Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Catholic Supremes establish a State Religion...

The Supreme Court's white conservative Catholic older males have determined that the only exemption a "christian entity" may use to not follow the law, as laid down in the ACA, is over contraception. The justices were very clear -- Hobby Lobby's nearly 600 stores are all extensions of a closely-held company that is considered to be a religious entity, so need not provide insurance coverage for birth control. Joy to the world, slut-shaming is back with a vengeance. Break out them scarlet letters.

But no other exemption is allowed, according to Justice Alito. Only the conservative christianists are allowed to exempt themselves from the law because they don't want to seen as supporting women having sex without the possibility of pregnancy. Never mind contraceptives are used for hundreds of health reasons beyond birth control. If you screw, you gotta be ready to give birth like some breed mare.

This is rich. Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in blood transfusions, but they will be required to provide coverage for that in any policies they have to offer their workers. Christian Scientists limit medical care even more, but if one owns a business and must provide coverage under the ACA, he or she cannot use their faith to refuse to pay for full coverage.

But Catholics get a pass on this part. Protestants. Evangelicals. You name it, so long as they're mainstream christianist faiths. And don't think it'll stop here. The door's been opened for the government to determine what any faith may or may not practice, now. They have determined one sort of religion is better than the others. Christians should not be rejoicing; she should be scared silly. They just gave their religious freedom away, in the name of religious freedom.

Man...you couldn't make this crap up, and if you did, nobody'd believe it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Preparatory preparation...

Today was reworking the outline for Carli's Kills to see what's left to do. I'm about 2/3 done with the script and know what scenes need to be written, now. I broke one scene in half and may do the same with another. It depends on how things play once I'm done. Then comes the finessing of the characters and storyline.

What's nice about having a somewhat detailed outline is, it gives me a place to hang whatever ideas come to me instead of just writing them on slips of paper and hoping I remember them. I'm bad about filling a folder with them and then having to go through and try to figure out what goes where, according to what I was thinking when I wrote it.

I dumped a bit where Carli fixes a bug to Zeke's belt buckle. Wasn't needed and felt too wrong, once I had the rest of the scene worked out.  And added a bit of humor through Zeke's dog, Loki (no longer Thor). Now comes the fun part, seeing if I can get this done anytime soon.

I'm pretty much back on my body clock schedule, so only worked on this till 6. Then I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's a dark movie but without Alfonso Cuaron's poetry it wasn't as interesting as The Prisoner of Azkaban. Mike Newell's not quite the hack that Chris Columbus is -- he did do Into the West and Donnie Brasco -- but he's no magician, either. However, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Gint and Emma Watson keep improving...while Robert Pattinson proved, yet again, he has the screen presence of a twig. He is one of those actors whose success eludes me.

Not that I have much to say about success.

I take it back...

In an earlier post about needing poetry and madness to make magic on film, I mentioned Alfonso Cuaron as almost having it. I was wrong; he does. I just watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and it hooked me, completely. I think the only thing that I'd have wanted explored more deeply is near the end...when Harry believes his father has come to save him. The idea was unexplored in the least and given an easy out...but that's a minor quibble.

Daniel Radcliffe is improving as an actor. He's still not that commanding, yet, but he's not as amateurish or unfocused as he was in HP1&2. And I prefer Michael Gambon to Richard Harris as Dumbledore. I know Harris died before the making of #3 and had to be replaced, but it turned out for the better.

Getting in so late and not getting to bed till after 4am screwed up my cycles. I slept till 1pm. NOT cool. I'm setting my alarm for tomorrow, even though it's Sunday.

It made me rather lost, today, so no writing done. Dammit. I want to be done with CK. It's ready. I just need to sit down and do it. That's the hard part, for any writer.

What's hard for anybody who's not a writer is listening to us whine about it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Just got in...

It's 3am...and I'm close to toasted....but other than being hours late the train ride was worth it. I got a lot of writing done because Amtrak does, at least, provide you with power so you can keep your laptop going. Few airlines do.

I couldn't even begin to think of anything to add to CK on the trip back to Buffalo, so I worked more on UG and found out why Dev and Reg were knocking at my door. For the first time Dev realizes he did something wrong, evil, without justification to Reg, and it's tearing at him. For the first time in his escapades, he feels guilt...and this guilt becomes the driving force behind the rest of the story. He's subconsciously trying to make up for his past deeds by helping find a serial killer.

Shit -- another story about redemption. Am I getting caught in some stupid loop, again? Working something out in my own scrambled brain? Dunno.

But I do find it interesting that I'm distilling stories down to a single word. Like OT is about abandonment. LD is really about renewal. BC is about acceptance. A65 is about closure. Hmm...does that work as a single word distillation?

Anyway, the reason I find it interesting is how much I like long explanations of my stories. I've gotten better at working the synopses down to something tight and manageable. But a single word? That's not my style. It's movie-ish. But...it may also be me finally getting an idea of how to hang my stories together better.


Or make them too simple...it can work both ways.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Laughable...

