Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Still pushing...

I'm doing what little I know how to keep people interested in my work -- not just the controversial books but also my more mainstream stuff. Like The Lyons' Den. It's got a gay lead and is centered around gay men, but it deals with the same problems everybody has -- love, loss, lies, longing. All with a healthy dose of real life.

It's selling but not anything like I'd hoped. Still...I keep pushing. I've got it listed on a couple of sites in exchange for freebies, and still have my facebook page for it.

Same for David Martin. This little fable's about as mainstream as you can get -- geared mainly at pre-adolescents. But it's not doing very well...and I'm not sure that else to do. I've gotten advice from other self-published authors, but I'm finding they're happy selling 25 books a week. I want to get to where I'm doing twice that many a day.

If anybody has any ideas on how to promote my work, please let me know.

Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm pissed...

I thought Jake trusted me to write The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, but this last revelation has thrown that into question. It means a lot of restructuring and a fair portion of what I've written will need to be dumped because it just doesn't work, anymore. And now he's trying to back away from it, as if he thinks he's told me too he was just kidding. It's driving me nuts.

I halfway wonder if it's all about fear...or punishment for me not getting the damn book done. I've been working on it for over a year and a half...and just when I think I've got it, Jake shifts position and lets a bit more info out and it makes everything different. Like he's messing with me, the little shit.

So what do I do? The new killer makes sense...but something about the way Jake's suggesting he finally realize it is just so...coincidental or easy or cliched. And batting about with all this crap has given me a vicious headache, adding to my pissiness.

I hate it when my characters try to fuck me over. Of course, I know what it really is -- my own reticence in dealing with this new aspect of the story. But it's RIGHT. I can feel that. It's more than just thinking it's good or telling myself it makes sense. It's a claw in my gut that won't let go...and when that happens, me doing anything else would hurt the story.

I found this out when I wrote the suicide bit in Bobby Carapisi. I tried for months to figure out a way around ignore do something other than let a character I liked die...but I couldn't move until I finally forced myself to focus and face it and let it go. And grieve through another character. It wasn't until then that the book got finished.

So here we go, again...and my head is killing me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Here's a gender-bender, deluxe

I think this is the wildest entry into the Eurovision Competition ever...and what makes it great is how much the eastern European nations hate having Conchita Wurst in the contest. They've actually started a petition to take the representative from Austria off the show. As if....
I love the bad wig...the faux beard...the Almodóvar style video...the overwrought's just too-too perfect. And Conchita's got a kick-ass voice. But the absolute best part is how many queens HATE her on the message boards. Back-biting-bitchiness as a kind of salute.

I'm taking bets on whether or not (s)he wins. I've got it down (s)he gets to the final ten, at least. And what shall the headline read?

"Wurst does best!"

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jumpin' in feet first...

I'm sending Return to Darian's Point out to competitions, again. I did a pass through it to simplify my formatting a bit; I tend to get a bit too caught in precision when trying to tell a story in a screenplay, making sure every scene is delineated properly...which could make it hard to catch the flow. And there are a couple of points in RDP that jump back and forth in time. I think it reads a lot easier now.

Once that was done, off it went...and I made this a Star Trek evening -- watching the J. J. Abrams reboot and "Into Darkness", back to back. Thoroughly enjoyed them. And Zachary Quinto is a fantastic Spock. I even liked Chris Pine as Kirk, this time around.

Got nothin' else to say...for now.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Now this is chemistry...and star power...

Worked late so watched a DVD of Ball of Fire that I won at eBay...and sill loved it.
Barbara Stanwyck is a nightclub singer hiding so the DA won't make her testify against her gangster boyfriend. She's ingratiated herself into a house containing 7 professors and Gary Cooper, an uptight linguist studying slang...and parts of it are hysterical.

This is the "Yum-yum" scene.

Thoughts about anything else are non-existent, right now.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Slowly getting there...

I'm practicing avoidance by focusing on getting all my books back in order, everywhere I can. This evening was spent working on GoodReads, trying to get everything set up to where only the new editions come up. But like Amazon, they won't take anything down, even if it is no longer available. The best I can do is combine them into one listing and choose which one is premier.

What's good about GoodReads is the following it's brought me. And positive feedback, a few instances non-withstanding. I hope I've developed a good attitude about the occasional criticism that is shot at me over my books. Some of it's been pretty funny. Some of it...pisses me off a little, because it may have turned people off from buying the book. I'd like to think it's their loss, but that's a bit self-aggrandizing.

I finally got Tumbler back. They must be European based, because their IT department was shut down during Easter Week. Come the Tuesday after Easter Monday (a real holiday in Euro-ville) I started getting through to them. I finally started working on my thread at work, on the PC, and then it came together. They must not like Macs. But now I can use it to sell my books, again.

So things are pretty much back to normal and this weekend I'll have lost all my excuses and reasons not to write...and it will be back to work on OT. Facing this new demon of Jake's. and seeing where that leads us. I hope it's to the end of the story. Then I can get onto UG and then return to P/S.

