Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Here comes gay marriage...and divorce...

I'm not a great believer in marriage -- my parents had 9 between them -- but I do believe in people being treated equally under the law. Now the Supremes have said that's the law of the land. Which is good. It destroys the premise of one of my stories, but I don't care.

What's about to follow is the fun part -- getting the states opposing letting gay men and women marry to follow the law. A lot of them won't until forced to. Many are the same states that refused to desegregate their schools until federal marshals made them. and they still fought it tooth and nail into the 70s. Now the redneck scum will have a real focus for their hate...and don't you think they won't spout it.

To me, homophobia is not built on being deep in the closet or having true religious beliefs. Racists have shown clearly that racism is based mostly on a need to feel superior to another group of people, be they black, brown or Asian. Same for religious intolerance; it's not built on anything but the need to control others and force them to live by your standards, be you Christian, Muslim or Jew. Homophobia is simply about blaming someone else for your screw-ups.

Too many people in this world desperately need to have someone they can despise and accuse of being the reason for everything that's gone wrong. And I'm not exaggerating. Katrina was blamed on gays, as was 9/11. And Hurricane Sandy. And the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. And the drought. And the fires and the floods. And the economic collapse. Now ministers are screaming that gays wanting to get married means God will smite us all, so hate them queers for the demise of your economic opportunities and the changes you don't like in our "once-perfect nation." Blame them, not yourselves for letting those scaremongers fill your heart with fear and hate and hide how they're helping the rich get richer off your backs. Far easier to say it's all the faggots' faults.

It's childish and absurd, but it's also controlling too damn many people to let slide.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Done with Florida...

I don't know why anyone wants to live there. The weather is hideously hot and humid and it's nothing but flat land and swamp. I guess if you like sunning on the beach it's great, but I'm more a hills, trees and streams kind of guy. Working in 95 degree heat with 95% humidity wears you out. I'm now en route to NYC to work through the weekend on a job that ought to be a bit more livable, so I can get my brain back to blogging, again.

On the trip down, I did pull together a solid out line for Underground Guy. And I've tried to work on Carli's Kills but something feels off about it. I can't figure out the best way to even start it let alone get the rhythm of the piece. I may need to rethink it from the beginning, because as of now it's just not coming together.

UG is still a bit off, too, but not nearly as much. I need to clarify Dev's arc and how it related to Tawfi's and Reg's stories. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ready to go...

I'm taking Underground Guy and Carli's Kills with me to work on during this journey of jobs. I'll have some long plane rides and don't feel like paying $8 a day for WiFi on the plane. I also hate the idea of getting up at 4:30 am to catch a 6:40 flight to Fort Lauderdale. When're we going to get teleporters to make travel instantaneous?

I'm leaning toward working on UG because it's a book and it's in Word so I can make notes on it as I go. CK is in a PDF so everything on it's external, unless I feel like buying an advanced version of Adobe that lets me add notes to a PDF. I'm too cheap-assed for that.

Plus I've had some interesting ideas for UG, like bringing in Dev's sister-in-law to help him in some way...how, I don't know yet. But he's get respect for her since she's able to handle his slightly brain-damaged brother, Colin.

The story so far -- Dev and his brother own a New York based lapel pin manufacturing business, inherited from their physically abusive father. Dev's in London seeing clients when he sees a man on the Piccadilly Underground that grabs his interest, so kidnaps and sexually assaults him...though not in the way one might think. Turns out the guy, Reg, is an undercover cop and Dev has inadvertently messed up an operation against a serial killer.

Of course the man who may have been the killer, Tawfi, was close by. Dev's arrested, ostensibly because of the kidnapping; the cops think he was helping the killer, but they can't link him to any of the deaths in any way. Dev senses something about the murders isn't right and tells the cops. They ignore him so he tries to make things right by finding out what really happened...and connects with a man who may be the killer. I've got maybe ⅓ of it written.

Thing is, CK is in first draft and, even though I'm planning a page 1 rewrite, would be the easiest to get done. And having Carli be as strong a lead as any guy, and willing to objectify men the same as men do women, is appealing. And I'd like to get the dynamic between her and Zeke down. But I can't do anything about it till I'm back to Buffalo.

