Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 28th...

I will have The Alice '65 ready to be read and open for feedback on that Monday, if anyone's open to working with me on it. I'm too close to the story to be completely objective...or even partially, to be honest...so I need to get a bunch of different people's reactions to it. And also ask them to let me know where there are typos, messy sentences, and missing words. If anyone is open to doing this, please let me know and I'll send you a PDF. That works on most e-readers, as I understand it.

I still have 2 chapters left to input and I am going to do one more quick pass through to make it as tight as I can, but I am at the point where the story is set, the characters are set, the action is set, and all that's left is the detail work. I hope.

I'm taking the next 2 weeks off, from work, and getting back to Place of Safety. I need to re-familiarize myself not only with the parts I've written but also what I'd planned and, to be honest, the sequences of events...outside of the main ones. I've got dozens of videos to watch of Derry from between 1966 and 1972, not to mention access to thousands of photos of the city's streets and people from the same period.

I'm also going to try and reconnect with some people in the town, who lived through the time. See if they'll give me more precise background. I don't necessarily want to put it all in; I just want it to feel real to anyone who reads the book, including the locals. Granted, not having grown up there I can't be exact about it...but the truth is, I could be better. I'm coming in not thinking everyday aspects of my life don't need telling.

I've read a couple of stories written by Derry residents and they gloss over things they think everyone knows. It works for the locals, but not for someone interested in the minutia of their life. It doesn't have to be spelled out, but letting it be referenced to makes the world they lived in that much richer.

For example, I have yet to find, in all of the books I have read and sources I've scoured through, a detailed description of living conditions in the hovels on Nailors Row. Same for living conditions in the new flats built around the Rossville Towers or terrace homes. I've pieced some aspects of it together from bits found as tossed-off comments...but no photos. Bare bones descriptions that raise more questions than they answer. It's maddening...but I am zeroing in.

It'll help once this story becomes my focus, again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Expansion/Retraction...

For most of tonight's writing, A65 dropped down to 294 pages. But then I got through chapter 11...which still needs one more quick pass...and hit chapter 12 and BAM -- it shot up to 306 pages. I know I'm going to cut back on it, but it was startling.

That happened mainly because I added in the section where Adam wakes, the morning after the chaos, and takes a while to laze and remember and try to where he is. His memory plays into the story and reveals his family life and references his love of books and just wanders a bit. It feels good, here.

I hope no one is going to read this book thinking it'll be like Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's all about Adam and somewhat about Casey. Everything is from his perspective, so it's proving hard to put in any information about her without it turning into a lecture or soliloquy...but I'm slowly doing it. I took out any explanations she made about herself; I'm giving those to her mother, Patricia, in his next chapter...and maybe in the one following. We'll see how it goes.

No matter what, I'm getting it done. I'm probably being a bit precious by using this analogy -- but it's like the final detail work on a marble statue. What was it Michelangelo once said? He didn't so much carve a block of marble as release the figure within it. Something like that. I know I should Google it, but it's close enough.

I don't write, really -- I allow the characters to tell their stories through me. Sometimes that comes out easily; sometimes it's slow and torturous and damn near impossible to figure out what they want...until I learn their language and understand the meaning between and behind the words. I think half the reason I've had so much trouble on this story is, I wrote it as a script, first and it took the characters a while to let go of their images and allow me to see deeper than their surface. To trust me with their realities. And Jesus, how I love them all...

At least...that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Two-thirds...

Hit page 201 of 300 in A65. Adam's had his big blow-up and is now undergoing repair in hopes the rest of his stay will be normal. This is chapter eleven, and it doesn't feel right, just yet. Too much exposition. I mean, it makes a bit of sense that he and Casey would be talking so openly, now...but there's just too much of it. Problem is, it's all necessary and I can't think of where else to put any of it.

Maybe this is just the catch-up chapter, where the reader is brought up to date with everything that's happened, so far...thus helping the rest of the story make sense. It'll need it. A lot happened to Adam through the first 200 pages -- getting vomited on, stoned, made over into a style-setter, being dissed by condescending theater ushers and valets and bodyguards, dancing to Ricky Martin, paparazzi hounding him, nearly drowning, and meeting Gertrude, a full grown black panther...all in the space of a Tuesday evening and while he's trying to get something decent to eat.

It's beginning to sound a bit like the chaos that surrounds Daniel in The Lyons' Den. Maybe that's my version of comedy -- just keep laying it on. That's sort of what I did in The Cowboy King of Texas, though on that one I used Synge's play to build on. Didn't change the structure, just the characters and some of the action...and added more insanity in.

Then there's The Lavender Curse, similar piling on...albeit with a fantasy of a premise -- switching the minds of an older woman and a tough young cop as one's about to be in a Senior Lady Beauty Pageant and the other is about to make a big arrest, in Las Vegas. I stole ideas from a dozen different movies for that one -- Freaky Friday, Miss Congeniality, Bell, Book & Candle, even Face/Off, a movie I despise. And I've reread all of them, hoping to get some ideas for A65...which I did...so I guess I'm also stealing from myself.

Nothing new about that.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Changed...

I made myself work on A65, today...not because I didn't want to but because I was still focused on what happened in Charlottesville, VA. The right wing scum are doing back-flips to keep from condemning the murder of a protester by one of their own while blaming both sides for it happening, and our fucking president is helping them. I never thought I could despise anyone so much that I wanted them to suffer as they died, but I found out I can. And do.

So I rewatched City Lights and worked through Chapter 9 of the story, relying mainly on my red-pen notes to keep going till I was back in the groove. It helped I was also doing laundry when I got started. Distractions can sometimes be good.

When I'm done with this draft, all I'm going to do is a spell-check and grammar check, then ask for feedback. Brendan kept me up till nearly 4am needling me about finishing Place of Safety, and he's right. It's long since been time and I've been a child avoiding it. Not because I don't want to do it but because I'm afraid I won't do it well enough.

Well...the hell with that. I can worry myself right out of ever writing the full book, and that's cowardice. As I wait for feedback on A65, I'm going to re-familiarize myself with what I have written on P/S and work out where the story needs to be connected. There's a lot in section 2 and almost as much in section 3, with section 1 probably 80 percent done.

If I don't do it now, I'll never do it...and I have enough regrets in my life without adding one this big to them.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Murder in Charlottesville...

In 1965 Norman Rockwell painted a stark, chilling portrait of the murder of 3 civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi by racists, in 1964...titled Murder in Mississippi.
I had not seen this image prior to today...and it is breathtaking. Not at all what one expects from a man who was famous for idealized renditions of American life from the 30s through the 50s.

The face of a man looking at his killers as he holds another man who's dying, with the body of yet another man lying on the ground, the area bleak and dark and terrifying...it's haunting in its cruel simplicity.

It brought to mind Goya's The Third of May 1808, which illustrates French reprisals against Spanish rebels who dared to fight against Napoleon's invasion of Spain. People were rounded up and shot, whether they had done anything or not.
It's one more illustration of how little things have changed, regarding so-called humanity. From Cromwell's slaughters ac ross Ireland in the 17th Century to Srebrenica in 1995 to the British Army's bombardment of Dublin in 1916 to Turkey's genocide against Armenians in the waning months of WW1 to Pol Pot's murderous reign in Cambodia in the 1970s...the list goes on and on regarding man's basic inhumanity.

Today was more evidence of it, when a white supremacist deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of anti-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and injuring dozens of others. A terrorist action, if there ever was one. So far I've only seen CNN refer to it as such...and our so-called president has been practically mute, something the alt-right is crowing about.

The terrorist was taken alive by the police and charged with 2nd degree murder. Not capital murder. Not even 1st degree. If his charges are not upgraded, due to his cold-blooded actions, no one should be surprised. After all, when Dylan Roof murdered 9 black people, he was taken alive and then taken to Burger King to eat.

This is the way of the world, so long as people are in it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Backwards reversals...

I've always been the type who goes the wrong way, when choosing for himself. I go left when I should have gone right. I pick A when B would have been a smarter choice. My instincts have always been the most dyslexic party of me...when drawing, when looking for someplace I don't know, when buying a car (except for my Honda; that was a lucky break)...and it's proving to be consistent in my writing.

There's a voice in my head that's very faint and undemanding that suggests the right way to decide, but it's usually drowned out by my willingness to listen to my so-called instincts. Well, I finally caught on that when I write a moment in one of my books, once I have it down I should reverse it. That makes it more alive and fascinating.

I'm doing that, right now, with A65. I had Casey still in control when she and Adam get to the jet, with her telling him what to do. Nice enough because of the chaos that follows...but still just okay. Until I got the bright idea to have him take charge and help Casey set everything up. Something I had resisted because it didn't seem realistic...but then the voice said, "Try this" -- and now it's funnier and makes even more sense.

I've done that in a couple of other spots in the story, and it's helped immeasurably. So...my first instincts seem to be cautious to the point of boring, but if I listen to the tiny voice long enough to catch what it's suggesting, boom -- magic ensues.

