Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kick out the old; Ring in the new....

Or something like that. I dunno. I'm not really feeling the end of the year or beginning of a new one, except I'll be cleaning my apartment and doing laundry, tomorrow, to have everything ready for the beginning of the new year. My exciting time today? Washing the tub. Coolness defines me.

I did more work on OT. Almost through the first half of the book, and clarifying is working in ways unexpected on the story. I chopped out a couple of rambling contemplations of Jake's because with this new excising of adjectives, I'm finding I did entire paragraphs that were little more than that -- modifiers expounding on a thought that really had no business being in the story except to reiterate something that's being proven without reiteration. Removal was required.

It's still a long book, but the characters are defining themselves in ways I greatly appreciate -- not just dialogue or actions the attitudes and intentions...and sneakinesses (as regards Tone's self-certainty). Even minor characters are taking on lives of their own and backgrounds at odds with their perceived personas.

Who knows? I may actually get the fool thing done and in a decent shape. Wouldn't that be a shock, after so damned long at it?

I'm thinking of setting up an IMDb Pro account to get the info I need on producers, directors and actors -- like Aidan Turner. He'd be perfect as Thomas in Darian's Point, and I think he'd go for the story. I just need to work my way up to it...and update my formatting on DP. It's a bit on the antiquated side.

Sort of like me...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Warning -- NSFW post...

I ran across this on a friend's Tumbler blog, and it kick started a memory process that I'm still working through. I first started realizing I was gay back in the 70s, in Texas. This was when it was illegal for even married straight couples to have sex in anything but the missionary position. You could get sent to jail for up to a year. And if you were queer? you'd be lucky if that's all that happened.
Funny thing is, times were a lot freer in many ways. I think I wound up with more guys who self-identified as straight than fellow gays. And it could be just as easy as presented in these gifs. It was the sexual revolution and everyone was trying out new things. Didn't hurt I was slim and good-looking.

There was one occasion, when I was a sophomore in college, I was working as a host at a restaurant (I hated even the idea of waiting tables, though I'd do it in a pinch). We all had to wear a tux, it was that kind of establishment. Extreme decorum.

One night, I walked into the kitchen and heard one of the waiters bragging to the woman who fixed the drinks that he he was 10 inches long and could go all night. These days, that would be a sexual harassment lawsuit; she just rolled her eyes and returned to the bar. I shook my head at him, trying not to laugh. He snorted at me, "I am, and I'm gonna get her. Watch." He was a good-looking guy, so I figured it was possible.

Took him a few weeks, but he did it. Then she started being really nice to him, getting his drink orders done first, making sure he had the best and freshest coffees...and he started treating her like he owned her. A week later, I was closing up and she was finishing setup for the next day, and we got to talking...and she confirmed it. And stupid little Kyle just had to ask, "Is he really that big?"

She shrugged. "I couldn't tell you. I never saw it." And she started weeping. I felt like shit.

We had a couple of shots and talked about anything but him, and she settled down and went home. And I decided I was going to find out, for myself. Next time he got to bragging, I quietly goaded him into a bet -- $50 said he was exaggerating. And I made sure none of the other waiters heard me doing it. He thought I was joking. But after a couple more nights, the money got his interest and he agreed to prove it.

He came over to my place, a little made-over garage behind an old house...and I lost $50. thing led to another...and let's just say that's the closest I ever came to paying for sex. And he came back for seconds, no money involved, this time, because he couldn't believe I'd made it feel so good.

Now maybe he was a closet case, but he still wound up married (not to our co-worker but some mean bitch from the West Side, who I think was older than him), and with a bunch of kids and a belly. Last I heard, he was driving a delivery truck. My feeling is, he got spooked by how much he enjoyed sex with another guy and got married to the first woman who'd have him. I wasn't working at that restaurant, anymore, so I couldn't ask the woman if he'd asked her...but I'm pretty sure if he had, she'd have punched him.

He was not my only "straight" guy, not by a long shot. But then AIDS happened and sex became politicized, and now there are too many people who think if a guy does it with another guy one time, he's queer. It's ludicrous. As if a gay man having sex with a woman, one time, makes him straight. I don't see those times as more simple; just more adult.

Too bad the puritans at both ends of the spectrum took over.

Monday, December 29, 2014


I'm reading a book of short mysteries with gay themes or references, and so far I've been anything but impressed. I just finished one that was so obviously a rip-off of Deathtrap, I couldn't believe it got published. I guess making the intended victim a flaming queen as opposed to a woman with a heart condition or bisexual writer, and the killer a vaguely homophobic straight man instead of a sociopath is all the difference it takes.

I'm probably being too harsh. These stories were all written in the 80s, when being gay was akin to being Typhoid Mary for the AIDS epidemic. I've read other books of the time, and they tend to be circumspect in a lot of things, whereas now a lot of it's in your face. But I find it interesting that so far none of them have addressed that. At all.

Of course, I only make passing mention of it in my work. References to condoms and testing and how ex-cons are taking it home and infecting their wives and girlfriends. I think the harshest comment I make is Curt refusing to think he could be HIV positive, in HTRASG, as he's about to rape a man. But it's not invisible; it's just a fact of life.

Oh, well...I'm through 170 pages of 500+ in my new slash and mend. I know I'm missing some adjectives that could be removed, but I'm going through the story, once more, to do a cleanup and then I'll be asking for feedback.

Something that's happened during my re-styling is Jake facing the fact that his uncle did not want him to come out to Palm Springs after he was disowned by his parents. Never even suggested it as a refuge from the state's homophobia. That's something he's itching to address, and the reasons for it...I dunno if they work yet. Won't know till the end of the story, when all is revealed.

If I ever get there...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gratuitous Aidan Turner Post...

All as Jake, the invincible...

Just because I feel like it...


I've had trouble getting to sleep, the last couple of days, which is unusual for me. Normally, the second my head hits the pillow...I'm gone. But I didn't get lost in slumber till after 4am, this morning, and woke, again, at 6am then crashed and slept till 1pm. NOT good.

I don't know what's going on, but most of it boils down to me not being able to shut my mind down. And none of my usual tricks work -- like naming all the Best Actor Oscar winners from 1928 on. That's the same as counting sheep, to me. So tonight I'm shutting down the writing early and sitting in a hot bath.

I'm also deliberately rewriting just a few chapters at a time on OT. That way I don't get carried away with the sweep of it, so easily. And by "sweep" what I mean is the flow of the story. It's sneaky how, when I'm rewriting, I get lost in trying to tell the story better but lose sight of how I'm doing that. I can already tell by the end of the second chapter that I'm having problems eliminating adjectives and "ing" words and have to refocus. So...I now have it taped to my laptop -- kill the bastards.

Hopefully, I'll pay attention.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where I live...

This is an aerial view of Buffalo. I took it as I was headed for Chicago, at the beginning of the month. Downtown is in the lower right quarter, facing Lake Erie. Then comes the Niagara River encircling Grand Island, and in the upper left quarter you can almost make out Niagara Falls. Beyond that is Lake Ontario. I live sort of dead center in the right half of the photo.

I've been here going on 5 years, and still don't know that much about the area. I just re-upped my lease for another year, so figure maybe I should be learning more; it's got a lot of history. I mean, this is where the Erie Canal ended, some of which I've seen. It used to be the richest city in the country, thanks to industry and trade. Some of the homes that still survive here are flat out magnificent.

But much of the city is really very sad. It's been left behind because it did not adapt to the changing times, and is now struggling to catch up. Medical technology seems to be taking hold, thanks to a couple of strong research universities, and I've begun to recognize there's a strong theater movement in the not all is hopeless. I just need to let myself take the time to investigate these things.

But I keep myself busy at home, writing and plotting and researching. I rarely go out. I think I'm trying to make up for all the time I wasted, when I was younger...when I was in college. I'd already been studying Hitchcock's method of filmmaking; I'd happened onto Truffaut's series of interviews with him in a bookstore and that was all one really needed to know to get started. Plus, I had a career going as an artist.