The next few months look to be quiet on the travel front. Maybe that way I can get some continuity going, again.

One can always dream...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

D'Arcy Oake


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm weird or something...

I've been trying to get into "Firefly"...and I just can't. I've gone through half a dozen episodes and the bad acting and poor direction are killing me. Nathan Fillion is good, but the other actors are flat or wooden, at best, most of them seemingly having reached the peak of their abilities in grade school. And the directing and editing are just ludicrous. I watched a duel by swords that didn't even rise to the level of beginning stage combat. "Buffy" quality, this is not.

But that's what happens when you buy into hype, I guess. I've had this happen before. A woman I worked with raved about Russell Banks' Continental Drift so I picked up a copy...and after 100 pages I chucked it. I could see the ending a mile away and everything was going to be just that way and I didn't need the depression that came with the moral lesson behind the book or whatever it was supposed to be. What's funny is, when I told her how I felt, she freaked out and all but stopped talking to me.

I don't feel that way when somebody doesn't like something I recommend. I love "The 400 Blows" but I know people who only think it's nice. I think "Grand Illusion"'s third act is what makes it a great movie, but others have argued it's not even necessary. I once lent my copy of Ozu's "Late Spring" to someone who loved Japanese movies, and got it back with a big shrug of, "It was okay, I guess; kind of slow."

I do get miffed when so-called film buffs and critics complain about the pace of a Japanese film, completely ignoring the whole rhythm of Japanese culture. It's like whining about the repetition in Opera Lyrics -- most of the time they're there more for the musical continuity and dramatic emphasis, and if you don't like it, you're not paying real attention.

However...with "Firefly" my main complaints are -- hell, everything about it. Barely adequate special effects. Derivative storylines. Actors who sound like actors when they're acting even as they aren't supposed to be acting. A hero who's always going to do good, even though he's a bit shady. It was sad to watch, and I love Joss Whedon's work.

Maybe I'm spoiled by the kick-ass perfection of the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot. But if I'm going to spend my time watching a space opera, it better keep me interested...even if I AM ironing at the same time.

Make me happy or go find yourself a black hole.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just one of those days...

...where all I want to do is curl up and read a book ro watch a movie and not think beyond the instant. So I'm slacking off and offering up a ludicrous competition -- someone actually asked who the better writer is -- Tolstoy or Dostoeyvsky? I've read both and fall more in the Tolstoy camp because of his humanism...but here is what Ellen Chances, Professor of Russian Literature, Princeton University had to say:

The question, in my mind, is meaningless. One of the worrisome tendencies of contemporary society is its impulse to rank. Who is better? Who is Number One? The question should not be, “Who is the greater novelist?,” but rather, “What do I learn from reading the books of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, or of anyone else?

Why does everything have to be a race? Why does everything have to be competitive? This implies that there is a winner and a loser. Why does the reading of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky or of anyone else have to be part of a “success” or “failure” story? Framing the question, “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: Who’s the better novelist?,” in this way does a disservice, it seems to me, to the act of contemplating the meaning of these writers’ books.

Asking the question is equivalent to asking, “Which is the greater food, milk or orange juice? Which is the greater food, blueberries or strawberries? Which is better, the sky or the grass, night or day?”

 To me, both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are equally great writers. Each focused on some of the important “big questions” of life. Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov, in The Brothers Karamazov, asked how a just God could have created a world that includes the suffering of innocent children. Tolstoy, through his character, Levin, in Anna Karenina, asked what the meaning of life is. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy asserted that the essence of life cannot be found by relying on the intellect alone. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy understood that being true to the authentic rhythms of life means respecting the non-linear nature of life.

Each of the two offers profound insights about psychology. Tolstoy emphasizes the ways in which people relate to one another in a societal context. Dostoevsky digs deeply into the individual human psyche. Tolstoy paints a world in which extreme things happen to ordinary people. Dostoevsky shows us the extremes of which people are capable. Each of the two writers describes crises in faith. Each describes the journey to a life of spiritual values.

Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy write in a way that conveys the energy of life. That energy comes about, in Dostoevsky, through the clash of ideas, through the tension he creates through suspense and the use of words like “suddenly.” Ivan Karamazov says that he loves life more than the meaning of life. Tolstoy shows a love of life of this world – the smell of the earth, the beauty of a flower. He speaks about living a life of authenticity.

Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy make me think about what is important in life. Both urge the reader to appreciate those things that money or competition cannot bestow – love, and life itself…

…So who is the greater writer, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy? Both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are great…And then there is Chekhov, and Pushkin, and Mandelstam and Akhmatova and Bitov… And that’s just the Russians…
FWIW -- I think the chapter in Anna Karenina where Levin reaps wheat with the peasants as he worries and ponders and pouts and realizes is perhaps the most perfect joining of prose and poetry and the emotions of the heart and soul ever written.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter cleansing...

