Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

More of Cascais...

 An old fort long since abandoned...
The coast just west of Cascais...
 An old fort in the town of Cascais...
Municipal building of some kind...
 Leaving Lisbon...
The Hudson River, frozen over except for one narrow ship channel. This is what I came back to.

Best laid plans...

I got some details going on Carli's Kills and a better outline set up, along with some clarity on a few characters, but I'm nowhere near what I thought I'd have on this trip. I couldn't get the energy up. Or focus. Or whatever. First dealing with the weather screwing up my initial flight then rushing about to get everything done in time so I didn't have to change my flight back...and the usual rack of problems that showed up...I never had the time to work my way into the story.

Flying back, I actually dozed on the plane and watched some old episodes of Friends. I never even broke out my laptop. I've still got issues to handle as regards Holiday Inn Express, in Lisbon (I got lectured at for being on time for the shuttle to the airport instead of being early!!) and the actual shipping of the stuff out of Portugal...as well as a couple other things.

I spent today drifting and staying in my apartment, trying to get my return in order. I was going to go grocery shopping, but instead just made do with what I had. I've got a pile of laundry to do, so I'll just make it an all-day deal and not bother with anything that doesn't have to be bothered with.

Maybe it's the meds I'm on, but I'm in a down mood. I've been here, before, and know it takes a couple days for me to get irritated with my whining and get back to work. Too damn typical.

Oh boy...looks like I'm still headed south in this mood swing...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lisbon...

It's a rich-looking, very busy city for one that's supposed to be on the EU's sick list. I only had a couple hours to look around, but here's glimpses of what the city's like.
Lisbon Castle...I tried to get up to see it; I heard it was open till 6pm. It is, but they stop selling tickets at 5:30 and I arrived at 5:35. Dammit.

Shot of Lisbon's 25 April Bridge, fashioned after the Golden Gate. 

Inside one of Lisbon's more self-deprecating churches.

The Alfama District, near the harbor, to give you an idea of how the old city's built.

Very tight streets.

But there's a square with a statue every 200 feet in that town.

More later; right now I need to sit in a hot bath for the next five years.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This was on the way to work, this morning...

What more need be said?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cascais, by Lisbon...

You can't tell, but this is the main entrance to house I worked at, today. And that's the Atlantic in the distance. It's on a steep hillside and you have to walk down steps to the front door. All very cool and neatly kept.

I haven't had a chance to do much looking around the area, outside of getting turned around in my car so often I wind up seeing some very...odd places of the area, with its narrow streets and bat-out-of-hell drivers who don't really understand the concept of staying on their side of the road. But the people are nice, and I've had the best Spaghetti Bolognese ever.

Tomorrow and Thursday I'm back in Lisbon, so we'll see how that goes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lost in Lisbon

Twice. Once trying to leave the airport to head for Cascais. The street names in Google Maps do not match up with the signs posted. But I lucked out and wound up on the A5 instead of the A16...until I got to where I needed to turn to go down the remainder of the A16. I had to double back to work my way down to where I needed to be. Did it by the number of traffic circles I had to go through then followed a winding street with no name that lead me to my hotel. I now have a decent idea of how to get around in this town, and hopefully back to the client's home.

I've already packed some of the materials but there's another 75% to go. No time to really look around, yet, but the view from the house is lovely. Even my hotel -- which was new in the 60s -- has a nice view of the ocean. Food's only been okay.

Lisbon's a big town that happening. Lots of new construction and new buildings up all over the place. Recently paved roads. Highways as good as anything California has to offer. And drivers who've never heard of a car's personal space. I hoe to get some photos, tomorrow. Tonight I was just too tired.

Missed the Oscars...but I hear I didn't miss much.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Don't rush, dammit...

I made it to NYC, but only after waiting...and waiting...and waiting...for the plane to first take off, then land, then get to a gate, then for the AirTrain to come. Turns out the train to Jamaica isn't making the terminal rounds; you have to take the Howard beach train to Federal Circle and transfer to the Jamaica Shuttle train. Are there any signs or is anyone around to tell you this? No. I finally gave up and decided to take the Howard Beach train, even though it meant using the A subway train to get to the F to get to my hotel, which takes twice a long. but when I got to Federal Circle, I heard some guy say that the Jamaica shuttle would be there in 10 minutes...so I got off and got to take the easier route.

