Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Long day...long night...

Didn't sleep much, last night, because the heating unit in my hotel was noisy and I could not shut it completely off. This is a brand new building and it's already falling apart. Doors that don't fit the frame. WiFi that's inaccessible. Toilet paper roll that falls off when you get close to it. Man...this was sad...

Then I picked up the shipment and drove straight back to Buffalo, double-quick to avoid driving at night with snow. Got to the storage room by 3:30...and almost wish I hadn't rushed so much. The countryside was a Currier & Ives Christmas card. Evergreen trees bunched together and flocked in white. Other trees bare of leaves but with layers of snow along their outstretched branches, giving elegant form to them. Flurries...and clouds fluctuating between white and gray mixed with blue. Rivers, creeks and streams surrounded by black rocks and ice of all shapes, sizes and colors. Everybody says the stretch of the 90 between Syracuse and Buffalo is boring, but it wasn't to me.

I had another idea about UG, en route, and this one I almost like -- bringing back a character from earlier in the story and having him involved in what's happening. Got a nice little page of notes. It adds another layer to the story and could be even more of a surprise. I'm not sure if it will work into the outline I have, right now...but I'm open to considering it.

I'm just not open to working on it, tonight...I'm already zoning...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Travel tripe...

I'm in a new La Quinta whose wifi has no protection. My laptop hates it so much, it won't let me use it. I'm using my phone's personal hotspot to be online. Irritating, but actually a good thing, in the end. It focused me on continuing with Underground Guy and I am now done with Chapter 2, dealing with Devlin's arrest and interrogation.

This is going to be a hard-assed story, in many ways. Dev's a real devil -- physically abused as a child, along with his brother; abandoned by their mother...who might actually have been killed by their father; full of fury and self-righteousness in his actions, no matter how extreme. It's already proving to be a fight in my head.

While driving to Albany, I had a nice, psychotic little battle over whether or not to kill one character. One side of me was pushing hard for it. Telling me to prove how blunt and vicious I could be. The other side was just as adamant that it NOT happen. That it was the wrong message for the story to send. The drive was just under 5 hours, and it went on the entire time.

I think it's settled, but truth is I won't know for sure until I write the section of the book it would occur in. I've gotten to where I know all too well any decision made now won't matter once I reach the point of really writing it.

It's like with How To Rape A Straight Guy...I had Curt's ending all worked out. He was going to save Shayes, the guy thanks him, and then Curt would vanish to live a life on the run. Only it didn't come out that way. He'd told too much of his story...remembered too much of his take such a cowardly way out.

So as I was writing it, Shayes drifted into catatonic shock, bringing this tenderness out of Curt. He bathes the guy and dresses him and they have a tender, almost (one-sided) romantic drive up to Santa Barbara where he leaves Shayes to be easily found. Then Curt hides in Las Vegas till he realizes he'll never be able to escape his actions so returns to LA, sees his little brother is going to be nice and normal and whole, cries in relief, and turns himself in. And at the end, he's back in prison, but a different man in many ways who realizes he's the one who messed up his life, no one else.

I have a feeling the same thing will wind up happening with the end of UG. The only things I know for sure that are happening are reversing the positions of a couple of main characters and changing the location of the big finale. Everything else is still in flux.

Which makes writing this scary...and exciting to me...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I never know what I'm doing...

Sometimes that can be fun. Sometimes I do things just to do them -- like travel to Berlin to spend New Year's with friends and see how the city's changed from the first time I was there. Or pick up and move to LA without a real plan. Or write screenplays instead of books -- instead of directing, even though that's what I told myself I wanted to do. I make decisions that follow no real logic but wind up taking me places I'd never go if I really thought about it. Sometimes it works out well; sometimes it doesn't.

One time it didn't was when I moved from San Antonio to New York to go to graduate school at NYU. If I'd thought it through, I'd have gone up, first, to see if I could fit in with the city. Instead I piled all my things into someone else's car and moved. And found I could not fit in; I wasn't able to handle the massive change in attitude and atmosphere. But I was stuck there for months until I made enough to return to SA and apply to UT's graduate school...which worked out better.

Truth is, however, 20/20 hindsight tells me the moment I graduated with my BA, I should have moved to LA and begun working in film. My mother and father were back together and living in Glendale, so I'd have had a place to stay till I was on my feet. But I let fear talk me out of that. That's one thing I can be too damn good at.

So now I'm working on Underground Guy, again, and I don't know why except it's ready and I want to. And...truth be told...I know once I get into Place of Safety, again, I won't be able to shift focus to anything else. Brendan and I are talking, again, and he's shining a light on how he wants to be portrayed, so I'll need every bit of concentration I have to be able to do it right. And he's telling me to get this thing out of the way, first, and prove to him I can go as far as he needs me to go. Which will be quite far.

What's interesting is, I'm no longer afraid to dive into Brendan's story. Not really. I finally accept that I was so locked onto the details of his existence, in Derry I was forgetting his is a story that can be told in any part of the world, right now. It's wrong of me to even think of hiding from it when all I need is to just tell it. He'll guide me. He'll show me what should and should not be there. And the details will work themselves out. I know this, now.

But the truth is, if I really knew what I was doing, I wouldn't be doing it.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Distraction needed...

To keep me from starting rewriting or polishing on A65, and since I seem unable to do anything about the cover art until I've exhausted every other avenue besides me doing it, I'm working on Underground Guy to get a first draft done. I've got about 350 pages written but some are disjointed and need connection and the structure is off, still. But I'm finding I can't work out what the real structure of the piece is until I have at least an idea of what the story needs.

With A65, I had the script, and that worked as a skeleton to add the meat and blood to, working and working at it till it finally said, "Here, already!" So I'm making myself do that with UG. It's a harsh book but it may ease some of the building pressure in my chest over the absolute hate I feel for Czar Snowflake and his abominable crew, especially now that people are dying in the West Bank and Gaza over his appalling decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thus recognizing the city as Israel's capitol.

It's like he's trying to bring about Armageddon. Seriously. His world...his whole reason to be is to cause chaos around him and the US and, now, the Middle East. He has destroyed America's trustworthiness, destroyed the world's opinion of us. Other countries can no longer believe we will keep any agreement we make, because even if we do sign on to it we might elect some idiot who will trash it, in a few years.

What's worse is his disciples, the people who voted for him and think he's doing a great job. They've become cultists following Dear Leader off a cliff and dragging the rest of us with them. This is beyond insanity, beyond self-loathing and's a mass-murderer's mentality holding too damn many people across the country, injecting them with the idea that when they die they should take as many people as they can with them.

How do you stop that diseased sort of mentality?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Piddly stuff...

This evening was spend completing the migration of Bobby Carapisi from Pronoun and Kobo to Kindle. Figuring out how to do something on many of these publishing sites is damn near impossible. Just getting BC delisted from Kobo took nearly 2 hours of searching, IM-ing, being shifted from one department to the next, sending messages and waiting for an email response before someone finally told me how to do it. Ugh.

What made it easier was me using my new mouse on this laptop instead of the trackpad...which still did its best to harass me. Works well, though, and it weighs next to nothing. It even came with a couple of AA batteries. Much liked.

I'm headed over to Albany, on Sunday, back on Monday, then down to DC on Tuesday and back the same day. Snow is expected, and one of the clients is a very nervous person, so this may be a slow drive. There's another possible job coming up in NYC, but I don't think it'll happen. I'd like to see Macy's Christmas windows, but NBD if I don't.

I've added a couple more ideas to A65...but no rush on it, now. Hell, I doubt I'll get this proofing edit back by Christmas. The person doing it might be affected by the fires. They've got their cars packed and ready to go, just in case. I won't whine about that; the fires in SoCal are too damned intense for me to do anything but hope they'll be okay.

I've also contacted a couple of book dealers I know who aren't too far from the Skirbal Fire, in the Sepulveda Pass. That's the one in that video of cars slowly driving past the hillside flames, in silence...but that one looks like it's getting to be under control. Still...many of the items these people have are irreplaceable, so I bet it makes for sleepless nights.

The conspiracy freak in me halfway thinks these fires might have been set by alt-right scum to burn what they see as a liberal state down. But the areas the fires are in tend to be conservative, more Republican leaning places, so that shoots it down.'s a real Hollywood thought.

Hmph, I can be both shallow and cynical at the same time.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lovely day...

Stayed home, again, because I'm still coughing up a lung...just not quite as bad as decided to see what I could do about my laptop's evil trackpad. Called tech support at Apple, which is free since I only bought this MacBook Pro in late July, and we tried a number of things. Turned all the options off on the trackpad. No good. Reset the SMC. No good. So he came into my computer, after I re-logged into my wifi, and he tried a few things. No good.