That happened twice in How To Rape A Straight Guy without me even thinking about it. Curt kills two men to save Shayes, which was always going to be part of the book. Initially, he did it because he was like an animal and Shayes was his meat (pun not intended), and the two bastards were trying to take it away from him. But all of a sudden Curt took an unconscious Shayes -- a man he had brutalized -- into a bathroom and bathed him and tended to him, like a lover. And later made sure he was found and cared for...and the ending suddenly shifted, massively.

I went back and added in a younger brother and how that kid was pulling it together, despite having the same home life as Curt, and Curt sees that he will be okay and that it was a possibility...and realizes he's got no one to blame but himself for the hell he's been living in. I've had people write to me, startled at how they feel sympathy for a man who's done something so evil.

I guess what I'm saying is, I need to give that voice a megaphone, somehow, so I can cut down on my workload when writing Place of Safety. Otherwise, I'll be working on it till I'm 90.

But that's only if I still have a brain, by then.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

And back to one...

Came home from Boston on an earlier flight...that left late. However, the flight I was supposed to leave on -- at 9:25 -- was also delayed, so it worked out well. If I hadn't paid the $50 change fee, I'd still be en route back to Buffalo.

I did some more inputting while waiting at the airport, and it's coming together. I'm still backing away from being too explicit about what's going on, and I'm having fun with the characters...though I do mention Adam's temporary clothes look like something a clown might wear at a circus. That might be a bit much...but it does make an honest image of how he's dressed.

I'm fighting to keep a light touch in my writing style, too. I noticed it began to get a bit harder in the last bit of the story, so when I red-penned the confrontation in the jet, I made it more slapstick and a bit goofy. Which makes sense considering there are now more than a dozen people involved...making something like a rugby scrum in the middle of a 737. Of course, it's tricked out to be a hotel room and office with wings, but that's still not a lot of space.

And I'm still trying to come up with a decent image for the cover, but I can't figure out anything that would get across the fun and depth and meaning of it. Of course, it took me a few years to work up a cover idea for The Lyons' Den, and even then I had to get a pro to make the cover art so it looked right. I've got another guy on tap to see about it, someone whose style is cooler and crisper...but I don't know if that's right. I might need to go back to LD's artist. I guess I'll figure it out when the time comes.

Tomorrow, maybe?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Started inputting...

I did something probably not so very smart, seeing as how I'm in the Boston area, but I stayed in the hotel all day and finished my red-pen work on The Alice '65...and input 2 chapters' worth before I stopped. Of course, I'm rewriting my rewrite as I rewrite this edition. I think that's one of the curses of computers -- they make it easy to redo what you've already redone, twice.

I'm finding something odd about my new laptop, at the same time. When I saved and printed the copy I just did my editing on, it was 258 pages long. That was done on my old laptop, in Word. I've loaded Word onto my new laptop and put a copy on my desktop, but when I open it, the exact same file is 300 pages...just like when I'd bring it up using Word at a Kinko's, to print.

I don't understand. All of my settings are the same in both document and paragraph, but it comes up longer. I guess I need to do a class or two with the Genius Bar to figure this thing out a bit better. That or it's just messing with me.

Anyway, if I keep at it, I may have a new draft by the 15th, so will print that, red pen it, again, and input it...and then I'm sending it out for feedback. I could spend the next 10 years reworking this story, even after it's published, but I don't want to be one of those authors who does that. And I know Steven King, who's sold billions of books, has reworked some of his...but I don't care. Once it's done; it's out there. As good as I could do at the time. For better or worse.

I streamed a new episode of Vera, off Acorn.com. I still miss David Leon (DS Joe Ashworth, on the show). They're trying to make Kenny Doughty (DS Aiden Healy) human enough to take his place, but it's not working. I can see the mechanics behind it, and the repetition. Oh well...Brenda Blethyn's still on top of her game, and they're decent little mysteries.

It's funny how that works -- some actors are just accessible while others are not. Can't blame the actor; it's how the camera works with them. My favorite example of this is Kim Novak, in Vertigo. She's not the greatest actress, but damn...she inhabits both Madeline and Judy so perfectly, and the camera loves her so much, I can't imagine anyone else in the role. I know Vera Miles was supposed to be in it...but she's too hard and aware, not lost and vulnerable...and that's what the camera brought out in Kim and improved her performance to the nth degree.

Funny how that works.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

It's coming along...

That's what I keep telling myself. I'm getting there...and I am. I just keep finding reasons to go back and rework bits, using my red pen. But every time it's to clarify or make a section more interesting. It's just, it slows down the process.

Helps that I'm already done with my job in Boston. I have to stay till Thursday because the company picking up the shipment was scheduled for then and they're already booked solid for tomorrow. Plus the client prefers a pickup on Thursday and delivery on Friday. So...

Right now, I'm debating staying in, tomorrow, and finishing this draft of A65 so I can print it up and use my time off later in the month to do a final draft. It's getting close, and I want to get feedback while I'm still open to making alterations in the story. I won't do a complete restructuring, but whether or not details do or do not make sense are worthy of discussion.

I will admit that for a little while, I thought about restructuring the storyline into something more Hollywoodish -- but every angle I thought up fell apart. Casey brings the book to Adam at the airport, but it's the wrong one and they have to find the real Alice...kills half the current story and is so surface level, I felt like it was nothing more than damp concrete; the story as is has become a deep aquamarine pool of glistening water and I don't want to lose that.

The book is about Adam and how this journey changes him from being lost and afraid and angry over his life to newfound strength and willingness to take chances, again. And I don't just reference Alice's Adventures In Wonderland to emphasize this. There's Simplicius Simplicissimus and The Blood of Others and Anna Karenina and Orlando Furioso commenting on the story in the background, as well.

Casey's important to the story but not to the same extent, yet she also is undergoing shifts -- from having father issues to letting go and facing the world as an adult, in sole charge of her life. I'm sort of using Beryl Markham as a reference for her -- a woman who did amazing things to impress the men in her life, all for naught...and yet, for history.

Sounds a lot more grandiose than it really is...I hope.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Done, for now...

I got the bridge set between the craziness of Adam's adventures on Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, when he wakes. He winds up lazing as he remembers events from earlier in his life and compares Casey to his mother and Cora, a woman he lived with, done in as gentle a tone as possible. Then he has breakfast with Casey and Patricia and heads on to the bank. This means I may have added another chapter, and definitely added another 8 pages, but I'll decide that on the next pass through.

So now I can get to the rest of the story -- and try to figure my way around a point of logic that's begun sticking in my head, dealing with Lando and Casey. I'll have to make an explanation of it that sounds reasonable, but I can do that at the appropriate time. Right now, I'm happy with this little bit of progress.

So I cleared my head by watching the 1979 version of Mad Max, with the real voices in it, not the American dubbing. Man, they got away with murder in making that movie. Some of those stunts are still breathtaking. Some of the attitudes are really offensive, now. The script was probably 10 pages long, that's about how much dialogue there was in it, and the acting was so-so, but it ran.

Mel was gorgeous, back then -- 23 years old when it was made -- and you could tell the camera loved him. Too bad he turned into such a douche. Or maybe he always was one; I dunno. I used to really like him, as an actor, but then he turned into a star and stopped taking honest chances.

That seems to happen, once you reach a certain level, in Hollywood. Fear of making a fool of yourself or something. Nicholas Cage was another actor I admired, because he was willing to go completely nuts for a part...but at the same time, he could make a decent man interesting, onscreen. That's hard to do. Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper could do it, but very few actors after them were able to pull it off. Then Cage won his Oscar, and after that, he got lost in his mannerisms and now is a joke.

I felt the same about Bruce Willis, for a while. I liked him in Moonlighting; he was far more talented and interesting than Cybill Shepherd. In Die Hard and In Country, he was sharp and held the screen. But it seems his ego overtook his intelligence and he revealed himself to be limited in far too many ways. The closest he came to being a decent actor, again, was in The Sixth Sense. Proved his limits.

A lot of actors are limited in what they can do. Robert De Niro is great with intensity but he cannot play quiet unless it's being used to emphasize danger. Leonardo Dicaprio can't play quiet, either. Sean Penn was so good, he could make you care about an evil man about to be executed in Dead Man Walking, but hasn't even begun to rise to that level since, despite 2 Oscars for lesser roles.

Mel...he got his Oscars for Producing and Directing a piece of homophobic, revisionist history, even as he whitewashed the gayness out of other characters he played and pretended that selfishness was a form of heroism. Like he's afraid someone might think he's queer, regarding the former, and knows Americans like tough guys who take revenge for personal reasons for the second. Which made him a huge star but even less than interesting in my eyes. His later troubles were only the tape that sealed the package.

So why did I watch MM? Memories of when I still cared and was shallow enough to think beauty outside meant beauty within. Learning that notion was foolish was a rough lesson in life.

It's one Casey is now struggling with.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Took all day, but...

