. I got no choice in the matter. But there's times I'd love to kill him, too. And right now is one of those times."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Working dinner...

Tonight, so no writing done. Ate too much. Drank more wine than I've had in the last six months...which isn't much since I usually go for beer if I'm drinking with dinner. Had a nice sweet port for an aperitif. And now feel so satiated and lazy...and a bit tipsy...I just want to stretch long and hard like one of the office Himalayans and curl up to go to sleep. Guess I'll never make it as an alcoholic there go Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald as mentors. Tolstoy didn't drink, I don't think, but he had a bad marriage so I guess that can make up for it. "Bad Romance," a la Russkie.

It was a nice dinner, though, and my supervisors want me to stay on till the end of February, at least. And I guess I will. The positive thing about Buffalo is, it keeps me from getting sidetracked by all the attractions going on...'cause the ones they got don't even begin to interest me. Toronto does, and I like Niagra Falls for some weird reason, but everything else is just -- meh.

I have so many ideas for stories coming to me lately, not a one of them set in Buffalo. Which is unusual for me. Winter in Detroit brought me "5 Dates." A trip to Paris brought me "Delay En Route." I went to Seattle to firm up "Bugzters" in my head and to Ireland for "Darian's Point," "Return to Darian's Point" and "Wide New World" -- not to even mention "Place of Safety." In Houston I worked up "Day Trip", "Brand of Justice", "Mine to Kill" and "Cutting Edge." In Austin, I built "Coby O' and the Pink Palace of Texas." "Kazn" was inspired by a friendship with an actor from The Ukraine. The list goes on and on. But nothing from Buffalo, yet...though the Erie Canal is lurking in the background so maybe that'll be it.

Of course, nothing's happening till I have a solid first draft of POS. Which may be part of the reason for my lack of inspiration. Ah...the joys of being a creative, self-involved twit. I'm lovin' it.

But then I'm also a bit drunk, so tomorrow is NOT gonna be a fun day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Shakey start

I went back through the "Houston" section of "Place of Safety" and it's coming across as a bit low-key...and I'm not all that sure it's such a bad thing. Something I'm trying desperately to avoid in POS is deliberate mash-ups, like you find in so much fiction these days. "Intensified dramatic moments" meant to illuminate what the author is trying to say but that only come across (to me, anyway) as fake and manufactured. And my biggest fear about this book is that it will seem that shallow and manipulative. If that happens, I'll have failed Brendan.

That said, I do have this section basically plotted out. As mentioned earlier (I think), I printed out a copy of the full story -- 370+ pages -- put each section into its own binder and have plenty of paper to add in when I find an area that needs development. Doing this helps me see what's missing...and lets me try things out to see what does fit...and makes it easy to toss aside things that don't work or expand upon things that do. All in red pen (which is good for noting typos, as well).

Tomorrow, we're having a working dinner after the office closes, so I've no idea how much I'll be able to get done, but my next step is to dig into Brendan's return to Derry and confrontation with his past. By this point, he's about to turn 25, he's had experiences he'd never have gotten in Derry and life is beginning to let him know the direction of his destiny.

It's looking like I'll be up here at least through the end of the year. My boss and I talked, today, and part of what we'll be working on tomorrow night concerns his plans for the company, which include me running all the pack & ship parts of it. I'm torn about this. I like having the job and being able to pay my bills and even put some aside, and overall it's a decent place to work for. I may still get to travel...well, I'll have to since I'm handling Toronto's Book Fair at the end of October...but it means becoming part and parcel of western New York. I'll have to change my health insurance to up here, and car insurance, and get my car registered and a New York driver's license. It's like another step in my removal from Los Angeles...and seeming more and more permanent a direction for me. Because the fact is, I got no other prospects in the money-making...and POS wants to keep me busy till then. seems my life is letting me know the direction of my destiny, as well. Odd how that works out.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Emerging from battle...

Head bloodied from pounding it against the brick wall that refused to let me create. And I mean ANYthing. I couldn't write. Couldn't sketch. Couldn't do anything but sit and mutter to myself (in the usual kooky manner of a psychotic twit) while I tried to figure out what the hell was going on in my head. I'm still not completely sure...but I've finally found a window to at least look out of (and maybe use to escape).

The breakthrough happened at the laundromat, today, as I was loading my whites into the dryer. Seems Brendan's had enough of my diddling and let me know, flat out, my avoidance of POS is no longer acceptable. If I don't get that done, he won't let me do anything else. Period. It's time to face this story and my own fears about it -- mainly how in over my head I am as regards the telling of it -- because he don't give a shit anymore. I either sink or swim.

