Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crazy days

Hong Kong's on, after all. I leave the 21st and return the 25th. Zip zoom blowie.

9 small shipments suddenly had to be done all at once, which take as long as large shipments, so getting them ready was not fun.

Got a headache. Eyes, too.

Did a little work prepping CK for November. Zeke's fascinating is Carli...

Worked on the storyboards. Waiting to hear if new version of one panel is okay. Don't want to work on something for hours then have it tossed aside when I could know beforehand whether or not it's right.

Now just wanna go to bed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


When you have the right tools, you can do a lot more...

This took about 2 hours of light layering in of color, so I didn't get crazy. It's not fantastic, but it works and got the client's okay. Another one I worked on has to be redone from the start. Seems even though I sent in a sketch of the characters I planned to use and got no comment back to indicate they weren't right, when I sent in the color image it got rejected. Not attractive enough. Le Sigh...

The book, The Count of Monte Cristo, is so different from the movie versions I've seen, it amazes me they were willing to call them by that title. I still like both the Robert Donat and Jim Caviezel versions, but neither one did anything more than take the premise and rework it into a Hollywood version of a revenge story. The book goes places even today's movies would dare not tread, let alone movies of the 1930s.

I'd say the Donat version adheres closest to the book's plot, while still taking some serious liberties, and the Caviezel version is closer to its poetry and timbre, though taking even greater liberties. Plus having Guy Pearce as Fernand and Henry Cavill as Albert didn't hurt. I'll have to see the Gerard Depardieu version, sometime, just to compare.

And if you want to know how I'm able to fit in time to read, I do a chapter while taking a dump. Heavy-duty reading for some know.

But day by day I feel better and better about my own massive style of writing...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Withdrawal symptoms...

I haven't done any real writing for a couple of days and I'm starting to feel antsy. I've been focused on the storyboarding job, and just started coloring them in with pencil...and all I can think about is what to do with CK or OT.  Even DM is pressing me. Kept me off center enough to where I didn't notice I don't have any of a necessary color -- flesh pink. So I tried to work around it and turned out two people who look like they have radiation burns. NOT what you want in a promotional piece.

At least the man's shirt and the woman's nursing uniform came out looking okay...but otherwise, this is crap.

Damn...I've only got 15 of these to do, some of them very detailed. I need to make a trip to the Art Supply store...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's good to get hungry

I've been trimming back how much I eat at a time. I've found I can easily put away a thousand calories in one meal...and feel full almost to the point of bloated. Like Thanksgiving every day. I think it stems from all the years I was told I had to clean everything on my plate, so did so. It took me a while to get to where I'd take home leftovers from meals -- except for enchilada dinners, since they normally come with 2 enchiladas. I like to divide the meal in half and eat one part, then the rest is for lunch, the next day. What's fun is, I even like that particular food cold.

Still, some meals you can't do that. Baked potatoes don't work warmed up, and french fries are only good for making hash-browns to go with eggs. Burgers are usually too much, even the small ones at 5 Guys. And salads just don't keep.

So I'm no longer eating out much...and when I do, I order as little as possible. I've been gaining too damn much weight, something exacerbated by my traveling which makes it damn hard to do leftovers or light meals. But when I'm at work or home, I eat very light. And it's finally beginning to tell. I've lost 5 pounds in the last week. Not a lot, but it's a reversal of the slow build in my girth.

I thought I'd blown it, last night, when I made scalloped potatoes. I went nuts and ate half of them; the other half made two separate servings. But...that's all I had for dinner, so it wasn't too bad. And I was hungry before I went to bed.

Today, I didn't eat till 2pm -- and had a bit of pulled pork and some mac and cheese at Wegman's. Not great, but I'd kept it small enough to where I was hungry-ish by 5:30. So had spaghetti and my own veggie sauce...and now it's 5 hours later and I'm starting to feel hungry-ish, again.

It seems that's the only way I'll lose weight; I'm not active enough to reboot my metabolism. Or maybe I'm too lazy to. I've never been one for exercise. Never been in great shape. I was lucky to be born thin and it wasn't till about 10-12 years ago I lost that equilibrium and began packing it on.  So now I just have to back away from the table and hope all will be well.

At least my cholesterol is good.

I think I just got insulted...

I submitted The Lyons' Den and Bobby Carapisi to Rainbow Book Reviews for a review on each...and after months of no response, they finally said, No. They didn't like the blurb/synopsis or something along those lines. So I asked if I could resubmit, and they said, No. Wouldn't do any good, so don't bother. But they will happily review something like Claim Me, Luna Werewolves 12 and Pixie of Frankenstein, both gay-themed books.

I honestly don't know how to take this. Was the blurb really that bad? Here's what I sent for The Lyons' Den --

Daniel knew exactly how to get Tad back - agree to rewrite eight horrible scripts in time for them to be pitched as a new series for cable. If the network went for it, he'd get a week in Bermuda to rebuild their love. If they didn't, he'd lose the guy forever.

Only thing was, Tad wanted to keep the rewrite super-hush-hush, so he insisted Daniel use his family's empty, isolated cabin in upstate New York to work. Reluctantly, Daniel agreed, but as he was being driven to it, a massive snowstorm blew in ... and that "isolated cabin" wound up the center of mystery, suspense, sex, betrayal, revenge, murder, fist-fights, shredded clothes, frostbite, gunfire, predatory females, an obnoxious caretaker, a hermit who hates everything, an epic snowstorm, a hot shower with people who don't exist, a blazing fireplace, a bizarre shower curtain, off-key TV music, secrets heard in shadows, crooked politicians, romance with the proper stranger, and more than a hint of paranoid-schizophrenia.

All in the space of two hours on a Friday night.
Here's the one for Life Lessons, Life Lessons 1 (which got a rave review) --

Tony Hart's life has been quiet lately. He has good friends and a rewarding teaching job. Then the murdered body of another teacher falls into the elevator at his feet, and Tony's life gets a little too exciting.

Jared MacLean is a homicide detective, a widowed father, and deeply in the closet. But from the moment he meets Tony's blue eyes in that high school hallway, Mac can't help wanting this man in his life. However Mac isn't the only one with his eyes on Tony. As the murderer tries to cover his tracks, Mac has to work fast or lose Tony, permanently.
So...did I screw up in my blurb? Am I so out of it that I made the story sound uninteresting? I honestly don't know; I thought I did good. Any suggestions?