I finally have a way back to making Chapters 12 and 13 a bit better...I hope. Initially, since the beginning of 13 is Adam waking up, I was thinking of making the bit where he talks about the differences between his mother and father into a dream. Which I did not like. Very pedestrian...and seemingly the only way to shift out of the current trap of tedium. Besides, I had dreams in my first four books and they only worked because of the subject matter. I needed something better.

Then I started thinking...he's waking the next morning and probably still exhausted and achy, so he might lie there for a while and let his mind drift. Into reminiscences. Into comparisons. Noting similarities between his mother and Casey. Thinking about his father's fate. And if Casey's right beside him, sleeping, thinking about her. And it began to gel. Began to feel right. And so obvious, I could kick myself.

I've worked up an outline. Very basic but still good as a start. It combines his memory of reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others and discussing it with his mother at his father's recommendation and pulls in more information about Casey's father and memories of his time with Cora, a woman he loved who dumped him...and maybe I can use it as a way to replay the story, up till then. Remind the reader of what's happened and what's been set up without being didactic.

I did most of it while waiting for new tires to be put on my car. My old ones were beginning to crack on the sides and lose air. I also got my new laptop but haven't figured out how to shift my Office for Mac over to is so I can use it for word processing. I did buy a printer and now have access to putting out my own sheets instead of having to pay at Kinko's or use Caladex's. It has its limits, but those may be just because I haven't learned all about it, yet.

As if I ever will...

Friday, August 4, 2017

And here I go, again...

Well...Chapters 12 and 13 of The Alice '65 don't really work, yet. They're okay, but they need to be kicking ass, by this point, and they simply don't. They sit there, providing just enough interest to keep going but nothing more. So that's tomorrow's job -- making them sing instead of lip-sync.

Something that might help is if I could figure out Casey, better. She's working but I don't think I'm doing as well by her as she deserves. Adam, I've got. Lando, yeah...I got him; he's easy. Same for Veronica and Orisi. They're all off-center enough to make them fun and interesting. But Casey is still a bit too close to cliched. Same for Patricia, really.

There's a lot more to her than I've put in, I know. I just need to figure out how to do it without her explaining it. That may be the problem; I have her do that a couple of times and it's just not right. I got away from it when she talks about how she and Lando wound up together...but it's still too prevalent.

It was my hope to have this draft finalized and printed before I leave for Boston, on Tuesday. Don't think that's gonna happen. Still too much to make acceptable.

As is usual with me...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

City Lights (1931)

One of my all time favorite films...worth the $3...especially for the ending.

I've only seen it a dozen times...and I cannot recommend this movie enough. Comedy and tragedy and just what I needed to remember, right now.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Genius or deluded fool?

I remember seeing a film about Charlie Chaplin, years ago, that discussed his method of making his greatest films, and I halfway think that influenced my writing, subconsciously. By that, I mean the way I keep rewriting...and rewriting...and rewriting because I rarely start a story with a definite outline but instead only an idea and some notes. Here's what his bio in Wikipedia says --

Until he began making spoken dialogue films with The Great Dictator, Chaplin never shot from a completed script.[353] Many of his early films began with only a vague premise – for example "Charlie enters a health spa" or "Charlie works in a pawn shop."[354] He then had sets constructed and worked with his stock company to improvise gags and "business" using them, almost always working the ideas out on film.[352] As ideas were accepted and discarded, a narrative structure would emerge, frequently requiring Chaplin to re-shoot an already-completed scene that might have otherwise contradicted the story.[355][clarification needed] From A Woman of Paris onward Chaplin began the filming process with a prepared plot,[356] but Robinson writes that every film up to Modern Times "went through many metamorphoses and permutations before the story took its final form."[357]

Producing films in this manner meant Chaplin took longer to complete his pictures than almost any other filmmaker at the time.[358] If he was out of ideas, he often took a break from the shoot, which could last for days, while keeping the studio ready for when inspiration returned.[359] Delaying the process further was Chaplin's rigorous perfectionism.[360] According to his friend Ivor Montagu, "nothing but perfection would be right" for the filmmaker.[361] Because he personally funded his films, Chaplin was at liberty to strive for this goal and shoot as many takes as he wished.[362] The number was often excessive, for instance 53 takes for every finished take in The Kid.[363] For The Immigrant, a 20 minute-short, Chaplin shot 40,000 feet of film – enough for a feature-length.[364]
 
"No other filmmaker ever so completely dominated every aspect of the work, did every job. If he could have done so, Chaplin would have played every role and (as his son Sydney humorously but perceptively observed) sewn every costume."[350]
—Chaplin biographer David Robinson
Describing his working method as "sheer perseverance to the point of madness",[365] Chaplin would be completely consumed by the production of a picture.[366] Robinson writes that even in Chaplin's later years, his work continued "to take precedence over everything and everyone else."[367] The combination of story improvisation and relentless perfectionism – which resulted in days of effort and thousands of feet of film being wasted, all at enormous expense – often proved taxing for Chaplin who, in frustration, would lash out at his actors and crew.[368]

Chaplin exercised complete control over his pictures,[350] to the extent that he would act out the other roles for his cast, expecting them to imitate him exactly.[369] He personally edited all of his films, trawling through the large amounts of footage to create the exact picture he wanted.[370] As a result of his complete independence, he was identified by the film historian Andrew Sarris as one of the first auteur filmmakers.[371] Chaplin did receive help, notably from his long-time cinematographer Roland Totheroh, brother Sydney Chaplin, and various assistant directors such as Harry Crocker and Charles Reisner.[372]
 ---
I don't compare myself to Chaplin in anyway except how damned long it takes to get to the core of the story. Which I am, apparently, still doing with a light little piece like The Alice '65...but which I can't help but do because I want it to be right.

And to paraphrase what someone once said about pornography, "I don't know that is, yet; I'll just know it when I see it."

Monday, July 31, 2017

Still handling shifts and changes...

Well...after having a celebratory birthday dinner of a fairly decent steak and beer (the joint's Guinness tap was out of order and I damn near left, but decided it wasn't that important), I got back to adjusting parts of the first half of The Alice '65 to fit Adam's new height. Being 5'6" now means Orisi is even more intent on making him look good...which isn't hard, considering when he arrives he's wearing clothes meant for a man 6 inches taller than him.

So I'm using Daniel Radcliffe as my new image for Adam, to remind me. I'd post a photo of him on my blog, but I can't find one of him as a clean-shaven adult, and no way am I posting a Harry Potter picture. He might be too good-looking for Adam, but might not. The guy I worked with in Brighton was 5'6", had a nice face and compact body so I could use him, instead. I should've taken a picture of him...but he's a bit homophobic and I needed him to keep working till we were done.

Now I'm pretty much caught up to where I was, so can continue on to the part where Adam sneaks back into Lando's place via the back yard and meets Gertrude. His new size makes that a bit more possible, since he can now slip through a smaller opening in the cyclone fencing. And since he's now in shoes that have a thick sole so he comes across a bit taller than he is, when he loses one, he's going to hobble along. I'm sort of stacking the deck against him...but it's feeling okay, so far.

I've decided I will have a draft ready for feedback by Labor Day. I have to. P/S is nudging at me, hard. Brendan wants his story told, and the sooner I get onto it, the better...considering how I rewrite everything a hundred times. Be nice to finally get it done after so many years of contemplation.

And considering I'm now officially a recipient of Medicare. Next year comes Social Security. I'm getting to be an old fart, and can barely keep myself from yelling out my 4th floor window at passing kids, telling them to keep off my lawn...even though the building doesn't have one.

Maybe I should get one put in, just for fun.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

One little change...

And that starts an avalanche of other changes. I've got a good two dozen moments that need reworking. Some for details. Some because this makes them better. Bits that have to be updated. New ideas. Shifts in logistics. OMG, just by swapping heights between Adam and Lando. And more in the untouched part of this rewrite that show Adam's new size helps some actions make sense.

Today I got through the part where Adam gets kicked out of Lando's house. I'm waiting to re-re-rewrite the jet sequence till I've redone this part of the story. I guess this means I'm finally tumbling into the real story. Seems my main method of writing is redoing it until things start to jump before my eyes. Over and over and over...just like William Wyler made his films.

I just remembered it. He was notorious for doing dozens of takes because he didn't like what he was seeing. This was back when they were shooting on film, so he'd only print the takes he felt might be usable...meaning he shot a hell of a lot of film that was never even processed before he was happy.

There's one story about when he and Bette Davis worked together on Jezebel. It's set in New Orleans in the 1850s, and she's a Southern Belle known to be something of a hellion. Her big entrance is on the back of a horse that she's just tamed. She's wearing a riding dress, gets off, and goes into her house to greet guests coming to her party, even though she hasn't changed clothes.

Wyler shot the scene 45 times. Bette fumed and fought with him. But he printed every one of the shots then showed them to her, and she saw that her first 10 takes were very actressy and showy. It wasn't until the 45th shot that it seemed perfectly natural for her to pick up the train of her riding dress with her riding crop. So maybe I've taken some of Wyler into my style...

Jeez...that means I'll spend another 10 years on Place of Safety!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Done deal...

