Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Maintenance day...

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

50,800 words

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

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

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

Okay, brain death impends...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Slow build...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that's still a big If...

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

Thursday, November 27, 2014

46,305 words...

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hong Kong's Christmas Light Show

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

Back from my travels...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Macau at night

Just a sleepy little town, like Vegas.

Night shot of light show at ICC Building

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

And some Macau...

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

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

A bit more Hong Kong

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hong Kong

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

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

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

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

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

As usual.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waitin' on a train...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

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

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

Oh, and learn...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

29,000 Plus...

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

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

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

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

If I ever am...

Friday, November 14, 2014

To hell with "young adult"

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bad meat v. good meat....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Talk about a needle in a haystack...

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

So much for American dominance in space.

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nice trip down...

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

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

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


Monday, November 10, 2014

It's a neverending political parade

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

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

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

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

But knowing my fellow Americans, I doubt it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crash and burn...

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

No idea, yet.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Needed a break from writing...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just over 12,000 words...

I think I'm going to top off at 40K. I'm into act 2 of the story and while I'm zipping through it to get the structure down, and I'm adding back in characters who will fill it nicely -- Mrs. Rutledge is proving to be complete fun -- I don't think I'll make the full count unless I can figure something more out.

I was going to participate in a writing seminar, this evening (one of the prizes I won as a Top 100 in Table Read My Screenplay) but the guy never showed up. It was a call-in conference style and while I chatted with half a dozen other people for half an hour while waiting, and they were all very pleasant and interested in writing, I was after something that would help me fulfill this story. What a pain...and yet another waste of time.

I may use my train trip to go back through what I've written on BZ, to that point, and see if I'm missing any sub-plots that could be expanded upon. Drew's is still a bit anemic. And I could expand Alex's mother's more, especially since she's angry with her husband for putting her in the position of being the bad guy in the move. That's not to say the other characters are deep with meaning, yet...but there has to be something missing.

I know I'll be doing some serious rewriting once I get this first draft completed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Democrats wanted to lose...

I stole this from Down With Tyranny blogspot...and it makes too damn much sense, considering.

Steve Israel Failed Miserably This Cycle

Dozens of House incumbents had only nominal-- rather than serious-- opposition this cycle. But only 32 have no opposition at all. Here's the list with each district's PVI:

• Robert Aderholt (R-AL)- R+28
• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- D+20
• Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)- R+7
• Kathy Castor (D-FL)- D+13
• Ted Deutch (D-FL)- D+10
• Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)- R+5
• Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)- R+2
• Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)- R+19
• Barry Loudermilk (R-GA)- R+19
• Hank Johnson (D-GA)- D+21
• John Lewis (D-GA)- D+32
• Austin Scott, (R-GA)- R+15
• David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)- D+16
• Tom Graves (R-GA)- R+26
• Richard Neal (D-MA)- D+13
• Jim McGovern (D-MA)- D+8
• Joseph Kennedy (D-MA)- D+6
• Katherine Clark (D-MA)- D+14
• Michael Capuano (D-MA)- D+31
• Stephen Lynch (D-MA)- D+6
• Robert Pittenger (R-NC)- R+8
• Grace Meng (D-NY)- D+13
• Eliot Engel (New Dem-NY)- D+21
• Richard Hanna (R-NY)- R+3
• Bob Gibbs (R-OH)- R+6
• Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)- R+18
• Mike Doyle (D-PA)- D+15
• Charlie Dent (R-PA)- R+2
• Tim Murphy (R-PA)- R+10
• Mark Sanford (R-SC)- R+11
• John Ratcliffe (R-TX)- R+25
• Robert Scott (D-VA)- D+27

You can't blame the Republicans for not fielding candidates against Robert Scott in his D+27 Richmond district or John Lewis in his D+32 Atlanta district. Nor can you blame Democrats for not running candidates against Robert Aderholt in his R+28 north Alabama district and Tom Graves in his R+26 northwest Georgia district. In fact, all of the Democrats with no opponents are in pretty blue districts. The Republicans didn't give away any easy districts. The 2 "weakest" are both Massachusetts districts with identical PVIs of D+6. Obama won Kennedy's district 57-41% and won Lynch's district 58-41%. So... not really competitive seats.