If I'd had my brain in gear, I'd have moved out to LA to live with my father instead of hitting classes, and learned how film worked by doing it. Instead, I hid in the idea I had to learn first and do later. A form of avoidance, really. But all I really learned was technology, not the ability to get something done, which is really more important.

Guess that's where I got left behind, because back then I couldn't see that changing my life was the way to go.

More Jake Inspiration...

When I'd written as much as I could, today, I went looking for another rendition of Jake. I found a couple of actors from Iran who were close, but Aidan Turner still owns my image of him. Hair's a bit too long, and Jake's got a goatee, not just scruff...but it's the eyes and the attitude that nail it shut. Below is the only other guy who came close -- Dominic Rains, who was born in Tehran.

Thing is, he seems soft, for Jake. Bendable. Even a bit...I dunno...needy. Blank. He may be none of those things when he's acting in front of a camera...but that's how he hits me.

Whereas, Aidan's got the butch factor down, pat, even though he's nowhere near as built as this guy. Probably because he's Irish. They know betrayal and pain; it's in their blood...their DNA. The Irish may understand fear, but they also know how to stand their ground in the face of it. If they hadn't, they'd still be owned by England. Instead, they started the crumbling of the Empire.

I think that's what I see in Aidan's eyes and not in Dominic's -- the long cold line of history.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Damn the adjectives, full speed ahead!

Adjectives are not a Jake thing; Tone's the one who likes to have words for playing and messing around with so as to build a smokescreen for his own psychoses. Jake's got meat and potatoes grammar. No Hollandaise, caramelized carrots, or Cous-cous for him. Fancy fixin's are anything but his raison d'etre.

That's why I've been struggling to get Jake's tone right. I'll think I've got it, but then I go back and read and it's not  there, yet. It's soft and smooth and easy...and doesn't read honest. But then I got to an exchange between Jake and Tone, where they almost come to blows, and I finally, finally, finally caught on to how their cadence was too similar. Jake's using fouler language, sure...but he's still got the careful lead-ins and adjectives. I cut them, and it worked. that's permeated through my brain, I returned to page one of OT to hunt down and ferret out all said adjectives I could. And words ending in -ing. Because I like adjectives and words that end in -ing, just like Antony does. I love the soft lead-ins to sentences and casual manner of conversation that's a cut above the crass, even as I'm describing something horrific. And some of the things Antony does are exactly that.

Perhaps it's taken the reality of what I'm aiming for in this story a bit too long to settle on my brain...but today I think it finally melted in and washed away the crap. A new flavor has emerged, like green peanut brittle with jalapeno in it -- sweet but with a real bite. That's how I like to make my Guacamole: smooth going over the tongue, and then sneaking around to grab you by the throat. That's how The Vanishing of Owen Taylor should be.

I now see me as the Silver Fox...and if you don't,'s my new image, just to show you what I'm like. Even though my eyes are blue. And I really fit the look of a red fox more than a black one. But still...

Yap! Yip! Yrrr! Snap! Snarl...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Born Yesterday a la Tired Old Queen at the Movies...

You can also see where Jules Dassin got some of his inspiration for Never on a Sunday...

Family is great... long as they live thousands of miles away and you can talk to them on the phone whenever you like. Which is what I do, and I'm better for it. I'm not exactly a gregarious person, and having to make nice with anybody for an extended period grates on me. I guess that makes me a curmudgeon...or a Scrooge. Can't decide which.

But having all day Christmas to myself is just wonderful. I sent no cards, this year. I gave no gifts. I cancelled my trip to San Antonio because I was just plain exhausted. For once I'm not hundreds of dollars in the hole now the day is almost done. Feels a LOT better.

I slept till noon then worked some on OT and watched Born Yesterday to remind myself how comedy and brute drama can mingle. Judy Holliday's character gets belittled and pushed around, culminating with her being viciously slapped around, yet she still spits out a couple of funny lines. It's a bit of a set-up movie -- dumb blond becomes a better person by learning about life and connecting with what America is supposed to be all about -- but it works. And it shows how corruption has long been part of Washington, DC.

Comedies used to have a lot more meat to them. His Girl Friday deals with corrupt officials using a man's execution to get re-elected. Hail the Conquering Hero has a woman who got pregnant but can't remember if she's married or not (in 1944!!). The Apartment is about a man working as little more than a pimp to get ahead and winds up inadvertently setting up the woman he loves for heartbreak. Tootsie is about a man posing as a woman to take a job away from a woman and who comes to realize just how poorly women are treated by men like himself (though this one does veer to the more lightweight side).

I'm trying to think of a comedy in the last 20 years that carries the weight of those others, and can't. Maybe I'm just not as well-versed in comedy as I think. Or maybe I'm just getting too old for today's version of comedy. I dunno. But to me there's a huge difference between drama and mawkish sentimentality, which what comedies seem to turn to when they want to be "dramatic."

Thing is -- I do want more fun in OT, to go along with the intense parts. I tried that in The Lyons' Den but don't know if I was all that successful. People have liked the book, yet others haven't (and were brutal in their disdain), and it doesn't sell that well. So maybe when I say I'm crap at writing comedy, I really am.

Doesn't stop me from trying.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to all...

...and great hopes for the New Year!

Feliz Navidad

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Almost back to NY time...

And finally realized I haven't sent out Christmas cards, and I'm in the hole for $300 thanks to this trip. I mean, it was worth the time and effort...but me and money don't like to stay on talking terms for very long. It'd be nice if I could change that around, but prospects are slim, at the moment. Oh well, story of my life. I'll take it off my taxes.

I dug more into the information I compiled in my trip to Palm Springs, and can see other changes that need to be made. I may shift and have this take place a bit in the future instead of the recent past. Meaning shifting Jake's initial confrontation with Philby from a sub-office in Palm Desert to the new building going up near the jail and Larson Center of Justice. But I'll really miss him needing to pee and making it an issue in the whole proceeding...

I'm also putting back in a red herring I'd begun to take out. It works a lot better to keep this one in because it's so obvious, anyone who reads the story will know I'm up to something. My hope is, they won't figure it out till I reveal the whole set-up.

Working half a day, tomorrow, so I may come home and sleep. I'm still draggy in the morning; I was in LA just long enough to get acclimated to west coast time, so rising at 8 is really like getting up at 5am. And I am not a morning person. Never have been. Never will be.

So be it...

Monday, December 22, 2014

I need one of these...

If not a cute guy, at least a cool cat to knead me...hee, hee...

Subtle changes

This photo is of Dockweiler Beach, just to the west of LAX. Jets taking off to the left and to the right, and people down below sitting around a campfire ignoring it all...or watching, maybe. I took it with my iPhone so it's kind of messy...but I like the feel of it.

Amazing how a shift in location or change of action can reinvigorate a story and character. OT was beginning to sound pretty ABC...not extremely so, but edging towards a pedestrian feeling...when my day in Palm Springs injected fresh ideas into it. I drove everywhere I had Jake going, got the timing down, saw a Panda Express I referenced is in the same location as Home Depot, had dinner at a really uncomfortable CPK in Palm Desert (since when did their menu have EVERYTHING with chicken?), and saw how much of OT still works and what needs tweaking.

So I spent the plane ride reworking sections of the first two parts to fit the new reality. It wasn't easy to do, because there was a pair of twin boys of just over 1 year who were tag-teaming their screaming fits. But having something to concentrate on...and having my earbuds plugged in and Depeche Mode cranked up to nearly 8 on my laptop...made the flight livable.

I really think airlines should start training flight attendants on how to shut kids up. The parents were overwhelmed (they had two other kids with them) and lots of evil looks were being cast. I'm beginning to see the wisdom of having a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, like the guy next to me had. He slept through the flight. Didn't hurt he was cute, so I was able to cut some low-key glances at him.