I am currently sneezing my fool head off because I cleaned my apartment, today...and DAMN, I think I killed three generations of dust bunnies. Now their ghosts haunt my eyes and nasal passages. And that's with me wearing a mask all day - well, a wet bandana over my nose and mouth...which may be why it didn't start hitting me till nearly 7pm.

I still have a stack of paperwork to go through but I'm too bushed. I will say, my apartment's the cleanest it's been since practically when I moved in...over 4 years ago. Shit. I also have a lot of ironing to do. Not sure which will be gotten to, first.

Jake and I continue to mull over the revelation he brought to me. I can see it...and see how it works...but it means major changes to one character and I'm not sure I want to do that. Nor is he sure how he feels about it. Which probably means we'll go through with it, because it's hitting our danger zones.

But at the same time, I'm scared of it. This touches close to something that happened to me and cuts to the bone. Hell, it hurts to even think about.

Suddenly I remember a moment at Blarney Castle, my first trip to Ireland. 12 years ago. I did the bit where you kiss the Blarney Stone...which meant lying on my back and leaning into a pit and putting my lips to it, upside down, after a hundred other people had just done so. You get your picture taken when you do it. Only, my encounter was not the norm. I scratched the tip of my nose, barely touched the stone, and when I came up, the photographer said, "That other one was the last." Meaning he'd run out of film so my photo wasn't taken.

I fell into a funk, thinking it had all sorts of meaning, and wandered around the grounds. Then, by the Warlock's Cave, I saw a dragonfly slowly dancing around. It landed on my finger and I carried it to a nearby pond, where it crawled onto a reed. As I walked away, a poem came to my head -- I can't find it, now, but it was basically saying I was handed a gift...only with that gift came a curse...and that curse was to follow the muse. No matter where I was led.

I'm finally getting an idea of what that curse means.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

That lost feeling...

Now that Porno Manifesto if up and running...or about to...I'm going through decompression. I can't face doing anything except letting my brain drift as it recharges. Now I get to figure out just how deep in the hole I went to complete this. And wonder how the hell I'm going to get out of it.

I got my first royalty payment, which will help mitigate a bit of the cost. I have to wait and see how much Paypal takes out for handling it, but after the mess with my credit cards, no way in hell do I want my bank account to be out least, not as much.

Okay...I'm officially brain dead for the night. I can't think of anything to say or discuss or even whine about. I did read a little about the ludicrous uproar the white folk in Topeka, Kansas are having over Michelle Obama being invited to make a commencement speech on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. But it's the usual "I'm not a racist" crap being spewed by right wing slugs.

And I caught up on the anti-Semitic scumbag who killed 3 Christians because he thought they were Jews, and the mayor of the small-town he's from who agrees with him. People are trying to recall that prick. Good.

Oh, and there's the right wing hissy-fit about Obamacare claiming to have brought health coverage to more than 8 million people and how it's all lies and smoke and mirrors and yap, yap, yap. When will people stop listening to the idiots who make unsubstantiated claims and realize the bastards are just using bullshit to obscure how the Oligarchs are looting America's treasury. I'm planning to swear never to buy anything from a Koch-affiliated company ever again...if I can figure out what all they are.

I did get that Japanese art site back, at least.

Friday, April 18, 2014

All done with PM, for now

I uploaded the book's text and cover to Lightning Spark...and it's already available for sale on that is that. I've finally gotten all my books back out there and can concentrate on other things -- like OT or UG or CK...or just take a break.

Actually, I'll have to do that, tomorrow. My car's going in for servicing...after me having to shell out over $300 for a new muffler. I guess I should be glad it lasted this long -- 89,000 miles over 16 years -- but it hurt. Damn, it hurt. I've sunk so much money into these books, without much return, yet. I guess the next stage is to figure out how to make them more known or noticed or something...well, in the right crowd. Except for LD and DM; those are nice and mainstream...and ain't sellin' worth shit.

On top of it all, I've found there's a thread on HTRASG's page on GoodReads where people are actually ranting about how awful the book is. It's obvious none of them have read it; they're merely reacting to the title. I'd join in, just for fun, but GoodReads doesn't like authors to do that...and I can understand why. But apparently a lot of people were never taught not to judge a book by its cover.

There have been a number of really good reviews of it, lately -- thoughtful ones. Most of them seem startled they cared enough about Curt to follow through with the story, and are shocked they empathized with him. One of them even focused on the moment where Curt feels a thick, clean, nicely-washed towel and is hurt by how lovely it is...and it made them weep.

God, that makes me feel so fuckin' great.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Here we go -- this is the cover. Mystery. Suspense. Sex. Danger. You name it. It's amazing how a couple of small adjustments will change the whole feel of an image. For example, initially I had the guy in the window positioned in front of the guy with the knife...which made it feel like a slasher cover. But reversing that, with the knife in the lower corner made it more like he's prepared to protect himself.

