Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cleansed the palate a bit...

Sort of lost today...wandered here and there online...did a little cleaning up...let my brain float like it's in the middle of a pool of still water under a midnight sky...and then Carli and Zeke showed up.

I wrote a scene where they're at a target range, and I do mean scene. I wrote it almost like it's a moment between two alley cats sniffing each other out to see if they're friend or foe, revealing nothing but what they have to...and not even that, really. Action movie dialogue. Here's the first couple pages:

Carli takes apart a pistol, checks it, cleans it, puts it back together, fires at a target. Misses. Zeke shrugs, "No big deal."

"Barrel's warped." Carli says.

"That's your excuse?"

"Stand right behind me."

He does. She aims at the target...but just a bit off-center -- bulls-eye!

"How could you tell?"

"Way it kicks."

"Try this."

He hands her his AK-47. She checks it.

"This is your baby."

"What you mean?"

"Doesn't need cleaning."

She loads, checks the site, makes adjustments and -- BAM-BAM-BAM! Bulls-eyes.

He nods. "When I was over there, I heard stories. This one unit had a girl sniper."

"GIRL sniper?"

"Word was, she could hit your spit in the wind, from a thousand yards."

"When you were deployed?"

"Second tour was three years back."

She nods to his leg. "That happen then?"

He shrugs a yes. "Army says they got no female snipers."

"They're right."

"How long you been out?"

"Long enough. You?"

"Bit longer. Why're you here?"

"Why're you?" He just looks at her. "Your accent's north country, not desert."

"...What're you up to, Carli?"

"Couple beers, if you are."

"Tell you my life story?"

"That's the only way you get mine."

"Thought it was ladies first."

She pinches one of his tits. "I'm no lady."

"You don't care about...?" He raises his bionic leg.

"Zeke...shut the fuck up and kiss me."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Amazon v. The World of Publishing

Don't feel like writing so I stole this from Slate.
Bringing Down the Hachette

Publishers could have thwarted the latest Amazon power grab. They didn’t, and books will suffer for it.
By Evan Hughes
Amazon is digging in for a lengthy fight with one of the Big Five publishers, Hachette, and flexing its extraordinary market muscle while the two companies negotiate a new contract. It’s understocking Hachette books so as to create shipping delays, cutting discounts, suggesting alternative titles to buyers, and even refusing to take pre-orders, foreclosing a major sales opportunity. If you want to give Amazon your money for the forthcoming pseudonymous J.K. Rowling novel, sorry,you can’t.

Neither side is officially discussing exactly what it is they are fighting about. But allindications and industry chatter suggest that Amazon and Hachette are revisiting the pricing and revenue split for e-books—the same contentious issue that prompted the 2012 price-fixing suit against the Big Five publishers, from which Amazon emerged more powerful than ever.

The publishing industry is cheering for Hachette to hold the line and has denounced Amazon’s anti-Hachette tactics almost unanimously. So have prominent media figures, to the point of declaring boycotts. (The New York Times’ new publishing beat reporter, David Streitfeld, tweeted, “Nearly 8000 tweets of our story on Amazon/Hachette. Still looking for one that takes Amazon’s side.”) The blockbuster writer James Patterson, an indie-bookseller advocate and, by no coincidence, a Hachette author, blasted Amazon in a speech on Thursday at the BookExpo America conference in New York. Even former supporters have turned on the online giant for blatantly contradicting its stated mission—“to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”—by sticking it to book-buyers as a ploy to gain leverage.

But the publishing world that is speaking as one against Amazon is really made up of two principal factions: publishers and authors. Their interests are not identical, and authors should consider the possibility that the publishers have contributed to the difficult situation they now face. Literature could end up suffering for it.

The crux of the issue is that in recent years, e-books have been more profitable for publishers than print books, despite the substantially lower price tag. But they’re less profitable for authors of new releases. This is not a well-known fact, but one group to have noticed is literary agents, who are in the business of ensuring that authors (and they themselves) get their fair slice of the pie.

Diet Coke is not going to get worse if Walmart drives a hard bargain. That’s not necessarily the case with books.

So when HarperCollins, another Big Five publisher, boasted about its digital profits in a presentation to investors last year, literary agent Brian DeFiore seized on Harper’s own PowerPoint slide to point out that authors of new releases get the short end of the deal. On the blog of the leading agents’ trade association, DeFiore published a post headlined “e-books and profitability—What we’ve always said and publishers have always denied.” He noted that Harper’s chart neatly demonstrated that for a given title, the e-book is more profitable than the hardcover edition precisely because the author makes less money on it.

“Look at Harper’s own numbers,” DeFiore wrote. “$27.99 hardcover generates $5.67 profit to publisher and $4.20 royalty to author. $14.99 agency priced e-book generates $7.87 profit to publisher and $2.62 royalty to author.”

Looks fishy, doesn’t it? And the same basic math holds throughout the industry, including at Hachette.

A prominent industry analyst, Mike Shatzkin, has been arguing for some time that publishers ought to raise e-book royalty rates. For him, the point is not that this would be the fair thing to do; he just thinks it would be the best move strategically. By leaving royalty rates where they are, publishers have left their nice digital margins hanging out there for everyone to see. And when Amazon sees someone else’s healthy profits, it’s like a dog smelling a steak. As Jeff Bezos has said, “Your margin is my opportunity.”

What I suspect is happening right now is that Amazon is telling Hachette that they want some of that margin. If Hachette had spread some of those digital profits to authors in the first place, it would not be vulnerable to this tactic. What’s more, if Hachette had been the first to raise author pay, it no doubt would have snagged some marquee writers.