Anyway, the rewrite cut anther 500 words from the count on this section, and I'm finally seeing the story hone down to what it's meant to be least, what I think it's about, today. Who knows what it will be by the time I get done?

But that's the joy of writing...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Homeward bound...maybe...

There's a reason I avoid Burbank's Airport..and today it was working in spades. It's hard to get to from the freeway; if you don't want to hassle with the 5, you have to travel up Hollywood Way, which is a trip to get to off the 134, as it is. Then there are two false entrances before you get to the real one, and just try to get back onto the street going the correct direction if you take either of them. And the signage to keep you from making that mistake is confusing, at best.

Then you have to circle through the departing/arriving area with dozens of people and cars running around before you can circle back to the rental car area...which is half a mile from the airport and there is no shuttle; you walk it. If you've got two bags and a box (as I did) you have to go find a cart to use or muscle the things along the moveable walkways along an open pathway. And if your feet hurt? Tough.

At the terminal, if you do curbside checkin, you have to triple check the SW guys because they are SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOW, and they might just lose your iPhone and send one of your bags to the wrong place -- like one tried to do by sending my bag home and my box to Phoenix (my plane was going through Las Vegas, not there, and he could not explain why one tag was right and the other was wrong). My i-phone took a couple minutes to find; it was under a pile of someone else's crap. Another note: use printouts here.

I got through security well enough, but the airport is long and soulless, and has few options for food. Since I'm on the same plane all the way to Buffalo, a nearly 7 hour journey, I wanted a sandwich to eat en route because SW doesn't feed you. However, the ones they offer looked skanky, so I wound up with a salad that I'll have to hold carefully till I eat it. And now the plane is 20 minutes late. But the absolute worst is -- there's nothing but Pepsi, here, and that's really what it all boils down to.

No Dr. Pepper...and I hate Pepsi.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Productive day, basically...

I slept in, got some laundry done, dealt with e-mails and another possible packing job, and had a nice long Skype session with a career counsellor, for my screenplays. I know I keep saying I have to drop writing scripts, but it's like an addiction and this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I figured it will be helpful for my books, as well.

She read some of Return to Darian's Point, and noted I have the format down, pat. I'm easy to read and have an interesting story. The only suggestion she had was pumping up the dialogue a bit, to better reflect the characters' personal interactions and not just be informative bits. I can see what she means. My dialogue is too real, and real dialogue can be totally banal. I've already been trying to do something like that with OT, so I had no argument with her observation.

Then we got into specifics, and there's where things got really good. I'm not a salesman; even when I worked in a book shop, I didn't sell people books...I suggested and informed and let them know what I liked and how I reacted to a book. So low-key as to be anti-sales. But books ain't cars, and doing the used car salesman crap will not work for them. What's nice is, she acknowledged this.

Then she suggested this is how I should sell my scripts. Not with the, "This is perfect for you" or "It's sure to be a blockbuster", push or anything like that, but to find out what a producer or actor or director likes or seems to always be interested in, and guide them to my work. A very soft-sell that will not always work but is probably workable for me. It would be more like I was interested in becoming a collaborator in a project...even though I can be a stubborn little cuss when it comes to my characters.

It's funny, but that reminded me of a time I met with an agent at Becsey-Wisdom; a major Literary Talent Agency in Hollywood. We were doing the chit-chat thing and he mentioned he liked classical pianists. I'd recently heard something played by Emmanuel Axe and suggested it; even sent him a CD. He took me on as a back-pocket client -- not a full client, but someone whose work he'd be willing to send over if I got a producer interested in reading something of mine. It got my scripts into a number of doors. Too bad my writing was crap, back then; things might have turned out differently. Then he left the business and moved to San Francisco to work in real estate, and I never did that, again.

Now I'm seeing how I should have...and wonder why I didn't...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fresh and alive...

I'm in Palm Springs for research into OT and, after a long but not-so-tiring drive (since I was sitting in a car and had Sirius Radio tuned to some electronica) and a good night's sleep, I'm about to do the rounds to make sure I've got everything in order for Jake's investigation of his uncle's disappearance.

I've worked up a list to check before meeting with a member of the Riverside DA's office in Palm Desert, then back to LA for scheduled events.

Order of investigation as intended (but not yet definite, and not in the order of the book):

1. The Airport and park near the airport (where Jake goes to run and think). And the area around there.
2. Trying to find a warehouse area
3. Home Depot
4. DA--Riverside
5. CPK in Palm Desert along with strip malls
6. Apartment buildings (for Owen to own) and grocery stores
7. Motel 6
8. Indio Jail/Larsen Center
9. Salton Sea
10. Dillon Road, headed for 29 Palms

I'll be loading up a tank of gas for this, I'm sure, and have dozens of photos...I hope. Sky's bright and clear, so that's good. Guess I better get going.

After my second cup of tea...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dunno how I did it...

I got all the books packed before I had to leave for the airport. 152 boxes. Don't know how except the librarians checking them off got going faster and finished quickly, so were able to prep the books for being wrapped. That and the help of my boss, who did a fair amount of librarian-goosing. I wound up with not even a dozen boxes left unused along with a little bubble wrap, most of a box of newsprint and three reams of tissue.

Maybe at a later date I'll dissect what went wrong with this job, but right now it's sufficient to say the man who got it going with us misrepresented the whole thing. Which surprises me. But in the end, the client seemed happy with what we did, and while they would have liked all the boxes to have been collected today, their building's service entrance is too small for anything but a glorified cargo van, and the payload on those things is not enough for the full shipment. So more than half went out, today; the rest will be collected in a couple days.

I got no writing done; I was too beat to even think. The only reason I can formulate coherent sentences right now is I took a nap on the plane. I also paid $8 for WiFi that is barely adequate. Won't do that, again.

Now it's back to zoning...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Not gonna make it...

It is not possible to pack 925 books, half of which are over-sized folios, in 6 days when each title has to be double-checked on a list and each box has to note what books are in it -- not with 2 people packing and no space to work. I've damn near broken my back trying to get this done, but it looks like a good 30-35 boxes of books are left to do, and they have to be done tomorrow because the pickup is Tuesday morning.

I can probably get 25 done...more if I could stay later. But I'm going to be dead tired in LA, and I'm plowing straight into another packing job there. God, I hope that one will be better.

What's rough about this gig is that one of my bosses is working with me on it, so we're going out to dinner to "strategize." Meaning I'm not getting in till nearly 8 and I've had a beer or two, and I'm beat to the nubs. So not one bit of writing done the last few days. Haven't even written in my journal.

I'm starting to go into withdrawal...

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Never was my thing, especially with people you've worked with all day. But we did it, tonight. We walked 1.5 miles through Chicago's busiest section to find a restaurant that had been recommended and had a good meal, no question. But after being on your feet all day and hefting boxes that weigh 40 -50 lbs around all day, all you really want to do is sit in a hot tub and vege.

Maybe tomorrow...we're only working 6 hours, which is not good. We're behind thanks to changes in the job's parameters after I'd already arrived to start packing. And no matter what happens, this is all being picked up on Tuesday. So Monday may be hellish. I've already bumped my flight from Monday to Tuesday and changed my car rental.

Anyway, that's my life and my living...such as it is, right now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Too pooped to piddle...

The last couple of days have been spent trying to make an impossible situation possible, if not probable. The packing job I'm doing in Chicago has taken on dimensions I was not ready for, and just trying to meet our commitment of a pickup on Tuesday am is going to take me working straight through, 8 hours a day. That's just reality.

Problem is, what do you do when the client rejects reality? Not much you can do short of saying, "So long," and turning down the job. So I'm working my ass off with an associate and getting back to the hotel ready to drop. Not much writing gets done, that way. But this is an important client so we have to handle the job.

Of course, my hotel doesn't have a tub for me to soak in; just a walk-in shower. Dammit.

