Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ich bin Kindle...

Meaning a few of my books have been offered on Kindle and, apparently, are selling well. At a discount. HTRASG, PM and BC-1, so far. I'm not sure how I feel about my work being so electronically disposable, but it's not like I'm not still available as a real honest-to-god book. It's just...bizarre to me.

But then, much of my life is bizarre, lately. For instance, I've never had travel trouble till the last six months, beginning when I was kicked out of my Paris plans by a volcano back on April...and now I'm facing a hurricane just at the time I'm ready to head back for Buffalo. Earl is expected to be in the Baltimore area about 2am on Saturday and I'm due to pass through just over 12 hours later. If it's bad, it means I won't change planes at where could I go? Maybe I should check into that. Be proactive.

I will have a first draft of BC-3 completed by the end of September. I'm letting Allen lead the way on this one and he's begun to shift from being snarky and evil and bitchy to actually entering into a sort of dream state where he reveals more than he intends. I may still do an addendum of his writings...his erotic stories and lies about his encounters...but it's no longer necessary for those to be written in for him to work. He's begun to realize he will be treated with a measure of respect.

I think part of the reason he's open to letting his story be told is I'm working hard at making myself look forward to what I can still accomplish instead of looking back at all that I have NOT done. It ain't easy. I tend to be a very negative, suspicious, self-flagellating person aiming to become the John Wayne Gacy of curmudgeons. At least, on paper. In real life, I smile a lot and let things happen that I'm not crazy about but don't want to fight over. An interesting dichotomy. I guess we'll see how it goes.

But Simon Dexter may like it. His character has decided to shift to another book, one where he's the hot-shot-reporter-object-of-desire of a cute young groundskeeper for the Texas State Capitol Building and helps him ferret out a murder conspiracy, all in a "Nick and Nora Charles" style (and if I have to explain that, go catch a DVD of "The Thin Man" series; it's fun). New name? Noah Casterelli.

Forward, always forward...even when going sideways.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sometimes you get a bad feeling

It’s weird, but that happened to me while I was using the WiFi at North Star Mall, the other day. I was seated in the “free” area under the escalators, locked into the Apple Store’s hookup, when I noticed an attractive young man saunter up to the area, look at me as I looked at him and then sit in a chair near me, casting me little glances. I was in the middle of handling some e-mails so shrugged him off. Besides, he looked too much like one of my cousins -- trim, athletic, blondish hair, face that’s vaguely Slavic and Irish -- for me to do anything more than appreciate he was nicely put together. I’ve never been into incest, even one step removed, and the few stories where I’ve come across that turn me off immediately and get shunted aside.

But then he struck up a conversation with me. About his cell phone. Nice smile. Focus on me. All but screaming, Make a move. And my first thought is, “What the fuck’re you up to?”

Listen, I’m a realist about my looks. I come across as a genial older man who cold easily play Santa Claus, my psychoses and neuroses so deeply hidden they aren’t immediately visible to anyone who’s just met me (it usually takes people a few months -- years to find out about that). I’d have to drop 75 pounds to be happy about my weight, and other factors far more difficult to deal with keep me from even beginning to think I’d be attractive to a cute guy. So alarm bells went off and I finished my e-mails and said good-bye and left.

You see, I think he was a cop or working with them. And I’m probably being paranoid, but I could just see it being a case of, “Let’s go back to the toilet and have some fun,” and BAM, I’m in cuffs for public indecency. Or “Cost you $50” and I’m hit for soliciting prostitution. After all, this is Texas, where the GOP is trying to reinstate anti-sodomy laws and outlaw divorce, and where the board that determines what text books get bought for state schools decided to cut out any mention of slavery being the cause of the Civil War in their history books and tout a hypocrite like Newt Gingrich as an historic leader instead of Martin Luther King, Jr.

What’s interesting is, this little incident kicked BC-3 into gear and I’ve begun rewriting what I have so far to figure out what I still need. Eric’s back to being Eric and Allen’s begun to reveal his self-serving versions of events. Brendan’s pissed, but I think he sort of understands. Me being in Texas is rhyme and reason enough to finish “Bobby Carapisi” and use the casual hatreds in this state to set it up.

I almost wonder if I have a vendetta against Texas. It may well be. But the truth is, I lived here most of my life and consider it my home more than I do California, where I was born, or England, where I lived a while, as well. And I hate that I’m finding my home, where I used to think we were different from the rest of the country, was probably always as two-faced as I see it now.

I went to my grandmother’s grave, yesterday, on the south side of the city by the San Antonio River. Nana. She was a life-long, yellow-dog-Democrat born and raised in Texas who despised the GOP, from Lincoln on down. Her consistent comment about them was, “They’re for the rich man.” And they consistently prove her right.

Nana was strong willed enough to be the first college-educated and then divorced woman in the family, and raise two girls on her own while working as a nurse long before nurses were paid a decent wage, and could be flexible enough to work around society’s limitations. She needed a house but she had no cash or credit, so she swapped two vacant lots she kept in the divorce for the down payment, even though they were worth twice the amount she needed. She learned how to sew and could make a buck run three times ‘round the bock before it was used up. When my grandfather refused to pay his child support and the American judicial system wouldn’t help (he was living in Jamaica, I think, and had a new wife and infant son), since he was a Mason she contacted them and got them to make him pay up (if you want to be a Mason, you take care of your family; no ifs, ands or buts). She never owned a car but did her grocery shopping at a small corner shop where even though it was a bit more expensive, she could run a tab and not need transportation to the nearest grocery store. She dipped snuff as her one bad habit and lived to be 79 on her own terms…and I really think she’s more my mother than my mother, sometimes…actually wish she had been. I might have gotten more of her abilities off her than I did. But now all she has left to show for her life is a small granite plaque over her ashes in a bit of land at the foot of her mother’s grave. What’s crazy is, I think she’d be happy for that being all there is to it.