If Amazon prevails and gains revenue that could have—and should have—gone to writers, that would be a lamentable outcome for literature. The available pot of money in the publishing business is essentially divided up among three key players: the retailer, the publisher, and the author. To the extent that the retailer—in this case, Amazon—wins a bigger share, the other two parties collectively lose. Amazon disputes this point by arguing that its low prices and convenient Kindle platform make people buy more books, thus “growing the pie.” But it’s hard to imagine that people are going to spend more and more of their finite income on books just because Amazon is getting its way and thriving.

Among the three key players, the author and publisher are the ones devoted to producing interesting books, or at least trying. Amazon just sells the end product. (Its beleaguered publishing division remains a sideshow.) At heart, Amazon is basically a Walmart with some tech-company trappings. It is not truly a part of the book world. Amazon’s executives have never seemed sensitive to the fact that constantly squeezing the people who write and edit and publish the books could easily damage the quality of the books. Don’t you get what you pay for?

The Amazon–Hachette dispute is different from a battle over terms between, say, Walmart and Coca-Cola: Diet Coke has a set formula of ingredients, so the actual beverage is not going to get worse if Walmart drives a hard bargain. That’s not necessarily the case with books, each of which is a unique product. If publishers make less money on every book, they are going to pay people less to write and edit them, and talented people will decide to do something else with their time. Consider that it takes at least five years, and usually more, to write a definitive presidential biography. If an advance of $100,000 exceeds the budget that an Amazon-dominated world will allow, then the only author who can write such a biography must be either independently wealthy or subsidized by a full-time job, probably teaching at a university. In this scenario, there’s no such thing as a professional biographer—so there goes two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Robert Caro, responsible for the consensus greatest presidential biography ever written.

As a person who knows a lot of writers and editors, I would venture that brain drain is a real threat. If books do decline and become more generic because Amazon is hoarding the revenue, the readers will be slow to notice. How do you notice a great book that never gets written?

Evan Hughes, the author of Literary Brooklyn, has written about the publishing industry forWired, the New Republic, and Salon. Follow him on Twitter.
I think Amazon's making a huge mistake, because first, it looks like Amazon's greedily grabbing for money that really ought to go to authors, and second -- there are so many other places people can go to for these books, now...places that are just as easy to deal with. Of course, the publishers are screwing the pooch, too, for not getting with the technology and dropping the price of their e-books and/or upping the royalties paid.

But it's kind of fun to watch billionaire brats try to out-bad-boy each other.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Don't eat salad...

I had one last night and I've had an unhappy stomach ever since. That's with me washing it and with a dressing of oil and vinegar. I don't know what the problem is, but it made me a very uncomfortable mess much of the night and today. I'm just now beginning to feel better. So much for healthy eating. From now on it's nuke everything.

I did input the changes I'd done for the first two chapters of OT. That's where most of the reworking is, right now, so I plan to print those pages up and do another pass at the story. Funny...I cut left and right, but added I'm still at the same page count. That's the way it works, sometimes; the story determines its own length.

I think I'm still repeating information that does not need to be repeated, but we'll see how it goes after next week. I finally understand what the story's about -- abandonment. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out, now.

I may take a sketch book with me on this set of packing jobs. My fingers are itching to do some scribbling, and doodling on my desktop calendar just don't hack it. But I'm also going to carrying 20 pounds worth of I dunno...

Still not feeling up to anything much...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This bird now sings uncaged...

A Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Good food and an ok wine...

That makes me feel like kickin' back and sayin' nothin' I'll let Steve Hayes do the chatty stuff, tonight.

BTW, Sunset Boulevard won 3 Oscars -- for Story, Production Design, and Music. Gloria should've got it for Actress...and William Holden should've got a special award for Hot Bod, the little whore.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Done, ye bastard!

I have an official first draft of "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor" completed. Holeee-effin'-doggiedoo. 517 typed, double-spaced pages, 114,819 words. And it ended just like I thought it would...almost. This was some dance you put me through, Jake...and I know the night's still young and there's more dancing to do in the rewrite. I have a number of details and revelations to it should wind up shorter...but then again, the way I write, I could still add a hundred pages to it.

But I am as exhausted as I will sit this dance for a few days and get back to it when my head's stopped reeling. I won't be able to get to anything else until I have a decent draft ready to send out for feedback. And next week will put the kibosh on finishing that anytime soon.

I've got two and a half packing jobs set up -- one in Indiana, which means not all that much but is time consuming; another in NYC that has already threatened to explode into a disaster. On that one, I can't get a simple answer from anyone on how many books to expect. Based on the initial information handed out, I only allowed 2 days for it...but I got a bad feeling it'll be more like 3.

What's even nastier is, I'm catching a 5:40 am flight to JFK, on Monday, and will start packing that same day. Check into my hotel, that evening, finish packing the next day and head out to the JFK warehouse to do the half-job. Guess we'll see how this goes...but I HATE getting up in the morning.

Why can't the fates just let me win the friggin' lottery, already, so I don't have to deal with this crap and can just deal with my characters' crap, instead?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Battle scars...

All has finally been revealed in OT. It wasn't easy. I had to chop off 5 pages I'd written and work through the whole revelation chapter, line by line, almost, to get to the end of it. I'm now at a total of 111,351 words over 499 pps with probably 20-25 pps left and god knows how many words. Because I have one last chapter to write, and a bridge between two sections...but that will be that.

Then comes the rewrite...and the re-rewrite. And then feedback to see if it makes any sense or if I've gone off on a tangent, again.

I don't understand why this book's been so damn hard for me to finish. It's almost like I slip into avoidance or some sort of passive-aggressive stance when dealing with it, and Jake's been just as hard. He told me who killed his uncle, and then fought me on how to reveal it. I didn't figure it out until I'd gone through this whole chapter and then it was just handed to me, as if it was no big deal.