Because that may be why the damn thing isn't selling.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Nothing much to say about writing because I'm working out a set of storyboards for a presentation. Color. And for once I'm not going with my first or second ideas, but I'm aiming to get 5 or 6. I want more work from these people; I need the money. And I want to flex my muscles as regards my artistic ability...if it hasn't atrophied. I'm popping off preliminaries Sunday.

I have to put OT aside, for a while. DM is going to take time and NaNoWritMo starts in a week; no way I can do all that and the storyboards and the day job.

Today I had my teeth cleaned by a woman who took lessons from Dr. Zell in Marathon Man. She got under the gums and even under a crown. I had to actually push her away, once, because it hurt...and I tend to have a high tolerance for physical pain (it's the ephemeral kind I get all bent out of shape over). Teeth feel damn clean and like they've been through a Swedish Massage.

Back to hating Fios. I tried to stream music but it kept hiccuping and I hate that. And I have yet to be able to view a video, this evening. It's chilly out but not that cold, so I don't think weather has anything to do with it; just crappy service for a ludicrous price.

I guess my next step is to sit in a tub and sip some hot tea and read more of The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas has got a serial killer in it, now, and one character took 15 long paragraphs to die as he kept saying he was dying. And the Count actually has actually set up one murder. Still a slog, but I'm appreciating it.

Hmm...I wonder if Dumas was influenced by Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reality Bites

Hmph...apparently, if you want to work with Lightning Source to publish your book, you have to get their permission. I filled out the info asked for, thinking I was signing up to begin the process of making David Martin into a book...and when I was done, they said, "Thanks, we'll get back to you in a few days as regards your application."

It's not going to be an easy process. It could take as long as 3 months to get DM out into stores and available through Ingram. And I have to pay a fee of $12 per book to publish it, to start with; they won't tell me if there are any other least nowhere I can find. So much for Christmas.

Oh, well, it's my own damn fault for taking so long to get it going. No need to rush, now.

I'm also dealing with Smashwords...who provided a 30+ page booklet on how to publish through them. Wow. But thinking about it, Kindle wasn't that easy. It took nearly 6 weeks to get BC to come together right. Maybe I should try that one, first.

Looks like Hong Kong is off, this year, which is a bit of a relief. I didn't look forward to 18 hours in a plane, and I've seen all I wanted to of the town.

No work done on OT, today. Dealing with idiot clients who wait to ship something until it's really too late to meet their deadlines used up my creativity. Still, I feel good about the story, so far, now that I've shifted a bit of it around.

And it's gotten longer...but no surprise there, right?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

David Martin's cover

Here's the cover art for David Martin as a book. I'll add a short description to the back part, but otherwise, it's set. And this shows why you should get professionals to do the job. This is just plain lovely, and I especially like the mystical quality of the castle.

So now the ball's in my court to set up the publishing. Wow...earlier than I anticipated. And on top of it, I got a storyboarding job. I'm courting those, again, to make some extra money. It's not a huge payday, but any little bit helps.

I worked on OT a bit, putting a confrontation between Jake and one character earlier than I'd intended, but it works better. Jake almost loses it, he's so pissed off, but it sets up something that is seriously important to the mystery.

I don't know how much time I'll have to deal with OT, from now till December. I've got to get DM ready to get out there, and I've got NaNoWriMo to do for CK, not to mention the storyboarding job, two bookfairs and another packing job in Pennsylvania. November's going to be fun. Too bad I'm not better at managing my time.

But hey -- who needs sleep?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


That's the number of pages I have, double-spaced. 110K+ in wordage. But I feel like I'm dancing around at the end. All I have left to write is the final confrontation/reveal and the denouement, but working my way into it is not proving to be easy. In fact, it's damned irritating.

Jake took an extra step I wasn't anticipating, so that adds to the whirlpool. And I wonder if the way I have him getting the last piece of the puzzle, the final link of proof, is too easy. I set it up...but I think it just falls into place so simply, it's not believable.

Ah, confusion, thy name be Kyle.

If that is my name. I tried to register for the NY ACA health care market, but they say I cannot be verified. Dunno why. I spoke with tech support and they can't figure it out, either, so they're sending me a form to fill out that I have to send back with a copy of my Driver's License. Then they can add me to the system. Which is weird, because I've paid NY State Income tax for the last 3 years.

I find it funny that so many on the right wing are making a big deal out of these glitches and problems, especially since it's been discovered that one of the companies writing script for the identification part is affiliated with a major health-care group who opposed the ACA. What makes it even funnier is how silent these same critics are when the Pentagon runs tens of billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule on development of new planes, ships and weapons systems that become obsolete the second they wind up getting produced.

I already have insurance coverage; I just want to see if I can do better, because I have a large deductible. Blue Cross sent me a new schedule of offerings and prices, but I don't think it includes the discount I currently get through the Chamber of Commerce (yes, I'm a member). But...and this is a big one...I may be able to get subsidies if I go through the marketplace for coverage and get away from the CoC. I'm not sure, yet.

All this crap takes too damn much time from everything else.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Starting to rush too much

One of my failings as a writer is I sometimes rush through my endings. I've been fighting to rid myself of that habit...or predilection...or whatever...but it keeps whispering around and taking control any time I'm not paying attention. So I now have too much happening and Jake is running around and it's not exactly bad, but I have to be careful. I may have too many power moments for one day.

Thing is, now that everything's fallen into place and he finally got the last link he needed, it would come crashing down. Fast. He's also racing the clock to keep people from thinking his uncle's a killer.

What's truly great is, I finally have an answer to the question that starts the story -- "Why does Jake stay with Antony?' I think it'll play just right...and may even become a bit obvious as the story unfolds.

I took a short break to work up an image for my page on the NaNoWriMo site, something fun and a bit trashy. I won't be able to use these models for the actual cover; I don't have the use rights for them...though I probably could get Logan to sell me his. I have no idea who the woman is.