Suddenly I'm reminded of this time I was visiting my cousins in New Mexico. My mother's sister also married a guy in the Air Force and he was stationed at Clovis Air Force Base, so I drove up with them to settle in and spend a few weeks. I shared a bed with my oldest cousin, Alan, who's ten months younger than me and ten times more adventurous, and we did all sorts of things together. Baseball (from which I got a great black eye when a batter hit the ball straight into my face); bowling; swimming; making sandwiches out of bologna, slices of processed American cheese and Sandwich Spread on white bread (one of my comfort foods, if I could find Sandwich Spread in this area of the universe); just wandering around and being like brothers.

I always wanted to be a part of their family, because around them I felt safe. So safe, I even felt like I could dive into the deep end of the base swimming pool off the upper level diving board...even though I can't swim. Which I did. I managed to splash and paddle myself back to the side of the pool and work around to the shallow end and get out on my own (the life guard didn't even notice I was in distress), and by the time I was done I had a headache that threatened to peel the skin off my scalp, but I was also feeling like I'd faced a fear and made it through and I was a bit proud of myself. Alan didn't notice. Not one of my cousins did. In fact, years later when they found out I still can't swim, they were surprised.

I had to return home not long after...and no longer had that sense of protection that I got from my aunt, so retreated back into my world of books. It was 24 years before I did anything that crazy, again...and then it was just traveling to Europe on my own...staying with friends in Hamburg and visiting Paris alone and getting so overwhelmed by the escapade, the only reason I didn't cut off my trip and return home early was it would have cost an extra $150 to change my airline reservation. In fact, my trip to Berlin on the last leg of my journey was so deeply depressing, I never wanted to go back...and probably wouldn't have had I not had friends living there, the second time I went (and the second time was magical).

Anyway...the point is...I'm back on that high dive at the deep end of the pool, and Brendan's going to push me off if I don't jump...and he may not do it in the direction of the water.

Meaning posting will be late in the evening, for a while...maybe the next six months. That's how long I have to put together a solid first draft. Rewrites will follow, of course, but I need to set the story down so I have something to build from. And if I don't do it, I may never be able to do anything else, again. So -- deep breath...pinch nose...and off I go.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Still mooding...

You ever feel like God is watching you and laughing his head off?

Only a couple responses to "David Martin." Guess I'm not being read much. And God laughs harder. Can't say I blame him.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I has a definite mood...

And I don't wanna be misconstrued
"Cause right now I just wanna brood,
So here's this nice picture etude
Instead of my being too rude.
You can also enjoy this fun dude.While my brain is slowly renewed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Better day

I took ownership (isn't that the current phrase) of my inability with that friggin' shipping program and had someone who knows it backwards and forwards show me how it goes, again, step-by-step as I took notes and finally figured out where I'd screwed up. I started on the "quote" page, since that had all the information I needed on it, instead of starting on the "pickup" page and letting the system fill everything in seven steps down the line. Logic need not apply in this instance.

I hate PCs and the programs that love them. They do their best to totally destroy any self-confidence you might have the second they're given the opportunity. I'm still nowhere near comfortable with this, but I now have three pages of instructions on how to do it and only have to worry about all the occasions where none of this applies.

So the hell with it -- I'm putting POS off till Saturday and watching me some Hitchcock, tonight. I got "The 39 Steps" from Netflix because I left my DVD in SA, and I'm doing it on a double bill with another Hitchcock film they're streaming online. He's the reason I got into film to start with, so the bastard owes me a blank mind and fun time for leading me down the garden path so casually. I may even do some sketching, since I know these movies inside and out.

Y'know, I have a script I wrote where the injured hero is off to face the powerful bad guy, and the lead-up to the confrontation has the hero exiting the sheriff's office and walking up to and entering a church. In my head, I can see this as a single shot where near the end of it, the church begins to grow and seem to approach the guy as he nears it, almost daring him to "bring it on." No one seems to get that, no matter how I describe it, and to me it's so simple. The shot starts as the hero appears then the camera tracks back as he heads down the street. He walks past the camera as it keeps tracking with him, then the camera follows him as he approaches the church. Finally, the camera stops and zooms after him, keeping focus on him, then the camera begins tracking back as it continues to zoom in. And voila -- a Hitchcock shot mimicked by Steven Spielberg in "Jaws" and a million music videos.

But I'll never have a chance to try it out. It'll stay in my head, forever.