Also, trying the nude figure in black and white along with the background image killed it. But pumping up the color in his face and desaturating his legs and knife, a little, just made it more me, anyway. And covering his ass with the title seemed to bring more attention to him being naked and added more of a sense of vulnerability than by putting the title below him, or above.

I'll sign it up with Smashwords, tomorrow, and get it going as an e-book. Then comes the fun part of setting it up on Lightning Source. And THEN comes getting it noticed...and selling. I've sunk so much money into this set of books, I doubt I'll ever get out of the red. But they're mine, now, and I've fulfilled my obligation to them.

God...what a relief.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This is close...maybe close enough. I tried it in total monochrome, except for the title, but for some reason the impact was lessened. It's like the knife needs to be in color so it doesn't vanish. And I like his face being a bit red to counterpoint it. The model's expression is good, though.

I sort of think I need something more, but I tried it with a lens flare behind him and that looked goofy. I laid a window with a silhouetted figure in it over the background and that was interesting...but it felt a bit like a slasher cover. This one strikes me as a bit mysterious.

Is it possible this is still the wrong way to go? Maybe if I did a more precise job of centering everything. I just eyeballed where things go in this mock-up. I might narrow the banner behind the title. The letters are 72 point, which I like, but it can be a bit closer together.

Okay...more work ahead...but I'm almost there...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Damn you, Flash 13!!!

Looks like my Tumbler blog is gone. I cannot log back in and Tumbler is ignoring my requests for help. Same for an art site I go to based in Japan, where I've posted some of my work. I send requests and ask to reset my passcode and do everything I can to get their attention...and nothin' in response. When a company reaches the point where it can't -- or won't -- help its clients, the hell with it.

I did manage to finally get back into most of my sites, including Deviant Art. I've got some work posted on there, too.

I just got some images from Dan Skinner, whose work is on the site...and he gave me exactly what I was looking for. Even better, actually, because the look in the model's eye is nearly vicious. Very cool.

Now I need to pay him. Since I also paid (most of) my taxes, today, that wipes me out. But I've got my cover for PM. Don't need anything else except the wording. I'll get that done up, tomorrow.

I'm still plotting out the changes to OT...and as usual, one shift here means a cascade of alterations throughout the story. But it's better...much better.

And more than a little cruel.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Computers are spawn of the devil

I just spent nearly 5 hours trying to get my internet connections to work right. All of a sudden, I couldn't view videos or get into any of the sites I belong to, even when I input my ID and password. And, of course, you can't find any way to contact the sites, themselves; maybe they'll post a contact window that you fill in and send to them, but most are just lost. YouTube was the worst.

I finally went into Google and found out Adobe Flash 13 will not work on my laptop. It's got a bug that makes it go nuts on laptops made between 2004 and 2008, even if they're using OS 10.7.5. So I had to uninstall it and reinstall Flash 12. Now I can at least view videos on YouTube.

But I'm still locked out of several sites, and me asking to reset my password isn't doing a damn thing. What's crazy about this is, I keep a cheat-sheet of my passwords -- just reminders of what they are because I have a lot of different ones. Whatever was wrong with Flash 13, it screwed me up, royally.

But then, it's not just on my laptop. My desktop's having issues with the same problem. Not as bad as regards the videos; on my Mini it's just the videos won't play consistently but have little hiccups that make the image frees for an instant even as the sound keeps going, then it jumps to catch up.

Maybe instead of working on my French, I should learn Code.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Writers on writing...

Donald Barthelme -- "Writing is a process of dealing with not-knowing, a forcing of what and how. We have all heard novelists testify to the fact that, beginning a new book, they are utterly baffled as to how to proceed, what should be written and how it might be written, even though they've done a dozen. At best there's a slender intuition, not much greater than an itch."

Truer words never spoken, because I run into that consistently when my characters won't talk to me. I become lost and have no idea where to go except in the wrong direction.

Kurt Vonnegut -- "Keep it simple ... Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were profound. 'To be or not to be?' asks Shakespeare's Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story 'Eveline' is this one: 'She was tired.' At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do."

I caught a glimmer of this when I read Wilkie Collins' "The Woman In White" years ago. It was long and rambling and a bit silly in its plot...but there's a point in the book where the hero thinks the woman he loves is dead, and all of his grief is poured into one three word sentence: "I loved her." And that jolted me.

George Orwell -- “All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.”

Sometimes I think a demon is the only way I was able to write some of my books...that or an avenging angel. To be honest, I'm not sure which I prefer...or if they're not working in conjuncture with the muses.

If you want, you can read the full essays via the links on the names.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Protest comes in so many forms...

Excerpted from The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, out now from The Penguin Press.