So finally I double-saved everything, just to be safe, and reinstalled Mac High Sierra. No good. Now I can either send it in for servicing or use a mouse instead of the trackpad. I ordered a bluetooth one through Amazon, and also ordered a DockCase so I'll have additional USB ports and everything.

Good thing about this? Tech-guy let me know he hates trackpads, too, and refuses to use them. So right now I've got the mouse from my desktop plugged into my one extension, so I can deal with this...and it's calmed me down a lot. Nice to know it's not just me hating on this thing.

I also took care of some other crap with my health insurance and dental plan along with sorting through more financial crap. I'd love to get an assistant...somebody cute, like Chris Evans...but I can't even afford a maid, once a week. Still...I'm now signed up for Silver Sneakers, which means I can use the YMCA for free. Can't say no to that. I need to get more active, anyway; my legs are starting to lose strength on me.

Through this, I was also setting up an overnight trip to Albany to pick up some books, and making sure everything was ready for a one-day trip to DC the day after. I also made notes about some ideas I had for A65. By this time, it was 5pm. Making dinner and answering emails and FaceBook stuff and wanting to nap convinced me to just watch a movie. So I fired up my old MacBook and watched Citizen Kane. Still a great movie.

And I'm still playing avoidance on the artwork for A65.

Monday, December 4, 2017


I stayed home to nurse my cold and started to feel better, for a while, but now it's reasserting itself. My left eye aches and is watering. My chest is tight. I wonder if this is really a sinus infection and not a cold. Possible. I've always had problems with the left side of my head. It's where my headaches usually start and my allergies are worst.

Feeling so measly, I did easy stuff -- like a quick mock of A65 as it is now. A hardcover would be about 188 pages long at 5.5x8.5 inches, so I'd need to keep it at $23.95 to make anything on it. But the paperback would wind up at around $10.95, if done at 5x8. I can live with those figures.

I spent most of the rest of the day scouring Shutterstock for photos to use, just in case that photographer doesn't have anything like I need. I found some good ones for Adam (by doing some creative man in suit falling and following some of the good ones to other pages). Same for Casey and Gertrude, but the vines...there are 2800 pages of them, and most are enhanced licensing. Y'know, if I have to draw the friggin' vines I may as well do everybody. The whole damn cover.

Which has me I really just being a wuss about doing the cover art myself? Should I try to work this up? What I've been trying to do, before now, is emulate someone else's style of art. Like I'm saying, I'm not good enough to do this so should either copy or shouldn't even try. The coward's way out. But I'm so unsure about how me doing the sketches will turn out, considering how this one of Adam looks...

Shit, I'm too fucking old to be threatened by my own sense of inadequacy.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Going old school...

I've attached a mouse to my MacBook Pro in order to get around that insane trackpad. Whoever designed that thing hated people. And I'm going to use my old MacBook to work on the polish of A65. Its keyboard is a lot better. I'm upset that this new super-duper faster than a speeding bullet laptop is so delicate and demanding, it's like I have to completely relearn how to use a computer. I don't have time or interest for that shit.

I'll use the Pro for trips, since it's lighter and does work well enough when in other cities and countries, but for day-to-day, it's too much trouble. Which pisses me off. It cost nearly $2200 but isn't half as good as my old $1500 MackBook.

The big difference is, I can get internet access easier and do emails well. But if I want to change a name on a file, I have to wait 2-3 seconds after clicking on the file name before clicking a second time to get me into edit. Otherwise, it just opens the thing up. And if I want to click and drag, it takes me 4-5 times trying before I hit it right with this laptop.

Seriously, I spent ten minutes in my A65 folder just trying to shift a number of Shutterstock images from the main folder to a new one specifically for them. I'd highlight 5-10 images, hold-click on one to catch them all...and the highlight would vanish. Or it would open then up instead of move them.

And when I'm typing, which I don't do very well to begin with, if I'm not careful when I'm shifting or spacing and brush against the trackpad, suddenly I'm in another part of the document typing, or I've highlighted four lines and by hitting one letter I've wiped them out. And it's not just me. My associate at Caladex got the same style computer and she's having the same issues.

I did do work some on A65's cover, today. Just to see what would happen, I used my sketch and did some filtering on it...and it came out okay. I do like it on a soft yellow background and the positioning is exactly what I want, and I found a font that's intertesting. So there are possibilities.

And I finally heard back from one photographer I'd tried to contact. I resent through Twitter and he answered me, there. He doesn't have access to models, anymore, but he's got a huge file of old photos and thinks he may have something I can use.

That would be so much better...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Feel like crap...

I got that damn cold and it's made me achy, uncomfortable and grumpy as hell. Poor sleep. Nose driving me nuts. Coughing. Grr...but I still managed to work on A65's cover, some. And hate what I did. I like the pose of Adam hanging on by one hand...but not the artwork.

It looks cartoonish, and that is not what I want. I want it to look polished and smooth and professional, not like some second-rate graphic-arts wannabe. But I don't know what to do to achieve it short of a full painting...which is no guarantee.

I'd already contacted a couple of photographers about doing a photo of Adam like this and gotten no response. Nothing. Not even a refusal. I may hit up some artists to see what they can do...but I don't know. It might be better to abandon the idea.

I won't have it done before the end of the year. I have a friend editing A65 for me, someone whose grasp of grammar and writing is better than mine. But she can't get the corrected manuscript back to me till almost Christmas. Then I'll need to input the changes and on and there it goes.

I finally gave in to my aches and grumpiness and watched a movie -- Judgement at Nuremberg. There's a speech given by a judge who's on trial, Ernst Janning, that pretty much sums up what America is in the middle of, right now -- a demagog using fear and blame to build a solid political base as a step-stone to complete control of the country.

This is what we're facing, today, with that bastard in office, just not as eloquently.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Starting in...

I've worked up a strategy for building the cover art on the hardback's dust jacket. This evening I worked on the title and my name in off-beat lettering. Not completely happy with it, yet, but it's getting there. Tomorrow I'm starting on Adam's figure and then Casey's...and then Gertrude's. After that comes the vine background and assembling it all. See how it holds.

A lot depends on how I feel. That cold seems to be settling into my chest and I am not happy about it. Dunno where it came from, since I wasn't around anyone who seemed ill. That's why I think it's a long-term one I've only been able to beat back a couple of times but never kick away from me.  Irritating.

The GOP is going to pass their hideous tax bill in the Senate, despite massive protest against it, and the House will go along, I'm sure. Their donors have demanded it, and the chaos surrounding Michael Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI is helping them. Like it was orchestrated. The bastards are voting on it now, with it not even printed for people to see. It's partially handwritten, even! This is fucking sick.

I'm getting pissed off, so screw it -- I'm drawing another hot bath to sit in and read.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Changes made

This evening was spent migrating the ebook of Bobby Carapisi to Kindle, for its ebook. It was being sold through them, but the group that set it up, Pronoun, is shutting down, in January. Not enough interest or sales for the titles they carried, I guess.

Anyway, that gave me an excuse to simplify the cover image...which was a lot more work than it needed to be. But I couldn't find an unflattened background so had to start from scratch. Which meant finding the original image somewhere on one of my thumb drives.

God, those things are a mess. Lots of repetition in saves, which isn't necessarily bad...but two of the same folder on one drive? That's silly. One of these years I need to go through them and sort them out, better. I had to dig through nearly a dozen to find the guy's photo.

I'm also fighting off a cold, again. Not sure if it's the same one and just sort of goes into hibernation for a while or what, but I started feeling it today and I'm now loaded down with Vicks and Advil and liquids. Felt better for a while but now comes a long hot bath to steam some of the crap away.

My niece is getting married in Texas, come March, so I'm using points to fly down and back. It's on the same weekend as the NY Book Fair so I can't stay long...which is my excuse for getting the hell away from that state, as fast as I can. Members of my family voted for Czar Snowflake and I don't want this to become a family feud in the middle of Krista's wedding. Not cool.

But, goddamn, I hate anyone who voted for that son-of-a-bitch.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Step by step...

Another slightly different rendition of the cover...this one with Adam seeming a bit more heroic and with a slight connection between him and Casey. It's closer but still no cookie. Maybe if I have Gertrude handling the '65...or put her lower so I can keep the '65 close to Alice.

Another possibility is lowering Adam a bit and having Gertrude at more of an angle, then slip the '65 into that little triangle space. Thinking about it, I don't like where his right hand is, anyway. I'd like it closer to her feet. And she does need to be a bit larger, to be in proper proportion  to him. Oh, damn...I made his left wrong.

Man...lots of changes to do, still.

All I can do is keep at it till it clicks, completely. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


I thought about working up an image of Adam's face, to see what I could do with it. Did it in graphite, then I inked it in and erased...but I like the graphite look better. Pen and ink works fine and gives me space to color him in...but I liked the feel of the graphite. The softness and fullness of the image. This turned into something out of a coloring book.