Decisions...decisions...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

August 1st

I am not looking at anything to do with The Vanishing of Owen Taylor until then. It's the day after my birthday, and it's a Saturday, so I think I'm going to treat myself to a fine meal and some wine and celebrate a new beginning. Open myself to the reality that I will be in Buffalo for a long time to come and maybe work it into my writing in some way. Mine to Kill would work nicely here, with the major medical research going on and teaching hospitals. It wouldn't take much to change it, and then start sending it out. It's the closest script I have to being shot for under a million.

I've also connected with a man from Derry, N. Ireland. He lived through The Troubles and may be willing to help me with Place of Safety. I don't know if he's Catholic or Protestant, but I've let him know Brendan is just a boy who wants to live his life and cares nothing for religion or politics; to him they're two sides of the same coin, and both worthless. I have a bit when he's 12 years old, about to be 13, where he accuses a priest of wanting Catholics to be attacked because it would suit his ambitions. It doesn't go over well.

Anyway, in the next 6 weeks, I plan to finish a couple other projects, clearing my mind of OT so I can see it fresh. It's hard not reading the comments I've gotten, but I owe it to the story to be solid about this. I want it to be fantastic, not merely okay, and for that to happen I need space to rebuild my focus and find the best path to help the story sing.

It helps that I'm traveling, again, for the next 10 days. Jobs in Florida and New York City. I'd thought the latter had been postponed to after July 4th but no...it's been decided the 2000+ books and dozens of pieces of framed artwork need to be gone ASAP so they can sell the apartment. So away I go, but it's gonna cost in air fare...and hotel, getting one at this late date; my usual NYC places are booked solid.

Ah well, at least it gets me out of the house.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fighting the battle of me...

Got more feedback on OT, already, and I scanned it. I don't want to...but I wind up wondering what they said and then suddenly it's done. Like my pilot is my subconscious, not my conscious mind. I made myself put it into a PDF and park it in the proper folder. And I'm going to ask more people to look at the story, as well. I want as wide-ranging an idea of how the book is working as possible.

I'm thinking more and more about reworking Carli's Kills, next. It's rather chaotic, right now, but could be done for a low-budget...and by that I mean just under $1m. That's what I need, right now -- something that would appeal to the cheapies in film production, and a simple restructuring would do a lot for it. If it's going to be exploitation, I'm going whole hog on it. Start with Grady and then focus on Carli and Zeke. I think I'll start on that this weekend...

but I'm also considering a rewrite of We-come. Make it a really horrific sci-fi piece, and trim down some of the exposition at the beginning. That seems to be my problem -- too much set-up and not enough jumping into the action. It's a bit old-fashioned of a writing style, especially for movies, today. Too novelistic...and even too much so for today's books.

I'm close to the end of This Is NOT The End of the Book; and it's giving me some interesting ideas for The Alice '65, as well. Jeez...how can I get all of this done? I guess I should be glad I'm at least thinking about my next project and not just wandering.

I need more time to myself and less for the job...which ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What can you say after seeing this?

The United States is in the process of destroying itself from within. This man's declared bankruptcy several times, shifted tens of thousands of jobs to China, is so arrogant he can't even see how arrogant he is, and has the delusion of a mental defective. But some people will vote for him because he's The Donald.

I'm getting sick of this country and the non-stop stupid and evil in it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Clear the brain...

I've already gotten some comments back on OT, but I've put them aside till I'm ready to dig back into the story. Each person doing feedback has their own folder, and comments will be PDF'd and put in there, for now. I know me; if I read them, I'll start rewriting, at once, and I do not want to do that. I'm still too close to the story.

So this evening I played around with covers for a reboot of The Lyons' Den. After a lot of futzing about, I got this one going. It's still busy and not really there, yet, but it's got the idea. This is about 67 layers of images, some pretty clunky, but it's just a mock. Nothing to critique, yet.

I'm almost thinking of doing the image in colored pencil. See what I can get away with. Some of my storyboards were done that way, and I liked the gentle feel of them. Plus that way I can arrange the characters like I want and add in all of them instead of a few.

I already feel the b&w image representing Ace should be larger and more on the verge of stereotype. And Daniel doesn't have a mustache. Plus, the curtain has to have goofy fish on it. Another positive is, I could make the image taller...go from waist up.

I'll think about it. Doing it right'd take a while, and I'm not all that good at graphic arts. However...it would be cheap and I could make it as goofy as I wanted.