But the juxtaposition of their two photos is so right for the story, I couldn't not do it. Took me 15 minutes in PhotoShop.

In Blood Angel I have a murderous vampire queen seduce a college kid, and I think she winds up sympathetic, even though she's a stone-cold killer. In Brand of Justice, I have Claire involved with her younger partner before she goes off the rails trying to protect her family. I'm going to see what I can get away with as regards Carly and Zeke.

I doubt it will be pretty.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Carly's getting ready... the back of my mind. It's like making a bed...well, the way I make one. Like today. I washed everything -- blankets, sheets, mattress pad, and ran the pillows in a dryer. And then...then you make the bed. Layering on each section.

Mattress pad, first -- basis of story -- Carly sets out to kill the men who raped her sister.

Bottom sheet -- story's theme -- revenge destroys both the guilty and the innocent.

Top sheet -- story's structure to lay everything on -- Carly kills, falls for Zeke, wavers, innocents die, she roars back with pure fury.

Blanket -- characters -- Carly, Zeke, the bad boiz, the others who inform the story in some way.

Pillows -- Okay, I don't know how to work those into my rambling, but they're there, so I'll have to -- because I can't sleep flat. Could they be the comedy in this tragedy? Of course, I guess I should involve the mattress in some way, too. Hmph.

Carly's pretty, not beautiful, but she knows how to use what she's got. And she's ex-Marine, so she knows how to kick ass. And she's determined, so she'll achieve her goals or die trying.

Then there's Zeke, good-looking but damaged. Literally. He was in Iraq and has seen what hate can do, so now wants nothing but peace. He doesn't even mind Carly seeing him as a sex object.

Problem is, he runs with the guys who brutalized Carly's sister, and may even have helped. Question is, why, even if he wasn't part of that criminal act, is he with the men who were?

I'm not out to make a "female" story. This is not a romance or anything along the lines of Jackie Collins' works. I'm going to make it as suspenseful and brutal and honest as I can.

That's all I have, right now...but it may be enough to build a first draft off of.

Then again, I've said that before and crashed and burned.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


That's how many words I have in this story, so far, though I'm only satisfied with 85,000 of them, in their current order. The rest...I'm into the part of the book where I need to restructure and change things.  One person who was on the periphery of what happened with Owen Taylor is now in the middle of it. And Jake's made a big mistake but was aware enough to see it, quickly, and mitigate its ramifications.

Maybe. You never know with a story like this.

I figure I have the 15,000 words to rework and 20,000 to add, and I'll be done with a first draft. Then I'll be asking for volunteers to tell me whether or not the story works. I'm so deep into it, right now, I can't see the structure for the verbiage.

It looks like I may be completely out of print, soon. Amazon has taken it into its head that I asked for The Lyons' Den to be removed from publication in both paperback and Kindle, which is nonsense. The e-mail I sent them specifically said I was NOT doing that. I'm trying to find out where they got that bright idea, but as yet no response.

Hmm...since NYPD Blood is now out of print, maybe I could use that as a test for Smashwords. That might be fun. I may even use a pseudonym, since it's not really my story. Do better artwork on the cover. That sort of thing. I'll have to find out. I may get arrogant enough to submit it for Pulitzer consideration. Only costs $50.

Let's see how much it costs to get going, first.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Back to the OT grind

I'm back into ...Owen Taylor, again. Jake's moving forward like he knows what the hell he's doing. I like that. The story's begun to set...and everything seems aimed at the resolution we've decided on. This time, I'm not stopping until I've got a full first draft. It's time to stop my piddly nonsense.

What's interesting to me is, Jake's letting himself be more vulnerable...about Antony, about the relationship between himself and his uncle, about his growing attraction to Dion who represents everything he's missed out on in life. He's also digging into his anger about what happened to him and why...and it's changed the ending, slightly.

I almost wonder if some of my problem was thinking I had to fit the story to Create Space's middle-class requirements. It's not going to be a simple mystery story; there's raw sex and violence in it, and Amazon's into another fit of censorship, so that could be a problem. Plus, I'm at the point where I flat out do not trust them -- not only about the numbers of sales but as regards my writing. I could see them dumping all of my books because they have gay leads in them. And don't think that's beyond the realm of possibility; something like it happened in Canada.

Canadian customs, maybe 12-15 years ago, determined that any book with a gay lead that had any suggestion of sex in it was pornography and not allowed into the country. Some Andrea Dworkin freaks agreed with them; they even wanted any straight book with sex in it banned, as well. It turned into a nice little mess, which Canada quietly backed away from.

So now...Amazon, the biggest distributor of books in the world, has twice been stampeded into dropping books by one person complaining about the books solely because of their titles and the content in their synopses. I was thinking I'd have to just give my stories away via my website, so they'd at least get read and I wouldn't have to worry about censoring anything in them.

But I've since been turned onto Smashwords and Lightning Source, who will make my books and electronic downloads for minimal cash outlay. I still need to investigate them, more, but it's a start. And I'm sure other organizations are available for the same purpose, once I really dig into looking.

So the hell with Amazon. I've already begun the process of divorcing myself from them. By the end of the year, we should be done, completely.

Meaning I'm free at last...and freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose...which makes no sense but sure sounds right when Janis Joplin sings it.

BTW -- this is post #

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I just got a call from Amazon -- that great and glorious albeit cravenly cowardly American corporation -- decided for some amazingly stupid reason to have some poor guy from India or Pakistan call me in response to my letters about my books. In very broken English, he said they would be happy to relist How To Rape A Straight Guy and Rape In Holding Cell 6 if I would just make a couple changes. New titles. New covers. New descriptions.

I said, "No." Then I told him I'm having both of those books as well as Porno Manifesto and the 3 volumes of Bobby Carapisi pulled from Amazon's listing. That's a total of 7 books. I'm also going to look into what other options I have in publishing David Martin. There may be none and I'll have to go with them or just not put it out, because I can't afford the self-publishing route offered by vanity publishers.

This is going to be interesting. I now get to decide if my moral indignation and sense of injustice are greater than my obligation to my characters. I hate the fact that Amazon has become so large and so destructive to bookstores that it can do anything it wants with impunity. But my stories want to be told...need to be told...and that's getting me tied up in knots.

