Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is 270 pages self-indulgent?

That's how long LD is now.  It's closer to what the publisher would want but my thought initially was to keep the story down around 240 pages.  However, I seem incapable of working it lean and mean like a well-oiled machine...because my characters' lives are not like that, so why should their stories be?

So...I still have the epilogue to get proofed and feedback on.  And I'm still waiting for another guy to give me his reaction to the story.  Then while I'm in Birmingham I think I'll do corrections to a printed version...well, not corrections so much as a last polish to make sure it all fits together.

I'd really like to have some other friends of mine read it and give me their reactions, but they take forever to get around to things like this and I can't get seriously started on POS till this is done and gone.  So we'll see what happens.

I also have some tapes being sent to me by the guy I did a rewrite of a screenplay for.  He's finally realized he needs to turn his script into a book (since it's based on his own experiences with the NYPD in the late 60's and early 70's).  I told his story in a non-linear fashion, hoping it would get interest in it, but nothing much happened.  He's probably right to do it that way, but I don't know if I'm the right guy for it.  Still, he hasn't got anybody else.  So maybe once I'm done with POS I'll give his story a whirl, just to see how it turns out.  He's got WAY more going on in his story than LD does...though nowhere near as much as POS.

I'm off tomorrow after a non-stop week.  I'm ready to sleep in.  Fact is, I hate to get up before 10am.  Very much a night owl and always have been.  To me, eggs over easy and hash-browns slathered with Tobasco at two in the morning is just right.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Totally confusing

I watched "The Quare Fellow" (1962) a film adaptation of Brendan Behan's play...adapted and directed by Arthur Dreifus in the most amateurish way possible.  I actually wondered if it was his first film so I looking him up on and found this --

German-born choreographer Arthur Dreifuss emigrated to the U.S. in 1928, starting work as a theatrical producer in New York. He went to Hollywood, first as a dance director in the 1930s, then, from 1940, turning out a steady stream of B-movies for Sam Katzman at Monogram Studios. He is best known for 'Quare Fellow' (1963), based on a play by Brendan Behan.

He did a lot of "B" movies in the 30's and 40's...and I can see why he never moved beyond them; he had the storytelling ability of a lump of coal...and this was a story that needed an Irish poet.  A new prison warden (guard) finds his views changing as the execution of a condemned man (the quare fellow, Irish slang for a man about to be hanged) approaches.  He meets the man's wife, learns information that might save the man's life and nearly destroys his career and reputation in trying to do something about it.

I've read the play and it's a very strong piece, but you'd never know that from this adaptation.  The movie is lumpy and badly staged, with a minimal sense of rhythm.  I mean, there's even a fight sequence that's so inept, my jaw dropped.  Fortunately, he had Patrick McGoohan as his lead, and the man was excellent.  Not so, Sylvia Syms, who couldn't even cry convincingly with her back turned.

The main saving grace was a half-hour bit about Brendan Behan's Dublin in the extras folder.  It added to my knowledge about the Irish way of life in the middle 60's.

In "The Lyons' Den"

The journey to madness begins with this -- After Tad's talked him into rewriting 8 lousy scripts, Daniel is being driven up to Bradleyville to do his writing instead of driving himself.  His driver is an intern named Paul, who thinks he's certifiable.


The 6 turned into the 17 and we drove through an area of hills and twists and turns and construction as occasional signs read, “Future 86.” Which reminded my guy of what they say in restaurants when they’ve run out of something. Which reminded him he’d had to wait tables while in college. Which he hated. Which sent him on a spiral into thinking it was an omen of how things would turn out in regards to the deal because he was probably 86’ing his future and on and on. I finally had to remind him he had some “Nine Inch Nails” on his iPod (which he’d just bought recently, and then only because he had some left over from the ten-K Tad paid for the option to my books -- okay, OUR books) so he pumped up “Closer To God” and we rocked along.

Okay, so maybe the idea of a gay man singing “I wanna fuck you like an animal” in a car driven though a snowstorm by a very nervous straight kid from Wisconsin isn’t what you’d call the perfect situation, but sometimes you just have to make do.

We finally got off 17 onto a two-lane road that was dark and damn near deserted and the snow kept snowing and the trees got thicker and even more foreboding and the sky looked blacker than black...until we passed over a hilltop -- and down in a picturesque valley of bleak, snow-covered fields twinkled the tender lights of Bradleyville, New York. And lemme tell you, the second I saw it, I knew this was the kind of place that...well, while the chamber of commerce may say it’s cozy and quaint, kids that live there probably see it as “the hell I wanna get the hell away from,” it’s so terminally cute. And charming...and messy in its layout -- just your typical New England style village.

Somehow Dan-O (naw, better just call him Daniel, from now on, just for clarity’s sake) anyway, Daniel lost his pissy edge and helped Paul find this late-night diner just off the main drag; that’s where Tad said the caretaker’d meet us. We parked and walked inside to enjoy the blast of warm air (with Paul three steps behind my guy and still deep into wariness mode but obviously relieved to be around human beings, again).

The diner was long, shabby and nicely cozy with a few folksy patrons and a cook-slash-waiter in a white chef’s hat. It was all SOOOO clichéd, there was even a slice of apple pie sitting on a pie tray screaming at my guy, “I do a great a la mode with coffee.” Okay, let’s test out your hypothesis, little piece of pie, thought my guy as he removed his gloves but --

“You that fool friend of Mr. Bentley’s, come up here?” sliced through the air in a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard screech.

All three of us jumped around to see a five-foot gnome dressed in a massive green parka, thick gloves and a muffler, atop two spindly legs that were wrapped in tan ski-pants that then vanished into a pair of the biggest snow boots ever seen, giving the impression of an olive about to go in a martini. Seriously, all you could see of the person inside were two beady eyes that could easily be a hundred years old.

My guy nodded and asked, “Are you Mr. Serff?”

“Do I look like Mr. Serff?” the voice snapped.

Well, YEAH, in that get-up.

The olive just kept on with, ”He’s in Boston. I’m the Missus. An’ you’re late.”

“Uh, sorry, we got turned around. It -- it’s nice to meet you. I’m Daniel Bettancourt.”

I couldn’t resist adding, “Sancho Panza to the great and glorious Ace Shostakovich!” To which Daniel rolled his eyes, not in the snotty way Tad does but like he just plain can’t believe I said that.

The old bat noticed said rolling of eyes and glared at him, thinking he meant her, then snapped “And who else might ya be? Up here, this time of year at this time of night? All the best skiin’s to the North. C’mon, let’s get this done with.” And she headed out, muttering, “Little fool.”

Daniel blinked and followed her. “So...I take it Tad explained -- ?”

“Tad?” she snapped, all but kicking open the door. “That what he goes by, now? I knew him when he was just ‘Master’ Theodore James Bentley, the Third, an’ made me use every fool bit of that fool name.”

Wow...looked like he’d always been a dick.

“An’ yes, he did call,” she snarled. “Couple hours ago., ‘told’ me to get the place ready for ya. Got pretty high-handed with it, too, like I’s his employee. Like his poppa don’t treat me all right and proper. Like I’m a fool. I’d of told him where he could go, but ya were already comin’ an’ t’ain’t my way to let people die from exposure. Not ‘round my parcel of the woods, anyhow. T’ain’t polite.”

And I swear, she really DID say “t’ain’t” -- twice!

We were back out to the snow before she even seemed to notice Paul and snorted, “You the driver?” The kid’s eyes got bigger (if that was possible) and he nodded.

Daniel jumped and said, “Sorry, this is -- .”

She cut him off with a wave of her hand and focused on the kid. “You’re set up at Bradleyville Inn, down the end of the street. Tell ‘em Wendy sent ya.”

“I didn’t bring any clothes or stuff and -- ,” Paul said.

“They got a laundry.”

“I don’t have any money.”

The gnome glared at my guy. “Give the kid a couple bills.”

“Me?!” Daniel yelped.

“He brought ya up, didn’t he?”

Dan-O snarled then forced himself to pull a twenty out of his wallet. “Keep receipts,” he said as he slapped it in the kid’s hand. “I’ll take it out of Tad’s hide.”

Yeah, just try and get it back from Mr. Moneybags. Half the reason he’s got such a nice bank balance is he never spends any of his own.

