Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rewriting and adding...and it's 50,051 words

I went back through the Adam parts of A65 and found places to add in memories and expand on actions -- like when Adam is being made over by Orisi at Casey's behest, and how it's his first taste of real Hollywood chaos. That expanded by over 400 words by letting Orisi jump to even more extreme extremes and Adam having to work his way through it so he can get the book he's been sent for. But this also sets him up for a compliment from Patricia, Casey's mother, regarding his legs and ass. Something he's never had before.

He also refers to his brothers and sister a lot more and discusses how his mother got him into ballroom dancing as a way to get him to exercise and not sit in a chair all day reading a book, which segued into him talking about the amateur football team he belongs to (soccer) and sets up a moment in the bizarre party at Lando's where people are dancing to music no one can hear unless they are wearing a mask.

Before I knew it, I'd passed 50K and met the challenge. Barely. And I haven't gone half as far as I could with this story, yet. It's still swinging between romance and comedy and drama with a touch of existentialism. Not sure what that means, yet, but I do know it's going to be interesting, at least.

But the main thing is, I met the challenge and didn't have to cheat to make it work. I did that on one book -- The Golden Sea -- and it hurt no one but me...but it did not help in any way, either. I have yet to return to the book because it would be like starting from the beginning.

I'm tempted to go through and do another draft of the book; make it more solid and consistent and ready for the serious rewrites I'll be doing. I'm going to focus more on my style, this time, and do everything I can to make this as polished a tale as possible, so I want the structure to be solid.

A new theme that seems to be peeking through the wordage is Loneliness. Casey's lonely. Patricia's lonely. Gertrude is lonely. So is Adam, even if he doesn't know it. It comes together in many ways, and it makes the ending more bittersweet than the script version because of how things work out, but still hopeful.

So far.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Done at 48,118 words...dammit...

So close and yet so far. The Alice 65 maxed out short of the total needed to meet the challenge. I'm brain dead, right now, so will go through my notes, tomorrow, to see if I can find another 1900 words to add in, but it's not promising. And I will not cheat. If I don't make it, I don't make it. At least I have a first draft of the book in decent enough condition.

The ending changed. In the script I had Adam staying on at the university, but because the betrayal is so raw in the book...he leaves. He ends his careful, cloistered existence for the big bad world of fending for himself. That cute happy ending I had in the script might work on film but it was wrong for here.

I also think I need to work out the timing for the ending bit around the jet. I don't think it's possible to get from Van Nuys to LAX in an hour, no matter how crazy a driver you are. you have to deal with the 405, and that is a nightmare just about any time of the day.

Hell, the whole book will take a fair amount of work.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Uh-oh...may come up short

I just cut a fair amount from A65 because it just didn't work within the structure of the story, and now I'm not so sure I'll make it to 50,000 words for this draft. Oh, I'm sure it will expand and deepen as I do rewrites, and I'll probably still wind up with 60,000...but right now I'll be hard pressed to hit above 48,000.

I guess that's good. It means the story is quick and easy. And I haven't yet gone into my folder to remind myself of ideas I'd cast aside for the screenplay, so I may still wind up with something close or barely over. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Right now, I'm zoning so am doing no good.

I'm at just under 46,500 words with 10 pages of script left to translate into narrative format. From the point where they have the fight in the private jet that's out of control to the end. All the final back and forth between Adam and the people he works with, too, which will expand as I do it.

The moment where Adam realizes he's been betrayed turned out pretty raw. I may need to smooth that over to keep the book's tone even. Maybe. It also may be that I have a couple things happen too often and will need to remove one or two so their impact is not lessened.

I'm back to not knowing what the story is about. The spine from which everything extends. The action moves along all right but I still need the unifier...and there's no telling when I'll find it. I didn't catch onto OT's till the next to the last draft...of 18 or 20, I don't remember.

Damn, I hope A65 doesn't take that many.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Getting there. Only 5500 words to go to meet the challenge, and 3 days to do it in. I'd be a bit further along but for some reason my dictionary has shifted to German. Dunno why, but all of a sudden it doesn't like anything I type in English so puts a red line under words like and and the. Very distracting.

It's going to take a fair amount of work to get this story into decent shape for publishing. Right now there are too many disjointed moments I've thrown in so I'd have them in the correct area. And I know there's some repetition of bits that I'm still thinking on, as regards to where they go in the book.

It's gotten a bit darker but still has humor in it. Sometimes within a few lines of each other. It's going to be a rather odd book, once it's done. I just hope people want to buy it and read it.

En route back from Hong Kong I watched all of Season 9 of The Big Bang Theory and then watched the first Star Trek movie. BBT was funny, and ST was ponderous with SFX that did not hold up to the test of time. Last night, as I sat in the tub, I streamed 2 of the Hercule Poirot mysteries via Acorn. David Suchet plays Poirot and they were made in 1989...and hold up surprisingly well, production wise...but the mysteries were rather simplistic. I knew whodunit within 10 minutes of each.

Obviously not originally Agatha Christie.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Writing down the wrong path...

