Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I been numbered...

As in, naming my chapters.  I could have just gone, 1, 2, 3 and so on...but that seemed not in keeping with the intent of the story.  So here's what I did.

Table of Contents

                                                                                            Page #

Chapter One        In the Beginning There Was Tad             3
Chapter Two        A Deal With the Devil’s Own                 19
Chapter Three     Too Totally Serff’d                                37
Chapter Four       Motivational Battle Plans                      70
Chapter Five        Characters Complicate Conditions         85
Chapter Six          Burglary in the Key of “H”                     97
Chapter Seven      Maybe...Just Maybe...                        111
Chapter Eight       Let the Chaos Commence...Sort Of     142
Chapter Nine        A Short Psychotic Break                      169
Chapter Ten          Playin’ It Without A Fly                       183
Chapter Eleven     Uh-Oh Means You’re Nekkid                 212
Chapter Twelve     Fight Madness With Insanity                244
Chapter Thirteen   Ah-HA!                                              269
Chapter Fourteen  The Joy of D & D                                287

I'll probably change these as I go along, but it's still fun to do.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Polish of my polished polish is polished.

I just sent "The Lyons' Den" off to this new publisher and reiterated I want to give the original work I used to base the story on full credit. I get the feeling they're not crazy about that so it may kill the deal...but it's the only way I go on this. I'm not going to pretend this is completely mine and original work. I just can't.

But it took the whole day to do it and now I've got a headache from sitting at the computer for so damn long...but I wanted to be done with it. I hope they want it, still. If not, I'm waiting to hear back from yet another publisher, and there's always the possibility I'll just self-publish.

Here's the beginning few pages as finalized.


All right, Daniel never should’ve agreed to help Tad (excuse me, Theodore J. Bentley, the Third) in the first place; that’s a given. 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,”) 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 pulled on Dan-O just six months earlier. You see, that’s when Tad dumped him. After they’d been together for nearly 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 back to life 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 a 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 who must be paid attention to, in Hollywood-speak) was that he had also taken an option on two more of Daniel’s books -- “The Dr. Pepper Tryst and Tristan” and “The Tangerine 42-D Cup Madam” -- 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 had SWORN 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 “yea or nay” guy at HBO for the following Monday (sort of a “meet me, now, or I take it to AMC” kind of deal; being bi-lingual helps). Only then did he actually read the damned things...and that is 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 40s and doing crap that’d be idiotic even for a spoof of the mystery-thriller genre. But just as Little-Sir-Perfect was about to toss himself off the balcony of his multi-million-dollar condo, he remembered Dan-O worked weekday 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 black and white 1890s décor, right by the hallway to the restrooms. And having filled Daniel in on his “worse than death” situation, Tad shifted 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 snapped, “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 growled, “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 cynical to the max and Carmen (she’s my sexy secretary), she was nothing but 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.”

“So why stop now?” Said with zero hint of irony.

Dan-O all but growled back, “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 zero 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 dude 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 made a mistake.

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

Spiral Jetty today

Nothing to add to this.  It looks broken to me...but maybe this was intended.  Guess we'll never know, since the artist died 35 years ago.

And this is the best my cheap-assed camera can do; I need a real one.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something scary...

Digging through my boxes brought me in contact with ghosts from my past.  For example, THIS!!
And we ain't talkin' college, here.  I was 17 when I graduated high school, and had already been working for a year.  I tried to get rid of those cross-hatches, but this is what happens when you blow up a 1x2 photo.

Suddenly I'm remembering Rene Sanchez, drum major my last year of high school, who was the coolest guy in the senior class.  Tall, broad-shouldered, damn good-lookin' -- he introduced me to Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida."

And Louis Orozco, who was a sailor with me on the school float ("South Pacific") in the Battle of Flowers parade during Fiesta.  Shorter and stockier than Rene but just as cute and filled out those white pants like you wouldn't believe.

We totaled a teacher's car en route to the parade's starting line-up and I had to run six blocks with a splitting headache to let them know what happened.  No cell phones.  I went through the whole parade barely moving because my head hurt so damn much and nobody had any aspirin.

Maybe I had brain damage; that would account for a lot in my later years.

Forever Fab

I watched the first six episodes of "Absolutely Fabulous" and have set up to watch the next four years of it via Netflix.  Patsy and Edina are the perfect role-models for someone into complete self-absorption and shallowness of interest.  I feel at home, with them...especially Patsy and her attitude about men, no matter what their age.  This one episode skimmed the legal age in the UK so closely, you could almost hear the sheet metal connect, with an adorable English school boy as her object de lust for the moment.  The crazy bitch.  I was SO jealous.

I think what I like most about the series is the go-for-broke-and-damn-the-consequences attitude of it all.  Edina (who used to be Edwina) can change her emotional direction faster than a fruit fly on a tear and still seem like someone interesting enough to tolerate.  Patsy's "Whatever" notions go perfectly with champagne and Beluga Caviar...and this was long before that SATC crap; man, she could teach Samantha a few things about life, times ten.

Me?  I'm still too anal for that.  Which is a surprising thing for me to say, considering the books I've written.  But reality is, I have to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite to get past my immediate inhibitions.  That or get drunk...which I may try, again.  I wrote "Find Ray Tarkovsky" in a week while buzzing on Amstel Light and Corona.  It was the only way I could shut down my inner censor and just let the thing ride.  And it worked; it's my most commercial script and the one where I'd get a lot of long as I was willing to change it to suit whomever was liking it at the moment, all without pay.

There was a lot of that in Hollywood -- "Change it to suit us and we'll probably buy it, but we won't pay you a penny, yet" -- that, when I was dumb enough to actually DO it, shifted into, "Oh, never mind; it's not right for us."  So I stopped doing it...until "Bugzters."  Then I deliberately set my pride aside and let others dictate what the story should be...and found I could only go so far, even drunk.  And that brought about SOOOOOO many problems, it made me back away from screenwriting.

I do still miss it...mainly because it's a much easier form of writing to do.  Oh, it's still got its demands and restrictions...but I usually ignored those and that's half the reason I never got anywhere with it.  And now that I'm close to finishing LD as a book, I like the story a hundred times more without those restrictions and with the dance I was able to do with Daniel, Van, the Tads and Carmen.  And I think it has a visual and aural sense, as well.  Not as blatantly as a film would, but it's there.  What a time in my life to finally figure out this may have been what I was supposed to be doing all long?

Guess some old dogs can learn new tricks.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

You know the flight's gonna be bad when...