“Now get your things,” Mrs. Serff snapped, cutting my thoughts off, “an’ toss ‘em in the back, here.” Then she climbed into a four-by-four that would’ve been the perfect car-crusher at a monster truck rally, especially with this massive snowplow for a front bumper. Seriously, it even had fold-out steps going up to the sideboards so the old bat could reach the cab.

“Paul, will you be okay here?” Daniel asked, eyeing the truck with what did NOT amount to certainty.

“I’m not staying the night,” he snapped as he got behind the wheel.

“Ya are if ya don’t want to get snowbound halfway back t’ th’ city!” said the old bat as she settled in behind the wheel. “They’re expectin’ four feet. Now let’s get goin’. It’s cold!”

Daniel reluctantly pulled his satchel and bag of groceries from the SUV and climbed aboard as Paul huffed and looked around and tossed out a few “dammits”...and finally aimed the Cadillac up the street, headed for the inn. Well...away we went in the other direction, tires spitting snow with abandon, and I have to say -- while I may’ve thought my guy was getting into something out of control before, now I knew it for a fact.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eat, Drink, Laze like a worn out kitty

That was my evening.  After dealing with book people who cannot be bothered to pay attention to reality, all day, my brain was naturally I went to the Apple store for a meeting with the Genius Bar and had to be coherent enough to explain why my laptop is not happy.  It doesn't like releasing USB drives, half the time...and it actually did its little "MINE AND NOT GONNA LET IT GO" schtick while I was there.  Very cool.  Unfortunately, the best they could offer was, "Archive stuff, and if that doesn't work, do a fresh install."

My laptop's 3 years old and, apparently, that's the usual age where they start getting fussy.  Especially since I've had it in and out of airports so much, lately.  I guess I'll see what I can do...and see if I can figure out how to archive stuff.  All the "help" button tells me is to compress files into zip formats.  I ain't got that many files on there.

So I had the Avocado Rolls and a Kirin at a Cheesecake Factory in that mall, and that's where the lazy comes from.

I got more good notes on LD and had some flash ideas that I was smart enough to write down when I got them.  By the time I'm done with this book, it'll read like a movie.

A friend of mine asked me what I'd do if someone wanted to buy the movie rights to one of my books.  Well...I can't see that happening for HTRASG, PM or RIHC6...but BC and LD are possibles.  And it got me to wondering.  I mean, my background is screenwriting...but I don't write scripts anyone wants.  Even the producers and directors who liked my work didn't believe in it enough to get it made...and I'm finding that's what makes movies like mine get completed -- someone who believes in the project so strongly they won't take "No" for an answer.

Of course, I'm no better.  Fact is, I didn't really believe in my work until 5 years ago, and I never have had enough confidence in myself to push the idea that my script and project is better than anyone else's.  So maybe I was fated not to achieve anything that way.

But if someone wanted to take my book and have their own personal "Cheeto-eater" redo it (that reference makes sense in relation to "The Lyons' Den") I don't know.  I'd have the book, now, so my story would have been told the way I wanted I might just take the money and run.  But then again...I've seen what idiots do to great material ("Last Time I Committed Suicide" and "Borstal Boy" instantly come to mind) and I don't want BC or POS treated that way.  So I might also vet the interested party and make sure they can do what they say they can.  And if not, just say no.

Truth is, I won't know till it happens.  If.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm a maniac

I've done corrections and rewriting on LD through chapter 10 -- about page 200 -- and I'm up over 57K in wordage.  A lot has changed and so little has, as well.  It's all in the details, as so many writers say...and that is where the fun lies, as well.  The interaction between Daniel and Van as well as better modulation of Daniel's growing frustration and building fear that he's going insane.  What's even more fun is playing with the space I've built in the actual building -- The Lyons' Den, itself.  The staircase that runs up behind the fireplace and chimney, the dining table, the couches flanking the hearth, the shower curtain in the bathroom, the kitchen.

I've begun to grow protective of Daniel.  I want to push things as far as I can, but I don't want to swamp him.  But now that he and Van are connecting better, I feel like I can pump up the volume a I have and he's proven to be even more self-sufficient than I expected. 

I doubt I'll get much done, tomorrow.  I have an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.  My laptop's unhappy about something and I want it checked out.  It wouldn't let me eject a USB drive I was using, today, and this isn't the first time.  In fact, it got so bad, I had to pull some tricks to even be able to make the finder force quit.  Once that was done and I'd restarted it, everything was fine.  But I still want it checked while it's still under warranty (I bought the extended one and it's over with next month.)  Man, it's hard to believe I've had this for 3 years.

I'm close to getting to go to Portland, Oregon for a packing job...but I don't think it'll happen.  Flying into that town is damned expensive.  It'd be nice to actually see the place since I've never been...but it's no big deal.  Especially since I'm damn close to broke, again.  Guess this always going to be the story of my life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I read...

Trash, sometimes...but I read.  Every now and then I'll buy a copy of "Entertainment Weekly" and read that.  And I always get the "Hollywood" edition of "Vanity Fair", even though it's barely relevant, anymore.  I actually read some of the articles in "DNA Magazine", an Australian gay rag that has lots of nearly naked guys in it who've been airbrushed within an inch of looking unnatural.  I tried reading Sue Grafton but her style irritates me.  I enjoyed portions of "Finishing the Hat" by Steven Sondheim (tho' that hardly counts as trash, even if it wasn't as revealing as I'd have liked). I'm now set to read "Fear of the Collar" and "The Longest War" to get back into my info gathering for "Place of Safety."  I'm also going to reread "The Battle of Bogside", since an important chapter (or four) takes place during that.

So what did I do to prep myself for this dive back into some serious reading?  Read book 9 of the Mark vincent gay-vampire-detective series, which has yet to be published.  I love Kyle Cicero's characters and the situations he comes up with.  He also puts in some interesting bits of Roman history.

I think reading that group of books helped me see I needed better characters in my work, and that's what set me up to go overboard with "The Lyons' Den."  So far the consensus on this latest version is, the people populating the story are fun and fascinating and really weird, at times.  Just like I wanted it.

I'm still in the process of proofing and editing, and the guy who's doing it has pointed out things that could be better that I'd never have even thought about -- like when Daniel exits the shower after a vicious argument with his ids (makes sense in the story, trust me), I had him grab a pistol and then wrap a shower curtain around himself as he headed for the door.  Which would be awkward to do in reality.  But which I never even looked twice at...until my editor pointed out it would be easier if he wrapped the curtain around himself first and THEN grabbed the pistol.  And now I think it makes perfect sense that way.  Duh.

Or...he wondered why another character left his pistol behind.  To me, it was obvious he'd dropped it while climbing out a window...BUT it wasn't obvious to the reader.  So I redid it and it segued into a neat little exchange between Daniel and Ace.

Who knows?  Maybe this book will turn out to make sense after all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why don't people read?

I went in to work late because of certain meetings taking place, and wound up working till nearly 7pm because booksellers seem unwilling to read instructions on what to do when they're exporting books from the UK to the US.  And I'll be in probably for another 6-8 hours, tomorrow.  So much for time off.

Positive thing is, LD is coming along.  I have through page 163 edited and corrected, and I've added more than I thought I could, mainly while clarifying interactions between Daniel and Ace.  Got a hundred pages left to do.

You know, I'd forgotten about this...but Joseph McCarthy was a senator from Wisconsin when he did his dirty stuff in Washington.  And he went pretty extreme in it, too.  Now the Wisconsin GOP has gone off the deep end, just like he did, and you'd think that would make a real splash across the nation...but so far the "liberal media" have pretty much ignored it.

A Wisconsin college professor wrote an op-ed piece for the NY Times about how Democrats and Republicans used to work together for the common good in that state.  He pointed out how Wisconsin became a leader in modern societal interactions -- being the first state to start unemployment insurance and worker's compensation as well as collective bargaining.  So the GOP in Wisconsin has demanded he turn over all his e-mails, using the FOIA as their method, even though by demanding this they may be violating the privacy laws concerning students.

They've ALSO ignored a court order blocking implementation of their anti-union bill and are acting as if it's now law, even though there are several court challenges to it.  Talk about a coup.  It's like Wisconsin went from being a democracy to being Libya or Syria overnight.  I wonder if enough of the citizens care enough to put a stop to it?  Or maybe people just figure, even if they DO recall those 8 Republican state senators, the GOP will just ignore it or go find a judge who'll back them up and let them pass more laws to solidify their control over the state's politics.