I just spent 25 minutes dealing with Bloomingdales trying to get in contact with someone at a particular part of the store so I could go look at a show trunk we need to collect and ship to London...and I got misdirected and ignored and told "We don't have that information" and asked what it's all about and had to repeat myself so many time, I started laughing. I got sent to furniture...and then china...and then shipping...and public relations (who didn't want to talk to me, at all)...before I finally got hold of a sales clerk who knew something and gave me over to the manager who said the person I needed to speak with wasn't in, today. I still managed to get to come look at the trunk, but if this is a premier clothing operation, we are in deep doo-doo.

It's not just Bloomies, though. I went to the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue to see about getting either the next Harry Potter or the next McKinty mystery to read on the train because there will be no wifi and it's going to be packed. Ain't got 'em. I can order them...but nothing of McKinty's was in the store and they only had Harry Potter 2 in hardcover. I was too wiped out to shop for another book, so I left.

Last night I couldn't formulate a complete sentence, let alone any thoughts. My brain was buzzing with Underground Guy all day, and seven of the books I packed were elephant folios that were too heavy to put more than two in a box, so I just had a burger at 5 Guys, came back to the hotel and sat in a nice hot bath for nearly an hour...as Reg kept tapping on my thick skull. He and Dev want to get done while Tawfi's casual about it, in his rich and easy way.

I should never have 4 writing projects going at one time; they keep trying to interrupt each other, and I'm way too easily distracted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Busy little beaver...

I've read three books in the last two weeks. I haven't done that in years. First, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, then Bruno, Chief of Police, and now The Cold, Cold Ground. It's interesting to compare the different styles of writing.

J K Rowling has a simple, straightforward style that's accessible to any age from about the third or fourth grade. It's a bit lumpy but moves forward.

Martin Walker's style is more lyrical and soothing, even when dealing with a vicious murder. It meanders a bit, much as life does in the South of France, but carries you along.

Adrian McKinty's style is harsh and cold. Clipped as tight as possible to avoid anything in the way of honest comfort. It's a murder mystery set during the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland, dealing with a series of murders amidst riots and politics and territorial hate spiced with sectarian violence. It's told in a first person style that even Raymond Chandler would think is bleak.

I brought it with me on the train, since I didn't have WiFi to keep me busy, and finished it just shy of  Poughkeepsie. It also helped distract me from the Dutch woman behind me, who seems to have either pneumonia or bronchitis or both. If I get sick, I will be pissed.

Again, reading a book's helped me see how I should change something in CK. Nothing major, just a small shift in the final bit at the end that makes a lot more sense. And a willingness to back away from the conspiracy theories I like to go for.  That won't work for CK. They've become so prevalent, people expect them so should not be indulged.


Of course, with The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, all bets are off.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Big Apple Time

Off to NYC in the morning. A 9 hour train ride across to Albany and down the Hudson River Valley. It's a beautiful trip, and I still think of North by Northwest as I travel it. Looks like the job will only be one day, but it'll be all day and my train home isn't till Friday. I may be able to get an earlier one than the 3:40 pm, which is usually late...but I'll deal with that on Friday.

I don't have Final Draft on my laptop, so I won't be working much on CK, but that may be good. I need to sort some things out about it. See how dangerous I want to go. Should CK be amoral as regards Carli? Is everything she does okay because she's out for justice? I dunno, yet.

Funny thing is, Is don't like amoral movies...but that seems to be the direction most are going. Even Martin Scorsese is caught in it -- he made a movie about a sociopathic beast who ripped people off in order to finance a fabulously rich lifestyle, but  wound up being a love letter to self-indulgence. Swordfish, made 12-14 years ago, was even worse in how casually it treated the deaths of innocent people. Same for Boiler Room and its shrug on selling junk bonds to unsuspecting buyers in order to bail out another unsuspecting buyer who'd been defrauded by the guy who did the selling. Money's all that counts, not human suffering.

I think of Speed and how everyone on that bus was made into a human being by Joss Whedon. Then the death of a woman passenger became traumatic for everyone. That's the gold standard for thrillers, so far as I'm concerned -- when you worry about everyone involved and don't have the anonymous background players who can be killed off without much sorrow.

Agatha Christie set up And Then There Were None in a way that emphasized guilt, as 10 people summoned to an isolated island are killed off one by one. Each, it turned out, had committed a crime or brutality against another human being, and those who felt the least guilty about it were killed first, leaving those who felt the most guilty to suffer until they, too, died. It was written in her usual dry style, but the implications of the setup marked me, deep. Maybe I'll incorporate some of that into CK...

Hmm...that'd mean the worst guy would have to go first, and if that happens, the story's over...so maybe not.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A long conversation with Carli and Zeke...

I have my best talks with my characters when I'm not there. It's kind of spooky. My brain connects with something solid -- like reading a fascinating mystery novel -- and in the silence it brings to my scrambled thoughts, my characters make themselves known. No need for Carli or Zeke to tap on the side of my head to say, "Hey, listen to us." It's just the three of us connecting.

I have this story all wrong. I've been telling myself it's about revenge, but it's not; it's redemption. I see it clear, now. It may read as a tossed-off girl-kicks-butt-to-get-even script...but that is not the spine of the story. Not anymore. It's about two wounded people who heal each other.