I think I'll do another one, tomorrow. Maybe a different expression and more of a head and shoulders, to show his suit is only half on and his shirt is ripped up. I still like the idea of the vines and characters, but this may change me. I may also try a thicker line, not this delicate thin black piffle.

Thing is, I don't know how to color over a soft pencil rendition...and the cover demands color for everyone, not just the background and vines. But I like the softness of that style, so maybe I need to farm this out to be colored.

I think I'll do one of the vines and characters, too, in a heavier pen. Then I could change the color from black to a sort of mahogany to match the feel of.

Hmm...I guess this means I'm settling in on a cover.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is the media the message?

I dug through Shutterstock's offerings, today, looking for images to use and found nothing like what I wanted. I did find a great face for Adam and a decent idea for Casey lounging on a vine. Gertrude, I've already got. And I do like grape vines in their twisty-solid way so saved a couple images of those. I just need to get down to it and work up the art.

I did a first rendition of Adam in graphite then inked it in to see how it played, and I don't think my idea about having his glasses broken will work on the cover. They'll just be a blob in the artwork, like a patch over his eye. So I think I'll drop that idea.

I may also swap the shoe and shoeless foot. Make it more obvious one of his boots is gone. And his shirt looks too much like his suit coat. Or should I call it a suit jacket? Hell, I dunno; I don't even own a suit. Anyway, I don't want to rely too much on color to tell aspects of the artwork apart. It minimizes their effect, in my mind.

What I would like is a style like this, but I contacted the artist and he turned down working on the cover. Said his style didn't really mesh with the story. Which I can understand, to an extent, but at the same time, I think he's wrong.

I'd replicate it, myself, but I honestly do not know how. I've tried and my renditions look like crap. It may be I don't have the tools, really. Maybe a sketch pad linked to an updated version of Adobe CS or something. But his color lines are so clean, I'm pretty sure there's more to it than just drawing it or filling in like you do a coloring book.

Oh, well, art least I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the book jacket cover.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Getting REAL close to a cover...

I think I've found the beginning of my dust jacket for the hardback edition of The Alice '65. Something a lot lighter and more indicative of the book. The ratio is off on these two sketches, but that can be corrected, easy enough.

I'd use a sunshine yellow as the background, with bright green vines and leaves. Have Casey in a dress that matches the color of the original book. Adam will be in his ruined navy blue suit and burgundy shirt, one shoe on, one shoe and sock off, half his broken glasses over one eye. Gertrude lounging at the top, holding the other half of his glasses.
I'll need to play with the positioning, some more, and sizing. But this is close. I feel good about it, even though it's a bit busy. Hell, the story's busy. I might make the characters a bit smaller, to have more breathing room, and no tag line. Don't need it. Just the title in bold, gold letters and my name.

I can work on it some more, tomorrow. Right now I've got a headache, and I know why this one came on -- I pinched a nerve at the left base of my neck as I was getting laundry out of my car; I could feel it when I did it, and it's been building ever since.

It's no fun getting old...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

lazy the max...

I had an idea for A65 as I was getting into bed, last worked it into the book, right then, and didn't get to sleep till 4am. Woke up at 2. Crick in the neck. Sluggish. Peed for 5 minutes. But soon felt like I was human, again. And the idea works a lot better than what I had. Less clumsy.

Of course, that shot the day. So I worked on paperwork and updating my finances...and think I'm still owed expenses for a couple of jobs from back in October; I need to see about that, because it's over $1300. And I did Christmas cards early, for a change. Get them out of the way.

I also did a bit of thinking on the cover and had some more ideas...but still nothing to make me jump up and down. I may do some workups during laundry, tomorrow. I need to figure this out.

And...I got into a fun fight on Facebook with a guy in Texas who refused to accept a transexual man was male because his birth certificate said female. The trans guy's got a beard and hair on his chest, but some places would force him to use the women's room because of a piece of paper. It was fun until he got huffy and blocked me. Texans, such buttercups, they are.

I think I'm printing up A65, again, to do the detail work...the polish and backwards check for typos and errors. It's easier...just not cheap. But necessary for it to be the best it can be.


Another draft done...

This pass on The Alice '65 does count as a new draft because of significant changes. Not in the action or storyline, but in the shifting of meaning and expansion of ideas. I'm at the point where everything is in its place and everyone is doing what they should to forward the story; I just need to do a polish for consistency's sake.

I tested the current rendition in a 5x8 format, for paperback, and it wound up being 206 pages long. Total word count is 65,220. That sounds good. Not too long to be intimidating and long enough to be worth a price of $10.95, I think. Ebook will be $1.99, as usual.

I'm kind of fuzzy-brained, right now, thanks to working on this all day. Another reason to go through the full book, one last time, to make sure I haven't screwed up the formatting and the look of it. I also need to figure out how to replace a long dash with an em-dash. I can't just cut and paste into the replace windows with the long one; I may have to go through and replace them one at a time.

I'm also wondering about my an extent. I did a Secret Santa on GoodReads and got someone who wanted a particular book. It's available in Kindle, so I went online to send it off...and saw the author's charging $2.99 for a 97 page Kindle. Granted, that's in their format so it's probably a lot longer, in print...but I only charge $1.99 for OT and that's more than 3 times longer, according to Amazon.

I may need to rethink a lot of things, in the next few weeks...

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It's never over till it's over...

Hong Kong is still being an issue, but it's out of my hands, now. Seems everything we did on two specific return shipments, last year, is not valid this year, even though we're doing everything else the same. The shipments came in with multiple dealers on a pallet and were accepted that way...but now we can't ship them out the same way because...oh, I don't know why. Their explanations make no sense.

So it looks like the two problem shipments will wind up shipping out like I worked them up, back on Monday -- each on its own pallet. My one real mistake was in putting a crate onto a pallet and forgetting to factor in that it would be charged an extra 100 kgs in dimensional weight. I thought that would make it easier to move, but it's not worth it for that much higher cost.

This is another reason my bosses should handle next year's fair. They can make decisions about how best to deal with this crap right then and there, and I won't have to worry about being caught in the middle or make what are claimed to be "unworkable" decisions.

At least I got back onto A65, today, and now only have about 130 pages left to rework. Then a quick polish. Then my proofing. And that is that. Then all I'll be faced with is figuring out a cover.

I can use the art Zan Varin did for the ebook. That's not as demanding and may give me a bit of breathing room for the final product. Needs a better font and correcting Casey's left hand, but that's easy enough. And the book is too big, so that will change...but the feel of it is right.

Maybe I'll do the paperback first, after all. I might be pushing too hard to figure out a great cover for the hardback's dust jacket. Maybe that's why what little ability I have is all but sitting back and flipping me off when I try to figure out something.

But I'll get there, dammit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Home from the wars...

I'm not going to Hong Kong, next year. I'm going to suggest Hugh or Mary Jane go so they can make sure everything is done exactly like they want. It would be better, for all concerned. Let them wrangle with the Chinese way of doing things -- as in, smile and nod and ignore your instructions.

The move-out from the fair went well, but the next day I went to the warehouse and got everything in order, exactly like it needed to be...and our Chinese contact said we couldn't do it that way. We had to do it a different way. Their way. After discussing it for 20 minutes, I let them set it up to go their way...and got blistered by the powers that be because that is not how it was supposed to go.

So instead of a leisurely day leading up to my flight, I had to go back out to the warehouse, put the shipments back the way I had them, despite our contact not liking it and refusing to take responsibility, and then I wrote out exactly what information was needed where. I barely made my plane. I literally got to the gate as they were finishing boarding, still stopped to send an email with my updated information on it, and thought that would be it.

But no -- it's still, We can't do this, we have to do that. So my information was being ignored, as was the very specific and detailed cargo manifest sent to them by my associate, in Buffalo. I just finished a series of emails re-emphasizing that we want them to work up the shipments our way and that is that. Took up most of this afternoon. After I've driven back from Toronto and was ready for a nap.

I'm angry and upset at how this has gone. I don't like Hong Kong all that much to begin with. The food is crap if you don't like Chinese, which I don't. It's crowded and warm and, unless you're buying something from them, the people are rude or flat out ignore you. I've already seen everything I might want to see. The only positive note about this journey is that I get to visit with a couple of dealers I like and that's it. For one of them, Hong Kong is the only place I get to see him.

So I'm not getting A65 finished, this weekend. No way I can do it, nor will I let myself just rush through to make a silly deadline. Besides, I still don't know what the cover is, yet. Nothing I come up with grabs me by the throat...and who knows if that ever will happen. I may wind up with a simple bland shot of the original book and the title, nothing more. It seems to keep coming back to that...which bores the life out of me.