Eight old ladies in wheelchairs are ferried aboard before they even start loading.  Yes...8 old ladies.  All of them looking like they actually did need those chairs to get around.  And yes, as I feared, the Southwest flight from Phoenix to Buffalo was packed with Canadians.  137 seats; 137 passengers.  So my little trick of getting a seat in the very back didn't work.  I wound up being joined by a mother and daughter, the girl afraid she was going to throw up and mom having a case of...oh, let's just say she had to go to the lavatory a lot.  And I was in the aisle seat so I could flex at least one elbow.  Worked out good, right.

Oh...and we are not much impressed with the Kia Rio.  Granted it had an automatic, but without using the AC and doing 90% of my driving on the highway, it only got 33 mpg.  My 13 year old Civic 5-speed betters that by 2 mpg on mainly highway and can do as good as 37 mpg if I keep it at 70.  No, not impressed.

Lots of turbulence on the way, but I still was able to do some work on LD.  One more read-through and that'll be that.  Now I just need to find that note from the attorneys who told me about copyright law and send it all back to the publisher.  This could still fall through, since they have not made an official offer, yet, but only expressed interest so I shouldn't be expecting too much.  Still, it makes me feel better about my work, having someone other than Nazca Plains wanting stuff I've written.

All of a sudden I want a glass of Cabernet.  What's THAT all about?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Good news on the writing front

My short story, "Desert Land", made it to 2nd place in the Florida Review Editor's Prize.  I'm more than pleased because it is not an easy story to read.  I told it all in first person by an unnamed narrator just as it's happening in a nearly deadpan manner.  It's especially thrilling because Writer's Digest didn't even put it in their top 100 short stories in their competition and other journals ignored it just as completely.  Maybe I finally just hit the right reader, I don't know.  It's all so "roll of the dice" to me.

I'm back in SLC and it's trying to decide if it wants to rain.  After the job was done (early, for once) I ate my lunch by the Colorado River and watched rafters and bicyclists whisper past under a merciless sun.  I had a bandana with me and ice in a cheapie cooler I bought so kept from getting too sunburned by dipping the bandana into the melted ice and rubbing my arms and neck with it.  If I do come here again, I'm bringing a hat, sunscreen #75 and nasal spray.

I'll be working on LD en route home.  I'm changing planes in Phoenix so that means a 4 hour flight so I'm hoping to have an aisle to myself, again.  We'll see how that works.  I've found the flights to Buffalo from Phoenix tend to be packed with Canadians, but maybe since I'm flying on a Saturday, that won't happen.

I'm tired.  That long a drive after being in the sun got to me.  At least my car had Sirrius.  Now if only I could have found a truly interesting station...something like KCRW.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm in Moab, Utah, a place I would never have gone to on my own...and it is spectacular.  I'm not a huge fan of the desert, preferring the mountains and forests and rushing springs types of wilderness, but this area along the Colorado River is drop-dead gorgeous.  Cliffs in ten thousand shades of red and brown and grey and white and yellow layered in jagged lines angled up and down and stretching through miles and miles and miles of wicked curves while water rushes along below.  I stopped my car so many times to snap a photo of an image that slammed into me without warning, I finally just stopped killing the engine and let it run as I fired up my piece of shit camera.

But God, the things you see here.  A bend in the river as smooth-sided stone walls hollowed into partial overhangs billow up and up and up, streaks of every shade of umber and sienna and sepia there is washed over and into them, looking as if they'd been polished and tinted by giant spirits.  Sharp jolts of rock leaping into the sky as if standing watch over all that happens far below it.  A stream whispering forth down a gully that is hundreds of feet deep at the point where it joins the Colorado.  It was all overwhelming.

Seriously, Moab had never even entered my radar as a place to visit, before.  It's the opposite of my preference in scenic beauty.  And yet...I'm converted.  I want to take a tour down the river at night.  Or just sit and stare at the rock formations one can see in all directions.  In truth, spectacular is too simple a term for this area.  Ethereal.  Otherwordly.  Humbling.  Those words are a better fit.

I may have been over-reacting to the ruination of the Spiral Jetty.  Apparently it was built at a time when the lake was very low due to a drought, and for decades was submerged when the lake was replenished.  It still looks broken to me...but that may have been more deliberate on the part of the artist, Robert Smithson.  What's weird is, David Rakoff has a book of essays out about various things, and one of them is the Spiral Jetty.  It was highlighted in a fellow blogger's blog, yesterday -- Salmugundi -- who talks about a lot of books (and many other things...some NSFW).  Very serendipity-like.  (BTW, I stole this photo from Wikipedia; I can't upload mine till I get home.)

One thing I will NEVER like about the desert is how damn DRY it is.  My sinuses are so freaked out, I've had a nosebleed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I definitely need to get organized!

The version of LD that I've been polishing is not the absolute latest one.  I thought it was.  I found nothing newer on my jump drive or laptop...until I looked at a PDF copy by mistake and found the last chapter had differences and remembered doing them.  Doesn't help that I have 10 different drafts I've done...some of which don't really count as a draft but more as a polish.  I need to do some serous Spring cleaning.

The drive down to Moab from Salt Lake City is lovely, once you get off I-15.  Some of the rock formations and the thousand shades of red and brown and white mixing together are just awe-inspiring.  I think I've seen some of the locations John Ford used to shoot "The Searchers" and wonder if Monument Valley is close enough by to go visit.

I also found the Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake...and was seriously upset.  First of all, it's 24 miles off the freeway down a couple of two-lane asphalt roads...and THEN down another 16 miles of gravel road where no fences separate you from the cattle grazing in the fields.  And once you finally get to the end of the road, it has a neat little overlook that shows...well, it's coming apart.  Completely.  You can barely make out the design, anymore.  The steady waves off the lake have nearly destroyed it.  I guess in a few years it will be gone.  And that's heartbreaking...but it's obvious no one really cares...not in Utah, anyway.

Something I happened to stumble across while en route to the jetty was a museum dedicated to the driving of the Golden Spike in the Transcontinental Railroad.  The last spike that connected rail between the East and West Coasts.  I'd known it was in Utah, but I didn't realize it was here.  They even have replica locomotives doing a little dance at the exact spot.  It almost made up for the pain of the Jetty.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spooky town

Salt Lake City is a bit scary...and I'm not sure why.  Except the downtown area has to be the cleanest, neatest downtown I've ever seen.  And tourists are having their photo taken in front of the LDS office building, which is anything but spectacular.  And the road signs are almost deliberately misleading.  And the suburbs look too damn much like Pasadena and Altadena.  And ten miles up the 15 looks like the worst of San Bernadino.  And the drivers do not believe in turn signals.  And the lake, itself, smells.  And they obviously do not give a damn about the environmental damage their industries right by the lake are doing to it.