Anyway, it rained while I was out there. Poured. One of those steaming rains you get in the tropics where the temperature remains way too high for comfort. And I sat in the car and thought about her, and when it was done, I washed her stone with my red bandana. And in doing so declared war on Texas-think. I know she’d understand, Nana would, because all that is wrong with the US today can be found in Texas, in spades.

Rambling. I do that when I’m here and have to make myself back off it. But "Bobby Carapisi-3" needs to be done. And POS is ready to be written once I have it completed so I’m not going to freak out about it.

Sometimes you get a good feeling, too.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A serenade at North Star Mall

As I use the Apple Store's WiFi and munch on an overpriced pretzel from Auntie Anne's. The band can't decide if it's hard rock or soft, but seeing as how huge numbers of the people in this mall are 1. older and 2. couples with families, somehow I don't think the heavy pounding drums are going to go across well. I've already heard two kids start screaming in fear when they started their first set. But that just goes to show the disconnect in San Antonio (which is HOT and not in a good way). I'm SO glad I no longer live here. The people running this place have absolutely no idea what they're doing.

For example -- there's a stretch of 281 north of Loop 1604 that is one of the worst traffic snarls in the country. It even puts the Wilshire/Santa Monica Boulevard intersection to shame. Why? Because for some stupid reason someone in the city's planning department decided it's perfectly all right for some idiot developers to denude the hillsides of trees, slap a few thousand homes on there, put in some of the ugliest strip malls ever...and do absolutely nothing to improve the traffic flow. They just put in a few traffic lights. And the last time I was here and had to go through that mess at 3 in the afternoon, it took me an hour to travel 1 1/2 miles.

So...what's the great solution they've FINALLY come up with to assist in bettering the traffic? They're putting in turn-around lanes. With lights. So people can do "U" turns. Into thick, backed-up traffic. In several spots. And a bit of widening on the left turn lanes at other spots. I can just about guarantee, even without having a degree in engineering, that this will not only make the snarl worse, it will double the number of wrecks because, like everywhere else in this country, any idiot can get a driver's license and 90% of drivers are in a rush, and rules of the road are, "Get the fuck out of my way because I need to be where you are to do what I need to do.)

Reminds me of when The Grove was built in LA, over by the Farmer's Market, and the developer swore it wouldn't add to the traffic problem there. And it only doubled the number of cars trying to get past 3rd and Fairfax. I got to where I wouldn't go anywhere near the place unless I was meeting people.

Anyway, enough griping. No writing done (nor will much get done while I'm here, it seems) because I'm working on other things -- like getting my mother to agree to keep her doctors' appointments next week so we can get some of her problems dealt with instead of running off to Lubbock to see if her latest great-grandbaby is here (my nephew and his wife are expecting on the 2nd but she's already had her first contraction). And trying to get my youngest brother to see a dentist (since he's not working and could probably get the dental school to work on his mouth for free). And figure out how to get my other brother and my sister to actually take proactive care of our mother instead of wait for her to call them for something (which she will rarely do because she doesn't want to bother them).

Okay...I'm getting back to bitching. This ain't for that.

I read an advance copy of Kyle Cicero's latest "Mark Julian" book, and a really like the way he delves deeper into his characters' psyches on this. He's yammering about not publishing it and I hope he changes his mind. It's almost like a coda to the rest of the series.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Intermittent blogging to follow

I'm done with the LA job and happily fattened by my meal at India's Grill -- somosas and lamb curry and safron rice and a Kingfisher beer -- so I'm off to San Antonio, where my access to the internet will be only occasional. It's the price of being in a backwards city (snark).

I had a bit of a jolt when I finished packing and helping build the skid for these maps. We weighed the skid and after they took it away, I jumped on the scale to see how much weight I'd lost over the last couple months of eating less, feeling very sure of myself. I GAINED. Seems since I live such a sedentary lifestyle now, I'll have to drop my caloric intake to maybe 1000 per day to start dropping the weight, and that AIN'T gonna happen. If I don't eat enough to make body happy, it make my head hurt. So...I have to get active again. Otherwise I'll wind up like one of those people who can't get through their own door, they're so obese.

No writing done, of course, but I do have yet another story knocking on the window wanting to be let in to be reconfigured into a novel. It's a script I wrote years and YEARS ago and now can see what needs to be done with it to make it a book. So...12 novels to write, two musical plays to work out, a lot of pounds to shed, 8 more years of work ahead of me before I can latch onto Social Security -- if the GOP don't kill it, I WILL have to live to a hundred to get all of this done.

Irish Central mentions a spell one can cast to gain prosperity. I may actually do it (not that I'm feeling desperate or anything).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Long plane trips can be useful

My flight from Baltimore (where I changed planes) to LA was nearly 5 hours long, so I pulled out my laptop and used up all its battery working on POS. I started at the beginning and cleaned up and added to a section where Brendan's describing his friends, Colm, Paidrig, Danny, Davy and Gerry along with another who's suddenly popped up, Eammon (same name as Brendan's older brother but spelled differently. I trimmed out some repetition and smoothed out Brendan's introduction of himself.

