Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back of the plane

I'm about to spend 16 hours in the back of a 777 flying from Newark to Hong Kong, and I SO look forward to it, being a masochist, at heart. Not. But that was the only way I could get an aisle seat. Every other aisle seat was taken. But since I don't sleep well on planes, I guess it'll be okay. I'll have room for my laptop and at least one elbow can stretch.

My plan is to keep working on IF. I want to have a first draft done by the middle of December, and I have a ways to go.

It's funny, but as much as I love to travel and see new places, I'm not looking forward to this trip. It's one of those, "I'll do what I have to do" types of journeys, since I'm going because of work. But Hong Kong and I got off on the wrong foot and so I'm leery. Besides, I've never been fond of Chinese food so God knows what I'll be able to eat while I'm there. When I was in Bangkok, I found this one place that had a good beef curry and that's all I ate. I'm just not into chow mein or kung pao anything.

Maybe I'll come back weighing 160 pounds, again. HA! What a way to diet -- just not be able to feed.

We'll see if blogging continues...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wordless Sunday

How I feel...and hoping those teeth are on my side.
How I wish I total control. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

51,133...but more to go

Okay...I finally, finally, finally hit the threshold, this morning, and have no idea how. Word's count was higher than the NaNoWriMo validator count is...but it wasn't off enough to matter. I met the challenge, again, and have the beginnings of another book...and I used this image to help keep me focused on what it's about.

I say "beginnings" not so much because this is a first draft but more because it isn't, yet. I'm probably 10,000 words away from a full first draft so really won't be done till the end of December, but this is the meat of the story. And after some casting about and back and forth and circling and sniffing of butts (symbolically, like dogs do when they're trying to figure out if they like each other, not literally; Vinnie's not the least bit gay), he and I found a better, more Noir-ish voice for him. I don't think it will take away the fantasy, musical number sort of visions he has when he's still a teenager, but it does better suit the darker things he "sees" as he gets deeper and deeper into the morass of criminal life.

Needless to say, this will not be like "Serpico" or "The Fench Connection" or "Prince of the City" or any of those. It's more like a light-hearted version of "Heart of Darkness". that sentence an oxymoron?

Now I'm going out for a nice long walk to clear my head. Then I have to deal with the mail piled up on my desk. Oh, joy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

So close.....

Expect no coherence. Official Word count is 48,972. Here is what may be the new opening.


It started at 240 Centre Street. Middle of the night. Middle of winter. Middle of everything around me going to hell. Streets empty because it’s so late. Just cars parked along one side near this series of ugly brick buildings going two, three, five, seven stories up. Rickety fire escapes dripping down the front to the tallest one, like a growth, making its arched windows seem to want to hide from it. Stores on the ground floor all closed up and hidden behind rolling security panels. Even across from Police Headquarters, the city’s not safe.

My girl was parked right under one of those fire escapes. The roof down on her Caddy, even though it’s close to snowing. It’s like she wanted me to see her, wanted to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone, or something. Put an ache in my heart to know that she cared so much, especially after all that’d happened.

I shouldn’t of been there. Should’ve just got in that Caddy and let my girl drive me to my mom’s or home or anyplace else but there. And I thought about it for half a second. It’s just, I didn’t realize how bad off I was. Didn’t realize that if I went into HQ, like I always did this time of night, the life I had would end. Completely. Totally. Forever.

But like a robot I started across the street. And HQ -- man, once again its old, baroque, snotty looks seemed to be glaring down at me like I was some piece of trash blowing past in the wind. It takes up the whole block, this thing, with its columns and half-hidden windows and balconies, and the iron railings to hold you back from dropping into the gullies between the narrow sidewalk and basement filth, and the stupid dome on top making it look more like a capitol building than a place too old to work in the modern world. I even heard bats squeaking overhead, invisible in the black, black sky.

It was gonna get decommissioned, later in the year, and it looked it with how unkempt it was. Climbing the steps to the main doors, I had to hold onto the banister and step around crumbled up bags and broken bottles and newspapers flapping against the poles. Seemed like half the lights were either busted or missing, making being there even more treacherous.

It was even older and darker, inside. Lights burned out. Trash on the floors. Shadows everywhere. But there was still this big brusque cop at the reception desk, like always; and like always, he didn’t look up as I entered and said, “ -- Hey, Lenny.” My voice cracked, I could hear it, but Lenny didn’t.

“Lombardini. How ya doin’?” was all he said.

“I -- I been better,” I said, “but thanks. Been a long day. All these lights missin’ -- where’s maintenance?”

Lenny just shrugged and kept working. He had a lamp on his desk so he didn’t need anything more. I just sighed and headed down a corridor, aiming for the locker room.

I swear to you, to this day, that corridor seemed to grow longer and darker as I went. And there were these shuffling sounds, fresh and new, coming from everywhere. My breathing quickened. My eyes darted about, wary. Why were so many fixtures missing light bulbs, completely? That didn’t make sense, unless they’d been removed, deliberately. Make it harder to see into the darkness. Into the shadows. Perfect for an ambush.

I hesitated. Checked my pistol. Undid the safety harness then peeked around the door to the lockers. It was dark and empty and so quiet, even my breathing seemed to echo.

I started to shake. I’d been doing that a lot, lately, once I’d realized what I’d got myself into. Then I carefully slipped past the aisles and aisles of lockers, creeping closer and closer to mine. I saw nothing. No one. Just shadows filling the room.

I was sweating now, even though the building was cold. I finally reached my locker, leaned against it and looked down, and even though my hand was shaking, I could see this thin trail of blood whisper over it.

Aw, no -- no -- I’d been shot? I’d been hit?

I almost fainted but cught myself by slamming my head against the locker. Twice. Three times. Back in control, I fumbled with the lock, smearing blood on it before I was able to open the door.

I heard that shuffling sound, again, and froze to listen. Nothing but silence.

I pulled off my coat. My shirt was soaked with sweat -- and blood. I wiped my face. Blood smeared over it.