I did read through some of OT, last night, just to see what's ahead, and I'm finding I set up too much too deeply in the narrative, so far. That'll take some finessing to make right, because what I was aiming for was an ex-gay chauffeur who worked for a disgraced politician being the actual killer. Which seemed a bit too much, even as I wrote it. But I was lazy and just did it as a way to get to the end of the story.

I never should have let that happen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Okay...OT has worked itself into 4 parts, and I'm done with two of them. This half worked itself down to 56,600 words, which is still more than HTRASG, en total. I may still be a bit on the wordy side, here, but it's better than it was. And when I go through it, again, it'll get tighter. I hope.

The second two parts stand at just under 60,000 words, but I'm thinking I'm going to get rid of one subplot; it comes across as a repetition of what's already happened. Thing is, it's also a catalyst for Jake to force a few issues...but at the same time, it's not fresh and as interesting as it could be. Which irritates the hell out of me -- falling back on the tried and true.

Well, at least it reads better, so far.

Chicago's been interesting. From what little I've seen of it, so far, it seems like a well-managed city with a decent transportation system. I turned in my rental car and was able to get from Midway Airport to my hotel in less than an hour on the train and bus. I'm staying right around the corner from the Hancock Tower, one of the city's high-rise icons.

I've also seen some I. M. Pei works, that were milestones in architectural history, and I'm only a few blocks from the water tower that kept standing after the fire of 1871. Sunday's a down day, so I may get some sight-seeing done. This town's been a major source of interesting architecture over the years.

When we were headed for Grand Forks, ND we passed through Chicago. We changed trains here and had a nine-hour layover, so went to the Natural History Museum. I still have the pamphlet from it. I was 13. I was impressed with the city, then; it's even more fascinating now.

One thing that wasn't impressive -- I was last in Chicago 15 years ago, actually in Lake Forest. But one day I came down and had a steak dinner at McCormick and Schmict's...and it was the worst meal of my life. A Caesar salad loaded with more garlic than lettuce; I could not eat it. A steak that was rare when I asked for medium-well; the waiter took it back and the chef tossed it on the fire, again, so of course it came out like beef jerky. A potato that had been rebaked at least twice...which you never do to potatoes. A glass of wine that was middling, at best. And a wonderful seat right by the kitchen. The damn thing was a la carte and cost me $100...and that was with them comping the potato!

Haven't been back to a M&S restaurant since.

Monday, December 8, 2014


On the flight to Chicago I hit a section of OT where I did a complete slash and edit, and dropped the word count from going up by 400 to under by 750. It would have been more but I decided to get wicked with it. This is after Jake's been beaten and arrested by a couple of Palm Springs cops. He's taken to a hospital to be checked out.
The next morning, a different doctor came in, checked my chart, checked my x-rays, poked and prodded my side, coughed like a guy who slammed through a pack a day, and finally said, "Cleared for release," without once looking me in the eye. The deputy on guard smirked.

"May I make a phone call?" I asked. Again, no response.

I was handed my jumpsuit and told to get dressed.

"I'm still due a phone call," I snapped. This time, at least I got a shrug.

I dropped the hospital gown and was just grabbing my briefs to pull on when the door slammed open and this Young Republican Female barged in -- sleek pinstripe dress-suit so sharp and clean, you could cut through paper with it; blond hair in a stylish bun; lips tighter than a hundred year-old nun's, made even tighter by the little gold cross around her neck; and if she ate more than a leaf of lettuce a day, I'd have been surprised. She was flanked by two massive uniforms of the Palm Springs variety.

“Mr. Blaine, will you come with us?” she said, a bit breathless.

“I got a choice?” I snarled, glancing between the two cops.

“Please,” she said. “My boss wants to see you in his office.”

"And you are...?"

"Elizabeth Ginty, Warren Philby's assistant."

Holy shit – THIS was the bitch Uncle Owen talked about? She's messing with me on top of the cops who busted him? Okay – total paranoia, here I come.

I croaked out a whisper of, “Ms. Ginty, I’m a citizen of Denmark. I ask to be granted access to representatives from my embassy or consulate.”

“Mr. Blaine, please," she retorted, "You're a US citizen with a criminal record who is in no position to demand anything more than the minimum required for any convicted felon.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa – she had access to my Texas criminal record? That crap was supposed to be expunged, as part of the settlement. Shit. That’s when I let a real snarl come into my voice. “Look at my personal effects, currently in the jail’s vault or whatever you call it. You’ll find my Danish passport. It has my picture in it and my signature. I became a citizen of Denmark fifteen months ago.”

She looked perfectly shocked as she asked, “You did? Why?”

I played up the pain angle with some grimaces and catches in my voice. “I have family there. And a -- a job.”

“That means you have dual citizenship. So the waters get pretty murky, here.”

I quietly choked out, “Lady, do you even know what waters we’re in?”

She gave off the barest of hesitations before she said, "Get dressed. We have to go."

Tone told me they'd pulled this same crap on him, once -- coming in while he was bare-assed, as if to put him on the defensive. Well, I didn't give a shit what the bitch saw, so I forgot the briefs and carefully forced myself into the jumpsuit, still playing up my achiness. “I need to pee, first.”

“You can do it when we get there. It's not far.”

The bitch. "Not far" wound up being five miles in Palm Springs lunch hour traffic. By the time we arrived at this blank low-slung office building, I was threatening to piss on the car's carpet, and her two bulldogs were quietly just daring me to try. I held it in.

Well, at least I now knew what Ms. Ginty looked like, and I could see why Uncle Owen had despised her. She hit me as one of those people who goes to church every Sunday and prays to god and thinks of herself as the purest of the pure even as she tears apart other people’s lives, all because those other people are the others. She probably had a husband who was her twin and maybe even two-point-five babies she’d been proud to bear in the face of the Femi-commies who wanted to abort all children and yap, yap, yap, like an excited Chihuahua.

Yeah, she had no idea what waters she was swimming in now.

Problem was, neither did I.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Crux of the story...

Some of OT that I've redone; Jake's in Copenhagen to meet with his uncle, who's also his employer. It's the beginning of Chapter 2, after his lunch with his step-mother in Paris and when he's received a couple of cryptic notes from Owen Taylor --

After the shower, I downed some coffee and went straight to dinner with Uncle Ari’s client. Even if I'd had the time for a nap, I don't think I'd have been able to sleep; worries about my uncle were already driving me away from my happy place.

First of all, Uncle Owen had both the American and Danish mobile phone numbers, and he knew my address in Texas. He also knew the American e-dresses I'd set up for Tone and me, so the legal crap could stay separate from the rest of our world. Why wouldn’t he contact me through one of those? Why send a note via snail mail? I mean, yeah, it made sense with that key...but a follow-up? And to Copenhagen, when he knew I only came here every couple of weeks?

This is how it'd been for the last eleven months. Ever since Tone was almost knifed to death, in jail. His scars are almost as raw as his legal situation, because he revealed all kinds of illegal crap a judge, deputy sheriff, assistant DA and pair of Texas Rangers were pulling. Crap that got Tone's lover, a guy names Collier Winston-Royce, killed. I got tied in because I'd been through pretty much the same thing.

You see, I made this woman who worked for the city pay for damage she did to a city car; I was one of the transportation schedulers, at the time. Her name was Loreen Cullingham and she was cousins with that deputy sheriff, Wilbur Nussewald. He set me up on a drug charge and I did twenty-one months at a state prison. Then she and Nussewald pulled even worse on Winston-Royce, setting Tone off on his war against them.

I'd been out on probation for just over a year when he and I connected, and damned if didn't he get me an exoneration. But to do that, he'd pulled some pretty illegal crap, and the great and glorious state of Texas was not in a forgiving mood.

Only now it had a new Attorney General and he wanted to "put all the horror behind us," so Tone's lawyer, a guy named Castillo, was pushing to get a pardon in exchange for "the great service Tone did for the state." It looked like they were about to come around, too, meaning we could return to Copenhagen and begin rebuilding our life together.