I reworked my reworking of the reworked confrontation in the jet...and it's smoother and more acceptable if Adam is only 5'6" instead of 6' tall. So there it is -- my raison d'etre. He plays rugby every weekend so is solidly built, and his legs are strong, so when the whole group winds up in a scrum he can wriggle his way out of it and do what needs to be done much easier if he's small as opposed to tall.

I like the way the jet stuff fell together, once I got seriously into the new logistics. I also brought in a flight attendant, two cops, a co-pilot, and several other people, like something out of the Marx Brothers...and a bit like The Lyons' Den. All of that in the confines of a larger jet that has a decent range to it is even more fun. I don't think I'll specify the exact type of jet, except to have Adam comment that it's massive.

Keeping the story within the bounds of reality is still a top priority. I want events to proceed naturally, without the usual cell phone interrupts conversation to advance plot or we're avoiding difficult scenes by having a line of dialogue spouted by a character. Something that irritated me about a BBC show I watched on Acorn, The Level, was how the lazy-assed writers consistently ended scenes by having a character have to answer the phone or a text. Of course, they also had supposedly intelligent people do stupid things so they could keep the action moving, but that's become so typical on TV, it's almost a cliche to call it out.

I'm still catching up on my rest, it seems. I slept till noon, today...and may tomorrow, too. I woke up easy, even though I had a difficult time getting to sleep, last night. Lately it seems I'm dreaming about packing jobs.

Dunno how I feel about that.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wondering about Adam, again...

I have a sort of joke in A65 about Adam being 6 feet tall and Lando being 5'8"...but I wonder if I have it backwards? If Adam should be short and Lando the ideal of Hollywood masculinity. If that would be even funnier, once Adam bests him. I got to thinking about this when I happened across a photo of Daniel Radcliffe, who's 5'5". Decent man. Very good-looking. And bolder than most other actors -- appearing nude in Equus and seeking out odd roles to play in films, now.

That led me to Seth Green, who played the werewolf, Oz, on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. He's 5'4" but never seemed like it, and has done a lot in film and television. Same for Breckin Meyer, Michael J Fox, Alan Ladd, Claude Rains...so I wonder if I'm making too easy a joke out of something that has already been joked to death instead of going for a harder, more relevant joke.

Would making Lando be perfect in every way except brains just be another version of a joke that's been worn down to nothingness? Should I bother making fun of appearances? I've got Casey as perfection but also with brains...and a vindictive streak that causes a lot of pain and chaos. Would it be funnier if Adam was not only slimmer than Manny, when he has to borrow clothes to wear after being vomited upon by a kid, but also shorter? So that Manny's high-water jeans are like clown pants on Adam?

Matthew Lewis is 6 foot while Russell Tovey is about 5'10, same height as me...and I've been using them as the image of Adam...but it feels like I'm taking easy pot-shots at short people with this height joke. Truth is, I like guys who're shorter than me. I've been with perfection and found it criminal and vicious. Beauty does not equate to decency, even though most people subconsciously believe it does. So should I let Adam be shorter than Casey? Would that work, in a rom-com?

Great...yet one more thing to have to figure out on this story...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Taking another trip...

Buffalo to Boston to NYC and home, again. This time by cargo van. It ain't as elegant as a Town & Country and I can't use the parkways to avoid the 95, but compared to the last 5 weeks, it'll be a breeze. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm also one step closer to another trip to the UK...but this time set in the middle of nowhere. I'm debating getting a car but may not need one, and they are expensive to rent, there. It's not like I have a problem driving on the left side of the road; I've done it several times...in Ireland, England & Scotland. But it can be confusing, finding your way around. Especially in the countryside.

Meanwhile, it's back to work on A65. I'm still honing in on the final shape of the story, but the plot is as thick as a stew, right now. I have to be careful something that's too obvious doesn't make its way into the mix. And while stews are nice, a pot roast is better and more savory. Hmm...maybe I'll make one over the weekend. I have a crock pot and can cook it slow for a couple days.

I was in a foul mood, yesterday, so wound up bingeing on a BBC show called The Level. It's six-episode murder mystery about cops in Brighton that is closer to what Quantico thought it was than Quantico could even think of being, with the twists and turns and who's doing what to whom and no one can be trusted stuff...but still doesn't quite gel. Characters take each other at their word too damned much. The lead character does some stupid things that I don't think a decorated cop would do...especially one who's supposed to be a smart detective. But it was okay.

I have Jake do some stupid things and jump to wrong conclusions and miss connections in The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, but he's not a detective. He's a rank amateur who gets to the bottom of things because he's willing to do what it takes to find out what the hell's going on...and doesn't give up. Even when slapped in the face by the truth.

I dunno. I'm trying to keep the actions of Adam and Casey honest in The Alice '65...but maybe that's a mistake. Maybe I should write stupid or simplistic. Doing it my current way hasn't done much for me.

But...when I start back on Place of Safety, I have to be ready...and this is good practice for at least trying to tell the truth.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Laptop...

I'm getting a new MacBook Pro. Caladex will pay for part of it as a sort of bonus for the jobs I did on the west coast. Wow...never expected that...and so happy and thankful for it. I can get a new 13" one for $1700 with 16GB of memory and 256GB of storage...well, $1850 with tax. It'd be worth it. My little beast is at the end of its rope.

I think my copy of Office will be fine, for it, and I may get Adobe CS to use at the shop. Being able to do graphics came in handy when I could work my old Photoshop program. With CS, I can do even better visuals for the cover of A65. Woo-hoo.

I'm caught up on all my financial crap and neatening up of the mess I made unpacking. Now I can get back to rewriting. Get away from the filth that's going on in Washington...and I mean try not to let it destroy me. I am having far too difficult a time understanding why people still support Czar Snowflake, even though he's doing all he can to hurt them...with the gleeful help of the GOP.

I used to think I had a fair grasp of human nature...but I now see I never did. The stupidity of what's happening, let alone the cruelty of it, is beyond my ability to comprehend. I now understand sadism, at least. It's the joy of seeing pain brought to others, so long as you, yourself, are not affected. And there are far too many Americans taking pleasure in this devil's dance.

I'm ashamed to be a natural-born citizen of this country, right now.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Back to work...

Having some space from working on The Alice '65 has helped me see places I can trim down and ways to rearrange details to better effect, not to mention helping in clarity. I still have the tendency to write as if others can read my mind, which is not good...because I haven't got much mind to read. But going through the story as I flew back to Buffalo on Southwest -- whose flights were, as usual, delayed -- I got a fair idea of the flow of the first part of it and like how it moves along.

I will be reworking the final confrontation a couple of times, to get that right, and there are other places where I need to work in ideas I've had...so I've given up on having the book ready for feedback by the end of August. Maybe the end of September...which means it won't be out till after the first of the year. Oh well...I want it to be good. And well-edited.

This evening was taken up with financial matters -- handling bills, updating insurance, finalizing a deal to pay back taxes. My brain is numb, because I've never been a whiz at money. I haven't had the nerve to look at what my credit cards balances are, yet. I'm sure they're off the chart and it'll take time to get them back down to a decent level.

I also had two doctors' appointments, this morning, and found out I lost 12 pounds on this spate of jobs. Working non-stop does help with that...as does not being hungry enough to go out to eat. A couple of my hotel rooms had microwaves, so I'd just get something to nuke and zone on the bed. I was gone for a total of 34 days, so there's still a lot to catch up on.

Hope I can do it all, tomorrow...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going off the grid for a few days...

I'm all done with the jobs on the West coast -- some easy, some hard, one damned difficult and still chasing me -- but I finished everything without exploding, so I guess that's good. Helped to have assistance, a few times. God only knows if I came in on budget; after the fifth job, I was beyond caring.

Anyway, I'm heading down to San Diego to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces till Sunday, then it's home, again...and dealing with my finances. Ugh. Thank god I went to Muir Beach to clear out my brain. Tried to do it, yesterday, in Half Moon Bay with my assistant, before I took him to his plane, but about the time I was beginning to wipe away the cobwebs, he was ready to leave...and it was dinnertime. So away we went.

On a good note: I started restructuring the final bit in the jet for The Alice '65. It'll be more work than I thought it would be, but I like this direction and feel it ups Adam's game. He has to help Casey like an actor doing improv, so uses aspects of his recent experiences to give truth to her lies. In fact, all the direct actions taken in this bit are being reworked into something more dynamic...I think. I hope. Won't know till I get feedback.

I'm currently conflicted about one aspect of the story that's about halfway in. When Adam is locked out of the premier, he winds up in a bar across the street, where people think he's a celebrity and buy him drinks...and he is talked into dancing to Ricky Martin's La Vida Loca. Then later, at Lando's party, he gets Casey to dance ballroom with him. I like the shift in character but wonder if I'm being too damned cute? I also wonder if he shouldn't be dancing till he does it with Casey...but that's a bit movie-ish for me. I dunno...I'll keep thinking.

Now...from Muir Beach...
It wasn't busy but finding a moment of solitude was difficult...
...and yet, not impossible.
Then I stopped at Point Cavallo to get some different photos of San Francisco (which would be better if I remembered to clean my lens)...
...and The Golden Gate Bridge.