Of course, part of this is me wanting to make some money off the books' sales. But it's been such a piddly amount, that really shouldn't enter into the equation. So reality is, I could just post them on a website with a nanny blocker of some kind and ask for donations through Paypal. I'd probably make more than I have from Nazca Plains. And they'd be available to read.

Make a living as that possible, anymore, unless you're Steven King?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Respite from writing...

What? I wasn't going to WEAR it...

"I don't feel like dancin', no sir, no dancin' today..."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Zombie Kyle

I did a red-eye from Seattle to Atlanta on a very cramped 757 that barely allowed me even enough room to read my book. No way I could have worked on my laptop. Hell, I even had trouble playing solitaire on my iPhone. Delta was okay, otherwise -- on time and providing plugs at the gates for you to use for your electronics (albeit not very many of them). But either I cut my size down by 40% or I find alternate methods of transportation, because this is ridiculous.

I like doing the train to NYC. It takes longer but it's civilized. Spacious. Nice scenery. Problem is, we don't have a decent rail system in this country, outside of the NE corridor.

Anyway, I got home, this morning, at 11:30 am after being up for a solid 24 hours and working up a nice sweat walking from Seattle's LINK station to the warehouse, then rebuilding skids. I'm sure I was not pleasant to be around by the time I got to my car. I even felt nasty.

I was hungry but only had a cup of tea and some toast after I showered, then I hit the bed and slept for 3 hours. Any longer and I won't be able to sleep, tonight. The rest of the day was taken up with catch-up crap, so I didn't get any writing done on OT.

Didn't help that I'm getting blown off by Kindle about HTRASG. They're pulling the usual crap -- a different person responding, each time, and giving me a canned letter basically saying the same damn thing over and over -- "We can do what we want and we don't have to explain it."

Amazon, Kobo, WH Smith and B&N are getting push-back...but don't seem to be responding to it, yet. Thing is, I'm in the process of taking the Nazca Plains books out of circulation. I'm going to look into publishing them on my own and selling them off my own website, but that's not for a while. I'll have to do new covers and get new ISBNs...

This makes me uncomfortable about publishing DM through Create Space and Kindle. I should look into alternatives that don't involve a thousand bucks.

Censorship begins, thanks to England...

I'm not going to rehash the insanity of Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and W H Smith's ridiculous reactions to the criticism of a hypocritical UK right-wing-nut's so-called magazine over erotica.  Here are links to a number of better-written articles about it all.

I'm getting auto-reply responses from Kindle, which completely ignore my questions about why my books were vetted by them and found to meet their guidelines, but now are suddenly being pulled from circulation.

As for the creep who got this started...I get the feeling he's very pleased with the effect he's having.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ending with Nazca Plains

The publisher of my first 4 books and I have come to terms and I will be getting all rights to my books back. Considering the situation with Amazon being schizophrenic about what books they will and will not carry and declining sales, overall, I think he's happy to be rid of them. Soon, the only way anyone will be able to get one of my books will be if I republish them or work out some way of offering them for sale for download. Don't know what I'll do about that.

Reality is, only 3 books will stop being available -- HTRASG, Porno Manifesto, and Rape In Holding Cell 6. Since I published the compilation for Bobby Carapisi, that stays up. I may do the same thing for RIHC6, just for the hell of it.

I'm at SeaTac waiting for my plane. I'll be home in the morning and then back to the job on Wednesday...yippee. Seattle is nice and I like the Hampton Inn. It actually works -- Wifi, breakfast, coffee makes, iron, plugs...I may make them my first choice, from now on.

I got the finalized line drawing for the interior of David Martin. I like them. They're in a PDF format, right now, so I can't share them. Maybe soon. Next comes the cover...

...Owen Taylor is working for me, again. I've begun working out the confrontation between Father Paul and Jake, trying to find ways to keep it from giving the story away, too soon...though it's also possible I'll just have it all happen, at once, Jake's pissed off, by this point, and not willing to let anyone play games with him, anymore. He's out for blood...and he's going to get it.

I just hope the book winds up leading straight to that point and it doesn't come out of nowhere.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Amazon's at it, again...

Amazon is trying to become the only game in town for buying books, so when they decide to stop carrying a title because somebody didn't like it, that's censorship by default. And they don't limit it to just one country.

For example -- the UK government is threatening to pass a law banning the possession of pornography depicting incest or rape. It's not clear if this means written or photographic or both. But whatever does come from it, Amazon has pulled "How To Rape A STraight Guy" from Kindle, everywhere. They still offer the paperback in the US, but not in the UK.

I've already been in contact with both the US and UK branches of Amazon; now I'm just waiting for an answer. I have an e-mail from January 2011 that specifically states Amazon has reviewed both HTRASG and "Rape In Holding Cell 6" and found they are NOT pornographic. I guess we'll see what happens this time.

I was in contact with the publisher, yesterday, and floated the idea of me buying back all rights to my books in exchange for the money he owes me. I'll never see a penny of that cash, anyway, and I honestly think he's close to declaring bankruptcy...and I don't want my books caught up in that mess. He's going to get back to me on it, Monday. I halfway think he'll use Amazon's recent crap as the impetus to say, OK.

I worked on OT while jetting between Minneapolis and Seattle. Very cramped. I should never get a window seat on a long flight. Even springing the $40 for the "extra comfort" row did nothing. If you ever want to use your laptop computer on a flight, save the money for the slight upgrade and get an aisle seat; the only other way to get a decent amount of space is to do Business or First Class.

That whining's done; now on to more important matters. I'm shifting Jake's style into a more colloquial one and letting him use any language he wants. It seems to have helped revitalize the story in my mind. I'll also need a confrontation between him and a priest named Father Paul; question is when to do that...and where. Plus, I've settled in on the location for the big reveal. Just need to set that up a bit better; not have it come out of nowhere.

We'll see if this makes a difference.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Universal Law...

I just changed the ink cartridges in my HP Officejet J5870 All-in-One printer/scanner/fax...and the top broke. Some piece of plastic snapped on one of the hinges and now I can't get it to close. That's $40 worth of ink down the tubes, and need for a new printer/scanner (no need for a fax; I no longer do that)...which I can't afford.