That "easier route" wound up taking twice as long, anyway. So I didn't get to my hotel till 1:30am, and got up at 9:30 to finalize my calls to Lisbon to make sure everything was in order. Turns out one hotel I'm staying at is going to be a pain about changing my reservation from 2 to 1 day. Of course, it's an American chain hotel -- holiday Inn Express -- so I'll be mean about that, later.

Right now I'm in Penn Station waiting for a train to Newark's Airport. For this, I'm in no rush; my flight doesn't leave till 8:20 so I'm having lunch here and using the free WiFi. Not even thinking about rushing, right now.

What this trip has done is point out to my conscious mind that I spend most of my life waiting. On the rare occasions where I've pushed to get things done now, I've fucked them up. Wilderness Rule comes to mind. Waiting on people I'd aligned with to get things going for a script of mine also comes to mind. An occasion where I decided to buy a new car based on an ad in a paper without really thinking it through damn near sent me into bankruptcy. I can think of a hundred other times to go along with those.

Maybe I should re-ead Waiting for Godot and find out what it did to scar me.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

United is anything but...

United cancelled all flights out of Buffalo...and didn't bother telling me till I was at the airport. After much strum und drang, I dumped the Buffalo to Newark section and am flying down on Jet Blue...which is about to board. I had to grab my bag, go back through security, and find a hotel to stay in that wasn't going to be $300 a night...but there it is. I'm set, now. Who knows, I may actually make it to Lisbon.

I'll need to call some people in Lisbon to let them now I was delayed, but I can do that later tonight. I've already rearranged my hotels and rental car. I'm still coming back on Friday...maybe. Depends on what United pulls, next.

I should have gone out of Toronto on SAS, Lufthansa or Air France. Needless to say, I will not fly United, again. Don't care what the big boss wants. It cost more than Toronto to Lisbon and is a hell of a lot more trouble.

Oops...they're calling my flight.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Different tone for "Carli's Kills"

I'm digging into CK to figure out what I have that's usable and what needs to be added, subtracted, divided by and multiplied over. The first thing is making sure the structure works...meaning figure out how I'm going to start this book. I know the ending, it's how to slip into the story and keep it running that's hard for me.
So on the plane trip, tomorrow, I'm going to focus on re-outlining the story. Working out what the characters are about. Who did what, when, where, how, and why. I've already got a script version of the story, so it's not like I'm working blind. I just need the back story to make it all work on the page.

I'm already seeing changes in Carli and Zeke. In their stories. Same for Cas, the main guy Carli's after. He's not full evil; he brings damaged veterans into his gang and makes them feel important and necessary.

And I'm throwing in some of the amazingly stupid comments made by elected Republicans about rape -- like it has to be legitimate, and if a girl gets pregnant from it that's a gift from God, and crap like that. You have to wonder at anyone who would dismiss rape so easily.

For some reason, sleep is becoming a leitmotif in this story. Zeke has a hell of a time sleeping...until he meets Carli. Carli's sister, Lara, is in a drugged sleep when she's raped. Someone's going to talk about sleepwalking through life. Haven't figured out the meaning, yet...but I will eventually.

I hope.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

50 Greatest Films...

Every 10 years, Sight and Sound Magazine takes a poll to find out what films are the greatest ever made. The last poll was in 2012, and a big surprise was that Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo beat out Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.

Surprised me, too, because Notorious is my favorite Hitchcock film, followed by Shadow of a Doubt. That's not to say Vertigo isn't great; it's like a slow-building dream wrapped up in a nightmare and sprinkled with the heartbreaking perfection of Kim Novak and quiet decency of Jimmy Stewart...but it doesn't make a damn bit of sense. Which is not a complaint. Dreams never make sense once you've woken up.

I've seen 31 of the top 50 films, and would rank some of them differently -- I prefer Ozu's Late Spring to Tokyo Story, for example, and think The 400 Blows and La Dolce Vita belong much higher in the rankings -- but that's my opinion, and this is more of a fun exercise than anything else.

A short run-up to Oscar night.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Robert Frost on writing...

The Figure A Poem Makes
by Robert Frost

Abstraction is an old story with the philosophers, but it has been like a new toy in the hands of the artists of our day. Why can't we have any one quality of poetry we choose by itself? We can have in thought. Then it will go hard if we can't in practice. Our lives for it.