That said, the mountains around the city still have snowcaps and thick forested areas.  And the air is clean and crisp (so long as you're not by the lake).  If any of the photos I took came out (I'm at the point where I despise my camera because I just can't seem to get the hang of it), I'll post them when I get back to Buffalo.

I've gone through and polished most of LD...and found a logical error that needed correcting (and which added 2 pages to the total).  And do NOT get me started on the typos I found, even after going through it with a fine tooth comb.  I'll need to do another pass to make sure everything is working right and in order.  But that's what long LONG airplane rides are for.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and find the Spiral Jetty, a work of installation art that I thought was near Antelope Island but is actually another 35 miles up the freeway and over and...oh, I have no idea.  But at least now I have a map, thanks to a park person's kindness.

So far no conversion attempts.  I'm doing good.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Interest on LD

One of the publishers I sent "The Lyons' Den" off to has expressed interest in it.  They want verification that the book and play are in public domain, so I need to find the information I got from an attorney about that.  That'll be fun...digging through all my boxes of paperwork since I can't figure out where that info is on LD.  I need to get organized.

Can't do anything about it, tho', till I'm back from SLC a week from today.

While I'm traveling, I'm going to do another polish on LD and incorporate the ideas I got from my latest feedback guy.  Mainly I'm focusing on making sure Tad's use of English is better than Ace's and clarifying a couple of points in the beginning chapters.  Nothing major; just anal work.

I halfway think that's why I've been so reticent about jumping into POS completely; I sort of sensed I'd be coming back to LD to finish it...and I couldn't let go till it was done.  I'm like that with all my work -- it stays in me till I no longer have a way to adjust it.  I mean, once it's published, that's it, matter how much you want to rework things.

Doesn't stop writers from doing that, though.  John Fowles did it with a book -- "The Magus"? -- and Steven King did it with "The Stand".  I can understand the temptation, but I'm not going down that road, ever.  The story is what it is once it's out there and to change it would just confuse things.

Then again...I'm all for confusion.  Just ask my family.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Almost made it.

At 6pm Eastern Time, someone in my building set off the fire alarm.  Not smelling smoke or hearing panic in the streets, I pulled together a few things and headed down four flights of stairs to evacuate and wait...and wait...and wait for the fire engines to arrive.  Which they did about 10 minutes after the alarm screamed.  The building could have burned down by then, if this hadn't been a false alarm.  It then took them another half an hour to get the damned thing to shut off.  So I sat in my car and read and took notes and waited till the excitement was over then went back to my apartment.

So much for the end of the world.  The closest we got to an earthquake was in Iceland, when another one of their volcanoes blew up.  Fat lot of good THAT did you, Mother Nature; I'm not going to London.  I'm going to fucking Salt Lake City.  They're expecting rain in Chicago, Monday evening.  We'll see how that screws up Southwest.

I find it amazing that people still keep falling for these predictions of "the end of the world."  It's been going on for centuries and every damned time it's been proven to be a load of crap put out by some arrogant jerk who thinks he's got a pipeline to God's plans.  So people freak out and give things away and some kill themselves thinking that will speed things up...and yet the sun keeps coming up the day after and nothing's different and excuses are made and the idiots never learn.

Next comes 12-21-2012, when the Mayan calendar ends.  At least this time they're talking about a meteor hitting the planet.  I heard someplace that somebody in France found it and now they're building underground shelters...and if you pay the developer $50,000 up front, he'll consider you as one of the people he'll allow to take cover there, but only if he feels you'll contribute something to the next civilization.  Guess that leaves me out -- I'm super-talent deficient and short about $49,900 bucks.

What you want to bet the contract says no refunds if nothing happens?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sittin' on the dock of the bay...

Waiting for the world to end...supposedly about 6pm...though I don't know if that's Eastern or Pacific or GMT zone.  The waiting is killing me...which may be part of the plot to end the world.  Everyone's SO on edge and anticipating it, they wind up falling over dead from too intensive excitement and it winds up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Lord knows I've been through enough of those on my own; nice to finally share one with all of human existence.

Of course, if it doesn't happen, that means I go to Salt Lake City.  Which in and of itself may be the end of the world.  Hmmm...I'm changing planes in Chicago.  I wonder if they'll have bad weather?  That always makes Southwest run late and/or causes them to cancel flights.

Of course, I could just say I won't go...but there's another side of me that actually wants to see this devil's lair and get a taste of the cult that is Mormonism (according to the Baptist church, which far too many members of my family belong to...and which considers ALL non-Baptist religions to be lesser versions of themselves if not cults, as well).  I wonder if they'll take my name down for a post-death conversion?  Apparently that's part of their belief system and half the reason they have such a huge genealogical database, so they can get to you in the hereafter.

What a scary thought -- your spirit being altered by some idiot who heads a religion you despise.  Talk about a plot for a horror movie.  God, if you let that happen, I'm gonna get pissed...and you don't WANT to see me angry.  I become this...this...this Warner Brother's cartoon version of a Tasmanian Devil of a tornado.  Spit.  Gnar.  Yap.  Yurrrr.  Snarl.  Growl.  Mew -- wait, I didn't mean that.  Uh.  MROARRRRR.  Yes.  Much better.

Of course, this assumes God's paying attention to me.  Haven't really felt that, lately.  Hell, for most of my life.  He's sort of been the absentee landlord of my soul, to whom I send rent and never can get hold of when repairs need to be done. that your sense of humor snarking through?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm a big bad wuss

Got a jolt, this afternoon, when someone I'm exchanging e-mails with commented that it's highly doubtful I'll be able to pull off writing POS to the satisfaction of someone who lived it.  Of course, those who don't know much about the conflict or who didn't live in NI probably wouldn't know better, so I might get away with it a little.  Which fed into my lack of confidence about writing the piece...but which THEN (after a few hours of the usual, "What the fuck am I thinking?" crap) shifted into me getting stubborn.  Meaning I'm now of the mind that I'll work even harder on the story and just double-dog-dare people to tell I'm not from the area.

The thing is, I'm already aware of one trap -- too much minute detail.  I know I'm immersing myself in as much of the day-to-day and history and sociology of the times, but something I caught onto a long time ago (why or where this notion came from, I have no idea) is that people who lived the times didn't talk about what they had for breakfast except in the most abstract sense.  Or how they dressed.  Or exactly how far it was from this store to that.  These are the kinds of things they just didn't think about and wouldn't even think to comment on.

What I WILL have to focus on is attitude and speech.  One thing I have going in my favor is, Brendan spends almost 9 years in Houston so I can get away with him sounding a bit American.  It's his Irish mates, family and antagonists I'll have problems with.