It's funny, but the opening line of the book is still what it's been from the beginning -- "Those who knew Eamonn Kinsella, and were being honest with themselves, had to admit if he had been born but ten miles to the west or north, his murder would have been seen as the fitting end to a hard and brutal man." I've shifted words a bit and added one or two, but it's still the same basic sentence. As is the ending sentence, which I will NOT share.

I miss LA traffic. It boils me up and I vent and feel better, all in the safety of my own vehicle.

And brain is wandering after being up for so many hours. More tomorrow. Tonight is tonight and I barely made it through dinner with Brad, Cathy and Sharon -- friends in LA -- before beginning my zone-y moments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting late

In advance of what will prove to be a LONG day. Up at 5am to catch my plane to LA so I can get in and get the maps I need to pack and have time enough to figure out what I'm doing even as I scramble to understand how I thought I could do this so fast. By the time I get to bed, I'll probably have been up for more than 20 hours...and neither body nor spirit likes me doing that. Can't say as I blame 'em; I don't like me doing that, either.

BUT...I bought a neck rest for the plane, so I may get some napping done since it's a long trip from Baltimore to LAX. Usually I can't sleep on a flight; I can doze but only fitfully. So I'm trying out this neck pillow to see how it does. If I snore too loudly, I hope the flight attendant will wake me.

I'm in LA for two nights, one day and part of two days so not much time to do anything or see anyone. Guess I'll have to wait till next trip.

I've been running errands all evening, having got off from the job nearly an hour late. Too much to do and no time to do it. I still have to iron something to wear tomorrow. But I'm packed and set with everything I need, I think. And I even got some work done on POS -- just notes for later, but I'm plotting out how to do the rewrite of what I've already written in section 3. This last bit helped me see the perfect direction to take. Won't be easy to get it done...but if it works, it'll kick some serious butt.

Or not. Who knows?

BTW -- ever had a building greet you? This is The Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Cirlce in NYC, across from Central Park.
This isn't a great picture, but the sun was too bright on the side wall for anything better so you have to look carefully.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back to writing

I added a nice long section to "Place of Safety" -- 10 pages, 2500 words -- that will probably expand once I have everything else together, but right now is bridging a gap nicely. It's forward momentum and that's what counts. I'm now at 511 pages and nearly 120,600 words. I could have added more but I was feeling the brain drain at this point and figured I'd just churn out crap so put an end to it.

It's another bit near the end, where I'll need a chapter to segue into it and another chapter to link it to the last part of the story, but those are more mechanical pieces, right now. Actions that need to happen. I think I'm about 75% done with the last section of the book, meaning the opening and the middle are going to have to be faced soon, and the opening is the hardest part while the middle has the least done, now.

I already know this first draft is not going to be anywhere near as deep or correct as it needs to be; I'm at the point where I just want to get it done so I know what'll be in what part of the story and so I can make sure to link the moments together properly. I'll probably go over it twice more before I'm ready to get feedback on the full project. We'll have to see how it goes.

Man...I can't do anymore writing, tonight. My fingers are typo-ing all over the place.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I want Ryan Reynolds to play me...

When I become famous (or infamous) and there's a movie made of my life. I don't care that we look nothing alike (did Alexander Graham Bell really look like Don Ameche?) or that he's Canadian and I'm from California or that he doesn't even have red hair (Clairol #16 is close enough of a color). He'd bring integrity and strength to the role, something I can find myself lacking in, all too often.

You see, I just watched his elegant PSA for clean energy, making so much better a point and offering a better suggestion on how to end this oil nonsense than any other news story or commercial or anything dealing with the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico has...all in the space of 35 seconds.

Here's the link --

I admire people who put themselves up front like this. And while I may make my liberal, card-carrying-member-of-the-ACLU comments on other blogs under my real name (or my nickname...and I really AM a member) it's done from a safe distance. No one really knows my face or how to get hold of me except those whom I want to. But now Ryan Reynolds will get blasted by some right-wing nuts for daring to put forward a "librul" agenda, and never you mind that it only makes sense. Hell, he may even get death threats. Hey, if the freaks on the right send them to Paul Krugman for pointing out simple economic reality, they'll send them to anybody.

Ryan, I know there's no way in hell you're gonna read this, but I still have to say -- love ya, mean it...and not 'cause you're beautiful.

Hmm...I must be feeling better. I did nothing today because it seems I actually did get a small sinus infection going on top of working my butt off. So I self-medicated. Slept till 11 and even took a nap, this afternoon. Ate light. Didn't go out, at all. And now I'm back to making political comments, even on my own blog. Helps that I've only had two sneezing fits, and both were much earlier, today.

What days like this help me do is think. My favorite film of all time is "The 400 Blows" (which some so-called film school graduate on a film shoot I was helping out on actually wondered, aloud, if that was gay porn...and he wasn't joking; he was honestly freaked that I might be discussing gay sex on the set, the backwoods little fuck). Anyway, it has lots of humor in it, following the antics of Antoine Doinel as he goes from being a rambunctious kid to winding up in a reformatory thanks to his parents' casual disinterest in him. And my favorite book, "War & Peace", has humor in it. So why am I such a humorless writer?

I mean, I can do witty, sometimes...which is a poor substitute. But even my farce -- "The Lyons' Den" -- doesn't really generate laughs in people. I think I have a couple of good ones in "The Cowboy King of Texas" and "The Lavender Curse" -- but those will depend so much on the readings of the actors and how the directors present them, I can't say they're really mine. I just suck at writing humor...and I can't figure out why. Kyle Cicero works it into his books with no effort.

That said...humor makes for more realistic humanity, and that's what I want in POS. do I add it? How do i FIND it?

Okay, Kyle (me not the other guy), did you really need to add another level of impossible to this story?