Carli and Zeke laid it out very plainly, albeit in the back of my mind. My subconscious. Conscious unconscious. Whatever. The story fates have whispered in my ear and I must follow.

God knows what shape the script will take, now.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reading...

I just started in on a lovely murder mystery, Bruno, Chief of Police. It's set in the village of St. Denis in the south of France, and follows Bruno as he deals with the quiet flow of a sheltered town in the face of a horrific murder and growing racist sentiment. Martin Walker wrote it, and his style is geared to the slower rhythm of country life even as the tension builds.

I started reading it to see how other mystery writers approach their stories, but now I'm genuinely caught up in it. If you're looking for a fast-pace, try Richard Parker or Elmore Leonard. I may read one of theirs, next. But as regards returning to work on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, I like Walker's method more.

I did more work on CK, of course. Seems I'm into the relationship building aspect of the story...and something that's just sort of happened without me planning it is, Carli's connection with Zeke puts a stop to the violence. For a while.

Part of that is his reticence in revealing his background and how direct he is with her. He even asks her why she's interested in him, and all she can say is, "You're the first man I've met who's just like me."

And, once again, I have no earthly idea what the hell she means. He's not a killer...at least, not since he got out of the Army. He's not out for revenge. He's missing a leg, while her body is intact and unscarred. He's covered with tattoos while she has only one. So she's being cryptic with me as well as him...and I hate that.

And love it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

One step forward, two steps back

Financially. As usual. I'm not working for three weeks at the end of the summer, so my income will drop by ¾ that month. Lovely. I've already sent out feelers for packing jobs so I don't wind up bankrupt. Amazing how closely I teeter to that. Be nice if my books would actually sell enough to make a difference.

I guess I could get CK in order and see if it's sellable for a couple thousand. Only 90% of the people looking for scripts on places like InkTip want things that can be shot for $250K or less. I guess the way CK is going, it could be done. I've only got 4 real locations, so far, and not many cast members. No big car chases or SFX needed. We'll see what happens on it.

I've got 44 solid pages, in line. I'm at the point where Carli and Zeke are connecting, so all I need is 46 more, though since I already have the ending written it's really just 34 pages. I dropped another subplot, but it stubbornly weeded its way back in. Guess the story's got itself set in its own way.

Zeke did another little something I wasn't quite expecting -- he fell asleep on Carli. And then Carli began to weep. I'm not sure exactly why it happened...or what it means, yet...but damn, it felt right. It's at a point where she still thinks he might be part of what happened to her sister...or maybe it's right after she learns he couldn't have been. I dunno, yet.

What's scary right now is, I'm falling in love with both of them...and that's not something an author should ever do. I do it. And I'm aware of it. But it can hurt the story, so I shouldn't.

Except I have to wonder if maybe it helps...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

To make magic on film you have to have a need for danger, poetry in your soul, and a touch of madness in your heart. Orson Welles had it. Citizen Kane is still an amazing film to watch, even though it was made 73 years ago. Fellini had it. can still tear you up with its beauty and pain. Kurosawa had it. Seven Samurai will knock any modern film out of the park with its intensity mixed with heartbreaking beauty.  Jean Renoir had it. The Rule of the Game is as modern now as it was in 1939. Hitchcock had it. Notorious is stunning in how perfectly suspense, romance, psychological dynamics and cruelty mix so smoothly together. John Ford had it. The Searchers is as vicious and cruel as it is loving.

Modern filmmakers -- I can't think of any who have those qualities or aspects. Steven Spielberg almost gets it, but then it scares him and he does something goofy to mess it up. The closest he came to achieving it was Empire of the Sun, but he still had a couple of dumb moments in it to make sure the audience knew he didn't really mean it. Same thing happened in Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, albeit more blatantly. Martin Scorsese is too busy proving he knows how to play with a camera. The Coen Brothers are too busy being quirky and esoteric. Alfonso CuarĂ³n was doing it with Gravity, till the end. Ang Lee is too level-headed an artist to let himself succumb. I can't think of anyone else who would even begin to count.

Which brings me to Chris Columbus. I just watched the movie version of the first Harry Potter book and I can say, without doubt, he has none of it. Not a drop. If I had seen the movie before reading the book, I'd never have touched a page. For a film that's about magic, it was very leaden and limp and amazingly lumpy. The book's not great literature, not in the least, but it made sense and it rocked along. This movie lurched, and I lay that at the feet of its director.

I've seen other directors ruin films -- The Last Time I Committed Suicide was the worst example -- but Columbus doesn't even ruin it. He just...shoots it. From a dozen different angles. And makes his movie out of that. Like a music video director. No sense of story. No build. Nothing but scene after scene. And his way with child actors is nonexistent. To be honest, Daniel Radcliffe was bad. He got a lot better as he grew, but in this first movie, he's no more real than a comic book sketch...and the same goes for Emma Watson and Rupert Gint.

Not that it matters; the thing's made a billion dollars...but talk about a disappointment.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Question...

Can a script that's really quite vicious and violent be playful, too? Carli commits some pretty hideous murders -- justified, to an extent, but still...to my mind that would weigh on a person. Unless they're a sociopath. And I don't think Carli is. She's just pissed off and out to exact justice for her sister's death. But could she still be human and sympathetic after what she does to Anastasia and her married boyfriend, and Grady? All in the first ten minutes of the movie?