Positive aspect to the last couple of days is, I want the book DONE so I can get back to Place of Safety!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pleasant day and everything done...

Friday morning, I dropped by the Maritime Museum to check on everyone, and there were a few things that needed addressing. Not on my end but in preparation for the move-out. Overall, everyone was included. Especially since I got to see two of the book dealers I used when working up Adam, in A65.

One provided me with Adam's beginning manner, curious kitten expression and sweet smile. He's tall and lean, like a basketball player, while Adam turned out short and solid...but in a suit he looks just right -- neat but not flashy. He's also got that aura where, even though he never demands it, you know he'd love to be petted.

The other is how I see Adam at the end of the story -- buff, sure of himself, walking with confidence and wearing a suit like he's straight out of Gentlemen's Quarterly. Broad shoulders, trim hips, looking sexy as hell in a fitted shirt and slim-cut trousers. He's an alpha who's faced catastrophe with a Let's get through it very British.

Both are extremely knowledgeable in their fields and have good reputations, from what I can tell. I've used what they know as much as I could. I'm tempted to ask another friend in the antiquarian world to read the book and let me know if I've got it right, but I can't them; I almost think they might recognize themselves and I prefer to wait till it's published before having to deal with case they don't like what I've done.

Which is silly. Adam's like about 5'6" or maybe 5'7" and both of them are as tall or taller than me (I'm 5'10"). He worked out that way as an even bigger counterpoint to Lando, who's the perfect image of an American man in every way except intelligence and personality...and maybe even those, depending on how you view Americans. The contrast was needed so Casey's shift from being torn up at Lando's betrayal was shown better and made sense. It also adds to her hate for Veronica, who's already tall yet still wears 6" stilettos, forcing even Lando to wear lifts so he's not a midget next to her.

Something that's come out in the story, to make Casey more of a fully-fleshed character, is her concern with image. How the gossip rags have abused her. How she has to show the Hollywood world she was able to land on her feet after breaking up with Lando. What's left unsaid is how she feels that's more important than just letting herself grieve and get through it.

She contrasts with Adam's actions after learning his father was dead. He's 15 and winds up having to just get through it because his mother and a brother shut down and the other brother and sister are handling funeral arrangements and a burial plot. He's the one who makes arrangements for their father's body to be brought back to London.

Of course, I may be reading a lot more into my writing than is really there. I dunno. But to remind myself of what my obligations are to my characters, and to keep myself from taking an easy way out, I've re-read some of the critical reviews of my books -- the ones that pointed out what I can now see were lazy or inconsistent character development in The Lyons' Den and Porno Manifesto. The LD one focused on Tad and how I made him 3-D until the end, when he became a one-dimensional character; PM's was about how Alec never got past the superficial in looks when it came to choosing a lover.

I just hope I'm doing the right thing by Adam, Casey, Patricia...and even Lando and Veronica.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sometimes efficiency is a detriment...

All was going well, yesterday, as I got ready to head over to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Plan was -- get there at noon, scope things out, post my location numbers, meet with the fair organizer, then have the dealers' trunks show up and be ready to go. Talk about best laid plans -- as I'm exiting the hotel I get a call from the delivery guy that he's at the museum and where am I?

So instead of walking I grabbed a taxi and got there in under 10 minutes, and he's got all the dealers lined up ready to break down and be put in their booths. And it's not even noon yet. And inside, the booths are still being set up. And he can't stick around too long because there's a limit on how long he can leave his truck in the drop-off circle. Fortunately, the organizer is okay with us moving in early, so long as the construction crew can move them trunks if needed. What ya gonna do?

We were done by one, so I came back to the hotel and started inputting changes to A65. Got 3 chapters done before I began to zone, Still jet-laggin' here. But it gives me a head start. Now I'm about to drop by the venue to meet with each dealer and make sure everything is all right. Then I'm off to Stanley...

Except, the show organizer for the San Francisco Fair, next year, is in Hong Kong and wants to meet. I suggested this evening, after I'm back from the other side of the island, so we'll see how that goes.

I still have no intention of leaving my room on Saturday. I've been to Hong Kong enough times and done enough sight-seeing, and completing A65 takes unless it's required by the job, no go.

Now off to see the book wizards...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Greetings from the future...

Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead, so I'm writing this on Thursday morning while it's still Wednesday night in Buffalo. I feel very prescient...and may I add, comfy. The great thing about Ibis Hotel is, I get breakfast with my room and it is massive. Like the All-You-Can-Eat buffets in the US -- eggs, bacon, 3 kinds of sausage, cereal, oatmeal, baked beans, luncheon meat, cheese, 3 kinds of potatoes, lots of fruit, yoghurt, toast and muffins and jams and on and on. I'm treating it like dinner, since my body clock is still really on US time, and I'm set till this evening.

I've already done some emailing, this morning, and will be leaving for the move-in, shortly. Got a good sleep, albeit on a hard mattress; they like those, here. My only plans, right now, are to get my dealers prepped, drop by in the morning to make sure everything's all right, go to Stanley for fish & chips and a Guinness and some shopping, maybe wander the waterfront...and then spend all day, Saturday, working on A65.

I'm not really joking when I say my first...and second and third drafts wind up looking like this crazy-quilt hare, and that they begin to simmer down as I go through the story over and over and over. That's my method of writing -- throw in everything and work it down and adjust and add and cut  and alter direction until it stops being too insane. As it currently stands, I think I still have one tooth to hone away, and then she's ready.

If I can get all the changes input before heading home, Tuesday, I may try to do some more polishing on the flight. Then comes my own corrections editing process -- reading it backwards so I don't get lost in the story. And then...

Then I can start contemplating work on Place of Safety.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Hong Kong waitin' on a hotel room...

This was a long flight, but I finished my red pen of The Alice '65 and then watched Baywatch to distract myself...and it was horrible. It took 9 friggin' writers to come up with that ludicrous piece of shit? It wasn't even on the level of a high school musical. Its one redeeming quality was how pretty Zac Efron looks in trunks. He bears no resemblance to a human being, but as a mannequin, he's nice to look at.

To wipe it out of my head, I watched Fargo, again. It's a pretty bleak movie, but well done and funny in spots while amazingly brutal in others.

Right now I'm marking time in a Starbucks because it's only about 9:30 am and my room won't be ready till noon...and I'm zoning. I managed to nap on the plane but not enough to matter on a 15 hour flight in a tight aisle seat next to a woman who needed to tinkle once an hour.

It's warm and sultry in Hong Kong, as usual. And busy as hell. And prices have gone up, a bit.

Hell, I can't think; I'll post more later...

Monday, November 13, 2017

In Toronto waitin' on a plane...

Pearson Airport is so much easier to deal with than JFK when it comes to international flights. Drive for 1.5 hours, park off-site in a reserved lot, breeze through security since I have a Nexus Card, and I'm at the gate in a very comfortable seat 3 hours prior to my flight. I've even got some Smart Water and access to Diet DP. It's like home.

In Hong Kong I usually drink Watson Water Green Cap and little cokes. But since I'm arriving at 6am, I doubt I'll be interested in those...except that'll be like 4pm in the States, so...who knows? There's a Mickey D's in the arrivals lobby; I may have a Big Mac before I snag a shower and head for my hotel on a super-fast, super cheap train.

In comparison to airports like these, those in the US are antiquated...practically 3rd world. It's an embarrassment, and I haven't even been to the serious airports around the world -- like Qatar or Seoul or Narita, one I would LOVE to go through...and which I'm being teased with.

We'll be working with the Tokyo Book Fair in March, something that used to be handled exclusively by Mr. Nitta of Yushodo Antiquarian Books in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, before he passed away. If we're going to be coming in on such a major fair, one or both of my bosses will be making that trip to lay the groundwork, which makes sense. They've dealt with international customs a lot more than I have, and may already have contacts in the country.

But oh, man...that would be fantastic. I'd love to see Tokyo on someone else's expense account.

Oh, well...this 15 hour flight will give me a chance to finish my last red-pen of The Alice '65. There may be a few rough edges to polish, once I have it input...but that'll be it. And it seems to be sticking at right around 65K in wordage...which I think is a good length for it. The story happens over the space of 72 hours and forces Adam away from his sheltered life back into the real world, so too much more would be...well, it would be wrong. But if all goes well, I should have an ebook available Thanksgiving weekend.

Meaning I would, technically, meet my deadline.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Heading for Hong Kong, again...

Today was laundry and cleaning out the fridge and ironing and packing working on A65 as much as I could and I'm not done yet. Still much to do. I leave tomorrow night and have to go into to work to finish paperwork and pick up all the papers I need for the fair and I'm already beat. I may actually wind up sleeping on the plane, something I very rarely do.