It's wrong. The two-voice telling of The Alice 65 is not right for the story. It's not what the characters want and I finally got it through my thick skull, last night, as I was trying to get to sleep. This is Adam's story. He should be telling it as he experiences it, no one else to explain anything. What's interesting is, Casey agrees.

I couldn't see it because I was too caught in shifting what was in the script to narrative form. I knew Adam's parts were working fine but Casey's were stilted and trite, not to mention dull. And then I realized she actually pulled out a couple of tricks and was showing me how to make even her sections into Adam's...and I was ignoring them. But now? Now I can see no other way.

I guess it's best to figure that out at 42,000 words than the 60K I'm expecting the story to be. Maybe even 65K. I'll have four chapters to change, but everything else is already Adam speaking and that's perfect. Right now, I'm at the point after the party when Casey and Adam are beginning to open up to each other. He's had his little freak-out. She's realized she went too far. Now they're sitting before a fire as his clothes wash and she tends to his injuries.

It's funny, but in researching romantic comedies it seemed the stories not told in third person were told from a woman's POV. I think that's part of why I tried to work Casey in, for those who wouldn't read a rom-com fom a male perspective. I don't know if this will lessen the book's chances of selling, but I can't take that into serious consideration. What matters is the story is right.

And the truth is, it is without question, Adam's story.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Still angry about the election...

It's now more than 2 weeks since Trump was elected to the Presidency, and I'm still angry and nervous about it. He's been so inconsistent and hateful, so far, putting a racist like Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General, a governor with no foreign relations experience like Nikki Hayley as ambassador to the UN, a billionaire named Betsy DeVos who wants to privatize all primary education so she can make more money, a notorious homophobe like Mike Pence as his VP, and an anti-semite like Steve Bannon as part of his transition team...this is the devil's wet-dream.

It's The Marx Brothers meets The Three Stooges mixed with Laurel and Hardy, and some people act like they're great dramatic actors, ignoring the fact that these fools will not only be setting national policy for the next four years but international...and their lead boy will have his finger on the nuclear arms trigger. If he has one of his 3am fits over some slight given him by the ambassador from Iran, our only hope to avoid Armageddon is a military coup.

People keep saying to relax, we'll get through this, not remembering that under Ronald Reagan, tens of thousands of gay men died before he even considered acknowledging the AIDs crisis, and he even refused to help his friend, Rock Hudson, when he asked for it. They forget that under Eisenhower, thousands of people's lives were ruined due to the HUAC Red Scare, the vast majority of them innocent of any crime. They seem not to know that this is exactly what the Germans said to each other when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, when no one really thought he meant to exterminate the Jewish race.

Anyone who tells me we'll get through this means they think they will and the hell with anyone else. It's usually wealthier, more educated white men and women saying it, almost all of them heterosexual, because we are the favored race in this country and they are the favored sexual orientation. But some African-Americans have also said it. Meanwhile gay men and women are being threatened and attacked, blacks are being attacked and killed, as are Muslims and (stupidly) Sikhs. The hateful rhetoric from Trump's crowd is only increasing, and the media are falling in line to make it all seems just like business as usual.

That Trump is now signalling he won't be registering Muslims or really building a wall and that gay marriage is the law of the land (for now) is not reassuring; he's been so back and forth on his positions who knows what he'll decide tomorrow? Who knows if he's really taking his instructions from Moscow? Who knows if he's even really a billionaire? So far all he's proven to be is an unstable man in a job that requires more than just stability but also awareness and compassion and understanding and self-control, none of which he has even begun to suggest he truly has.

Seriously -- when the president-elect feels like it's appropriate to whine about a group of actors politely asking the vice president to be compassionate and understanding, you know he's anything BUT strong...or intelligent. He's nothing but a schoolyard bully who can't even handle the drama kids.

And that makes him 100 times scarier than he's ever been.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

More updating on A65

Today may have been turkey day, but I spent it working on The Alice 65...except for one main thing -- posting David Martin as a Kindle. It's now up and available, even though it's not completely integrated with the paperback on the site. I know I should have done this long ago, but I'm so far behind in my life, this is practically on time for it.

Oh, I also updated my health insurance. It was time and I could just see things getting too crazy for me to work on it later, so took care of it. That only took an hour.

I do feel a lot better, today, and had my own turkey meal and nap, afterwards, but for some reason I really want a shot of Irish Whiskey instead of DP. Is that my inner Hemingway talking?

Casey's voice has taken on its own grammar and word choice. I think I'm almost to the point where I don't need to specify who's telling the story when I shift, because Adam's manner of speaking is so proper and precise, while Casey's is casual and straightforward. I'll need to work this into the first sections I've done, but it's rambling along, nicely.

I found the perfect image for Lando, BTW -- Milo Ventimiglia. He's got a goofy charm to him and yet is also good-looking in an off-beat way...which I think will make it more believable that Casey goes for Adam once she sees he's not as much of a dork as she thinks.

And he just looks like a Lando, to me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Catching up...

Been a rough and tumble 10 days, so I'm just now posting what should have been posted during them. Or maybe not. Whatever. I'm tired. Feeling down thanks to an unfascinating mixture of events. Almost back on normal time from Hong Kong. And at just under 37,000 words on A65.