Crap, I hope Carli's not gonna be as much of a bitch as Jake has been. No...I don't think she will. She's got a simple goal, and her being the powerhouse lead makes her happy. Doesn't hurt that Zeke's going to be easy on the eyes...even with his tatts. Maybe because of them.

This potential book cover now looks a bit amateurish. I like the images -- and if I can get the okay to license one of Logan McKree's photos, I definitely will; he is the perfect Zeke -- but the layout and lettering are all wrong. One good thing about doing my own covers while republishing my books is seeing what works and what doesn't.

Of course, it'd be a good idea to write the book, first, wouldn't it?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

On the pains and pangs and pissiness of putting pen to word processor

Sometimes I hate my characters. They can lead me places that make absolutely no sense or are so simplistic and ludicrous, it's like they're trying to sabotage the work they want me to write. Jake's fucking me around like that, right now. "Let's go here, now let's go here, now let's have this confrontation, and never mind it changes everything you've already written; you can rewrite, right?"

What infuriating about this is, I've only got one bridge, the rest of this chapter and one more chapter to do, and that will be a first draft.

So what's he done? He's gone and changed who the killer is, on me. Again! Like he's slapping paint on a canvas just to see what happens and thinking, "Naw, instead of purple I'll have puce...or maybe persimmon." Pissant.

And now he's got me alliterating Ps.

Friday, May 23, 2014

John Waters at his bestest evah!

No further comments necessary.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Off the rails, Jake...

My big bad lead almost talked me into making the killer someone who stole the identity of someone else to keep their plans hidden...and that was so daytime soap opera, I had to stop it. What's next? An evil twin? Transplanted brains? A woman who used to be a man becoming a man, again? Can't use that last one; it was too neatly done by Gore Vidal in Myra Breckinridge. "Where's my tits?"

Man...that was such a wild book AND movie. I read it because Gore Vidal and William F Buckley got into a nasty argument during the Democratic convention in 1968, where Vidal kept calling Buckley a crypto-nazi. Which he was, but it still pissed him off and he threatened to punch Vidal out. Then he and Vidal penned dueling articles in a magazine -- The New Yorker? Esquire? GQ? I don't remember -- and Buckley used Myra as an example of how depraved Vidal was.

I bought a copy the next day and read it on the bus to school, every morning. And when Myra raped Rusty, I giggled like a little girl. Of course, I saw it on a double-bill with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, even though I was underaged, and even then I thought it was insane. Imagine Raquel Welch playing a female version of Rex Reed in a film starring Mae West, John Huston, Farrah Fawcett and film clips from a hundred different movies...not to mention a bit with Tom Selleck about to be ravaged by 80 year-old Mae. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls paled in comparison. It's still one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures.

Anyway, this time I went on strike. I don't want easy answers, here...and doing crap like General Hospital is not leading up to any. I need to earn my quiet ending, because for it to work, the turmoils have to have been great and glorious.

What's been interesting this time around is how they've also been wacky.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rickety bridges

Man...sometimes things go interesting directions when I'm writing. And weird. More than once I've wondered if I'm certifiable...not just when I'm working on a story but when I'm dealing with the day job. It's like I think I know what's going on then find out I don't have a clue. And I wind up totally confused and feeling psychically misused at the end of the day.

But this confession scene in's either going to work or make readers throw the book across the room in anger. I honestly don't know. Hell, I may change it, again. Anything's possible...but I like how off-beat it's become. A confession that's not a confession...but is.

This is the sort of thing going on in my head. Not necessarily a South American model (Brazilian?) moving left then bouncing right and pointing at me in a slightly snarky way...and yet...

Damn...I think I know what they mean by scrambled eggs for brains.

(BTW, the guy's name is Gui Inacio, actor and model, and adorable.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

All worded out...

Here's Steve Hayes discussing my favorite Hitchcock film -- Notorious. Damn near perfect.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The joy of re-re-re-re-writing

Looks like I can have my cake and eat it, too, in OT. In a way. I added six more pages and smoothed over some that I'd already smoothed over...and now see the ending clear and clean. As I've said, before, I know...but this time I'm so close I can smell the rot.

I halfway want my next book to be a simple romp in the sack. Men having sex and nothing more. This mystery crap is driving me insane Hell, maybe I'll make Carli's Kills an erotic tale of heterosexuals humping like bunny rabbits. I know Carli'd be open to that. But would Zeke tolerate being the sex object? Do straight men like being used by women for nothing but pleasure?

I have another story sort of like that -- Brand of Justice. It's about a female cop on the fast track to being Chief of Police when her brother-in-law is killed and events from her past keep mixing in, threatening not only her life but her sister's and her lover's. She's in her thirties and he's five years younger, at least, and deeply in love with her while all she wants is a good romp.

I actually wrote the story as a screenplay, but it's a bit too MOW for film and not MOW enough for TV. Seems Lifetime and Hallmark want women in jeopardy stories of a different nature. At least, I've been told Claire (the lead) is too able and aware and not enough the center of the story for them. I have things happening outside her purview.

That ain't happening with OT. If Jake don't see it or learn about it, he don't know it. Very much first person. He can work things out in his head and get people to reveal details to him without realizing it, but he makes mistakes and goes batshit crazy, himself, a couple of times.

It's going to be interesting to see the reaction o this book, once I'm done. See if I'm able to throw out enough red herrings to keep the reader wondering. Keep 'em interested to the end. Not aiming for much, am I?

Hell, right now I'd be happy to see if I can find an answer to the question that starts the story off.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Twisty-turny-stuff... bad guy I thought was a bad guy turned out not to be a bad guy and yet is still a bad guy...and that makes sense once you get to it. I think. But Jake's waging war, now, and he's in the mode of the enemy of my enemy is my friend...until the war is over. Then he'll turn the cannons.