I heard the shuffling sound, again. Closer. I started to quake, inside.

“Bobby?” I called. “Bobby, that you?”

A whisper of a sound came from my right. I turned to find a gunman standing at the end of the lockers, raising a pistol!

Everything shifted into slow-motion as I yanked out my service revolver, dropped to one knee and fired at him.

My first shot hit his left knee. The second ripped through his thigh. Two more hit an arm and a shoulder.

He got a couple of shots off at me and I think one clipped my arm, but then he crashed against the wall and landed in a sitting position, his leg twisted under him.

I rose slowly, in complete disbelief, and inched up to the guy, pistol ready but shaking in my bloody hands. Barely under control. I heard voices and footsteps approaching.

The guy lifted his gun, unsteady.

I fired, again! Hit him in the forehead. The bullet exploded through his skull.

Blood splattered over me. Covered me. I collapsed, about ready to pass out -- and then I saw it. I saw the gunman’s gold shield. He was a cop. A detective! I’d shot a cop in police headquarters!

“Man, was there gonna be hell to pay for that,” I thought as I quietly drifted into darkness.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Twilight of the maniac

I actually am closing in on the final number of words needed to achieve NaNoWriMo Achievement Status, even though they're not in enough order to make a sensible story, yet. And I have a whole subplot to add concerning Vinnie's attitudes about getting along...and cheating on his wife...though to be honest I'm not sure that part'll be needed or even warranted, yet. He's not a white knight, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I think his dreams and overall concerns are valid enough to make him sympathetic enough to ride over the less savory parts of his existence. Maybe.

Also, the timeframe is inconsistent...and may need a complete reworking. But I'd say I have 80% of what I need in the story to make it come together, and most of that remaining 20% is just detail work. Well...that or I'm in total denial and this thing is a piece of crap. I won't know until about the third or fourth draft if I can live with it; until then I'll just keep pushing.

I'm working my laptop to death, however. It turned out that I like composing on it and now it's getting cranky. I had Safari open so I can Google up information when I need it, but when I finally stopped on IF and tried to go to my blog to write this, it refused to acknowledge me. I could get into the site but could not type anything. I finally had to shut it down. I hope I haven't put too much of a strain on it, especially since I'll need my laptop in Hong Kong.

As regards my trip there, I have to take back some of the things I said about the place. I had a problem with the hotel and could not get them to reply to me. It turns out some filter in the hosting system for my work e-mail was not letting their responses through, even though they were hitting "reply" to me, and they weren't even notifying me. The manager of the hotel finally called the office and left a message, so I sent them an e-mail using my personal address, and they sent me copies of all the ones they'd sent, which came right through. I was being a dick for no reason. So I apologized and all is well, again.

Lesson learned? If someone you send an e-mail to doesn't respond to your queries, first check your hosting group to see if they're refusing the responses and then make sure you have more than one address with different e-mail systems to see if one is being more difficult than the other. My problem one was Microsoft Outlook. Guess I'll steer clear of that beastie when I get my next computer.

Now my back hurts. Writing this intense ain't for sissies.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011, whatevah!

Illustration of my work, today, as I hit over 36K in wordage...just not as pretty...I meant this is prettier than what I did.

(His name is Bernardo Velasco and he's a model/actor in Brazil.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer's cramp of the brain

I'm just posting some of the book, tonight. Too lost in wordage to think, so here's Vinnie's first job, when he's thirteen, working for Mickey Maggioli.


Now, Mickey was hardly a boy; no, he was close to social security age, and looking every year of it, from the lines around his sleepy eyes to the hook in his nose to how he sort of shuffled along, like he couldn’t pick his feet up all the way off the ground. He ran the parking scam in the market and had since the thirties, they tell me. You know the kind -- park here? Pay me to watch your car. If you don’t, who knows what might happen to it? Most of the drivers at Fulton knew how it worked and always had a twenty ready for when Mickey’d glide up and say bullshit-something like, “Hey, Frankie, how ya doin’?”

Of course, the guy’d always smile at him and say, “Good, Mickey, how’s things?”

“The same ol’ same ol’,” Micke’d say. “You know how it goes.” Then he’d put out his hand to shake and they’d shift the note into his palm like nothing, and he’d add, “See ya later.”

And the guy’d know his load would get protected while he was doing his order. Because Mickey, he was under the protection of a made guy. Who, I never found out, but for sure he was on record, and this was all just a cost of doing business, know what I mean?

Me, all I had to do was keep an eye out for non-precinct patrol cars and give him a nod when things were clear. Every now and then a local patrol’d glide by, giving the idea that the cops were keeping a watch on the place and weren’t on the pad, but that was just crap. The real muscle of the area was Mickey. And I was one of a dozen kids who floated in and out as his backup. For that, I’d get twenty five a night and a weekly bonus, where Union guys got thirty-two a night to hand-truck heavy boxes of fish around. It was easy to figure out which was better for me.

Of course, one of my plans was to take over for him when he got ready to hit it down to Florida. Even then I was dreaming big...well, for a thirteen year-old.

Now most of the drivers were regulars and knew the drill -- but there was always somebody who don’t give a shit how things work. First time I saw it was when I’d been working with Mickey for a week, with this truck that parked in the center of the street. The driver got out and headed straight for the market. I whistled at Mickey; he saw the guy and shuffled over, calling out, “Hey, bud, that’s twenty to park here.”

The driver was one of those big burly bastards who think because they got fists like hams they got control of the world. So he snapped, “This ain’t no parking garage; take a hike.” Then he headed on.

Mickey watched him go then motioned for me to keep watch for unknown cops. Then he nodded to a guy we called Tommy Hooks. He was this monster Sicilian kid made of total beef, but only half a forehead, standing over by a shed at the base of Peck Slip and South Street, a hook hanging from his shoulder (how else would you think he got his name? A lousy golf swing?). He lived in the projects up the road and was way more brawn than brain, but that kind’s good to have around.