First things first -- the trip to Hong Kong. Well, it was 10% nice, 90% painful. Going through JFK meant 16+ hours on a plane, each way, from Buffalo. From Toronto, it's 3 hours shorter...because I don't have to fly down to NYC; I take a bus up to Toronto's airport. Much more comfortable. And the flight from JFK goes the northern route, back up over Toronto across the Arctic and Russia and China back down to Hong Kong. Which adds 2 hours. Same coming back.

That is too long to be on a plane. And it told on me. As did having uncomfortable beds in my hotel. They were like granite...well, the first one was; the second one was like mulched granite.

I was also hit by some food poisoning. I stupidly tried some Chinese food, using the stupid idea that since I'm in Hong Kong I should a least do some tasting...and it took 4 doses of Imodium to stop it. After that, I stuck to McDonald's, Subway, and room service.

Moving in the book fair was about as expected, though moving out took longer than I thought because we had extra things coming back and could barely fit everything into the truck. So by this time, I feel like hell, my back is killing me, I'm dehydrated so guzzling Watson's Water like crazy, and ready to be home.

So...the next day I screwed up and didn't make sure the export bookings got done once the weights and dimensions of the shipments were set, which meant my cohort at the office had to take care of it on top of everything else she has to do. And that's on top of a 13 hour time difference.

A lot more happened but suffice to say, this was not my favorite trip anywhere. The only positive thing was, when I got back to the States, I got through customs in no time, even though Terminal 7 is so Third World a terminal, it's an embarrassment.

As regards my health, I thought I was coming down with the flu, I was so messed up. Headache. Muscles sore. Head pounding. Shortness of breath. I finally got into a clinic and the doctor could see nothing to indicate that. No fever. Lungs clear. Skin not flush. No Thyroid crap. He said it was probably the plane rides, lack of sleep, food poisoning, dehydration and food poisoning that slammed me. And it looks like he's right -- I'm feeling a lot better, and that's without the meds.

This was supposed to be a nice, easy trip with an extra day built in to make things casual; instead the only bright spots were, I saw my artist friend, Scott Hessells for beers and we commiserated about the election, and I do like most of the dealers who exhibit at this fair. One is especially good-looking, but I can't do anything about it because he's a good client...and married.

And for the first time, this man who thinks little of wedded bliss wish it was him experiencing it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Over 17,500 words...

Continuation from yesterday...and the day the chapter break...
Instead, I said, "Sir, wouldn't it be better to send Bill or Elizabeth to collect the book?" He stopped. He knew what I was going to say so no need to say it beyond, "You know what happened with my father ... "

Vincent's shoulders tightened and he nodded as he said, "Yes ... but you are the only person I trust to treat this with the gravity it deserves. As ... as soon as you have the book, you're to bring it straight back. Your itinerary's on your desk."

"Vincent, please ... "

"It's already decided, Adam, Ticket's in your name and we can't change it. The cost would be ... it would be prohibitive." He turned to me, putting on a smile he obviously did not truly feel. "But once you've turned her over, you're free till Monday."

The lift opened and he stepped into it, indicating I should follow him I did. He pushed the button for the second floor, saying in a voice that was too cheerful, "I hear you're involved with that girl in I-T."

How nice of Vincent; behind the times by two years ... and a month ... and eight days.  Give or take a couple hours. "Not anymore, sir."

His face did not change except to allow himself to blink in surprise. "Oh. Well. Supposed to be a lovely weekend. Why not invite her to Sheerness? Go bathing on the beach. Rekindle things."

"Oh, not ... not a good idea, sir," I replied, my mind still caught in the idea of my upcoming journey. "She's married and with child, and I ... um, I can't swim."

That finally removed his too-cheerful smile. "Oh. Well." The smile fought to return. "Lowers your chances of being drowned, doesn't it?"

"One would think so," was all I could say, in response.

He cast me a glance, showing I'd made no sense to him. I had no need to; it was a family matter. My brother, Connor, a couple years older than I and of the decided belief that he was far superior to myself, had decided the best way for me to get over my panic when in water too deep to stand up in was to push me into a lake. Force me to swim. I nearly drowned before my father got me out, and my fears were now strapped to my DNA. But when you have a sociopathic narcissist for a brother, moments like this are to be expected, I suppose. At least dealing with Connor and his peculiarities prepared me for what I was to encounter in Los Angeles.

At least ... one would think so.

Friday, November 11, 2016

More of A65 and the hell with politics.

Followup to yesterday's post.


I very nearly jumped back up on the ladder. But I caught my breath and said, "Oh -- Vincent, we should revisit that Shedel and find out what the seller's trying to -- "

He cut me off with, "Have you been down here all this time?"

"Just -- just a bit," I said. "Our meeting's not till half-three."

His expression grew exasperated. "It's now four."

"Don't be absurd," I said. "I set my phone's alarm to remind me." Then I looked at it and it was flashing -- YOU'RE LATE. I'd inadvertently flicked it to mute. "Oh, sorry, sir. I was just locating information on that Romanian Liber Chronicarum and -- "

Vincent cast me his perfect rendition of pure confusion. "Elizabeth's doing provenance on that. What about your own work?"

"The Erasmus Apophthegmata? It's all set for Jeremy to photograph and -- "

"Then you're free."