If Tone still wanted to.

I say that because the last couple months he's been distant and irritable. At first I'd shrugged it off; the negotiations between Castillo and the AG had kept going on and on, and half the time it was before a judge who wasn't in any rush to finish things, so yeah, when I said it was tearing at us, I meant it. But Tone and I'd been through too much together for us to give in. Which is why it was so weird that he was acting like he'd stopped even wanting to try.

And now Mira was asking me why I stuck around. That was too damn unsettling.

That last paragraph is the basis of the rest of the story. Why does Jake stick with Tone? And the resolution needs to address that.

Problem is, I don't have the answer, yet.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How do I do this?

I've jumped back into ...Owen Taylor and been cutting and combining through the first four chapters...yet somehow I've added a hundred words. How the hell does that happen? I thought for certain I'd have dropped at least a thousand...but no. Looks like the story's found its length and will stay there, come hell or high water.

I had debated adding a prologue to briefly explain what went on in RIHC6, prior to this story...but instead I worked it in by reworking a couple of paragraphs and decided to let the previous story be revealed as things went along. So far, I'm happy with the changes...but then, I haven't gotten into the areas that will require heavy cutting, yet. This is all just prep.

I reread some of Bobby Carapisi before starting, to remind myself that I do know how to write and to stop worrying about OT being perfect just yet. That one took a couple of years for me to finish, but now I'm proud of it. Even Allan's erotic dreams parts.

I guess I still fluctuate between having a writer's ego about his work and writer's uncertainty about it. Guess I always will. That could be good or bad...or both.

Monday I'm off to Chicago and into what looks like a difficult job. The only positive thing about dealing with book people when you're packing books is, I'm also a book person so I can talk to them in ways they understand. I'm finding that's not exactly what my boss wants, because he thinks it's revealing too much information or something along those lines.

Which doesn't make sense to me. All a book person wants to know is that their books will be handled with care. They don't see them as merely objects to enjoy but as part of their family. Their being. That's why Adam constantly says, in The Alice '65, "Books are my life." They are.

They're mine, too.

Friday, December 5, 2014


I've been in contact with the Riverside District Attorney's office and got the okay to send them some questions about their procedures as regards arrests, arraignments and how certain types of cases are handled. So off they went, this evening. I've read up and dug into how things work in most DA's offices, but I found when talking to a sheriff's representative that it's the details that count, and those range very widely.

For example, if you're arrested for assault, you usually don't get a bail hearing for about 48 hours in the jail in Indio, which could stretch to 96 hours if your timing's off. That did not work at ALL for what Jake was getting into, so it has to be redone, completely...but in a way that's probably for the better. So I'm trying to get the correct methods worked into the storyline in this next draft.

Jake's also open to discussing what he did in prison to survive...and it's something he's yet to come to terms with. He's headed for a world of deepening shadows and sharp drops into the void. But he's not going there alone. I'll be right with him.

I'm also going to fight to keep some humor in the tale. Bobby Carapisi got too caught up in its tragedy and that hurt it. I never thought of myself as that bleak of a writer, but I've heard from a couple people that they couldn't finish it because they knew something terrible was going to happen and they cared about the characters too much.

Which is an odd sort of back-handed compliment.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Slowly rejoining my meaning

The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is resurfacing, again. It's ready for me to begin my slash and burn through its more than 500 double-spaced pages...and I'm pretty much in agreement. Melodrama must be wrung from it for the main part of the story to work, as should the repetition I'd grown subject to. I can now see reasons for Tone's actions and why they fit into the narrative.  It's still a very dark story, but I can see the need for it, now.

Prior to this, I just wanted to continue with Jake's story. Give him some meaning unto himself. That's okay enough to get things started, but for this book to work there has to be more. And I'm finding that by just letting it go and trusting all will be's being revealed. Even though I'm wary of it thanks to the beating I got from the first draft.
I'm still not sure why I went such a crazy direction with it, or why I thought I was pulling back enough from the "Hollywood-esque" aspects of the actions. Hell, in my initial draft of the end, I had Jake running back and forth between Riverside and Palm Springs and feeling like he's being followed, and that was ludicrous.

Bad Noir. Bad bad Noir.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Perception is everything...

Be it in anything.
I've had a ladybug wandering all over my desk, the last few days. Just whispering along, staying warm under my lamps. Sometimes resting on a sheet of paper, sometimes on a paper napkin I have folded and to one side, sometimes on my keyboard.

But this evening, my hands were still wet from doing dishes when I sat at my computer, and she crawled on to my finger. She proceeded to drink the water still there, then did a few circles and grew still for at least half an hour. I had no problem adjusting my actions to keep from crushing her. Guess she was thirsty.

At the same time, I trapped a fly under a jar to stop its buzzing around. Normally I kill the damn things because they irritate me as much as cockroaches, fleas and ticks, but for some reason I just couldn't. The ladybug had wandered off, again, and I didn't feel like ending any living creature's life, just I slung it out into the hallway. But if it comes back, tomorrow...

Flies aren't all that different from ladybugs. They're both insects...but ladybugs are fun to be around while flies could go extinct and I would not be the least bit sorry.

Looks like I'm going to be dragged into the current world despite myself. I just joined up with Skype, which has been around for a while, to video-conference with a script doctor over "Return To Darian's Point." We're set for Sunday evening...and it's going to be hard to keep the appointment. A job I'm doing -- packing and shipping what I thought was 750 books -- just doubled in size and increased in scope. So the time I've allotted for it will not be enough. Instead of Sunday being a down day, I'll be working and may have to push back my trip to LA. Ugh!

Hope there's a Starbuck's nearby so I can take a break.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A bit more Macau and Hong Kong...

 Macau's Science Center...
 View of Buddhist Goddess and the city
 Old New Orleans, Macau style...
 Tudor England Macau style...

Back to Hong Kong and watching funky ferries at Pier 9...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chicago then LA...

Well, I'm spending next week in Chicago and most of the week after is in LA...Valencia, actually. Should  be interesting. Guess I need to get a new suitcase, or continue to make do with my big one. It's pretty unwieldy...

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to work on, next. I should start back on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, but I can't decide. I'm also thinking of Underground Guy, lately. It's been almost a year since I came up with that one's storyline, and I'm pretty sure I know where to go with it. OT is going to be an editing job...bigtime.

I spent some of this evening trying to set up a one-on-one conference with another screenwriter over one of my scripts. Don't know how this will work out with me heading out of town, again...but it doesn't hurt to try.

Working on Bugzters did show me how much like a novelist I am when it comes to writing my scripts. And how much not like one. I didn't pay much attention when I was shifting The Lyons' Den to novel format because it was going in such crazy directions. But BZ had a bit too much actor direction in it. And I know it's dealing with kids and some of that is necessary...but it still felt like a bit much.

And yet...Spike Jonze did it...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Maintenance day...

A day for trundling through piles of bills and paperwork on my desk and figuring out where I am, at the moment. Things like balancing my checkbook and making sure I'm current with everything tend to vanish from my sightline if given the slightest excuse. I didn't even do laundry, today; took me a nano-second to talk myself out of it, once I saw I had clothes enough for the week. Next Sunday will be a massive laundry day.

I also watched a very interesting VOD seminar with Jacob Krueger discussing Spike Jonze's screenplay, Her. For the first time, I connected completely with a screenplay instructor. He's dissing Save The Cat and even Syd Field, and talking about 7-Act structure...and I loved it. It wasn't that long ago I was getting into arguments with people because they said you couldn't write scripts in 2-acts or 5-acts, even though I'd done so.