I've decided to push on through to the end of the first draft, starting from page 460. Of course, that's based on pages done in 12 point Courier and double-spaced. I figure the final book will be just over 325 pages long. I don't know if I'm going to self-publish it or submit it to STARbooks Press. They said, a couple years ago, they'd like to see my next novel...but I think I'll still have to make sure they're still open, it's been so long.

Right now I've got a headache from a stiff neck and just want to sit in the tub for the rest of my life. I did do some ironing and watched another episode of "Firefly", on a friend's recommendation. This title was "Out of Gas" and I was taken in by how it jumped around in time. The resolution was a bit of a cheat, but redeemed itself by the final line. I think I might have felt differently about the show if they'd done things like this from the beginning.

Guess I will watch the rest of it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sometimes it takes a while... was interesting. I spent most of it working through my apathetic crap. Wasn't easy. I had to make myself do simple things like go deposit my paycheck because I got it a day late...and too late to hit the bank, yesterday...and I'd left my checkbook at even though I really did not feel like leaving my apartment, I did. I also had to hit the PO to send off those free copies of David Martin and hope they will generate some interest on GoodReads.

I also half-heartedly tried to update some information on my books with Amazon...but what they told me to do didn't work. I did make some other things better. Sort of. Then I took a nap and woke up with a headache so ate and made potato leek soup for meals, next week, and balanced my checkbook.

Then I sort of wandered into working on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor...and saw some mistakes I was making in the narrative, not to mention a solid possibility that I was overlooking...and 'round about nine-pm I got back onto it...for a while. Now it's low-ebb, again.

When I get into these moods, it usually takes a long time for the residual sense of "Why bother?" to go away, completely. But I can finally sense it's finally drifting off. Tomorrow, I'm inputting corrections and changes into what I've already done on the book and aiming it to dovetail into a confession that will only be a hint of a confession. No Perry Mason crap here; my killer's not stupid. Neither is Jake. I have to honor that.

No, I don't have to...I want to. I fucking like Jake. He's a pain in the ass, sometimes, but he is what I wish I was. Funny...I have to build a fictional character to be the man I want to be. I wish I had been. Of course, I felt the same way about Curt, to an extent, but he's a bit on the crazy side, and I've always been more like Antony and Daniel and Eric...and...

Shit, look at what I'm doing -- mitigating a positive, definitive comment about one of my characters. I like Jake, who's a part of me, but there are all these other characters who really mean I'm nothing like him and WTF? Why the hell do I do that? Why can't I just let it be? Even when I read positive and glowing responses to my work (and there have been plenty), I think of ways to minimize their importance. Why?

Just one more aspect of my own private psychoses.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Yummy support

A fellow Texan at Yummy of the Day said he'd post a link to my new website for my books, so I worked this up. It took little effort or imagination...but I'm drained from all the work I've done for my books, this year. And the money I've sunk into them hurt. I'm not sorry I did it, but I doubt I'll ever make enough to break even.

The free book promo for David Martin's ended and now I have to send out copies to the winners. Most are in the US so that's not so very expensive, but one's in the UK. So there's more money into promotion. And it's wearing me down.

Tonight I was hit with a major slice of apathy. Which I guess was to be expected. I worked 11 hours straight to get everything done in time for the book fair shipments...and managed to screw up three times, just today. And I mean screw-ups that don't seem to be all that big a deal -- not getting a photocopy of a master airway bill before I FedEx'd it out and not getting a UK import registration number from another client -- but they may cause problems with Customs.

Making a living at a job where you're guaranteed to fuck up once a day doesn't do much for your self-esteem.

What it has shown me is, I would have fucked up as a director. I can barely write, so how in god's name did I ever come up with the idea I could direct a movie? They're little more than controlled chaos at a pace ten times worse than what I'm dealing with, now. It's amazing any of them turn out well.

But then again...maybe I'd have taken to it like a crazed Tasmanian Devil and become another Hollywood cautionary tale about excessive ego and madness.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Jake took me down a dead end and now we're trying to find our way back, so I only got 3 pages done, so far, and part of that includes the confession bit. Why does he do that? He knows it won't work. Too many aspects interfere with the natural progression.

I've been working late thanks to being the only one at work to do stuff, right that may be part of the problem. We've got four fairs needing to be picked up this week and entered into the UK by Tuesday, next week. I get home and I'm wiped.

I feel rather like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, wishing he had a brain.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Police don't just lie in the US...

This is an amazing story about cops investigating two murders who convinced several people they'd helped in a murder but just couldn't remember it...scary...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rebootingly done

I did some adjusting on the banner and sent it off with a link to my webpage for these books. I also changed some links on my site to take potential buyers to Kobo instead of a page that merely offers more links. Go Daddy isn't that easy to use when you're setting up...but it's very easy to do updates. On that score alone it gets kudos from me. The previous setup was damn near impossible.

I know the banner's a bit cluttered, but that's deliberate. I want these suckers lumped together, finally, so people can see I've got more than one offering or one place where my books can be bought. For all its self-righteousness, Amazon's offering everything.

Now I can get back to OT and finish it up. An idea I had long ago about how to reveal the main killer but tossed aside has resurfaced, and works. But it changes the motivation of everything...and that's cool.  Because in the long run, it makes the reasoning behind what's happening even more vicious.

Ah, the joy of writing...

Monday, May 12, 2014


I spent the evening setting up a website for my adult books, using my old domain. GoDaddy's updated its web designer so I had to learn it all over again, and while some parts of it are easier, others are impossible. For example, I can't change the names of the links in the main menu if I want to use a particular design. Irritating. But it's done. Now I have one place to send potential book buyers to that's separate from my other site.