Free? Was he mad? "Sir, we've a hundred more -- "

He raised his hand to silence me. "Come on upstairs. And leave the catalogue, there's a good lad. Elizabeth can do her own provenance."

I climbed back up and set it into its correct box ... and couldn't help but put more in order, they were in such disarray.

"Vincent, if Jeremy is going to do the shelving down here, he should learn the alphabet and numeric sequence.

"Adam! Come!" And his tone of voice was more than exasperated, it was irritated and ready to unleash a slew of carefully refined words meant to slice you down to your knees with gentle contempt. I quickly switched two more catalogs around then jumped down and let him lead me back to the lift, like a well-trained dog.

This part of the path to the lift was really quite narrow, with ceiling pipes so low, one had to walk almost like a duck to avoid them.

Vincent did not look at me as he asked, "Is your passport in order?"

"I suppose," I said.

"When did you last use it?"

I had to think, for a moment. "Three years ago, when you made me visit New York's Public Library to review a collection they'd received as a gift. I had to get an emergency renewal because I'd let mine lapse and -- "

"Then you've been to the states. Care to go, again?"

"I'd rather not, I said. "New York is madness. I was almost struck by two cabs, a lorry and four bike messengers ... just as I was crossing Fifth Avenue."

"You'd be going to Los Angeles, this time."

I knew Los Angeles was big and wide and open, but I still had to ask, "Is it saner than Manhattan?"

"Doubtful. But we've acquired a book and -- "

I froze. I had heard the rumors about this around our university, but I dared not believe them. Before I could even think to silence myself, I blurted out, "Sir, is -- is it the Alice Sixty-five?"

Vincent spun on me, so angry he actually had color in his face. "Who told you about that!?"

Dear God, it was true. I had to take a step back. Regain my breath. "I -- I just heard ... around ... " From Jeremy whispering the possibility to Bill, a fortnight back. Just after he'd taken a photo of me working on a Blake's Albion that had been offered to a dealer, which turned out to be a later printing but still of some value. He'd taken one of Bill, as well. I seriously believe the lad is what's referred to as sexually fluid, these days. I wondered if Elizabeth knew ... or even cared.

Vincent calmed himself and muttered, "I wanted it kept quiet till the book was here. There's a bloody Australian after it, too, and he's been more than adamant. Even contacted one of the regents and offered to pay us not to accept it. Well, the paperwork's been signed, so it's ours, now. Done and dusted."

"Oh. Oh ... are we certain about this? I'm always leery when some person discovers a book worth a million pounds in their attic -- "

"Casey Blanchard is not some person," he shot back. My confusion about her must have shown on my face, because he added, "Haven't you seen Ilithium Four?"

I bolted upright and banged my head on a pipe. Actually saw stars, it was sharp. And yes, I knew of the film but had studiously avoided it. The four-volume book was a lovely reworking of Virgil's The Aeneid into a world of the future, keeping surprisingly close to the dactylic hexameter style of writing, so I bore no interest in witnessing the desecration of a classic work of Science-Fiction.

Vincent smiled in his very arch manner and said, "Purist, are we? Of course. I'll lend you my copy to watch on the plane." He turned to continue walking. "I have it in both DVD and BluRay. Which will your laptop accept?"

"DVD, sir," I muttered, following him. My head still smarted, but I'd been done far worse to in a footy game, so ...

"Very well. Miss Blanchard is one of the leads, and the book was bequeathed to her by her grandfather, not found in an attic. I've seen the photos of it, inside and out, so I am certain it's a true 1865 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Is that acceptable?"

No, it wasn't. But it does no good to argue with Vincent when he is as prickly as this.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

More of A65...reworked

I'm making myself focus on the writing, because the Trump-holes have already begun their path of intimidation against anyone not WASP and male. This is what I did this evening...not a writing so much as a rewriting...still near the beginning...


We referred to our underground level as the dungeon ... and let me just say, if I could live there, I would. It's dark and dank and has flooded more than once -- though we have long since put in pumps and repaired the drains so lately the so-called flooding has been little more than an inch or two on the floor, with the lowest shelving of books another two inches above that -- and I'm certain various vermin would love to call it home were it not for our lovely ginger tom, Henry the Fourteenth (after the thirteen preceding him) who was always happy to greet one as the lift door opened, allow a couple of scratches to his ears and strokes along his back, then wander off to be contented in some dry corner till it was time to hunt for his supper...which, considering his hefty weight, he was not wanting for.

As regards me, the source of contentment was the row upon row of auction records to peruse, as well as heavy tomes discussing book collecting and binderies through more than a century, back issues of art magazines, catalogues of the various antiquarian book dealers throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, and America, printouts of articles accessed via ILAB or the ABAA and archival notations made on ABE-dot-com and, if that did nothing to satisfy my need for information, critiques and histories and biographies of well-known collectors to scan through. I could easily spend a week getting the exact right information together to write the provenance of some wonderfully obscure volume, every moment of the day spent dashing between the Sothbey's sale of Samuel Hogarth's works from June 1825 to a printout of Heritage Auction House's minimal works in last month's online offering.