Next trip, I think I'll visit Alcatraz.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Winding down...

The last job turned out to be one of the easiest. Wide open house. A pleasant breeze. More than 6000 books to pack but they're small and traveling within the US so can be packed differently from the overseas things. Had good assistance. So tomorrow we'll be done.

What's nice is, as I let my mind wander I figured out how to make the ending confrontation in The Alice '65 better. Right now, it's Casey barging onto Lando's plane and demanding he give her back the book. Nice and average. But instead, I'm going to have Casey use her acting skills to make Lando think she doesn't want the book, that it's a fake, so plays with his mind...and gets Adam to play along. She acts like all she wants is the note her grandfather left in the book, for her.

Now it's more fun. Lando accidentally reveals he has the book with him. And Veronica turns out to be using Lando to get the book for her real boss, the unnamed Australian...and on and on. It's winding itself up...and I love that.

I am feeling better, overall, about my current situation. Getting done with the nastiest jobs and having this relatively easy one helped my mood, immeasurably. I also had dinner with someone I've known since high school, and his husband, and we discussed grammar and punctuation as we ate some decent Indian Food! Not India's Grill (in LA) level but still tasty.

Tomorrow's the final pickup and then building the boxes into containers and prepping them for shipment. Then I send my assistant home and I relax. I may go to Muir Beach, just to watch the Sun set. Or Land's End. I dunno. The job is winding down and I feel very happy with what I accomplished.

Rather unusual, for me.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Insane week...

I finished yet another job that increased in size -- by 25% but with no increase in the amount of time. 2000 books became 2000 titles, many of which were multiple volume while others were tiny and fragile. I wound up working 9-11 hour days with a 15 minute lunch to pack nearly 2500 volumes, and barely got done before the shipping crew arrived. 138 boxes. It was insane...and I was exhausted.

At the same time, I was dealing with a company that promised materials for my next job would be delivered to the location on Friday but then, when I called Friday morning to verify everything was on track, got an, "Oh, yeah, this is a residence and we need to set up an appointment and we don't have the right size truck to do that with till Tuesday, next week. That OK?" No. I was able to get it rerouted to my hotel, but it's ludicrous that I had to handle this, myself, while still involved with another packing job...and then had to schlep the materials up to the house, myself.

This seems to be happening more and more. People promise things or present you with one set of information then change everything around once you're on-site...and shrug at your anger or whine when it's going to cost more money. The only one who didn't whine was an individual whose library is being moved to their new home in London; the business guys, who should know better, got all pissy because the quote was now increased due to the updated information. If they'd just given us this info to start with, we'd have been able to properly assess the costs.

So now I'm the one whining. Mainly because I'm tired and cranky. I did zen a little on A65, but I also got to remembering a script I wrote 11 years ago...my first real try at comedy and how proud I was of it. And wondered why nothing ever came of my work. Which segued into wondering why sales have gone flat on OT, DM, BC and LD (I'm still selling HTRASG, PM, and RIHC6 steadily enough). Which led to me thinking I've wasted my life on something I never could achieve...

And slammed into a nice blue funk. What a place for me to be in, at my age. Packing books written by other people over the centuries but not feeling like I'm part of that. Just another wannabe hanging out on the fringes.

Shit, I am tired...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Still dreaming...

I play the lottery once in a while. Usually on a spur of the moment deal. Get a quick pick...and never get the numbers. I won $20 on the Canadian one, once, but that's been it. Yet I still dream about winning the Powerball jackpot and using it to make movies. I'd probably do Carli's Kills, first, then The Alice '65 then Marked For Death and then The Cowboy King of Texas. After that, who knows?

It extends to screenplay competitions. I still get e-mails telling me I still have time to enter, and I used to send my work in but even when I made the first or second cut, nothing much came of them. Mainly because they were the lesser contests. The big ones, I never even got close...and those are the ones that count.

I don't know how to write scripts that sell or impress the people who say yea or nay. Actors love my writing because I give them characters to play, not cliches, but I can't get a script to someone who can get it greenlit. I've read books, done seminars, taken classes, even worked with a career counselor when I took a couple years after Heritage shut down to try and get my writing career going. All it got me was broke. And yet...

I'm saying this because Emerging Screenwriters sent me an email with a 2 for 3 offer and it got me to thinking, "Why not?" Well...it'd be just over a hundred bucks. And the deadline is July 12th. And when I scanned through the scripts I have that I'd want to send -- MFD, RDP and CB -- I found typos and mistakes. None of which I can correct because they're all PDFs. So I tell myself I'd be blowing a hundred bucks for nothing.

And yet...I still dream...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mixed bag...


Finished job #6 -- that elegant collection of books I mentioned earlier -- and took this photo while en route back to my motel. I won't call it a hotel because it's really not very nice; one of those places where people have parties in the parking lot and clomp around in boots on the floor above you...and where you come away with odd bites...or rashes; I'm not sure what the hell it is I've got.

They're little red bumps on my arms and legs that itch, like mosquito bites. I first noticed them three days ago and thought maybe I'd picked up a flea. There are so many dogs around, it's not beyond the realm of possibility. A garage apartment I had in LA was behind a house where two dogs lived, and whose owners did not believe in taking care of them. The place got so bad with fleas, I was threatening to move while their neighbors were ready to call the city health department.

Anyway, I have experience with flea bites and these didn't really look like that. Same for mosquitoes. I don't know what bedbug bites look like, but I can't find a spot where it looks like anything dug in. So these could be a rash from something...like the detergent the motel uses to wash its sheets or that powdered crap I used when I did my laundry, in Seattle. Whatever it was, they kept appearing mainly on my right arm and left leg. Now anti-itch cream has been slathered upon them, and that works...for a while.

Just to play it safe, I washed all my clothes in my usual detergent -- All Clear. Supposedly hypo-allergenic. I wound up doing that in Los Gatos, because I was heading down to Santa Cruz and there was a wreck on the 17 so traffic was at a standstill. I figured instead of sitting in a goofy Volkswagen Jetta inching forward for hours, I'd clean my crap.

What made it a go decision was, I happened upon a Safeway. So I bought the soap, located a nice clean laundromat just down the road and actually got some work done on A65. And this was a nice joint. AC. New machines. And they used dollar coins to operate the bigger washers! I felt like I was in Vegas, baby.

Now I'm in Santa Cruz and anything but impressed. It's crowded and traffic is vicious...and I just don't see the attraction, even with all the fun rides on the Boardwalk. And all they seem to offer in the way of food was hot dogs, burgers, personal pizza and junk. Brighton was more interesting. I finally did find a Thai restaurant that offered beef curry in coconut milk and enjoyed that, but overall, Half Moon Bay was a better destination if you want to hit the beach.

Ah, well...tomorrow starts job 7, another long hard slog for an auction house which I so do not look forward to. Then comes another university job that got moved up a day because I screwed up and didn't make sure of my dates. Sometimes I'm worthless.

Hmm...I'm just wondering...is that tall building in the center of my photo the one that's sinking?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Brain rummaging done in stealth like an upstairs mouse...

I'm packing a private library that is, without question, one of the finest I've ever done. Not so much in value but in breadth and beauty. It's not an easy job, this one, but I don't mind because I saw a book that had a letter written on the first blank pages...a letter from Rudyard Kipling to a friend...and his handwriting was so neat and precise, I could read every word. Not like mine, that's fer dang sure.

The man collecting these volumes is a book person. They're neat. Well-documented. Cared for. Like what Adam would be like in The Alice '65. Not one unwanted book in an eclectic mix of aspects that merely took his fancy. I watched him handle the books when I had a question, or when he wanted to show me one he was proud of...and it was loving. Tender. Joyous. As it should be.

Of all the jobs I've done the last three weeks, this one is the most fascinating and useful. It's adding to my awareness of Adam. Increasing my focus on the book. I'm still seeking the connector in the story between Adam and his adventures with the book, itself. Why Alice... and not something else? There may be no answer except the chaos is what jolts him free from the past, but I'd still like to see if I can suss one out...and this job had given me glimmers of possibilities...

Oh, Lord...it's the Fourth of July and the idiots are shooting off louder than loud firecrackers along Market Street.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hoping to get back on schedule...

Posting has been spotty during this trip, half because of Wifi issues and half because the jobs have been exhausting thanks to changes in requirements and heat. The jobs in Tarzana, Valencia, and Sierra Madre were tiring mainly due to LA's lovely hot summer. The one in Seattle was due to the job doubling in size but only allowing a few extra hours to do it in...and the first day was hot but the three following days were perfect.

As for WiFi issues, it's mainly how slow my laptop gets when dealing with a system that has a couple hundred people using it all at one time. Except for the Days Inn I stayed at in Castaic. On that one, the WiFi kept kicking me off and refusing to let me back on. I began to think it's the age of my laptop, but I'm at LAX, right now, and no problem here. It's irritating.