I did this because another website is willing to post a link to my work. All I have to do is send in a I worked this up --
It's a bit chaotic, and deliberately so...and I think I may rework it. I like the face being on the left and the figure on the right, now that I think about it. And the link embedded in it will be for my one site instead of having to make do with sending people to or Amazon or anything.

Wish I could afford to do some real advertising in specified spots. Not just for these books, but also David Martin. I tried the ad thing with facebook and that got damn near nothing. I've got a giveaway going on GoodReads, but I don't know if that will do anything, yet. It doesn't end till Sunday. I've sent out post cards and copies of the book...and it just sort of sits there. I wonder if I did the story right?

Maybe I'm not the type who should write children's books...

Sunday, May 11, 2014


That's how many pages I now have...and maybe fewer...but I dumped the entire last chapter because it just prolonged the finale without any purpose. Instead, I moved one confrontation up, chopped out a minor sub-plot that meant nothing, and now I'm probably 90% done. One killer just got revealed and another is on the way...and then the denouement.

But this leaves me blank of brain, so instead, I shall show you how NOT to pounce on a cute boy who's doing a belly roll in his "Risky Business" style home...
See what I mean?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Feeling better about it...

I've gone through nearly 300 pages of OT and so far only the first couple of chapters were in need of serious work. The rest has been detail work with a bit of info-juggling. I like what I've done, for the most part -- letting character determine the speed of the plot as opposed to rules and regulations for writers. I am getting rid of some redundancies, but overall if builds in a way I like. Nothing forceable about it.

I am honing Jake's manner of speech, more. He's not as verbal as Antony so that is something I'm keeping in mind as I go through. It means getting rid of a couple of nice descriptions, but they just didn't fit into the way Jake talks.

I still found time to find out Conchita Wurst won Eurovision for "Rise Like A Phoenix". Coolness. That means that next year's Eurovision Contest will be held in Vienna.

Conchita's got a great voice, but this song would be perfect for Shirley Bassey. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

This is what 487 pages looks like

And it's not done, yet. But I'm at that stage in the story where I need a hardcopy to go through in order to figure out if the thing's making any sense. I just can't do that on a computer. I guess I'm still old-school in that a red pen on paper is more honest to me than cut-and-paste.

I like the photo I put on the top of it...and I was thinking once the book's done I'd use something like that for the cover...but now I'm not so sure. It's on the obvious side, to me. I wonder if I can figure out some way to do a holographic cover through POD that will show him both smiling straight at you and eyes downcast in sadness?

While printing, I reread a section where Jake and Dion talk and remember their week together, years ago...and Jake learns his uncle refused to invite him to live in Palm Springs when he was kicked out of his home. The reason why ties into the whole theme of the story...and leads to the moment, alone in a hotel room, when he accepts the reality of what it all means.

It's still a mystery novel, and I am simplifying the way into that genre, but I won't be able to trim it back to being just that. This book is about a lot more than I intended...and happily so.

And terrifyingly...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Words of wisdom from a man who won't stop writing till he's dead...

Stole this from
In one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic, he talks at length about the vital importance of a good opening line. “There are all sorts of theories,” he says, “it’s a tricky thing.” “But there’s one thing” he’s sure about: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” King’s discussion of opening lines is compelling because of his dual focus as an avid reader and a prodigious writer of fiction—he doesn’t lose sight of either perspective:

We’ve talked so much about the reader, but you can’t forget that the opening line is important to the writer, too. To the person who’s actually boots-on-the-ground. Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer’s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both.
This is excellent advice. As you orient your reader, so you orient yourself, pointing your work in the direction it needs to go. Now King admits that he doesn’t think much about the opening line as he writes, in a first draft, at least. That perfectly crafted and inviting opening sentence is something that emerges in revision, which can be where the bulk of a writer’s work happens.

Revision in the second draft, “one of them, anyway,” may “necessitate some big changes” says King in his 2000 memoir slash writing guide On Writing. And yet, it is an essential process, and one that “hardly ever fails.” Below, we bring you King’s top twenty rules from On Writing. About half of these relate directly to revision. The other half cover the intangibles—attitude, discipline, work habits. A number of these suggestions reliably pop up in every writer’s guide. But quite a few of them were born of Stephen King’s many decades of trial and error and—writes the Barnes & Noble book blog—“over 350 million copies” sold, “like them or loathe them.”

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that arenot the story.”

2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”

10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”

12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”

16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”

19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

See a fuller exposition of King’s writing wisdom at Barnes & Noble’s blog.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kill your darlings...

A problem I'm having with OT is fitting in some background so someone who hasn't read Rape in Holding Cell 6 can keep up with Jake's references to what happened between him and Antony. A lot of the trouble boiling up in OT stems from that story's fallout. This was a deliberate decision and fits in with the overall theme...but it's making things tricky now that I've cut so much explanation.

Fact is, I've cut another 9 pages, and the story reads a lot faster and smoother. But I don't know if I feel that way because I know the background or if it really just doesn't matter that much. It could go either way. I may just keep revealing bits and pieces as things progress, make it a shadow mystery.

Slashing the filigree is proving to be painful. And makes sense. The first few pages of a book determine whether or not you'll finish it or eventually put it aside. I've done that a few times with books -- usually getting to around page 100 before I stop making myself read.

For example: I've only finished one of William Faulkner's books -- The Sound and the Fury -- because his prose is so dense. I had to drop a class I was taking in college because I hated his writing so much. And as much as I love The Foundation Trilogy, I could not read the god-awful prequel to it written by Asimov because Hari Selden was made into such a gullible twit.

Don't want that to happen to my books.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I know I shouldn't...

I wrote the ending to The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. By ending, I mean the final reveal. That comes in a hotel room in the dark between two men. No big splashy revelations in front of witnesses, like I felt needed to come. No anger or explosions. Just...quiet. Painful.