He followed the driver around a corner and waved back with that big-assed hook, then started swinging it back and forth like he was just waiting for some reason to slip it into somebody’s neck. One of the other kids -- this older guy named Cisco -- told me he’d actually done that, once, to where you could see the point of it sticking out the guy’s throat. I was swallowing it and could just see Tommy flicking his wrist to flip the guy to the ground, like I’d seen butchers do with sides of beef they were about to carve up, then dragging him off, like Cisco said. But then he went too far and told me he’d hung the guy on a conveyor belt and they’d ground him up into hamburger, and I knew he was just messing with me.

I got even by asking the other guys if Cisco “ever patted their asses like he did mine.” When he found out, he wanted to beat the crap out of me, but Mickey slapped him and said it’s his own damn fault and to, as he put it, “Shut the fuck up.” Then he took me aside and said, “You’re a good kid. You don’t let nobody give you crap.” I felt like a million.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking 30,000

I have to be done by Sunday. Or at least to 50K by then. I'm headed for Hong Kong on Tuesday, next week, and Monday will be prep time for that, so I'm pushing. God only knows if any of this will make sense...and I know I won't.

I'm brain dead, right now. Good night.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back to it

I went through IF and cut out some crap then added more, so I'm up to over 27K in wordage. But I'm WAY behind schedule and will need to bust butt to get to the 50K before I head for Hong Kong, because the truth is, once I leave on the 29th I arrive on the 30th and will be wanting nothing to do with anybody till the next day. done with it. this weekend or be nothing. Too bad I didn't get a full 6 days off to work on it, like would have happened had I done the full packing job.

Thing is, the story will not even begin to be finished at 50K. Lately I've been thinking it's more like 65-70K overall...and maybe even longer. My inner gab-fest is taking over. The hook I found in the story is Vinnie's massive imagination and how sometimes it gets carried away. I actually do have a moment in the book, so far, where Vinnie imagines watching a hood cutting up a dead body as he sings "Mack The Knife" then looks at Vinnie and asks him if he's going to be good about this. Why? It's important to the moment. Really.

There's also his libido and pending marriage to a girl who won't sleep with him, first, and the friends he makes who become important later in the story. If I'm 40% of the way done, I'd be surprised.

I've also been following the disgraceful conduct of the campus police at UC-Davis and posted about that on FaceBook. The chancellor of the college, who ordered the cops to clear the peaceful protesters out, is now under pressure to resign. I'd say she won't because she's one of those uncaring types who doesn't give a damn about people who disagree with her; if she'd been the least bit human, she'd never have called the cops in on kids who were doing nothing but protesting the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington.

But then there was a silent protest, one she tried to turn into a hostage situation directed against her (she'd held a news conference and refused to leave the hall where it took place because so many kids were outside). What'd those kids do? They made a path for her to walk through, promised she would not be touched and she left...and had to pass by hundreds of students doing nothing more than glaring at her. In total silence. Including, I hear, a few faculty members. Even UC's Board of Regents is taking this seriously, now. Check it out --

Another disgraceful incident was Michelle Obama being booed at a NASCAR Rally. She was there to honor the troops and serve as grand marshall, along with Jill Biden, and a massive number of racist redneck assholes sent catcalls her way. This is the "new South" -- still as disgusting as ever.

Oh, and now that I know Bradley Cooper is fluent in French...well...let's just say I may finally watch one of his movies.

NxNW Redux

 It seems the George Washington Bridge is the dividing line between the city and the Hudson River Valley. Soon as we passed under it, we were surrounded by wilderness -- of a sort.

I tried to get an angle like Hitchcock had in "North By Northwest" from outside the train, but it wasn't working. So instead you get a vignette.
Partway up the river, where Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are sharing dinner and double-entendres.
And here's my Eva I said, not blond, but he's wearing the same colors as her and fits them well.

He got off in Utica. Dammit.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

History travels

My job in NYC blew up so I'm headed back to Buffalo on Amtrak, following the same route as "North by Northwest". It's beautiful, heading up the Hudson River Valley, even when the tracks take you away from the shoreline and into golden woods thick with fallen leaves. It's a very civilized method of travel, despite it taking more than 8 hours to get to my destination. I have WiFi and a monster sandwich from a deli with a couple of DPs -- I'm set. And what's best? No airport security to have to deal with.

We just passed West Point, and it's impressive, even from across the river. And now we're passing the ruins of an old baroque house on a small island in the middle of the river. It was apparently burned down but still has the castle-like turrets at a couple of corners and arched windows, while glassless, are still intact.

I'm trying to take pictures, but I'm on the sun side of the train and the reflection in the glass is horrific. If I can smooth some out, I'll post them. Otherwise, I can sit here and dream I'm Cary Grant while this adorable guy seated on the other side of the aisle from me is Eva Marie Saint. He's not blond, but he does have a sweet face, elegant hands...and has yet to shift his face or fingers away from his iPhone. I am feeling SO fifty years behind the times, right now.

WOW! I just passed the spot where the train stops to board some cops and Eva Marie Saint tells Cary Grant he needs to hurry up, after one of their double-entendre-filled conversations.

I think I'll watch "North by Northwest", again, tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brendan's back

And he's kicking my ass. Seems I'm having a trial run in dealing with a situation I'm not at all familiar with, and my grumpy wussiness is irritating him. "Just get the damn thing done," he's snarling, "and prove yourself worthy of my story. It'll be a hundred times harder, believe me."

And he's right. If I can't get something as basic as a corruption scandal in the NYPD down well enough to make it work, and find a way into it that's different and interesting, then POS is outside my range forever. And what's funny is, that thought actually spooked me.

There are parts of POS I'm so damn proud of, I can't imagine not finishing it. There are other parts that are as trite as anything by Sydney Sheldon or Jackie Collins, but my job is to take them out of that realm and into another. Meaning my job with "Inherent Flaws" is to do the same and see how the hell I figure out just how the hell I DO do it.