I'm now heading to the San Francisco Bay area till at least the 20th, with 4 more jobs to do. I'm still setting up the last one, since it got going at the last minute, while another also doubled in size but at least the client was willing to let me come in on the 4th to start instead of the afternoon of the 5th. I'll also need to do another laundry run; I did one on my last day in Seattle, which should last me a couple weeks...but still, should all be very interesting.

My one concern right now is how to extend my mail hold a couple of days so I can visit San Diego. I think I have to let the current one expire then set up a new one. And this means my Honda won't have been run for 5 weeks. And after that are two possible jobs in NYC and Switzerland. Ah...the life I lead.

Actually, I'm a bit ticked I haven't worked more on The Alice 65. I'm mentioning it on Twitter, now, and have a couple of editors willing to go through  it to give me their feedback and check for errors. I'll be ready after this draft; I have to be. If I don't move this forward, now, I never will.

Got a good review of Bobby Carapisi, yesterday-- short but intense; she got the story. So painfully realistic how society and the system can let you down, especially for a gay man who is raped then examined by insensitive jerks. Eric is so desperate to be believed, for justice, that he may have inadvertently traumatized another rape victim, Bobby Carapisi. Don't want to say much more, since this is spoilery enough, but I highly recommend this novel.

Makes me feel very good.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Whooh...rough week...

I know it's only Wednesday, but this latest job started on Sunday and was hard going. 450 books became more than 900, with oversized artwork. It took some careful maneuvering. But it's done and at the airline and I'm off to job # 4 in North LA. Then comes San Jose and San Francisco and Santa Cruz and Sausalito...well, not exactly Sausalito, but that area.

What made this job happen and even go fairly well was my helper, who's another book person. And efficient. And cute. And has the same politics as me. We spent a fair amount of our work time grousing about Czar Snowflake and the vile party that supports him.  If anything, he may be a bit more radical than me...and I like that.

Haven't done a thing more on A65. I'm too beat to do anything but doze at the computer. Haven't even read, much. Did get some laundry done, since I won't have a chance to till after San Francisco. That killed this evening...and I've still got a lot more to do. In fact, on the flight to LA I'll be working up the last job's material needs, since I'm dead meat, right now.

I've been trying to read Snobs by Julian Fellowes, but I'm having trouble getting into it. Which is odd because I liked the sly humor of Gosford Park. Still, after 61 pages I have no interest in Edith Lavery, and its switching back and forth from some unknown person telling the story to straightforward third person omniscient makes me glad I dumped that idea in A65. Of course, I have to acknowledge, I didn't like Downton Abby, so maybe he's hit and miss.

I'm going to shift to John Waters' Role Models and see how that goes. What I'm looking for is ways to write humor and build funny characters who are still real, but do it with bite and edge and romantic yearning...while digging deep into their soul and psyche to play hideous games with their minimal sanity. All in an off-beat tone of voice with the fluidity of Tolstoy.

Yeah...right...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back to work...

I'm just posting a bit more of A65. This is at Lando's party, where Adam and Casey have had a small run-in with Lando and Veronica.

-----

She forced a smile and guided Adam through a dining room stacked high with questionable edibles into a state of the art kitchen where the chrome and brass gleamed nice and bright, and obviously not used.

"Good God," he said, "the bloody kitchen's bigger than my flat, in Ruislip."

"That where you live?" Casey asked, paying him no real attention as she pulled two cartons of Mac & Cheese from the freezer.

"Cora and I did. Till we parted. Couldn't afford it on my own."

Casey said nothing, just popped both cartons into the microwave. He watched her, uncertain.

"Is this all right?" he asked.

"These're mine," she said with a bare smile. "I used to spend a lot of time here."

He saw the distant expression return to her face, the tight mask with it. "Casey ... was it wise to come back?"

She did not look at him, just pulled utensils and napkins together. "Had to. Make everyone think all is well and good."

"After hiding away?"

She cast him a wary glance, then shrugged. "Don't you just love gossip? Especially when it's rooted in reality." She focused on polishing the utensils as she said, "Y'know, she's wrong about me ... Veronica ... me leaving guys. Tabloids spit out that shit, all the time, but I've never left anyone."

"That ... that, um, doesn't mean we can't leave now. Find somewhere else to have a meal. My ticket."

She looked at him, warmth hinted in her eyes. "In a minute. These two cartons are the last of my crap here, and I don't want to leave anything behind. It'd just stay in the freezer. You see, Lando thinks mac and cheese is beneath him, and Veronica just sucks the life out of people. Trust me, I know. That's what I caught her doing with him, last week."

Adam jolted. "Just last week?"

She shrugged. "Eleven days ... no, twelve ... but who's counting? That was four helpings of Lasagna. Meat lovers."

"Casey," he said, "may I say, your Lando is a fool."

She handed him a spoon, smiling. "You may. There's water in the fridge."

The microwave dinged and Casey pulled the steaming boxes out. She set them on a counter as Adam grabbed a couple bottles of sparkling water and opened them. She peeled the plastic film covers off and the aroma danced up and round and through him, like a vapor sprite.

He took a careful bite, let the cheesy pasta simmer on his tongue and finally growled, "God, starting to feel large, again." Then he dove in.

Casey watched him eat. Manners radiated from him, even as he seemed to wolf his food down. She ate hers at a slower pace, slipping deeper into memories.

"I don't even know why Lando and I wound up together," she said, her voice soft and reflective. "We're too much alike."

"I would argue that point," Adam said.

"You don't know me well enough, yet." She focused on the Mac & Cheese. "Mom thinks she matched us up, but reality is, I'd seen him around. Parties. Awards ceremonies. He was up for a daytime Emmy, back when I was dating an actor from one of the Soaps. Vinny Something. A nice guy who couldn't decide if he was gay, straight or bi." She sighed then smiled, added, "Or even if he really cared about me. Seems being with me helped him in the gossip rags." Then she loaded a spoonful of Mac & Cheese into her mouth.

Adam sipped some water. "Have they always been at you?"

"Baby, c'mon -- you've got Gala and Hello in England, the Daily Mail; you must've noticed how they can be."

"I've never paid any mind."

She watched him take another bite and said, "You're unusual."

He smiled. "Family and friends would agree with you."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Curmudgeon be I...

I went through a series of irritating emails with the powers that be at Caladex, wanting me to explain something I do not think I did or said...and which doesn't make sense to me. Supposedly, I noted on an XL Spreadsheet that I was going to work 22 hours over 2 days on one of the packing jobs I'm doing. It's one of the jobs that increased in size and I did say I'd be doing that over 3 days, but there's no way I'd do it for 2 and most certainly would not say that when I did the original quote. But since I don't have access to the spreadsheet, I have no idea what's going on or what I originally put down or anything.

I also got bitched out because I didn't get specific enough on another quote I revised, and because I thought they were having someone else in the office get some information from a company to go with that quote when they meant something else, entirely, that I wasn't even involved in and...and I got so fucking confused about this, I just stopped responding and had a late dinner.

Part of the issue is, I'm on a Mac while the office is all PCs, so I can't access the server to get my information direct instead of second hand. And part of the problem it's causing is, it feeds into my sense of incompetence. As if I need more of that. And...part of it might be that I just haven't eaten well, the last couple of days (no lunch, today), and LA's traffic is worse than I remember and it's hot and most of my friends are out of town...and I'm feeling stupid and inadequate to the tasks ahead.

And now I'm whining like a needy dachshund.

This is bullshit.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The usual WiFi issues arise...

I stayed at a Howard Johnson's in Tarzana that would not let me onto the WiFi except for a few minutes at a time. I'd get 2-3 emails done and one search on Google...and then I'd get the spinning ball of eternity, And there was no one to call to check into it. I used to think it happened because I've got a 10 year-old laptop...but I'm in a Best Western, now, that gives me zero trouble.

I'm caught up now on my emails and such -- I mean, I'm able to do some of that on my iphone, but there are somethings I need the laptop for, so...

Job 1 of what is now 8 jobs is done, and I probably sweated off 50 lbs doing it. This was in a storage facility in Tarzana, where it was hitting 100 during the day, and 55 boxes became 84, once I did the ephemera and electronics. I ran out of boxes, labels and tape. Never had that happen, before; I usually wind up with too much left over.

Tomorrow's should be easy...but I've said that before. We shall see how it goes.

I read most of Steven King's book, On Writing, during the trip to LA. I'd read it years ago and remembered a fair portion of it, but I'd forgotten his 10% rule -- like, if a draft is 300 pages, cut out 30 pages worth of writing. I don't know if that would work for A65 since it's only 63,500 words long. I feel it needs to be about 62,000...and there are spots where I can dig deeper...so we'll see what the response is once I get it done.

The trip was long and both my flights were late...but it looks like I was lucky to even get one. Lots of them were getting cancelled, going into Phoenix, because it was too hot for them to land or take off. The hotter the air, the harder it is to get lift. I guess that's why we landed nearly an hour late... near sundown, when the worst of the heat was over. I had to run for my connection and got to the gate just as my boarding number was going in...but at least it got going...and then sat on the runway for 20 minutes.