As I wrote this, I could finally hear Jake's voice, again. Simple. Direct. Less verbiage and more honesty. This is what the rest of the story must lead to. Hopefully, by the time I get to the end it will carry an emotional wallop...but you never know till it's done. Damn thing may change, again. Still the big deal is, Jake's whispering in my ear, once more.

I'm having some very intense dreams, lately...and I think it's because I'm focusing on OT. One I had was me in what I think was Kremlin Square, watching people wander around. Then I was in an opulent hotel waiting for time to check in. Lady Gaga passed by with her boyfriend (don't ask; I really haven't followed her much so have no idea why she's in my dream) and she came over to say, Hi. She got up really close and I noticed she's got wrinkles under her eyes.

Then I went to check into the hotel but there was a line, like what you see at a Vegas front desk, long and snaking around between stanchions. I noticed a lot of black people were around in upscale clothes and I thought, "Of course; less discrimination here." Then I went through the wrong line and wound up back in the lobby so had to go back. That's when I woke up.

If anybody's got any idea what the hell that means, please let me know. Because Moscow is NOT on my list of places I want to visit. Much as I love Tolstoy, I can't abide even thinking about going to a country that codifies discrimination against gay men and women into law.

Denmark, on the other hand...

Monday, May 5, 2014

The rest of chapter one...

I cut it down by 8 pages, total...and could probably cut one more. The stuff I cut may wind up sprinkled  through the rest of the book...maybe...


I took a deep breath. “So?”

“I do not know why. He will not tell me. I only learned of this in spite of him, and when your father becomes this secretive, it worries me. Especially as regards his dealings with your family. I think, if you stay in America, something will happen to you. And you are better protected in Denmark.”

“Tone wasn’t.”

“He is an easier target.”

No argument there. “But why do you think this concerns me?”

“Why would you not think it does? As your father tells the story, he and your mother hate each other. Is there any other reason she would call him, except about you?”

Phone call, huh? Yeah, I’d learned how to pinch pennies from my mom, so for her to spring for an overseas call to a man she despised almost as much as I did, instead of popping off an e-mail...well, that was a big deal.

“Neither one’s even tried to get hold of me, and they both know how.” I smirked. “Maybe mom’s askin’ dad for money.”

Mira rolled her eyes at that. I had to shrug in agreement. Mom was what Gramma'd referred to as, "Independent to a fault." Meaning neither ask for nor give favors. So why would she have called him? They’d been divorced for fifteen years, and it was not a nice one. Thanks to Texas' laws, Dad’s lawyers cut mom completely out of his fortune -- something she’d never forgiven him for. Oh, she’d wound up with her condo and a decent cash settlement, and child support till I was eighteen. But that ended about six months before I was kicked into the street by them both. Nearly ten years ago; so far as I knew they hadn’t spoken since.

"How'd you find out she called?" I asked.

"Do you know your father's assistant, Kazeem?" I nodded. "I know his wife, and he keeps no secrets from her. She and I are close friends."

I had to chuckle at that explanation; never try to keep secrets from your wife. But talk about raising a thousand other questions.

"Don't make sense to me," I said, finishing off my meal. "So far as my mother's concerned, I am not her son. And so far as my father's concerned, I was never born. Christian and Islamic intolerance, together. That's what I get for being gay."

"You father does not truly feel such hatred for you."

"He does so long as I stick with Tone. And I'm stickin'."

Mira just gave me a nod, in response. She had no more questions and neither of us had any answers, plus I had to head back to the airport for my plane, so we left it at that. But while waiting to board under that sweeping non-stop glass everything that made Terminal 2 stifling hot, even on a cool day, I did some research via my phone...and came up zeroes. Nothing about my mom and dad being connected in any way, anymore. It wasn’t till I got to Copenhagen that I caught an idea of what it was all about.

Since I was over there so much, I'd kept our apartment. It had a great view of Koege Bay and was close to a train line that took me straight to Ari's office. And since I'd only recently become a citizen of Denmark, it also kept me as a legitimate resident. Our landlady, Mrs. Honingen, lived downstairs and kept the place clean, and she always put our mail on the table right by the front door. The perfect setup.

Man, I loved that place. Yeah, it was furnished by Ikea, but it worked. Vaulted ceilings. Perfect kitchen. A balcony big enough for two chairs and a table. Tone and I would sit out there and just watch the ships go by. Or I'd sketch as he read a book, neither of us saying a word for hours. Those eight months together gave me back all the confidence I’d lost in the previous three years. Rebuilt my meaning and reality. Made me easy, again.

Things’d been so smooth, we’d gotten so close, we could lie in bed, side by side, all day long, completely at peace because the other one was there. Or sit on the couch, one of my arms over his shoulders, him leaning against me, just watching a video. It was like home.

It helped that my artwork was kicking ass with Uncle Ari’s agency, and a graphic novel I was working on was slowly coming together. Tone paid his way by teaching tennis and English, and he already spoke enough Danish to make getting around simple. We were together and making it. God, I wanted us back to that, again.

Mrs. Honingen wasn't home so I just grabbed the stack of mail and sat on the balcony to go through it. Mainly the usual bills and sales crap, but mixed in were a couple of envelopes from my Uncle Owen, in Palm Springs. Owen Taylor. He’s mom’s half-brother, from Gramma’s second marriage. One was a month old -- must've come just after I left, the last time -- and all it had was a note that said, “Jake, I need to see you, ASAP. Don’t call. Please e-mail me. O.” The other was postmarked two months earlier but must have arrived late, and in it was what looked like a house key and a printout of a note that read – “Dear Jake, You’ll need this when you come. O. #4865*”

Dear Jake? He never addressed me like that. And what’s this “when I come” crap?