Granted no one but a humanist much cares how sound a poem is if it is only a sound. The sound is the gold in the ore. Then we will have the sound out alone and dispense with the inessential. We do till we make the discovery that the object in writing poetry is to make all poems sound as different as possible from each other, and the resources for that of vowels, consonants, punctuation, syntax, words, sentences, metre are not enough. We need the help of context- meaning-subject matter. That is the greatest help towards variety. All that can be done with words is soon told. So also with metres-particularly in our language where there are virtually but two, strict iambic and loose iambic. The ancients with many were still poor if they depended on metres for all tune. It is painful to watch our sprung-rhythmists straining at the point of omitting one short from a foot for relief from monotony. The possibilities for tune from the dramatic tones of meaning struck across the rigidity of a limited metre are endless. And we are back in poetry as merely one more art of having something to say, sound or unsound. Probably better if sound, because deeper and from wider experience.

Then there is this wildness whereof it is spoken. Granted again that it has an equal claim with sound to being a poem's better half. If it is a wild tune, it is a Poem. Our problem then is, as modern abstractionists, to have the wildness pure; to be wild with nothing to be wild about. We bring up as aberrationists, giving way to undirected associations and kicking ourselves from one chance suggestion to another in all directions as of a hot afternoon in the life of a grasshopper. Theme alone can steady us down. just as the first mystery was how a poem could have a tune in such a straightness as metre, so the second mystery is how a poem can have wildness and at the same time a subject that shall be fulfilled.

It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life-not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. It has denouement. It has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood-and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for the last. It finds its own name as it goes and discovers the best waiting for it in some final phrase at once wise and sad-the happy-sad blend of the drinking song.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized from cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step by step the wonder of unex pected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may Want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. The line will have the more charm for not being mechanically straight. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days.

I tell how there may be a better wildness of logic than of inconsequence. But the logic is backward, in retrospect, after the act. It must be more felt than seen ahead like prophecy. It must be a revelation, or a series of revelations, as much for the poet as for the reader. For it to be that there must have been the greatest freedom of the material to move about in it and to establish relations in it regardless of time and space, previous relation, and everything but affinity. We prate of freedom. We call our schools free because we are not free to stay away from them till we are sixteen years of age. I have given up my democratic prejudices and now willingly set the lower classes free to be completely taken care of by the upper classes. Political freedom is nothing to me. I bestow it right and left. All I would keep for myself is the freedom of my material-the condition of body and mind now and then to summons aptly from the vast chaos of all I have lived through.

Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields. No acquirement is on assignment, or even self-assignment. Knowledge of the second kind is much more available in the wild free ways of wit and art. A schoolboy may be defined as one who can tell you what he knows in the order in which he learned it. The artist must value himself as he snatches a thing from some previous order in time and space into a new order with not so much as a ligature clinging to it of the old place where it was organic. More than once I should have lost my soul to radicalism if it had been the originality it was mistaken for by its young converts. Originality and initiative are what I ask for my country. For myself the originality need be no more than the freshness of a poem run in the way I have described: from delight to wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried away the poet with it. Read it a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a petal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CK's the one...

Carli's Kills is the next thing I'm working on. She's begun her tango with Zeke, and he's open to it, so I'll be plotting out the new version. I have a first draft of the script, but it was really more of a placeholder till I could figure out the story. Now that I know what's going on with Zeke and how he fits into Carli's life, I can dig in. Everything else is cascading from that.

Hmm...his revelation has changed the story more than I thought. I mean, I sort of had an idea about what was going on between those two, but it never really made sense to me. Too arbitrary and Hollywoodish. Plus, having Carli as a sniper just didn't work. It was more of an excuse to show her ability to shoot a rifle...and there are better ways to handle that. More honest ways.

I'm going to be too busy the next couple of days, getting ready for the Lisbon trip, to do any serious writing. At least CK is a manageable size as a printout, so I can deal with it on the plane trip. Right now I'm trying to get packing material set up for the job, and Staples Portugal is being a pain in the ass. They won't take a credit card, and the info they sent us for a monetary transfer isn't correct. Dammit.

I'm holding off on OT till I get back because I want to go through it in detail, distill what's in each chapter down to its simplest form, and have that to cross-reference what's happening when, why, how, and to whom. I've already worked out how to combine two characters into one, and I'm looking at another pair as a potential combination. Plus there's a secondary character I either need to do more with or get rid of...and I halfway think I may know how to manage that.

Maybe I should have started out knowing this story's details before I wrote it; mysteries are far more demanding than mere novels. You've got to have the clues set up without them being obvious or simplistic. You've got to have your red herrings. And once the thing's explained, it has to make sense. So far, I've either got too much of it all or not enough; can't decide.

Except for the ending -- that's now exactly like I want it...finally...