So...this is America today.  One party's made up of spineless wonders while the other has made ignorance, insanity and being an asshole ass-kisser requirements for office.  Makes you SO proud, don't it?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Took the day off

Since I'll be working two weeks straight.  And I want to get some other things completed -- including "Lyons' Den."  Seems I have a publisher sort-of interested.  They prefer books of more than 60,000 words (big shock to me since they don't bother telling you that till you submit a query) but they're open to considering it because I sold my novella to them.  So I want to get the book off before they lose interest.  They still may not go for it...but it's promising.  One big caveat -- "The Lyons' Den" wouldn't come out till Spring of 2012...a year from now.

I spoke with my current publisher at length, Tuesday, and it's still all promises and lots of projects in the works, and it's never been a question of IF I'll get paid for my work with him and my books' sales but WHEN.  His words. usual, it all depends upon the kindness of others.  It's really too bad because I like the guy; I just can't rely on him.

Of course, this other publisher wouldn't be right for "Place of Safety", either (that's really more of a mainline publishing book) but it would work for "Coby O' and the Pink Palace of Texas" when I get that story written.  I caught the weirdest idea of having Coby's 50 year-old bi-lingual Macaw be the narrator.  That might actually be fun.

I just listened to the loveliest melody on KCRW (streaming it via my computer) -- a remix of "Fail Forever" by a Danish band called "When Saints Go Machine".  It has this heartbreakingly beautiful instrumental lead-in that sounds like a mix between a sitar and one of those Japanese string instruments (can't think of what they're called) that are used in No Theater.  But it's elegant, it hurts.

Now off to do battle with the story.  No...I'm past the battle phase.  Now we're into mutual cooperation geared towards amplifying the excellent in Daniel's experiences rather than the second-rate.

Perfection -- c'est moi.  (You now have permission to laugh.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Little bit of sharing

 Just thought I'd introduce the world to my task masters...uh, mistresses, since they're both female and total drama queens.  Perky one's named Pidget and she loves to sit in this orange desk chair and dig into the seat with her claws as it's spun around.  Moody one's Odo, who doesn't like to share anything, not even the heating pad.

Oh, and that's my desk.  Don't judge me.
And here's a lovely Spring day in Buffalo.  Close to a foot fell in six hours.  Which apparently is normal.  My car is pissed.  But you can't see it here because this is the front parking lot to my building while my Civic is pouting in the back one.

I'm now going to watch a documentary called "Mise Eire" that was made in 1959 about the events during Easter Week, 1916.  The languages offered are English and Gaelic.  I may watch it both ways.

UPDATE: Don't bother with "Mise Eire."  It was one of the most insipid, uninformative documentaries I've ever seen.  Its one saving grace is all the archival footage it had, including Queen Victoria arriving for a state visit in Dublin in 1901, shortly before her death.  But the voice over (in Gaelic) was bad Cuban-propaganda-style purple prose.  Very disappointing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Here we go, again...

I've been inputting corrections and smoothing over the opening of "The Lyons' Den" and thought I'd share a solid version of how the book begins, again.  No HUGE changes...but smoother ones, I hope.


Okay, Daniel never should’ve agreed to help Tad (excuse me, Theodore J. Bentley, the Third) in the first place; let’s agree on that up front. But the way the guy rushed into the diner, breathless, his ice-blue eyes projecting fear and need and horror -- all on top of that tender little quiver he could get in his voice as he whimpered, “Danny, please, I don’t know what to do,” -- well I have to admit, it would’ve breached the first wall of any defense...maybe even mine, and I hated his ass.

Well, “hated” might be kind of strong, but I sure as hell didn’t like him, especially after what he’d pulled on Dan-O six months earlier. You see, that’s when Tad dumped him. After they’d been together for three years! It left my guy unable to do anything but just lie in bed for two days as he tried not to think, and the only reason he got going that quick was his rent was coming due so he had to work or get evicted. Not an easy time, lemme tell ya.

But crap like that don’t really matter to people like Tad (excuse me, Master Theodore J. Bentley, the Third; he’d snarl in disgust without the full and flowing exclamation of his name). He was one of those young, perfect East Coast types who know from the cradle that they’re destined for great and glorious things (meaning a producer in Hollywood, in his case; helps to know the shallowness of his aims). And man, was he putting everything he had into it. He’d already produced one cable movie using one of Dan-O’s mystery-suspense novels -- “High-Heeled Moccasins,” featuring yours truly, Ace Shostakovich -- but what made him a player (someone to be paid attention to, in Hollywood-speak) was that he had also taken an option on two more of Daniel’s books -- “The Tangerine 42-D Cup Madam” and “The Dr. Pepper Tryst and Tristan” -- all of them with a nice little cult following and, again, featuring me.

Meaning, yes -- I don’t really exist except on the page or in the back of your brain. But if you think it’s weird a fictional character’s telling this story, you ain’t seen what happened, yet.

Unfortunately, even having six mysteries published don’t mean making enough to live on in New York City. So while Tad was flying high playing Mr. Great-and-Glorious-Producer-Dude, my guy was still tending bar at two different eateries. And that’s probably how things would have stayed if Tad’s “little problem” hadn’t reared its ugly head.

You see, as the Golden-One put it, he’d hired this way-too-pricey-twenty-one-year-old-Cheeto-eater (AKA: laptop potato) to adapt those two books into eight scripts for a cable series. Everyone Tad talked to SWORE he was the hottest screenwriter since Orson Welles, so who better to give him something high profile and eye-popping to show the money boys?

Well...Tad finally got the screenplays on a Friday. And just knowing they would knock anybody’s nose ring off, Mr. Brilliant arranged a drop-dead face-to-face with the “yay or nay” guy at HBO for the following Monday (sort of a “meet me, now, or I take it to Showtime” kind of deal; being bi-lingual helps). Only then did he actually read the damned things -- and that’s when he saw his fledgling career crash and burn before his designer contacts.

Seems the Cheeto-eater’d had so little interaction with reality (since birth, I bet), he thought characters in movies were more real than real people were, especially when spitting third-rate film noir dialog that was dumb in the 40’s and doing crap that’d be idiotic even for a spoof of the mystery-thriller genre. But just as Sir-Perfect was about to toss himself off the balcony of his million-dollar condo, he remembered Dan-O worked lunches, nearby, so raced over to waylay him.

Now he and my guy were seated in a downstairs booth, in a back corner of the diner’s faux dark and white 1890’s décor, right by the hallway to the restrooms. And having filled my guy in on his “worse than death” situation, Tad shifted gears into whine mode. “This means ALL the scripts are crap, all fuckin’ eight of them, including the Bible.” (“The Bible” not being that book of Christian conflict but one that outlined the direction the characters and story would take; just keeping you up with the patois.)

“C’mon, Tad,” (Daniel being the only one allowed to call him that), “I write books, not scripts.”

“But they’re based on your books! And you’re the one who was always telling me, a story’s a story.”

My guy snorted as he said, “A script isn’t a story, it’s a desecration.” Then he dug into his cheeseburger, served nice and hot, for once, by his buddy, Orlando, and which he was using as both lunch and dinner since he had another shift to work, that night.

“Danny, I told you from the outset,” Tad snapped, “you can’t fit a whole two-hundred and fifty pages into an hour and forty minute movie without cutting some things. And you know, reviewers still said we stuck really close to your story.”

Didn’t matter. So the movie had turned out nice enough, so what? It still wasn’t...well, it just wasn’t right. I’d been made way too cynical and Carmen (oh, she’s my sexy secretary) was only a sex toy, not at all like we were in the novel. Honest. But Dan-O’d made enough cash off the rights and a bump in book sales to pay off a couple bills and move to an apartment that had fewer roaches, so he couldn’t bitch too much. And since this series of screwed-up scripts were based on what he’d written, he probably did have a pretty good idea of what they’d need to work.

“Besides,” Tad kept on with, “you’re the guy who’s always said...and I heard it every time you got stuck on a story...‘My characters’ll work it out. Ace’ll take care of everything.’”

“Which you said made me sound crazy.”

“Yeah, so why stop now?” said without a hint of irony.

Dan-O all but growled, “But I wasn’t, Tad.”

“Then why’re you on Prozac?”

“I’m NOT!”

Not anymore, anyway. He’d stopped taking it three weeks before the breakup.