She's ex-military. She's been in Afghanistan. She's killed people, there. Would that give her a different take on death? One bullet = too easy an end for a devil? I'm getting odd vibes off this aspect of her.

I think it's being brought to the fore by the ludicrous spectacle of Dick Cheney and his two-faced, back-stabbing bitch of a daughter, Liz, writing a column berating Obama for not keeping an occupying force in Iraq, even though al Malaki demanded we leave, and saying he's the worst thing to happen to American freedom, ever. This from the man who ignored the threats leading up to 9/11, lied us into invading a country that had done nothing to us, helped pass the Patriot Act (the biggest assault on American Freedom, ever, period), deliberately outed a CIA agent to get even with her husband for saying there were no WMDs in Iraq, and even shot his friend in the face. He's got the nerve to bash Obama for not being willing to kill more American soldiers in a country that was out of control the second Saddam was toppled. And don't anybody tell me it ever was under control; there was an ebb and flow to the violence, but there was never an end to it.

And then there's St John McCain, who's never been wrong about anything. Just ask him, he'll tell you...and has, over and over. The fact that he's been completely wrong about every aspect of the invasion of Iraq since the drumbeat to war began is irrelevant and a "pack of lies," so far as he's concerned. It'd be interesting to watch these soulless creatures in action if it didn't mean so much human suffering, thanks to their evil needs.

So...Carli...is she like them? Able to justify anything in her mind? No matter what kind of hell it brings? Religious freaks do -- be they Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian. So do billionaires out to turn the US into their personal fiefdom. Republicans are doing it in Washington as they cut food stamps to pay for more tax breaks for the rich while letting billion-dollar companies get away with paying no taxes, while too many Democrats let them. It's like a full-scale epidemic of "I don't give a fuck about anybody but me."

Is Carli aiming for that until she meets Zeke?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Showin' off...

Zeke's showing off a little...and Carli's letting him. They moved a scene to earlier in the script, and even though it doesn't make logical sense, it feels right there. That's usually when I turn to granite -- when I feel right about something in the story. Once that happens, not even God could get me to change it.

I ran into that with my family script, Bugzters. When I did the first draft, it wasn't great but I liked the relationships of the characters, and I intensified that on the second draft. But then, despite my better judgement, I was talked into minimizing one major character, and it hurt the script. So I decided, Never again.

Sure enough, I kept getting hit with ideas for my scripts to "make them better," meaning make them different and more like someone else would write them. If I wasn't sure about the script, I'd try out the ideas. But if I knew I had it right, I wouldn't.

Then I agreed to change Bugzters into an animated script, and tried very hard to put my ego and absoluteness aside. And I did good...until I was asked to get rid of another major character and blend her aspects in with the lead kid's. I wouldn't. No, it wasn't that I wouldn't, I couldn't. Period. I didn't just refuse; I got angry.

For all the good that did. I had to give the script up, because when I first wrote Bugzters, I was paid for it. Legally, I had no rights to it. That was six years ago...almost six years.  And it hasn't even been bought, yet, let alone made. No one else wants it...because the people who own it don't believe it in.

This is what solidified in my mind that if a producer doesn't want your work as it is, he or she won't gain respect for the project if you make free changes for them. If they give you notes and you do what they want -- something I was instinctually refusing to do -- they still won't be happy with it. The only way to get your work through the wasteland of cowardice populated by producers is to find one who believes in your work so much, they won't want you to change a word and will fight to keep it as is.

It's not the quality of the work that matters, anymore; it's the passion of the people involved. And if you don't feel passionate and confident in your work or what projects you want to make, why should the money guy? He wants to be reassured, not shown that no one else feels all that strongly about the project, either.

Wish I'd figured this out a couple decades ago; I might not have wasted so much of my life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The characters take over...

This is what I like about writing. Sometimes. I also hate it, sometimes, for different reasons. But Zeke's taken himself over and is leading me places that I hadn't really expected. He's become the peacemaker, stepping into conflicts to try and defuse them. He also has no problem with Dax being a son-of-a-bitch, because the man backed him up. This makes him part of Dax's band of cutthroats --and yet, apart from it.

Carli's taken his lead and done some adjusting of her own. She thinks Zeke's one of the men who raped her sister, and he's on her list to kill. But seeing him in action and talking to him slows her aim for vengeance down. Derails it...a little. Makes her question her motives. Her goals.

Of course it's going to turn out he had nothing to do with the rape, that he didn't join the group till long after. The way Zeke's going, he's not the kind of guy who'd hurt anyone, if he could help it. So this won't be as dark as I can go. Or maybe it will, I don't know.

The main scene I added was Zeke and Thor, his dog who looks a bit like the Viking god and is just as cool as Zeke about everything. I may be adding hurdles to this script getting made, but I can't stop my characters when they're working so hard. And it's not like it'd matter, anyway. The script needs to get to the right person to get made, someone who will believe in it enough to fight for it instead of letting others spit on it.

And there's always someone who wants to spit.

Monday, June 16, 2014

More of Carli's Kills...