Of course, mingled into this is how my one serious book, so far -- "Bobby Carapisi" -- is not selling at all, right now. And I think I screwed it up by taking it so damned seriously. Doesn't help that most of the people who visit that publisher's site are looking for erotica...and my other three books can be fit into that, even though there's a lot more to them than just a way to get your motor revving.

Writing screenplays is a lot easier than writing novels. So damn much to do, it gets to be overwhelming.

And exhilarating and maddening and just plain pain and pleasure to do.

BTW, Gerard Brennan, a crime writer in Belfast, NI has a new book out on Kindle -- "Point". I'm seriously considering giving in and buying a Kindle so I can read it; I don't have OS 10.6 on my computers so can't read it without buying the damn thing.

I hate technology.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Call me Ancient Mariner

Wordage, wordage everywhere and not a sentence wrote.
Wordage, wordage everywhere to get this author's goat.

Play on "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I've decided the cause of my current block is food-related. I ate some Turtles, yesterday, after a heavy meal and a beer; tonight's blockage is thanks to Oreo cookies after a tuna salad. the former canceled out the goodness of the latter. Or maybe I'm just lazy and don't want to have to deal with this. It's too much like work after a long day of work.'s just that I need a new hook into the story I'm working on. I need something to grab me so it won't seem like work. For all the palpitations and persnicketiness that accompanied "The Lyons' Den" and "Place of Safety", I felt a connection deep and wide with the stories and characters. It's been the same with every one of the scripts I'm proud of. I am the characters. The story is mine. Even when everything about it is totally alien to me.

I have nothing of that, here. Vinnie is not me. Not at all. But I said I'd do it and I have to find that hook. Something. Something to bring me back into the meaning of the story.

Maybe I need some Depeche Mode.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dead in the water

I got nuthin'. I spent all evening trying to find a way into the story and didn't get a single word done. And this weekend I'll be in NYC working a packing job so won't be able to do my usual catch-up. Only good thing is, I'll have Thanksgiving off and probably the Friday after, so a four day weekend will help me get back on track and maybe hit the full 50K in wordage.

Thing is, I don't think it'll be the end of the story. This book is going to be a minimum of 65K in wordage, and I'm still not completely vested in it. To be honest, it's not the kind of thing I'd write. I enjoy reading some police tales -- like the books of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series -- but I honestly don't know that much about police procedures and haven't done the research I normally do to fill myself in. I wait till I'm at a point where I need to know something then Google it to see what comes up that I can use. So far I've been lucky...and the guy whose life I'm basing it on is giving me info as I go along.

It's just, I can't seem to find the hook in it to make it crazy enough, yet. It reads too much like a rehash of "Serpico". Fact is, I don't want to spend a year working on this one, like I did on "The Lyons' Den." I'm doing it out of a feeling of obligation, which means I'll turn out a piece of crap.

I dunno. I've been in a weird mood all day so that's probably why I'm such a downer-bear right now. I'm turning in early, tonight, and letting sleep wipe away the tedium.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I write, therefore I scam

Another section to share because I'm just not up to thinking. Vinnie's married with a kid and has been a cop for six years. He still uses his mother's Manhattan apartment as a pit stop since he now lives on Long Island. Ronnie's a childhood friend who almost got him on record with the mob.


I saw the pastry box on mom’s kitchen table the second I walked in the door. Just like the one from Patty’s, not all that long ago. Jesus, not even ten years?

Mom was chattering on about something; what, I got idea because I didn’t hear a word. I was focused on that box as I made myself grab a glass of milk. Then I casually strolled over to it and helped myself to a Venetian layered cookie.


“Hey, Mom,” I said, fighting to keep my voice steady, “you walk over for these today?”

“Oh, sorry, baby, I forgot,” she said, all unaware. “Ronnie came by. Asked you to call. There’s a phone number written on the box. I said you’d be here about eight.”

No shit there’s a phone number on the box.

Fuckin’ shit. Ronnie? Me and him -- shit, he hardly said anything to me at the wedding. We hadn’t really talked in years. Not since I got the silver shield. But now he wants to talk? Now? The first day I’m downtown he makes contact? The day I find out IAD’s after me, too? Now I had a clue as to how deep in the shit I was.

“Back in a second, mom,” I said. “I forgot something in the car.”

I headed down to the street to a public phone and dialed Ronnie’s number. Like I didn’t have it burned into my brain from all those years ago. It rang once and he picked but said nothing, so I popped off with, “Hey, Ronnie, what’s what?”

Sure enough, he was at the same old phone booth; I could tell from the crackle and the background traffic. His voice was cool and controlled as he asked, “What’s what with you?”

“Good. It’s good.”

“How’s Louisa and the baby?”


“Good. A guy’d like to see you. Can you come by the club?”

Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck.

“The club?” And I was damn proud my voice didn’t shake when I said it. “I don’t think that’s good. Tell you what, let’s meet at -- at the Lime House. At eight.” The joint'd be hopping, then.

“Hold on.”

I heard him dial another phone. He must be at a bank of them. He talked, softly, then came back to me.

“Make it Patty’s Pastry shop at nine.”

“Ronnie, I want to meet in a public place. No offense, but that’s the way it’s gonna be.”

Ronnie talked into the other phone then said, “Vincent’s at nine.”

Vincent’s Clam House. Not all that public, but it was the best I was gonna get, so I just said, “See you then.”

He hung up. Not even a “Later” to me. Yeah, things were beginning to make sense. Like hell they were.

Mom made me a snack of her killer Gnocchi. Washed down by that cheap Chianti she liked, it tasted perfect. Like a last meal, maybe. Then at a quarter to the hour, I kissed her and headed over.

The positive thing about being a cop is you can park anywhere, even by a fire hydrant. You just pop an NYPD ID on your dashboard, and so long as you’re not all night, you got no problems. And since Vincent’s was only a few blocks from mom’s, I was there early. This is one of those quick food joints you find in the middle of the block, a little cheesy but with damn good food. I checked the place out, didn’t see anything that looked off...not even a Caddy parked nearby. Not even many people, it being pretty chilly out. I smelled some fireplaces working, watched leaves blow by from trees up the block. All nice and normal.