Such is the fate of those who still wait for friends to debate the too perfect state so you won't hesitate or hope fear will abate and your mind then vibrate with a world to create before it's too late.

Think about it....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Today was one of those days built to make you feel dumb as a stump. Especially as regards freight forwarding. Things that make sense on the surface are the wrong thing to do, and once the logic is explained to can sort of see it but it still seems contrary, even though it supposedly isn't. Then technology jumps in to make you feel even dumber. Information I input into the system we use to build shipping documents has become locked in place and I can't make any of the changes I need to, even though I'm following all the guidelines. I spent hours on it and nothing happened. Meaning I'll probably have to start from scratch and re-enter everything. It's enough to make you think you've lost your mind.

Which is not beyond the realm of possibility with me. Hell, I may be entering the early stages of Alzheimer's, I feel so out of it, sometimes, when it comes to this job. And I know one of the people I'm working for is not happy with my progress or lack thereof. I may wind up back in SA working in a convenience store, and gladly.

But when I'm good at something, I excel. A possible job came up meaning travel to Lisbon to pack a library and I had a quote for that done in fifteen minutes, including finding a Staples Office Supply to buy materials from in the center of the city. I've updated the website with the latest upcoming book fair information and another book fair from a vague reference that it ends on November 7th in New York City. I just seem incapable of the tight, intensive detail work that this job demands, and it's eating at my minimal self-confidence.

Couldn't even face POS last night, and I've already had a beer with dinner, so I doubt I'll get anything done tonight. I'm going to watch a movie. I went for months without seeing one; maybe this is me catching up.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Slippery slope

I'm sort of caught in a malaise that seems unwilling to do anything but sit there and wonder if it should lead me down to a funk and maybe even depression. I'd rather it just get lost and let me get back to writing, but who knows where I'll go, these days? I'm fine for a bit then into avoidance for a bit then lazy for a bit then bored for a bit then down for a bit then up and back to writing...and this merry-go-round just don't stop.

So I did some reading on POS last night, no writing. And that was after I watched Guy Ritchie's version of "Sherlock Holmes" -- which I actually enjoyed. Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. make a cute couple, and Downey's comments that Homes and Watson were gay makes a lot of sense considering their interplay in an "Odd Couple" mode.

I think the reason I'm mixing my malaise with avoidance -- not a cool way to blend your mind and emotion -- is I don't know how to get into this thing that's come up between Brendan and the waitress. The bad romance angle that wants to join with everything else and is unable to find its entry point. The way it's setting itself up, right now, is like it's coming out of nowhere...and I don't like that. But I can't think of any other way to join it to Brendan's life.

So I sit. And wait for my subconscious to find the way. I'd contemplate my navel if it didn't give me such a crick in the neck.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Seems my latest book has been delayed. The publisher is running behind and RIHC6v2 may not be out till the end of June, if then. I've been talking with other authors and some have been waiting six months to even hear back from them; whereas I at least have a contract. Looks like my earlier books got in under the wire as regards getting things published in a timely fashion.

POS is at 84,750 words and relationships are shifting. A waitress in a bar, who was intended as human filler for the business around Brendan, has suddenly taken center stage in a sequence that was actually inspired by Lady Gaga's video for "Bad Romance."

Man, talk about a tedious video. Lots of production value. Lots of money spent. Lots of imagination in the design of the clothes and makeup for the woman. And not one bit of thought given to making the story of the video compliment or contradict the story in the song. I mean, it's a good song and has an elegant build to a blistering ending...and all the video does is the flash and dash and cut every .5 seconds to different angles and different points in the story and different costumes and keeps at it so much, you can't get the rhythm of the piece down. I actually was thinking, "What a waste of talent and design."

That said, the song gave me a key to an aspect of Brendan's life in Houston that I'd been missing -- passion. He's just been through a horrific experience in Derry, one that nearly killed him, and after his healing period (both emotional and physical) he'd be needy. Bigtime. And not in a whiny or mealy-mouthed way. For months he's had a shell around him, protecting him, but then events jolt him, again, and send him careening down a winding mountain road at ever greater speeds, where he could go over the side and crash and burn at any moment.

And once again my literary world has overcome my real one and made me aware of one simple fact -- life's messy, and I keep trying to keep it neat. Not cool.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Messin' with my brain

Or what there is left of it. "Place of Safety" has finally begun to let me move forward with it, again, but is tracking down a different road in the same journey to the same destination. And it's irritating as hell. I understand the whys and the wherefores of an extent...but it has complicated the whole setup and one character has become all but superfluous. I'd drop him but he's fighting me AND the story isn't willing to let go of him, either. So WTF is going on? Where-TF am I going with this? I honestly don't know, anymore.