Desert land...

The continues from yesterday...
-----------------------

EXT. ISOLATED HOUSE — NIGHT

A beat-up old ranch house surrounded by nothing. The woman leans against the Mercedes, watches Grady glide up. Dust covers him. He beats most of it away and removes the goggles.

WOMAN
You should’ve stayed by me.

GRADY
Do I gotta shower?

She links a finger in his belt and pulls him into a kiss.

WOMAN
Wash your face. Use some mouthwash, too. Or would you prefer another beer?

GRADY
You gotta ask?

INT. ISOLATED HOUSE — NIGHT

The interior just as old and worn as the outside; total opposite of the Benz she’s driving.

Grady washes his face in the kitchen sink. He turns to find her offering him a Negro Modelo. She’s already drinking one.

GRADY
Tough beer.

WOMAN
You prefer Miller Lite?

He takes the beer, gulps down half. She grabs his t-shirt and pulls him close.

GRADY
Don’t tear the shirt. It’s my best roughed-up one.

They kiss.

WOMAN
Now we taste alike.

GRADY
Aw, fuck.

WOMAN
That’s the idea, play-toy.

GRADY
Name’s Grady. What’s yours?

WOMAN
Anastasia -- but you may call me Stasi.

GRADY
Hmph, I knew another girl by that name.

WOMAN
That a fact?

Off goes his shirt, revealing an elaborate tattoo on his back.

WOMAN (CONT’D)
Got any more tatts?

GRADY
You’ll see.

She unbuckles his belt and the buttons of his jeans. He grinds against her, then grunts and tries to keep his balance.

WOMAN
Problem?

GRADY
Just feel weird and...and...what the fuck...? That beer...

WOMAN
Grady -- have roofies been used on you, before?

GRADY
You fuckin’ bitch...what’re you doin’ -- ?

He falls on his ass. Tries to talk but his words dribble into nothingness.

She rolls Grady onto his belly and straps his wrists together with a police band.

WOMAN
I don’t need the restraint, but I feel like playing it kinky.

She pulls off her red wig to reveal brown hair, then her top to reveal a girdle-bustier combination that pushes her breasts up and accentuates her curves. Off it comes.

He watches her, confused, his mouth moving but saying nothing. He passes out.

EXT. DESERT - NIGHT

Grady wakes, face down, bound spread-eagle to the ground, a ball-gag in his mouth. He is naked. He fights to get free.

The woman makes him look at her.

WOMAN
Hi, Grady. Sleep well?

GRADY
(grunts)
What the fuck?

She holds up an iPhone. VIDEO PLAYS — shows a college girl being held down on a pool table by four men as Grady rapes her. The man holding the girl’s head and shoulders is not completely visible. The girl sort of struggles...but is obviously drugged.

WOMAN
That’s you raping her, right?

GRADY
(grunts)
I dunno what you’re talkin’ about. You got the wrong guy. I ain’t done nothin’ to you. I don’t even know you. What do you want?

WOMAN
(known as CARLI from this point)
You don’t know me? Okay. First off, my name is not Anastasia. She’s dead. Second off, my last name’s Vincenzo. Does that fire up any memory cells?

They do. He breathes faster. Pulls harder at his bindings.

Carli pauses the video.

CARLI
Yes. This girl you’re raping -- she’s my sister -- was my sister. Because this video was posted on a dozen different sites, for everyone in her family, all of her friends, and every student in her college to see. So she killed herself, just over a year ago. Thanks to you and the other assholes in this video.

She shows him a full honey-bear. Dribbles honey over his naked legs, arms, and ass.

CARLI (CONT’D)
As you know, she reported the rape, but local law enforcement decided she got into a situation she could not control, so it was her own damn fault, and they refused to arrest or prosecute anyone. I think that’s a crime, Grady, and where there’s a crime, there should be punishment.

She picks up a knife. Runs it over his back, sensuously.

CARLI (CONT’D)
Here’s yours.

She slices into his skin, cutting around the tattoo.

Grady’s CHOKING SHRIEKS fill the dark, empty desert.

EXT. DESERT -- DAY

Buzzards circle over two sheriff’s cruisers and BLM SUVs. They sit near a small plateau in the middle of nowhere. Some Bureau of Land Management AGENTS and DEPUTIES gather around.

Another cruiser rolls up and SHERIFF CHARLETON MENSON gets out -- tall, rangy, completely at home in the desert.

MENSON
Anybody touch anything?

DEPUTY #1
None of us has. Check with the feds.

BLM AGENT
My agent didn’t get all the way up on the plateau. The second he saw it, he came down and called it in.

MENSON
Why’s he over here lookin’?

BLM AGENT
The car. The buzzards.

Menson climbs up the plateau to find --

Grady’s body staked to the ground, next to the car...crawling with ants. Pieces of flesh were pulled away. Menson looks at the buzzards.

MENSON
Ain’t gettin’ no prints off this one, that’s for sure. Got an ID on that car yet?

DEPUTY #2
Belongs to an Anastasia Bordosky, over in Phoenix.

MENSON
What?! You sure ‘bout that?

DEPUTY #2
Yeah. License plate, registration, everything.