I tried to call him, but his phone went to voice mail then disconnected because it was too full to accept more messages. And an e-mail I sent bounced back to me. I contacted the service and found out his in-box was too full of unread messages for it to accept any more. Man, did I start getting a bad feeling...

Then I got a text from Mira. My father told her mom called because no one had seen or heard from my uncle for three months, and she wanted him to use his influence to kick-start an investigation into it. Which was bullshit.

What Mira didn’t know was, Uncle Owen’s gay, too, and had been cut off from most of the family for twenty years. The only reason I knew him was through Gramma; she’d figured out early on that it’d be good to have him available for questions once I started asking them. Which I did just after I turned fifteen. Then he and Gramma’d been the only ones who backed me up once I got kicked out. And wound up in jail. And finally got released on probation. He knew me too damn well to call me Dear Jake.

Which meant he was in trouble.

Which meant soon as I was done at Uncle Ari’s, I was headed for a talk with my mother. Something I hadn’t done in years.

Shit, I’d sooner be back in jail.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Calling rewrite!

Here's the first 5 pages of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor -- jumping into the story a bit faster and with more insistence...I think...I hope...but you never know till it's done.


“Jake, why do you stay with Tone?”

It was my stepmother, Mira, asking. In English instead of French, to make sure I not only understood but to emphasize that she wanted a serious response. We were having lunch at an Indian café near Le Blanc-Mesnil, in Paris, with no way for me to blow off the question, so all I could do was load some Aloo Matar into my mouth to give me a chance to think.

Of course, when Mira asked that question, what she really said was, “Iacob, what is your loyalty with this Antony?” She always calls me by my Persian name, and I’m only one who gets to call my guy Tone.

He and I'd been together over two years, now, and this was the first time she'd raised the issue. Which is why it surprised me. She knew all about his trouble in Texas and why we were stuck there -- well, Tone was; I was just standing by my man. But she also knew how I felt about being in that god-awful state, and how happy I'd be when my guy and I could get the hell back to Denmark.

When I didn’t answer, immediately, she continued, “From the photos I have seen in the papers, he is an attractive young man. But you are better-looking and there are many of his type, so I know this is not the reason. I think, perhaps you wish to rescue him. He has need of someone strong to lean upon. But this denotes need on your part, which is a weakness and you are not a weak man. Is it only because of you being stubborn, Iacob? Remaining with him because others say you should not. Are you a man as foolish as that?”

"You forgot love," I said, half-joking. She just looked at me, so I shrugged. “What do you want me to say?”

“That it is not merely from pity.”

“I don’t pity Tone, Mira. He’d never let me.”

"So it is that you feel loyalty to him?"

I shrugged. She was the only other person in the world I felt like I could be completely open and honest with and know it wouldn’t get back to somebody, so I didn’t censor my feelings, in honor of that. “I prefer to call it love. It's not perfect. He can be hard as hell to put up with. Sometimes I'd get pissed off. Sometimes I’d get hurt. But usually I’ll be pretty happy, with him.”

She nodded and said, “In many ways you are so much like your father, and in others you are so completely different.”

Ouch. “Where did that come from?”

“An observation, only.” She dug deeper into her salad. “I notice you use the past tense when you speak of your problems, and the future tense when you speak of your happiness.”

“Psycho-lady, q’est-çe que c’est?” I snarled, joking. She just looked at me as she chewed. I shrugged. “It’s been rough, lately, no surprise. The crap we’re going through’d tear at anybody.”

She gave me a French shrug of agreement as she sipped some burgundy; she obviously felt some empathy for his situation, but that's her job, as a psychologist -- always making sure people understood that she understood and could trust her to increase her understanding.

I downed more of my Taj Mahal. I’ve known her a year and a half and still could not figure out how she and my father wound up together. Sure, he’s better-looking than I am, even in his fifties -- his hair still black, his eyes a bit sharper than mine, his features a bit less pronounced, his body trimmer. Tone told me he looked like a hungry wolf scouring the land for its next meal while I was a proud hawk. I laughed at him, but I loved that he said it.

Of course, dad's also rich as Solomon, but I never got the idea money's what Mira's after. On top of it, he’s an arrogant, selfish, controlling prick while she could’ve had any guy she wanted – raven black hair, full-figure, close enough to forty to make her sensual instead of just least, in France; in the twelve-year-old mentality of the US, she’d be over the hill. Plus in their ten-year marriage, she'd popped out five kids, including twin boys, and if my instincts were right, she was en route to bringing forth number at least the bedroom was happy.

She also had a mind of her own, something not so unusual in Persian women, and she wanted her full-Persian children to know their half-Persian brother. I got the sense she didn’t even give my dad a say in that. So while in America and Denmark my name was Jacob Michael Blaine, in Paris I was Iacob Mehrzad Darya-Bendari, and she made damn sure everybody knew it, out of respect.

That's why she and I were seated at a rickety table under dirty umbrellas on uneven flagstones behind an old French house. Whitewash an inch thick on it. Red tile roof on top. A fence of some green vines shielding us from the neighboring homes. Feasting on the best damn curry I’d ever had. I respect her as much I think she does me, but now all of a sudden she's wondering why I want to stick with Tone.

“What’s this really about, Mira?”

She deliberately did not look at me. “Did you know he let his therapist share his notes with me?"

"Yeah. He told me at the airport."

"Has he told you everything he’s done?”

“I got enough.”

“Then let me rephrase the question. Even if you do love him, is it wise to remain with him?”

“If I -- what do you mean?”

Her eyes locked on mine. “You are now a citizen of Denmark. Your work is in Copenhagen. It would be much more logical for you to be there than eight thousand kilometers away.”