But that's the law -- machinery works great until it's most needed and will cost you double to replace; then it laughs and spits and says, "Gotcha!" Dammit. All I needed to do was print up my boarding pass for the flight to Seattle. And print a letter to the guy doing the artwork for David Martin.

Last night, as I lay in bed, I started to wonder if the reason I keep circling The Vanishing of Owen Taylor instead of just finishing it is a sense of, "Why bother?" It's a selfish attitude, no question, but it comes to me when I'm on the low end of my biorhythms. Because the reality is, I only have a few people who want to read my books, and there are times where a mere sense of obligation to the characters just isn't enough to make it happen...and then other potential projects get caught in the logjam of my ennui and it all gets to be overwhelming.

I may do some sketching during this trip. Nothing heavy-duty; just enough to take me off the blocked-up stream and give the damn dam a chance to break free. Or be dynamited.

Hmm...pen and ink having the same effect as explosives. Edward Bulwer-Lytton would be impressed.

So...whom should I sketch...?
Alex Minsky?
 Rodiney Santiago?
The face of a guy I found on Tumbler?

Decisions...decisions...naw, screw it -- I'll see what hits me in Seattle.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My one outing

In honor of National Coming Out Day, I'm going to share what happened with one branch of my family when they found out I was gay.

Twenty-six years ago, I lived in Houston, Texas, and was planning a trip to see my sister in San Diego. I mentioned it to my aunt, my mother's sister, during a phone call and she asked me to come up to visit them, first. I already had my plane tickets, but this was back when you could change them without penalties. So I did and flew up to Pennsylvania, planning to stay for 3 days then head across to San Diego and back to Houston.

Now, I'd always felt very close to my aunt's side of the family. My uncle was a Tech Sergeant in the Air Force while she was an RN, and they had 7 children who were far more adventurous than I could even think of being. I'd visited them many times, as a kid and even into my 20s, and I felt safe around them. Like family. The closest I ever came to learning how to swim was thanks to them all being like fish in the water. I even jumped off the high-dive at a pool in Clovis, NM because they were doing it, over and over, and I damn near drowned before I made it back to the pool's edge. Had a blinding headache and felt nauseous, but also exhilarated I'd had the nerve to do it.

Well, I got up there and was met at the airport and everything seemed great, but then my oldest cousin took me to a bar and we had a beer and he finally asked me, after a lot of hesitation, if I had AIDS. Apparently, they'd been told I was gay and were shocked and more than a little afraid of me. So it turned out the whole purpose of inviting me up to visit was to find out if it was true and whether or not I was dying.

I'd taken an HIV test that had recently come out, and it was negative, and I told him this (I did another one a year later, with the same result). He seemed to accept it and I thought that was the end of it. Except it wasn't. Everything changed. I'd been invited to go fishing, to which I'd agreed, for some reason; I was uninvited. My youngest cousins didn't really want to be around me. There was fear I might cut myself and bleed on someone and give them AIDS, even if I was making a salad. Then one's wife cast me such looks of hate, I nearly left, right then, to call a cab and go to the airport.

A couple of cousins were fine around me and we went to a local carnival and took a trip into a coal mine...but I was so shaken, I did it all by rote. I'd finally realized I'd been fooling myself to think I was part of the family. I was just a blood relative. I think one cousin noticed and she tried to be attentive, but I wasn't open to kindness; it felt too much like duty.

What made things worse was, I noticed most of them were en route to being alcoholics. They spent their weekends together, working on each others' houses. They couldn't do anything without a beer in their hand...and that included driving, with their children in the car. Yet they had the nerve to act like I was the danger.

As for my aunt, who'd asked me to come up? I got to see her for a total of 6 hours over those three days, even though I was staying in her house. I don't know if that was by design or happenstance, but it emphasized in me that I was not welcome.

I went on to San Diego and came home and went back to work. But I was ripped apart. Up until then, I'd remembered birthdays and anniversaries and Christmas for them. I stopped. I made certain, any time I moved, my aunt knew how to get hold of me, but there were no cards. No letters. No phone calls. Nothing from them...except to announce a funeral, when necessary...though my aunt and uncle did visit me, once, in Houston while en route to San Antonio. We had dinner. They stayed at a motel near the Galleria. Then they headed on. It was just a courtesy call. A year later, I moved to LA.

After my mother died, a couple years ago, I drove down to my aunt's, more from duty than anything. I had pictures to give her and details to share of mom's last days. There had been minimal attempts by my cousins to reconnect via the internet, only I wasn't very responsive, but they still invited themselves over and we had homemade pizza and talked about one's daughter's wedding and another son's plans for going into the Air Force and such...while the cousin who'd asked me about having AIDS reeked of whiskey and his wife tried to be nice as possible to me. I nursed my one beer as they polished off a case. Then I left.

What saddens me about this is, I felt nothing around them except a sense of discomfort. I was with people I had to be with. That's all. Like at an office party. We were no longer connected. I don't excuse myself in this; I justify the disconnect by saying I did not cut off contact, I merely stopped maintaining it. They always knew how to get hold of me.

But the truth is, I was glad they left me alone. It was such a deep, deep wound, it has yet to completely heal. It may never scar over...and the possibility of it happening again has colored my relationships ever since. So I began to keep a slight distance...a reserve...for when friends and acquaintances accidentally...or deliberately...cut me. It may be part of the reason my characters are more important to me than anything else; they have replaced the family I lost.

So I left my aunt and cousins and I drove home, that night, and not one thought entered my mind...except, dear God, how I wish it had been different.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Processing David Martin...

Spent the evening trying to figure out the best format and company through which to publish David Martin. The artwork is almost done and the cover's up for work. I'm pretty much decided on a 6x9" format, black & white interiors, full color cover. But since it'll be illustrated, I wonder if that's too big? I guess I won't know until I put it together.

I checked with Bowker about buying my own ISBN for the book, but they want $125 for one. They also offer self-publishing...started at $325!!! Create Space will charge $25 for a wider service and nothing for publishing, but I don't trust their reporting. According to Amazon Author Sales Reports, I've sold 3 copies of the paperback of Bobby Carapisi. CS says I sold 2.