Seventy-five years ago...on Easter Sunday...African-American contralto Marian Anderson performed an unprecedented open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to a huge live audience and to millions more over the radio. The actor and playwright Ossie Davis, then a student at Howard University, was in the crowd and reported on the experience:

It was a cold and dreary day, and Marian Anderson was on the front steps in her mink coat. Standing there were seventy-five thousand people, and the student body [of Howard University] was included, listening to her. All of a sudden, I had a transformation that was almost of a religious nature. Ah, something in her singing, something in her voice, something in her demeanor entered me and opened me up and made me a free man.

The coat attests to the fact that a narrow act of racial prejudice had been transformed into a performance commanding national respect.

The mink coat became a symbol of the day, reminding all that the concert took place outdoors—not by initial design, but because Marian Anderson had been denied an indoor stage at Constitution Hall because she was African-American. The coat attests to the fact that a narrow act of racial prejudice had been transformed into a public performance that commanded national respect. The fact that it was a mink coat—a recognized symbol of high status for women at the time—also illustrates that despite stereotypes and obstacles, an African-American woman could transcend entrenched social and cultural barriers to achieve fame, fortune, and success.

Marian Anderson was born in 1897 to religious, working-class Philadelphia parents. She was close to her grandfather, who had been freed from slavery, and was influenced by his stories of the struggles of African-Americans to achieve respect and equality. After graduating high school, Anderson applied to an all-white Philadelphia music academy but was summarily turned away after being told, “We don’t take colored.” She persisted, studying with a private tutor, and in 1925 won a singing contest that earned her a performance with the New York Philharmonic.

Anderson’s career took off from there. She acquired a voice coach and manager, gave classical singing recitals, and, in 1928, made her debut at Carnegie Hall, then the apex of American performance venues. In spite of this, systemic racial prejudice meant that very few American theaters and opera companies would allow Anderson to perform. The Europeans, particularly Scandinavian and Russian fans, soon had “Marian fever.” In Salzburg, conductor Arturo Toscanini told her she had a voice “heard once in a hundred years.” At home in the United States, Anderson gave perhaps five or six dozen concerts a year. While on tour she would sometimes face discrimination—denied a room at a whites-only hotel or a table at a restaurant. Jim Crow segregation was not limited to the South: Albert Einstein hosted her after she was refused accommodation in Princeton, N.J., before a performance at the university. She and Einstein became lifelong friends. While Anderson faced these indignities on the road, her studio recordings of arias became big sellers.

For Easter 1939, Anderson was scheduled to perform in Washington, D.C., in a concert sponsored by historically black Howard University. The search for a venue was complicated, as the nation’s capital was still a segregated town. The city government denied Anderson use of Central High School, because it was a white school and its policies forbade admission to an integrated audience. The denial provoked petitions and outrage among the District of Columbia’s black leaders, the black community, and their liberal white supporters. Anderson’s manager tried to book Constitution Hall, which was administered by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), an organization of white women representing descendants of Revolutionary War officers, officials, and soldiers.

The DAR turned Anderson down, claiming that the hall was booked. But it became apparent that in fact they did not want to host a black performer or set a precedent of integrating the hall with a mixed audience. Their refusal produced protests. Eleanor Roosevelt, who had become a member shortly after her husband became president, spoke out, saying, “To remain as a member implies approval of that action, and therefore I am resigning.”

Marian Anderson commented, “I am not surprised at Mrs. Roosevelt’s action because she seems to me to be one who really comprehends the true meaning of democracy. I am shocked beyond words to be barred from the capital of my own country after having appeared almost in every other capital in the world.”

Following Eleanor Roosevelt’s example, hundreds of other members resigned from the DAR. Some local branches distanced themselves from the DAR’s decision, while others vocally supported it. The national press picked up the story, and as the controversy escalated, the D.C. Board of Education reversed its decision and approved the concert permit for Central High, but it was too late. The president and Eleanor Roosevelt, working with Anderson’s manager Sol Hurok, and Walter White of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, arranged with Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes to hold the concert under the auspices of the National Park Service at the Lincoln Memorial. The plan immediately captured the national imagination. One reporter wrote, “Out of the narrow-minded mixture of red tape and prejudice which has kept Marian Anderson, the great negro contralto, from the concert stage in this capital of democracy, is growing as if with divine justice one of the most notable tributes of recognition ever accorded a member of this long suffering race.”

The day of the concert, crowds began to arrive before dawn. They came prepared with blankets, umbrellas, and raincoats, as the weather promised to be cold and wet. Police were in full force; some five hundred uniformed officers patrolled the Mall in case there was any trouble. The crowd swelled to more than seventy thousand people, black and white. At 5 o’clock Anderson took her place on the steps, adorned in her mink coat and matching hat. She was introduced by Harold Ickes, who stood before an assemblage of microphones broadcasting across the United States as well as to Canada and Mexico. “In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free,” he said.