So I provided Henry with his ritual scratch and stroke -- something I almost believe he saw as a toll for entry into his domain -- then I hunted down an Oxford Auction bibliography from a long, packed shelf of information prior to 1960, which Jeremy had yet to digitize. Naturally, it was not where it should have been. Gossip between Elizabeth and Bill was, the lad went to a public school in Tumbridge Wells ... not that I listened in, but it is difficult not to hear when the voices are coming in normal tones from the cubicle next to yours ... and if it was true, he was taught nothing about numeric or alphabetic sequence.

I found the book I wanted two shelves down from where it should be and dug through the musty pages because I knew it was in here; I'd seen it by happenstance when gathering provenance during our discussion of the Shedel and was thinking the year nineteen fifty-eight was significant ... and there it was. Auction in Rome. Cavalieri House. Right. Aisle six. Brilliant. Who says I don't know what I'm talking about?

Of course, the catalogue I needed was six rows down and on the highest shelf, necessitating the locating of a ladder and some keen eyesight. This part of the dungeon was on the darker side, so I used my mobile phone's light to sort through catalogs as if I were digging for gold.

A narrow section of my memory suggests someone was calling my name, right about then, but I was too lost in the search to pay attention. And too upset at how poorly the catalogues had been handled. I mean, for god's sake, Jeremy, sixty-two does not come before sixty-one but is after, while sixty comes before fifty-nine, which comes before fifty-seven, which comes before -- and I realized -- there was no fifty-eight. The very catalogue I needed. Where was fifty-eight?

I shone my phone behind the file boxes holding the catalogues upright and noticed something was off. I was barely able to make out a catalog jammed behind the rest. I shifted the boxes to free it, and it was badly bent so I twisted it back closer to its proper shape and carefully looked inside.

And somewhere in the back of my head someone whispered, "Adam? Adam?"

I paid little attention, because it was hardly rare for me to hear my own inner voice asking some fool question, Besides, I now had my proof. Not only would I save the university a great deal of money for a fraudulent item, I would save Elizabeth a great deal of time. I jumped down from the ladder and --

Vincent appeared before me, as pale and proper as a Victorian ghost as he snapped in his veddy British tone, "There."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump is president-elect...

I am so fucking pissed off -- not just at the GOP but also the mealy-mouthed slime who voted 3rd party or didn't vote because they didn't like Hillary. I blame the DNC for forcing Hillary down our throats, when she carried way too much baggage to win, be it legitimate or unfair. Debbie Wasserman Schutz got her wish -- Trump is in the White House.

Of course Wikileaks and Julian Assange helped, as did the FBI. There goes the ACA and gay marriage and The Supreme Court for the next 20 years. Bernie could have won this in a walk; there is no excuse for this to have happened.

Enough for now; I'm too upset.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nearing 13,000 words on A65

Nice trip on the train. Nine hours, but I had an open seat beside me till Albany and there were only two real delays, so we got in just half an hour late. That's practically on time for Amtrak.

I dug into The Alice 65 en route and Adam and Casey are talking to me, now. I love it when that finally happens. Most of what I did was Adam's bit leading up to when he arrives at Casey's home, off Sunset Boulevard. That's when Casey takes over and begins wreaking havoc on him, all without really meaning to. It's not very well-written, yet, but it's adjusting itself and pulling in moments that will add to Adam's world and his reality. Like bringing in Henry the 14th, the ginger cat in the library's basement who keeps the mice and rats at bay.

Same for Casey. She's been a recluse for a couple weeks, since the breakup with Lando (her ex who is also her co-star in a couple of big-ticket movies). Now she's out for revenge, and Adam plays an unwitting part in it. She also keeps sneaky tabs on a couple of paparazzi who've attached themselves to her, seeing her as their meal ticket. She's set up secret little cameras to record them as they hover around outside her estate...and she feels a bit proprietary about they're her personal papa-bastards.

So far it's still just humorous, not exactly laugh-out-loud funny...though I admit that's not something I'm really going for. I want the humor to mix with the drama and the romance. Not a light-weight story but not a heavy one, either. I got pretty dark with The Vanishing of Owen Taylor; time to mix it up a little...and practice working that for Place of Safety.

Now I need to start thinking up a cover for the book. I'm damned proud of the covers for OT, PM and RIHC6. I could have done better on BC and HTRASG...but all the latter one really needed was removal of some of the text and darkening the shadows around the face. With BC, I dunno...the cover works but it just doesn't impress me. Maybe the image of the face behind the baseball mask was too large...or I could have done away with the batter's silhouette. I think a friend suggested that and I said no. Now...I can see his point.

Well...I want the cover of A65 to kick ass, so suggestions will be carefully considered.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

10,000+ words

A65 is still pretty sloppy, but it's getting there. And I'm finding it easier to alternate between Casey's and Adam's voices as the story goes along. It's almost like a conversation...or two different people taking turns telling you what happened to them once.

I'm on a train trip to NYC, tomorrow, so I'll have plenty of time to work on it. I love riding the train, and it's got power so I don't have to worry about battery life. I'm flying back, however, lat Wednesday night. I'll be in New York during the election, when there's threats of terrorism and disruptions and all that crap. Should be interesting.