Climate change now affects air travel in ways that cost money, but Republicans still refuse to care,

Saturday, June 17, 2017

One of those days...

I spent much of today wasting time trying to find things I wanted -- like black or blue cargo pants or t-shirts with pockets -- but apparently too many placees think those things aren't worth selling, anymore. I found that JC Penney, which offers cargo pants on its website, is worthless when it comes to getting help in the store. "Go ask this person." "Go ask that person." "The clerk at the register will look it up for you." So I wait in line to talk with her and she says, "Go look on that table; that's all we have of the brand you're looking for." I gave up and left.

Old Navy was just as bad. "If it's not on the shelf, we don't have any." Which shelf? "Over there." "Do you have Pocket T-shirts?" "I think so, over on that table, maybe." Gag!!!

Same for Target and KMart, but at least at the latter store I happened onto some pants I could use. I'll have to alter the leg lengths, a bit, but I'm now situated for this trip. Along with 2 packets of pocket Ts I just happened to notice. Small wonder I hate to shop. It's an exercise in how much time you can waste.

Already 3 of the 8 jobs have expanded, massively. One went from 500 books to 800; another decided to add 250 volumes and 2 framed items to the mix; the third is more a methodology thing where the books have to have tabs put in them, thus increasing the time needed...oh, and he wants them delivered to a different location than his shop. Never a word till today, and I've already got my mailing labels printed up. I spent the time I wasn't wasting on shopping reworking my plans and needs for packing materials. Should be interesting.

Tomorrow is laundry and working on the Switzerland and NYC quotes. All I can do is estimate how long it'll take and what I'll need for each, at this point. I'll have to leave the costing of the shipping to others. My flight leaves late Monday afternoon and I'm already needing to stop by the office to get some updated paperwork and get back home. Since I'll be gone so long, I'm taking a cab to the airport instead of parking; it's cheaper.

Nobody said it was easy...but seriously, does it have to be so hard? (He whined.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Respite...

The Alice 65 is all printed up and ready for me to dive in with my red pen. Kinko's ain't cheap when it comes to printing, but I can't get another printer of my own till I get a new laptop or desktop computer. The printers out now require a higher level OS than what I can do.

I'm about to embark on an 7 job tour of the west coast -- 3 in the LA area, 1 in Seattle, and 3 in and around San Francisco. I'll be in the Bay area from the 1st of July to the 14th...and maybe later, if a final job comes through. Plus there are two more large ones down the pike. I was planning to take the last 2 weeks of August off but may not be able to. All depends on when a New York one needs to be done.

I'm also looking at a possible trip to Switzerland, which would be fantastic. I've only been to Geneva and that was 30 years ago. I took the TGV from Paris and had a lovely ride. Had lunch on the lake. Took a boat tour and a late train back. This one would be deeper inside the country...and is still very iffy...but it's fun to dream.

I'll be focused on those two jobs, this weekend, working up costs and time needed for packing and the like, so won't do anything on A65 till after I leave, on Monday. If then. I want a bit of space between me and the book, so I can keep fresh with it.

I'm re-reading Steven King's book on writing, and also going to try and get into A Confederacy of Dunces, just to see what it's all about. And I have another Pulitzer Prize winner I'd like to read -- A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler. I'll be spending a lot of time on airplanes, so may as well make use of it since it's so hard to use my laptop on them, now.

Who knows -- maybe it'll help me improve my writing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Another draft done...

Okay...A65 is now in first real draft. 63,400 words and 258 pages. I've still got a lot of work to do on it to make it readable; I saw that as I dug through the last couple of chapters. So much still needs to be set up, better, and some aspects of Adam and Casey that I sort of glossed over can be brought out more, earlier in the story.

The big challenge is in keeping everything in Adam's perspective. It's his story with Casey as a strong second lead...which makes it hard to put her history into it without her doing some long bits of dialogue. Explanation. Exposition crap.

I get around that with Adam, to an extent, by just shifting into him remembering things that happened then him realizing he's been telling them to her. Can't do that with Casey. And I'm trying to avid the full-scale omniscient thing some authors do. Oh, well...I like the story and the characters, and I'm willing to keep my investment going till it bears fruit.

I can't honestly say this is still a romantic comedy. It's got the romance and comedic elements, but it's digging deeper into the characters in ways that mitigate the casualness of events around them.

Like Adam's former girlfriend, Cora, being controlling and casually cruel to him, and him accepting it. Still being in love with her even after she dumped him, got married to a truck driver and is about to have twins, by the man. What keeps it from being pathetic, I think...I hope, is Adam's concern about her future children. He thinks she tends towards Munchhausen Syndrome -- she wanted him to take up smoking then, when he became addicted, she'd be the good woman who helped him quit -- and plans to keep an eye on her in case she starts doing that to her kids.

I also have a scene where Adam finally catches on to what Casey actually planned for him and sees himself for how others see him...and sees how lost he's become...while sitting in a tub full of water with a black panther named Gertrude, who's in love with him. I can't tell if that's right for the story or me just being piquant.

Or if I'm being both at the same time...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Recuperated enough to do some writing

I have 3 chapters left to finish reworking...and a section I've already done that is as lumpy as hell. I'm still just over 63,000 words but found another spot that was repeating info already noted.

So I'm going to be lazy and post the bit where Casey and Adam have arrived at Lando's house for the after-premier party.
______________________

(Casey) led him into a room that was as tall as it was wide. Hundreds of lantern lights covered the ceiling and a hundred people danced, all in exotic masks of gold and chrome and white plastic, drinking neon-colored liquids through straws that lit up, and vaping on neon-outlined cigarette pipes. A DJ worked his turntables by a wall of a window that looked out on a yard and pool that were landscaped to within an inch of reality. All relatively normal, to Adam, except for one thing.

There was no music.

Barely even the noise of shuffling feet. Instead, it was spooky quiet as the dancers texted on their phones and read each others' phones and laughed at each others' phones and argued via each others' phones and blew fake smoke into the air and lit up their straws as they sipped. It was so bizarre, Adam had to check his chin to make sure his mouth was shut.

Someone slipped up behind him to place an elegant mask over his face and hook it behind his ears ... and music pounded into his brain, sharp and thumping, vibrating to the very tips of his well-pedicured toes. He jerked it off to find ear-buds built in to the ear-rests and a girl who couldn't have been legal age casting him a bewildered look.

"You hear the music with these," she said.

"Why?" popped out of him.

"Beverly Hills noise ordinance," she said, smiling sweetly as she wandered away.

"Dear God, Casey, is this how -- ?" But she had vanished, and he felt the weight of her purse in his coat pocket. "Casey?" She was not to be seen. "I'm bloody Gunga Din, to her," he muttered.

Then a woman of indeterminate age in near nothing couture oozed up to ask, "Did you say you were somebody?"

"What do you mean?" was all he could think of as a response.

"I hear you're somebody," her voice like a whisper trying to sound loud.

"Isn't everyone?" Adam replied.

She shook her head. "If you're not somebody, today, you're nobody, unless you were somebody, yesterday, or might be, tomorrow."

Adam blinked. "I ... I don't know who I could be but me. Today."

"Isn't that just like your type?" And she oozed away.

He backed to the window to watch the silent dancing increase in frenzy and --

Incense appeared before him. Sharp. Smoky. A woman dressed in flowing Indian robes with multitudinous beads dripping around her neck, hair frizzed into half a halo and held by headbands, she positioned the stick straight up to roll between her fingers. She nearly caught his nose with it.

"Careful," he said, bumping the back of his head against the glass.

The Earth Mother spun about and swirled the incense smoke around him. "Your aura needs serious cleansing," she said.

He coughed and tried to wave the smoke away. "I think Orisi did quite enough of that, thank you."

She gasped and grasped Adam's hands to look closer at the mandalas. "What exquisite work," she whispered, awe-struck. "The depth and lacy intricacy ... and so fresh ... "

Adam took his hands back and held them behind him as he said, "Julie did them."

The Earth Mother pressed closer to Adam, her eyes bright with joy and fire, the scent of cinnamon wafting about her. "Julie? There is a Julie Marshe-Croton who's renown for her henna designs. And she's English. Like you." She threw her hands up in front of his face, showing him elegant henna works on their backs, lacing around her fingers and coloring her nails. "My daughter did these. She worships Julie Marshe-Croton. And you say she's here? In Los Angeles?"

"I ... uh, yes, I ... I suppose -- "

"She is! Look at how the incense curls around your nose!"

Adam looked. It was!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Time goes slooooooooooooow...

Damn, today went by like a snail. I picked up a van and loaded in packing materials and supplies and got on the road at 1:30, heading for NYC. The hotel I aimed for was just under 400 miles off, which is about 7 hours since I stop and stretch my legs along the way...and that's all it took, but I would swear time was going backwards. It felt like 10 hours, minimum.

It's weird how that happens. Most days vanish around me, as if they're only pretending to be there. I can get started working on a story or researching something or trying to finish a job at work, and suddenly I'm running late. But occasionally it seems like no matter what I do, time ticks by at the slowest mode possible. And that was today.