Now, on the other side of the aisle, we have a different story. There are three seats in very competitive districts:

• Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- R+2- Obama beat Romney 53-47%
• Richard Hanna- R+3- a 49-49% tie that Romney won with a handful of votes
• Charlie Dent- R+2- Romney beat Obama narrowly, 51-48%

Ros-Lehtinen, a close friend and political crony of DCCC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has protected her in the past, was a member of Steve Israel's Center Aisle Caucus. Charlie Dent was a member of the same centrist caucus composed of Blue Dogs and other Wall Street-owned Democrats and relatively mainstream conservative Republicans. One of the premises is that the members don't oppose each other-- which was certainly a good enough reason for Nancy Pelosi to have not made him head of the DCCC. But she did. And tonight she's reaping the whirlwind-- and so are more rational Democrats and the American people.

When David Broder first wrote about the determinedly centrist Congressional Center Aisle Caucus in 2005, he almost ejaculated for joy on the editorial page of the Washington Post over the sheer civility of the project. I wonder why they didn't make him an honorary member. Broder claimed there were 47 invited members (which later grew to 60), roughly equally split between the two parties, although that membership roll isn't readily available anywhere, almost like it's being hidden. They meet, or met, secretly, in a Chinese restaurant two blocks from Capitol Hill; no joke. The caucus was founded by Republican Tim Johnson (IL) and the-Blue Dog… Steve Israel (NY) with the stated purpose of bypassing Congress' partisan ways.

Applicants for membership weren't admitted unless they recruited companion members from the opposite party. Caucus members avoided lightning-rod issues and focused only on areas that most likely would produce agreement. Under one unwritten bylaw, members vowed never to engage in political campaigns against other members. That's nice… but does it make sense to appoint the person who came up with that chairman of the DCCC? I'll answer that for you-- NO! These are the exact candidates the DCCC should be going after… but regardless of how vulnerable they are, Israel keeps the DCCC off their backs one way or the other. In a rational world, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen would have been a top tier DCCC candidate, but Steve Israel doesn't live in a rational world; he lives in a Center Aisle world and ignores the fact that Ros-Lehtinen is in a blue district that Obama won-- and by a way stronger margin than just about all of Israel's targeted districts. But Ileana gets a reelection free-pass from Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Last year Wasserman Schultz was complicit in recruiting a cardboard candidate, Manny Yevancey, who no one ever heard of, who raised zero dollars and who campaigned exactly zero days. His only job was to occupy the Democratic ballot slot so no one else could run against Wasserman Schultz's and Israel's BBF.

There are 21 seats like this in the House, winnable seats Steve Israel willfully ignored, even if they were much easier than impossible targets in deep red districts where he ran his handpicked Blue Dogs and New Dems. All of these incumbents represent districts where Obama won in 2008 and/or 2012 but where Israel has refused to back the grassroots local candidate or has frightened off anyone from running against his Republican pals:

• NJ-02- Frank LoBiondo- D+1
• MI-06- Fred Upton- R+1
• WA-08- Dave Reichert- R+1
• FL-27- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- R+2
• PA-06- Jim Gerlach- R+2
• MN-03- Erik Paulsen- R+2
• PA-07- Pat Meehan- R+2
• MN-02- John Kline- R+2
• PA-15- Charlie Dent- R+2
• MI-08- Mike Rogers- R+2
• WA-03- Jaime Hererra Buetler- R+2
• VA-10- Frank Wolf- R+2
• CA-25- Buck McKeon- R+3
• WI-01- Paul Ryan- R+3
• MI-11- Kerry Bentivolio- R+4
• IL-06- Peter Roskam- R+4
• PA-16- Joe Pitts- R+4
• CA-49- Darrell Issa- R+4
• IL-16- Adam Kinzinger- R+4
• MI-03- Justin Amash- R+4
• MI-04- Dave Camp- R+5

Now that Israel screwed up 2014, can the Democrats win back the House in 2016? In theory, absolutely! With Steve Israel, or anyone like him, running the DCCC-- out of the question.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I voted...

