Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Done all over again...

Okay, The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is done, yet again. 511 pages, 115,353 words. It's ready to get some beta reads, again, so I'll hit up some fellow writers and see what they're up for. Then one last polish and I'm putting it to work. I don't know how I feel about it, yet; my brain is still fuzzy from this last polish. I mean, I like it...but I'm still open to working on it if something flat out makes no sense. So I guess I haven't fallen in love with my words, this time.

I bought a block of ISBNs from Bowker because they had a sale going on -- 25% off -- so I had to do it. Then I realized I haven't filled in everything on the ones I've used, so far. That needs to be done. But tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo and so I won't be able to focus on it till the beginning of December. But at least I'm ready to do the push on it. I even got some bar codes.

I also sent Return To Darian's Point off to a Canadian group to be read. I'm now waiting to hear back on a half-dozen scripts being considered. Sounds like a lot, but considering where I am and how reticent I've been when it comes to trying to get people interested in my work, it's nowhere near enough.

Something I have to keep reminding myself of is, I'll be on the road 16 of November's 30 days. I'm leaving on the 4th for a 3 job round, then back for a few days and gone to Hong Kong on the 18th. And there have been rumors of a job in Chicago near the beginning of December, but nothing more to be heard about it so that may be nothing.

Too bad; I like Chicago.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Finding role models...

I've noticed lately I've been introduced to damaged people who are forging ahead with their lives and being whatever they damn well want to be. It makes me wonder what the universe is saying to me...or I am saying to myself, subconsciously.

 Alex Minsky was the first; he lost a leg in Afghanistan and is now a motivational speaker, fitness model and wannabe actor. He does a great series of short videos for Get Mighty With Minsky, answering questions he's asked, and it's obvious he's got a lot going for him thanks to his sense of self.

So much so, I wrote a script with a part for him as the one decent guy in it -- Zeke, in Carli's Kills. And if there is any way possible, I want to get it made just to have him act in it.

Then there's Nyle DiMarco, who was born deaf and has become not only a hot model but also a strong spokesperson for the deaf community, especially as regards acting roles.

I'd already written a script with a profoundly deaf character in it -- Mitch in 5 Dates. Who's made fun of because of his deafness and how he speaks. Nyle doesn't fit the role (Mitch is in high school), nor does he really talk; there was an interesting video of him being taught how to say someone's name and the trouble he had with it, but he kept going.

My own damage is pretty much hidden and mostly in my own brain...and is something I've been trying to get beyond for years. But watching these guys...I have to think I put too much emphasis on the negative influence that has on me and not enough on how to just deal with it...or how it's been a positive thing.

One way it has been is with my writing. I write people in my scripts and books, not least, I think so. And I will fight for them if I feel they're being dissed unfairly. I'm going to extend that fight to trying to sell them better. On top of what I've already done, I'm reconnecting with sites like Talentville and MovieBytes and even InkTip. Sitting on my scripts like a hen on her eggs ain't doing a damned thing and trying to get an agent or connect with a production company is getting me nowhere.

Of course, part of my damage is nearly complete uncertainty about my own abilities as a writer or artist of any kind. I fight it, and sometimes I get past it, but it's always there lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce. And it's half the reason I've taken so damned long getting OT done.

So let me get through putting OT out there and then let's see how crazy I can get about it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Blast from the past...

I just got reminded by a Facebook friend of this article in Queerty from nearly 5 years ago --


It’s getting harder and harder to figure out which books will and will not sell. First there was last year’s banishment of gay fiction to the “adult section.” Then for the longest time it was willing to ship that how-to guide for pedophiles, until it wasn’t. Then came the removal of adult incest erotica, but not any from sci-fi scribe Robert A. Heinlein. And now writer Kyle Michel Sullivan says has yanked his self-published titles simply because they feature gay rape themes.

“During our review process, we found that your titles contain content that is in violation of our content guidelines,” Amazon wrote to Sullivan to explain his titles’ disappearance. “As a result, we have removed the books from our store.” And what titles were they? How To Rape A Straight Guy (ASIN B003ZYFCA6) and Rape In Holding Cell 6 (ASIN B00403N14A). Now before you start thinking either of these are how-to guides to rape, allow Sullivan to explain — as he did in a letter to Amazon — what his books are about.

I’m at a loss as to understand how my books violated your content guidelines. They are not pornographic and have solid stories and meaning behind them. The sex in them is not that much more detailed than what you find in Jackie Collins’ and Judith Krantz’s novels, all of which can be found in a library. Also, you carry items that celebrate the torture and murder of women (see “Saw2” “Hostel 2” (oops) where a naked female is strung upside down and butchered so her blood can bathe another naked female lying under her) and the gleeful slaughter of human beings (“American Psycho”, for example).

“How To Rape A Straight Guy” has a very provocative title, yes, and its narrator, Curt, is a very in-your-face sort of guy who thinks he can get even with the world by assaulting men. But it winds up hurting innocent people and destroying him. I even have a moment of foreshadowing in it, where Curt as a 6-year-old boy watches a cousin of his torture a dog until it bites him, then the boy’s father kills the dog and goes off to buy another one. The moral of the whole book being, if you treat a man like a dog his whole life, you shouldn’t be surprised if he bites you. And the sad reality is, when he finally does bite back, he’s the one who’s punished. Does that sound like porn?