Anderson then took off her mink hat, and began her first selection, “America.” Closing her eyes, then opening them and gazing upward to the sky, she sang, “My country ’tis of Thee,/ Sweet Land of Liberty/ of thee we sing.” A hush of silence fell over the crowd as she concluded; many were moved to tears. No one applauded, sensing that to do so would have been an intrusion upon a sacred moment.

Accompanied by her pianist, Kosti Vehanen, Anderson then sang two arias, “O Mio Fernando” and the haunting “Ave Maria.” When she sat down for a break, the audience erupted in an outpouring of emotion and appreciation.

The second half of her performance included spirituals, “Gospel Train,” “Trampin’,” and “My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord.” She closed the concert with the resonant “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” Then, briefly, Anderson addressed her audience. Without politics or commentary, she humbly apologized for not being a good speaker, and thanked them sincerely for their attention and appreciation.

The mink coat from that day came to the Smithsonian more than 50 years later. Anderson and her husband, Orpheus Fisher, had long made a lovely home called Marianna Farm in Connecticut. Fisher died in 1986, and in 1992 the family was moving the now-frail Anderson to Oregon to be closer to them. As her nephew, James DePriest, the longtime conductor of the Oregon Symphony, described it, they found seven of her furs. Most were in terrible condition. But the long brown mink coat was there. It had a tan lining and elegant gold trimming with her monogram. They had heard that the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum was mounting an exhibition about the black history of Washington, D.C., and agreed to donate the mink to become part of the permanent collection.

From The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 2013.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interesting suggestion...

This was suggested by a friend of mine...and I kind of like it...but I miss the color in the bottom image. It made a nicer contrast to the knife. Still, putting the title in red works really well against a black and white background.

I'm not doing anything about it till late Sunday, however. I finally got in contact with a photographer whose work is posted on and he had a photo shoot happening this weekend, so he's going to work in doing an image like the one I sketched up, but more contrasty. He's got a model who'd be a good image for Alec...and I want to see what he comes up with. For just a little more money than using Shutterstock, I could wind up with something really cool and all mine.

Now some writing to discuss:

It's kind of spooky the way things are coming together in OT. From the beginning, I knew the opening would be Jake and his step-mother, Mira, talking over lunch at a small restaurant in Paris, and her grilling him about why he stays with someone as crazy as Antony. And he can't really explain it except that he loves the guy.

But as Sinclair Lewis once wrote, "Love has to stop someplace short of suicide." And throughout the book, Jake was wondering why he and Antony were drifting apart...and so was I.

Until I started having trouble with PM's cover and got so locked into it, I couldn't focus on anything else. That let the back of my brain start listening more closely to Jake...and he started whispering things to me that finally meandered into the forefront...and now I'm ready to rock. I finally have all the answers, and will be cutting a full subplot (which will go to UG).

But I have to say, Jake -- took you damned long enough.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Got it...

This is the basic idea...clean and crisp and cold-blooded.

What if I used this face?

I'm still debating the scowl or snarl as opposed to a smile. If I put this face on the body I posted, yesterday, would that make a difference? I dunno. I continue to lean towards the "warning" look.

Of course, I could do without the face, I suppose. Just work up a torso and expand on the knife...shit, I don't like being this indecisive about anything...even though that's my normal state of affairs.

Doesn't help that in the last three weeks two of my credit card numbers have been used fraudulently, meaning auto-charges I have set on them need to be updated and all my other cards checked. I may start doing everything through PayPal, using them as a firewall against the scum.

Whatever else, I do need to settle this. I finally figured out what the beginning of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is all about, and want to get back to it soon as I can. It stems from the direction Underground Guy is drifting, and means I can simplify ...OT a bit while expanding on UG.

I can't tell if Morrissey's songs are meant to be taken seriously or not. I've heard three different ones on WUFV in the last couple days...and they're boring.

Oh...shit...I just had an idea for PM's cover...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


This is the basic idea I'm going for, just in color instead of graphite. I don't know about the smile, though...actually seeing it makes me take a step back. I may try another with a glare instead of the grin.

I think I need to take some time off from the job. I can't afford it, but I'm at the point where I'm making stupid mistakes. I've got too many things going on to keep track of, and this job demands an attention to detail I've never possessed.

Problem is, my books take money and I also like to eat and sleep in a bed instead of on the street.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My favorite film, bar none.

Jean-Pierre Léaud gave one of cinema's great performances in Francois Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups...and this audition tape shows why. I have the entire Antoine Doinel series on DVD, and haven't been without a copy since it was released on video. I've seen it probably a hundred times, on TV, in theaters, even on my laptop, once...and I keep finding new aspects to it.

I hope I always will...even if I view it another hundred.

I noticed this is the longer, unsubtitled version of the clip. Here is the subtitled edition.

FYI, if you watch the all-French version, the boy Jean-Pierre interacts with in the second segment wound up paying his friend, Rene, and the kid who sings like a Frenchman in the last couple clips has a bit where he sneaks off to play hookie while thinking of a jazz song...and I'm pretty sure it's the same boy who messes up his composition book so completely near the beginning.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Okay...I may finally have it...