I will be so glad when this vile election is over. If Trump does manage a win or the Democrats fail to at least retake the Senate, it's going to be 4 years of hell. The people I work for are thinking of moving to Canada if that happens. Setting up shop there. I don't know if that means I could, too; one of them is a dual citizen of England and the US. Guess we'll see.

Looks like no matter what happens, I'll be working till I'm 72. What joy.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Looks like I'm using two voices to tell the story -- Adam's and Casey's. Shifting back and forth to keep it going. This will take some work and care to make sure they're both different enough to be clear without me screaming at the reader -- Aaaaaaannnnnnnnnd heeeeeeeerrrrrre's Adam!

And making sure it doesn't come across as silly and artificial. I think it'll just be finding the right moments to shift from one to the other and keep the flow going. I hope.

This is Casey's first bit, still on the meh, side, but it's a beginning ... since this is the beginning. Adam's just arrived into LA and already his plans are being rearranged:


Adam looked completely out of place in Mom's convertible. Too pale with clothes too much like a wannabe-rebel uniform, suspenders adding just the right touch of perfect dorkiness. Which was better than I'd expected. Still, it wasn't quite right, yet. It needed something more, if my plan was going to work.

Then he got out and I saw his jeans were rolled up! And he wore happy socks ... whoa, with straight Oxfords? Really? Then he looked around, and his face did not match the outfit. There was a tenderness to his smile, an innocence in his eyes. I'd seen that look before, usually in actors who'd just gotten their first big role and were in awe at the possibilities it could bring. I thought for a moment that maybe I'd cast the wrong guy for my little play.

Mom led him inside so I slipped out of my attic room and down the stairs to the landing that overlooked the living room. I watched Mom lead him to the bar, saying, "Coffee? Tea? Bloody Mary?"

God, that joke was old in the Sixties.

He had just smiled and said, "No, thank you," and continued on to the wall of books I had across from the fireplace, saying, "Is the book in here?" All in a nice London accent.

Mom was already mixing herself some lunch as she said, "No, it -- it's somewhere else. In a box ... um ..."

Adam let his fingers drift over the books as he asked, "Box?"

"Yeah. One that's protective and ..."

"A clamshell, perhaps? Brilliant." And I would swear he hummed as he continued with, "Oh, aren't you some lovelies?"

Mom noticed it, too, and said, "You talk to books."

Adam glanced at her, his face open and happy as he said, "Hm? Oh, right. They're my life. Have you seen her?" He took a book from the shelf to look a bit closer. But he didn't pull it out by the top, like I would. He reached into the back and pushed the book out a little, then gripped the spine to draw it from the row of other books.

"Seen who?" Mom asked.

He opened the book to look inside, gently, tenderly, as he said, "The Alice -- um, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." And his tone of voice was surprisingly cool.

"Oh, right," Mom said, "Casey's book. Flipped through it on the crapper. Sure don't look like much."

He snapped the book closed and bolted over to her. I think he was horrified, because his voice almost cracked as he said, "She -- she kept it in the washroom!?"

Oh, God, mom could go on like this for hours, so I started down the stairs, saying, "Don't listen to my mother. She messes with people."

"Only boys, and only if they're cute." Then mom caressed Adam's cheek, making him glance at her ... and he blushed. He actually blushed.

He shifted his focus back to me to say, "Um, Miss -- Miss Blanchard, it's so nice to meet you. I'm Adam Verlain."

"It's Casey," I said. "Vincent told us about you."

Mom wasn't done with her fun, yet. She shot me one of her cool, practiced glances as she said, "No, he told me, and I told you, and you told me to tell him to tell us when Adam was coming, which he did. And I did. And then you misspelled his name."

I wasn't up for an argument, right then, so all I said was, "I called it from the e-mail, mom." And I kept walking around him, inspecting him. Yes, close but not quite ...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I can't find the voice for A65...

Adam's voice is nice for half the story...but it doesn't work for the rest. For Casey's story. And something about telling it in 3rd person is boring, to me. Tedious. Typical. And I have no idea how to find it except keep casting about. Writing. Fiddling. Pounding my head against that damn wall.

This is unusual for me. Normally I know exactly who's telling the story and how before I get going on it. The idea to have Ace tell Daniel's story in LD made it sing, so I got it done fairly quickly. HTRASG was always going to be in Curt's voice and POV. Same for PM, RIHC6, BC and OT; the narrators took over from page one. It even worked that way in French Connection Blues.

Part of the problem might be I'm out of sorts. I got paid late and I'm still owed nearly a thousand bucks in expenses. Blue Cross and NY State of Health, through whom I have my health insurance, cost me an additional $400 this month, due to a clerical issue, and I'm only getting half of it back by way of a credit to next month's premium; it's too late to correct the error and get the other half, even though I wasn't told about it till a couple weeks ago. My only recourse is to file an appeal and go through a lot of crap and paperwork and a time when I don't need it.

And glorious -- they've got a couple of my books all screwed up and I've been at them for weeks to correct the problems...and they just keep getting worse. As of now, half the time when you pull up HTRASG or RIHC6 you get a page that offers the books at exorbitant prices, as if they're out of print.. Those listings should be through the marketplace, but for some reason even though the reps tell me it's being fixed, it isn't  And sometimes a page that actually indicates BC is out of print comes up. It makes me wonder if that's why the sales of them are down.