I took my service revolver out of its holster and slipped it under the front seat -- can’t go into this packing -- then I rubbed my face to make sure I wasn’t sweating and -- .

Ronnie appeared by the passenger door. It took everything I had in me to keep from jumping at seeing him, and I still couldn’t keep from crossing myself. Then I got out, locked the car and followed him inside.

It wasn’t till we were inside that he shook my hand and kissed me on the cheek with a hug. I did the same back, even as I knew what he was really doing was feeling for a wire or gun.

Once he was happy I was clean, he stepped back and said, “What’s what?”

“What’s what yourself?”

“Gotta check.”

“I understand.”

“You look good.”

“Not as good as you. Never did.”

“I got no responsibilities.”

He wrapped his arm over my shoulders and guided me to a large round table in the back, like old friends...and there sat Lino like a king, two nasty bastards with him, all looking like murder. It was even worse than I thought. He stood and gave me a big hug and a kiss, then motioned for me to sit. I did. What else was I gonna do?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Almost halfway there

Today I worked on a section set in the old First Precinct station, AKA: Old Slip, since it was at 100 Old Slip. This really felt like a bit of history, researching this one.
It's now a police museum, but back in 1968 it was where much of the NYPD's narcotics filing was done, while the evidence room was at 400 Broome, if I remember right. Or was that Centre Street?

It's a lovely if odd old building that's only about 40 feet wide, and narcotics filing was on the third floor. It was shut down in 1973 when the First and Fourth precincts merged and both were moved into the Fourth's building.

I can't figure out how this damn building worked from the descriptions I've been given by the man whose life this story is based on. It looks too narrow to hold all the information it's supposed to have. But maybe that's the point.

Whatever it is, the story's chugging along. I ate in the old Fulton Fish Market area back on July 4th, when I was on a packing job. Walked right by this place and didn't realize what it was.

Serendipity would be nice it it would bother announcing itself, sometimes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I do not like Hong Kong already

I haven't even traveled there, yet, and I'm having trouble with it. It turned out I have to be there a day earlier than I planned, so had to change my flight. Since I'd bought the trip as a package through Expedia, there was a $200 fee to cancel the plane ticket and the hotel is non-refundable. Understood from the outset and it made no difference as regards the hotel; I'd just need to book an extra night, that's all.

Well, first I wanted to make certain everything was still all right with my reservation at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. So I sent repeated e-mails to the general manager asking if that was the case. Not once did he respond; no one did, in any way, form or fashion. I finally had to call and ask the reservations clerk. Yes, I was still booked, but now I can't get the 21 day advance reservation rate; I had to pay an extra $100US for the damned night, and they won't guarantee I'll be allowed to keep the same room my whole stay, since I effectively have two separate reservations. I may have to check out the morning of the 1st and check back in.

Well, then when I made the extra-night's reservation, I stupidly put down the date my plane is leaving instead of the day I arrive. I asked if they would just shift the reservation to the correct date. No. Wouldn't even consider it. It's non-refundable. Period. End of story. And even though I'm not asking for a refund, just a change on the date, it made no difference. So...I had to pay for yet another reservation if I wanted to have a place to sleep on the 30th, after 20 hours of travel. And the SOB I sent the e-mails to still has not responded to me. And I know he got them; I did "notify when read" on the last one and he did open it, at least.

Thing is, I've had this problem with other Pacific Rim countries -- this non-response. The people organizing the book fair are based in Australia and Japan, but you think you can get them to tell you anything about how it's going to work until you're all but screaming at them that if they won't tell you when you'll be allowed to move your clients into the venue, you won't bring them into that damned city? No. Only THEN will they give you half the information you asked for, and then some of that is incorrect!

I also contacted the venue, itself, to ask for information and they did not respond to me, either. Again, I know they read the message. Well, at least they opened it. And I learned from a couple of other people who've dealt with Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and the like that it's not unusual. It's best to just make a phone call from the outset and get the thing over with.

Oh, I am so NOT looking forward to this trip. It's already cost hundreds more than it was budgeted for, apparently I can't get free WiFi from this hotel even though they advertise it, and I'm now having to change planes in Newark because the only non-stops from Toronto have jacked their prices up by 50%.

I used to love to travel, but it seems like everyone wants to make it into so much of a chore, all the pleasure is being taken out of it. I'm actually planning to drive to a job in Washington DC rather than have to mess with the airlines. Same for a job in New Haven in February. It just isn't worth the hassle to fly, anymore.

If I ever do hit the lottery and move to Ireland, I'm going by boat.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Wrote my ass off after work and now am brain dead, so enjoy this, instead.
Need I say more?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just to give you a taste of what's to come...

This is what the police do to peaceful protesters, and all the kids do back is cry, "Stop Beating Students!"

Cost me $5 to win $3 in the lottery

Not a great return, but since nothing else is working, why not play it? Looks like my odds are just as good as selling a script or coming into enough cash to support me the rest of my life in Ireland or Canada or wherever I'd wind up once POS was written.

Just to prove how crazy (and maybe desperate) I am -- I swore to the fates I'd drop everything and move to Derry and not leave until "Place of Safety" was done and published. That'd be a couple of years, at least, but I don't care. I'm sick of the growing sickness in this country that keeps trending towards some kind of civil war, be it at the ballot box or with bullets.

When it reaches the point where Republican voters cheer a man who has no problem executing innocent people and call "Let him die" to someone who's been irreparably damaged in an accident and send catcalls to a soldier who's actually serving in Iraq and then follow that up with legislation on the state level giving "Christians" the right to bully and berate gay kids (see Michigan for that) and congressmen of both parties are planning to destroy Social Security and extend tax cuts to billionaires to pay for it, and THEN, on top of everything else, go out of their way to excuse one extreme idiot of a GOP candidate's appalling rotten performance at a debate while pissing on women who had the nerve to accuse another asshole of a candidate of sexual harassment more than ten years can see the country's just going down the drain into the sewer.