“Danny, last time I was at your place, you still had a bottle in the bathroom.”

“It’s an old prescription and -- whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, you went through my medicine cabinet?”

“Yeah. I was -- was looking for some Tylenol and...” And all of a sudden, Little-Sir-Perfect realized he fucked up. He could see it in Dan-O’s glare.

Oh, a little background here -- he’d appeared at Dan-O’s door a few weeks ago with a list of questions the Cheeto-eater had about “...Tristan” and had used the bathroom twice while my guy was trying to understand where the hell the questions had come from since they had nothing to do with the book he’d written. And had said nothing concerning either the meds or the weirdness of the looming rewrite, then.

Well, Sir-Great-and-Glorious rolled his eyes in that way that always pissed my guy off (not so much because it was condescending or dismissive, but because he looked so damned good when he did it) and he said, “Okay, fine, fine, I shouldn’t have done that. And so what if I’ve seen you say things that would’ve put you in a padded room, fifty years ago? I know that’s just you being creative because I HAVE seen it work. I never should’ve said that, Danny. I -- I’m sorry.”

Which floored Dan-O and me, both. This guy was one of those people who never admit they’re wrong about anything, and who have the looks, attitude and charisma to pull it off. I mean, if he says the sky is green, it sorta-kinda is -- even when it’s really blue. If he says the world is flat -- hell, not even the horizon would argue with him. But here was big, bad, beautiful Tad (oops, Theodore J. Bentley, the Third; I keep forgetting one must have one’s moniker correct, y’know and...oh, the hell with it; let him snarl) -- here he was, allowing that he might have committed an error.

That alone would’ve told anybody with even half a brain that the bastard was up to something.


Still working through my first real headache in months, and I don't know where it came from.  I just know I spent most of the day popping Advil and rubbing my neck.  So I vegged and watch "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and got some ideas for "Place of Safety" and at least felt like I hadn't wasted the evening.

I also got self-indulgent and watched "Castle" for the first time since I've been up here.  It's still a silly show but the chemistry between the characters is good.

Now it's 12:35 and I'm hungry.  And I don't have anything really to say...except I think I'll do another pass on LD to make sure everything is in order, dates-wise and such.  It jumps around so much and Daniel has so many different aspects of his life showing up, I'm halfway afraid I might have switched some and not realized it.  I'll use this method I used in all my books, so far -- reading through and making notes and then going back over them to see if anything does not match.  It got to be pretty intense with BC's 3 volumes.

Blank.  Time for a shower and bed...and a snack.  I can't sleep if I'm hungry.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Leisurely times

Slept late.  Did laundry.  Grocery shopping.  Not a lot else.  I tried to watch the 1982 version of "Witness For The Prosecution" on Netflix but the first 15 minutes were so awful, I stopped it before Diana Rigg came on.  She's playing the Marlene Dietrich role and is always watchable (she made an excellent Mrs. Danvers in that lousy remake of "Rebecca" done for Masterpiece Theatre about 10 years ago), but there was too damn much nonsense to go through -- lousy writing, lousy acting by really good actors, lousy directing, lousy production values.  I don't have the patience or willingness to waste my time on tripe, anymore

So I did something sneaky.  I sent a query to a publisher for LD, even though I haven't gotten much feedback on it, yet.  Another writer's doing a nice job of proofing it for me and sending me corrections by chapter (not great but not bad, so far), so I input the first three chapters and polished it up and sent it off via e-mail.  If they like that, they'll get back to me and ask for the rest of the book.  Hopefully not before it's done (they say they'll take 60 days).  If they say no, then I'll look into self-publishing it.

I've also been scouring the web for foundations that will support writers...and not finding many.  Most of the ones that do require you not to have published more than one book, if any.  I've found lots of writing competitions for short stories (and poetry collections and the like) but none of them really offer much promise.  Looks like the majority of other resources have dried up...but I've just really begunlooking so I can't say I give up, yet.

Of course, I tried the competition route when I was writing screenplays, thinking if I did well in them, people would take notice of my work.  Didn't happen, even though I actually WON some and did very VERY well, overall.  Nine of my scripts have either won, placed or shown high up in various competitions and that couldn't even get me an agent.

I've decided to start pushing my services as a book packer with other people besides this company in Buffalo.  We don't have an exclusive contract and I can get the word out that I'm available for various jobs.  I've decided to push for moving back to LA and making a living doing this.  I had a nice long chat with one of my German buddies who's living there and I felt such pangs of homesickness, it startled me.  Buffalo's nice enough, but it's not where I want to be.

Guess we'll see how things go. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Simple Freedom Is Never Simple

It costs you, often in ways you'll never expect.  And sometimes the price is worth it.  And sometimes it's not.  And sometimes it doesn't matter because you will never know the actual price you paid.

Taxes, for instance -- always there, no matter what, and they HAVE to be paid or you go to jail.  Which indicates a choice of either or.  BUT...apparently you can just make a partial payment and then the IRS will bill you for the rest (charging an interest rate they will determine at the time).  All well and good, since that's what I'll have to do...or go to jail.  So...worth the cost.

Who you get to DO your taxes...well, take a hint.  Do NOT use H&R Block.  They charged me $355 to give me not one, not two, not three...but FOUR different amounts that I owed the government.  Five if you include the changes I made (though that would be unfair).  If you're going to have someone do them, get a CPA or just do the straight deductions.  H&R Block will mess you up.  Definitely NOT worth the price.

(As a side note -- my CPA in LA charged a hell of a lot less and I never had a problem.  Not once.)

In regards to the never known costs...that has nothing to do with taxes, really.  This is just a rather awkward segue into discussing a movie I watched on Netflix (whose main cost is dealing with occasional hiccups when streaming a video through them, thanks to Verizon's Fios being so crappy).

The movie was "Brick" (2005) and it was interesting in so many ways.  A cute conceit -- high school kids caught in a "Maltese Falcon" style situation with dialogue that's just as tough and in-your-face -- and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was fucking brilliant in it.  With the social strata prevalent in so many high schools being part of the cause behind the whole criminal situation.  There were also a couple of nice visual moments.

But here's the unknown aspect of its cost.  The writer-director was only adequate.  He didn't know screen direction.  Couldn't frame a shot in a way that would add to the story.  Didn't even know how to present his story in a clear fashion.  And did not get about 14 absolutely necessary moments...what we used to call obligatory scenes in film school (the moment when JG-L actually sees the girl's body in front of the drainage pipe, for example -- anyone with any sense would have known that's a shot on the actor reacting, NOT because it adds all that much to the story but because it adds so much to our identification with him and the development of his character).  But the movie still worked.  He didn't HURT things any...and having JG-L in the lead saved his bacon in so many ways.  That guy was just plain amazing.

The unknown cost comes from how much better the movie might have been if a truly talented director was at the helm.  One who had poetry in his soul.  Who cared about his actors.  Who knew what was and was not needed in the film.  Who could tell the rhythm of it.  I think of similar movies like...well, "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" and "Chinatown" and "The Third Man."  All of them made by men who could tap into the heart of the movie and make it sing with beauty and grace.  I think this little movie could have reached those heights...and I'm sorry that it didn't.

After I finished "Casque d'Or" I watched some home footage of the cast at work in an early pivotal scene.  During the commentary, the narrator said that when Simone Signoret was asked what it was like to work with Jacques Becker, she said, "It was like acting in a state of grace."  And that showed in the final product.  "Brick" could have used some of that.

It's not bad.  I do recommend it.  But it isn't often I can actually think of how great a script might have been had someone else been making it with the actors that had been cast.  "While You Were Sleeping" is one.  "The Last Time I Committed Suicide" is another (though this one I will NEVER recommend because the director so totally fucked it up, it's criminal).

So...the cost of having the freedom to get this story told was, essentially, having it told by an amateur...and the unknown cost of that can never be known.  More's the pity.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Never think the fates are on your side

I never should have said a word about making a trip to Ireland to research POS.  I should have just waited till I'd done it and then mentioned it.  Every time I make my intentions and plans public, I get kicked in the teeth.  This time it's the Fates sending the IRS to do their dirty work.