Quick note -- Pronoun, the company I published the e-book of Bobby Carapisi through is shutting down so I'm about to have to put out a new edition of the book. I think I'll change the cover, a little.

And that makes this a short post. I've got a sink full of dishes to wash, still.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Halfway done with the latest polish of A65

Busy day for errands -- dentist, shopping, getting a new battery for my car. The last one kept me in place for a few hours, but I had my printout of The Alice '65 with me so used that to work on it. I'm now at page 149 out of 302, meaning it's coming along. Tomorrow is laundry -- a LOT of laundry, so I may be there for hours, too, giving me more time to work on the story.

I'm also rereading The Elements of Style and catching myself in a couple of grammatical errors -- like getting cute with my sentence structure to the point of obscuring the point. I've also noticed a couple of my paragraphs don't work as well as they should, so I'm doing a bit of restructuring. Who knows? Maybe I'll get the book to where it's a fun read, after all.

I'm still nervous about how long it will take to work on P/S, considering the length of time it's taking me to complete a much less complicated novel...and much shorter. What I have of Place of Safety, right now, is over 120K in wordage, and it's nowhere near done, yet. I can see it being well over 200K words. My saving grace is, War & Peace is nearly 600K in length, and Catch 22 is about 175K, so I'm not totally out of the realm of sanity.

I'm still fighting to figure out a good cover for the hardback. I'm not thrilled with anything I've come up with, and Zan's artwork isn't right for the dust-jacket. Won't be able to do much about it till I get back from Hong Kong; maybe this break will give me a chance to come up with something decent.

One can hope.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Headed home...

I'm writing this on my flight. Jet Blue initially delayed the flight 6 times, due to an incident in Orlando, then rather than have to put us up in a hotel brought in a new plane, so we left on time. And the WiFi is free on the flight, so...

Today was collecting the last archives that needed to be shipped, from a storage facility in NYC that we were led to believe was an office building, and which pretty much doubled in quantity. I didn't mind; the reusable container I had fit everything nicely and offered a lot of protection for the cartons.

But twice on this job I've skipped lunch. I don't like doing it because it sets me up for a headache, but this time while I was repacking the container at the warehouse, I was able to use about a dozen small candy canes to keep me from starving to death. And voila -- no headache.

I got to the airport early but since I wasn't checking a bag I was able to sail right into Terminal 5 and chow down on a decent cheeseburger and onion rings. Good for the soul if not your breath, but I had gum for that, not to mention toothpaste and my toothbrush available.

I did some more note-inputting for A65 and think it'll be pretty much ready to go once I've input them. I feel good about the wholeness of the story, and how different aspects of it connect. I like Adam's character arc, though I do think Casey's could use a bit more clarity. I've tried not to explain what she's doing but have Adam react, and while it adds to her mystery and beauty, it can seem a bit perfunctory, at times. Still...she works.

I'll be interested to hear how women react to her.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Feeling so restless...

Dunno what it is, but my mood has gone from woo-hoo to edgy and almost pissy. Nothing satisfies me and yet I won't get up and do anything more than piddle around on the web. I could work on my new idea for A65's cover, but no. I could start going back over A65 to polish it up, since I brought my printout, but no. I could cast about trying to figure out what might interest me enough to cut the mood, but no.

Not sure what this means, but I don't want to do anything or deal with anyone, and tomorrow I have to deal with a foundation that's been shut down but that no one told us about when we agreed to go get the archives we need from it at a time that's ludicrous but wasn't asked for until yesterday.

I think I'm sick of people. I've actually have a pretty vile thought running in my head -- that Mother Nature is using man's stupidity about guns, in this country, to effectively bring about some population control. Weed out the fools who leave loaded guns around for kids to find and kill someone or themselves with. That way at least, their children won't have a chance to keep that particular gene of stupid going in the general  population.

Maybe that's why there's an explosion of gay men and women around the world; Mama's doing what she can to slow down our headlong rush into catastrophe, and never mind it's driving demagogs and assholes into killing people who've done nothing to them. Hell, the greatest democracy in the history of the world invaded a country that had done nothing to it and tore it apart, killing up to and probably over a million people. Sets a perfect example.

That leads me to think maybe we should have another war. This time wipe out a couple hundred million people and make some the of the earth uninhabitable for centuries...if not eons. Then maybe people would catch on to how poorly we're using the planet and start acting like our world means something instead of just being there to use and abuse...but I don't hold that much hope for humanity.

I think some of this pissiness stems from being stupid enough to read some tweets from Czar Snowflake's supporters saying crap like they love him and he's the greatest president ever and there will be a coup of he's impeached and removed from office. And I started thinking, "Fine, motherfuckers, make this country a piece of shit and you wallow in it. Let's see how much you like it when you get sick and can't pay for medicine or surgery. And when your jobs keep going to other countries as businesses use tax credits to cut down on the burden of moving while you don't get to take a dime off your taxes for anything to make up for it."

I hate to tell you this, Mama, but if you want to save the planet, you're going to have to bring about a new version of the bubonic plague and wipe our civilization for a few centuries. Give the earth time to heal, then sterilize the dumbest men and women so they can't procreate. That should take care of 99% of the problem.

Too bad you didn't start that with Czar Snowflake decades ago...maybe even before he was born.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Over the moon...

Oh, I am so beside myself, right now. Total fan-boy mode. I spent hours, today, handling the artifacts of a man whose meaning in history is without question. We're talking boxes and boxes of papers, awards and photographs of his. What's even better is, as I worked I listened in on the conversation between the archivists and donor's associate discussing plans and histories and details of his world...and I can't even think, I'm so lost in it all.

It kills me that I cannot name the guy, but there's still too much to finish and blabbing too soon would jeopardize the entire deal. I have to wait till everything's been carefully put away in its new home and an announcement is made about it. But I had to let out a little and hope that in a few months I can reveal his identity. And bounce off the walls, again.

What's especially great is hearing stories about how he dealt with moments where his creativity was at low ebb -- he'd basically garden, albeit on a larger scale than a flower patch. More like landscaping. Let his mind sort through the issues as he concentrated on more immediate tasks. And it turns out he was about as disorganized as I am. It wasn't till he brought on his assistant that his papers began to get into order.

This is one of the job's perks -- working with working writers and artists and scholars. I stay quiet and let them talk and learn more about life and how things work than I ever could on my own. Even dealing with an antiquarian library of books on British law from the 16th and 17th centuries makes me intensely happy. It can be back-breaking work and sometimes the people involved make things a lot more difficult than it needs to be...but it's like I'm helping keep history alive, in my own small way, and that makes up for a lot of turmoil.

I know my own writing will never achieve these heights, but it's still fun to see how the work of others has.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Had some ideas...

A couple of new possibilities came to me for A65's cover -- using the book as a background and having Adam peeking into it by opening the cameo image of Alice on the original cover as Casey watches him, amused. Another is him kneeling and peeking under the book as Casey leans over the top of it to watch him and Gertrude peeks around the book, behind him, curious.

Of course, I could do without Gertrude on the cover, I suppose. She doesn't appear until midway into the book...but she does turn out to be important. I think I'll work up some mocks to see if it would come together right. Of course, this would entail me finding images to use...unless I did them, myself. I did a quick search through Shutterstock but they haven't got anything useful, from what I can tell. I also checked a couple of other sites but nothing came close to the pose I'd want.

I'm in Roxbury, CT at the moment, prepping for that archival pickup, so I'm sort of working this in as I can. I'm in the middle of nowhere; had to drive 10 miles to find a restaurant and then had pork chops with some sauce on them that's made me ill. I didn't remember to ask if it has a chicken stock base...but I think it did. My reaction to anything chicken started right on schedule. I forgot that when you're out in the countryside, everything starts with that unless you go vegan.

It's funny how many foods have chicken in them -- be it stock or bits or "flavoring", even if they're pork or turkey or even beef meals. I had to stop eating a lot of foods I loved, like chicken-fried steak and turkey pot pie and enchiladas with mole unless it's made with a beef base. I can't eat potato leek soup unless it's totally vegan, and very little is in shops. I have to ask if a restaurant meal has chicken in it...and sometimes I get tired and forget tonight.

It's tiresome and makes me whine...and that is all there is to that. now.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sudden trip to NYC

I'm driving down to Connecticut and NYC, tomorrow, and won't be back till late Friday. All very last minute rearranging and exciting, considering whose archives I'm handling. Nothing more may be said till all is completed, but WOW!!!

I finished inputting the corrections from my editor, for The Alice '65. Not a lot but some pretty surprising ones that I probably never would have seen. She also wanted me to change some things that are the British way of speaking, which I ain't gonna do, but also got me to see some parts were hard to grasp, the way I have them written. I know what's going on but that don't mean a reader will.