Friday, August 20, 2010

I need to live to be a hundred

I've got 12 books and 3 plays I want to write, as of now, and at the rate I'm going, I'll need to be around that long to get them done. Hopefully I'll still be continent at that age, but you never know how you'll turn out, do you? All I really know is I'm tired to the bone and can't wait for the plane to start boarding.

I got extended by a day in NYC to go see a collection of artwork and photos being shipped to London along with the shipment I packed...if they can work it out. I reworked 58 boxes into 86 and it was rough. As I dug into each box, I found books that had been just shoved in, wrapped in nothing, and bundles of 2-3 books wrapped with no protection, all in different sizes and shapes...and it hurt. This packing job was done by someone who did not care about books at all. Nor did the person whose collection this came from do anything to keep them in shape. So many had front and back boards torn off and/or missing, pages folded, spines cracked and flaking, rust on some of the leather volumes (that's when the leather is so dried out, it turns to dust) and on and on. I've never let my books get to that point. I don't dust them every day...hell, even every month...but I do wipe them down and keep them in decent shape, even though the majority are for research. It actually hurt to see them done this way.

But they're better packed, now. In boxes of a decent weight -- 35-40 pounds instead of the same size box -- and wrapped in bubble and packed tight. It's funny, the woman I was dealing with thought I was CONDENSING the books into tighter packages and was surprised when I mentioned how much less the boxes now weigh. Jesus, these people are clueless.

So here I am...watching books fall into disrepair as I decide to write more. And I'm writing them in the face of learning my books so far are a bit depressing. I need to do more farce. Or maybe see if I can bring some humor into POS before I have it set in stone. I don't know. right now, my mind drifts and I think of nothing if I can help it.

Hell...I can think of nothing even when I don't mean to.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chelsea Boiz

I worked till nearly 7 then had dinner at Ruth's Chris (finishing off my gift card with a perfect small filet and potatoes au gratin) and hopped a train down to 19th Street to make my visit to The G Lounge. It's a very toney place with dance music and a too-cool bar. Patrick was too busy to come over to talk (he's mentioned in the Mark Julian books) so I had an appletini (which was nice and light, to my surprise) and left a note tell them why I'd come in. I doubt the bartender who did serve me -- this tall, broad-shouldered, male-model type -- paid any attention to it. Doesn't matter. I enjoyed being there and seriously doubt I'm the kind of guy they'd talk to, anyway.

On POS, I had a moment pop up while I was working and now know what I'm writing next -- a dream Brendan has that seems more real than his life.

I just finished talking with Kyle C about the G Lounge and he made some points about "Mr. Lucky" that have me thinking...dammit.

Okay...brain is about to crash and burn. Nothing more tonight. Doesn't help my sinuses are being driven nuts be something in the NYC ACs. That or I'm getting a summer cold.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ping-pong ball

Bounced back to NYC, today...on a plane that was scheduled to leave at 7:05 am but didn't take off till 8:15 am due to "technical issues." Didn't stop Jet Blue from loading the plane, however, and letting us sit there for nearly an hour and a half. So I got here late and got started on everything late and busted butt to try and get caught up...and now I'm dog tired.

BUT...I did have a nice long conversation with Kyle Cicero, who wrote the "Mark Julian" series of vampire detective novels with a gay twist. I'd call them gay detective novels but while Mark is gay and has a husband, so many of the other characters are straight it seems like it'd be false advertising. I was supposed to meet him for lunch at noon but I ditzed and didn't notice the time till after 1pm.

Kyle's a hoot to talk with, and he's convinced me to make an homage of a visit to The G Lounge down in Chelsea to have both a frozen Cosmo AND a frozen Appletini...and maybe flirt a little with Patrick and/or Pedro. We'll have to see how this goes over. I don't drink a lot -- maybe a beer at dinner -- so this may be a bad idea. BUT...I'm in NYC, the place for bad ideas to happen (unless you're in Vegas, but then try to find anyone to have those bad ideas with; it's all family-oriented).

We chatted about writing and it's nice to know he's having the same troubles as me -- focused on a story and then some other thing slams into your brain to take over and make your life scatter in a hundred different directions. (I love being able to commiserate with a fellow author about the horrors of writing.)

I mean, I want to finish POS now. I'm so close I can taste it. I've finished Bobby Sands' book, "A Day in My Life" and it's given me ideas on what to do with Brendan's troubles with the RUC and British. I know how to write his part in a couple of the major moments in The Troubles. I just need to buckle down and do it.

But even plotting out "Mr. Lucky" and assigning the story its own folder hasn't shut the damned thing up. Maybe I'll work it out as a novella and see if that will let it be. But I don't know if that'll be all right. When I wrote "Desert Land" under a similar circumstance, it sent me into blankness for weeks. Don't think I want to risk it, again. I'll never get POS done if I succumb to that.

So my obnoxious story is being deliberately placed on a back burner as I tend to the slow-cooking stew that's just about ready to eat. Some say it's the best way to cook a stew -- slowly, over the course of 36 hours (or months or years, as the case may be) because everything blends together in a new flavor.

Wait -- am I using the right analogy for POS? Maybe I should refer to T-Bills or reconstructing an antique car. Hmm, I like the last one...especially since Brendan's into car repair.