I just got my taxes done.  And to paraphrase the Dastardly Dan characters in so many pot-boiler romances of the late 19th century -- "I can't pay 'em."  Not completely.  They're about 40% more than I expected.  Especially since I'm being hit with a penalty for not paying estimated taxes every three months.  I was able to get away with it prior to last year because I had some in the system due to various things -- cashing out my 401K and paying a percentage of that in tax; not owing any at all, for 2009; stuff like that.  This year?  No way out.  So I am proverbally fucked.

This happened the last time I thought I could go, about 2 years back.  I thought I was getting some money in, and it turned out I not only didn't, but even though I'm still being promised it, I'll never see a penny.  All because I mentioned it on my blog.

Right now, my accountant is going over everything to see if she can figure out how to lessen the burden and we'll talk more in the morning, but I'm not hopeful.  And I'll wind up owing even more because I'll have to work up some sort of payment plan with the IRS and they are idiots to deal with.  The last time I had trouble with them, it took me six months to straighten it out and then it only became okay because I got the name of a supervisor and directed all my correspondence to that person, no matter who contacted me from there.

Love it.  Love my whole fucking situation.  I'm owed over $20K by family, friends and people I've done business with...and I'll never get any of it.  There's always a problem or a reason or an excuse as to why they can't pay me...and has been for years.  Way of the world.

Shit...I'm slipping into a nasty whine.  I'm getting out of here and having some Indian food and a beer.  As Scarlett said, "I'll deal with this crap tomorrow (of course, I'm paraphrasing)."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not impossible, yet

Going over the figures on what I'd need to spend 3 weeks in Derry researching "Place of Safety" showed me it's just about possible for me to cover a month's normal expenses and the cost of the trip.  Of course, that's if everything goes just right...which with my luck is no guarantee.  I'm more certain I could cover a week there but I haven't backed down from the full time I want, yet.  I need to do more research.

What I've already done is tell the people I work for I'm taking August off, through Labor Day.  They seemed relieved.  It's still possible a packing job will come up in August...but if it does, I'll work around it.  And I may well just not bother letting them know it did.  It's an installation job, really, which requires nothing in the way of shipping.  I just go there and take the books off shelves and move them to a new place and put them back in the exact same order.  I could easily handle it on my we'll see how it goes.  The guy may not want to do it once he sees the estimate I work up.

That's the shitty part of contract labor -- you don't work, you don't get paid.  On top of paying self-employment tax and not getting paid holidays or vacations.  When I was at Heritage, I had seniority enough to get 4 weeks paid vacation a year.  I liked it.  I miss that.  But then, Ben and Lou were very generous with their people if they felt they were doing a good job.  It never ceased to amaze me just how ungrateful most of the crew there was.

Don't get me wrong -- this job has its pluses.  I get to travel a fair amount and things are fairly flexible.  And the people I work with aren't obnoxious or cruel.  I just wish I could get ahead, and what I'm being paid here just won't do it.  Maybe once I'm done paying back the money I borrowed from my mother I'll be better off.

As for now...if I don't work it out to where I can do the trip to Derry, I'll spend August writing the first draft of POS and at least get that done.  Then I'll start saving for a trip there in December.  Not my first choice but not a horrible option.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


"The Lyons' Den' is now in its third draft as a novel, 260 pages, 55,659 words, complete chaos.  Daniel's character arc is stronger, Van is more in tune with him and Tad is more attractive as a potential partner...I hope.  I'm too close to the story to really know, right now.

So now I can go out tomorrow, have my corned beef and cabbage with a Guinness and do the St.Pat's thing in the middle of a town that's rabidly Irish, right now.  Then comes getting my taxes in order and prepping for another packing Birmingham.  After that, it's down to NYC for a day to help ship the NY Book Fair dealers home.

In doing some research on a potential trip to Ireland while at work (I know, I'm bad, I don't care) I found a charter service that flies out of Toronto that would cost about $300 less into Dublin than flying out of Buffalo.  And there's a steady bus service between Buffalo's airport and Toronto's.  That's a definite maybe, so long as the fare isn't too high.  I also located a placement service in NI for bed-sit rooms. I don't know yet if they'll set me up in one for just 3-4 weeks, but it's something to consider and would be a LOT cheaper than a hotel.

I don't know if they're actually planning to shut down in August, but I may just go ahead and take the month off.  I probably won't have a salary that month, anyway, so why worry about it?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Makin' it.

I'll have "The Lyons' Den" input and set by the 17th, it seems.  I've got the biggest changes done and now is just minimal detail work in the last chapters.  But this is done with the understanding deep within that I'll have to do another pass on it just to make sure everything's in order...something I will NOT do until I've gotten more feedback and started back to work on "Place of Safety."

Of course, by "work" on POS I mean reading.  Note taking.  Digging into the world of Derry between 1966 and 1972 as well as 1981.  I am SO looking forward to it.  I feel something pulling at me deep within, as if to impress upon me that now is the time to get it going.  Get it done.

Once I DO have POS done, I've got a backlog of other stories ready to be told.  Some fun.  Some harsh.  Some erotic.  Some just wild and crazy.  No telling which will jump to the front of the line, right now.

I'm not in the mood to write, right now.  It's playtime.
I felt a bit like this a few times during this Buffalo winter.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pas de Paris, oui de Birmingham...

And we ain't talkin' the one in England.  The first week of April, just as things will be starting to get steamy.  And the person it's being done for is one of those people who has no idea of how real life works so will be pushing hard to get things done in a ridiculous amount of time.  I'd say no to it, but I want to get away from here for a few days and if it's just to friggin' Alabama, so be it.

I'm trying to balance work, writing and personal life and it's been fun.  Meaning no personal life to speak of.  That job...meh, I've had worse.  But I'm at that stage in my life where I don't have much patience for nonsense.  The writing...I'm about at the point of "whatever" with LD.  I actually enjoyed watching that movie, last night, even if I did have to justify it by doing my ironing at the same time.  And I want to do that some more.  I'm tired of just work.

Paris is off this year because for some unfathomable reason the organizers chose May Day weekend for it, which is a HUGE holiday in Europe.  On top of it being just after the Easter Holiday...and Passover...AND Prince William's marriage.  So only 8 dealers are going from the UK and US.  That's it.  First the volcano, now the calendar.  I'm not fated to see Paris again, I guess, because it's WAY more important that I get to Derry for POS and I can't see myself pulling it together to make a trip to France anytime soon.

Besides, I'd like to finish the book before the end of the world...which seems to be getting a bit too close for comfort, lately.  Who'd have thought Japan might wind up having the first nuclear wasteland?  I hope to God not...especially considering Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Red pen is done

And Daniel has changed clothes.  And Tad's become a force to deal with.  And Van's more aware and conflicted in the final third.  And my newish ending works even better then before.  I just hope it all makes sense.  Now comes the joy of inputting the red-pen stuff and seeing just how long this story's turned out to be.

So I took a break and watched "Casque d'Or" as I ironed.  It's a classic French film from 1952, with Simone Signoret (who would win the Oscar for Best Actress seven years later)...and was interesting.  It seems like a meandering little story set in the France of La Belle Epoch (1890's) and deals with a group of criminals and their first.  But it slowly reveals itself to be about how a man's obsession with a woman can make him turn on everything he believes in order to have her, often without thinking through the consequences of his actions.  It's all so easy-going and straightforward about this, you don't realize just how wrapped up you are in the story until it's almost over.

But this is one of the reasons I love French films.  They can do low-key dramas with earth-shattering meaning better than anyone.  Even their comedies are low-key...and yet moments stick with you for years.  Like "La Chevre" (The Goat), which is a comedy about a businessman's daughter who goes missing in Mexico.  She's one of those people who has phenomenal bad luck but somehow always manages to come out okay in the end.  So the businessman has a detective (played by Gerard Depardieu) take along another man who has phenomenal back luck to retrace her steps and see if they can find her, that way...and it nearly drives Depardieu insane because it seems to be working.  The bad-luck guy is played by Pierre Richard, and I can still see him swollen up like a balloon from a bee sting in an airplane and them having to crash land near a hospital so he can be cared for...and then Depardieu finding out something similar happening just weeks before and nearly wiped the place out.  And the ending is priceless.

Of course, two of my absolute favorite films are French -- "Les Quatre Cents Coups" (The 400 Blows) and "La règle du jeu" (Rules of the Game, which is the English title but isn't quite correct because the French title is singular and it actually makes more sense that way).  They had major effects on how I view films and what I will and will not accept in the realm of suspension of disbelief.  I have those on I may watch them once I've done my inputting on "The Lyons' Den".