“Rape In Holding Cell 6”, both volumes, is about corruption in the judicial system, and its main character, Antony, is investigating the brutal rape and murder of his lover in the county jail. He finds a legal and political system that thinks it can get away with anything and nearly drives himself insane in his quest for revenge, a quest that threatens to harm the innocent as well as the guilty as he becomes exactly what he hates. Does that sound like porn?

You pulled my titles because that reporter at the Fox affiliate labeled my book pornography. If you actually HAD done your research, you’d see that they do not fall under that category. I can see them being viewed as erotica because the sex is very intense…and not at all sugar-coated…but that’s it. And they were on Amazon’s website being offered for sale for years without a problem. So will you also be removing other books once viewed as porn, like “Ulysses” and “Henry and June” and “Lolita”? Will you continue to offer DVDs of movies that depict the torture and rape of women, like “Straw Dogs” and “A Clockwork Orange”?

I ask that Amazon reconsider this. My books are not pornography and should never have been labeled as such. According to the Supreme Court, “in Miller v. California , 413 U.S. 15 (1973) (The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards” would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, Roth, supra, at 489, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” (Emphasis added.)

Please have your panel look further into the matter and reconsider your actions.

Amazon did “look further” into the matter, and isn’t budging in its promise to keep them offline. Without having read them, clearly. The hypocrisy of the web retailer’s censorship policy is becoming more and more evident with each round of removals. But here we have an example where books about male-on-male sexual violence are pulled from Amazon’s store, while literally hundreds, if not thousands of titles that feature heterosexual sexual aggression and rape remain in stock. And no matter where you stand on whether these books constitute the “glorifying” of rape (which, really, they do not), shouldn’t patrons of Amazon demand the company either sell any type of book, or apply its censorship policy uniformly?

Which it won’t do, of course. Because that would wipe out some of its best-sellers.
Amazon relented, for a while, but now they won't offer HTRASG or RIHC6 for Kindle, though you can buy electronic editions that work on Kindle through Smashwords. What was most interesting were the comments on the story, with some people saying my books should be banned while others pointed out they do do glorify rape but show it to be a horrible thing. Lots of fun, there.

I may see if I can ignite this same uproar with Underground Guy, just for the hell of it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One last pass...

I started at the beginning and am working my way through to the end of OT. Some smoothing here and there and a touch of rearranging, but so far so go. I'd wanted some time to decompress between finishing this book and doing NaNoWriMo, but it looks like that ain't gonna happen. Such is my life. I spent too much of it being lazy and casual; I'm making up for that in spades.

I was going to work up a synopsis for OT, not just for the back of the book or the online posting, but also for the hardcover, in case I decide to do that. But now it's pretty clear the book won't be ready to go till after the first of the year. Maybe I can get it started and paid for in time to use for this year's taxes, but we'll have to see about that. Right now, I'm focused on making it work as good as I can.

Getting going on Underground Guy on Sunday won't be hard; I already have an outline of where the story needs to go...even though it's not very solid, yet. And I know who the characters are and who the killer is; I just need to get from A-Z on that. It's going to be fun, making a bad man the hero of the book, as he comes to realize who he is and what he's done. I don't know if he'll wind up good or finding ways to justify his actions or what; that'll be the fun part of the journey.

I'd change the title to Getting To Know You but that's a bit too show-tunes for me...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Okay, not so crazy...

I backed off a little from what I'd initially written and it works better. I'd had it where Jake lets a killer get away with it for all the right reasons, and it was just too much. Now Jake just isn't helping track them down. Much better.

The story seems to be hovering right around 116K in wordage and 512 pages. Once that starts to happen, I know the story is done except for small details and minimal changes. I'll be done this weekend. I know it. Just in time to start on NaNoWriMo. No rest for the wicked writer.

I need to find time to start working on advancing my writing -- especially my screenplays. I've got a couple now that are lower-budget range. and I could rework some of them to fit just about any location. I've redone my suspense-thriller KAZN from LA and Moscow into Casablanca and Marseilles, then into Belfast and London. It would also work in any large American city -- Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Houston...

Same for my psychological horror script, Mine to Kill. I've set it in Houston, Seattle, Syracuse, London...anyplace that has a major teaching hospital, because what matters is the characters, not whee they are.

Other scripts are site specific, but that's not a detriment. I don't think. Guess I'l find out.

Or not...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I may have done something crazy...

Logistically speaking, OT needed some detail work. Having one character appear at the end was a bit too much so got rid of it. Changed another location to make the ending more believable and understandable. Cut the timeframe shorter because events taking place over the space of a year was counter-productive. And Jake does something that may or may not work...but fits his sense of honor.

I also got rid of some too-detailed explanation by blending it with some things Jake does after revealing who the killer is. I can't think of anything that's illogical in the story, now...but you never know. I felt good about it when I finished the last draft.