That's not to say I think it will change the final section. And reality is, my new direction may add meaning to the ending...if it turns out like I'm beginning to think it will. But we're having fun in the 70's, that's fer dang sure -- this part of the story takes place between April 1973 and sometime late in 1980 or early '81, then it's back to Derry.

As regards "David Martin" -- I have a 90 page screenplay about an 11 year old boy who accidentally traps some aliens in his iMac and has to help them get back into space before some bad aliens find them. Perhaps I could make that a story and use it as a companion piece with DM to make it long enough for a published book, something through Scholastic Press, maybe, or Ace Publishing. I dunno. That might not work. I don't own the rights to the script, anymore, because I wouldn't change it enough to suit people.

Oh...that's a fun story. I'd originally written this script to be live action and it did well in a couple of contests, coming in as high as second place in one, but it didn't fit the mold for places like Disney or Amblin, so a couple of friends suggested making it an animation script. One worked at an animation studio and got some notes from producers who worked there, and we made some major changes. Cut it down to 88 pages. Intensified the action and focused even more on the lead boy. They still didn't like it 100% so more changes were ordered, including getting rid of a major character -- and that's where I balked. I did 95% of the changes asked for, even though I didn't like some of them, but because I wouldn't do 100% of them, things deteriorated between us and I finally wound up signing the script over to the people I'd been working with in exchange for some cash that I'd been paid. So...they made the changes they wanted...and the animation producers STILL didn't go for it. No one has. Nor will they.

Something I'd finally begun to notice after way too many years in film was, nothing gets made in the film industry unless 1) you have a nearly foolproof chance at making a financial killing, or 2) it comes off a highly successful item like a book, TV Series, graphic novel or play, or 3) you have a producer pushing the project who believes in it so much, he or she will not rest until it's done and will everything they must to achieve that. There's no way in hell I'll ever get a #1 because my stuff just don't fit that mold. The chances of me having a #2 are slim but vaguely possible. And I've found that none of the people I know or aligned myself with fit into #3. And finally seeing that is what shifted my focus to writing books.

I still want to make movies. That's been the core of my existence for far longer than I care to admit. But now it ain't gonna happen unless I find some way of making myself into the personification of #3, and that just is NOT in my personality. So...I'm focusing on #2 and hoping someday that will help me achieve the success I want.

Question is, how do I do it? Because none of my other work is mainstream enough for film and POS won't be ready for publishing for at least a year. And it'll take at least another year to get it into print, and that's if I'm lucky. So...while I'm still moving forward and still have a still seems like centuries away and damn it's getting hard to keep focused on it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

David Martin - The End

Got more done on POS and another element has surfaced. I'm beginning to see that my recent writer's block was my brain sorting through the info and determining this is the way to go to best illustrate the meaning behind the book. I'm back to wondering how it will all turn out.

This is the end of "David Martin" -- which at 57 pages and 11,500 words falls into an area publishers don't like. Problem is, the story does, and when I try to add to it or trim it, it fights back. So...I'm at a loss as to what to do with it short of adding lots and lots of illustrations to pad out the length. Ideas are welcome.


The stout knight led him from the room into a wide corridor. Four soldiers stepped into place behind him and they strode down a winding staircase. David took note of odd little things as they walked – the wetness of the granite walls, shadows cast between sets of torches, a face carved into a door they passed – and this added to his confusion.

“Is this how a condemned man acts as he walks to his execution?” he wondered. Then he reminded himself he was dining with the king, not going on his final journey. However, he did not feel like a guest...of anyone’s. And something deep within him still did not truly believe it would happen.

The stairs straightened and lead down to the entryway to another room...and David froze at their base. Before him was a cavernous foyer built of granite and polished wood. Its ceiling appeared to reach up to heaven, with bright banners and flags hanging from its many arches. Magnificent tapestries and blazing candelabras highlighted the walls, and a burgundy carpet with gold and silver thread woven into it led from the stairs to a huge engraved door that was flanked by two guards. The youth was certain his entire village could fit into this one chamber.

But that was not the worst of it. People were everywhere – beautifully dressed lords and ladies of the court, powerful barons from across the land, more of Sir Richard’s knights, wealthy merchants and ministers – all of whom had been noisily chatting with each other, but who, the instant they saw David, had grown silent and now watched him with a terrifying fascination.

David was unable to move. All he could do was watch the stout knight stride directly up to the door. Once he reached it, the man turned back to him.