But what's surprising me is how quickly I shifted into "I'm just gonna do it" mode.  In the past, I'd have spent days fighting with myself over whether or not I'm the right guy for this story.  God knows I've already done that on far too many occasions.  But now?  I dunno...maybe I'm getting to where I trust Brendan will show me the right way to do things.

Guess we won't know till it's done and I get a review from a Derry man, will we?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Didn't get to AbFab

The wine is chilled.  The crackers waiting for their cream cheese (my version of a canape). The disk is here.  And I got lost in research, like a dweeb.  Links to info I'd not had access to, before, as regards POS.  Things like that.

And I took a nap, after work.  I'm in this idiot habit of hitting the bed between 1:30 and 2 am then having to get up at 8 to get to work.  But no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to arrange my schedule to get to bed earlier and grab more sleep, that way.  So...since I was yawning like a fool, I just streamed "Morning Becomes Eclectic" from KCRW's archives and lay down after dinner.  Rested for just under an hour then took half an hour to get my mind back in gear.  Then came e-mails and reading through my book and checking websites and one thing lead to another and...wait...I just realized...I only had 1 Dr. Pepper, today.  No WONDER I'm tired; that's my caffeine.

So is hot tea, when I'm not doing the herbal kind.  Never could get into coffee.  It smells great and tastes burned.  The only time I ever even halfway liked it was an Irish coffee I had in college, which was so sweet, you couldn't taste anything but the spices.

I'm working at overloading myself with people's experiences in Derry between 1968 and 1972...and it's pretty intense, at times.  Rona Field's books clinically state horrors visited on not just Catholics but also Protestants, especially children. Gonna be a fight to make any of this seem like fun.

I also went back through Eamon Melaugh's book of photos of Derry and remembered even more are posted on CAIN.  Meaning no writing done.

And no AbFab, sweetie.  The wine'll have to stay on ice.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nothing much to say

My bathroom flooded, last night, thanks to a washer or pipe leaking in the laundry room next to me.  Nothing got ruined but it was a mess and I didn't get to bed till lat, so brain is dead for thought.  Hell, I can barely type.

A book I'd ordered called "A Society On The Run" came in and promises to offer a lot of info.  It was written by the first psychologist to be let into Long Kesh Prison after internment, to evaluate people's reactions to incarceration.  What fun reading this will be.

Man, I can barely even type, right now.  Instead of writing, I'm offering this --

Hope you can see it.  It's fascinating and weird and makes you feel good about people.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Headed for Salt Lake City

NOT someplace I want to go.  I despise the Mormon Church for what they did with Proposition H8 in California, and I refuse to stay in a Marriott Hotel anywhere since they're owned by Mormons.  I have to make the trip because it's for a very good client and we want to keep them happy, but I will spend as little as I can there.

I should acknowledge, the older I get the more I despise the world's religions.  They all seem to have been hijacked by people who use them solely to advance their own prejudices and hatreds.  And there's nothing new about it.  Just looking at the history of Ireland shows centuries of oppression by Protestant England against the Catholics mainly because they were the point where it veered very close to genocide.  In fact, the infamous Potato Famine did not have to lead to the starvation deaths of a million Irish Catholics; meat and grain were still being exported to England and around the world and politicians of the times blamed the victims for their misery because they weren't Protestant.  And this was long after Catholicism had been outlawed in the country and it had been made a crime to teach Gaelic in any way, form or fashion.

Using religion as an excuse to slaughter goes back thousands of years.  Just check out the Old Testament of the Bible.  And the history of the Crusades, where Christian Constantinople was sacked by the knights because it was the wrong kind of Catholic city.  And Jews were forced to become Catholic in Spain during the Inquisition.  Even recently in Indonesia, Christian men were forced to convert to Islam or be killed and today in Egypt Muslims are attacking and killing Christians even as Muslims and Hindus attack and kill each other in India and Pakistan.  All of them claiming "my god's real while yours is a lie."

I have no problems with the teachings of Christ; Matthew 5-7 is an excellent guide on how to live your life as a decent person whether you be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Gaia oriented.  I try to follow it...but I'm way too human most of the time and at best have never batted better than 300, as regards it.  That may be great for baseball, but it's lousy when it comes to the real world.  Unfortunately it's the best I can do right now, considering the vileness of the GOP and the wimpiness of the Democrats in response.

So now I'm headed for a theological state, and considering I'm a gay liberal who considers Mormonism to be little more than a cult, I'm hoping it will be nothing more than an interesting time.  I'll spend my off-hours reading or working on POS and ignore the state as much as I can.  Should be fun.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The 1938 version with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland is fantastic.  I just watched it for the umpteenth time and still got swept up in the beauty and romance of it all.  Yes, parts of the story are silly and way too boisterous and goodnatured, and the whole third act ignores history, but as an action-adventure movie, its mixture of humor, pacing and glamor are still the standard.  In recent years, only the "Bourne" series with Matt Damon has come close to matching it, and that's without the fun or optimism of Robin's world.

But what really makes the movie near perfect is Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score and the exquisite use of Technicolor by Tony Gaudio and Sol Polito.  The day for night scenes are a bit much to take (but understandable considering the technology of the times) but my God, how the colors pop and the faces glow.  They should have gotten an Oscar, but they weren't even nominated; at least Korngold deservedly got one.

When I was planning to do LD as a play, at the end of Act 2 I decided to use the love theme from this movie for the kiss as Daniel sends Marigold off for help (I originally wrote the piece as a straight project, with Marigold Lee as the reporter/romantic interest...but I like it more with Daniel being gay and Van being mysterious).  The music still works.

I watched this as a bit of a celebration.  I found the link between everything in POS as I was doing laundry.  It fits every single solitary story and plot and action together, and I have 2 pages of notes on how it works.  All I need to do now is keep it from becoming too obvious.

Wednesday AbFab is coming.  Time for a little of the old "glam-glam, sweetie" girls.  I need to buy some white wine.

AbFab is the answer

I think it's time for a little of the old "Absolutely Fabulous" via Netflix.  I'm putting that up as my next bit of viewing.  God knows, Eddy and Patsy can bring anyone out of their mood.  I may even have a goblet of white wine to go with it and a canape or two (I actually have some cream cheese and Pickapeppa sauce to go on crackers).  No ciggies, tho'; I never was able to smoke...and I HATE caviar.  Sorry, Sweetie.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Adjustments made

Digging through my notes and books, I suddenly realized I made Eamonn, Brendan's brother, too young by two years.  If he's to be at Queens College in the fall of 1968, he has to be about 16 when the story begins.  Which isn't that big a deal...except it's one of those little details that can kill a story's believability.  I have to be careful about that; I'm not a great detail person.