But I think I'll have to sketch or paint it up, myself. I found the right pose, just not with the right expression. And nothing with a knife. I can add the knife into a photo, but changing the expression on a guy's face is damn near impossible for me. So...I'm thinking of breaking out the acrylics and spending a couple days trying it out for myself. See if I can work up what I want.

Maybe that's been part of my problem -- I used to sketch or paint when I was having blockage, like this, but I haven't in ages. Oh, I've done a couple sketches, but nothing whole-hog in intensity or meaning. I worked up a quickie study of what I'd like the image to be...and it felt so good. I may be out of practice and what I come up with look like crap, but I've got to do something different. And the fact is, it'd be cheaper and more precise for me to do it this way.

I also think it would suit the story, in some weird way. My least artistic piece of work with a work of art on its cover. I don't say that as a put down of the story; parts of it are just what I was aiming for. It's just, I sense a tentativeness behind it that I don't like to have in my work. But short of doing a full rewrite -- which I swore I would never do, once a book has been published -- I don't see how I can get rid of that feeling. I guess this is my "Special Needs" child.

The paperback edition of RIHC6 has finally gone live and is available through Amazon and B&N...and Apple iBook has refused to carry this one, too. Big shrug. There are too many other outlets for me to bother with prudes.

Guess we'll see how Porno Manifesto goes over, with them.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I know what I need...

I am over-thinking PM's cover. Its title is very simple; its story is very simple. I'm going too I'm now looking for a photo of a nude man holding a knife. Unsurprisingly, Shutterstock doesn't carry anything like that...and the photos I've culled from their offerings aren't really right to build one out of. I think I may contact a porn producer and see if I can license one of his images, for that vaguely cheesy feel. I can always add the knife in.

Still haven't heard from the photo guy I contacted. He has a couple of shots on his DeviantArt page that show he's open to something rough and tumble. I guess I could also ask Playgirl if I could use one of their shots of Derrick Davenport. He'd be a good image for Alec. Yeah, that wouldn't cost much. Right.

I want this done. Now. I have other things to do, and this book's taken too much of my time for one that's already written and published, once, and ready to be uploaded. It's like the damn thing's getting even for me treating it like a redheaded stepchild...something I well know, too well.

So...the cover's going to be as in your face as the titles of some of my books are. Make up for my dismissiveness. Naked man with a banner of the title across his crotch...maybe a camera behind him...all very sexy and obnoxious and a hell of a lot more indicative of the story than that cover it had.

Only question now is, should I still put a switchblade in the model's hand, as the phallic symbol...or a Bowie knife?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Amazing how hard it is to figure it out...

Still casting about for a decent cover to put on Porno Manifesto. I've even contacted a guy who shoots book covers and asked him for input, since I'm not quite getting it.

I really like this one, especially the intensity of it...but it looks like the guy lying on the bottom was knifed, and that's not what happens in the book. Alec does get beaten up, and one character does pull a knife on him, but nothing like this. Guess I'll have to put it aside till another novel...maybe Underground Guy. That'd more suitable...

Actually thinking about...this may be good to use as a basis for UG. That's a very violent book, very edgy.
The second cover I've got here is more indicative of the story, but it's still a bit bland, to me. I did one with a pictures of a guy actually in the shower...but that just felt silly. Like Mel Brooks's ripoff of the shower scene in High Anxiety.

One problem has been discovering the images on Shutterstock just aren't all that great. Oh, if you want happy smiling people looking at the camera, they got tons of that crap. But if you want anger or fear or smirking or anything else, damn near everything is obviously posed, with that typical stiffness and surreality that comes with it. I searched all sorts of possibilities for hours, and still wound up with just a few I could use.

For example, the guy lying on the bottom is from a "drug overdose" shot that I cropped down, darkened and added in the blood. And the guy with the knife was too old, so I got rid of some wrinkles and lines...and he's still old for the character but works okay.

I'm probably over-thinking it. I tend to do that. But I can't get going on anything else until I have it settled. Dammit.

I knew I could be anal, but this is ridiculous.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Closing in...

Getting closer to a cover I like. This one is more classic in style and feel, and mysterious enough for the story without being too mainstream or esoteric. I think. I mean, I'm not at all dismissive of the starkness and the total black and white. I guess I'm ready to start getting feedback, now.

Thing is, PM hasn't sold as well as HTRASG or RIHC6. The title is provocative enough, but I absolutely hated the previous cover and believe it hurt the book's sales. It was totally porn-oriented, and PM is not porn. My only hesitation is, I wonder if I'm going too far to the other extreme for the cover.

Thing is, I want to be done with it and get to work on a new draft of The Alice 65. I've got new ideas for it that need to handled before they lose their resonance in my mind. I was trying to get feedback on it, but so far no one's given me any. Oh, well...I can already see a lot that's wrong with my approach to the script and will work off that.