Tonight was ironing, so I watched some old B pictures from the 30's and 40's. First was a Bulldog Drummond that was a direct rip from Wilkie Collins' The Lady in White. And it was so stupid, I was slack-jawed. Ray Milland was an exuberant Captain Drummond investigating the case of a mysterious beauty, played by Heather Angel...and the bad guys are stealing her inheritance while keeping her locked up in a mansion. Took 60 minutes and lots of stupid activity to tell the story.

Then I watched Shock, with Vincent Price playing a psychiatrist who murders his wife and is seen by a young woman in another room. She goes into shock so he takes her to his sanitarium and tries to convince her she's crazy for thinking she saw what she saw. It was boooooooooring...and only 70 minutes long. They were 2 of 12 old mysteries on a DVD that cost $ I only felt cheated out of $4.99.

I then watched an NCIS set in Washington DC, with Ted Danson, Patricia Arquette, and James Van Der Beek...where they're tracking some boys who are being lured by a pedophile via a scavenger hunt. It's one of those shows where people work in an office that has minimal lighting and have equipment so high-tech and easy to use, they solve crimes in 38 minutes. This is why I don't watch TV, anymore.

Hell, it's why I don't watch movies, either -- I'm too busy picking them apart to just enjoy them...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Close is good...being there is better...

Okay...after a lot of head banging I had an idea on how to rework the story so it makes sense. I added a victim, moved the location of another character, and changed some of Antony's argument with Jake at the end...and it began to shift into place. What's even better, I'm still trimming back and simplifying. Much to my amazement.

The book's down to 512 pages but still right about 116,000 words. Comes from shifting paragraphs around to make the reading easier. I'll need to make another pass through it to align the set-up with this new-ish ending...but I'm finally getting there. Again.

Who knows? Maybe I'll get the story done eventually. I know Jake would be happy for that. It has changed a lot from its inception. I think most of what happens is organic to the characters, but I can't say. After a while, you just have to let go and accept whatever reactions you get. I just want to be sure I've done my best before I let my baby out into the real world.

There be lions out there, you know...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It has to make sense...

As I was working on my minimal corrections to The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, I asked myself a question about why a certain person wasn't killed...which led me to wonder why another person wasn't also dead...and my brain snapped into chaos. It's one of those logical problems I stumble into where what I've written, if honestly contemplated by someone heavy into mysteries, will come across as stupid and ill-conceived. I kill them? Have someone else involved in the final explanation? Change the timeline for it all, or something. Because as it now stands, it doesn't work. All this effort and angst and head-pounding and it still doesn't work. I need to think it through, again...and wonder how long it will take for the next problem to pop up.

There's a story that when Howard Hawks was turning The Big Sleep into a movie, he and his screenwriter couldn't figure out who killed the family chauffeur. So they called Raymond Chandler, who wrote the book...and he didn't know, either. They fixed it in the film by alluding to who did it without actually saying it, but that's the dilemma I'm in. I either have to kill off two more characters or change the timeline...and neither will be an easy fix.

I've learned Frederick Forsythe, author of Day of the Jackal and Dog Soldiers and The Odessa File, would make a synopsis of each chapter before he began to write his book. That's how he was able to keep track of everything and make sure it fit together. Then all he needed to do was type up the story and maybe do one more draft and he was set. But then...he started out as a journalist so has a different way of looking at stories.

I went the opposite direction and did a light synopsis of the chapters after I'd written the book. And so got lost in the contradictions and inconsistencies. Jake is good, now. Tone...not as much but not nonsensical. Matt's cool. It's everybody else who's messing with me as regards the plot. And this is one of those genres where everything has to make sense.

Whether I like it or not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Drive from NYC to Buffalo...

I decided since I was wandering whether I wanted to or not, I'd document a bit of my travel...

This is the park right by I-80, where you're about to cross into Pennsylvania. I finally got some decent Fall colors...

This shows a hint of the Delaware Water Gap. I posted photos of the river a few years back, the first time I drove through en route to NYC. It was easy to get onto the freeway and head on. Not if you're going in the other direction. I went left instead of right, as is typical for me...but had a nice leisurely trip through some lovely country.
I drove down a narrow twisting road that took me next to this stream, into which I pissed instead of fished, since I never been fishin' and the stream's too shallow for anything interesting to catch.
Obviously, this one-lane bridge is no longer in use. I was on Old Mine Road at this point, headed north -- soon to learn a bridge I wanted to cross was closed and I had to go farther north.
This is a rest stop south of Syracuse on I-81.

It took me 8.5 hours to drive what is normally a 6.5 hour trip, an hour of that due to sitting in traffic on the 80 by the Delaware River. I'm actually sort of glad I didn't get back on the freeway there.

BTW, GPS sometimes tries to get you lost. There was one point where it told me to turn left onto a park road, but I couldn't; it was blocked. It wasn't a real road and would not have been good for the Suburban I was driving. I looked later, at a map, and there's not even a bridge there. I finally see how some people wind up driving down stairways when blindly following the voice in their phone.

That, or the NSA is out to get me because I'm a Liberal...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Okay...not so done...