Didn't like it, but I did it. I voted Green or Democrat, not one Republican. I refuse to support anyone who supports a party that wants to hurt me, and if you're part of the GOP that's what you do. No two ways about it. Here's their basic platform -- "Republicans...would ban all abortions and gay marriages, reshape Medicare into a voucher-like program, and cut taxes..." That's what you support if you vote GOP.

My conservative Texas grandmother was right -- The Republican is for the rich man. She never once voted for them, and I thought that was silly. Once upon a time. The older I get, the more sense she makes. Too bad she died 30 years ago...or maybe it's better. She'd be flipping out like crazy if she was still around. December 24th would have been her 110th birthday.

I still got some work done on BZ. I'm up to nearly 8600 words...and starting to wonder if I'll make it to 50,000 with this story. I'm close to the end of act one, which is normally 25% of the story. Wouldn't that be funny? Get it done and it turns out as a long novella. Adding the little brother and school crossing guard back in isn't making enough of a difference. Maybe when I get to the Beige Pair from MESSIS...

Those two would be fun...

Monday, November 3, 2014

The opening pages for "Bugzters"...

Kind of a mess...but a beginning...
Just because Alex Grasley was eleven years-old did not mean he was unaware of what was really going on. His dad may have told him they were moving to Albuquerque because he had a new job. His mom may have insisted they would be living in a great town with excellent schools, so he would be just as happy there. They both may have promised he would make new friends and this would be the last time they ever moved, again. But that's what they had told him when they were moving him from Austin to Seattle, three years ago. No, he finally knew why they were really taking him away from his friends and his home -- his little brother.

Drew was almost seven and about to finish First Grade, even though he had been out of school several days for his asthma. It seemed like his inhaler barely worked, even at the best of times, and after what must have been the thousandth trip to the doctor after yet another attack, Alex overheard his parents say they thought it was because of Seattle's cool moist climate. And the trees that surrounded them. And the neighbors' dogs and cats. But in Austin, they had whispered something about Cedar Fever and the city's humidity carrying too much pollen. And in Boston it was just too cold. It was getting to where it seemed that anything could trigger Drew's asthma, even the fact that he was little and closer to the grass on the ground.

Alex didn't have any trouble like that. In fact, he had not even caught a cold the whole time they'd lived here. Nor was he short enough to be bothered by anything on the ground; he was already halfway between five feet and six feet tall and his father, Hal, was talking about him needing a larger bike to ride, while his mother, Julia, had begun telling him over and over he'd probably wind up six-foot-six, like her father in Minneapolis, and be just as blond. "If you like basketball, that's perfect," she'd usually add.

Alex didn't have any problem with basketball; he enjoyed playing with his best-worst friend, Billy LeGrande...even though Billy liked to cheat. In fact, when Alex had confronted Billy about that and heard Billy respond, "It's not cheating, it's winning, like my dad taught me," Alex had made it a game to see if he could defeat Billy's cheating by not cheating. And he had succeeded a few times. But he liked soccer, more, and as for what to do when he was grown up, he wanted to be a pilot. Then he learned that pilots were usually a bit below average in height so they could fit more easily into the crazy-cool jets they got to fly, so his mom's encouragement only made him too aware of how he probably would never get to be one.

Drew looked like their dad's side of the family -- smaller, stockier, darker-hair, rounder face. People who saw the two boys side by side never thought they were brothers. The only real pleasure Alex got from that fact is that he knew pilots have to have twenty-twenty vision and Drew was already wearing glasses due to a stigmatism, so when the boy said he wanted to be a pilot just like his brother, when he grew up, Alex was able to tell him he could never be one.