BY SOME DISTANT ROCKS

Carli uses a telephoto lens to catch video of the men. Their voices come from her iPhone.

BLM AGENT (O.S.)
What’s the big deal?

MENSON (O.S.)
She died ten days ago. Murder, suicide.

Carli shifts to watch them through the sniper scope of a NEMO Omen .300 Rifle.

BLM AGENT (O.S.)
Bordosky -- I heard about that. Killed her married boyfriend then did a jumper.

MENSON (O.S.)
That’s what the M-E said.

BLM AGENT (O.S.)
Sounds like she was on something.

MENSON (O.S.)
Maybe. And maybe I oughta talk with that M-E and see about takin’ a closer look.

DEPUTY #1 (O.S.)
Why, Sheriff?

MENSON (O.S.)
Nobody said her car was missin’.

Carli smirks.

DEPUTY #2 (O.S.)
Say, wasn’t a girl named Bordosky mixed up in that mess, a couple years back?

MENSON (O.S.)
Yep.

BLM AGENT (O.S.)
What mess?

MENSON (O.S.)
Some stupid college brats got junked up. Fell into some shit that’s way too deep for ‘em.

Carli almost pulls the trigger on him.

CARLI
You got no idea what shit is, you son-of-a-bitch, but you’re about to find out.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Carli's Kills -- opening scenes...

Rather Grady-ish
FADE IN:

INT. HIGH-RISE HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT

A MAN and CO-ED have sex. The bed thumps the wall. MOANS of ecstacy. Someone pounds the wall in the next room.

VOICE
Keep it down, in there!

The couple just get louder -- then finish. Whoosh...

MAN
Oh, Stasi...baby...that was good. That was great.

CO-ED
It always is...

MAN
Shit, if my wife could...

CO-ED
Keep her out of this.

MAN
First girl I ever met who didn’t give a shit I’m married.

CO-ED
You fuck around with other girls!?

MAN
No, no, that’s not what I meant.

CO-ED
Bullshit.

She gets out of bed. Goes to the balcony. He follows. Caresses her.

MAN
Stasi, baby, I haven’t fucked with anybody but you since I met you.

CO-ED
Not even your wife?

MAN
I wouldn’t call that fucking. More like using her pussy to masturbate. But you -- you got muscles where I didn’t know girls had muscles.

CO-ED
(smirks)
Cocksucker.

MAN
That’s your job, bitch. And you could teach fags a thing or two about it.

She grabs his hair and pulls him half over the balcony railing.

CO-ED
What the fuck? You been comparison shopping?

He laughs.

MAN
Never gonna -- .

SCHWICK! A KNIFE IS SLAMMED INTO HIS HEART! He gasps. Collapses.

The Co-ed screams an instant before a tall, cruel WOMAN shoves her over the railing. She falls 20 stories, shrieking.

INT. ROADSIDE BAR - NIGHT

A CUE BALL DOES A PERFECT BREAK!

A gorgeous WOMAN in red hair, big breasts and tight jeans rounds the pool table, looking for her next shot. She plays alone.

She’s in a typical desert roadside bar, a chunky BARTENDER and its few PATRONS the only things cheaper than it. Crap music plays on the box.

She leans in for another shot. An ugly bearded dude, SPIT, drunkenly swaggers up and pushes his crotch against her butt, giggling.

SPIT
Got more o’ that, sweetcheeks.

FEMALE PATRON
He’s just your style, honey.

Another holds up her pinkie.

OTHER PATRON
Real big, yeah, really.

The woman’s fingers twist in his beard. Draw him close.

WOMAN
Touch me, again, and I’ll rip off those peanuts you call balls and shove up your nose, you piece of shit. And don’t think I can’t...

She hisses sharp red nails at him.

He snarls. She jams her cue on his instep. He yelps and falls on his ass. Beer spills everywhere. The whole bar laughs. He skulks off.

GRADY BARNES, a linebacker gone to biker trash, tattoos covering one beefy arm, leans on the other end of pool table. Crooked fingers grip a beer in one hand and a joint in the other.

GRADY
Now you done got Spit all pissed.

WOMAN
Friend of yours?

GRADY
Just know him.

WOMAN
His name fits.

GRADY
What do you call you?

She looks him over, like a jackal eyes its meat.

GRADY (CONT’D)
Okay, so what do you call me?

WOMAN
Dinner?

GRADY
What -- no movie?

WOMAN
How ‘bout a game, instead?

He holds up his hands.

GRADY
I’m not so good with pool.

WOMAN
I’ll spot you a couple balls.

Grady picks out a cue and sets his beer beside hers.

GRADY
Stripes or solids?

WOMAN
You tell me.

He looks the table over. She’s dropped two of each.

He drops the five and six but misses the three. She drops the nine and motions for him to go, again.

GRADY (CONT’D)
Your turn.

WOMAN
Not if I don’t want it.

He drops the two and three, but misses the eight.

WOMAN (CONT’D)
Go again.

GRADY
Thought you wanted to play pool.

WOMAN
I like watching you play.

O-KAY...Grady sinks the eight.

GRADY
I win.

WOMAN
I’m gone. You sticking around?