Monday, February 16, 2015

A revelation for CK...

Zeke and Carli revealed a moment from Carli's Kills that sets up the ending, perfectly. And, as usual, even though I planned to write a simple revenge story/script...I find myself working in a question about morality and guilt, adding a lot more context to the whole situation. Carli's out for revenge, still, but is it to seek justice for what happened to her sister? Or is it guilt over how she did nothing to help her? She didn't realize her sister was suicidal, the last time she spoke with her, but that means nothing after someone's death.

Same for Zeke. He's faced with the harsh reality that a man who saved his life did something vile and vicious to another human being...and he did nothing to stop it. Now he feels responsible for another person's death, even though he had nothing to do with it.

So the story's about guilt, I guess. And how it rips apart common sense and replaces it with the idea that had you done things differently, events would not have gone the way they did. Which is nonsense. Yes, if you had done X instead of Y, then Z might have turned out better. Or...it might have been worse. You don't know. 20-20 hindsight is a fallacy perpetrated by fools who think the world is understandable and operates according to their interpretation of reality.

You'd think that people would catch on -- today's facts are tomorrow's old-wives tales, because no matter how much we know, today, evidence may come along to reverse everything we think is true. Look at what's being bandied about now. "There never was a Big Bang to start the universe; it's just always been." Rather different from the one-time belief that the world was flat and rode on the back of a giant turtle.

But that was once considered fact.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Intimidation, extreme...

I've got a printed copy of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor put into a notebook to begin clarifying and notation-ing and all that stuff...and I haven't had the nerve to start it, yet. I want 3-4 days to be able to go through it in one line instead of dealing with bits and pieces, like I have been...because it's massive.

I did work up a first rough of the cover I'm after, using Josh Wald's face instead of Jordan's. Don't want to mess with the karma of that one. It's not quite there...I need a better silhouette and a better image of Palm Springs lights, and the proportions are off for a book...but it's enough for now.
I've separated each chapter -- gray strips are parts 1 and 2, colored tabs are parts 3 & 4. One good thing about keeping it all together is, I can jump back and forth when I see places that need setting up or clarifying. Another good thing? I can now see for myself that it's the same size as Bobby Carapisi's 3 volumes, and that's not good. I'm already contemplating combining a couple of characters to shorten it, some.

Tomorrow I'm driving down to Dayton, OH if the weather will let me. It was about 2 degrees, today. I'll be there a couple days then come back...and Saturday I head for Lisbon. Still a lot to do for that. So I doubt I'll be able to do anything about OT till I get back, a week from Saturday. I'm not taking it with me; the damn thing weighs 10 lbs. and opens out nearly 2 feet. I can just see me trying to work on it during my plane ride.

I may start plotting out the novel transfer of The Alice '65 or Carli's Kills. I'm leaning a bit towards the latter because it's going to have some serious sex in it (heterosexual, this time, but with Carli the aggressor against Zeke) and I'm feeling the need to be a bit prurient, right now.

A bit? Hell, I want to write something that'll show those 50 Shades of Dull readers what's really hot. I'm not into girls, but the sex scene near the end of Matador jolted me into contemplating them, at least. It's obvious even though Amoldovar is gay, he knows how to make it steamy between a man and a woman.

Of course, he started out directing in porn; I only snuck into writing books with confrontational sex in them.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Memories...

Once upon a time, I was in the scouts. Started as a Webelo and graduated to regular scout when I was eleven. I joined a rag-tag troop at this Presbyterian church we'd attend, at the direction of my mother and step-father. I think they were afraid I was getting too lost in books and needed more interaction with other boys.

We met every Tuesday or maybe Thursday, and the minister was our scout master. He had an assistant who was in the Air Force, who'd usually handle the meetings. He was married. Had a baby on the way. Seemed very mature, even though I'm sure he wasn't even 21, yet.

We'd do campouts, which I never liked. I'm not the kind of guy who emjoys outdoor living and sleeping under the stars and shitting behind a bush and all that crap. I want a bed, a book, and either a cup of tea or a bottle of some soft drink; I was alternating between Big Red (AKA: Liquid Bubble Gum) and RC Cola, which had a nice bite to it. Of course, those were not allowed on the campouts; just canteens of water or drinking from a brook. Total roughing-it.

I liked the assistant, though I can't remember his name. Abernathy? Anderson? He was patient with me, even though I had two left thumbs and minimal willingness to remember how ropes are tied. Hell, I couldn't even do a square knot until I'd tied it wrong, first (I still have that habit). How I got that merit badge is beyond me.