Maybe I could use a break from writing...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Finally...finally...finally...

I've sent The Vanishing of Owen Taylor out to be read and feedbacked on...and if anybody else wants to read it and let me know what does and does not work, and if the revelation of the mystery makes sense, let me know. I'm way too close to the story, right now, to be objective in any way, form, or fashion. I just know Jake's happy with me, again.

I'm not touching the book to do another draft for 6 weeks. I want the distance and to give people time to respond to it. They'll need some time since it is long -- 541 pages and 120,000 words. But I'm at the point where everything in the story needs to be there, as best I can tell. I honestly cannot see cutting anything more, short of a complete subplot.

So now it's time to catch up on paperwork and cleaning my apartment. Start looking into ways to sell my work better. Work on some scripts. Input ideas I've had. Maybe I'll do a rewrite of Carli's Kills just to see if I can keep it low-budget and exploitative enough to get made. I already know who needs to play Zeke...and I seriously doubt he'll mind getting used by an ex-Marine female who only wants him for his body.

Hey, he's the one wants to act in movies, not me. The only difficulty I see is making him into a blond viking with an Odin obsession. I'd already put in he's got tatts all over, from when I was using Logan McCree as the model, and he's missing his right leg, which works in perfectly. Even better, the part's already written to be played half-silently through reactions, so even if he's no good, he can be made to seem good under the right director and editor.

But I've got a feeling he'd be fine.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Christopher Lee 1922-2015

I'm late to the wake on this, but rather than put up the usual assemblage of film clips from Christopher Lee's wide-ranging work, I found this great bit when he was the subject of This Is Your Life in the UK.
This is from 40 years ago. Hard to believe. Look at the sword-play at the very beginning; it's still amazing.

An elegant man who, like Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, played the devil so well in fiction while being a gentleman in reality.

RIP

Friday, June 12, 2015

Getting there, I swear...

I have 72 pages left to input, then a spell-check, then it's out for feedback. I'd thought I'd be done, tomorrow, but I won't have a chance to work on it till Sunday. Saturday, I'm heading down to Scranton to say good-bye to my aunt. She's close to the end stage of her cancer, and I wouldn't feel right if I didn't go.

It's 280 miles each way, so I'm renting a car for the trip. My Civic's making some odd growly noises, lately, which could be transmission-related. Which would cost an arm and a leg to fix, so I'm driving it as easy as I can. I have points with this one agency, so I cashed them in to get it. All I pay for is the taxes and insurance. It's covered, to an extent, by my Amex and personal insurance, but it's worth the $12 not to have to worry about filling out forms and crap. And I'm getting one that's maybe a bit better on gas, too.

This ain't gonna be a nice trip. I got the strong hint that I should call instead of come. I had to ask for the address of the hospice a couple of times. I can also just imagine getting all the way down there and her not being in a condition to see me, but I don't care. I'm doing this for me, no one else.

I've been through this so many times before. Friends dying of AIDS or cancer. And my own mother. It's always a bit surreal to me. Like it's a shadowy reality I'm not privy to...haven't the ability to accept as fact. Of course, it also reminds me that I haven't got all that much time left to me, either. My only hope is I go fast, not drift slowly into death.

But not for a few years, yet; I've still got too much left to write.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

John Waters for Bernie's VP...

This man is a treasure.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I'm either brilliant or stupid...

I can't decide which best applies to me, because often the same thing I write gets comments that it's the best thing ever written or it is so bad I should never write anything ever again. And I have gotten both ends of the spectrum. When I posted Find Ray T on Triggerstreet years ago, back when it was still an interesting concept, I got lots of praise and wound up in the top five screenplays, thanks to reviewers who loved the script. I also got some people who would tear the script apart, including one guy who went through it page by page to show how bad it was.

And as I noted on here, months ago, The Lyons' Den had good reviews but then one guy so hated the book, he used one quote on a page near the end to show how bad my grasp of English grammar was. Even warned people against reading it. I'd laugh, but that's when sales dropped. So how do you know which way you're being? I like to believe I'm great and wonderful as a writer, but that could just be my arrogance or ego talking. I guess it's good that I am at least aware of that possibility.