Of course, one thing leads to another and I've already got lots of changes to some sections. What makes me happy is, she got the bit where Adam gets stoned even though I never specifically say that's what happens; I just have him going along without realizing until it's pointed out to him.

I'm happier with the story and delineation of the characters. Each is their own person, finally. I think there are spots the action goes too quickly, like I'm skimming over it, but overall I feel good. That's probably not something I should ever think or say; when I do I wind up getting kicked in the gut by reality. But it's a nice feeling to have, for a change.

Now if I could just figure out the damn cover...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Inputting first corrections...

I got a corrected version of A65 back and have been going through it to see where my mistakes are...and so far not so many. The editor and I differ on a few aspects of my style, but she noted a few things that would help make the action clearer and found spots where I input the wrong word -- like "that" instead of "they". (I think in that instance I had "that they" and deleted the wrong word during a bout of editing.)

This is why I ask for input and extra eyes to check me. I need them and even they will not always find everything that needs correcting. And like I mentioned, sometimes they make suggestions that just do not work for my goals. But at least I have to think about them and verify I want to keep things as they are.

I worked up another version of the dust jacket art and it's closer...but still not right. And my buddy, Brad, pointed out an error in the artwork Zan did -- Casey's left arm has a right hand on it.  Something was bugging me about it and the second he mentioned it, I could see it plain as day. Which spooked me, because I used to be able to notice things like that on my own.

I'm finding more and more I just don't see things until they're pointed out to me. Like notes I'm handed that have information on them that I don't notice until I ask the person about that info...and it gets pointed out to me. I don't know if this is an issue of age or just too damn much going on in my brain, but I'd like it to stop, already.

I'm hearing other people don't like the MacBook Pro's thin keyboard, and that makes me feel good. The damned thing drives me nuts. There is always at least one instance in each sentence I write where I will hit just enough of the key I'm aiming for and its neighbor to get both of them input into the word and have to go back to correct it. I could do that on my old MacBook, but nowhere near to this extent.

I also hate how difficult the new trackpad is. If I touch it wrong or click on it in the incorrect spot, suddenly I'm in another window or something's been highlighted and vanished and I have to Control-Z to get it back...if I notice it...or it's ignoring me. Like when I want to do a click-and-drag -- I have to click on a certain part of the image or file, because if I don't, it pops up a window asking if I want a definition, or it just opens the file.

I'm seriously thinking of taking the keyboard from my old Mac Mini and attaching it to my laptop, along with the mouse. Which would add 75% more weight to my rucksack, but at least I'd be back to normal...sort of.

So much for making my load lighter.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


I spent the day trying to work up a decent image for A65's dust jacket and have nothing even remotely close to being right, yet. The closest I came to finding one is this --

But the colors are bland and safe, and I don't think it really reveals much about the story. Or draws you in. Or anything. It's just...there.

A friend of mine came up with another idea for cover art, and while I like the look of it I'm still not sure, which means I still haven't seen what's right, yet.

Maybe it's because this is a lighter story than I usually do, and very straight. It's boy-meets-girl and told in third person and, despite the blackness of a part of Adam's life, is pretty much like cotton candy as opposed to the dark chocolate style of stories I tell.

I may need to back away from this project, for a while. I'm not going to make my Thanksgiving deadline -- self-imposed but still... I think I need to polish the book more to make it sparkle. That will give me space enough to consider other options for the cover.

Zan's art does a better job of catching the whimsy of A65. Maybe I should try a hybrid of that and my work...

But not now; I've worked myself into a headache.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Not quite...

I've been playing with sketches of the cover layout for A65, and it's not quite coming together. It's nice enough...but could be better. I'm missing an element that will make it sit well with the story. What that is, I have yet to figure out. I've got it for OT and LD. Same for PM and RIHC6. But...I only did adequate covers for BC and HTRASG, while the one for DM suits it but doesn't excite, and the one I did for French Connection Blues was too busy.

I'm not going to worry about it. The cover will come to me, and when it does, I'll do everything I can to make it look right. It's probably not smart to start on the jacket now, anyway, because I am doing another draft of the story. The bits I've reread are in need of smoothing over and maybe a bit of expansion, so even though I'm around 65K it may wind up a bit larger than that and I want to get the right size of everything.

I also want the story to hold together, all the way through. I want everything to connect and be real while not being obvious, and I think I got a bit carried away with being careful about covering all possible questions to the point the story becomes awkward, at times.

I'm also cutting a bit more -- specifically lines that I like but are just too Hollywood cute. Vincent has one near the end that worked well in the screenplay but is intrusive in the book, so it's going out.

Also, some of my sentence construction could be better, as could my paragraphs. I'm only adequate when it comes to English grammar, relying a lot on how good it feels and not nearly enough on if it gets across its meaning correctly. I'm going to work on that, as well. Clean clarity is what I want, and I'm still too prone to fussy.

So...maybe I'll get the book done by the end of the year.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Home, again...

I arrived late this afternoon feeling weird and now I think I'm coming down with a cold. The housekeeper at the place where I picked up the books was sniffling and coughing, so I tried to avoid her...but apparently not enough. Dammit. I do not need a cold, right now. No time for it.

Of course, it could be a touch of food poisoning. I had a second rate meal at Sticky Lips, a decent BBQ place in Rochester. The brisket was so fatty, I had to hunt for the meat. The coleslaw wasn't shredded but just sort of chopped and had chunks of cabbage in it. The server was all but pushing me out the door as I ate. Not a pleasant experience. I guess I won't need to travel 60 miles down a toll road for BBQ, anymore. I can get that kind of crap from Dinosaur, here in Buffalo.

Of course, all of this puts me in a foul mood. I've been pumping in the fluids and feel better, but ti's still a pain in the ass. And it keeps from doing anything creative because I'll just do crap and hate it later and berate myself and yap, yap, yap...shit, don't take much to get me to whining, does it?

I did manage to rerun most of A65 in my head, testing it for defects or inconsistencies, and found another note to add to it, for clarity. And as I added it...I started making more changes. So, that's that.
New rewrite once I get comments back...because, as I predicted, I hated what I've written, right now.

Dammit, I'm never gonna be done with this book...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Adam is alive to me, now...

As I was packing the books for this latest job, I was horrified at how poor their condition was and thought Adam would have a fit. These are books in German and Latin, two of his specialties, and are from the 15th to 16th Century, bound in vellum...and falling apart. OMG, bugs and rats have eaten away a hideous number of pages and chewed into the binding; there's foxing like crazy; and there's mold on many of them. NOT cared for.

I had to remind myself Adam's a character in my book...but that didn't really matter. I could hear him tsk-tsk'ing over them, non-stop. Anyhow, the books are now wrapped in tissue and bubble, separated from each other to minimize contamination...which is probably silly, at this point, considering they were all in the same bookcase. But it made me feel better.

As I was working, I realized a minor issue hadn't been addressed in A65 so made a note about it to input later. And the more I think about it, the more like like the simple approach to the cover so will start prepping that, this weekend.

I'm popping down to NYC a week from Friday and then the following week is Hong Kong. No time to do any writing for NaNoWriMo so I'm blowing it off, this year. A65 is more important.

I'm currently at a second-rate Best Western in Albany. Driving back to Buffalo in the morning after a bit of sleeping in. I'm feeling the need of some decent barbecue, but the best place in the area is in Rochester and that's about a 4 hour drive from here. I'm not big about having late lunches...but I'll think about that tomorrow.

Now it's time for a hot bath.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Long drive...

It's just over 400 miles from Buffalo to my hotel in Stamford, but it took me a solid 8 hours to drive it. Seems like there's construction all along the 81 and the 86, which slammed traffic down to one lane. That part I didn't mind as much because it was mostly through nice country -- hills and streams and trees at the end of their colors. There was a lot of orange and gold and yellow around, but there were also a lot of naked trees mixed in, muting their beauty.

No, it's dealing with the 95 at rush hour, headed away from NYC. It took me an hour to go 6 miles. It's like the 101 headed to downtown LA in the morning. How people can do that every day is beyond me.

But...I did get closer to possible artwork for the dust jacket on A65. I tested the idea of a photo of the book done in poster graphics with a broke pair of glasses lying before them. I've also jumped back and forth on whether to include Gertrude's face in the background...but that makes it seem busy, so I don't think I will.

I've also been playing with the tag line -- now thinking She was always more than a book is a better line, because it plays in with something Adam says once Casey gives him the Alice '65 -- "Books are my life. They're so much more than just the binding and pages and words within. Ideas and histories accompany them, as do all the people who've touched them or been touched by them. An antiquarian book is a universe unto herself if you're willing to let her become one with you."