After about a year, we went camping at Cypress Cove, outside New Braunfels, TX, where Canyon Lake now is. It was acres and acres of tall cypress trees around wide streams rushing over non-stop rocks or into cheerful eddies that tried to lull you into joining them. This trip, I started to enjoy. Not because of the woodsy stuff but because it was just plain beautiful. I hated the idea that there'd soon be a hundred feet of water covering it all.

There were about a dozen of us, and all the other boys went swimming in a pool at the end of a creek that was half rapids and all sun. The minister was down with them. I was sitting on some rocks up the creek, watching them goof around. I had on a pair of cutoffs and was using a bandana soaked in the cold water to keep my blinding white skin wet and cool, trying to cut down on sunburn and freckles, since I'd forgotten to bring sun-tan lotion.

I was really enjoying the solitude when the assistant jumped up onto a boulder across the creek. He had just put on a red Speedo, and for the first time I saw what he looked like, nearly undressed -- which was a lot like this guy, just clean-shaven and no hat. This was back before Speedos became identified with gay men, and his was more like what we'd call a square-cut, today.

Jesus the picture he made, standing on that rock -- his tan golden and his smile bright, like a young cougar surveying its domain. Without thinking, I blurted out, "Mr. Anderson, you're gorgeous." He grinned at me and said, "Thanks."

Suddenly, I had to sit myself in the cold clear water, because I was feeling something I'd never felt before in a place I'd never even thought of, till then, and it spooked me. I was afraid I'd hurt myself, somehow. I spent the rest of the day sneaking looks at him but afraid to say another word. And that night, I couldn't sleep. The next day, we went home, and I rode in the minister's car instead of the assistant's.

Not that my sudden silence or wariness mattered. In that space your voice carried, and my comment was heard by a couple of the other boys.  They mentioned it to the minister, and at the next meeting, he asked me to withdraw from the troop. It hurt...until I learned the Air Force was transferring the assistant to Germany, and we were about to live in El Paso for a year. Then I didn't care. I was only two badges short of gaining First Class Scout, but one of the badges was swimming, and I can't swim. Period. So I'd never have made it, anyway.

The memory reared up because the above image was posted on a friend's website -- Yummy of the Day (there's a link in the blogs I follow list, bottom right) -- and for a moment I couldn't breathe. It was like I'd suddenly shifted back to being 12 years-old and getting an honest taste of what my life would be like. Not my first brush with the harshness of the world, and nowhere near my last...just one of those pivotal moments.

Thing is...I still have a thing for red Speedos.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Jake is too real to me...

I think I've reached that stage in my writing life where my characters are more real than the real people I know. Especially Jake, since I've spent so much time inhabiting his brain...or him inhabiting mine. I honestly don't know which, right now.

I was at CVS to pick up a prescription (I'm on Cipro, again, this time for 30 days because the infection is not completely gone) and it wasn't ready, yet. I couldn't wait so headed out to go to work and I was hungry and I saw that evil row of candy by the register...and forgot what was reality, for a moment. I actually said in my head (not out loud, thank god...at least, I don't it was), "Dude, you want to half a Baby Ruth?" "C'mon, you know I don't do candy. But if you wanna share a DP..."

So I bought a DP, instead. I decided not to buy a Baby Ruth because CVS only had the double-size one and I didn't want that much, but Jake wouldn't eat any of it so I didn't want to waste it. I didn't notice what I'd done till I went back to CVS, after work, to get that prescription and it hit me -- I'd acted like Jake was a living, breathing, body-inhabiting person, and I felt very, VERY much like Daniel in The Lyons' Den, when he's arguing with his fictional character, Ace.

I wonder if other authors have moments like this. Does Stephen King chat with his creepy characters? Did Steinbeck or Hemingway? Did Tolstoy have conversations with Levin or Pierre? Or...am I just plain sliding into serious schizophrenia? Who knows, anymore? I sure as hell don't.

And now Jake is laughing at me, the little shit.

More Alex...just for the hell of it...

My favorite shot of him.

And let me note -- I've never been big on ink; my stepfather had tattoos and I saw how ugly they can get after a certain age. But on this guy...well, they're not just for self-aggrandizement. Many of them are to cover the scars he was left with. And somehow they add to his bright personality.

He's become the model for Zeke in Carli's Kills...missing leg and all...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Real American Hero

Alex Minsky was a Marine in Afghanistan when he got hit by an IED. Tore him up. But he was still able to get from this...