Anyway...I've begun to think I'm caught in a series of waves that take me up to the sky in beauty and then dump on me, moments later. When I'm peaking on that wave, I write stuff that I'm still impressed with. When I'm at the bottom, nothing I do is any good. So it's better not to write in the valleys because it's just a waste of time and effort.

I've been through all of this with The Vanishing of Owen Taylor...and currently have no idea where I am in the cycle. To me, it flows and works and builds and builds. To someone else, it might come across as tedious or self-satisfied or even ignorantly confusing. It'll be interesting to find out what the consensus is.

As of now, it looks like I'll be ready to send out the "first" draft Saturday. I've input 192 pages of changes, so far, and dropped 3 pages from the total. It's going the right direction, at least, and I do think I've added a bit of clarity to the story. I've also taken out as much as I can of a quirk of mine, from writing scripts -- using dashes in place of ellipses or simple periods. Broke up some Faulkner-esque sentences by doing that, thank God. I can't stand his writing...so why should I wind up writing like him? Maybe it 's me being brilliant.

Or not.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Done...again...

Okay...the latest draft is red-penned. Now just comes inputting the changes. And fighting off the desire to do another draft to make sure I've got it right. I could keep rewriting my work till the end of time, if given half a chance. Instead, all I will do once I've got this one set is spell-check. That might catch some of the typos I've committed to bytes.

It's still going to be more than 500 pages. I'm not sure what that translates to in actual book size. 300-350? Which is a manageable length. I'll worry about that later. Right now, I just want to get this done.

God, I just hope it makes sense to someone besides me...

I did something crazy and probably pointless. I sent a copy of The Lyons' Den to Chris Salvatore, in LA. He's an out gay actor who's been in some low-budget gay-oriented movies. I have no idea what good it will do, or if his representatives will even forward it to him, but he mentioned on his facebook page my offer was sweet, and if I hadn't done it I'd be kicking myself in a few months. So off it went. Signed. Nothing more. No letter or anything. I want him to read the book. I think he'll see himself in Daniel and maybe take it to someone to get made.

Yeah, crazy idea, but I've done crazier.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Almost there...almost...

I've got 150 more pages of OT left to red-pen, then comes the inputting and sending it off to be read and critiqued. There were a lot more changes than I thought there'd be, mainly adjusting sentences so they make sense instead of ramble. Simplicity is good, at times such as this.

So is removing repetition. I found more points where I say the same thing more than once, just in slightly different ways. A bit is good, to keep the reader abreast of the story, but what I'm cutting was superfluous. I doubt I'll drop much in the way of pagination; I'm also adding in bits to help keep what's happening easy to follow.

I'm behind schedule by about a week. My freak-out kick-dropped me, good. I wound up doing a marathon viewing of the Bourne series to break away from it. The Matt Damon ones; I haven't seen the Jeremy Renner sequel, yet. Didn't even begin to look interesting. I thoroughly enjoy the first three movies, though the last one doesn't hold up as well as the first two. It still makes no sense as to who shoots Bourne at the very end, story or character wise.

I've been thinking more about having The Lyons' Den taken out of publication and re-issuing it, myself, as a second edition with a better front-cover and back-cover blurb. I found this fun little photo online that's given me some ideas. Get a shower curtain with fish on it; put a dozen characters behind it, looking out; have a head & shoulders shot of Daniel with a goofy expression. Holding a gun in one hand and wielding a pen in the other. The shower raining cash. That would fit the chaos of the story pretty well.

And only cost a thousand bucks to set up.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Shake, rattle, roll, and get the hell back up...

Not much else you can do when your brain locks down, as mine did over the last couple days. It's a writer's ailment -- fear coupled with confusion laced with a touch of paranoia and served with the conviction you have no idea what you're doing. Took me till now to even start getting past it, so...nothing's been done on OT except a lot of gnashing of teeth and staring into space.

That said, I think I can get back to proofing my current draft...and correcting inconsistencies while clarifying illusory thoughts and intentions. I hope. I have the feeling I'll be doing a fair amount of rewriting once I get feedback on this story. I know what I'm aiming for...I think...but I don't know if I'm achieving it, and that is what started the whole crash and burn.

I wonder if part of my problem is the focus of my stories is the emotional connection between people and how sometimes that gets abused. And also proves to be a saving grace and stronger than anything in the universe. Sometimes I get lost in that so the story seems to meander, to its detriment. Or else, it fails to do what others think it should.