OT is doing all right, at least.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


I'm guilty of putting too much information at the beginning of a book or script I'm writing...which tends to confuse the reader and, I'm told, be a real turnoff. I had to fight myself to spread details for OT throughout the story, and I was only partially successful, I think. I won't know until I get some serious feedback.

To my surprise, I've sold a hardcover of OT. I worked that edition up mainly for my own vanity and self-indulgence...but hey, if someone prefers to buy it that way, no argument from me. In fact, that pleased me as much as realizing how much better OT was selling in Kindle (tho' this part was tempered by the fact that Amazon is causing me all sort of agita in how my books are listed).

Anyway -- here's what I've worked up for the opening of A65. It will change. It has to. Adam's a bit over the top...but I'd like to know if this voice is better for him or if the third person from yesterday worked better. Comments, anyone?

My name is Adam Alexander Aloysius Verlain, and books are my life ... at least, they were until I was sent to Los Angeles to collect an 1865 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from an actress named Casey Blanchard and ... oh, bloody hell ... what am I doing -- joining a twelve-step program and trying to explain away what happened, as if I were an addict? How absurd.

I'm not -- an addict, that is; I simply love books. Especially antiquarian volumes of paper or parchment bound into leather and vellum. And incunabula and manuscripts and fine bindings by the likes of Sangorski-Sutcliffe and Nonesuch that enfold aged copies of great literature and elegant woodcut images. And private press editions, like Kelmscott and Grabhorn, despite the latter being of more recent issue than usually interests me. Oh, and there’s Dickens or Fielding in wrappers...and illuminated Twelfth-Century manuscripts with lovely hand-worked etchings and colour on their ancient pages ... and ... and ...

Hmm ... perhaps I am addicted. But it’s hardly a dangerous obsession, unless you believe breathing in the dust of centuries ... or skipping a few lunches and having your shoes mended instead of purchasing new ones ... all so you'll have enough coin to buy a slightly worn but still good copy of Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful that you just saw at a shop in Chelsea ... is harmful to health and well-being.

Some would answer in the affirmative, but they would not be book people. Nor would they be working as an archivist for a small but well-thought of university in London. And it's not as if I were the musty, aged academic sort using the pages of his library as walls against the world. One of my colleagues even told me, “You’re tallish enough. Trim without being taut. Open features that are pleasant but always seem ready to pose a question. A rather ordinary haircut, and I have to wonder -- have you even reached the age of thirty, yet? Oh, and please tell me those are prescription glasses and not just Foster Grant’s readers you bought at a pharmacy.”

They're Foster Grant’s. I’m far-sighted so only need them for reading ... though I did notice the last time I purchased some, I had to bump up from +1.50 to +1.75. I suppose I’ll have to see an ophthalmologist, eventually. As for thirty, that’s 10 months off, still. Dunno why it matters; it’s only a number on an artificial scale meant to cause untold misery to men and extreme agita in women, as though ranting and raving about something over which you have no control would make a difference once way or the other. Sometimes understanding the meanderings of mankind is beyond impossible ... and I do tend to ramble. Such is my lot in life, and I’d have no other.

Oh, I should mention -- that was Elizabeth Chaflin speaking, a fellow archivist whose specialty is 19th and 20th Century literature, and who is nicely-formed in every place that counts, physically, and who was giving me a wary eye at the end of her first week, as though she were trying to decide if I was worth paying attention to instead of merely being the lad in the cubicle next to hers. Who happens to keep finding excuses to talk with her. For some reason. I think she decided I wasn’t, but not having a firm answer means I can still bring her tea, whether she asks for it or not, and offer her a biscuit. Which she turns down only half the time. Hope does spring eternal ... especially since she told me I looked as if I belonged in that careful, cloistered world and made it almost sound like a compliment.

We work together along with another archivist named Bill, from whom you will never get his surname; he trusts no one. Not even me, and I've actually shared dinner with him ... more than once. He loves soups. Hot. Cold. Spicy. Sweet. Made from things that don't even work in Haggis. Anything you can imagine that can be cooked in a two gallon pot. His depth of field is books of exploration, adventure, discovery of South America and the Pacific realm. There are centuries worth of it. I haven't had the nerve to ask him if he's read much about cannibals of the South Seas, and I refuse to give in to my suspicion that he might overly enjoy the tales of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper.

There’s also Hakim Jappour, who has officially been archiving books three months longer than I have, and who thinks he knows every aspect of it that needs be known. If you doubt it, just ask him; he’ll tell you. He will also tell you he is very good-looking and should have been a star in Bollywood, but he's third generation English who grew up in Newcastle-on-Tyne, so when he gets into one of his more intense moments, his English quickly becomes unintelligible. He follows the Empire upon which the sun never sets, along with Middle-Eastern and South Asian philosophy and religions. Perfect match-up, on the surface.