...to this...
...and have an attitude that sings. He does everything he can to empower people, even though he lost half his right leg.

But who gets a movie made about him? A sniper who, by some accounts, was close to psychotic.

Talk about f**ked up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Not a minimalist, am I...

I printed up a copy of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, and it's 540 pages long. Over 119,000 words. If I dropped it on someone's foot, I'd break a toe or crush their arch. Wild. I'll let it sit for a couple days then get onto it this weekend for the final polish.

I have to admit, I'm amazed I got to this point, the way the story kept shifting on me. It's still not completely settled down, but my only real concerns are with detail work and whether or not I should cut a sub-plot. My goal now is clarity and consistency; I've got Jake's voice set and the flow of the story works...at least, it does for me. Just need to maintain.

It's funny, but most of my screenplays wound up being just around 105 pages long, plus or minus a few. My longest one, currently, is 135 pages while the shortest one I did was 80 pages, mainly of action. I guess I do like digging into the characters' minds, and revealing their meaning is a lot easier in a novel than in a script. I still think cinematically, but the complexity of guys like Jake and Curt makes up for that in a lot of ways.

I used to think I was just being lazy and scared doing screenwriting, like I was relying on other people to help my work come to fruition. In reality, it was just my shirking my responsibility to the story and characters. I'm still nowhere near as good as I want to be, as a writer, but I can now see a path towards fulfillment. Even if my books don't sell well. At least with these, I can't say I'm shirking anything. I'm whining and arguing and bitching like crazy, but not shirking. How To Rape A Straight Guy and Bobby Carapisi are proof of that. I can honestly say, I write what I want to write and fuck everything else.
Hmm...maybe there is some tiger in me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Blood Angel" returns to the fore...

An agent wants to read BA to see about representing me. Sort of came out of nowhere...though I guess I might have contacted them, once upon a time and they just took a while to get back to me. Anyway, it nudged me into reworking the ending with an idea I once had for it. I don't expect much from this, but you never know.

It's funny, but the ending of BA is totally different from what I thought it would be when the story first came to me. Initially, I was going to set it in St. Louis and do a play on the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Not Wagner's version but the earlier stories that influenced the idea of Lancelot and Guinevere in the Arthurian stories...albeit with a tragic end. Tristan would die and Gabrielle would let herself be destroyed by walking into the sunrise.

Hmm...maybe more Wagner-esque than I'm willing to admit.

But the story never would sit right. I tried New Orleans but that was too Anne Rice-ish. I considered LA's Latino Jazz scene, with Tristan being a cool cat with a horn...but that wasn't it, either. Neither was Miami and the Caribbean rhythm. Then Katrina slammed into New Orleans, and the vultures came out to pick on the bones of the dying city...and I found my way in.

The script's done well in competitions -- winning or placing well in nearly a dozen. But it's not a vampires are cool story, nor is it Buffy... redux. It's got some serious sex in it, and is borderline non-PC thanks to Dmitriy, Gabrielle's vampire companion, being gay and vicious. I've got another gay character in it to mitigate that, but it's still pretty harsh.

What's harsher is Gabrielle and her plan to seduce Tristan into becoming like her, even though it means giving up everything he loves. Including his music. Their encounters are as erotic as you can get without it being porno. I used Almodovar's Matador as my guideline, there.
I worked my ass off to get this script going. Blew several thousand dollars of my 401K money. Went to Austin's Film Festival and networked and did seminars and workshops...hell, I paid to have a budget worked up and business plan developed to show how it could make a good bit of cash. Did storyboards for a couple scenes. I was even pimping Jonathan Togo and Christina Ricci as possible leads, to give people the visuals (emphasis on possible, since I hadn't made contact with either one of them). But it didn't fit any ready-made niches, and so it didn't fly. I guess. That, or I really seriously suck at selling anything.

I may make it into a book...I dunno. I'll see what happens with this agent. But it's low on the priority list, right now. I want to finish OT and The Alice 65 and Bugzters and Underground Guy before I focus on that.

Still, thinking about it makes me sad...because I know it would've been a good, sexy film.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Green water...

Seems the water in Miami has a hint of a green tint to it. Dunno what the cause is, but it's one more reason never to use tap water, anywhere. Especially when it's not simple and clear. Make you sicker than sick...even if all you do is brush your teeth in it.