We are en route to becoming either a Theocracy or Oligarchy, not a Republic or a Democracy. And I don't want to be here for that. And I have no idea how to fight back.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I wonder...when a story's being told in first person, how descriptive can you really be? The fact is, the guy who's telling the story isn't always going to pay attention to his surroundings. But at the same time, you want the reader to have an idea of where he is and how it appears. I was able to strike a balance in "The Lyons' Den" because Ace was telling the story, and he's a pulp detective kind of guy who used snide asides to describe things -- like Tad's SUV being a Cadillac, the kind that looks like an ice-breaker, or ceilings that vanish into darkness to give a place a Gothic feel, even though it was more Frank Lloyd Wright than Wilkie Collins (Gothic mystery writer of the mid-19th Century who never met a word he couldn't use a dozen times in one paragraph).

I'm wondering this because Vinnie's first real job once he's out of high school is in a bank, so he went into a long detailed discussion of how it looks. But would he even care? He's an 18 year old kid in New York in 1968 who's more interested in girls and making some cash than what a building looks like. I'm wondering if I'm being untrue to the character?

I had that happen with Bobby in "Bobby Carapisi." He's a jock who loves playing baseball and loves his wife, and she'd be the one who would decorate the house. But I want people to know what it looks like, so I had him only barely describe it and in stages through the books. Like it's in a gated neighborhood and had lots of space and a deck to sit on to watch the sun go down (he really loves sunsets). I think the reader gets the impression it's mainly white and open, even though I don't really say so. And he never describes his locker room or hotel rooms or even the cabin he and Donna escape to for a while except to say it looked like it was part of the hillside. I wondered if that was enough...and still do.

Looks like I'm having some of the same battles all over again. How much do I do of this and how little can I get away with on that. Must be this way on every book. I'm having it in "Place of Safety" but that one's using Brendan's sense of the details in life to work around it. When he finally sees his Aunt's home in Houston for the first time from the outside, it freezes him to the spot at how open and spacious the area is, compared to the hovel he and his brothers and sisters lived in. I guess each character works this out for himself.

Eventually, I'll be transferring a police-mystery into book form. It has a female lead...and I'm thinking of telling it in third person. I can't see it being told in first; it's too wide-ranging and I can't think of a cute way around the limitations of first person. That one will be relatively easy, I'm sure.

I took a nap when I got home and feel a lot better. That friggin' pie must've had something mean in it, or something I was allergic to. I'm still aching in the belly, a bit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I hate lemon meringue pie.

I had a slice today at work and it made me sick. I'm just now getting better, and that's only because I broke down and went to a store and bought some Alka Seltzer. So I got nothing done, tonight short of a bit of smoothing over in stuff I'd already written. Here's some of it. This is early in the story, when Vinnie's edging closer and closer to joining up with the Mob.


Y’see, I always looked older than I really was, and that can be a ton of help when you’re young and wanting to get away with shit. I go to a social club, I don’t get carded. I make time with a girl in a school hallway and they think I’ve been around. Fourteen years old and everybody acts like I’m forty. Well, not THAT old, but over twenty-one.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little? So what? Life’s crap enough without some fantasy to it, and my head could be just as filled with crap as anybody else’s. And I really did look a couple years older than I was. And it did help me make some time with girls who wouldn’t of given me the time of day if they knew my real age. Like Carla, a junior, in high school, not college. I got to cop a feel with her in between some stacks of lockers, but then a couple days later she found out and smacked the shit out of me. By then it was too late; the whole school knew she’d made time with a freshman. It was perfect.

Then there’s Maria, with hips out to here and tits out to there. Always in a blouse that had no sleeves and tight pants that stopped halfway down these calves that glided into ankles that just about killed you when she’s walking around in high heels. Hair swept on top of her head and eyes like Connie Francis. Her little brother, Alvie, and me were best buddies and I had the worst hots for her, but you think she’d give me half a chance? Hell no.

Y’know, it wasn’t till I was working at Patty’s pastry shop that I really started after her. I’d seen her around Alvie’s apartment lots of times, even on the street more times than I can count, but this one day I was headed on one of Patty’s "deliveries" and I saw her headed home from the market, a net bag in one hand holding tomatoes, basil, a brick of Parmasean, can of olives and all the other crap you need to make a good marinara. Something about the way she was swinging it all casual and unconcerned, matching the gentle whisper of her hips, it was as erotic as all get out, and I started humming “Volare”. Don’t ask me why; it’s just the first tune hit my head.

What’s wild is, other people in the area seemed to pick up on it -- some passing me on the street; some hanging out of windows or fire escapes up three, four, five stories; some sitting on stools at a door and drinking a beer; nothing but old tight buildings on narrow streets and no trees but lots of decent paisans. Some began humming it along with me, like a chorus dancing from one to another as I walked, so I started mouthing the words. Then some kids on skates whipped past and rolled around to circle me and their skates kept the rhythm of the music and the noise of the traffic began to blend in -- cars and delivery vans and horns and tires squealing. I felt like I was in another world.

Now I dunno why all this started to happen; I never was that big on Dino since Bobby Darrin was more my style. “Mack the Knife” is still one of my favorite songs. But something about the way Maria’s hips rolled to the left and then to the right in these elegant motions, like Gina Lollobrigida, it was almost like she was keeping rhythm with my humming.

Then she turned to look at me, her slanted eyes with their Elizabeth Taylor makeup, the net bag still swinging as she walked backwards, so I started singing the words, like I was caught in a dream.

“Volare. Oh-oh.

Cantare. Oh-oh-oh-oh.”

She laughed and stopped to let me catch up to her, and I swung up all dramatic and stuff and kept on with,

“Let’s fly way up to the clouds.

Away from the maddening crowds.”