I know one sale was to me, so I'd have a paperback copy of the book, and another paperback sold a couple months back (I'm surprised it sold any, it's priced so high). Then another sold in late August. I pointed out the extra sale and they claim it's a resale of the one copy I'd sold. In short, I'd sold 1 copy of BC to someone who had an Amazon Marketplace account, like me, who then resold it.

I don't really believe them. I've long suspected Amazon's deal is to slightly underreport sales, just enough to add to the profit line but not enough to cause a full-scale audit. After all, they have close to 10,000,000 books on hand...they say.

I don't know. I guess no matter who the publisher is, you're at their mercy when it comes to knowing how well your book's selling.

I've been trying to get hold of the publisher of HTRASG, PM, RIHC6 and BC to get some money he owes me. Can't get him to answer the phone or respond to e-mails. Guess that's a dead end. My next step is to insist he sign the books back to me, I publish them, myself, and see if I can make any money off them.

I now have 4 people who owe me enough money to pay off my tax burden and make a good dent in this year's taxes...but you think I'm seeing a dime of it? Sure.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

License to do what you want...

Reading The Count of Monte Cristo is proving to be a very liberating experience. Dumas has some very brutal moments in this book, with a massively detailed view of humanity that is anything but sweetness and light. A foster child who was nearly smothered at birth becomes a selfish jerk who accidentally kills his foster mother because she won't give him more money, twenty-something guys sit around a table complaining about the politicians and the police and making fun of each other, an otherwise decent inn keeper winds up a murderer thanks to his avaricious wife. It's not a pretty picture.

But that's not what's liberating. I've read similar characters in stories like Candide and The Playboy of the Western World and Washington Square. What's eye-opening is how casually Dumas switches from one omniscient viewpoint to another without so much as a thought.

The story's the same -- Edmond Dantes is a young man who's morally innocent of a crime but who is technically guilty of one. He's arrested just before he gets married, vanishes into a prison, is forgotten about, and finally escapes to have his revenge on those who destroyed his life. The men who crushed him are named Villeforte, Danglars (who becomes a baron) and Ferdinand (who becomes the Count de Morcerf).

Once Dantes is in prison, the story becomes about Villeforte warning the King about Bonaparte, not to mention his ambitions and wedding plans and fears about his own father, who's a Bonapartist, causing him trouble. Then it shifts to Dantes' imprisonment and his meeting of the Abbe, his escape, and up to the point where he finds a way to achieve his goals. Then it shifts to him helping a man who tried to help him, m. Morrell, then focuses on Franz, a friend of Count de Morderf's son, Albert, and Dantes becomes like a secondary character in his own story, then it shifts to Albert, and Franz all but disappears...and now it's back on Dantes, as the Count.

Each tells bits of an epic tale that is slowly coming together as it builds up Dantes' expertise and awareness and cunning. The story begins in 1814; Dantes is in prison for 14 years; now we are somewhere between 1835 and 1840 and we're getting back to Dantes' plot against Villeforte. And it works...except for the flowery language; that still irritates a little.

I may try this with Carly Kills...sans lots and lots of wordage.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Land of the lost...

That's how I feel when I can't get online, these days. I'm finally home, and as much as I complain about Verizon's's a hundred times better than the last two hotels I stayed at in NYC. Last night, I'd try to kick up the internet...and ten minutes later it would come up. And I was never able to get on my e-mail service. That's ridiculous. I noticed the room was wired for ethernet cables, so I guess I'll bring one of those with me, from now on. Needless to add, I'm not dealing with Best Western or La Quinta in NYC, again.

Of course, during this I got a rough sketch of the cover for David Martin and couldn't look at it. Now that I have, it's very nicely done, emphasizing both the journey and solitude of David's days on the road. Can't wait to see it in color.

I've taken a hiatus from ...Owen Taylor and been reading Dumas' book. The Count now acknowledges he's popping pills combining opium and hashish. And people are complaining about the French government and cops in much the same way as people do, today. There's a casual reference to the crime rate in Paris -- 4 murdered over a weekend -- and this is in the Paris of 1835 or so. It's really quite illuminating.

One good thing about reading old books is you find out that nothing is new, or even recent, when it comes to drugs, death, and politics.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


The Count of Monte Cristo just got a young man stoned on hashish. Apparently, said Count uses it, habitually. That was never in any of the movies. Nor was this long story about bandits kidnapping girls, passing them around to be used and then killing them. If it wasn't for the archaic language and the fact I know this book was written in 1844, I'd have thought it was done a hundred years later.

There's a chilling passage about a public execution that starts off a Mardi Gras style festival, where two men are condemned -- one to be guillotined, the other to be beaten to death -- where the former is pardoned at the last minute, sending the latter into a rage that is only quelled when his head is bashed in and his throat crushed...and he's stomped on till he spews blood. As the crowd roars, happily.

Jesus...I have to admit, I was startled by it. I'm used to more genteel manners of death and destruction in the classic books I've read. I'm reminded of the death of Andrei's kid brother, Nikolai, at the Battle of Borodino in War & Peace. It's horrifying but it's told at a slight remove that's made the more painful by the excitement Nikolai has on the eve of the battle. No blood and guts.

Well...there's one surprise at reading the book.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I was planning to get a ticket to see The Glass Menagerie but the line at TKTS was so long at 10am, I shrugged it off and went to the Museum of Modern Art. It was about the same price as a cheap ticket for the play, and I saw the originals of Starry Night by Van Gogh, Christina's World by Wyeth and a nice documentary about Dante Ferretti, the production designer for films like The Aviator, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Sweeney Todd, and the like.

MOMA's six stories of non-stop art of all sorts, from the banal -- installations of naked dolls with genitals, videos of elephants walking around then lying down then getting up -- to the classic -- works by Bonnard and Miro and Picasso and Rousseau and O'Keefe, a massive exhibit of Magritte's work -- to a sculpture garden...that really wasn't all that big a deal, except for being quiet. I read some of my book there, but LACMA's is more impressive.