“You don’t abandon somebody who’s got cancer or AIDS or heart disease, not if you love ‘em. Tone’s still healin’, both physically and legally. I’m stickin’ it out."

"So it is loyalty."

"Like a dog, huh?" I snapped. "Why're you askin’ me this? Is it Uncle Ari? You been talkin’ to him?”

“One does not talk to Ari; one only listens. He likes your work. His clients like your work. He wants you to become a partner in his business. It is an excellent idea, but you will have to return to Denmark to live. Antony cannot leave until next year, at the earliest. He could easily join you, then.”

Talk about a load of crap. Uncle Ari and my dad may be brothers, but Ari was open and gregarious and never met anyone he couldn’t like...and couldn’t keep a secret to save his life. He hadn’t even hinted about anything more than meeting a new client on this trip and sending more graphics assignments my way. So there was something else going on and she didn’t have the nerve to be up front with me. Which brought her down a notch in my eyes; if she can’t tell by now that I can be trusted, she never will...and that pissed me off.

“Don’t hand me this crap about Uncle Ari, Mira. What's really goin' on, here?”

She stopped in mid-chew and nodded and swallowed and took a sip of her wine. Burgundy with a salad; there’s something wrong about that.

"You are correct," she said. "I am too used to having to be careful with my patients."

"You tryin' to tell me I'm crazy for stickin' with Tone?"

She looked straight at me.

“Your mother has contacted your father.”

Slam-bam, blindside me, ma'am.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wrestling with a shadow

That's what writing is. Tussling and tumbling with something that is so ephemeral, it doesn't exist except in your mind or on a page. You fight with nothingness in order to form it into something that will become reality in a reader's mind, and often wonder just how close to insanity you truly are.

That's been me, all day...and just in dealing with chapter one. I shifted a lot of the detail work to after the set-up of Jake needing to find his uncle...and it works better, but I think it still needs to be clearer and cleaner. The one truly, positively great thing about this new match with Jake is, I can now clearly see that I was already aiming for this new revelation...this whole new reason behind the story.

I happened onto an image that I know will fit into the ending, some way...just don't know how, yet. The model's name is Jordan and he could be Jake in his thirties.

I still like Aidan Turner's look for Jake, so I'm not sure what this is all about. I just know the final chapter is going to be in a hotel room in Paris...and this fits it.

Damn, I wish I understood me better so I could figure out what the hell I'm doing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Promotional work...

That was this evening, after the day job. Pushing my books and scripts. I belong to a number of organizations that post or send out emails about people looking for screenplays -- but usually they're so specific, nothing I have matches up. Stuff like -- MMA, Asian lead, shootable in China or SE Asia, budget up to $1m -- or -- Christmas story, uplifting, family oriented, budget $200K. They all know that their project will make a hundred-million, and in exchange you get $1000 and a share of the profits.

I tried to write some things that would fit into those types of parameters. I even have one martial arts script that I had fun writing and making a bit silly. Lots of action, a dive off the 20th floor of a hotel into a pool, betrayal, unrequited love, a perfect hero, all very heterosexual. It's set in Manila but I wrote a version that would work in Shanghai or Hong Kong and sent its info to a few nothin'.

That's to be expected, however. 99 times out of a hundred what those characters are looking for is something so specific, they really ought to write it themselves. Or so unrealistic, they'll never get it made. Or they just want to option it for a $1 for 5 years, and you'll wind up with a script that's of no use except as a writing sample because it's now got a history. I have four of those; don't need any more.

Of course, I've also gotten the, "Change a few things and bring it back to us," stuff that means nothing. The changes "don't work for them, after all," and it sometimes hurts the script. I've got two of those. I don't shut down people who make suggestions; but I won't make any change unless I think it will make the script better, and I make sure they understand if that happens, the changes become mine.

I finally got to where, if they don't prove to me they're serious, I'm not interested in doing anything other than popping off the usual synopsis and logline. Sometimes I'll include my list of scripts...but not always. That puts the ball in their court, and if they're interested, they'll get back to me. If they don't, it means they weren't.

I know that's a heretical attitude in Hollywood. Writers are supposed to beg and grovel for someone to make their movie and piss all over them as they totally wreck the story and characters. Been there, done that, got me nowhere except close to crazier than I already fuck it.

Except...maybe this time...I'll be lucky...maybe this time...they'll pay.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


There's an old saying -- "It's not finished until it's finished." Which, in the case of my stories, tends to be never...because considering how I've been working on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor since forever, it's like I'm out to prove how true that is.

I've already torn the first chapter apart, mainly due to the fact that it's too detailed and very confusing. Jake's trying to explain what happened in Rape in Holding Cell 6 as background, and even though I wrote it, it was getting me lost. So out it went, for use later. Maybe. We'll see how it fits in somewhere else, now.

That is one good aspect of taking time away from the story -- I can look at it with a clearer eye and see how overwritten it was becoming. That's not Jake's voice. He doesn't load his sentences with soft works and filagree. He talks plain and direct and honest. He keeps secrets...hell, who doesn't? But only because they're no one's business but his own. No pity for Jake; he doesn't have time for it.

This recent head-butting is finally proving to be productive. I could see where I was slipping into Tone's voice instead of his, at times. Gotta be careful about that.

And yet, I understand why a lot of the extraneous stuff happens in the book -- Jake's building a family. A gay family of people who will support him and care for him and work with him, in the face of society's hypocrisy and hate.

And don't tell me things are getting better for gay men and women in the US. Compared to the evil that used to be aimed at us, maybe things aren't quite as bad in some parts of the country. And it's true that people's attitudes are changing dramatically about us. But there are still far too many people out there perfectly willing to have us killed or thrown in jail and forced back to being second-class citizens, and far too many people who will say nothing in response to the attacks.

Too bad so many of them are Democratic leaders.