And I whipped an arm around her and swung her in a circle, her net bag whistling out away from her, her body soft and comfortable, bits of her hair drifting away from the pile on her head as I kept singing and people joined in, dancing and clapping around us, stopping traffic and even making the beat cops grin big and laugh, until she stopped dead and snapped, “Vinnie, what you doin’?”

And I jolted back to the city street, still about twenty feet behind her, watching her stopped by the entrance to her building. She was looking at me with one of those, “I can’t believe you,” looks on her face.

“What you mean?” I asked.

“Starin’ at me like that!”

I blushed and took what I thought was a cocky pose and said, “Admirin’ the view.” That’s a line my cousin, Fredo, used and he said it got him plenty of action.

“C’mon,” she napped back, “you’re Alvie’s age.”

“I can still appreciate a pretty dress on a pretty girl.” Follow-up line if the first one don’t work.

She just shook her head, flipped her hand at me and went into the building.

Wow. Talk about stuck up. It’s not like she’s all that much better than I am. Both our dads worked the shipyards so I know. And she’s only three years older than me -- well four; she passed into eighteen a couple weeks back and had a party, and all I got out of going was a thank you note for the flowers I brought her. Not even a peck on a cheek. Cost me a week’s pay, too.

I think I started seeing right about then that if I wanted to make serious time with a girl, it was gonna cost me. A lot. So I needed a better way to make some cash.

Monday, November 7, 2011


On the novel I'm writing. Cleaning up and noting where I've changed names and places, inputting fresh info and such. Some things I did weren't making any sense so I cut them; others were too unclear so I added more detail. Overall, I think I'm 750 words ahead for the night.

To be honest, I'm pretty much worded out for the night and just want to sleep. I almost had to go to New York on Wednesday to rework the shipment for Boston, but that's being handled by someone down there.

I've been following the situation in the EU and the amazing stupidity and stubbornness of their leaders over there. In order to keep banks from losing money, they're impoverishing entire populations. First Greece, Then Ireland and Spain, then Portugal, Latvia and other Baltic countries, and now it looks like Italy will be next. All because they tied themselves to the Euro and the bastards in control won't make the adjustments needed to strengthen it.

That's not to say here in the US we're doing better. Between Obama's Blue Dogs and the GOP, we'll have 9% unemployment for the next two years and a large portion of those people will be lost to the workforce entirely. My youngest brother is one. He hasn't been able to find a job anywhere in San Antonio, despite looking constantly and being willing to take minimum wage. I had a hell of a time finding work (and then only because I had contacts that came in handy) and I have a stronger employment record than he does. It's going to be a nightmare thanks to the GOP and Obama's cowardice in facing them down. We're even headed for yet another threatened governmental shutdown in the next 10 days.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ahead of the game

Up to 11,610 words and a couple of interesting moments. Something that keeps popping up is Vinnie's imagination taking him over. It starts out innocently enough, with him daydreaming of a musical number as he watches a beautiful girl walk home with groceries for that night's dinner (this is that "Volare" moment) and begins building so he's filling in what's going on with some of the wiseguys he has to deal with, and cops and such, even though we're not completely sure this is what's actually happening.

I'm not sure how far I'll be able to go with this, but it leads up to the ending very neatly in so many ways. I may add in some absurdist moments, I don't know. Much of this book is going to be very dark and scary (I hope), so the tone may not work for that. Whatever happens, he's finally become my leading character and not the guy who he's based upon. It's kind of cruel, I think, stealing another man's identity to make a fictional story...but he said I could play with the facts as much as I wanted. I think he's hoping for a good payoff on it. Seeing as how I've only made $5000 out of all the writing I've done, (screenplays, books, novellas, but not counting the videos I wrote for commercial projects), I don't hold any hope. But we can see how this does.

I put all my Hitchcock DVDs up for sale to see if I can pull together some cash to pay down my credit cards. Tomorrow I'll add my foreign DVDs to the pile. I'm still struggling to get ahead after that trip to Texas and paying for my mother's funeral...well, paying for a third of it. More than a third, really. And my little brother needs money because he's unemployable, so there goes a chunk. Hell, I haven't been able to even keep pace let alone get ahead. I'm back to where I was twenty years ago -- up to my eyeballs in debt. How stupid.

I can't say it's anybody's fault but mine thanks to some of the choices I made. But then, I've never been good with money. It's the artist in me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I got my opening to "Inherent Flaws"

Just wrote it.

I’m crazy, you know. Completely, to the point I can’t work. I’m on disability and a pension and still under the care of a doctor, even now, years after I lost it. Paranoid-schizophrenic’s what they call it as they nod their heads, oh-so-sagely. Me? I say it’s just being in tune with reality, but hey -- who am I to argue with a guy who’d got a diploma that cost him a hundred-k to put on his wall? Or the cops and lawyers who agree that I’m totally crapped in the brain? Or family members who sigh and shake their heads and click their tongues in sad agreement? What’d one guy I met in the nuthouse say? Insanity’s not a state of mind, it’s a consensus by people who are too crazy to know they’re just as nuts as you are.

Now I’m not in a nut house. Never was, really. Well, except for a few months after I lost it and shot a cop in the middle of police headquarters. Didn’t know about that, did you? Well, it helped that I was a cop, too, and was in the middle of the latest in a series of nasty little scandals concerning corruption in the NYPD, so everybody wanted to keep it all nice and quiet. It also helped that I had connections to a couple of made guys in the mob. Even counted them as friends. But then -- what kind of sane man would be a cop yet openly invite Mafia scumbags to his wedding? On top of all this is that I was also known as an easy-skater kind of guy, the type who’s worked with all the ins and outs of making his life easy, even on the beat. But you want to know what made everybody absolutely, positively sure I was a freak job? Get ready for it. I could type 135 words per minute; 160 when I was flying. Without errors.

Yeah, typing skills are proof of insanity. It’s not considered human, if you’re a guy.

But I am human. And I did make plenty of mistakes in my life. Including being dumb enough to dig into why drugs were disappearing from the evidence locker. Pissed off people on all sides of the aisle with that one. But that’s for later in this story of how I wound up fucked up for life at the ripe old age of twenty-five, 'cause that's not when it started; that's only how it ended.