I guess I'll put PM aside for a little while and let the ideas percolate in the back of my brain...what brain I have.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Got a better idea...

At least, I think it's better. More mysterious. Not as busy. Keeps in with the theme of shadows in my covers, so far. Good hints of danger. I'm still not 100% on it...but I'm getting there.

It stems from this passage in PM, as Alec explains the beginning of his manifesto...
I don’t know who actually said, “Vengeance is a dish best served cold,” but I knew exactly what the person was getting at. And I also knew exactly how limited that idea was. He was talking about cool, clear, carefully planned and executed revenge, which was really nothing more than an exercise in the childish idea of “an eye for an eye” tricked up in adult clothing but without real passion or need or love. Or hate. And it was wrong to belittle such an elegant notion in that way.

No, vengeance was beauty. Was art. It had to be savored. Dreamed about. Desired beyond anything else you might want in the world. It had to expand beyond the petty boundaries of “just getting even” to bring about real, deep, permanent effect. And what would bring the greatest satisfaction to me in my quest? Beating up or sexually assaulting a group of stupid frat boys because they did something society in general basically tells them it’s all right to do? Or sending them to prison where they’d learn nothing but how to hate people like me even more? Or would using them to show the world how completely, totally and absolutely against nature their notions are — would that be better? Show them how wrong it is for anyone in any society to think that fags are different from everyone else and a danger to the world and that beating up on them is a good thing. After all, as everybody knows, queers have no meaning unto themselves and are to be tolerated, at best. And in this country? We’re also devil worshipers hoping to turn all good wholesome American boys into cocksuckers. We’re out to ruin America. Destroy marriage. Spit in the face of God and Allah and Yahweh and such. And laws against harming us should be ignored. All of this stemming from ideas so deeply ingrained in our beliefs, it would take a revolution to cut them out.
Maybe he's crazier than I think...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Porno Manifesto...

This is my first pass at a cover for PM...and I don't know how I feel about it. It seems a bit typical. Guess I'll think some more. I'd really like the guy's face to be bandaged up, a bit; my half-assed attempts to add blood just won't work.

I've got the story reformatted and ready to go. Reading back through it, this one does come across as a bit more lightweight than HTRASG and RIHC6. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not ashamed or embarrassed by it; parts of it are rock solid. I halfway think the reason the story doesn't have the impact of the others is how I gave the lead character an out.

Alec begins acting like he does after being gay-bashed...nearly killed...and it's possible his extreme actions are instigated by the damage he suffered. So he doesn't have that touch of evil I let Curt and Antony own. He has an excuse, which lessens the impact of the horrible things he does. Which gives it a hint of the mainstream.

RIHC6 is now available in paperback. I guess Lightning Source fixed the listing, because I got a proof this afternoon and okayed it. But still no response to my calls about BC3 or the high discount on BC-Complete.

On top of this, Shutterstock double-billed me for the images I bought, but they were easy and are crediting my card. All that took is one phone call.

I didn't sleep well, last night. Mind would not shut now I'm dog-tired. I think I'll hit the sack early. See what tomorrow brings.

Hope it's less of the same.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Of course...

It seems no matter how hard I try to do things right, somehow I still fuck up. I got the proof of RIHC6 and the cover was a bit off-center. I guess even though I worked it out on my calculator, I still misfigured the trim borders...I guess. So I rejected the proof and told them I'd send in new artwork...then popped into Photoshop, reset everything, and uploaded it. But now my dashboard for Spark is showing RIHC6 as being rejected and nothing more. And you think they'll answer my e-mails? Nope. nor can I call them.

I also got a bill, today, for them to keep Bobby Carapisi, volume 3 up for publishing, even though I don't want it and have asked repeatedly to have it removed. It's just a little over $13 but it's for a book I do not want to be in print, and I can't find out how to get rid of it. Ingram Spark got rid of everything else being offered by Nazca you'd think they'd do as I ask for this one, too. Especially since I have the new edition up on their site. Nope. And when I call their number on the invoice, I have to leave a message; they're too busy to talk to me and haven't called me back even though I called them this morning.

What's more, I asked them to offer my version of BC to the trade at a standard 40% discount; I got a sales report today and they're selling it at 55%. Which means I'm in the red with every sale. Shit.

My first thought is, what did I do wrong? Was I having a streak of dyslexia and input everything backwards? I don't know. I don't see how. When you input the pricing for a new book, they tell you you'll be in the red if the price you suggest is too low, and they tell you by how much. I can't imagine me accepting that.

I was going to get Porno Manifesto ready for them...but now I'm not so sure. No rush on that, anyway; I can't think of a decent cover. I thought I had one with a group of guys walking down an alley wielding baseball bats...but it looks posed and is just wrong for the book. I now think I might go for a guy who's been beaten up or something. I dunno. I'm too wiped from all this crap to think about it, in depth.

Why does it have to be so fucking hard?