“Is there a problem, Master Martin?” he called.

Words froze in David’s throat. He focused on the huge door and forced himself to slowly walk down the carpet. Before he was even halfway there, the door seemed to loom over him. Each panel in it was intricately carved and together they depicted a battle that must have been fought, with Sir Richard at its center, adding to its stature. He had to shift his gaze to its massive, beautifully-polished handles to keep from being overwhelmed.

When David was almost to the door, the stout knight stepped to one side. Neither of the guards moved.

“You must open it yourself, lad,” said the stout knight. “I do not have an audience with the king.”

David stopped. He was only a few feet from the door and the sheer height of it was breathtaking. Was threatening. Was absolutely terrifying. He stepped back.

“I can’t,” he told himself. “Sir Richard does not exist. He’s just a myth built on lies and I cannot face knowing this! I can’t!”

The boy stumbled farther away from the door. The knight watched him, frowning. The lords and ladies of the court almost sneered in condescension and self-satisfaction. Their silence seemed only to grow in depth and meaning.

David began to shake and was about to turn and run from the room when through the deafening silence he heard a sparrow chirp. He jumped and looked up to find a bunch of twigs and straw nestled at the base of a pair of flags. As he watched, a sparrow popped its head over the side of the nest, hopped off and flew out a window. An instant later, it returned with more straw in its beak and set it in with the twigs that were already in place.

A sparrow was nesting in Sir Richard’s castle. Not an eagle. Not a hawk. Not even a proud and glorious robin. Just a sparrow.

David looked at the stout knight. The man still watched him with a startling intensity. It seemed everyone in the room was holding their breath. Finally, David smiled...grasped the door’s handle...took a deep breath and pulled. The door swung open with no trouble whatsoever, and David entered the room.

As the door closed, the stout knight smiled.

David stood inside another great chamber, stunned. Gathered before him were the inn keeper and the farmer, where David had spent his first two nights, as well as the married couple who’d been attacked, the town master and his grandmother. And best of all, seated at a long table placed before a roaring fire was the knight who had come for him. And finally he knew.

“Sir Richard,” he said.

The knight rose and bowed, slightly. “Master Martin,” he replied.

Relief swept over David. “You are everything I dreamed,” he said, “and nothing like I feared.”

Sir Richard smiled. “As are you, David. As are you.”

Over dinner, Sir Richard explained that since he had no heir to the throne, he would have to anoint a successor in hopes of avoiding civil war. Barons in the north of his kingdom wanted one man to be chosen; lords to the south wanted another; and neither was satisfactory to those who ruled the east lands. So to quell the political fighting, he had determined it best to find a boy from among his people to learn how to govern the kingdom...and inherit the throne.

But not just any boy would be acceptable to one and all. He had to be not onlyt intelligent and kind, but also brave and resourceful with a proper concept of what was right and wrong and the quick wits needed to handle the intrigues of the court so that they did not explode into battles. But in the pact to accept this, the barons and lords had demanded some form of proof that the boy selected would have all of these traits.

So they had decided to test the mettle of each youth during a long journey of silence, during which he would find his beliefs scorned and his world turned on its head. There would also be trouble along the way, to see how each boy handled himself...though in David’s case, there had been more than was planned for. Sir Richard would lead each journey, under the guise of being a knight, to observe the one chosen, then he would find some pretext to leave the boy on his own to approach the castle on the final day.

After quietly searching the land for years, Sir Richard found three youths with what he believed would be the proper qualities to be king. The first two had not even made it to the castle walls. David had succeeded, admirably.

“But what made you think I could do this?” asked David.

“The quick-witted manner in which you saved your friend from drowning,” said the king, “even though you cannot swim. And your willingness to help your grandmother without being asked to. And the way you protected your town from a hungry fox while also protecting that same fox from those who would happily have killed her. And the fact that you did all of this without concern for what the townspeople might say or think. These actions showed you are willing to face not only the terrors of the world, but also the terrors within your own society...and yourself. Only a strong man can do this, and a king must be a strong man in order to protect what he has sworn to protect.”

“But I’m not a king,” whispered the boy, overwhelmed. “I’m just David.”

The king tousled David’s hair, smiling. “I know,” he said. “But never forget – I was once ‘just Richard’.”

So David’s grandmother joined him to live in the castle, and David learned the ways of Sir Richard’s benevolent rule. And word spread throughout the land of how Sir David single-handedly saved a Spanish princess from abduction. And how he fought a ravenous bear to the death. And how he prevented the assassination of a baron and his wife. And finally, how Sir David had chosen the most beautiful girl in the kingdom to be his queen, a girl whose eyes gently sparkled like sapphires dancing in the firelight.