My room is near the overhead Metro tracks and trains can be heard passing every few minutes. Ahh, New York.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I have an odd battle brewing in my schizo head. A new story that's slammed up -- "Mr. Lucky" -- is trying to muscle POS aside so it can be told, and we're about to have a replay of the Irish civil war...i.e. short, brutish and insanely stupid. But Mr. L deals with the insane stupidity and hypocrisy of Arizona's anti-immigrant laws and their enforcement, mingling in the fact that a lot of trafficking in human beings for sexual purposes happens in that state (much of it catering to Anglos looking for more than just gardeners, maids and dishwashers) and it's another pissed-off story loaded with in-your-face-sexual encounters and abuses to illustrate my points.

Thing is, this time the lead character will have no real name, just his nick-name (which is also the story's title). And unlike my other stories, I get the feeling nothing bad happens to him to make him turn on the world; his actions are just a natural outgrowth of what's going on not only in Phoenix and Tuscon but Juarez, Tijuana and Mexico City with the brutality of the drug wars. It'll be about the lessening of human empathy on a large scale, and I also get the feeling nothing bad will happen to the narrator, even in the way of punishment...which makes me uncomfortable...but is probably more realistic in this day and age.

It's interesting...well, to me it is...that the second of my revenge stories, "Porno Manifesto", is turning out to be the gentlest and most moral. What happens to Alec sort of explains and almost excuses his actions (he wants to find out who nearly killed him in a gay-bashing and, since the cops won't do anything about it, punish them, himself) but at the end he actually steps back from the abyss of hatred on his own terms, not winding up in jail or under threat by the judicial establishment, and he does feel a hint of remorse because he's injured some innocent people. He's the closest I have to a hero in these stories. In both HTRASG and RIHC6, the narrators are about as anti-hero as you can get.

I don't include BC as a revenge story because it's really a tragedy and the sex is so completely overshadowed by the building horror of events surrounding Bobby and Eric and how there's nothing they can do to stop any of it. In a way, that's what I'm aiming to do with Brendan in POS -- build the life of a person in as real and consistent a manner as possible as events slowly envelop them. And in both books, I've known the endings and beginnings before I began writing them, while with the other three...I had no idea where they'd wind up; they just hit the ground running and I was more of a stenographer than a writer on those (tho' v2 of RIHC6 played with my mind, a lot).

The thing is, I'm ready to start at the beginning of POS and fill in what needs filling, now that I know the path it's taking to get to its end. Now it's time to let the flow settle in over me and wash me along...and then comes this smash-up of a story screeching to a halt in my mind and revving its engine so loudly, I can't hear anything else. On top of this, Mr.L's already announced his moral base, and I'm not sure I like how amoral it is. But it fits.

Shit, I don't know what to do. If I don't get going on POS, I won't make first draft by the end of the year.

To which Brendan replies, "Focus!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Catch up

Man, it seems I'm way behind on everything. I did laundry and paperwork and e-mails -- I have 5 e-mail addresses which is WAY too many but each one has different people on it as well as some of the same people and I just never can find the time to consolidate them since it would be really hard to do. Of course, I let myself sleep late so that got me started late, and I caught up on my sites and now feel up to date with the news of the world.

One budding problem -- my AC has a leak of some kind...or maybe it's just condensation...except I haven't run it all week and yet the carpet under it is wet and beginning to mold. NOT cool...nor does the damned thing do all that MUCH in the way of cooling. ACs in this part of the country suck.

So...pulling together my next trip to NYC on Wednesday with a Thursday return. I think I can pull this off if I work steady at it. Then the following week I'm off to LA and SA.

No writing done, today. I just fiddled with some of the images I shot in NYC over the last two days. Turns out I screwed up my camera's settings, so half the images are in low-res and look like crap. See?
But I DO like how the Chagall window in the UN building turned out.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Home, again, home, again...

And brain dead to boot. I think all the shifting and changing and running around this past week finally caught up to me and I'm about to do a crash and burn, so one quick note.

I like NYC...but I could never live there. Everything has been so completely downsized, a medium-priced hotel room is half the size of my studio apartment. The subway system is easy to use once you work it out...but good luck finding working escalators or where the hell the elevator to the lobby is at any station; it's all walking up and down stairs, and few of the stations have even a hint of AC. Some areas of the city stink (especially where there have been horses of any kind), and while some people are very helpful, others go out of their way to be difficult...which adds WAY too much burden to an already difficult city. My best meal was fish and chips in the diner at the base of the Empire State Building (Heartland Diner?); my worst, a sandwich from Dean & Deluca's that was nearly inedible (even with mustard and mayonnaise). And worst sin of all -- you have to HUNT for Dr. Pepper. Horrors! I also noticed no grocery stores anywhere, just markets. So...great place to visit, for a few days.

Pictures will follow. Right now, I'm dog-tired and still need to shower. Problem is, Brendan keeps nudging me. "Okay. We're home now. Let's to work." Slave driver. I'm about to go on strike...but I can't figure out which union I'd belong to for a novel. Can't do the Writers' Guild; they're just scripts. Damn...I may have to start my own.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thoughts begin, again

I made some notes on POS as I was driving back from NYC and they're scribbly as hell (I was traveling about 70 at the time for one of them) but I know what's up. It's a reaction to actions that I wrote about, recently, and yet another indication of what the ending will be. Should prove fun to actually write...once I get down to it.

I'm off to meet friends, tomorrow, and do some touristy stuff in NYC. I did none of that while I was there the last few days; I was usually too hot and tired and smelly to even think about putting myself around people. And on the last night, I didn't have enough clothes to wear to even think about going to a play. In fact, I washed out some things in the bathtub...and I do NOT like doing that. Took them forever to dry and I don't feel like they got all that clean. Next time, I find a friggin' laundromat, no matter how beat I am.

Of course, from now on I'm taking extra clothes, too.