When I wrote The Alice 65 as a script and asked some friends to read it, one made the comment that she sat down expecting the story to be about a bookish guy going on a search for this rare book and becoming a hero in the process. Indiana Jones as a Librarian. And she was disappointed when it didn't do that...so couldn't give me any serious feedback. To me, it was never about that; what drove the story in my mind was the growing emotional connection between Adam and Casey, even as he's caught in a world that's down the rabbit hole, to him. How she softens and shifts into human mode as he opens up and lets go of past events that haunt him. Maybe that was a mistake, but that's what made me want to write the story.

In OT, it's about Jake coming to terms with things he's done in the past and getting to where he's strong enough to stand on his own two feet, with Antony as his partner and not just his support. Even thought Antony's fighting him every step of the way. I don't know if I achieve that, and my uncertainty overwhelmed me. Which made me afraid to even think about letting people read it till I'd rewritten it a dozen more times.

It's the same fear that keeps me from returning to Place of Safety. The knowledge that I don't know that much about Derry society between 1966 and 1981 so I'd be setting myself up for failure...again. Why bother if all you're going to do is screw it up? Problem is, I have the other side of that writer's ailment -- the need to tell the story...and that, in and of itself, is cause for madness.

Color me chaos, right now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Something from Adam...

As in Adam Alexander Aloysius Verlain, of The Alice '65. He's begun reposting on his facebook page.
____________________

I finally found the photograph of Paul Pelliot sitting amongst a trove of manuscripts he discovered in China, in 1908. They were near the Silk Road oasis of Dunhuang and had been walled up in a cave for centuries. He'd learned of the possibility of this treasure thanks to Aurel Stein's visit to the same area.

Stein had found some of the manuscripts but had no awareness of their extreme value, nor was he allowed to peruse the majority of them, whereas Pelliot was fluent in Mandarin and suspected they held works from prior to the 11th Century. He needed special permission to breach the wall, but there he found tens of thousands of scrolls dating back to as early as the 5th Century. They dealt with Buddhism, Manichaeism, and Daoism, but also a version of Christianity and Judaism. Some of them were in the old Uyghur language as well as Hebrew and Sanskrit.

He bought many of these priceless items for the equivalent of about 8,000 GBP, today, and they are still being studied at the Bibliothèque nationale de France as well as The British Library and the National Library of China.
____________________________________________

Adam is having fun, again...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer's heating up...

Now I've got a possible job in Florida, for a few days, later this month. I was thinking of taking some time off in August, even though I can't afford it, because I need some space to catch up with myself. I won't be unhappy if I wind up working; it'd be a lot better for my finances. But I'll need to take at least a few days to myself. Maybe around Labor Day, I dunno. I'm one of those people who doesn't get paid for vacation time.

When I was at Heritage, I was able to amass 3 weeks paid vacation and use it all at one time, in the Spring of 2006. Spent most of that time in Ireland, including an rental car for 10 days. Driving on the right wasn't much trouble at all. I'd love to do that, again...

Now that I'm getting closer to a final draft of OT, I'm feeling the need to plan my next project...which is dumb, because half the time what I decide to work on winds up being put aside while I do something else. But now...now I've got an open space in my brain and my other works are trying to take it over.

I found this image on Tumbler and like it so much, I may see if I can do something with it in the cover for OT. It's the animal spirit of the book.

Maybe of me...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sunday, Sunday...

I printed out OT -- double-sided -- at work and now will go through it, one last time, to make it as close to complete as I can, right now. I chopped out one entire subplot because it was getting in the way. And I'm wondering if the last chapter is too brutal a note to have so close to the end. I softened it with a memory and set it up a bit more in the bulk of the book...but I guess I'll find out.

First lesson learned from this project? Do NOT write a mystery unless you have it worked out, already. Too damn many people will want to jump in and say, "Make me the killer!" While others will say, "That's ludicrous. Get a grip and make it me., idiot." Which makes it hard to figure out the right way to go.

I finally just simplified it...but even my simplification is probably too complex to work. Either I've done too much explaining or not enough...or both. You never know. I remember reading The Name of the Rose years and years ago and getting lost in it, sometimes. The life it built was fascinating enough for me to keep reading, but I'm still not sure I understand or accept the revelation of the mystery.

Maybe I should reread it.