He does say a script has to appear to have a 3-Act structure since, few producers can think beyond Field's lecturing, but overall his comments were fascinating. It was nearly 3 hours of streaming, and I felt a hint of vindication at the end.
I also got a copy of Jonze's script, and he puts in actor directions and camera directions and everything. Granted, he was directing it, himself, but my fear that I was overdoing that stuff may be unwarranted. And maybe I always was meant to make my own movies and not try to do the for hire crap. I'm not good at it.

I'm gonna get this movie...and probably kick myself for not seeing it in a theater.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

50,800 words

That's with padding; I'm sure of it. Going back through, I found things to cut and condense and rearrange...but I refused to let myself follow that path and stuck to adding in. Now it's as lumpy as a story can be...but I met the challenge. In the first rewrite, I'm sure I'll cut a lot and bring it down way below the 50K mark. Is that a form of cheating? I don't know. I'm too used to having my books explode into magnum opuses (opi?).

Then, again, there are areas I can expand upon, too. Like why the, Hex-on are willing to drive the Bagh-star to extinction when they need them so much. And how does the whole dynamic between Alex and his absent father inform on the dynamic between the Bagh-star and the Hex-on? Those haven't really connected, yet. In short, the story needs to be lived in, and I have a ways to go for that.

I'm putting some books and things up for sale on ebay. I have been offering them on Amazon's Marketplace, but they make it so hard to deal with and charge a ludicrous percentage of the final price. Try and pull together some money for Christmas and the new year.

Okay, brain death impends...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Slow build...

Well...I feel a lot better, today, so I added nearly a thousand words while going through Bugzters. Taylor is now into quoting Einstein, Tesla, and Aristotle when trying to explain herself...then gets lost in rants that Alex cannot understand.

I also increased the number of Bagh-star to 7 so I could have one more to play with -- a Ladybug's joined with the Praying Mantis, Dragonfly, and Butterfly, while Taylor's laptop and iPhone each carry one and the Bagh-star leader stays in Alex's computer. Lots of complications, there. Now, just as Alex and Taylor are trying to get away from the Beige Pair and their crew without being seen, one accidentally gets left behind, and Alex has to go back for it. Adds some suspense. I hope.

I should note -- I was also sidetracked by a story concerning Shia LaBeouf. He says that he was brutalized and sexually assaulted by a woman during his art installation, last February, but only just now acknowledged it. I don't know if the story's true or not; he's a troubled young man who's having a hard time keeping any sort of balance in his life.

But reality is, such things are possible and have happened...and that anyone still brushes claims of rape off, these days, appalls me. On top of that, the comments about it were so vile and disgusting -- mocking him, making fun of what happened, calling him a liar, a publicity hound, a loon -- I flipped and got into some FaceBook battles with the more obnoxious ones. Didn't help my mental or emotional state.

So that is all I've done in the last two days. I'm amazed I got anything completed, yesterday; I was still mashed up by the trip and it was hard to concentrate. I couldn't even take a nap, my brain was so weird.

Man, I never want to get sick on a 16 hour flight, again. From now on, I carry Contact, vitamin C, and crackers with cheese or peanut butter, and I will always have at least a jacket. I'd bring my own water, too, because airline water is cheap-assed...but I'm finding in foreign airports they do a last-minute security check and won't let you on the plane with a bottle of anything.

This is what I get for not making myself stay at the hotel in HK, on Saturday, and work on the story. If I do make it to 50K words, it'll probably be at 11:55 pm on Sunday night, the last day of the challenge.

And that's still a big If...

UPDATE: I just heard Piers Morgan barged into the Shia situation with more vile comments dismissing  the whole story. I'm close to deciding global warming isn't coming fast enough to kill off the human race.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

46,305 words...

That's what Bugzters hit, and that's with me not being very precise in my grammar. In fact, most of the story is pretty damn sloppy. Shoving in Mrs. Rutledge and Drew, and expanding on the Chesters, added to the count but are like slabs of concrete over unfinished granite. However, my main goal was to get the story into book form, and it sort of is.

Now I'll run through and see if there's anywhere I can add on without merely padding the story with things I'll have to take out, later. Then it's going to need at least a solid rewrite and polish before I can even think of showing it to anyone for feedback. No sense being told what's wrong (or right) with it till I think I've fixed what's wrong with it and made what's right better.

I've worked out a number of possible images for it:

1. Battle with Billy in space
2. Alex & Billy argue in Techno-Splosion
3. Alex & Mrs. Rutledge on street
4. Alex & Taylor watch Mr. Smith and LeGrande
5. Alex and Taylor at homes, for sale sign
6. Alex & Taylor at computer
7. Bagh-star come down to satellite dish
8. Alex, Taylor and Hal-Bagh-star, Drew watching
9. Hex-on become Chesters
10. Bagh-star in insects
11. Julia almost sees Alex on the branch
12. Chesters hit by truck
13. The Beige Pair arrive, meet the CPO
14. Chesters watch Alex's home
15. Alex in Dragonfly buzzing C-1
16. Taylor shows off Butterfly
17. Morika's mom yells at Mr. LeGRande, Morika wailing in bg
18. Alex loses C-3
19. Billy sees Taylor and Mr. Smith with Tarantula
20. Alex and Drew
21. Beige pair and team scan house
22. Crowd at toy store
23. Globe chases Alex & Taylor
24. 3 Chesters have laptop
25. Alex & Taylor at computers

Not much to do. Maybe I'll have it ready in time for Christmas...of 2020!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I got no brain to hold me down
To make me laugh or make me frown.
I had brains, but you can see
I got no brains in me...

Not tonight, Josephine. Still recovering from United trying to poison me and 48 hours with no sleep. I zombied about a little, today -- to the bank to get a new ATM card since Wegman's doesn't like my current one, to the office to drop off paperwork, to the building manager to arrange for some repairs -- and then crashed onto my bed. No writing done, today...but tomorrow...I hope to be back in gear.

In the meantime, here's one of my rare selfies, taken at the Museum of Art in Macau. You can't tell, but that sketch behind me was exquisitely detailed.

Of course, I've never been detail-oriented...not even in the Orient.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hong Kong's Christmas Light Show

It seems more sedate than last year's but it's still enjoyable.
I guess I should get a steadicam for my phone...

Back from my travels...

And I have to say, United is a very inconsistent airline. Aside from the scramble to get to NYC in time for my flight to Hong Kong, the trip there was decent. The food was good enough as far as cheap frozen dinners go (hey, I've eaten Banquet; they work in a pinch). The flight attendants were pleasant. And going through Hong Kong Customs is relatively easy; reminds me of London Heathrow and Amsterdam's Schiphol. Plus, my seat had a power outlet, so I did get a bit of writing done on BZ.

But coming back? Snappish flight crew. A power outlet that refused to work. An in-flight entertainment system that was very cranky. A fish lunch that made me ill, literally. I spent half the flight in the bathroom, and that's after taking some Imodium. I didn't want the fish, but I was hungry and the only other choice was chicken. From this point forward, if I'm fool enough to fly United I will ask for vegetarian meals or bring my own (which is what the other guy in my row did; we had a seat free between us),

What's worse is, they route through Newark and that is no excuse for an airport. I mean, Terminal B is okay, I guess, even though I couldn't find anything really interesting to eat there when headed to HK, but Terminal C is like it's still stuck in the 1950s. And Customs was a mess...though not half as chaotic as having to go through Security, again, because the people who are paid to herd us like cattle couldn't figure out left from right from up no down so just made the mess worse.

My gate was the very last one in the half-mile long terminal, and I had to sit on the floor to use an outlet for my laptop because the few power stations had a dozen people hovering about them. Plus the WiFi never worked, not even through Boingo. And I flew back on a tiny turboprop that you could hear coming from miles away. Very tight, very uncomfortable, and because it's a propeller job, takes 50% longer.

So I was awake for nearly two days going and coming...and I am feeling it. I'm coming down with a cold, too, because for once I figured I wouldn't need my coat or jacket with me on the trip...and the jet from Hong Kong was very chilly. I used 2 blankets to try and keep warm.

Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed being in Hong Kong. Seeing people I've known for years and checking out some of the books they brought. I found a place that has the best damn Lasagne I've ever tasted...pricey, but for once worth every penny. TWG Tea! You can find boxes of the teas at Dean & Deluca, and their Mango was beautifully smooth. But here's the cool part -- they infused their Lasagne with some. They do with all their food. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, and I ate it up before I thought to take a photo. But DAMN, it was good.

For that, alone, I'd go back...even on United.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Macau at night

Just a sleepy little town, like Vegas.

Night shot of light show at ICC Building

This is the ICC Center on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. I only caught the tail end of it. Seems the show goes on for a good 10 minutes. I've got another one to share, later, of the Hong Kong side's light show. BTW...that tower is around 1500 feet tall.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

And some Macau...

 Macau's Convention Center!
 Fisherman's Wharf, right next to the convention center.
 Macau's Cultural Center and Museum of Art
 Main drag in Macau
More of Downtown Macau, by the waterfront...which is where most of the city is...and you can bungee jump off that tower in the background...

And FYI -- when you start seeing baby blue Rolls Royces being driven by 20 year old kids, you know communism is dead in this region.

A bit more Hong Kong

I saw my first protesters, today, while en route to the book fair to handle the load-out. All they were doing was sitting along one of the walkways, in makeshift squatting arrangements, some sitting on matts, others using cardboard boxes to build small fenced in spaces. All sitting and chatting like crazy. Went on for blocks. The rest of Hong Kong was happy to just keep going along...

This was the kind of weather we were having -- warm but breezy. The wavy building on the left edge is the convention center.
Most of the protests are happening in Kowloon, now, as I understand it. Both of these photos are the view from the Maritime Museum.

It's impressive how much is going on here in the way of building and expanding...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hong Kong

Okay...I made it here after what was really a 44 hour trip -- 16 hours on the train, 16 hours on the plane, and about 12 hours between the two where I got 5 hours sleep. Got into Hong Kong at 8:45pm but not to my hotel till nearly midnight. Showered, shaved and crashed till 7am then got to the venue to handle the bookfair's load-in at 9am...but the shipment didn't show till 10:30. Then one crate was too large for the elevator so 3 guys who don't speak English and I snuck it up the escalator. I wasn't done till almost 3. Guess we'll take it down that way, tonight.

It's a nice venue if a bit dark, inside -- right by the ferries to everywhere (except Macau; that one has its own terminal) -- but it has spectacular views of the city, and they're almost done with improvements to the area. Soon you'll be able to get an even better look at Hong Kong by way of a ferris wheel. Not as grand as the London Eye, but still nice.

I returned to my hotel, sent off some e-mails and such, took a bus to Stanley to have fish and chips and a Guinness (not bad but not worth the extra trip) then jet lag slammed me and I fell asleep on the bus back. Fortunately, I had to get off at the last stop.

Yesterday, I hopped a ferry to Macau and walked around. More on that later.

I've gotten no writing done on Bugzters. Guess I know what I'm doing Thanksgiving weekend.

As usual.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waitin' on a train...

I am currently stuck outside Syracuse, NY, trying to get to NYC so I can catch my flight to Hong Kong, tomorrow. Seems Buffalo had one of its epic snowstorms and the airport shut down, so I shifted to Amtrak. It's now after midnight and the train was supposed to have been into Penn Station by 9:40 pm. We've got another 2 ½ hours to go to get to NYC, so the hotel I booked will be damn near impossible to get to. It's by Newark Airport, and the last train leaves in an hour. Next one's not till nearly 5am.

Man, this is turning into one amazingly insane trip. Getting from my apartment to the train station took breaking the law and trusting my little Honda in the middle of a white out. Seriously, I was by the airport and going along fine, when within a block the snow began falling so hard, I couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of me. Apparently, I was driving through an area where driving had been prohibited.

I got to the station but a tow truck was blocking the driveway to the parking lot. He was preparing to pull a woman out of a snow bank she'd skidded into. And of course, that's when the train pulled in. The trunk got done and out of the way, and I drove my little Honda right up the slope and into the parking lot, found a space between two mounds of snow and parked, then hauled out my suitcase and bag and scrambled over to the train. I started to pull out just moments after I was aboard.

I thought it was amazing Amtrak was able to run, even in weather like this. Turned out, the train I boarded was supposed to have left Buffalo at 7:50 am. It was more than 5 hours late.

And got later...and later...until the crew had to go off the clock and we got shifted to a train that was behind us. It's insane.

But the crews were nice and did their best, and most of the passengers were cool about it. And I got some writing done on Bugzters.

But I have to wonder what's next...

Monday, November 17, 2014

I wonder if half the trouble I had getting into working on Bugzters is that I'm doing it in third person omniscient. All my other books have been in first person. To me, that was more immediate and real...but this story wants to be able to shift between characters and delve a bit into their psyches, and you can't do that very easily using my normal style.

But this evening I finally caught Alex's 11 year-old turmoil and dug into it a bit. And it least, I think so. But then again, David Martin is in third person and seems removed. It comes across as very sedate, apparently. No exciting inciting incident to get a reader hooked. I checked a stat on Smashreads that lets you know how may people have downloaded some of the book to read, and it's like 85 to1 in sales,

Oh, and learn...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

29,000 Plus...

Only 21,000 words left to do to make it. I've hit what is probably the mid-point of the story...maybe a little after...where Alex learns his father is the one pushing the moves, not his brother's asthma. It's all quite by accident, and he also learns his mother is just as pissed off about it as he is. I didn't expect that to pop up, but that's one of the fun aspects of writing.

The main thing is, if that is the mid-point, I've really got more like 25-28,000 words to go. Which is good...except I can't see the rest of the story taking that many. I mean, I still need to work in Drew and have some more moments with him. He wound up with one of the Bagh-star, not knowing it, which should add a nice complication.

And the Chesters have become interesting complications, unto themselves. They're interacting with Mrs. Rutledge, Ms. Chris, the police, and Alex, all without saying a word. I also need to expand on the idea that C-1, their leader, realizes they should not all look like the same guy, but it's too late to reclone into anybody else. Or they can't do that. Or their ship is too weak or underpowered. I dunno, yet.

Guess I won't know the length of the story or what it's all about till it's done.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Got cat lovin'...and that is all...

We have 2 office cats where I work -- one doesn't like being brushed but loves to ride on your shoulders and flick her tail in your face; the other hates being held in any way, but loves to be brushed long and hard. Makes the job easier, at times. Especially when I have no earthly clue as to what I'm doing. I'd have a cat, but I travel so much, I don't even have plants.

Nothing more, today; last night, I wound up working on Underground Guy for about an hour instead of meeting my goal for I'm marathoning Bugzters to see how far I can get...and doubt I will still be intelligible enough to post, in a few hours.

If I ever am...

Friday, November 14, 2014

To hell with "young adult"

Screw it -- I'm letting Bugzters be whatever the hell it wants to be, and if some of that is dark and some is funky and some is filled with sexual innuendo, so be it. The story's gonna run wild, for now, and then I'll see what needs to be done.

I feel this way because the whole deal with the Beige Pair from MESCIS is they're like clones of each other, one male and one female, but with her doing the male-style sexual harassment of a Chief Petty Officer who's been assigned to them, and him focused on the minutia of what's going on, even as they keep telling each other they know everything they need to know and what they don't know doesn't need knowing.

As for Mrs. Rutledge...she's become like a commando out to protect her kids from what she thinks is one creepy Chester clone, not realizing there are four of them...each with his own bit of Chester's personality. One's the observer, one's adventurer, one's the happy-critter no matter what, and one's got sense enough to just get it done. It's going to be fun having them interact with Mrs. Rutledge.