Friday, June 4, 2010

David Martin - part 7

POS has taken an interesting turn in direction that sort of took me by surprise -- and includes the appearance of a new character -- so I'm following it just to see what happens. I'm now at nearly 82000 words.

This is the next to the last section of "David Martin." No comments, so far. I wonder if anyone's reading it?

The next morning, David slowly bridled the pony. His hands trembled as he tied the strap. His eyes constantly glanced down the road, searching for the knight but finding nothing. Finally, he led the pony onto the road...and just stood there and gazed at the castle. A dozen people were already waiting for the drawbridge to lower.

“Please come, Sir Knight,” he whispered.

But then with a loud groan, the drawbridge slowly, slowly descended, seeming to beckon him closer. And the gate-keeper grumpily waved the people forward. David took a deep breath, forced himself to mount the pony and quietly rode up to wait his turn in line.

The gatekeeper was obviously a man impressed with his own sense of importance. Each person wanting entry to the castle had to explain who he was and why he was here, in complete detail. Every now and then, a pair of knights would gallop past without so much as a nod. But they were the only ones allowed to do this, and that they did it seemed only to increase the man’s anger. By the time he got to David, he was all but snarling.

“You, boy,” he growled. “What’s your business?”

“I...I’m David Martin,” he replied, his voice barely under control. “I’ve come to see Sir Richard.”

“Who’re you with?”

“I’m alone, sir.”

The man looked at David as if he were insane. “Say again?!”

“Sir Richard has sent for me.”

The gatekeeper laughed. “Where’s your escort? The king would never have you come alone!”

David shook at the scorn in the man’s voice. He was barely able to reply, “He...he was with me, but...he’s been detained.”

The gatekeeper shoved the pony away from the bridge, sneering, “Go home, you lying little urchin!”

David’s eyes flashed with pride and anger! Never had he been called a liar before! Never! He spun the pony back to face the drawbridge and cried, “I do not lie! I am David Martin, and I have an audience with the king!”

The gatekeeper raised his fist to strike David! Before he could, a stout genial knight rode up and shoved the man aside without a thought. “Master Martin!?” the knight said. “Good heavens, we expected you yesterday. Where is your escort?”

“He’s been detained,” replied David, trying to shake the anger from his voice. He exhaled, drew himself taller in his saddle, took a deep breath and asked the stout Knight in a splendidly even voice, “May I now enter?”

“Indeed you may, lad,” the man replied. “With me.”

He led David past the astonished gatekeeper and inside the castle’s walls.

The courtyard was huge and bordered by the stables, a blacksmith, a pen for animals and a barracks. The open area was strewn with straw amidst the mud, and foot soldiers practiced their drills while knights playfully battered each other with their broadswords. Women cooked in one corner and children raced about, laughing and squealing and being chased by yapping dogs.

David noticed all of this in a glance. He also noticed that people everywhere stopped and stared at the vision of a knight leading the pony of a scraggly-looking youth. He paid them no mind.

“We were about to come look for you,” said the stout knight. “There’s been word of trouble on the west road.”

“A few thieves, here and there,” said David.

“I thought as much. You’re from the far west, am I not correct?”

David nodded. “Whitlock.”

“I was there, once, to collect the king’s duty. A very pleasant village.”

“Thank you.”

They reached a side entrance to the castle keep and dismounted. A page took the pony’s reins. The stout knight opened the door and said, “I’ll show you to your chambers, now.” Without another word, he led the youth inside.

They climbed a dark narrow staircase that circled higher and higher and higher and just when it almost seemed to be endless, they reached a door barely wide enough for David to enter. The stout knight motioned him through, so in he went.

David found himself in a fair-sized room with another larger door and long narrow windows that looked out over the west and south. Its furnishings were elegant in their simplicity – a carved-wood bed with hand-sewn coverlets, an intricately woven tapestry on the wall, a long table with two chairs in the center of the room – but everything seemed rather...impersonal. He turned back to the stout knight.

“May I have a bath, please?” he asked.

The stout knight smiled at him from the other side of the door. “Of course, lad. And something to eat?”

“Yes. Please.”

“So be it. I’ll call for you when Sir Richard is ready. Rest until then.”

With that, he closed the door and David heard him walk back down the stairs. Then David sank to his knees, unable to move or even to think.