She finishes her beer, puts away the cue. Grady follows her across the bar. The second she’s out the door, he casts two exhilarated thumbs up to the patrons and exits.

SPIT
Lucky bastard.

EXT. DESERT — NIGHT

A sleek, new Mercedes slips down the road. Grady rides a Harley. Plays tag with it. When he gets close to the driver’s door, she caresses his thigh. He laughs and shoots ahead.

She turns onto a gravel road.

He spins around and chases after her.

The Mercedes’ headlights glow through the billowing dust...then vanish into the night.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My five top freebies...

Yummy of the Day put up his Top 5 Freebies -- i.e. male crushes he'd love to be with -- and challenged others to do the same. So...here are mine:

1. Chris Evans
He seems to take his beauty as a lucky joke, which makes him even sexier.

2. Rodiney Santiago
His abs may pay his rent, but what holds me is his non-stop joy at being alive and knowing what he has may not last, so best to make the most of it now.

3. Aidan Turner
Charismatic to the extreme, even when being a murderous monster...he could talk me into spending eternity with him.

4. Ryan Gosling
A goof who thinks he looks goofy and can't see that's what makes him gorgeous.

5. Joe Manganiello
He epitomizes what I always wanted to look like but never could because I'm pale skinned, easily burned, and have an awkward body construction thanks to childhood issues.

As for the rest of my day...it was spent working on Carli's Kills. A little restructuring, and suddenly the first 20 pages shoot past. I also turned one character from male to female. Much better.

Helps that I got my laptop power adaptor back, today. Only cost $66 to ship. For $79 plus tax, I could have gotten a new one, had them just snail-mail the old adaptor back to me and had it as a backup if I ever pulled this same boneheaded stunt, again. I'm an idiot about money. But then, aren't most artists?

Hey, I called me an artist.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lesson hopefully learned...

I keep finding out that any time I try to save money, I wind up spending more. Latest case in point -- getting my laptop's power adaptor back. I'd heard nothing from anybody about it since last Friday, so I called the hotel to see if it had been sent and if they had a tracking number. The plan was for them to send it COD and I pay for postage when I get it. The hotel told me the Post Office returned it to them because there was no one to sign for it. That doesn't even begin to make sense.

I don't know exactly how COD works, but if they sent the package on Monday, would it have gotten to my place and back to Indianapolis by Thursday? I seriously doubt it. Also, why wouldn't the carrier leave a notice for me to come pick it up from my postal station, and give me time to do that? I'm supposed to pay for a COD with cash, when I don't know how much it is and whether or not the carrier will have change?

But I accepted their explanation and asked them to send it to me via FedEx. This time, I got a tracking number...and found that it's costing me almost as much as buying a new one. I'd have done better to leave the airport, rent a car and drive to the hotel to pick it up. I had plenty of time, but I thought that would be too expensive. So I've been without my laptop all week because I wouldn't spring the $40 for a car.

But that's how it usually works. I used to buy pre-owned cars and just pay to fix them when they broke down, as pre-owned cars will. Until I had enough of it, bought my Honda Civic brand new...and I'm still driving it nearly 16 years later, and for one hell of a lot less overall than doing the used car thing.

Same for shoes -- I got a pair at Target that looked right and felt comfortable enough...until I wore them to work all day and into the evening and got home to find bruises on the tops of my feet from where the crease in the faux-leather pressed into my skin. All they cost me was some of my points from Best Western, but I could have used those for something else.

So now I need to figure out how to pay for a pair of new shoes in the brand I like...which ain't gonna be easy. I used to buy them at Macy's, but the damned store doesn't offer "wides" anymore, and the ones they do offer are just a hair too narrow.

Plus I need new pants and shirts...I haven't bought clothes in a couple years and it's starting to tell on my appearance. I don't look homeless, yet...but I'm getting there. Thing is, I'm still too deep in debt from publishing my books to be able to afford anything, right now.
Friday's proving to be the 13th under a full moon, all right.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oh...sigh...

I will be so glad when I get the power adaptor to my laptop back. My desktop is slow, at best, and when I'm trying to do anything on the internet, it stops dead for several seconds at a time and I get the spinning beach ball of death. Maybe I need a new relay; I've had my current one for 4 years. Isn't that a lifetime for wifi technology?

I'm calling the hotel, tomorrow, to find out if they have a tracking number for the shipment of my adaptor to me. It shouldn't take this long, really; I was only in Indianapolis, not exactly Alaska or England or anything. I'm halfway afraid they haven't sent it, yet.

Worked more on Ck but only added a little. I need to print the outline I did so I can reference it more easily. Keep me on track. Something the story's doing is shifting a bit to my non-linear style -- with Carli remembering things that led her to where she is, now. I don't know if I want that; it seems to be a problem when people read my work and I don't do A-B-C-D style.

I've cut back on how much I eat. I've always done light at breakfast -- juice and some herbal tea, a breakfast bar about 10am. Around 300 calories. Lunch under 400 calories. Diner about 6-700 calories. Couple snacks of 200 calories...so 400-500 more. 1-2 DPs -- about 250 calories (I drink a combination of Dr. Pepper 10 and regular, which works well and cuts my calorie intake in half). That's under 2200 calories a day, when I used to do 2500-3000. Hasn't made a hint of a difference in my weight. Unless I go for starvation mode, I don't think that's going to help me drop any of the pounds.