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We are not impressed with Verizon's WiFi

It seems whenever the weather's even the least bit bad, my WiFi gets all janky...which normally wouldn't matter except I'm listening either to Pandora or KCRW as I work and having them do their little hiccup thing in the middle of a melody is jarring.  But I don't have many CDs and don't wish to get an iPod because I don't have the cash to fill it with my choices of music...not if I want to make this trip to Ireland.

Of course, my concerns are pretty superficial in the face of everything that's been happening -- Japan being shifted 8 feet to the west; union busting in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio; Michelle Bachman mangling her facts about American history yet again and sloughing it off so still being considered a leader of the GOP; Newt Gingrich loving America so much he fucked around on wives 1 & 2 then dumped them when they became ill, and sloughing it off so still is considered a leader of the GOP; Libya collapsing into civil war...and on and on.

It's interesting, but I read "Candide" many, many years ago and the sections that stick out most in my brain were when he winds up in Lisbon shortly after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated that city and he's almost hanged as a heretic by the Inquisition, and when he goes to South America (Brazil?) and sees the unspeakable cruelty being practiced against the natives but also finds Eldorado...if I remember it right.  And I'm thinking of that as regards the world and how little humanity has changed since then.  At the end, Candide winds up married and happily tending to his own little garden and not worrying about anything else...and thinks that's how everyone should live.  Can't say I disagree...if people would leave you alone.

Dunno where that came from.  It just hit me...maybe in reaction to an MSNBC twerp talking about how the quake was bad but at least it won't effect the stock market, too much.  Like Wall Street's more important than anything else. the face of that stupidity, what can you do but just shake your head and keep moving?

Van's changed his first name to one I'd never thought of, before.   And I'm cutting and adding but making few actual shifts in the storyline, finally.  That's usually a good sign -- when I don't think a paragraph in chapter 2 belongs in chapter 7.  LD feels like it's beginning to finally settle down and all that's left is detail work.

A quick glance at prices and I figure I could do 3 weeks in Derry for about $2500, including air fare and considering the exchange rate.  I'm looking into renting a room for that period instead of a B&B, taking the bus from Dublin to Derry and not traveling about much.  I'd still need to cover my rent, insurance and credit card payments so I'll need to research this more...but it no longer looks impossible.  Just depends on how badly I want it.

Hm...maybe I'll find a way to stay there and not have to come back.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Interesting prospects...

I may not be working in August.  Or being paid.  Today the people I'm consulting for said they might shut their office down for the month since it will be completely quiet.  My initial thought was, "Better start saving money to pay your bills that month."  And being pissed off about it.  But then I got to thinking...if I could pull the money together, I could spend that month in Derry researching POS's sociology and daily details.  But the question comes -- How?  I could cut my expenses more.  Push people who owe me money to repay me (or just plain PAY me what they owe me).  Borrow.  Play the lottery here and in Canada.  Rob a wonder how long it wold take them to figure out I'd split the country and get me extradited?

Maybe I should first figure out how much I'd need for...say...3 or 4 weeks.  At the height of the season.  It won't be cheap and the exchange rate is crap.  But Ireland's in a depression, right now, so maybe it'll work if I stay in the Republic and hop a bus across the border.

Opportunity knocks.  Let's see if I can find the key to the door to open it in time.

LD is up to 260 pages and nearly 56K in wordage.  Now comes my last pass and off to get feedback. Still aiming for the 17th.

I watched the video of the Tsunami in Japan and got chills.  Then I learned our glorious and positively bone-headed GOP Reps in Washington cut funding for Tsunami warnings in the US and around the world in their new budget.  Crescent City, CA got hit hard by the waves and could have lost several lives (like happened in 1964, after the Alaska earthquake) had it not been for the early warnings.  As it is, one person still may have been carried off by the water.

This reminds me of Bobby Jindal making fun of volcano monitoring about this time last year, and then came the Icelandic volcano that wreaked havoc with world travel and commerce.  It's like Mother Nature is listening to these idiots and saying, "Okay, you freak, you're gonna make fun of me?  I'll show you who's boss."  And like blind fools, they learn nothing from it.  I'd say it's lovely in the way of poetic justice except hundreds, maybe thousands, have been killed in this disaster.

Time to get down to work.  I wonder if I can just up the credit limit on my credit card or get a new one?  Worry about paying it later.

Okay...that last is definitely a last resort.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Too close to a good whine

After the disgraceful manner in which the GOP pushed through their illegal union-busting bill in Wisconsin and Obama stayed silent...on top of one GOP state rep proposing a law that would ban college students from voting because "they vote Liberal" and another GOP rep proposed a law making miscarriages a capital offense and so many other stupid STUPID things the GOP and Tea Party scum have done or proposed...I've just about given up on this country.  The right wing is out to make us a one-party nation, doing everything they can to emasculate the left and keep themselves in power forever, just like Hitler and his scum.  And the Democrats around the country -- the ones actually willing to fight back -- are so outnumbered, they can't stop it.  And the Democratic leadership in Washington just ignores it and keeps trying to appease the GOP, no matter how many times they get nothing but a slap in the face back.  It's diseased.

I read someplace once that a democracy will last until the people realize they can vote themselves a tax cut.  I don't remember who said it, but it sure fits now.

I'm sick of this crap.  And it has actually sickened me.  The US used to be the greatest nation in history...and now it's being turned into a Third World country by people who only have their hate and greed to guide them.  In 10 years, we will be no better than sub-Sahara Africa in our politics and meaning, let alone our economy.  I hope they all burn in hell.

It took me a couple of hours to get to where I could focus on LD and I used my red pen to rework the last few chapters so they're a bit smoother.  I'll input the changes and go through the whole script over the weekend and that will be it.  I'm close to losing myself in Daniel's madness from this and need a break.

Shit, I need a break from everything...including me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


That's how many words "The Lyons' Den" is now up to.  Spread over 258 pages.  I'm printing it up even as I write.  It'll be interesting to see how it reads in a hard copy.  I usually find lots of typos and mistakes that way, and come up with new directions to take everything.  But I'm getting close.  I think.

Tomorrow I'm working on my taxes.  I want to get them done, at least, even though I won't be submitting them till the 15th of April.  I have to pay and I'm still saving the money for it, since I haven't put anything into it since I started working.  I've been just trying to catch up, financially.

No trip to Paris, again.  Not enough Americans are going to justify sending me over.  So I guess I'll have to aim to do that on my own.  Dammit.  If I get to go to London for Olympia, I may arrange to stay a couple extra days and take the Chunnel across.  If I don't, I won't.

I've been trying to avoid paying any attention to politics, lately, because it depresses me so much.  The GOP doing everything it can to make its masters happy -- cutting taxes on them, environmental regulations, crushing unions, taking us back to 1910 in so many ways; the Democrats normally rolling over and playing dead.  That the standoff in Wisconsin between that Koch whore, Scott Walker, and the unions has gone on so long is one of the small miracles.  Unions may be a pain in the ass, at times, but they are the only powerful-enough alternative to counter a government run by the Billionaire Boys Club.  I hope they win and Walker gets the boot along with all of his GOP thugs.  The Tea Party will not be happy if that happens, reason enough to pray for it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Speaking of cats...

I wonder if they like "Fancy Feast"?

Sometimes Less is Less...and more better

Y'know, like most writers...I can fall in love with my words.  But going through this restructuring of LD has shown me that sometimes that love is misplaced.  Not because the words are bad, but because they get in the way of the truth of the moment.  Like the ending bit, where I've got ten different people talking at one time.  It sort of worked in screenplay form because they'd be talking over each other and what they said wasn't really important.  But I tried to keep that in the book...and it's just plain confusing.

And what's even worse -- it kills the build of the tension.  So, I cut half of it out.  Then added some back in and took out other bits and layered in even more detail and rearranged that whole moment between Daniel and Ace and now I think it leads into the finale a lot better.  I hope.

I don't remember having this much trouble when writing HTRASG, RIHC6 or PM, all of which are convoluted storylines.  I did, however, have trouble with BC, mainly because I couldn't figure out the actual structure and because I was pushing too much into one book.  The positive aspect of that story was, by breaking it into thirds I was able to let it do its own thing and build a story about people instead of plots. I think.  I've heard from a couple of people who've read it and they seem to like it.