I've always been that way, creatively.  My sketches and paintings fall under the same aegis -- fill it in and adjust it and fill it in and adjust it and fill it in until it becomes something like you want, and try to make your mistakes seem deliberate.  And half the time my work comes out nice...but there was also that half that's such crap, all you can do is never let it see the light of day.

It's the same with my scripts and stories -- I keep layering in details to build honest characters, and that seems to work better for me.  In fact, the one short story I've written where I deliberately pared it down to the bare minimum is getting zero interest from the magazines I've submitted it to.  It's probably too spare, and it doesn't help that wrote it in real time and first person, refusing to use any past tenses except in the dialogue.    It may turn out to be nothing but an interesting experiment.  We'll see.

I got a short sweet review for HTRASG on a Finnish blog, and the blogger plans to read more.  That makes me feel good about my process.  In fact, his comments probably sold a few Kindle versions of the book, according to my Amazon sales report.  Too bad that doesn't translate into cash.

No word back on LD...and I halfway think some of my lack of focus on POS this last week has been because I'll need to do another draft on it to work in the publishers' notes (meaning I assume I'll get some) and suggestions offered by those I asked to read it, so I can't zero in on Brendan, just yet.  All I can do is research and build a solid timeline for his story to take place in.

A guy I know wants me to help him turn his script into a book -- a period novel of his life as a cop in NYC between 1968 and 1973.  It's actually intriguing to me...but I have to finish POS first.

Dammit, I'm gonna have to live to be a hundred to get everything done, at this rate.

I see you...

And this is how I see me, sometimes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger's back and Kyle's happy.

Seems their system weirded out, crashed and dropped everyone's last few posts, including one of mine.  But the one they dropped is back, now, so I can't complain.  Sites like Hullabaloo and Echinde lost a lot and are still trying to reconstruct everything.

The fact is, I'd have nothing to beef about, anyway.  I don't pay anything for Blogger; I just let them run ads on my page and in exchange they let me rant and post photos and videos and link to other sites I like and stuff.  But it has got me wondering if I should set up something with a host of my own.  See if I can work it off my website since it's not getting any other use and I have paid for that.  Something to consider.

So the last couple days have been spent researching Houston in the 70s and Derry in Spring 1981 and trying to figure out exactly what the hell it is I'm doing with the story at these points.  Everything's still a major jumble, even with the basic outline I'm building.  I know vaguely what I'm aiming for but I'm not sure I can achieve it doing what I'm doing.  Which means the first draft is going to be little more than a trial run of the conglomeration of discordant actions I'm assembling.

I'm still getting notes on LD from people I asked to give me feedback, and they're coming up with nice details and ideas that I didn't think of.  So even though I've done this massive rewrite of the story, I've got new things to add once I hear back from the publishers I've sent it to.  Thing is, that one took so much work and concentration, and it's only a fourth the size and a tenth the depth of POS, I'm back to being nearly overwhelmed by the task ahead of me.  But I'll just keep going.

Hope the world doesn't end before I'm done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Who's on first?

Which is exactly how I feel, right now, working on POS. honor of Abbot and Costello, two gentlemen fully in command of the idea of chaos in one's brain -- I present my current state of mind.  (And it's my understanding this is a full and complete transcript of one of the funniest routines in comedy.)

Abbott: Well Costello, I'm going to New York with you. You know Bucky Harris, the Yankee's manager, gave me a job as coach for as long as you're on the team.
Costello: Look Abbott, if you're the coach, you must know all the players.
Abbott: I certainly do.
Costello: Well you know I've never met the guys. So you'll have to tell me their names, and then I'll know who's playing on the team.
Abbott: Oh, I'll tell you their names, but you know it seems to me they give these ball players now-a-days very peculiar names.
Costello: You mean funny names?
Abbott: Strange names, pet Dizzy Dean...
Costello: His brother Daffy.
Abbott: Daffy Dean...
Costello: And their French cousin.
Abbott: French?
Costello: Goofè.
Abbott: Goofè Dean. Well, let's see, we have on the bags, Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third...
Costello: That's what I want to find out.
Abbott: I say Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know's on third.
Costello: Are you the manager?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: You gonna be the coach too?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: And you don't know the fellows' names?
Abbott: Well I should.
Costello: Well then who's on first?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: I mean the fellow's name.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy on first.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The first baseman.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy playing...
Abbott: Who is on first!
Costello: I'm asking YOU who's on first.
Abbott: That's the man's name.
Costello: That's who's name?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: Well go ahead and tell me.
Abbott: That's it.
Costello: That's who?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: Look, you gotta first baseman?
Abbott: Certainly.
Costello: Who's playing first?
Abbott: That's right.
Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?
Abbott: Every dollar of it.
Costello: All I'm trying to find out is the fellow's name on first base.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy that gets...
Abbott: That's it.
Costello: Who gets the money...
Abbott: He does, every dollar. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.
Costello: Whose wife?
Abbott: Yes.
Abbott: What's wrong with that?
Costello: Look, all I wanna know is when you sign up the first baseman, how does he sign his name?
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: How does he sign...
Abbott: That's how he signs it.
Costello: Who?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: All I'm trying to find out is what's the guy's name on first base.
Abbott: No. What is on second base.
Costello: I'm not asking you who's on second.
Abbott: Who's on first.
Costello: One base at a time!
Abbott: Well, don't change the players around.
Costello: I'm not changing nobody!
Abbott: Take it easy, buddy.
Costello: I'm only asking you, who's the guy on first base?
Abbott: That's right.
Costello: Ok.
Abbott: All right.
Costello: What's the guy's name on first base?
Abbott: No. What is on second.
Costello: I'm not asking you who's on second.
Abbott: Who's on first.
Costello: I don't know.
Abbott: He's on third, we're not talking about him.
Costello: Now how did I get on third base?
Abbott: Why you mentioned his name.
Costello: If I mentioned the third baseman's name, who did I say is playing third?
Abbott: No. Who's playing first.
Costello: What's on first?
Abbott: What's on second.
Costello: I don't know.
Abbott: He's on third.
Costello: There I go, back on third again!
Costello: Would you just stay on third base and don't go off it.
Abbott: All right, what do you want to know?
Costello: Now who's playing third base?
Abbott: Why do you insist on putting Who on third base?
Costello: What am I putting on third.
Abbott: No. What is on second.
Costello: You don't want who on second?
Abbott: Who is on first.
Costello: I don't know.
Abbott & Costello Together:Third base!
Costello: Look, you gotta outfield?
Abbott: Sure.
Costello: The left fielder's name?
Abbott: Why.
Costello: I just thought I'd ask you.
Abbott: Well, I just thought I'd tell ya.
Costello: Then tell me who's playing left field.
Abbott: Who's playing first.
Costello: I'm not... stay out of the infield! I want to know what's the guy's name in left field?
Abbott: No, What is on second.
Costello: I'm not asking you who's on second.
Abbott: Who's on first!
Costello: I don't know.
Abbott & Costello Together: Third base!
Costello: The left fielder's name?
Abbott: Why.
Costello: Because!
Abbott: Oh, he's centerfield.
Costello: Look, You gotta pitcher on this team?
Abbott: Sure.
Costello: The pitcher's name?
Abbott: Tomorrow.
Costello: You don't want to tell me today?
Abbott: I'm telling you now.
Costello: Then go ahead.
Abbott: Tomorrow!
Costello: What time?
Abbott: What time what?
Costello: What time tomorrow are you gonna tell me who's pitching?
Abbott: Now listen. Who is not pitching.
Costello: I'll break your arm, you say who's on first! I want to know what's the pitcher's name?
Abbott: What's on second.
Costello: I don't know.
Abbott & Costello Together: Third base!
Costello: Gotta a catcher?
Abbott: Certainly.
Costello: The catcher's name?
Abbott: Today.
Costello: Today, and tomorrow's pitching.
Abbott: Now you've got it.
Costello: All we got is a couple of days on the team.
Costello: You know I'm a catcher too.
Abbott: So they tell me.
Costello: I get behind the plate to do some fancy catching, Tomorrow's pitching on my team and a heavy hitter gets up. Now the heavy hitter bunts the ball. When he bunts the ball, me, being a good catcher, I'm gonna throw the guy out at first base. So I pick up the ball and throw it to who?
Abbott: Now that's the first thing you've said right.
Costello: I don't even know what I'm talking about!
Abbott: That's all you have to do.
Costello: Is to throw the ball to first base.
Abbott: Yes!
Costello: Now who's got it?
Abbott: Naturally.
Costello: Look, if I throw the ball to first base, somebody's gotta get it. Now who has it?
Abbott: Naturally.
Costello: Who?
Abbott: Naturally.
Costello: Naturally?
Abbott: Naturally.
Costello: So I pick up the ball and I throw it to Naturally.
Abbott: No you don't, you throw the ball to Who.
Costello: Naturally.
Abbott: That's different.
Costello: That's what I said.
Abbott: You're not saying it...
Costello: I throw the ball to Naturally.
Abbott: You throw it to Who.
Costello: Naturally.
Abbott: That's it.
Costello: That's what I said!
Abbott: You ask me.
Costello: I throw the ball to who?
Abbott: Naturally.
Costello: Now you ask me.
Abbott: You throw the ball to Who?
Costello: Naturally.
Abbott: That's it.
Costello: Same as you! Same as YOU! I throw the ball to who. Whoever it is drops the ball and the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to What. What throws it to I Don't Know. I Don't Know throws it back to Tomorrow, Triple play. Another guy gets up and hits a long fly ball to Because. Why? I don't know! He's on third and I don't give a darn!
Abbott: What?
Costello: I said I don't give a darn!
Abbott: Oh, that's our shortstop.