Starting to consider liposuction...

Elegance...


They sang this in a train station, in Germany...so wonderful...

I have a CD of another Icelandic group -- Edda -- that I bought by mistake but was mesmerized by it, when I listened. These harmonies give Gregorian Chants a real run for their quality.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cutting...cutting...

Chopped another page and a half from what I have, so far, on CK and rearranged a bit of the outline I'm following. I also added back a character I'd chopped because it worked better to have them in. Well, I hadn't so much cut them as reassigned them so all I had to do was assign them back to where they were to begin with.

I got another royalty check for The Lyons' Den. Not as much as last year, but it's something. Once I'm done with this first draft of CK, I'm going to read some online stuff about selling your books. I'm trying everything I can -- from the blog to Facebook to the website to getting other blogs to reference them...and it sort of seems to finally be making a difference...but I'm a long LONG way from Steven King territory.

I did a giveaway on GoodReads for David Martin -- 5 copies of the book shipped out for free to people selected by the website. The deal is, they're supposed to give it a review once they read it...but I'd gotten nothing, so far. Not sure if that means they didn't like it or they haven't read it. Being a paranoid writer, I lean more to the former than latter explanation.

It's muggy, tonight; I think I'll hit the pillows early.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Quick start...slow going...

After getting so much done on Carli's Kills, I've hit the slow zone...not that I care. It's slowly unfolding before my eyes, and Carli's helping clear out the unnecessary from the critical points in the story. So I go with the flow, for now...so long as the flow goes.

Zeke's doing backup for Carli, shaking his head when I get too verbose with him. He's not much of a talker, and I love to have my characters talk. But he's reminding me of a script I was writing with a man who'd escaped from Serbia, during the civil war.

We worked up 40 pages of him tracking some snipers, helping some local villagers capture one of them and exact their own revenge on him, and him then taking an American photographer hostage to force the authorities to release his brother. In all those pages, he had maybe twelve lines of dialogue. But then it shifted to America and we had no idea where to go with it.

I sort of did the same with KAZN -- until the ending, when the lead explains what's really going on. But there were some points where I went for pages without dialogue...so I know I can do it. I just need to keep my focus.

That's the hard part -- focus. I've been doing this for so long but have yet to figure out how to get anywhere with it in a way that I can actually handle. Sometimes I just can't get the passion fired up. It's so much easier to just sit and stare and wonder why I got nowhere...

As most writers do.

Quick note: Eric Cantor got canned. Apparently he was too liberal for the Tea Party in his district. Eric Cantor...too liberal? I cannot even begin to understand how anyone could think that. I'm happy he's gone; he is a vile excuse for a man, and the idea of Karma biting him in the ass is just too delicious. But the one replacing him is mentally ill, and that scares me.

But that's a large portion of America, today.

Monday, June 9, 2014

...And a bit with a dog...

Zeke got himself a puppy. Thor. He's the kind of guy who'd have a dog or two as companions. And any girl he likes would have to like the dog, too...and it her.

I added a few more pages, this evening, and dropped half of what I was going to transfer from book format. As the story's evolved, it's shed a lot of superfluous nonsense. First draft'll still be clunky, but tighter than my first drafts usually are.

Carli's also done something that surprised me, but I don't want to say what it is because I'm not 100% on it, yet...though she is. And she led me to a bit where someone gets pushed off a high place and falls to their death, screaming, then cut to Carli smacking a pool ball into a pocket. Our homage to Hitchcock.

I don't see this being over 100 pages long. I know the tendency these days is to make action-suspense movies 2 hours plus, but that's silly for a story this straightforward and clean.

At least, I hope it is.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

CK Jumps Ahead

I spent much of today coordinating what I had for Carli's Kills -- shifting from book to screenplay format and revisiting what I'd already written as a script. Turns out I've got the opening 32 pages pretty much set, and the final 22 pages done, with a few bits in between and one section of the book part that still needs to be translated into Final Draft.

I'd forgotten I bought a license to use this image for the book's cover. but it so fits the story, I may use it to work up a faux poster or post cards or something to get notice for the script. I still want to use Logan McCree's face somewhere...though I've been looking at Alex Minsky a lot. I wonder how he'd look with blond or sandy hair? Maybe red-headed?

I don't know if he's taking acting classes, is the thing. I've seen Logan act and he's good, but he's German and has that lilt to his pronunciations. Of course, Zeke's Nordic...and they're all on the Baltic Sea...and it'd be funny to suggest a bi-sexual porn actor as the heterosexual lead in a female empowerment movie.

I also finished Firefly, and I'm glad I watched it all. Gina Torres' Zoe would be a good role model for Carli. All business but hot for hubby...which I can see in a shlubby, geeky, blond-boy kind of way.

I think Carli and Zeke are ready for the story to play out, because they're giving me ideas on how to streamline it and add depth without extra pages. I'm going to try and keep the dialogue like what I wrote earlier -- very terse and secretive, yet revealing in what it doesn't say.

Tall order for a guy who loves his words.