But LD is kicking me in the ass.  And some of it's been painful.  I started working on the last third because Ace's voice sort of vanishes, there, but now it's become more a case of maintaining Daniel's reality (or lack thereof) and still keeping the flow going.

Man...if I'm going through this much shit for a fun little story like this, what kind of hell am I aiming for with POS?  I will DEFINITELY need some comedy in that one, just to keep myself sane.

At least, as sane as I sort-of, kind-of am now.  I think.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hm...something odd to chew upon

I just realized...of all the characters in my books and scripts, only Eric in "Bobby Carapisi" has an animal as a companion -- his dog, Jag, who helps keep him centered.  Coby, in my script "Coby O' and the Pink Palace of Texas", has a parrot, but the damned thing makes his life hell and was really his grandfather's, so that doesn't count.  And Cal, in "The Cowboy King of Texas," had a dog but his father shot it, precipitating the confrontation between them.  No one else has even so much as a turtle or goldfish.

I don't know why except they just never fit into the storyline.  I mean, I like dogs and I'm very much a cat person, but pets are like having a child only more difficult because you can't just park 'em in front of the TV to keep 'em occupied.  But I'm remembering just how much I liked having a cat by having to deal with the two spoiled kitties at the office.  Since their owners are away, they're out of sorts and very demanding, but they also get these looks in their they're afraid of being abandoned, and that gets to me.

The last cat I had was this wild kitten I adopted in Houston.  I called him Edge because he always was this close to spinning into a spitting, fighting machine.  But he was cool around me and once he got it through his head I don't like sleeping with him under my chin, we got along great.

I lived on the second floor of a quadraplex near the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts that was a nice size for me and fairly well-kept.  It got hot in the summer and cold in the winter...but that's Houston.  Edge liked it.  Liked how, when he'd been out prowling, I'd stand in the doorway at the top of the stairs and call out, "Edgey Cat."  He'd appear at the base of the stairs and scurry up, his eyes locked on me until he was inside.  Then he was "Joe Cool" and feed me, now.  He ate good, that cat.

But the yard had a serious problem with fleas because...well, that's just Texas in June.  Then I decided to move.  And take him with me.  BIG mistake.  He HATED leaving his territory, and ruined half my furniture by using it as a litter box.  And then I moved, again, and he split.  Well...he just refused to stay in the new apartment.  He'd come back to eat if I left the food out on the balcony, but if I tried to get close to him, he'd run off.  He'd gone back to his wild roots.

When I was getting ready to move to LA, I'd spoken so one of my former neighbors (who was also cat people) and he'd agreed to take care of him if I brought him back to the quadraplex.  But I couldn't catch him.  Edge'd come by, meow at me as if to say, "You're abandoning me," but would never let me get close enough to even touch him.  So I had to leave him there.

I haven't had an animal since...nor will I until I've settled down to one location for the rest of my life.  It's not fair to the critter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes keep on changing

In my typical fashion, I had an idea that shifted the whole ending around and works a lot better.  It's not nearly as repetitive as the previous version and makes more sense.  And adds a bit of emotional suspense.  It's one of those changes where you wonder why you didn't think of it straight out of the gate.  But better late than never, I guess.

So...I'm up over 55K and still need to go over the last three chapters to make certain they're making sense before I print up a hard copy to proof.  Then it's send it out for more feedback from a new crew, those untainted by memory of the earlier version to see if they agree it's good enough to offer for publication, yet.

Then comes figuring out how the hell to get it published.  I'm still leery of Amazon, even though there's nothing in this book that even begins to approach the likes of HTRASG or RIHC6, but the way the world is going, these days, with the radical talibangelicals trying to have government take over our personal lives while keeping it out of business's never can say.  And one of the first groups they attack are gays and their literature.  It's already happened in Canada, so that might not be the best place to move to if things get crazy here.

In the meantime, I offer a tender moment of repose --
Peace is a kitten asleep on your shoulder.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

All the way, today

I finally made it through this draft.  258 pages; 54, 915 words.  And Ace's voice still sort of vanishes in the last two chapters.  I'll go back through it a few times and bring him back to life in that area, then print up a hard copy and make corrections for typos and missing words on there (I'm really bad about that) then input them and that will be that.

For now.  Knowing me.  Because I have 12 days left before my deadline and I'll probably use every damn one of them up.  Just to make sure I've got it as good as I can get it.

Not that I'm obsessive or compulsive or anything like that.

I'm getting the itch to do some sketching, again.  The last piece of work I did was of Dave Mason, the guy behind Slick-It-Up wear.  That was a face.  I want to do a figure now.  Just need to find the right model.  All the way through school and for the first five years after I graduate, I was an artist.  For a while it even looked like I'd wind up doing graphic novels.  Like this --

This is from "Kazn", a script I wrote about a young Russian soldier who sneaks into America to exact revenge on the man responsible for the murder of his wife and parents.

This is midway through the opening sequence that sets the stage...done as he heads away from a ship, past rows of containers sitting on Long Beach harbor, memories flooding his mind.

I wrote it with minimal dialog and feel the script is just right -- but it's very non-linear and difficult to follow unless you can picture it as you go.  Which is why I think it would work perfectly as s graphic novel.

I could be wrong...but I doubt it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Notes making

I spent my writing time slipping ideas I'd written down into the fabric of LD.  Like Daniel skiing down a Vail slope wearing just his boxer briefs in response to Tad snowboarding in his red Speedo...and nearly freezing his bits off.  And Van commenting on Daniel being so casual about the growing chaos around him and his response being, "What should I do?  Hide in a closet and whimper?"  And renaming Elmer.  I don't know if they really fit, rhythm-wise, but now they're in their spots and we'll see what happens.

Thing is, doing that puts me within spitting range of 55K in words.  I guess I'm just not capable of writing a short novel.  And enough of this.

Fun note -- on Amazon if you have a book listed on their site you can open an author's page and get sales updates on those books and Kindle editions.  You even get a cool little graph showing the ups and downs of your sales.
Well...for some reason somebody bought 10 copies of RIHC6v1 the last week of February, all of them sold in the Atlanta area.  Which surprises me.  I don't know of any gay bookshops in the area, nor am I aware of a convention where they might be given out as door prizes.  So it's quite interesting.

What's even more interesting is they did NOT buy any of volume 2.  Makes you wonder what's up.  Of course, Atlanta being in a souther state, it gives free rein to dark thoughts about ambitious DAs out to prove how hard they are on fags by attacking what we write as porn.  Not that I'm paranoid or anything...despite that bitch dissing my books and proving to me I have reason to be.

Oh, the huge dip in the raggedy Kindle graph is when the book was removed from Amazon's list.  Sales on HTRASG were even more badly hurt.  I had a nice little momentum going -- nothing spectacular but steady in the top 5% of Amazon sales -- until it was banned.  It has yet to recover, completely.

What's that old saying -- "You're not paranoid if people really ARE out to get you."  Hee-hee.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And now on to act 3

Finally.  Finally, I have the first two acts of "Lyons Den" in solid shape and now just need to make the last act fit in with everything else.  This has turned into a serious Page 1 rewrite, and it's made me even more aware of how different screenplays are from books.  In a screenplay, you can skate long and indicate the emotion of the character on the page, but a lot of what happens is up to other people, some of whom will have zero respect for your work.  With a book, you have to put everything on the page and make it seem nice and neat and natural while still deep and honest and consistent.  No one else to blame if it doesn't work.

So tonight I listened to some Depeche Mode and let Daniel have his blow-up with Ace, Carmen and Tad and I can now move on.  I've only got about 65 or 70 pages left to do.  I may get finished just in time for St. Pat's.  Barely.

Then I think I'll spend a couple weeks reading.  I have several books I've yet to go through that deal with Northern Ireland, so I have an excuse to not actually begin the writing until I delve into them.  Plus I have my taxes to do, still, and other bills to catch up with.  No rest for the wicked.