I was constantly checking the time in relation to where I was -- like pulling into Syracuse, I thought I was running late but I was actually a bit ahead (mainly due to how fast I drive). And I got to Stroudsburg by 7, and had to keep reminding myself it wasn't an hour later. I stopped to have some ribs at a Chili's, there, then got caught in nasty traffic on the 80, due to a wreck. So I stopped, again, got gas, and still made it to the hotel by 9:30. On schedule, really, considering an hour for dinner and refueling.

I wish life would slow time down while I'm writing, giving me more space to work in, and stop just having it disappear before I know it, in every other way.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Working along on A65...

I just finished redoing Chapter 11 and have a whole 66 pages left to complete in this rewrite. Most of them require simple changes. So far, I've added 10 pages and the wordage is just over 63,000...and I can cut more. I still think 62,000 is the target size. Then comes printing up a copy to do more corrections on and then another polish...and then feedback.

I should be done by the end of the week. Tomorrow I'm headed down to New Jersey to pick up some archives, and coming straight back, so I'll have my evenings and weekend to do it. I will be so glad, because the following week I start a series of jobs on the West Coast that could keep me there for a month -- LA, SF and Seattle. Up and down the coast.

I guess I need to really be thinking about a cover for A65. I have some ideas, and I do like how OT's turned out. Same for RIHC6, LD and PM, since I wouldn't change a thing in them, but I'm not completely happy with HTRASG or BC...so maybe I should get some professional help on this one. I have contact with a man in England who does this and might be open to doing it, but first I need to get the book ready enough to let him know what it's about.

When it comes to P/S, I've had that cover set in my mind for years. It all just depends on if I can license this black and white image to use. The font needs work and I'd cut the "A Novel" bit. Don't know if I'd add a short blurb...that feels wrong, somehow. But I can decide once I hunker down and start back to work on it.

And this is the next book I'm finishing...no matter what.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Editing galore...

One good thing about posting snippets of The Alice '65 is, for me anyway...I get taken out of it and can see where to cut. Like the part I posted on Tuesday...got rid of 7 lines that were overly emphatic about a point made earlier. For example, this little conversation is now --
-----
"I just spent two hours in a freezing theater watching a man I used to love pretend he loved me. I need a double-dose of Midol. Triple."  Her tight face-mask was back on.

"Head?" Adam asked. She merely nodded. He slipped behind her and set his fingers on her shoulders with his thumbs pressing against her spine. "Here."

He began to run his thumbs up her neck, light and easy.

She tried to pull away, saying, "Baby, no -- "

"Just relax," he said as he pushed on.

Casey sighed. "Oh, Adam. Baby. Magic fingers"

He had to chuckle at that. "Told you, mum's a physical therapist. She knows how to make pain vanish. And she would give you the stick for letting your shoulders become so tight." He let his voice soften. Grow close to wistful. "But your skin ... the, um, the result of Orisi's cleansing products?"

"Same crap he used on you. If I didn't, I'd never get styled in this town, again."

"Was reaction good for the film, at least?"

"Who knows?" It took her a moment to continue. "Those cookies and juice, that should never have happened."

"No worries."

"But that's how my mother makes pain vanish." Then she sighed. "More and more, lately." Adam kept rubbing. "I think she's lonely. It's just been her and me since daddy left."

"Surely she has friends."

"You know what a friend is, in this town? Somebody you see once a year. Maybe twice. Three times? You're in a relationship. I bet you have lots of friends."

"I don't know about lots," he said, still rubbing. "People from university. Mates on the team. Neighbors. The spouses and families of David and Beryl."

She almost turned to look at him. "You keep inventory?"

"These are people I've been around forever. Who know me. Understand me. Let me be."

"People say they understand me, but they don't. Nobody does. Not even me."

"Doesn't everyone feel that way?"

"Yeah."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quick posit for more of A65

Changing planes in Charlotte and had to walk a mile from one end of a terminal to another. Literally. So here's a touch more of A65 to give me a breather. This is after the premier's let out and Adam is looking for Casey, when...

-------

"Why you out here?"

Adam jumped around to find Casey beside him, her mask gone and irritation in her eyes.

She continued with, "The movie was half over before I realized you weren't coming."

"I had no money for food," he said, "and needed to use the phone and couldn't get back in."

Casey looked at that usher, and the irritation vanished into weariness. "He the one who stopped you?" Adam nodded. She all but growled, "You should've just waited in the limo. Plenty of food and water in there."

"Where is it?"

She looked around to find a dozen limos now on the street, none of them theirs. Others were parked in a nearby lot while a few were obviously on standby in front of a higher-end hotel.

"I'll send him a text," she said. "He'll be right up."

She took back her purse and pulled out her phone ... and frowned. "Adam, there's money in here; why didn't you just use this?"

"It's not mine."

She looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. "Lando would've taken a fifty and kept the change."

"Your Lando is definitely quite odd," Adam said, glancing over at him still holding court in the lobby. "You sure you want to leave? Seems the patrons are not done patronizing."

"I just spent two hours in a freezing theater watching a man I used to love pretend he loved me. I need a double-dose of Midol. Triple." The tight face-mask was back on.

"Head?" Adam asked. She merely nodded. He slipped behind her and set his fingers on her shoulders with his thumbs pressing against her spine. "Here."

She tried to pull away, saying, "Baby, no -- "

"Just relax," he said as he began to run his thumbs up her neck, light and easy. Her skin was the softest he had ever felt ... and her shoulders were the tightest. "God, my mother would give you the stick for letting yourself become so tense."

A moment later she was murmuring, "Oh, Adam. Baby. Magic fingers."

He had to chuckle at that. "Told you, mum's a physical therapist. She knows how to make pain vanish."

She gave a soft laugh and leaned back into the massage.

He let his voice soften. "Skin the result of Orisi's cleansing?"

"That or I'll never get styled in this town, again."

"Was reaction good for the film, at least?"

It took her a moment to answer. "Who knows? Sorry you didn't see it."

"I will when it hits the local cinema."

"Thanks." Her voice grew soft. "Adam ... about the cookies and juice ... "

"No worries."

"That's how my mother makes pain vanish," she said, her voice trying to be funny but not quite making it. Then she sighed, "More and more, lately."

"Have you any idea why?"

"Lonely, I guess. It's just been her and me since daddy left."

"I find that hard to believe. She's an attractive woman."

"With bad taste in men. She thought Lando was cool, until he proved he wasn't. I think she just ... she liked him."

"Hasn't she any friends?"

"You know what a friend is, in this town? Somebody you see once a year. Maybe twice. Three times? You're besties, for life. I bet you have lots of friends."

"I don't know about lots," he said, still rubbing. "People from the university. Mates on the team. Neighbors. The spouses and families of my oldest brother, David, and sister, Beryl. We get along well. Connor and his wife, not so much. In fact, I don't think I've met any of her family. It's like she was raised by feral cats, to feed or be fed upon."

"Like Veronica," Casey sighed. A moment later, the limo arrived and she asked, "Feel like more champagne?"

"Um, no, doesn't mix with Guinness." He gave her shoulders one last squeeze, sending tingles into his heart. "All better?"

"Baby, I feel beautiful."

"You? Imagine."

She swatted at him, laughing. Then as they got in the limo --

"There he goes! There's our Adam!"

He popped up to look across the limo and see almost the entire bar outside watching him. He waved at them, got in, and appeared through its sun roof, laughing. Casey joined him.

"Is that where you were?" she asked, motioning to the patrons.

"I couldn't exactly wait on those bloody benches; they were covered in bird feces."

Casey laughed, pulled him close and waved at the group as they started to pull away. The group cheered and chanted, "Casey! Adam! Casey! Adam!"

Lando was still thronged with people, just outside the theater, but heard them and looked around.

Casey noticed, laughed and flipped him off, as the limo eased around the traffic.

All Adam could think to say, in a veddy Vincent tone was, "Casey! How positively horrid of you."

Still laughing, she opened the video app on her phone and showed him the Paparazzi twins were back on their motorbike, saying, "Wanna bet they got a good shot?"

He could just make out that were telling each other, "Blow up should be happening soon." "Then it's gonna be High Noon."

Adam looked at her. "Are we planning something to fulfill this dream of theirs?"

She gave him an odd look of appraisal, mixed with a wide grin, then she said, "Not anymore, baby. It just seems stupid, doing something like that. And I'm tired of feeling stupid."

She rubbed her arms so he removed his jacket and put it over her shoulders. She was surprised. "Adam, you don't have to -- "

"I'm from London," he said. "This is like a fine summer's night there. I'm quite comfortable."

She pulled it tight. "Thanks. Y'know, I do have to make an appearance at Lando's, then we'll head back to my place. Light a fire. Order in Chinese or Indian. Get you a good night's sleep. That okay?"

He let a long sigh out. "Sounds like heaven."

She kept her eyes on him for a moment longer, nodding. "Yes, it does. It does."