I may put that on the back of the dust jacket.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Focus shifting to graphics...

Okay...I now have A65 printed up and ready for my (hopefully) last pass. I've sent out a few PDFs and requests to ask for feedback and mentioned I'm still aiming for a Thanksgiving roll-out. So I now need to figure out the cover for the hardback. I'm pretty much clueless, right now.

I came up with an interesting tag line -- She was never just a book -- which might work if I'm using a photo of the 1865 edition. I like the simplicity of that...and I can play around with the image in Photoshop when I get back from this job in Connecticut. Right now I'm slated to return on Thursday, so that'd give me the weekend.

Before I did the printout, I made a couple more changes -- clarifying what happened to Adam's father and replacing my dashes with em-dashes. I also changed one character's name because it's too much like the Connecticut client's name. We want no confusion here.

Right now, I'm kind of brain dead. I hope the drive, tomorrow, helps me recharge. I'm not happy about the minivan I have -- a Toyota Sienna, I think it's called. The middle seats have to go up against the back of the front seats, no stow-and-go here. That makes for a nasty blind spot over my right shoulder. I'll be driving a bit more careful than usual.

I keep forgetting I'm not heading for Hong Kong till the 14th. For some reason I'd convinced myself that trip was next week. Duhh.

Okay...I'm zoning...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

302 pages, 64,900 words...

Again, I am done. Lots of changing and rearranging, clarifying and simplifying, but the latest incarnation of The Alice '65 is complete. I'm going to do a quick spell check to make sure I haven't messed up, there, then I'm sending it off, again, for feedback.

I want to do just one more polish, if the response is positive, enough. Make sure everything is in order and nothing is out of line when it comes to the antiquarian world. And the characters. There are a couple of spots where I just tell the back story rather than work it out, but I think that works within the framework.

I think the story's solid enough, now, for me to start planning the hardcover. I'm still casting around for ideas for the dust jacket. I want something eye-catching and nice that's reflective of both the chaos and drama of the story. Looking at other hardbacks and their jackets hasn't been of much use. Most seem to rely on either the author's name of the just the title being provocative enough to catch a reader's notice. So I don't know how that's going to turn out.

Tomorrow is preparation for the job in Connecticut, so I won't have a real chance to do my check till I'm at the hotel...and that could be late. We'll see how it goes...but at least I'm back to normal.

Next week is Hong Kong and China in Print. My 8th trip to the country. I have no idea what to do to keep myself occupied between move-in and move-out of the fair. I guess I'll check into some of the museums. Maybe take another trip to Macau and see the old village. I'll look into that later.

Guess I'm into a haven't got a clue stage, right now.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Back to bustin' it...

I worked on A65 all day and got through 136 pages of inputs. If I remember right, the biggest changes were in this part, so it's possible I'll be done, tomorrow. I've dropped about five-hundred words, to where it's hovering around 64,500. I think I'm adding some in the next part, but I won't know the final count till I'm done. I just know it's getting there.

I'm still thinking about the cover for the hardback and not coming up with anything that slays me. I'm sort of leaning towards a black and white of Gertrude lounging atop a big photo of the book, Adam's glasses in hand. The rest of the cover would be a complimentary color but nothing too vivid. I'll keep thinking and digging through Shutterstock to see if I can find a good shot for Adam and use that, instead.

It wasn't easy to get going, today. I'm still a bit uncertain about what good it's going to do me to publish another book under my own banner. I wonder if I should try to get an agent and see about submitting to a mainstream publisher. I don't know. That would take a lot longer to get the book out, and I don't think I have the patience to wait like that, anymore.

God, it's just too much to think consider. And when you're not exactly gifted when it comes to things like graphic arts, that only makes it harder. I got lucky with OT's cover; that fell together without much thought, just a few tests and then seeing Jordan's photo and getting the okay to use it made it all happen. And I'm pleased with it.

I'll keep at it. Think about it while driving to Connecticut on Tuesday and home on Thursday. Maybe something will come to me that kicks everything else out the door.

Damn, that would be so nice.

Friday, October 27, 2017

I don't like having a helper...

When I do a packing or pickup job, I'm finding I don't like having someone to help me. It tends to mess me up, and things don't get done the way I want. Like this job in Key West. For the first part I had someone to assist in picking up the Judy Blume archives (which are now safely ensconced at Yale), mainly because she's a huge fan and, fortunately, got to meet Judy.

But she's also one of the owners of the company, and has her own way of doing things...which don't work for me...but it has to go her way or the situation gets tense. So that issue we had with Office Depot not filling my order for packing supplies got more complicated than need be.

If I'd been the only one handling it, I'd have just taken the substitute boxes and headed on. But assistant got into the middle of it and wanted a credit for the difference in the boxes' cost -- a whole $5 -- so there were credits to be done and recharging the boxes and some went on my credit card while some went on hers, and I have no idea what finally got paid or charged or credited, in the end. I think I wound up taking a hit of about $9...but I can't be sure; I might not have. So I'm swallowing it and figure I'll deal with it once I get all my expenses reimbursed.

I never have worked well with others. I do things differently and approach situations from odd angles, and it can cause friction very quickly. Like today, I was asked to prep a last-minute addition to the Boston Book Fair and I was working along and suddenly found half the work I did had already been done by someone else, and me doing it was messing them up. So they got pissed off at me for not figuring out they only wanted this half done and not the other half...and I felt like dirt because I thought I'd screwed up in some way.

Of course, the same went for my screenwriting. When I did try to put aside my concerns and just follow the lead of two people I thought were on my side, all I did was get angry and hurt and ruined a script I'd been proud of, not to mention permanently damaged my friendship with them. Because while they were doing what they thought was right, it was wrong for me...and for the story, really. Completely. And achieved nothing. The script is now dead, and I helped kill it by agreeing to do what they wanted until things went too far.

So now I write my books and get feedback and use what I like and ignore what I don't, and while I get freaky and angsty and irritable and euphoric, it's all on me...and that make me feel at least a bit better about what I'm doing.

I guess that's something.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

More garbage work...

Today was figuring out where I am, financially, and working up the last of my expense reports. Plus prepping for another possible job, next week, in Connecticut. Where in Connecticut, I don't know yet. This is one of those double-secret probation deals where info is parceled out in dibs and drabs, making it hard as hell to plan for. All I know right now is I'll be driving; lots more flexible.

So I took my car in for winter servicing and was told I'll need a new battery, soon. Fun. Just in time for another storm in the Northeast.

I had no chance to work on A65...and I'm getting antsy. I want to get this draft done and off to a couple of people I know for feedback. I also want to start work on the dust jacket for the hardback and the look of the inside. I'm going for a 5x8 inch size, something smaller and more manageable than OT, which was 6x9.

I'm slowly reading through a design manual offered by a guy who's done a huge number of books for publishers (I checked his CV; he did). I also learned some tricks on OT that I can apply to working up A65. I think OT looks professional, but I'm not a professional so it may not be. Something that I do keep running into is how it's better to do different covers for hardback and paperback, hence my decision to use Zan's image for the paperback. It's better suited for that.

Right now I'm thinking of using the original Alice's Adventure in Wonderland front board (which is in public domain) and working the outline of Gertrude into it, with half of Adam's glasses over one eye, still. But I have to have time to do that...and I just don't right now.

Well...Thanksgiving was probably too optimistic a deadline, if I want to do the book right.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A65 Cover

Long, busy day so not much happening except I got the cover art from Zan Varin --
I like it and will use it for the paperback. I think the only thing it needs is some kind of highlight on the glasses bits so they're more noticeable. Any thoughts from anyone else?

I'm doing a different cover for the hardback, per the suggestion of a book designer I've met. And thinking of making the interior of the hardback something special, but still not sure about which way to go.

Too much going on in brain to continue.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

More on A65

I made some notes for the ending confrontation on the jet, inputting them straight onto the file since I don't have the printout with me. I've been told what I want to have happen can't happen in reality, so I've come up with a fix that would sort of make it believable because it just has to happen.

I try to keep everything real and acceptable in the story, but sometimes you have to go with what feels right, even if it's not plausible. I'm not going crazy and having Adam become Superman, all of a sudden, so I'm just not going to worry about it.

I'm all done with the Judy Blume archives. Worked in an open warehouse and sweated my ass off...which I wish I could have done. It was like a Turkish bath, in that place, and I soaked my bandana. Took 4 hours then another 2.5 hours through driving rain to get to Fort Lauderdale to turn in the truck....only to find the location had closed early, for some reason. So I dropped the keys through their night slot and called a cab to the hotel. And it was still raining.