On this drive I thought of a couple of inconsistencies and things that weren't explained in the current draft of OT, so away I shall go to rework them and make it make sense. Maybe. We shall see what we shall see. The good thing is, I'm not out and about till the beginning of November, now. Gives me a chance to regain my brain.

It may have helped that the traffic backup was so bad in the Delaware Water Gap, coming home, I got off the 80 and drove up to the roads alongside the Delaware River thinking I could cross over to the 209 and connect with the 84. Only problem was, two of the bridges were closed. I wound up driving almost all the way on two-lane backwoods roads that were lovely but put me way behind schedule. I didn't get home till 9:30.

Still, I did get some nice photos and found an old bridge that crossed a happy stream, so I pulled an Elton John and pissed in it. And it let my brain relax enough to catch the errors of my writing ways. So no real complaints. Images to follow.

In the notion that as soon as you get rid of something you'll need it, the Best Western I was at had the weirdest WiFi. It would not let me onto Facebook, my blog or work e-mail through Safari, and when I switched to Chrome it only halfway agreed to work. I called the support desk, and they said, "Get an ethernet cable." Did the hotel have one? No. And do I have one anymore? No. Got rid of it a few weeks back.

I'm never throwing anything away ever again.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Done...done, done...done...done.

Oh, Man...OT just under 116,000 words and I'm still not positive about the revelation scene -- AKA: Killer Angel. Yes, I've got titles for each chapter and wonder if that's just a bit too cutsie...but I can't decide now; my brain's mush. And I'm still fighting that damn cold. I felt better this morning, but now it's making headway, again. I'm so loaded with OJ and vitamin C and juice and tea, I think I slosh as I walk.

I'm also an emotional basket case. As I finished up the book, I began to weep. Couldn't stop. I'm now afraid I may have fallen in love with my words and am not telling the story right. That maybe I'm letting Jake down. He doesn't seem to think so...but there's a part of me that is sure I've screwed up in some way. I always do.

When I send it out to the beta readers, I hope they'll let me know if anything doesn't make any sense or if it's hard to figure out. The revelation took a different turn so I re-did that part four times and fear I may have cut out something important...something essential to explaining the mystery.

I'm not making it super easy, by deliberate choice. I don't really like the Agatha Christie/Earl Stanley Gardner set-up of detailing exactly what happened to whom and why they were thought to be the killer until the final reveal. Jake does a little of that, but spread through the last few chapters.

Oh, Jesus, I don't know...I don't know! I've never been this torn up about the end of a book, before. When Bobby Carapisi was done, I felt right enough about it to let it go. The Lyons' Den was finalizing publication as my mother was dying, so even after the final pass by the editors on that one, I asked to do a rewrite of a couple sections. They nearly canceled the book. But I talked them into it and kept to the final format and they were happy about it, as was I.

All I can do now is hope for the best.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I think I screwed up the revelation chapter so need to go back over it, tomorrow. Hopefully I'll feel better; I'm fighting off a cold and I think it scrambled my brain...but I can't really think, right now, so I'll just let it go, for now.

Damn, when I'm sick I get tired and just want to sleep. Like a dog or a cat.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Almost there...

I have about 70 pages left to cut through on OT, and of course they're the most intense...but if all goes according to plan, I'll be done with this draft on Sunday. Then I'm letting it sit for a week as I work on the synopsis and make plans for the book-publishing aspect before I go through, again, for typos. Seems no matter how many times I do that, I keep finding them...

Unless...I ask my beta readers to do that for me. It's better when someone else finds things like that; I tend to read in letters and words where they're wrong, since I know the story and what I mean with it. Yeah, probably better. I'll do a spell check, at least, then away it goes.

I did some work on the cover, once I couldn't sit still anymore. I think I'm going to use an 8x5 inch format on this one. It all depends on how many pages that winds up being...and the attendant costs. I also think if I do work this up as a hardcover, I may do it as a number of limited copies. Maybe 50 or so? Have them designated on the copyright page.

I have a real copyright on the book. If you do it by electronic means, it's $35. A bargain. I'm slowly copyrighting everything I've written, be it a screenplay or book. All my published work is done; it's some of the other things that need it. WGA registrations are cheaper but they run out after 10 years.

Monday I'm headed down to NYC, again, and maybe Baltimore. Even though snow flurries are already expected. Looks like winter's out to mess with my travel plans, again.

Damn you, climate change...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Old age and panic attack...

Woke up with a nasty muscle spasm in my left leg. Took half an hour to calm it down, and I still ache.  I'm going to draw a nice hot bath and sit in that, in a moment, reading a mystery I'm not very fond of. It's not bad, but it came highly recommended and I'm just not able to get into it. The writing is archaic, like they took their style from Dumas or De Maupassant. Weird.

I also had a bit of panic when I couldn't find two of my thumb drives. Both contain massive amounts of my background paperwork and such, and I had this horrible feeling they might have been lost when my bag fell over in Seattle and spilled everything everywhere. I checked the bag but nothing so searched my clothes and apartment and suitcase...then dumped everything that had been with me on this rondelet of work...and found them caught in with some pens and pencils. Tomorrow I'm buying another thumb drive and dumping everything onto it and keeping it someplace safer.