And yet...little moments happen that jolt me out of my preoccupied state.  After work, I was headed for a Wegman's near me (a really cool grocery store with just about everything you could want in it, including killer salads) and passed by the lake in the park...and noticed out in the middle of it were two ice hockey goal nets.
Even though it's freezing out (26 at the time, and we ain't talking Celsius), the ice has become so thin one is sinking into it.  So they've been abandoned to vanish into the icy water.  It's almost sad...and yet lovely in a way.  The meaning of those nets out there -- the games played around them -- the fun had and how the players have moved on.  I guess it means something to me.  What, I don't know yet.  But I stopped to take the photo; that usually says a lot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I lost a follower

I noticed I had 13 followers for this blog (not including me following myself, which is necessary for my followers to show up on the blog page) but now have 12.  And I can't figure out who dropped me.  Guess they got weary of my non-stop prattle about writing LD.  But that's my life, right now -- working for a living and writing to live.

I don't think this story will even begin to work as farce.  It's got too much in the way of drama to it.  I do still think it's lighter than anything else I've written and has some funny moments in it (at least, I HOPE they're funny; I could be fooling myself), unlike anything else I've written.  What's nice about this attempt to write comedy was, even though I'm not achieving it I've caught on to how humor is necessary for a story to feel true and alive.  Not the forced kind (like I was trying to do) but just natural and fun and growing out of the situation.

I'm still on track to be done by the 17th.  And I mean a solid third draft that's massively different from the second draft I had people read...while still being similar enough.  If so, I'm having a real meal at a steak house here in Buffalo.  Build up my bones for the heavy lifting of "Place of Safety" and finding the humor in Brendan's life.

Worker bee be I.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two steps forward, one step back

I found a flaw in the story's logic so had to backtrack and correct it.  Took all evening but it's necessary for the rest of LD to make sense.  And better to realize it now than later...or after it's been published.  Meaning I'll be going over it again, tomorrow, to make sure it's still working.  But that's the way it goes.  We get all caught up in the story and fail to notice reality, even the bizarre reality of the world I've built around Daniel and Ace and Van.

And by "we" I DO mean Daniel and Van and Tad and Ace and Carmen, since they all play into this moment of revelation.  I'm beginning to wonder if I'm doing a roman a clef, here, instead of a work of fiction.  I will say, by the time I get done there isn't going to be much left of the novel or play this is based on.

And I'm typed out, right now.  How 'bout I just get lazy and put up some of what I've been doing, again?


Daniel sighed. “Talk about your basic mystery -- why this crap always comes up just when I need my focus the most.” Then the moon shone between the clouds, again and he smiled at the beauty of the vista before him. He actually loved winter and snow. How clean it seemed. The air so crisp and real. The snow sharp and true. Maybe he’d blow off Bermuda and have Tad join him, up here. Try to rekindle the perfection of that first weekend together. Besides, they hated fags in the Caribbean, and why would anyone want to go anyplace where only their cash was welcome?

“Because,” he whispered, “Tad loves the beaches in Bermuda, you idiot. And we want him to be as open to me as possible.”

So another sip from the brandy. And another sigh...and then the cavalry arrived from a shadow behind him, encased in this tall, elegant set of feminine curves wrapped a slinky negligee. She whispered up, her lovely face framed by hair as black as a raven’s feather, and slipped her arms over my guy’s shoulders and kissed his neck with such tenderness, it hurt.

“‘Allo, Dan-yell” she whispered, her voice thick with a Caribbean Spanish lilt. “How you are?”

Daniel just smiled. “ know I’m gay.”

“Only in your mind,” she purred. “In my mind, all men are open to me. And if you put this in my mind, then it must be in your mind -- and since we share this mind, then...”

“Your point being?”

She frowned at him, then smiled. “Oh. Yes. Through me you see all men as toys to play with.”

He chuckled as he said, “I can dream about it.”

“But me, you never will dream about?”

“I couldn’t take you away from Ace. He needs you.”

“So let us dream about this,” she softly giggled, then stepped back and waved a hand...and who should appear from the shadows, naked and perfect, but (drum roll please) Tad. Yeah, big surprise.

Daniel grimaced. “Tad, I’ve got so much to do -- .” But the guy embraced him, his powerful arms circling around to pull open my guy’s parka and tickle at his tits through his shirt. My guy let him, of course. Then Tad’s perfect lips brushed against his neck in the softest and most tender of kisses. And his elegant hands gently guided his coat off.

Daniel turned to kiss him long and deep. Tad had learned a lot under Daniel’s tutelage (at least in Daniel’s mind) so gave as good as he got.

Oh, and just for everyone’s edification, I’m not the one describing this; it’s Carmen feeding me the info, hence the nicer voice. I mean, I don’t really care about what he does with anybody, so long as it makes him happy. So I just let myself Zen and wait till all is said and done and I can process Carmen’s upload in a more abstract manner.

What DOES sometimes jolt me into the middle of everything is CARMEN. Man, can she get going when these two’re hot and heavy. And at that moment, her motor was revving at ninety.

She traced her fingers across both their faces as she purred, “It is only for to help you think, Dan-yell. Twice as fast will you write. So much deeper will you go. Remember how you make me the one who loves. The one who dreams. The one who seeks beauty in life. Ace never can understand me. He is too much the rabbit boy in love.”

Okay! THAT jolted me into post-Zen.

“Like me -- .” Daniel gasped.

“Except here,” she whispered. “Except now. Except with him. He is beautiful, no? The line of his face. The caress of his hands. The touch of his lips. The feel of his body against yours.”

Daniel gasped from the building emotions in him as Tad unbuttoned his shirt. Carmen backed away, her breathing deep and ragged, just like my guy’s.

“This is why you give to me life, Dan-yell,” she continued. “This is why you give to me song. To do what you will not do. So, to me you give everything, okay?”

Tad lowered Daniel to the bed in this perfectly smooth, romantic, swooning motion. “No, I...” my guy said, breathless.

“Shhh,” was her response. “We end this soon, and then we make it me to lead you through the story. It will be so much the good. We tell how I come over from Cuba. Learn to be who I am, in the streets of Miami. To fulfill my deep desires.”

Daniel frowned, “Wait, you’re from the Bronx -- .”

“I think that change in ‘The Cadillac Criminal Mind,’ no?”

Daniel tried to rise on the bed, but Tad pushed him back down and whipped off his belt and pulled at his pants.

“No, it -- it was a -- a cover, remember?” he whispered, trying to keep from getting lost in Tad’s insistence. “You -- helped Ace infiltrate a gang of heroin smugglers in Yonkers. He saved your life.”

Carmen broke into a perfect Bronx snarl. “Son-of-a-bitch, that’s right!” She jumped over and flicked Daniel’s forehead with a finger.

He jolted. “Hey!”

“I went through the next two books talkin’ like some stupid bitch from Havana and you never said a word! Don’t you listen to me?!”

“You sounded fine!”

“Like hell. Even Ace noticed, an’ he’s a fuckin’ idiot!” HEY! “You let me make a fool of myself, Daniel Bettancourt,” she snarled. “What kind of respect does that show me, and me your best creation!”

Again, HEY! What about me?! I’m right here, now, in the corner.

She ignored me, as usual, snarling with a wicked grin, “Well -- now we’re gonna punish you, but good. Right, Taddy?”

She swatted Tad’s ass so he shoved Daniel down. Flopped on top of him. Crushed him to the bed -- and yanked off his pants. He traced his lips down Daniel’s quivering belly as Carmen slunk back in a chair to watch, her motor now up to one-ten.

And that’s when any good horn-dog should come calling.

“I’d say that’s as safe sex as you can get,” I snarled in her ear from behind, not wanting Daniel to know I was there.

She gave a deep, throaty little giggle and wrapped a hand around my neck in that way I so love, where her nails are digging into me just a little.

Daniel still heard us, rose and snapped, “This chatter is non-conducive to a satisfactory -- .”

“Speedy?” I sniped (I know, but I couldn’t help myself).

“ -- Result. So go.”

I smirked then Carmen and I began fading away to have our own little party in the cosmos, but not before I caught Daniel turning Tad’s perfect face back to him as he muttered, “Now -- bring me back to joy.”

Tad smirked, kissed him, grabbed his briefs at the sides, yanked them off and slung them into the shadows...which I’d seen him actually do, once before, and was still scarred from it -- well, as scarred as a straight fictional character who inhabits the mind of a gay writer can be. And now you know why I always close my eyes and -- .

“Jeannie -- fresh-as-a-daisy, just love -- how-she-obeys-me. Does things -- that-just-amaze-me so. Tah-da-dah.”

It was the theme song to “I Dream of Jeannie” being sung in as off-key a manner as one could and still be thought of as singing it!


In the snowstorm!

And getting closer!