Within an hour, David had bathed, dressed in fresh clothing and eaten part of a sumptuous meal, all without a single coherent thought in his head. Then he stood beside one of the windows and watched people pass along the road he had just traveled. His eyes followed it as far as they could, and he tried to imagine he could see Whitlock in the far distance, but he knew he could not. Then he lay back on the bed and tried to sleep, but he knew he could not. Then he tried to figure out if he had done something horrible enough to warrant punishment by the king, but his mind was too busy whirling.

Here he was, ready, waiting to meet the great and glorious master of this kingdom, but which one was he about to see? The Sir Richard who had slain a dragon and sent an entire army into flight? The Sir Richard who saved damsels and lead his men into battle against overwhelming odds? The Sir Richard who could kill a mad wolf bare-handed, be it sorcerer or not? Or was it to be a frail unsteady old man built of nothing more than half-truths and exaggeration – or even worse, a myth that did not exist? He had no idea, whatsoever.

The more he thought about it, the more certain David was that he would merely be taken into a room and met by the Lord Chamberlain or Master of the Guard and told, “We’re sorry, but the king is too busy; I’ll deal with you, lad.”

Oh, what fun the town master and so many others in the village would have with him, should this visit turn out that way. “Thought yourself good enough to meet the king, did you? Stupid child. Head always in the clouds and filled with the thoughts of an idiot.” His life would become a mockery and not even Nana could protect him from it. But it would serve him right for thinking himself worthy of anything more.

He looked around the room, but it told him nothing. He returned to the window, but found he could not hear the birds or squirrels over the clamor in the courtyard. He wanted to cry, but he knew he could not let himself. “The knight would never do such a thing,” he told himself. So he just stood there and watched the sun dip lower and lower into the horizon. As it was about to vanish into a sky of brilliant pink and gold and violet, the stout knight knocked on the larger door.

“May I enter?” he asked.

It took David a moment to reply, “Please do.”

The man stepped into the room. He was now dressed in a more formal uniform, and his eyes were bright with pride. “The King requests you join him for dinner, Master Martin,” he said.

“The king requests.” So he was to meet Sir Richard. So he was about to know the truth.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

David Martin - part 6

Wheels as regards POS are still cranky. Here's more of "David Martin."

The knight did not return by the next morning, so David readied himself for the last day’s journey. The farmer gave him bread and cheese and apples and pointed him towards the castle.

“You should be there by mid-afternoon,” he said. “The road twists and curves but it is the best way. Are you sure you won’t stay with us?”

“I am expected,” said David. “But I do thank you for your hospitality.” Then he offered the man one of his copper coins.

“Oh, no, please, Sir Knight,” said the farmer. “It is we who thank you. Had it not been for you...”

The youth smiled at the man. “What we swear to protect must be protected...but I – I am not a knight.”

The man still refused to be paid. So David shrugged and started away. The farmer and his family waved and called their farewells until he reached a turn in the road. Then he remembered Emily’s words and stopped, a chill running down his back. What if he was being called for punishment? To be slung into Sir Richard’s dungeon for some as yet unknown offense? But no...if that were the case, the knight would not have left him. Or would he have? The events had come upon them so suddenly. David was at a loss. He finally looked around to find Emily waving to him from the entrance to the barn, and the picture she made looked like home.

“I could stay here,” he told himself. “I could stay here and be happy. I don’t have to meet Sir Richard...not really...”

He turned the pony around and started it back to them. But then a butterfly drifted up to him and brushed his face with its simple blue and white wings. It danced before him, like it was asking him to play, then flitted off on a gentle breeze, heading in the direction of the castle. David smiled...found himself returning Emily’s wave and then turning back and continuing on around the curve.

The road did indeed twist and turn through a land of rolling hills and wide fields flowing in the breeze. The sky was crystal blue and the whispering air was gentle against his skin. Birds and squirrels and more softly colored butterflies seemed to escort him along, singing or chattering or coyly brushing his hands with their wings.

He rode without thinking, without looking ahead more than he absolutely had to. He just kept moving forward, as if drawn to the castle by a string tied to his wrist. Sometimes he let the pony trot. Sometimes he cantered. Sometimes he just stood beside a stream so he could watch the trout jump about in the icy water.

He passed an increasing number of people. Some of them returned his smiles; some of them snarled at his apparent good humor. But most of them seemed pre-occupied with problems he would never know. The road grew dirtier with the refuse from man and animal, and the fields grew smaller and smaller, and the farms were now tightly bound by stone fences, their meager crops and few animals intended to feed little more than those living in the attached hovel.