I passed through some beautiful country on the drive home, most of it shrouded in storm clouds and mist, all green and hilly and so very elegant. I tried to find the Delaware Water Gap to take a picture...but the exit to it off the 80 just leads to the town and the Visitors' Center is nowhere near the river. Considering how PA is handling the Susquehanna River, I'm not surprised. It's like they're embarrassed at having natural wonders within their boundaries, so they make it hard as hell for you to appreciate them. I guess I could have asked directions, but that would have taken even more time and I wanted to off the road by nine. Didn't make it till ten, thanks to construction along the 90 in WAY too many spots.

I'm beat and have to be at the airport by 9 in the morning. No posting, tomorrow; I'm not taking my laptop. It's been through enough.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pissed off fates.

After today, I'm not discussing my travel plans online -- because they KEEP GETTING CHANGED. Now I'm heading back to Buffalo, tomorrow, to turn in the car and coming back next week to do the extra packing job. Which I'll be busting my ass to get done.

I'm also less than pleased with Best Western. I'm in the Best Western Presidential Hotel on W 48th Street near Times Square. They're bragging about a recent $15m renovation...and this hotel is styled to within an inch of its existence. Too bad they didn't spend some of that money on replacing the ACs. Mine wasn't working and it took 2 calls to the desk to get it even looked at, then another 45 minutes of the guy futzing around with it to get it to work. And it needs cleaning. I'm sneezing like crazy, thanks to it. Nice choice -- roasting or sinus trouble.

On top of it, the WiFi wouldn't connect till I'd made two calls to THAT service center...and it's REALLY slow. I was going to stay here Friday night, when I come down to visit with a couple friends coming into town. I think I'll stay at the La Quinta.

I'm whining. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just jinxed as a traveller. When I did this on my own as a freelancer, I didn't have this much trouble. It's irritating...and deadening to my love of travel. Since I can't find a laundry in the immediate area, I actually washed some clothes in the bathtub. I didn't have enough for the extra day I'm here.

I can't think about writing, right now. I seem lost in weariness and more than a bit of malaise verging on stupor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Plans change yet again

I'm in NYC till Saturday. This packing job suddenly expanded to a full-scale re-pack of boxes that were supposedly ready to go onto a skid and head for London but that had barely even been wrapped in paper and put in a box. And those packed boxes weight 55 lbs when they shouldn't weigh more than 35 or 40. My plane ticket for this weekend is non-refundable, but I might be able to get a credit; I'll have to call Delta.

I'm close to broke and overcharging on my card, thanks to this. Just when I think I'm getting ahead on it, BAM, something happens to put me light back at the limit. Me and money. Hah!

I don't MIND staying in NYC; this'll give me a chance to see the city...and I'd actually kind of wanted it. It's like the fates heard me and said, Okay.

So WHY can't the Fates hear me when I tell them I need money to live in Ireland for 2 years and fix it so I can? Selective little beasts, they are.

I've had some more ideas about POS. Brendan's still sitting off to himself, relaxing; these are about other characters. Including an elderly woman in Houston who's so racist she can't see how racist she is. I wonder how I can work her in?

Monday, August 9, 2010


There are still people around who refer to African-Americans by that term. I met one, today. That she's also a Tea-Bagger should come as no surprise...nor should the fact that she's elderly and has a black maid. So what was my reaction? I changed the subject.

I'm torn about that. I mean, the woman was a client and she's old so nothing I say will change her mind and might get the job cancelled. But still, I let this woman's casual racism pass without comment. And why did I do that? To be honest, I wanted to understand why she thought such nonsense, because by this point I'd already learned she's lived in other countries and traveled extensively. So as I packed books, I got her to talk about her travels and her life and history...and I came to see that she was probably the epitome of an "Ugly American." The type who think the world revolves around them, and that their way is the right way and nothing else matters. God, the things she said about the Japanese along with quick snide references to British Jews and the Chinese. I felt like I was living in 1954.

And now all her friends are dead, as is most of her family, and all she has besides her two dogs and a beat-up cat is Fox News, where everyone thinks like she does -- "We of the upper-class white race are entitled to whatever we want because we're better than anyone else." And I pity her. I could write a character like her and make you feel for them, I think, because they're so displaced in the world of today, it's actually sad. Not sad enough to want to go back to how things were -- no, that I'd fight like and animal -- but these people are lost and will never be found, even after they die. And they just cannot understand that.

What mitigates my sadness is that there are so many of them across the country -- even in positions of leadership. Look at the governors of Texas and Arizona and the Sheriff of Phoenix. Look at Haley Barbour and Lindesy Graham and John McCain, not to mention Rush Limbaugh and the ever-growing psychosis of Glen Beck. They honestly cannot see how diseased they are. It's more than sad and's scary, in too many ways.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Nice long drive...

Much of which took place along the Susquehanna River, and if ever a stretch of property needed to be refurbished, this is it. There is this beautiful, wide, shallow stretch of non-stop rapids and gentle meanderings that is so picturesque, it hurts. But you think you can find anyplace to stop and look out over it and contemplate the perfection of a natural wonder? Not along the 11/15. It's non-stop roadway where you're only supposed to go 55 but everyone goes 70 and there's a concrete barrier along the center of the road to separate traffic.

I finally stumbled upon this odd little parking area on the river side, but only by exiting the roadway to try and turn around...then noticing the entrance directly across four lanes of traffic, which you have to take your life in your hands to cross if you want to reach it. But I did. And parked. And followed a narrow dirt road curving a short way down to the riverbed. Apparently, it used to be a boat launch...but that'd have to be a shallow boat, because the water wasn't even a foot deep there.