 Now some photos from the last few trips. Like the Seattle Space Needle. I took it while en route to the book fair. I take the train from SeaTac to Westlake Square, then take the Monorail from there to the park. The glob of metal on the right of the photo is the Experience Music Project Museum, and the curve of concrete at the bottom is what the monorail rides on.
Driving up the 390 towards Rochester.
The best colors I got in Maine.

Boston as the plane took off for home. It's damn near impossible to get around in Boston unless you know the city or trust your GPS. Getting out of Logan Airport was an adventure unto itself, and don't get me started on getting back in...

Beantown has farts for brains...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It works out when you let it...

I was worried about some cross-action between Lemm and Tone, but it turned out to be more about how bland the whole moment was. By intensifying it...and letting Jake make a mistake, causing him to be an came out much better.

I've been finding on this draft that I'm trying to do that to the descriptions when things get tight and worrisome for Jake. It's no longer the simple he did this and the other guy did that kind of back and forth, like in Hemingway's work; I'm trying to inject the characters' emotion into the bits. Like when Jake realizes someone who's been his enemy is being set up. Before, it was explained by him. Now? It confuses him and makes him rethink his ideas about what's going on, and he makes a wrong assumption, causing someone else severe emotional pain...but helping him figure out the truth.

Jake's never been perfect, but now I think he's flawed in a believable way. And the plan is for him to use those flaws to his advantage, when he can, because that's what helps him finally reveal what's going on.

I think one of the reasons I so loved the Prime Suspect Series was how Jane Tennyson was human in them. She's smart but sometimes makes stupid mistakes for nonsensical reasons, like all of us do. That's also part of the reason I stopped watching the Law & Order series. The actors in it were placemats for the dialogue, not people.

It's the same in books; I hate set-up stories, where you're being told to feel a certain in the novels of Russell Banks. Of course, I have a tendency to do that, myself...mainly so people know what I mean when I write the piece...but what I'm doing now is gutting that as much as I can. I like it more when you can decide for yourself if you like or dislike Jake and Tone and Matt and such. Makes the story more yours as you read it...I hope...

I'm not perfect at it, yet, but I'm trying...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Mmmmm...not an easy day. Arrived into Boston half an hour late on the redeye from Seattle then had to drive 100 miles up to Maine. In a thick misty fog that sometimes shifted to rain. Hell, looking out the windows of the plane, I couldn't tell we were landing until the wheels hit the ground. And getting away from Boston's Airport is a nightmare. I don't want to think about how much fun it will be returning, tomorrow.

I stopped twice for quickie naps because I was drifting as I drove. I got to the hotel early but they let me check in so I grabbed an hour's more sleep...then ran out to visit the location of the pickup then got dinner and came back to the hotel and got to work on OT...and decided one bit just isn't working, anymore.

Fortunately, it only means rewriting about 5 pages...but I'm vacillating on which direction to take it. Do I let Antony get involved or keep it as is, with Lemm thinking he's helping and actually hurting Jake's plans? I may wind up tossing a coin, because it works well either way. Dammit. Maybe there's a third way...

Seems I'm a week too early for the fall extravaganza. A lot of trees are turning but the majority are still green. I'll download the pictures I took when I'm back in Buffalo; I want to see if tomorrow's any better. Today was drizzly and gray and it's hard for colors to shine under those circumstances.

At least I got a decent view from my hotel. It's up on a hill, and in one direction is the 95, but looking to the left is a pond and trees. All new, it seems, and very nice. Just not close to anyplace to eat. But I have a microwave and there was a grocery store near the job site, so I went the cheap route and nuked my one meal, today.

Now I think I'm going to sit in a tub and drift, in a safe manner...

Monday, October 12, 2015

Less is more...

The first two sections of OT are set, and I've cut them down to 231 pages and under 54,000 words...mainly by just eliminating repetition and moments where Jake tells us what's going on, even though it's obvious. If I keep doing this through the next two sections, I may wind up with under 500 double-spaced pages and maybe 110,000 words.

Of course, I've added in a bit, as well, to increase the clarification, and the removal Jake's disapproval of one aspect of what Owen's done works a lot better. He was coming across as a bit too judgmental, and that is not what Jake should ever least, not on something trivial.

The book fair went smoothly, and prepping the shipments, today, was done fairly quickly. I've been trying to keep to an east coast timeframe, so I got done just in time to have an early dinner at the airport. For some reason, I was craving a burger and fries. Fortunately, there's a Chili's here, albeit at the other end of the terminal, but it was worth the walk. Their avocado burger had sour cream, lightly seared peppers and caramelized onions, and was to die for.

My redeye's not for a couple more hours, and already it's posted as delayed twenty minutes. Not that I mind; the later I get into Boston, the later I get to my hotel and the easier it will be to get an early check-in...and nap. I can't sleep on a plane, just doze and that's not really enough. I shouldn't have any trouble getting up to Portland. And I'm hoping the leaves are really turning by now...if they haven't already and fallen off.

I'm not looking forward to this next job; it will be very physical with lots of stairs. But if all goes well I should be home in time, Wednesday, to get a good night's sleep. All depends on JetBlue.