I don't like Florida. Not just because of the politics -- half the places I went to, be it hotel or restaurant or UHaul facility -- had Fox News playing on their TV. That, alone, would be enough to set me on edge. But there's also this very casual attitude in so many people down here to doing what needs to be done. The location for me to pick up my truck was changed 5 minutes before we left the hotel to pick it up. Getting the packing materials at OfficeMax -- which I'd ordered online and paid for and got a text saying they would be ready for pickup -- turned into finding the materials in the store and making do with cheaper bankers boxes because the ones I'd ordered and paid for and been told were on hand weren't.

And then when trying to drop off the shipment, the warehouse was locked up. No one answered my knocks. The only reason we got in was because a driver for the company showed up and let us in, after calling his boss...and he only did that because he remembered me from the Miami Map Fair.

Jesus, as if working in the heat and humidity wasn't tiring enough.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Part of writing history...

Well...since it's already being tweeted about, I guess I can say I'm helping move some of Judy Blume's archives from Key West to Yale's Beinecke Library. Picked them up, this morning, and will have them packed and on their way tomorrow. She was there to see them off -- 78 cartons of papers and CDs. She's a very sweet lady. I've never read any of her books because I always felt they were geared towards girls. That and she started writing after I was out of high school, so it would have been a bit late for me.

I never did get into the teen angst books that came out, anyway. I read Catcher in the Rye when I was in my late 20s, which is about 10 years past its due date. I thought Holden Caulfield was obnoxious and a very privileged brat. Lord of the Flies was too cerebral to be angst-ridden, really. The Confusion of Young Törless was to arch and symbolic. Plus I found the whole worship of James Dean and Marlon Brando confusing...

At least, I did until I saw the wide-screen version of East of Eden after having read the novel. I'd seen it on TV in the hideous pan-and-scan mode that only showed part of the frame at one time, and I disliked it. And I did still think the music was too much and some of the acting poor, when I saw it as Kazan intended, but James Dean scorched the screen, especially in his scenes with Julie Harris.

It was on a double-bill with Rebel Without a Cause. Between those two films, I got the whole idea of angst and confusion, even though parts of the second movie were just silly. Like Jim Bacchus putting an apron on over his full business suit in order to do some cleaning or cooking or something, and the drag race towards a cliff in a game of chicken was over the top. And Plato's socks switching feet at the end. (I used to blame that on poor continuity, but I've heard from editors that sometimes the director or producer will use a take with an error in it because they liked the performance more.)

Anyway, a lot of the teen angst stuff was geared towards boys, and Judy's the one who got it going for girls. Makes her historic, to say the least.

And I was part of history.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Typical travel travails...

I'm in Fort Lauderdale waiting for a flight and it's already been postponed to 8:10pm. Meaning I won't get to the hotel in Key West till nearly 10. This is after I got a call, yesterday, from the UHaul center in Key West telling me they don't have the size truck I wanted; I have to take a larger one. Drive it 160 miles up a two-lane bridge, tomorrow. What fun.

On top of that, this terminal does not offer power outlets for you to use, so one of my phones is about to die. I'm sort of charging it off my laptop, which has a really good battery, but it's not happy.

I read some of Robert Olen Butler's A Strange Scent From A Good Mountain on the flight down. It's a collection of short stories about the Vietnamese in Louisiana. He's got a lovely, tender style that whispers around you like a gentle trail of incense. I can see why he won a Pulitzer for it.

My favorite, so far, is the one called "Fairy Tale", about a former bar girl/prostitute in Saigon, Miss Noi, who now dances in New Orleans. She doesn't understand English, and the way it's written almost like he's channeling a woman trying to understand another language via her own language's thought processes. Its ending is just right and actually brought me to tears.

I will read more of his books, just to see how he works his verbal magic. I'm also going to read some other modern writers' works to expand on my basic grasp of English grammar. I've been too caught up in the classics for my own good. I try to make certain I've done the right thing as I write, but sometimes I'm not sure about when to end a paragraph or how to line up a sentence; I just do what feels right and let it go.

I guess I should reread Strunk & White, just to see.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It worked...

I have another draft of The Alice '65 set in red pen, ready to be input into my crazy-assed laptop. I'm going to wait till I'm back from Key West to do it. Give me a bit of a breather. But apparently getting angry about something takes my focus away from whatever whining I'm doing and lets me get back to the reality of my world.

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, this year. I was planning on working up a quick draft of the beginning of Darian's Point, but if I want to make my deadline for A65, I won't have time. I'm also ready to focus my anger at the filth in Washington and America -- and around the world -- into P/S. It needs me to be angry so I can let myself dig deeper into its events and meaning...and be harsher with them. I think that's half the reason HTRASG came out so brutal -- I was pissed off about those kids getting hanged in Iran.

The probable murder of Zelimkhan has refocused me on the extreme injustices in this world. It also reminded me of how Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland would kill each other for no more reason than they worshiped God in a slightly different manner. People can say The Troubles were politically and historically based, and that's not completely wrong, but it doesn't explain masked men stopping busloads of people, asking who's which religion and then killing only the ones that they disapprove of.

This is how Muslims are treating each other, with the hatred between Shiite and Sunni. It's also how they were treated in The Balkans by so-called Christians. This is how the Armenians were treated by the Turks. And people like to forget the KKK was virulently anti-Catholic in the 1920s and 30s. Hell, even in the 60s, some people so hated the idea of a Catholic as president, there were "wanted" posters plastered all over Dallas prior to JFK's visit...and assassination.

With the rise of these new racists, who like to call themselves by the kinder gentler name of alt-right, we're seeing the sickness lives on and on and on, and will continue to do so until we stop teaching children to hate and let the haters die off.

If ever.

Friday, October 20, 2017

BAM -- mood shattered...

Seems the fastest way to get me out of a funk is to piss me off. And I am beyond angry, right now. I've been following the story of a young singer in Chechnya, Zelimkhan Bakaev, who was arrested by the authorities back on August 8th...because they suspected he was gay.
Well...the consensus today is that he's dead, and they think he was tortured to death within 10 hours of being arrested. What makes it hard to know is, the authorities insist they didn't touch him, and someone posted a video claiming to be him saying he was in Germany.

So the government just made him disappear, and is flat out lying about it. After all, if he was arrested and tortured and told about it afterwards, he's well-known enough so that people would believe him. Thing is, witnesses saw him being taken not 3 hours after he'd returned to Chechnya for a family event. What makes it worse is, it looks very much like he was fingered by a friend or member of his family, who also had access to a video he shot at an earlier date, denigrating Chechnya and praising Germany.

He is just one of hundreds of gay men and women who've been kidnapped, tortured and killed in that region. God knows how many others were slaughtered in Russia and Belarus and the Baltic states, thanks to Putin using us as a distraction from him looting Russia's treasury. This one, however, is what finally got to me. I watched one of his videos, and he had a fine voice. He had talent and a following, and that wasn't enough to protect him.

But that's not all there is to it. Our own Czar Snowflake gave a speech before a rabidly anti-gay crowd, promising to back them up in everything they want, to their cheers. Those motherfucking devils want to bring this crap here. Scott Lively has already done his part by pushing the "kill the gays" bill in Uganda and helping Russia further her oppression of gays in that country.

I wrote a script about 10 years ago, a horror script, where a preacher uses the bible and god to justify slaughtering several people then inflames a crowd of townspeople into lynching a gay college student. People told me it went too far. Now? It's becoming non-fiction.

And I am pissed as shit about that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mood swings...

Going through a rough patch, at the moment. Wondering why I keep writing. Seems the only reason I do is because I feel an obligation to my characters and stories. They came to me and I need to do better by them than I have...but I also wonder if I'm capable of doing what needs to be done.

It may be I've relegated myself to a niche market that is not really into reading, unless the story has lots of brutal gay sex in it. My best seller is my first book, HTRASG, and half the reason is because the title is provocative and the anti-hero is a vicious animal filled with excuses for his behavior.

Curt is an anomaly in my work; my other characters have specific reasons for their actions, no matter how vile they are, and Jake, from OT, is actually heroic. But it's selling the poorest. Not even a hundred copies, yet. After pumping so much money into doing it right and giving copies away while asking for nothing but a review. I have no idea what more to do short of hawking it to independent book shops, myself.

When I was in Seattle, I did try to go by Mysterious Book Shop on Cherry Street, but they've shut down. Mystery Pier in West Hollywood said no. Book Soup will order it for you if you want it. And other mystery book shops just ignored me when I contacted them. So I guess I've written a book that nobody wants to buy...even at $1.99 for an ebook.

So I wonder if part of the reason I'm having trouble getting back into working on A65 is because I don't think it's worth the effort. I'll write it and publish it and no one will care. Even though it's very heterosexual and pretty damn mainstream. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl break up. Boy and girl get back together.

Maybe I should change it to boy meets boy and have Adam be a real asshole.