And I know Brendan is now totally messin' with what little brain I got left. The git.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Don't feel like dancin'...

...Or posting, today.  So have fun with this sweet, goofy little video I found a few years back.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I talk too much

On the page, anyway.  My last few posts have been LONG and there's no need for that.  Except I'm trying to work things out in my head and it helps to write about it because that makes me focus my thoughts.  Right now, I'm wondering how to make the center part of POS, the part set in Houston, relevant to the rest of the story...but I already know, really.  It's just going to take a lot of work to make it work, if it will work.

So far, the chapters I've filled in for the Houston section are insipid and tedious.  But they're carrying the story along.  Thing is, I don't want to share any more of the story because I'm at the point where I'll be revealing surprises (well, what I HOPE are surprises) in Brendan's life.

Ah, the joy of writing -- you never know what's going to be brought to the table.

Of course, it's now thought the world is going to end on May 22nd -- 05222011...or is it the 21st...05212011?  Hell, I don't remember.  It's one or the other...probably the 21st because that looks more like an interesting number while the 22nd looks like a snooze designation.  But apparently some twerp who predicted the earth would end back in 1994 also predicted it would really, REALLY end on the 21st (or so).  I'm still trying to figure out what happened to 12212012...which is a much more visual number.  And when the 22nd or 23rd comes around, they'll find some excuse to explain away why it didn't happen and latch onto a new "use by" date..."they" being the idiots who believed it.  It's amazing how easily people can shrug off reality when they want to (me being no exception).

Of course, if the world DOES end on  the 21st, all my work on POS will have been for nothing...and that'll REALLY piss me off.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


So I'm reading this book about Northern Ireland and the socio-psychological effect of the Troubles on children in the first few years of the conflit, and ideas are popping into my head about the story...and out of nowhere comes one that changes everything.  But it's so radical, even Brendan is taken aback by it.  Just to see what will happen, I follow it to its logical end...and decide to drop it.  Because it makes the whole last chapter a Hollywood-style of story and I do NOT want that.  Nor does Bren.

I've seen SO many movies and read a few too many books that try to MAKE YOU FEEL by setting up ridiculous dramatic conflicts -- like having a man handle the formal execution of his brother at the end of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley."  I hated that because I didn't believe it.  Same for a book I read...whose title I can't recall.  But it was about a father trying to find out why his son was killed and it turns out the kid got involved with smuggling arms to the IRA but crossed the wrong people and the explanation of it felt so contrived and laid the blame on the father for telling stories about the glory of rebellion in Ireland, it ruined the book for me.  Same for the ludicrous "Patriot Games" -- the IRA reduced to stock bad guys with no redeeming value or sense of honor in comparison to an Irish-American MAN.

It harkens back to my dislike of what I call "set-up" movies -- where the mechanisms in place to tell the story are so damned obvious, you can't get into the characters or suspend disbelief.  My biggest one for years was "Sophie's Choice" (movie; I didn't read the book).  I saw that "choice" coming a mile away and it was so blunt and simplistic, I just shrugged.  Same thing for "Mystic River."  The non-stop contrivances and coincidences just irritated me throughout the film.  And "Schindler's List" was close to perfect until Spielberg had Liam Neeson break down at the end.  It was completely wrong for the character AND the story (and probably cost Neeson the Oscar).  And do NOT get me started on "Philadelphia" or "Saving Private Ryan."

I guess that's why I'm not a fan of "It's A Wonderful Life."  It's the ultimate in set-up movies, where God himself is telling you you're a nice guy because of how you lived, and the symbolism is so heavy-handed...I can't even watch it, anymore.  Sacrilege, I know.

