Derry, Northern Ireland

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

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."

Monday, June 5, 2017

Next stop, Tallahassee, Florida...

Another place I never would have gone to on my own. Florida's not my favorite state and being in any sort of close proximity to its government give me the itch. Especially with Rick Scott being governor. The man looks like a cyborg and has all the empathy of the Terminator in the first movie, as he's consistently shown in his actions and attitudes. But it's just for a couple of days, so...

I reworked Chapter 9 of A65, since some of it just didn't read smoothly. I'm trying not to go back and do my re-write thing every time I dig into the story...and I seem to be able to keep from it, for the most part. In this section, Casey begins to open up to Adam over a hot box of nuked Mac & Cheese, and we finally get a glimpse of the hurt young woman she hides behind her anger.

Initially, it was like a long monologue of her speaking as he eats and listens...but that was completely wrong for the moment, so I broke it up into more of a conversation. It's better but still needs work to make it real and smooth. Of course, it also added about 2 pages to the story -- I'm up to 255 and well over 63K in wordage -- though I may wind up trimming back by a page. I wanted it to keep to 62K in wordage and about 250 pages.

Oh, who am I kidding? I don't care how long the story is; it'll be as long as it needs to be, and no longer. And I still have some moments in the original Alice... to reference in some off-beat way, so there will be more addition. I think I'll get a professional editor to go over it, this time, just to get a sense of how it really comes across...and how decent my English is.

Wouldn't want Adam to wind up too obscure to work right.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Screw the news, more A65

This is after Adam's been refused entry to the movie. Manny, Julie's husband, has dragged Adam away from a confrontation and pushed him across the street to a bar:

-----------
"You don't want trouble in America," Manny said. "They're the arseholse of the world when it comes to prison." Then he led Adam into the noisy California version of an English Pub and called, "Julie, look what I got!"

Adam saw her at the other end of the bar, talking to a man in a blinding white suit. They both spun around and waved and Julie screamed, "It's Adam!"

And what did the man in white say? "Jumpin' jeebus!"

It was Orisi.

"What're you doing here, son?" Orisi cried as he slammed his way through the crowd to Adam, Julie right behind him.

"Too bloody jaded to bother with his own girl's movie," Manny laughed.

"Oh, no-no-no, she's not my girl," said Adam.

"Oi, everybody," Manny called around the bar, "This man's dating Casey Blanchard!"

"We're not dating ... "

"Yeah, right, escorts her to a premier but they're not dating."

Adam huffed. "Manny -- "

Julie grabbed Adam's tie and yanked him around to her, saying, "Go with it, sweets. There's men who'd die to be in your place."

"Got that right," Orisi laughed. "So tell me, son -- what's goin' on? She banish you for bein' you?"

"No!" Adam gasped. "We ... we got separated and they wouldn't let me in because I'm not her plus one, whatever that means, and ... well, my mobile is ... um, I can't find a ... I need to call my bank and can't find a phone."

"Here," Julie said, pulling hers from her purse and handing it to him. "Now what's your poison?"

"Thanks. Could I have a Guinness? Pint?"

"A man after me own heart," said Manny. "Oi, barkeep, my famous friend, Adam Verain, will have a pint of Guinness!"

Adam almost corrected him, then decided it might be better if no one knew his real name so dialed the number on the back of his cash card. As it rang, he motioned to Orisi and asked Julie, "I thought he was watching Dumpling."

She reached around him to reveal the back of Orisi's coat opened and underneath it was Dumpling, in a baby snuggy, sound asleep.

Adam frowned. "Is this legal?"

Julie put a finger to her lips. "That's why he's under O's coat. Bartender hasn't noticed."

Adam just sighed, saw several people watching him and pointing at him and smiling at him ... and so turned his full attention to the phone. He was still on it when his Guinness was set before him ... and when his second was, thanks to a touristy couple who thought he was a celebrity. As he was about to give up, the bank's customer service accepted he was who he claimed to be and unlocked his card. Just in time to buy his own round.