I got pictures and will post them when I get home. Oh...and there are no signs telling you about that parking area or access to the river. I just got lead there by the fates.

I also had to cut across massive traffic to get back onto my route to Maryland...but this time my LA driving skills came in handy. I pulled across two lanes onto a yellow lined area along the median then waited for there to be enough space between the cars headed south for me to floor it and make that SUV peel rubber as I worked my way back into traffic.

This really is a shame. The whole Susquehanna Valley is so elegant...where it's not overbuilt by strip malls and slathered with traffic lights in the worst possible place where some very tight zoning would be a blessing.

No notes on POS, today. I think I'm still, here comes one now.

Unbowed, unbroken...

And nowhere near reality, at the moment. I got the final segments of this one section done and Brendan is actually relieved it's over with. I caught him smiling. Now we can go back and work on happier bits of the story. We have 517 pages with 118,036 words on them and I've printed up the new ones and put them in the folder for rewriting, later.

I have no idea if this section works or not; I'm too close to it. But it's not time to show it to anyone. No at all. Parts happen a bit too quickly and other parts linger too long. All I can say is, it works better than what I'd originally come up with and sets the ending up, better.

I honestly haven't anything more to comment on, right now. I'm writed out. And Brendan's off to himself, resting for a change. I like it better when he's happy.

Off to Maryland, tomorrow, and the NYC. Dunno how much I'll get done...but it'll be fine.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Think I'm turnin' rushin'

I'm hopping over to LA for a quick packing job -- 2 days -- then back to San Antonio for a visit and maybe a hop up to Dallas for another bit of work and back home on the 4th of September, just as things are getting in gear for a book fair. Ah, me -- travel; it's what I wanted. Why'd the TSA decide to make traveling such hell?

Tomorrow I'm working on POS. I need to, now. I've got it built up and it's time to just do it. I'll have to get ready for my trip, but I don't take much and this time I'm driving so no having to deal with airport security. It'll actually be easier in many ways.

But Brendan's ready and wants to get it over with, and I don't blame him. And something I've found is driving helps my mind sort out issues in a story, so I'll have lots of note paper with me. I know some people use a tape recorder to make notes to themselves on stories, but that just doesn't work for me. So long as I can read what I write -- and that's not always the case -- I prefer something on a slip of paper. Guess I'm just lost in the past, when it comes to that...or stuck in my ways...or technically clumsy or something.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Travelin' in circles -- sheesh

This was not a good day. I'm now driving to Maryland with boxes and packing material that we had in storage so as to get rid of them, meaning I'm leaving Sunday (450 miles), spending Monday in Maryland then driving to NYC (200 miles) and staying there Monday and Tuesday nights. Then I'm heading back to Buffalo (400 miles) to turn the rented SUV in so we don't get hit with a week's charge instead of 4 days. At least it'll be through pretty country, for the most part.

Of course, this messed with my plans to visit with friends who are coming to New York, so I went ahead and bought a plane ticket to hop down Friday and come back Saturday; that's the only way I could afford it and, to be honest, I'll have a HELL of a lot to do on Sunday to catch up with myself.

Then I pissed off a customer by misspelling his name in an e-mail (It's Stephan with a PH not a V, thank you, and DON'T call me Steve). As I was trying to assure him I wasn't some idiot who can't spell and that I would handle his job just like he wanted it, apparently I assured him too much and pissed off my supervisor, who felt I was being too compliant and detailed in how I would handle things.

Then all plans about San Antonio got changed because a packing job in LA looks like it's happening and the best time to do it is before then. Thing is, I found out I need to be in SA the 27th, so I'll have to make sure it's all right if I head for LA on the 24th and pack on the 25th so I can fly there on the 26th. What's good is, Southwest works with you on re-scheduling, without much extra charge ($7.50, unlike US Airways and Delta and United who charge you $150 just to change the ticket then hit you with additional charges for flying different days).

So...August will be my away-from-home-a-lot month and expenses through the roof. So much for saving for taxes. Maybe in September...

It was a scramble to get everything arranged -- and not all of it is completely, yet -- but my hope is to use this time away to keep writing. I'll have my laptop with me and the fact is, 75% of POS has been written on it so it feels more appropriate than my desktop, for some reason. I got rewrites done on RIHC6v1 and BC while house-sitting in Austin because I was off to myself. And I did a lot of work on RIHC6v2 while in a Motel 6 by Buffalo Airport, waiting to hear if my apartment application was accepted. And I've done some solid bits on POS while waiting in an airport for my flight. Seems I've turned into a gypsy scribe.

Oh -- when it comes to rewriting...well, actually I'm in non-stop rewrite mode. I've already have ideas about how to deepen and intensify Brendan's actions during this rough section. Notes are being made, even as I type.

So why am I typing instead of notating?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm a travelin' man.....

Hopping down to Annapolis, MD, driving a car one way to JFK to drop off (after I drop off a shipment) then packing another shipment and then staying an extra day to see some friends who'll be in NYC before I fly home on Saturday. I got a feeling by the 15th I'll be dog tired. And then I'm headed for San Antonio on the 25th for 6 days. Then it's back to Buffalo to prep for the Bologna, Seattle, Toronto and Boston Book Fairs, which take place over the space of of 6 weeks. Hong Kong isn't until the beginning of December, then it's quiet until February...unless there are some more packing jobs. I'm still trying to get one in LA set up but the people on the receiving end are being difficult, at best, so it may not happen.