Dunno if this will be funny, yet; I thought The Lyons' Den counted as farce, but I've heard otherwise from a few readers, streak of lacking humor continues.  Of course, considering the world is more interested in Kim Kardashian's ass than the fact that humans have landed a rover on an asteroid, being out of step with that may not be a bad thing.

Hmm...wasn't the first set of Dark Ages preceded by this sort of stupidity?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bad meat v. good meat....

I don't normally eat Chinese. I'm not that fond of the ingredients used, and invariably the restaurants use the crappiest meat possible. The one Chinese meal I like, incessantly, is the Beijing Beef at Panda Express. A bowl of that over steamed rice and a couple of Spring Rolls, and I'm a happy puppy. Don't even care that it's got garlic. But every now and then I forget how consistent the bad food is at other places and I order something that looks or sounds good.

Did that today. Didn't want a sandwich or pizza and couldn't find a decent salad place, so I tried out the Teriyaki Beef dish at a Chinese joint. I mean, it's Teriyaki, my favorite seasoning after ketchup; how bad could that be? I was able the eat the rice and green beans. The meat was so chewy, it's like I'd popped some Gum. Ugh. It's pretty hard to mess up anything Teriyaki, in my view, but they managed.

So be it...when in Hong Kong, dine at McDonald's.

I'm working on Bugzters, still and slowly beginning to think it will work out to 40,000 words instead of 35,000. Still not enough, but not insurmountable. And I'm going hog-wild with the Chesters. That's 4 aliens slops of goo that form themselves into the exact replica of a fisherman named Chester Harry. He's a schlubby kind of guy, with a hat full of fishing flies, who inadvertently provides the link to Alex's home when the Beige Pair interrogate him.

I moved the Beige Pair from MESCIS to after the cloning, and added in a bit with a driver and his pickup truck running the 4 Chesters down as they jaunt their way towards Alex's home. Then comes the fun of him realizing what they are and helping the Bagh-star fight back. That's going to be tricky, since he's not even there, really.

But that's the kind of story this is - wild and crazy, I hope.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Talk about a needle in a haystack...

Apparently, the European Space Agency did it; the Philae and Rosetta Mission landed on a comet hundreds of millions of miles from earth.

So much for American dominance in space.

UPDATE: Photo from the surface of an asteroid...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nice trip down...

I took an earlier train than usual -- meaning I had to get up at 6:30 am, which does not please me -- but the trip was actually pleasant and I was able to use the WiFi to handle some problems at work. And prep for other jobs. Looks like I may be in Chicago the Second week of December then go from there to LA for part of the third week. It's still not set...but it's getting there.

I also got some more done on Bugzters. I'm finding aspects of the story that I'd missed in the screenplay, and developing them is adding to the possible length. I'm still going to wind up nowhere near 50,000 without a lot more filling in.

But the story's starting to come together in my mind -- what it's about, I mean. I can't quite articulate it, yet, but it is taking shape. Maybe on my trip to Hong Kong I'll be able to flesh it out, more. It's 15 hours each way on a plane...if I've got power. The great thing about Amtrak is, every seat's got 2 plugs.


Monday, November 10, 2014

It's a neverending political parade

We're 7 days past the election, and already I'm being hit by the DNC for money. I made the mistake of donating some cash to a couple of candidates I liked, progressives who might actually try to do some good. One made it; the other proved herself to be as two-faced and craven as anyone else. turned out my name was turned over to the DCCC and DNC and Ready for Hillary people, and the like, and suddenly I was getting dozens of e-mails a day begging me for money. I started noticing the majority of Democrats were running their usual campaigns of timidity, so I started responding to the e-mails, yelling at them to stop being such cowards and run on a progressive platform. Pleading with them to stand for something other than just getting elected.

In answer, the amount of begging and pleading and demands that I sign their pledges and petitions and piss-ant nonsense just increased. Petitions, for God's sake, as if people like Boehner and McConnell gave a damn about what the people wanted. Talk about a waste of effort. I didn't give them another penny.

Now I'm being told I'm ready for Hillary because she is our only hope. Two years from the fucking election, and already the electioneering has begun. What bullshit. So now they go straight to junk and from there, straight to trash; I don't even open them.

I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I do not trust her. If the Green Party runs a candidate for president, I'll vote for them. If they don't, I'll write in a candidate. And if that means a back-stabbing Republican gains the White House, so be it. Maybe then people will wake up to the fact that the GOP does not give one damn about them.

But knowing my fellow Americans, I doubt it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Today I went back over what I've written for Bugzters, so far, and made some shifts that may help the story, later. May add some to it. It's still reading too flat, but now I think I can make it better and more detailed once I get into the serious rewriting stage.

For example, I added some of Mr. Smith's background in, and made it seem like he might retire and move to be near a son in Florida. That added to Taylor's dilemma; she's all too aware that Alex and Mr. Smith are her only two friends, so if they leave she'll have none. She's also coming up with off-beat phrases and ways of looking at the world, using Kant to determine what is and is not right and proper. She even references Machiavelli, once.

That helped me add another thousand words to what I've got, so far, but it's still probably going to come up short. I won't know till I'm done. Oh well, I'm not going to let myself obsess over it. The story will be what it is, and if I don't make it to 50,000 words, I don't. Won't be the first time I crapped out in this challenge.

I think part of my problem is that I've been writing for so long and gotten nowhere with it. Not really. That makes it hard to keep going. I've made a little money off my books, but not enough to mean anything. I've made mistakes and missed opportunities, true, but I only saw them as such once they'd already happened or passed me by. Twenty-twenty hindsight is worse than useless in cases like this. It winds up hurting you and making you doubt every decision you make. How you should have gone left instead of right. How you should have done things differently when you had the chance instead of making a choice which, only later, turned out to be wrong.

I've got so many signposts like this in my rearview mirror. Funny how you can't think of the correct turns you took or the decisions you made, to counter them. I've grown to believe that people are all secretly masochists at heart. Maybe that's why the heroes in my books turn out to be more like sadists; who wants to read about a loser wimp?

Damn, I should charge myself a hundred bucks for venting moments like this.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crash and burn...

Got nothing to say except I slept till nearly 1pm and couldn't get going on BZ until a little while ago. Just really down all day. I finally watched Topsy-Turvy on my laptop and that broke my mood enough for me to work at least a little on the story. But I'm more sure than ever I'm not going to make 50K with it. I may only hit 35K. How to you pad that out?

No idea, yet.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Needed a break from writing...

I was brain dead, so I piddled up a possible cover for Bugzters, using an old photo of me and some other images. I didn't like changing Alex's name to Lindstrom; that's why I changed my pen name to Michael Hansen. It's the maiden name of my great grandmother, Marie, in Minnesota, on my grandfather's side. She lived to be 95 and was active till she slipped on some ice and broke her hip. She died within a year.

Seems keeping active and working your brain is the way to stay alert and able. If that's the case, I'm in deep shit...except this job I have is forcing me to exercise my mind in ways I'm not used to. So...that part should keep working as I drift into nothingness.

A lot of me is going into Alex, more than I thought I'd do. I won't say I hated moving as much as he does, but there were two instances where I wanted to stay where I was and got taken away because of my parents. One was London, when I was very young. The other, oddly enough, was Grand Forks, ND.

In Grand Forks, we lived on base. It was in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. Nothing but flat plains in every direction, so anything that was happening was happening on base.

Like an amateur theater group. I was planning to be part of it. Had already been to two meetings to discuss plays they wanted to put on. That was the first time I heard of "The Man Who Came To Dinner", a farce about a nasty celebrity who trips on some ice while at a family's home and has to stay, and turns their lives upside down. I was hoping to play the son who wants to be a photographer. mother had one of her breakdowns (it was either #3 or 4), so we moved back to Texas. Where they don't know nothin' 'bout no theater. I started 8th grade late and never really caught up. Had to deal with the fact that I still sounded British while surrounded by rednecks and their twangs. Never did fit in. And that's coloring Alex's story.

This isn't a great cover, but it's a beginning.