Hmm...maybe I shouldn't have said that...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The new, improved opening to OT...

Just to give everyone an idea of where I'm heading...and I will not be rewriting this...unless you find a typo...
"Jake, why do you stick with Tone?"

It was my stepmother, Mira, asking during a stop in Paris to see her, and it was the second question in less than an hour to come at me weird.

The first was a five-word text sent to my European SIM card number by my Uncle Owen -- Jake, why haven't you come? Like I hadn't shown up to a party of his or dropped by when I said I would. Like I didn't live in the middle of goddam Texas while he was in Palm Springs. Like he didn't have my American contact info, so if he really did need to get hold of me for some reason, he could have called; then I could have been by his side the same day. But to send it to a number I don't use except when I'm in France or Denmark? Four weeks ago? The day after my last trip to Copenhagen? That made no sense.

Of course, I called him the second I was done with French Customs -- about midnight his time. I got dropped straight to voicemail, and it was too full to accept more messages. Which was not untypical for him, so I sent him an e-mail. It bounced back. That was a-typical, but Mira was waiting so all I could do was text him to call me when he woke up. With that on my mind, not to mention a winter storm blowing in that might delay my connection and mess with my schedule, I did not need any crap from my father's second wife.

Of course, what she really asked was, “Iacob, what is your loyalty with this man, Antony?” She always calls me by my Persian name, and I'm the only one allowed to call my guy Tone. Plus, English is her third language after Farsi and French, so she's always going to sound more formal. We were having an early lunch at an Indian café near De Gaulle, in one of those thousand year-old homes where even the whitewashed stone walls creaked, so I loaded some Aloo Matar into my mouth to give me a chance to think.

She continued on with, “Do you remain beside him because others say you should not? Are you to be stubborn, in the way of your father?"

"Mira, what the hell?" I'd snarled, still half-chewing. "I love Tone."

"It is not love to remain with someone when it is to your own detriment; it is self-loathing."

Oh...typical psychologist; Here's your box, little man, and aren't you ashamed for being in it? I wondered if she analyzed my half-brothers-and-sisters in the same way...and figured, probably.

I swallowed, sipped my beer, took a breath and snarled, “Psycho-lady...q’est-çe que c’est?” Tried to joke; didn't work.

Her expression turned quizzical, like she was thinking, This lab rat was smart, once upon a time, so why is he screwing up on the maze leading to the cheese? "Has Antony told you all that he has done?”

On that? Probably not. I knew more about him than anyone, but even I didn't know it all. I doubt anyone ever will. That didn't stop people from wondering, If he's not an open book, why do you trust him? the last 10 years I'd met too many open books perfectly willing to stab you in the back to let myself get dragged down that road, so I pushed my plate aside, leaned against the table, folded my hands, looked her straight in the eyes and asked, “Mira...what. Is this really. About?”

She hesitated then took a sip of her wine. Burgundy with a salad; there's something wrong about that.

"I apologize," she said. "I am too used to being clinical with my patients. What is the American phrase? We are to be cutting the shit?"

"That's one way o' puttin' it." Spoken in my twangiest twang with my goofiest grin.

She looked straight at me. “Your mother has contacted your father. Twice...that I know of.”

And goofball left the building. I got real still. “So?”

“The telephone calls referred to you and your uncle, Owen Taylor. As I understand what has happened, he has vanished. She wishes to speak with him and asks Faraz to use his influence to bring forth an investigation."

My appetite dropped to zero, because my dad was handing her a pile of crap. First off, my uncle wasn't the kind who'd just disappear; my mother was. I can't tell you the number of times I'd get dumped at Nana's so she could run off to some hunting trip or seminar or church retreat, while we always knew where Uncle Owen was, even if he wasn't in constant contact. Second, he was mom's half-brother by Nana's second marriage, and mom did not give one single solitary damn about him. Why? Because he was gay. In fact, she blamed him for me choosing to go that way and be of the devil, something she'd actually screamed at me before kicking me out of the house. But now she was calling her hated ex-husband about her hated brother because she can't find him? No way in hell.

"Mira, Uncle Owen's in California; my father's based in France. What kind of influence can he have?"

She gave me that maze-rat-screwed-up look, again. "Faraz owns property there. Some in partnership with your uncle."

Which I did not know. "Which means he has all of his contact information. So what'd he find out?"

She hesitated. "He was unable to learn anything." father, with all his resources, couldn't locate my uncle? Not good, times ten.

At the airport in a JetBlue delay...

There are a lot of things I like about Jet Blue, but consistently being on time ain't one of 'em. I'd say half the time their planes are delayed, occasionally to the point I miss an appointment or a connection. As of now, I should easily make my flight in Boston...but you never know. The flight out of Buffalo went from a 20 minute delay to a 40 minute to now nearly an hour.

They aren't the only airline to have this trouble. The later it gets in the day the more likely Southwest will be delayed, too. And United has consistently caused me trouble, to the point I do not want to even think of flying them. That's half the reason I'm using Cathay out of Toronto; twice on international flights I've missed my connection at Newark thanks to them -- once to Hong Kong and once to Lisbon.