I worked more on my article and found some things that needed changing. Now it's burned to a CD and I've got hard copies printed out, and I'll send them a copy of the article in an e-mail...and we'll see what happens. It'd be interesting to be published in a scholarly journal. But you never know -- they may laugh me off the face of the earth.

POS is getting close to boiling, again. It's been on simmer for the last few days, but it's about cooked and I need to just dive in and see what happens. Once this section is done, I'm heading back to the first section, in Derry before Brendan goes to Houston. This is how it looked about 1980, when the city had begun to rebuild itself.It still looks a bit like this...just with about double the number of skyscrapers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


NYC's off till next week because I may have to go to the Baltimore area to pack and ship some books. We'll see how that goes. It slammed in all of a sudden and I spent much of the day pulling together prices and possibilities as to what the costs will be while handling the phones all by myself. Not that it was all that rough; it was just distracting.

Well, I wasn't in the frame of mind for POS so this evening I finished my article for RBM Journal and slipped my illustrations into a copy of it...but I don't think I'll send it off, tomorrow. I need to verify some things, and one of the illustrations comes across as too big and clumsy.

It's a long article, nearly 5000 words. I may suggest they break it up since the illustrations take up a fair bit of space. And while I currently have them grouped together in various spots, I think I'd prefer to wrap the text around them...I just don't know how to do that in my version of Word. Maybe I can do it at the shop's since that version is so much newer. I'll test it out, tomorrow.

I'm feeling nudges from Brendan. I think he wants to get this part of the writing over with. I've figured out how to make the link between the last bit and the middle bit work better; all that needs to come now is the central section...the one I'm halfway done with.

I don't think I've worked Brendan out completely in this part, yet. Some of his actions seem too easy. Of course, I moved one bit to later and will do more's almost like he's unable to control this if it just comes out in any order and it's up to me to make sense of it....make it work. That's funny -- asking a schizo like me to make sense of something.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I spent the day working on my article for "The Journal of Rare Books and Manuscripts" -- all about how to properly pack books, maps and art for storage or shipping, illustrations (by me) included -- so I have nothing to dig into now I'm ready to work on POS. But then again, I got so much done this weekend, I may have sapped my brain too much by that, as well. After all, how much creativity is needed to discuss how best to tape up a box and lay in bubble-wrap?

I printed up the parts of POS I was working on -- 60 pages worth. I find having an actual sheet of paper in front of me and a red pen in hand helps me find errors and typos more easily. Anyway, it was a lot more than I thought, so I'm not surprised I'm a bit blank, right now. There are still some bits missing and I think for the link between two bits to work, I'll need to change an aspect of what happens in...well, I don't want to give it away, yet. Maybe not till the novel's in printed form.

Tomorrow night will be taken up with getting ready for my drive down to NYC -- yes, drive. I'm renting an SUV and taking some boxes with me. It's just under 400 miles and I need to be there by 4:30 so it'll be a bit of a rush to get off Wednesday morning. This'll be interesting. The only time I ever drove in NYC before was 30 years ago and after midnight, when the streets weren't so messed up.

Man...that was not a nice time for me. One of the few occasions in my life where I became a full-fledged asshole. I know WHY...but explanations don't excuse my brutally selfish actions,and they cost me a good friend. What's worse is, it took me years to realize just how badly I'd acted. Not very reflective of me. 'Nuff said.

I won't get much writing done while I'm there. I'll only have Wednesday and Thursday evenings to check out the city, so POS gets put aside till Saturday...which may not be a bad thing. It'll give me time to recharge my creative batteries.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Breaking my own rules

I know I shouldn't be focused on word or page count, but I'm now over 500 pages and at 114,171 words on POS. And I'm getting the feeling it will wind up being about 200,000 words long, even once I'm done editing it and removing all the repetition. It's odd how I get a notion of how long a script or story will be, and then it winds up that long and nothing I do to it from that point changes it. It's like everything's written across my psyche and all I'm doing now is finding the correct way to arrange the words since they come to me in quick sequence, sometimes.

I've been focused on Brendan's return to Derry, but only because of this one section that I had to back into. I'm close to done with it and now just need two links for it to be complete. One won't be all that hard; the other will be a bastard...but it'll be the worst part of the story for Brendan, and now maybe the rest can come out more easily.

I'm making a trip to San Antonio at the end of August. One VERY positive aspect of flying around all the time is, I built up enough miles to qualify for a free flight. So I'm using it. The thing is, I had to leave on a Wednesday and return on a Tuesday -- rather bizarre...but if it makes for an easier flight, so be it.

Oh...maybe I shouldn't have said that, not after Chicago. Because I'm changing planes in Baltimore. Uh -- oh, hell with it -- too late.

Productivity galore

I'm working on two different sections of the same part of the third book of POS. Sounds complicated but it isn't, really. I have two chapters, back to back, that are slowly filling themselves in -- one from start to finish; one where I'm linking the beginning and the end (because the middle is the hardest part to deal with). Overall, I got 14 pages done and I feel good about what's in them. They'll still need to be worked into where they fit the total scheme and timeline, but they're solid enough for now.

So I jaunted up to Niagra Falls, Canada and had a birthday dinner at Tony Roma's -- and spent a LOT on it -- then toodled on back to finish adding bits to one of the sections.

I don't really feel like writing any more, so I thought I'd share some of the places I was in, this month.

First up -- Iowa City, IA. This is the Iowa River drifting through the U. of Iowa.

And this is downtown Milwaukee from the breakwater.

I passed over the Mississippi, too.

But nothing from Chicago. Airports tend to be dreary places...and O'Hare at 3am with stranded people wandering about was just too creepy.