Man, it seemed like everybody's life revolved around that brat. What they could eat. Where they could go. Whether or not they got to see a movie all the way through. He'd missed half a dozen soccer matches thanks to trips to the hospital to handle one of Drew's attacks. On top of that, they couldn't have a dog of their own. It was so bad, when Alex came home from Billy's, he had to brush off his clothes because hair from Dimbulb, their Golden Lab, might make Drew start wheezing.

That was the worst, because Billy had asked him if he wanted to take Dimbulb, once, since it was obvious the dog liked him more. No surprise there; even Billy knew it was because Alex petted the dog and played with him. He had come close to jumping for joy, and by the time he got home had already figured out a new name for him -- Azkaban, from Harry Potter. Ban, for short. Dimbulb was a stupid name for a dog, any dog, and while Billy could be okay as a friend, sometimes he was a real jerk and was probably in his jerk mood when he named him that.

But Julia had said, "Nope. Can't. Think of your brother's asthma."

Alex pouted about it for three days. He even complained to his totally best friend and neighbor, Taylor Castillo, about it. She was eleven, too, but she was considered a genius and went to special classes at a nearby college. In her usual way of handling a problem, Taylor had gone online and researched the illness, then tried to cheer Alex up by telling him, "Sometimes they grow out of it. So when he gets older, maybe he'll get better."

"My life'll be ruined, by then," Alex snapped back.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Moving forward, still...

I've got 17 pages done on Bugzters for 3700 words. I've got another 2400 okay words slapped in to carry the story through to the point where the aliens are in the computer; I'll work on making those coherent tomorrow, after work.

It was a struggle, though, to get this far. I had to use my heating unit, last night, for the first time and I've been sneezing my head off all day. Actually worked myself into a headache. I'm going to try and not use it, tonight; it's not supposed to get below 40 and with my windows closed it normally stays fine, inside.

I like being back on normal time. Daylight Savings Time never did agree with me.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I was a jerk...

I found the opening for Bugzters and got going on it, but stopped because there was a meet-up of the local NaNoWriMo writers and I said I'd be there. So I go. It's at a coffee shop not too far from me. I meet a couple of people, but then half a dozen more people show up and we all change locations in the shop and they all break out their laptops...and start writing. Silently. I didn't take my laptop. I thought it was going to be a real meeting. So I left, after an hour, and went grocery shopping.

Seriously, I walked out. Didn't even say goodbye. No one noticed. That is a major violation of etiquette in my world. You always say goodbye, even if you're just there for ten minutes. What's even worse? I don't care. A dozen people spread over four tables tapping away at their projects is not a meeting; it's just herd of cattle munching on their cud.

I came home after the store and made meatloaf, then racked up enough words to make over 2000. All at the beginning. I now have 9 double-spaced pages, and it came out a lot easier than I expected. Oh, it'll need work once I'm done, but I'm still amazed at how it's coming together. I may actually do well, this year.

November 4th is election day, and I dread it. I have this nasty feeling the GOP is going to take both Houses of Congress and we'll have 2 more years of stalemate, down there. Those assholes have done anything they can to make Obama look bad, blaming him for everything from the financial collapse to Ebola. He didn't help himself any by reneging on his promises, continuing Bush's policies on killing terrorists, and kissing Republican ass for so many years, thinking he'd be able to work with them. You can't negotiate compromise with a group of psychotics. It just don't work.

But what makes matters worse is how so damn many Democrats are buying into the idea that Obama's toxic and not championing the things he HAS accomplished -- lowering the deficit, a growing economy, pushing through health care reform, finally taking Social Security "reforms" off the table. Them also apologizing every other breath for things while the GOP ain't apologizing for nothing makes them look weak and indecisive. So millions of Americans will vote against their own best interests thanks to Republican lies and Democrat's wussiness.

Makes you want to puke.