Anyway, the problem I'm having with this new idea is...well, there's a kernel of truth behind it.  And that won't go away.  So I took a nice long walk and decided to slip it in, just not make it blatant or take it as far as I initially thought.  Instead, there will be hints and if they're caught, great.  If not, big shrug here.  What matters is, Brendan wouldn't be willing to accept this bit of truth anymore than anyone else would, and that gives him something uncomfortable to have to deal with as the book comes to a close.

He's still not completely happy with it, but this time I think I have the upper hand.  Because the sole criterion in this whole project is to be as honest as possible, and this is something that has to be faced.  It's something that has historical basis.  So that's all there is to that.

Now let the psychosis within begin.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Zoning is good

I've decided what I'm doing is really a step-outline of "Place of Safety", geared at giving me space to breathe and rearrange the structure of the story even as I finish building it.  I've reached about the 1/4 mark in the second section, the part set in Houston, and this is the least complete portion of the story.  But new characters have been introduced and Brendan is on a new (and yet old) direction.

I don't know why I didn't do this years ago.  I guess I'm just dense when it comes to my writing and ways to make it easier.  I wonder if Tolstoy worked in a similar way with "War and Peace" -- outlining it then adding in the historical details as he filled in his characters?  Because that is a richly detailed work.

But was "Anna Karenina" and that wasn't set in an historical period...well, for him.  It's funny, but I was so affected by that book's elegant characterizations, it's influenced how I approach all my writing.  It's why HTRASG has so much character to it, and PM and RIHC6 and especially BC.  I can't imagine populating anything I write with shadows.

But it's the same for my scripts.  I don't write cyphers.  I can't.  I've tried and they bore me, so details start popping in that make the story more interesting for me and most of the people who read my work, but that drive readers crazy because they can't just scan my scripts and understand them.  And I'm not just saying this -- I've read some of the coverage on them and, invariably, the errors in it were so glaring and preposterous, no wonder they hurt my chances.

Case in point -- "Blood Angel," my erotic-horror-romance of a vampire script.  I got two copies of coverage back on it, one from a contest and one from a production company trying to convince me to rewrite the script so it would better fit into their idea of what a vampire script should be.  One of them (I don't remember which) had Tristan's mother committing suicide, which she didn't; it's mentioned 3-4 times in the script that he and his family think she died in Katrina.  The other one said I ought to make Tristan the center of the story.  He is.  And those were just the most glaring errors.  And don't get me started on the nonsense about making Tristan female and Gabrielle male; that was just insipid.

There were others like that.  So now I write books and people expect them to be as dense as I want them to be.  And that's what's happening with Brendan and those surrounding him...and I like it.

Another good thing is, I'm no longer thinking this needs to be a 3 volume work.  That might be too much and besides, nobody'll read it.  But I can't make a simple pronouncement, yet.  Not till I'm done with the outline.  It could still change.

But that's me -- Mr. 47 Directions At Once.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I tried doing the outlining of POS in an Excel spreadsheet but it is SO damned hard to use this way, I finally gave up and shifted everything over to Word.  It's not as clean-looking, but I can add sections in much more easily and shift things around and once I get back to it, the detailing will go much more quickly.  So away we go.

A positive side-effect of this is I'm seeing spots where I can combine moments so the book is not too repetitive.  And there are places I can add more details.  It's also helping me maintain consistency in the characters, even as they change and expand and build up their own lives.

I also learned PRONI -- the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland -- joined with CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet; not a very convincing acronym) and have a building in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast with access to millions of archives about The Troubles.  I haven't really been to Belfast since my focus has been so sharp on the opposite side of the place, but this would be a good excuse to go and find what I can.  The trick will be getting over there.

I almost worked out a massive packing job outside London and would have factored in an extra week to stay there so I could hop a ferry over...but the owner of the books turns out to be a real dick.  It would have been a bigger job than packing up Heritage was, but after I worked on the quote for hours, I learned he's already packed most of the books and really just wants a moving service to take them up to his new home in Scotland (which he did not bother to mention when I specifically laid out what I planned to do to pack his books and artwork).  We're talking a good 4 truckloads of items, which would include household goods, furniture and personal items, like we're The Mayflower Moving company.  So we politely declined...and the old fart got pissed off!  "How dare we not want to take this job on?!" kind of crap.  Look, I know from years of experience that book dealers are a very "eclectic" lot, but I may have dodged a bullet here.

These photos were taken by Eamon Melaugh, in 1972 in Derry.  He was a major chronicler of the time with his camera.  
This was right around the time of Operation Motorman, 31 July, when the British Army cleared Derry and Belfast of "no go areas," places where the IRA was in control and the RUC was banned.  By noon of that day, two kids were dead and the British army controlled all of Derry and Belfast...well, controlled them as well as they ever were able to.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dawgs is dawgs

And dogs are long as they're somebody else's.  Because they are as much trouble to take care of as a child (and I make the same comment about kids -- they're great so long as they ain't mine).  But dogs can be so much THIS video.

Human voice helps...but even without the words, it'd be funny.  Same for the cats playing "pattycake."

Tho' this was taken off a video that was shot two years earlier by another guy.  Just seeing the cats do it was fun but the voice-over made it hysterical.  But then, cats are more casual than dogs...less needy.

Unless they're a couple of drama queens fighting over who gets to use the heating pad on my desk; then it's ALL the-emotional-maturity-of-a-five-year-old-brat time.

But again...considering my current lifestyle, even with a cat it's better when they're somebody else's.

I'm halfway thinking of handing Brendan a complication by hooking him up with a stray in Houston.  Be interesting to see what happens.

I'm still in book 1 and working in more and more of the times and events while still trying to keep track of all the characters swirling around Brendan.  A new one just popped in...well, one I'd referred to in an earlier chapter and hadn't intended to ever show, but then history overtook me and I let it.  When I'm done plotting out the remainder of this section, I'll have to go back and refresh my awareness of the period leading up to October 1972.  That's when this part of his story ends and a new one begins.

Brendan's pointed out that I'm doing a biography of him, really.  Like Carl Sandburg did of Lincoln and Robert Caro did of LBJ.  Both of their works stretched over multiple volumes.  Granted their subjects were major historical figures who actually lived and impacted the world, but who's to say that's not what Brendan is going to do?  He's already showing a politician's way of getting by -- using evasiveness when required, conniving when needed, focus when warranted and silence when necessary.  He's becoming more and more interesting to me, every day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ready to rumble?