As night approached, he passed through a thick darkening forest that suddenly ended...and before him stood the gleaming towers of Sir Richard’s castle. And it was far more glorious than he could ever have imagined. Cut from the purest granite, the bright walls stretched hundreds of feet in every direction to surround a castle keep that rose four – no, five levels up from the ground! Its turrets were capped by colorful flags whipping in the brisk breeze, and soldiers were visible keeping watch in every direction. A huge sturdy drawbridge leapt across a wide moat that surrounded the castle and was the sole entrance to the courtyard. To David, it seemed only the thatch-roofed huts gathered near the drawbridge could prevent the entire structure from floating into the clouds.

He could not move. The presence of the castle was too great, too overpowering, too wonderful to bear. People brushed past him in every direction as he watched a very large, very angry gatekeeper stop anyone who wished to cross the bridge over the moat. The man turned away as many people as he let pass. But then he, in turn, was ignored by pairs of knights who trotted inside as other pairs of knights galloped from the building. All of them were proud handsome men with the same air of certainty and purpose David had seen in his own knight. And he forgot his concerns and fears and felt an intense pride that he lived in a kingdom of such wonder and possibility.

Until he realized two of the knights leaving the castle were headed directly toward him! Suddenly, David was terrified. What if they were sent for him? What if they were coming to arrest him and take him to prison? He panicked and frantically glanced around, then noticed a small, dirty inn was close by. He scurried into its courtyard and dismounted then watched as the knights thundered by to continue on down the road.

Now David felt foolish. “I behaved like a scared little boy,” he sneered at himself. But he was still shaking, so he decided to stay at the inn. And he secretly prayed the knight would catch up to him in the morning.

The inn was dirty and crowded, the stench of ancient ale drifting about the room. Two of his copper coins bought David a corner near the fire and a slice of roast to nibble upon. And let him listen to excited talk about how one of Sir Richard’s knights had saved a princess from abduction in a nearby village.

“Twenty of them,” said one man. “He fought off twenty of them like they were nothing!”

“Her father’s King of Aquitania, I hear,” said another.

“Wrong!” cried another. “Spain!”

“Oh, of course,” sneered a fat waitress. “And why would a Spanish Princess be here?”

“Maybe Sir Richard’s finally getting married, again,” cried the first man.

“It’s about time,” said a farmer sipping a mug of ale. “He should find himself a nice lady and settle down!”

The inn-keeper joined them, wiping his hands on a filthy apron. “It’s those knights of his what should settle down,” he said. “Always off prancing around the countryside chasing lasses. D’you think one’s around when you need him?”

“To toss out a dead-beat boarder?” snipped the waitress. “Why would they bother?”

“And why not?” the inn-keeper huffed. “I pay my taxes just like anybody.”

“When you have to,” laughed the waitress. Many in the crowd laughed with her.

Then another man nudged David and said, “I saw you come in from the west. Do you know anything about that knight saving a princess?”

“No,” said David. “I saw one of Sir Richard’s knights keep some men from stealing a girl’s sheep. And he saved a man and woman from robbers, but that’s all.”

“Must’ve happened after that,” snorted the man.

“The boy doesn’t know about it because it happened to the east, you fool,” snapped the inn-keeper.

“No, it was north!” said the waitress.

David found it odd that people here seemed more concerned with the doings of Sir Richard’s knights than with the king. Then a thought struck him. “Tell me,” he asked, “what does Sir Richard look like?”

The waitress exchanged startled glances with everyone in the room. “I can’t remember the last time I saw him,” she said.

“I never have,” said the farmer.

“I caught a look at him a few years back,” said the man, “but all I could see was his hair was already white and he was barely able to stay on his horse, he was so shaky.”

“That was the archbishop,” snapped the inn-keeper.

“Well he has to be old,” said the waitress. “He was king here before I was born.”

“Nobody’s that old,” laughed the inn-keeper. The others joined him as the waitress stormed back to the ale-room.

David snuggled into his corner. That sense of fear was gnawing at him, again. No one knew. All he had heard on this journey were stories about Sir Richard told by people who had never seen the man. Not even the knight would speak to David of him. The youth was beginning to wonder if Sir Richard was just an old man who governed by way of his legends and his knights. Or worse – what if he never even existed? The mere thought of such a possibility threatened to make him ill, especially since the Sir Richard of David’s dreams had always been strong and perfect and...well, real! But the man had to exist, because David was about to meet him.

Wasn’t he?

He closed his eyes, trying to banish the hundreds of questions making themselves known to him, and he whispered to himself, over and over, “I’ll know, tomorrow. I’ll know then.”