It's weird, but Miami feels like another country. It's warm and humid and has the kind of rain that comes straight down and is warm, like Houston, Honolulu, and Bangkok. I got nicely soaked just walking from the warehouse to my car. Fortunately, I realized long ago that I won't melt, no matter how much like the wicked witch of the west I behave.

I didn't do any sight-seeing. The city does not really interest me. The downtown area reminds me of Matamoros, Mexico, down by Brownsville. Tight streets smelling of piss and garbage. I guess I could have hopped over to South Beach, again, but why? I've been there and wasn't all that impressed. I guess I'd feel different if I were into clubbing, but I stopped that years ago.

Instead I went back to Fort Lauderdale's silly airport and had a late lunch, then worked on OT till time for my flight. I'm redoing the last 100 pages, again...and again until I feel they do the job. This is where everything comes together and it needs to be understood. Who knows if it works, but still...I'm working at it.

Next week is a day trip to Dayton, then the week after is Lisbon. Then who knows what's next?

Not me, that's fer dang shure...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Miami

Reminds me of Bangkok and Hong Kong, for some reason. Maybe it's the narrow downtown streets. Or the 7/11 every block or so -- 7/11s that do NOT sell DR. Pepper!!!!!! AAAAIIIIGHH! Or the heat in the middle of winter. Or the junky shops and off-beat restaurants. I dunno. It's just a mess.

Of course, I haven't had much chance to see anything, yet. I spent nearly 2 hours on the 95 South to go 2 miles; 4 out of 5 lanes were closed, for some reason, and the crews were taking everything apart when I finally got to the blockage point. So I got to the job just in time. That's what I get for staying in Fort Lauderdale overnight...albeit for free.

I got more work done on OT, at least. The killer is set, and seems to get away with it. In a way. Jake's not out for justice; he's out to end the situation, so he gets to be as hard-assed and sneaky as his father. He also confronts some of his own demons -- like some of the things he did in prison in order to survive, things that eat at him.

Jake's got his flaws and attitudes, but I like how he's turning out. He's a complex creature, once I'd love to know. And he's crazy as hell. The big reveal happens while he's stoned out of his mind and giggling through it all...god, I hope that works. I figure one more pass to make sure I haven't contradicted myself or lost the thread of the story, in any way, then it's begging for feedback.

More snow in Buffalo...how nice...

Russell Tovey being adorable

 I don't know what show this is from, but I have to share it -- he's so damned cute...







This will probably wind up as an Adam & Casey moment in The Alice '65.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Decision time...

The problem with most authors isn't procrastination (though that is a serious issue, at times); it's making up your mind. You get a story going, get the characters to work with you on it, listen to their suggestions and input, start honing the story...and then suddenly you're faced with the reality that once it's done, it's done and you fall into the trap of, "Am I making the right choices here?" "Am I going too far or have I become lost in obscurity?" "Am I hearing things right from my characters?"

I mean, I know that's the way it works for me. Because I rarely know what's going to be in the story before I start it. I have a vague idea and a folder filled with notes of possibilities, but nothing solid except in the back of my scrambled brain.

I've heard of authors who outline the story beforehand and then everything else is fitted to it. I can't work like that; it bores me. I've tried, and I lose interest about halfway through. Granted, it makes for chaos in my mind as I write, and a lot of wasted effort, I suppose, since I wind up with hundreds of pages that get tossed aside...like with OT when it started solidifying itself...though many of those are due to my tendency towards Hollywood-style melodrama, something Jake is not about to let me get away with.

I cannot think of a story I've written (that I like how it turned out) where I've done a full outline, first. I think the closest I came was Find Ray T, and that was just a quickie list of things I wanted in the script. Plus I was buzzed when I did the first draft of it, so that was probably a good thing to do in order to keep my loopiness on target. Same for Blood Angel. It wasn't till Katrina that I was able to find a way into that story...and then it all but wrote itself...including an ending that goes against the grain of romance.

I usually just dive into the story once I have the characters and let it build from there. Such is the life of this author. But somehow it seems to work out. When I started writing HTRASG, I was fairly certain the ending would be tragic, but in what way or with which character dying was beyond me. Then the whole thing swooped into Curt protecting Shayes after destroying him. Totally unplanned...but it made for a much better ending, and it really messes people up. I've had reviews on GoodReads for that book where they can't believe they felt pity or concern for a man who is, essentially, a serial rapist. Made me very proud.

With OT, I was trying to avoid the obvious and repetitive, as regards who the killer is, but I couldn't weasel around it in a way that made sense. So...I changed it back and just hope it works. All I can say now is, it fits. And it's brutal. And I have no idea why it went that way. But it is what it is.