Starry Night is the rock star of the artwork. College-age girls were sneaking up to stand beside it to have their photo taken, driving the docents crazy. It's under glass so there's little possibility of it being damaged, but that also makes it hard as hell to inspect. I wanted to look at the thickness of the brush strokes, from the side, but the glass prevented that...and one docent was eyeing me pretty tightly, too. Can't blame her; I tend to look a bit psychotic.

They show movies in the sub basement -- this series dealing with the movies Ferretti worked on. Many of his production design paintings were on display as well.

Christina's world jolted me into making notes about it. I didn't take a picture because it would not even begin to do justice to the stunning detail in the work. I'd seen copies of it so many times, but this is the first time I noticed the knuckles of her hands were almost white from gripping the untended grass and rough dirt. And how indistinct the houses were in comparison to the "every blade of grass" detail in the un-mowed field around her. Nor had I realized it was so large.

I need to put Jake's art back into OT, now; it's his comfort, like this visit to MOMA was to me.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Reading, again...

I decided to read "The Count of Monte Cristo" a couple weeks back, and have chugged through it to the point where I'm able to overlook the archaic style of writing and not want to put the book down. Alexandre Dumas was obviously paid by the word, like Dickens, because he uses a LOT of them. Man, I thought Wilkie Collins was verbose? He's like Hemingway at his most minimalist in comparison to Dumas.

BUT...I'm caught up in Edmond Dantes' situation and want to know how it turns out. I have an idea, but I'm realizing both the 1934 and 2001 versions of the story were very freely I have a feeling surprises are still to come.

I'm at the point where Dantes and the Abbe have connected by tunnel and are considering the amazing tools the Abbe's made, on his pens from bits of fish bone, and a clock that uses the barest of light coming through a tiny window to tell him if it's morning or night, and the making of papyrus scrolls from torn up sheets and shirts, upon which to write in ink built from mixing soot and his weekly ration of wine.

The grammar and attitudes may be completely old-fashioned but it doesn't matter. It's the characters who count. I've always felt that way about my scripts...which is partly why I let the people in them run the story. I don't care how great your structure and dialogue are in a screenplay or novel, the characters are all that honestly matters. If you don't care about them, you won't care about perfect grammar or eloquence in you use of words.

Guess I'll have to re-evaluate my attitude towards movies like Titanic. I hated the dialogue and what James Cameron did to hype a major tragedy into the worst kind of melodrama. I am still deeply offended by some of the things he pulled in reworking the story. That said, Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet inhabited characters you cared about, which helped personalize the tragedy far more than the rather cold-blooded A Night To Remember from 1958, and heightened the horror of what happened far more than 1953's Titanic.

Unfortunately, what Hollywood looks for, these days, is structure and concept. All else is secondary or they figure it can be fixed with the right casting and rewriting. I can't tell you how many times I've been told if I'd change this character or focus on that one, I could sell some of my work. An idea that ignores how I did do that, a few times...and my work still didn't get produced.

Of course, it could just be that I'm crappy at writing scripts...but I don't think so.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fly me to the moon...

I'm off to NYC in the morning and will be there through Tuesday; my flight home leaves JFK at 10:45pm. Should be interesting, to be nice about it. This is one of those impossible jobs brought about by people who have no idea what they're doing. Not that I always do...but packing a thousand books in 2 days is not going to be easy, even with help.

But this is the life I chose. And reality is, if I honestly wanted to change it, I would. But I guess deep down...I don't.

I've been snapping and snarling about the GOP shutdown of the government, but I'm beginning to see a spark of light. Maybe this will make the Republican Party inconsequential at the next election. There was talk a few months ago of how the GOP has the chance to take the Senate and keep the House. Now? It's all up in the air. Because those twits are actually gloating over this, and bullying people they know can't fight back...and stupidly doing it on camera, so they can't say it's made up or a misquote.

I'm reminded of when Ann Richards was running against Clayton Williams for Governor of Texas in 1991. I worked on her campaign, and it was Texas nasty. She was smart, knew the job, had connections like you wouldn't believe, had been the State Treasurer for years...and she was still running neck and neck with a misogynistic millionaire who made jokes about rape and some appallingly stupid comments about the days' events. It was entirely possible Texas would vote another idiot into office just because he was a good ol' boy (and did so with her successor).

But then he did the unforgivable. He deliberately insulted her, to her face, in front of news cameras he'd asked to come see him do it. Seriously, they showed the entire thing on the news. It was at a banquet and he said to the news crews covering it, "C'mere, I want you to see this," then he went straight to Ann's table, and as she got up to greet him, he told her was was refusing to shake her hand because her campaign was saying mean things about him. (Like his hadn't done that about her.) That was a major breach of etiquette, and that's why he got his butt whupped.

I'm hoping the same thing happens to these Tea Party scum. They've revealed their true colors -- gleeful about the shutdown, yelling at park rangers who had to close monuments because of the shutdown, being overheard discussing how they were going to change the dialog by repeating the same "It's Obama's fault for not negotiating" nonsense...I just shake my head at it.

And use it to help me with OT. I'd thought I was going too far with the story? I'm nowhere near crossing the line into surreality, yet.

Maybe I should try...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's the end of the world...

I'm sharing something from, even though their new site design is atrocious and too damn much like TPM's...including repeating the same stories half a dozen times on the main page.

Juan Linz’s Bad News for America

The Yale political scientist died this week. His life’s work tells us that American democracy is doomed.
By Matthew Yglesias

Juan Linz, the distinguished Yale political scientist, died on Tuesday morning in New Haven, Conn., at the age of 86. He was a great man whose death happens to have coincided with a series of news events that nearly perfectly illustrate some of the main themes of his work. Linz, you see, was a student of comparative government, of political institutions, and of democratic breakdown. He saw these, naturally enough, as related issues. He looked at the success of democratic institutions in Western Europe and their frequent failure in coup-ridden Latin America and saw the contrast as driven more by constitutional structure than by culture or economics.

And his analysis has a disturbing message for residents of the contemporary United States. The current atmosphere of political crisis isn’t a passing fad and it isn’t going to get better. In fact, it’s very likely to get worse. Much worse. And lead to a complete breakdown of constitutional government and the democratic order.