Yeah, that’s how old I was when my life went down in flames -- just 25 fucking years old. And even today, forty years later, there’s still argument as to what caused it and why it happened, and even whether or not I’m faking the whole fucking thing. Like I’d let myself get institutionalized and worked over by all sorts of drug cocktails till they figured out which one I could ingest without keeling over from a heart attack or dead liver, or I'd go up against cops with 20 years experience in dealing with anything and everything under their belts, or I'd believe the DA's office would give a fuck about what cops were doing.

So let me start this by saying up front -- my name is Vicenzo Lombardini, Vinnie to my buddies. Remember that name, because everybody wants you to forget it. Everybody wants you to think this Lombardini guy never existed. But he did exist. I do. And still do, despite everything they did. And now it’s time to tell my story, before life slips away and I’m lost forever.

I'm late

I didn't get going on the writing till after 10pm but managed another 2170 words. I jumped to another part of the story, after Vinnie's being investigated and the mob senses he might be a threat thanks to what he knows. He's on his own and it's adding to his paranoia. There are other spots where I can work and then worry about linking thing up, later, so I might get this done.

Or not. It did take a a long time to get into the rhythm and feel, and then only because part of this section takes place on the Long Island Expressway -- the LIE -- and I had this thought about cars drifting along it like silent coffins on a swollen river. I don't think I've earned the metaphor in the story, yet, but it's getting there in my mind.

I worked till 5:30 and had fish and chips at Wegman's. I don't know what they do to this meal, but it's addictive. I just wish they offered it more days than just Friday (a very Catholic thing from years ago, where Fridays were meatless while for some reason fish was not considered a meat). I don't care; it was perfect. What's even more fun is, the Wegman's I go to has Jazz on friday evenings, so you sit there and munch as a trio or quartet bops away in the background. It almost feels civilized.

Weather's getting colder. Winter's hinting of its arrival. I like it like that.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Treading water

To use an old expression...which is odd because I can't swim. But today was not the best for writing or focusing or anything. Too much real life interfering with fiction world for me to let it go. And I've been so damn tired, lately. I could easily sleep 10 hours a day...and sometimes do on the weekends.

Didn't help that the internet was acting weird, too, and I had trouble getting things finished at work...and didn't get done with some of it. So I took a nice long walk and ate a crappy burger at Burger King and now feel even weirder.

I dunno...maybe I'm finally getting worn down by all these years of self-support in the emotional realm. Not that family and friends haven't been supportive of my neverending push to be a writer, but there's been nothing on the "significant other" front for so many years, I don't think I'd know what to do if I did connect with someone. Probably fuck it up, and not in a fun way.

What's even more fun is, just as I need to focus on my writing, I want to paint. But I have no studio. My apartment has a rug and it's new, so if I get paint on it, I'm stuck for replacement. So I can't do anything like that till I get a tarp to put down to protect it. And then what?

Damn...I'm feeling so much like a cat, right now -- just want to stretch out over a heating pad and toast my belly as I gaze off at nothing and everything in a feline sort of ennui. *Sigh*

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Took a while to get going, but I churned out another 1500 words and have probably 500 more set up to go. The story is completely unfocused and I know I shouldn't be worried about that at this stage of the game, but I do. I have no idea what tone it's going to take, in reality. Vinnie's got a jokey, off-handed way of talking so it may still turn out farcical with humor of the midnight sort...or not.

Hm...I'm just remembering a sort of friend of mine named Vinnie. From college, though he was a couple years behind me. He was gorgeous, with a true Roman nose and well-formed body...and I always had the feeling he was a "maybe" kind of guy. I once pulled a nasty trick on him when he was in the school's infirmary with some kind of illness; I took him a copy of Stephen King's "The Stand" to read. It was only 900 pages of how a plague destroys civilization.

Another time, I drove up to Dallas with a buddy of mine to visit him while he was at his parents' home recuperating from a broken hip or pelvis, and we took him to see "Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles." He enjoyed getting out of the house, though it was hard to fit him into the car because of a cast that went from his waist down a leg to an ankle. I wondered how he was able to shit with that thing on but didn't ask.

Weird to remember that. What's interesting is, he wasn't really all that Italian, except by bloodline and then only half, I think. He was more Dallas upper-middle class, which is a sort of bloodline unto itself, while the Vinnie in this story is full-blood and living in Manhattan's Little Italy, his actual name being Vicenzo. Vinnie really a nickname for that? Gotta check into this more.

What's fun is, he works in a pastry shop as a teenager, and learning about Italian pastries and cookies has made me want to try some zeppoli with cinnamon sugar on it. Just reading about it put ten pounds on me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And so it begins

After a non-stop day at work I got home, fixed my omelet (that actually turned into scrambled eggs because I put all kinds of crap with it -- green and red peppers, onions, cheese, ham, olives -- and wanted them all cooked) then got down to business. Just jumped in with both feet and already think the spot where I started is wrong but at least I'm getting something down. Over 2000 words; I needed to do 1667 per day to make my goal; now I just have to do 1600. I'm aiming for 1800...which is 7 pages.

Pete is now Vicenzo....aka: Vinnie. And he's a well as a bit scattered. He's talking about how he's a good kid and how he went crazy, and I got some odd wordplay going here when he describes is frame of mind: "Because my kind of crazy was the freak-out-paranoid-schizophrenia of a guy who knows what he knows and knows people know he knows and knows they know ways to make sure nobody else knows, so he makes sure they know he knows and knows to keep it to himself, to which they then make sure he knows what he needs to know to keep it under his nose, if he knows what’s good for him. Know what I mean?"

I dunno. Do I?

I got lots to deliver on, still. And this first draft is going to be absolute crap if this first bit it to be believed. But I'll find Vinnie's tone, at least, and will have something to build on from there. Besides, I somehow doubt this will be the actual beginning, once I get deeper into the story.