I wish I had more time to do the travel; then I'd go by train or just drive. It's already easier to go that route down to NYC. And you don't have to hassle with the TSA and their squirrelly requirements. The only positive, right now, is as soon as I post this, I'm jumping back onto OT. Can't do that while driving.

At least, you can't till we have driverless cars...

Friday, October 9, 2015


I did as much as I could on OT, today, then began to zone. It will be done by the end of the month. Period. Including letting it sit then going through it to proof for typos before sending it out. Then I'm getting onto NaNoWriMo.

I've set myself up for the 2015 challenge, and I'm doing Underground Guy. I've got it plotted out and sort of started, so I'm not working from zero. And it will give me the impetus to finish a draft. I've even worked up a possible cover. Not the best I've ever done but a beginning.

I'm kind of itching to get back to work with Devlin, Reg, and Tawfi. They're such a disparate trio -- Devlin a rapist finding out he can't justify his actions, anymore; Reg a decent cop who's married and thinks he's aware but find he isn't; and Tawfi the epitome of style, sophistication and entitlement who believes himself immune to human reality...but isn't.

Each already has his own voice and is willing to lead me places; I've been putting them off till I got done with OT. Now I can set the date to rejoin their conversation...November 1st. It won't be easy and I may not make it, but I'll have a good start and a nice long round-trip to Hong Kong to focus on it, because according to Cathay's website, my plane has an AC outlet under the seat.

If you gots the power, you gots to use it...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Enough is enough...

I've been smashing my head against the wall of OT for too long; it's time for the book to be finished. So from now on, I'm not rewriting anything except to correct typos or inconsistencies. I've fallen into my old trap of reworking the story down to the point where I'm changing a single word on a page...then the next day changing it back. That's not writing; that's psychosis.

So I'm giving myself till the end of the month to finish this draft and send it out for a second beta-read. It's almost like a new book, as compared to the original draft I sent...and copyrighted. Almost. The same basic structure is there, as are the vast majority of characters and events. I just dropped the lecturing, which I'm sure no one will miss, and made Jake's search for his uncle more important to him.

I had one beta-reader dismiss the "disappearing uncle" bit as meaningless. "People disappear all the time," he said. And he's right about that...but that's beside the point. Jake goes looking for his uncle because the man backed him up when he was outed and kicked out of his home and went to jail. Owen means something to Jake, and my lead's not the kind of guy who will just shrug important things off.

Another reader noted that Jake makes some easy connections between things, and she was right. So I'm trying to make his knowledge and awareness and realizations grow organically from the situation and his research. He's got Tone and Matt to back him up and gather info for him to process; he doesn't need to be brilliant.

Nor do I, really...which is hard for me to accept...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Movie Therapy

The first time I saw a Hitchcock film in a theater, it was a double-bill of Rebecca and Notorious. I went back to my roots to get past the mood I'm in...and now I'm back on track.

I have Notorious on DVD, but you can see it all on YouTube. The scene on the balcony, where Cary Grant tells Ingrid Bergman what's expected of her, is one of the most subtly vicious moments ever in film. Because without saying it once, she's told by the man she loves she has to have sex with another man, and if she does, he will hate her but if she doesn't, she will let down her country...and the decision is hers to make. So no matter which way it goes, she loses.

Ben Hecht wrote the script...and it is damn near perfection.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

In a bad place, right now...

I got nothing done on OT during this round of jobs, and Saturday I'm off to Seattle then Boston in what promises to be a lot of tough work so doubt I'll get anything more done. I don't know what it was, but I could not focus my thoughts during this drive -- 1270 miles in 3 days. No radio. But my brain still wandered all over the place. Drove through some nice country with the leaves just beginning to turn, but it was all the sort of Oh, that's nice in passing kind of enjoyment...which is minimal.

Maybe a lot of this has to do with me not eating right during this trip. I don't really do breakfast and I've skipped lunch twice, nibbling on crackers and DP to make do till dinner because I wanted to keep to my schedule. Get in, get out, get on with my life...and I managed to work it okay. But I now feel very on edge and unsure of what to do next.

Then I got home and found La Quinta's being a pain in the ass, again. Seems lately any time I have to change a reservation with them, it gets screwed up. I got billed for an extra $158 for my stay in NYC, last week, because they say I didn't tell them I was only staying 4 nights instead of 6. Fortunately, I hadn't trashed the updated reservation, yet, so I can send them that in the morning, but it's irritating as hell and shouldn't be necessary.

Then the hotel I stayed at in New Haven didn't factor in my AAA discount even though they have my AAA card and it was worked in on the sheet when I signed in. But I stupidly didn't check it when I got my receipt, this morning, so I got billed the full rate.

Then I called my brother in San Antonio and found out he will need cataract surgery...and that my nephew is having problems with the latest house he's trying to renovate and sell...and that little bro' had a near run-in with the cops because a CVS employee thought he was homeless and ordered him out of the store. He was there to buy a soda and said so. They got into an argument and the clerk called the cops...who agreed he looked homeless. He'd been working that day, in construction, and showed the cops he had money on him. He was just dirty from the job. Made no difference; they told stay away from CVS.