I got a snarky little Irish prick standing directly behind me, just to the left, whispering in my ear, "Don't cut anything.  Let it go for as long as it wants.  I'm worth a minimum of three books, dammit."  And showing off my writing ability that way is appealing to my vanity and arrogance in ways I hate to admit, but it also means a LOT more work...and the truth is, I don't think anybody'll buy it.  My other 3 volume opus, "Bobby Carapisi", is not selling well.  I try to tell myself it's just because only volume 3 is in Kindle and Nook while 1 and 2 are only available in paperback, and not cheap ones, at that...but the reality is, it's WAY overpriced.  The full set's over $50 and why would people spend that kind of money for it?  I wouldn't.  My threshold is about 11.95 for a trade paperback.

Y'know, "The Lord of the Rings" is cheaper than that, and it's had massive movies made from it and millions of people have read it and loved it (I'm one of the 5 people in the world who thought it was tedious so never even made it to book 3 and would gladly have strangled Aragorn if given half a chance, he was so damned perfect; Viggo Mortensen at least made him livable).  And you can get it in a nicely bound set of hardcovers for just $13.00 more than mine, from Amazon and B&N.  But that's fantasy and good v. evil and heroes and heroines and really, really bad guys and a world unbelievably detailed that has no bearing on human reality.  I can't write that crap.

No...I shouldn't say that.  I'm thinking of making another story idea into a 3 volume set, one I've already written two screenplays for (and won some awards for them but can't get anybody to produce).  That one's Gothic horror grounded in Celtic mythology and starts 3500 years ago and...

Shit.  Is Brendan jealous?  Is that why he's pushing me into a 3 volume work?  Is THAT why more and more details keep coming forward about his time as a child in Derry, and are presented in such a way as to show I have to keep expanding the story?  I was aiming for something more like "Once and Future King" (against which LOTR fares VERY badly).  But maybe I'm wrong.  I don't know.  I just want people to READ it.  I don't want it languishing and meaningless beyond my own small circle of friends.

What I do know is, I'm having one hell of a time going through this book and keeping the idea it can just be a long novel like "War and Peace."  Yeah, Steven King reworked "The Stand" into a ridiculously long version (1200 pages?) but he's Steven King.  He's been making tons of cash off his writing since his first book.  Me, I can't even get the guy who published my books to pay me the money he owes me (and by the time I sued him for it, it'd cost me more than I'd get).

Y'know...I think my muse is fucking with me for my earlier post.  I better shut up before this thing becomes 13 volumes.

Oh,'s Catholic guilt he's using on me.  And I'm falling for it and I'm not even Catholic.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Too many errands to run after work and I had a beer with dinner so I'm now sleepy as hell.  So just snippets of thoughts.

1.  Bin Laden's dead...and nothing will change.

2. My publisher, after telling me once he gets a loan approved to expand his business I'll be paid the money he owes me, tells me I'm not getting paid even though the loan was approved.  Which is why I sent LD to different publishers.

3.  My postman is a sadist who likes to jam my mail so tightly into the box, I have to fight to get it out.  I'm thinking of getting a box at a UPS store so that will stop happening, but that also means a stop on the way home.

4.  I'm back to exercising -- well, walking and using light barbells, again.  I've been lazy about that.

5.  My car needs work and my computers are acting up.  More $ about to leave me.

6. Never go grocery shopping without a list or an idea of what you really need.  It takes twice as long and you wind up buying stuff you already had.

7.  You know you're getting old when you wish you'd had a Dr. Pepper instead of an Amstel Light with dinner (and when your fictional character is making fun of you a) for drinking a light beer and b) for regretting it).

8. 2 am is my bedtime, which wouldn't be bad if I didn't have to get up at 8am to make it to the job on time.  I'd normally wake about 9:30, since that's when I sleep till on the weekends.

9. Salads are a boring dinner, no matter what you do to them.

10. Next time I eat out, I'm having a Shepard's Pie and a Guinness (which I consider a food group, not an alcoholic take THAT, Brendan).

And now to another chapter of POS.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I freak myself

I had an odd occurrence today.  I'm going through what I've written on POS and mapping it out, when I get an idea for a later part of the story.  So I go to it to make a note and stumble onto something I didn't remember writing.  And it's a pretty intense bit where Brendan finds out what he's capable of.  I started reading it and it took me a good three pages to remember when I'd done it.  What makes it even wilder is, the idea I had dovetails into it.  So how could I not remember doing it?

It's moments like this that make me think I'm tapping into something much broader then me when I work on my stories.  And I know I chat a lot about how my characters talk to me and lead me places, all of it with a nudge and wink to acknowledge I'm perfectly aware I'm tapping into my own subconscious or unconscious or something like that...but the truth is, some of the things that come out...I don't know where they come from, because I have experienced nothing like them.

The first time that happened was on a script I wrote called "The Wilderness Rule", which was totally destroyed by the man I'd stupidly partnered myself with.  It's still a painful period, and it didn't need to be.  I'd worked up a script that was easy to shoot for next to no money, about four college guys who go poaching on private property and accidentally kill the wife of an unstable man, who then tracks them down and kills them.  My thought was they'd mistaken her for a deer and it was a more action-oriented version of a slasher film.

But...while I was working out the story, one of the characters (a troubled college kid named Charlie) took off and brought a touch of chaos to the process.  He didn't just drink and have an asshole of an attitude; he played with rifles and showed flashes of chaos in his own mind.  Then he overheard just how contemptuous his buddies were of him, and that he'd been invited along on the trip so his girlfriend could leave him.  He went off to drink by himself and talked himself into blowing his brains out...but then the man and woman happen along, jolting him out of his suicidal depression, and as he watches them through his rifle scope and pretends to be shooting at them, it accidentally fires and the woman is hit.  And he is devastated.

It shifted the whole story.  Suddenly all the guys have troubles and the man's near a nervous breakdown due to problems at work and his wife is trying to save him and the drama pumped up 1000% and it winds up as a vicious battle at the end after the man has come back to his senses and only wants to help this one kid who's injured.  If it had been done right, it would have kicked ass.

But that was then and I learned more about myself than I really wanted to on the project.  The one good takeaway was, I started trusting my characters...because they could reach into places I didn't even know existed and we'd wind up in this sort of zen space that would only barely register on my brain.  That's how I wound up writing a novel about an ex-con who's survived a hell of an existence and, while trying to get even with the world for having been treated so badly, he winds up a killer and destroying himself.  I lived nothing in that book's story, nothing at all, but it was still brought to me by Curt, the ex-con.  And I'm proud of every damn word in it.

I don't know if this is madness or me just being arrogant about how great and wonderful I am for being able to listen to the muse.  I may be killing it just by talking about it.  I don't know.  I just know it's finally giving me the confidence to think I actually CAN write a story about an Irish Catholic kid living in Derry between 1956 (the year he was born) and 1981 and make it work.  All I have to do is listen.

And wonder if I'm also having a touch of the Alzheimer's.