Whether or not it looks good is yet to be told.

Friday, February 6, 2015

ARGH!!! As Charlie Brown would say...

OT just changed the killer on me, again. And it's irritating as hell because I don't know what works, anymore. If this one's right or that one or even if the direction it's going is correct. Maddening, is this creative process...because half the time you're wondering if you're creating crap instead of magic.

I'll have to decide. I can't keep bouncing around like this. It's just I know that something's wrong somewhere in the story, since it's being so indecisive, and I've no idea what that is, yet. I do know the final chapter is pretty tight and right. It's the two before that making my life hell.

I'm headed down to Miami, tomorrow. Since the weather's so cold and snowy, and going to get more-so on Sunday, I decided to not take the chance of my 7:45 am flight being cancelled and head down on a day early. I've got points enough to get a hotel room at La Quinta, and I was already into a car for 2 days, and Jet Blue let me change without a penalty due to concerns about the weather. So I spend some of Sunday in Fort Lauderdale and have a nice easy drive down to the venue, on Sunday.

I hope. I can just see this going completely wrong, like my Hong Kong flight, did. But then again, maybe I'll have time to visit Rodiney Santiago...

That's be fun...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Run, run, run...

Spent the last couple of days running around trying to see friends while I'm still here. Damn, they live all over the place. But I did get to have a good Indian meal with my good buddy, Brad Rushing, Adam Lima and Sharon Rushing. Then I saw my German actors friends, Thure and Patricia Riefenstein for a little while and then had dinner with Karl & Carrie Armstrong. That's all I had time for, dammit.

I'm headed home on a noon plane, tomorrow, and I don't want to go. Buffalo's just a place to stay, right now; it'll never be home, not like LA. Even after driving from Torrance to Ontario to return some things on behalf of the company, and then from there to Topanga, in the middle of evening rush hour, I still felt right at home.

Oh well...at least Buffalo's cheap to live in. And Niagara Falls and Toronto are not far away.

I'll work more on OT en route home, tomorrow. I've kept myself close to NY time while out here, so that won't be so bad Friday morning. And I'm almost done with Cipro so I can start having tea, again.

Small pleasures for a small person who ain't so small... 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Maybe I gots my model for Jake...

I heard from Jordan; he's open to me using his face on the cover of OT. I sent him some possibles to see if he's okay with those...and if the photographer is. that'll be the next fun step -- finding out how much this will cost.

I really like this image of him, by Jean Quelquejeu.
I lightened it up a bit so I could see the line of it; it's really dark and coppery and amazingly hot. But none of this guy's photos had him in a shirt, and I don't wan to distract from what the story is about by suggesting it's an erotic novel. There really isn't much sex in it.
This photo by A Olivier is nice for positioning, and there's one in suspenders that can be made to look like he's in a shirt, but I can't do anything about the beard. Jake's got a goatee, and that is that. Besides, I think Jordan looks best with that kind of facial hair.

So...I found a number of others on his portfolio that are good. This boy's been busy. It's them big, brown, wary eyes that did it, I bet.

The job went a lot smoother than I thought it would, today. We're almost half done. Wow.

Oh, and on a side note of self-contratulation -- The Cowboy King of Texas is in the Top 100 of the Emerging Screenwriters' Competition. Woo-hoo!!

Now back to our regularly-scheduled bitchin' an moanin'.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In LA

Saw the job. It's gonna be hot, nasty and tiring, in a tiny space with no easy access to loading the truck. Ugh. And of course, this being LA the parking's a nightmare. Screw it. What writer doesn't suffer for his art?

Packed planes coming to LAX. I changed in Phoenix, which is normally a simple thing to do. Today, for some reason, Phoenix had fog! FOG! In the desert! I've never heard of such a thing. What's more, it was so thick, we had to circle till it burned off a little, and when we did land, it was hard. Flights were being delayed and cancelled. The terminal was packed. It was crazy.

It was a long flight -- 4.5 hours -- so I got more work done on OT...and I better be careful. This time through the explanation, it made sense to me. I still have the last two chapters to re-re-re-re-work or polish, depending on my mood. And then I'll go through the whole thing , again. If it's still working...

I heard from a French photographer about Jordan, and he asked me to write in English because my French is so crappy. He's right; I really should figure out the time to work on that, again. Mais, je suis un homme imaginaire...

Oh, damn...the people in the room above me are elephants...