And on top of it all, the world is supposed to end, tomorrow, according to this doomsday cult who've only made the same damned prediction three times before. Maybe I'm just reacting to the growing insanity of the world...I dunno...I just feel like I'm ready to run amok and tear at my hair as I scream wild obscenities at life in general...

...Still clothed; I'm not that crazy...yet...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

First hints of winter...

Driving from Buffalo to Washington was nice, for the most part. The only bad moments came from drivers who seemed unwilling to consider others on the road and a jerk who ignored a "lane closed" notice until he had no choice but to move over, then forced himself into my lane two cars ahead of me. He was in a Mercedes, so I guess manners don't apply to people like him.

Anyway, I came down the 390 and along the 15 to connect with the 83 to hit Baltimore and then did the Washington Parkway into DC. It's hilly till you hit the Susquehanna River, and the trees are starting to turn Fall colors. Now instead of huge blocks of greenery, I saw the beginnings of patchworks of red and gold and orange and brown and crimson and yellow and even some blue. It's nowhere near its peak; my hope is when I come back from Seattle into Boston and drive up to Portland, Maine, I'll get the full effect.

Damn...that's a week from tomorrow. I'll be taking lots of pictures then, I hope. Today was not a day for stopping, however; I wanted to get to the hotel by dinnertime. As it was, I didn't eat till 8pm...but it was a damn good 5 cheese lasagna with meat sauce. Which is amazing considering my hotel is not on the street it claims its address is on...and which GPS led me to...even though all the street signs say it's a different street.

I'm somewhat used to streets changing names from one block to the next. And part of Robertson has numbers in the 200s on one side of the street while on the other side they're in the 800s, or something like that...because on one side is Beverly Hills and on the other is Los Angeles. But to claim a street is what it isn't? That's fresh.

Sometimes when I go to other cities I feel as if I'm participating in an absurdist comedy.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Simple things...

When I write a first draft of a script or story, I tend to throw in everything I can think of to keep the plot moving. Comments. Actions. Details. Directions. You name it, I got it in there. Then during my rewrites I tend to cut back. Trim out the unnecessary stuff and aim for lean and mean. I don't always make it...but that's my goal.

Of course, sometimes everything just falls it did for HTRASG. Curt exploded out of me and I did very little in the way of cutting him back or even trying to rein him in. Fact is, once his story was down on paper, the only thing I was doing on the rewrites was making sure his voice was consistent.

With LD, it was the opposite; I wanted the story to be chaotic, like Daniel's mind. Ace's patois was a deliberate part of that, along with his snide commentary about everything and slow revelations to himself of what's going on, so it took a while to get close to being right, and even now I could rework it. It's not a simple read...even though I honestly thought it was...but it works.

With OT, I seem caught in this never-ending spiral of rewriting and trimming and adding and smoothing and adjusting and clarifying and back to rewriting and trimming and on and on and on...and I have no idea when I'll be done with this round. I got through the second chapter, today. That's all. And tomorrow I'm driving down to DC so won't be able to revisit it till I get to my hotel, which will be late. So I don't know what to think about what's going on with it.

BC took me years to write, but that was a pretty heavy book about a tragedy that I did not want to be a tragedy. But I got the first two sections done. Then it took me years more to figure out how to do the last section, one I knew was needed even though the first two sections seemed fine unto themselves. But it was finally completed...and I use that to remind myself that eventually OT will be, too.

My process is not the same for every book or script I write. Some are born ready to run; others need lots of special care and therapy; others are just a pain in the ass and will never be happy with themselves.

Looks like Jake's story is one of those high-maintenance ones.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Line by line...

I went back through chapter 1...the intro to the story...and trimmed down some more. Not a lot, and some was just consolidating or restructuring sentences to made the reading smoother. I'm also working up a step outline from what I have written so I can more easily cross-reference what I've done. Relying on remembering what it is just isn't hacking it.

Man...I'd been honing that logical flaw in the story from the outset, and to be this far along in the writing before I noticed it has made me pretty damned unsure of myself. I know I'm prone to trying to make my work perfect and getting so lost in it I can't see the glaring issues, even as I polish up the minimal ones, but this was one instance where I should have handled it earlier. Before I send this out for its second beta read, I want it to be as close as possible to the final product.

Long day at work getting ready for the next round of jobs...and then the Seattle Book Fair...and another job popping up, not to mention my plans being changed on me by my boss so that I'm going to be on the road longer. I'm actually at the point where I have no firm idea of what I'm doing the rest of October and November, just highlights.

Sometimes I feel cross-eyed...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Returned to sender...

Back home. Tired as hell. 203 boxes weighing an average of 50 lbs each are now ensconced in a safe place to prepare for travel, and I ache all over. Next week's jobs will be simplicity, in comparison.

I tried to work on OT during the train trip to Buffalo, but finally had to doze for a while to keep from drifting too much. I did make it through the first section...of 4. Lots left to do, and now I'm paranoid I might be missing another logical flaw. I guess the story was too complex and detailed and...really...fussy for anyone to notice. Positive aspect is, I'm now hiding what the new detail is in exactly what the problem was.

Not gonna be a long post; I need to shower and sleep.