To see why, start with Linz’s analysis of Latin America in his two-volume seriesThe Failure of Presidential Democracy. The problem, according to Linz, is right there in the title: too much reliance on presidents. In Linz’s telling, successful democracies are governed by prime ministers who have the support of a majority coalition in parliament. Sometimes, as in the British Commonwealth or Sweden or post-Franco Spain, these prime ministers are formally subordinate to a monarch. Other times, as in Germany or Israel or Ireland, there is a largely ceremonial, nonhereditary president who serves as head of state. But in either case, governing authority vests in a prime minister and a cabinet whose authority derives directly from majority support in parliament.

When such a prime minister loses his parliamentary majority, a crisis ensues. Either the parties in parliament must negotiate a new governing coalition and a new cabinet, or else a new election is held. If necessary, the new election will lead to a new parliament and a new coalition. These parliamentary systems are sometimes very stable (see the United Kingdom or Germany) and sometimes quite chaotic (see Israel or Italy), but in either case, persistent legislative disagreement leads directly to new voting.

In a presidential system, by contrast, the president and the congress are elected separately and yet must govern concurrently. If they disagree, they simply disagree. They can point fingers and wave poll results and stomp their feet and talk about “mandates,” but the fact remains that both parties to the dispute won office fair and square. As Linz wrote in his 1990 paper “The Perils of Presidentialism,” when conflict breaks out in such a system, “there is no democratic principle on the basis of which it can be resolved, and the mechanisms the constitution might provide are likely to prove too complicated and aridly legalistic to be of much force in the eyes of the electorate.” That’s when the military comes out of the barracks, to resolve the conflict on the basis of something—nationalism, security, pure force—other than democracy.

It used to seem as though Linz’s theory had one enormous and obvious flaw: the United States of America. The success of American democracy seemed to show that institutions were not the key. Old-fashioned Anglophone pluck and liberal values triumphed under both presidential and parliamentary systems. If something was going wrong south of the border, blame some aspect of Latin culture or economic development. But Linz always did have an answer to this objection. In the 1990 paper, he said that a full explanation of America’s success was complicated, but that “it is worth noting that the uniquely diffuse character of American political parties—which, ironically, exasperates many American political scientists and leads them to call for responsible, ideologically disciplined parties—has something to do with it.”

That was 23 years ago. Today, of course, we have ideologically disciplined parties that are “responsible” in the sense that they make a serious effort to deliver on their stated policy agendas. We also have a government shutdown, a looming debt ceiling breach, and a country in which regular order budgeting is an increasingly distant memory.

In a January interview with the Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews, Linz explainedthat the cover to the Spanish edition of his book on presidential democracy was illustrated with a photo of the White House. “I said I’d prefer some other presidential palace,” he said, “but now it’s failed the same way.”

Obviously, this doesn’t mean a coup is coming this week. Republicans will probably back down from the brink. We’ll probably avoid breaching the debt ceiling and the president won’t even need to resort to crazy platinum coin loopholes. It’ll probably be fine. (Besides which, one thing both parties agree on is that the military should keep getting paid even while nobody else does.) But Linz’s work raises the deeper question not of what will happen next week or next month, but next year or next decade. In a world with well-sorted parties and little ticket-splitting, the geography-driven differences in voting results for the House, Senate, and president are going to lead to persistent conflicts, in which both sides feel they have an electoral mandate to stand firm and there’s no systematic way to resolve the issue. That’s very bad news for America, and nobody knows how to stop it.

Matthew Yglesias is Slate's business and economics correspondent. He is the author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.
His last paragraph reveals an optimist. Silly wabbit...we are now at war...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Much to contemplate...

Looks like the psychotic branch of the GOP has taken over and is doing everything it can to destroy America. I've gotten to where I call them the US branch of al Qaeda, because they are managing to do what bringing down the Twin Towers could not. Eight years of Bush and his filthy lies and doubling of the debt didn't do it. No, it was having a black man in the White House that galvanized the terrorists of the Right, and they are now taking over.

People say not all Republicans agree with those diseased animals, but I don't see them doing anything to stop them. It's like the Christians who don't go along with maniacs like Pat Robertson and the Westboro Baptist Church devils in their blame liberals and gays for everything wrong cries; they just say, "That's not nice" and do nothing more. The same goes for Muslims who insist Islam is a religion of peace but don't even try to counteract the sickness spread by the likes of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad and the Taliban and, yes, al Qaeda.

Not everyone in Germany went along with exterminating the Jews, except they did, because they did damn near nothing stop it. Not all Russians think gay men and women are a danger to society, but they haven't pushed back against Putin's vile laws and how he's using homophobia to help pad his pocketbook and build his powerbase. They stand by, think to themselves, "That's not nice," and go about their own business, certain it will never affect them.

Of course, not all people just let evil happen; some do fight and cry and scream and argue...and their voices are barely heard. Barely paid attention to. The evil screams louder, and too many well-meaning twits try to take advantage of the other side's decency. I get dozens of e-mails a day demanding I help some liberal cause with money and/or sign a petition against this or that, as if that means anything. It's all made worthless by its redundancy.

You don't stop crazy with pieces of paper; you stop it by removing the nutcases from power. Where are the demands for recalls against the GOP Reps causing this mess? Why aren't people on the left giving the Tea Partiers a damn good spanking by hitting their districts with the first cuts in services thanks to the shutdown? Politics is a blood sport, and the right wing knows it...but liberals have played at it like it's just a game of Bridge.

Which raises the question -- Why do people tolerate the maniacs taking control? Why do they allow the radicals to run things? Are we just lazy? Selfish? Uncaring at heart? I used to think humanity was basically good, but I don't know, anymore. I wonder if we, as a species, are really just the intelligent version of a flea or a tick, living off the blood of a healthy animal until it sickens and dies...and then we move on. Too bad about that dog or cat, but I had to feed myself. comes the debt ceiling fight, and unless Obama changes his ways, that will add to the chaos. It's his own damn fault this is happening. He spent too many years trying to work with the growing insanity of the Right, tried too many times to placate them, and like a 3 year-old who's learned that if he screams loud and long enough daddy will give in, the screaming will continue until the brats are exhausted or punished enough to not want to keep up the temper-tantrum. That moment can't come soon enough.

If it ever does.