The head of our department is Vincent Gurney, who’s been with the University since its founding in 1612. You may think I exaggerate, but not by much; he seems that old, that ghostlike, and that arch in manner. He either has one suit he wears all the time or three identical ones he swaps between while the others are at the dry cleaners. But he has a wealth of knowledge about any book that’s passed through the University’s archives, and what little he does not know for a fact, he knows where the facts are.

Last but not least is Jeremy Blackstone, who’s half scally-half-Cockney, massively tattooed, and full-on filled with his own sense of worth. Which has some basis in fact, I suppose; I’ve seen both Bill and Elizabeth cast him sly glances. He photographs the books for archiving, and I must admit, what he can do with that and PhotoShop is nothing short of phenomenal. On more than one occasion his eye caught manipulations in a snap we’d been sent of a book someone “had just discovered in the attic of their great-grandfather and was offering for sale.” Usually at an exorbitant price. There's a lot of forgery going on the book world, these days, and he's helped the University protect a number of smaller dealers who might have been taken in by such a trick.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In the beginning...

NaNoWriMo begins today...and I still don't know whose voice I'm using for the book. I like Adam's, but that means alternating with Casey in the telling of the story and I don't like the idea of bouncing back and forth, in this one. That worked in Bobby Carapisi because of how I set it up -- first a long section on just Eric, then a long section on just Bobby, then back and forth in a way to keep the story moving forward...and that doesn't work for this.

I do like a section I wrote in third person, albeit not quite omniscient. Dealing with Adam reading The Blood of Others and talking about it with his mother (since his father had not read it). The moment takes place around the dinner table, and his brothers and sister needle him over it.


He took three days to complete the book, which was unlike him. Normally once he began reading something, all else fell by the wayside. But this book was problematic. He found Jean to be tiresome in his questioning and Marie to be clingy, someone who feels incomplete without a man at her side, even as the world raced to war. It kept changing from first to third person, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, and the ending was a cheat. No honest reason for why she changed her mind about helping Jean, and no explanation as to how she'd been mortally wounded. As if it didn't matter. He told his mother all of this over Sunday dinner.

She smiled. "I thought as much. Do you remember when you read Anna Karenina, last year? How you'd come to me about passages you found exceptional?"

Connor laughed. "Levin reaping wheat with the peasants. It's poetry, POETRY, I say!"

Beryl laughed and swatted him then cast a look at Adam, as if to say, See? I'm telling him to be nice.

Mum gave them a warning smile. "You two will behave or you will see no dessert."

They'd both put on very serious faces.

Adam tossed them his best condescending gaze and said, "Actually, the best part of that book was when Levin and Kitty acknowledged how they felt about each other by using only initials traced into a felt table covering." Then he turned to his mother. "You didn't like The Blood of Others, did you?"

"I felt it a story about an indecisive man who was completely involved in his own thoughts, to the exclusion of others, and a weak, clinging woman who forced him to love her. All for nothing."

"But Anna and Vronsky give up everything for each other -- family, position, wealth -- only to have it fall apart."

"They did it for love ... or lust, if you prefer. Which at least was understandable."

"Is that you're going to do, Adam?" Beryl said in a voice dripping with honey. "Ruin yourself for a great passion?"

David did not stop eating as he said, "Only if it's a lad he plays footy with. He's the poof of the family."

"Don't be ridiculous," Adam shot back.

"Would that matter, David?" Mum asked, her face letting him know what his answer had better be.

He didn't even look up from his plate to see it. He just said, "Naw, he's our Adam. Don't matter one way or the other."

"Adam will love someone from afar," Beryl sighed, "and hope someday she'll notice and love him back."

"And wank him off in the lavatory," laughed Connor.

At that, Adam had taken his water and poured it onto Connor's plate. "No dessert till you finish dins."

"What the devil is wrong with you?" Connor snapped. "It's just water."

"Then lap at it," Adam growled, "like a dog."

Connor tightened his hand into a fist but Mum's smile shut that off. "Adam's right. Finish it."

Connor huffed and eyed his plate. "What is the dessert?"

"Angel Delight," said Mum. "Butterscotch. And I wonder whose favorite that is?"

He wrinkled his nose then took the plate and brought it to his lips ... and dumped it on Adam. "No, thank you."

"Then I'll take his," said Adam, not letting himself react. "And maybe I'll offer it to Patricia Conklin. You do fancy her, don't you?"

Connor rose. Adam did not move. Their mother stood and so very sweetly said, "I think you two boys need to be in separate rooms. Adam, your father's office. Connor, the telly. Lose yourselves in them."

Connor smirked. "Fine by me. Manchester's playing in half an hour." And he wandered away.

Beryl shook her head at Adam. "He almost hit you."

"Oh? You think?" Then Adam rose, wiped himself off and sauntered into his father's office, a tight room filled with stacks of books recently purchased and being researched. And did not allow himself the luxury of collapsing into anger until he was safely away from everyone in a room where he felt safe. There, he figured he could quietly rant and rave for an hour, until Mum came to tell him it was all right for him to rejoin the family.

But fifteen minutes later, they received the call from the Newcastle constabulary. His father had fallen down a flight of stairs at the train depot and was seriously injured. Mum packed them all into her Peugeot and they raced up to be with him. Drove all night.

He died minutes before they arrived.