"Perfect," he chuckled, then jolted around to the bartender. "Do you serve food?"

The man held up a bag of Cheetos and Adam nearly cried with happiness. "Bloody brilliant. I'll take ten, and if you've got a bowl ... "

A clear basin was put before him and he opened all the bags into it then jolted to a halt and looked around to see ...

Orisi was busy singing and performing Ricky Martin's kick-ass performance of La Copa de Vida at the 1999 Grammys, off in a corner.

Adam tapped Julie on the shoulder and asked, "Does he still have Dumpling?"

She nodded. "Little beggar's knackered."

"Oh, God," said Adam, "did Patricia feed him -- ?"

"Not like what you had, sweets. She knew better."

"You ... you knew what I was having?"

Julie grinned. "You didn't?"

"I did. Eventually."

Julie laughed and grabbed Manny. "Wait'll you hear this."

Adam grinned and plowed into the Cheetos and the brew. Julie and Manny joined him, as did a number of other bar patrons, who bought their own bags of Cheetos to add in.

Orisi finally gave up and joined them and dove into the Cheetos with as much gusto as anyone else, realized what he was eating, saw the Cheeto dust on Adam's lips and fingers, howled and said, "Jumpin' Jeebus, son, you gotta work them carbs off! GO!" Then he pushed Adam into the center of the room and turned to the bartender. "Ricky Martin! Fast and furious!"

"C'mon, sweets," Julie screamed, "show us what you got!"

Livin' la Vida Loca blasted over the speakers. Adam was feeling so good, he spread his arms wide, then clapped his hands, then took off his coat, slung it around like a cape, and strutted around the room before breaking into a wild Paso Doble in the middle of the bar, the patrons clapping and pounding on tables. Every woman in the bar screamed at him like he was stripping at Chippendale's, as did more than a few men.

When he was done, he collapsed against the bar and downed more of his third Guinness. Julie was to his right.

An older man came up and asked, "Where'd you learn that?"

Adam took in a deep breath, accepted a towel offered by the bartender, wiped off his face and ran his hand through his hair. "Five years ... no, six ... ballroom dancing." Julie cast him a You're kidding glance. Adam chuckled. "Don't ask. Besides, it helps in rugger."

"Rugger?" the older man asked, his hand on Adam's shoulder.

"Rugby," Julie called over to the man. "Could've been a real footballer if he'd wanted."

"C'mon, Julie," he said, blushing. "We just play for fun. Have a few pints. Lie about what did in the match."

"You gay?" the man asked.

Adam shook his head. "Not last I checked. Couple the lads are, and I thought about it, once, but the equipment's wrong."

"Too bad," said the man as he patted Adam on the back and turned away.

Adam hesitated, looked after the man then turned to Julie. "Did he just hit on me?"

She barely kept from laughing. "You couldn't tell?"

"Didn't even think about. I'm not the sort gets passes made."

She brushed more of his hair back, smiling. "You don't think much of yourself, do you?"

Saturday, June 3, 2017

London...

Another set of terror attacks in London, at the Borough Market and on London Bridge. As of this moment, six are dead, as are three attackers, and more than twenty injured. Of course the media and right wing are screaming their heads off about this, as if it's easy to stop. Just ban the right people and there will be no more dead. Right. Blind cowards, all.

Northern Ireland lived through decades of this -- people being killed in bombings and shootings, security so ramped up it was damn near impossible to even go shopping -- but no matter how hard the army and police tried, they could not stop it. And that's in a tiny part of a small island. It wasn't till thousands of Catholics, Protestants and soldiers had died that both sides realized they faced either decades more of the same horror or they came to an agreement to end the bloodshed. Those in control made the rational choice and sat down together, and forced those who didn't agree with them to go along...or else. And there are still some in the Six Counties trying to sabotage the process, on both sides...but at least life there is back to near normal.

In Israel, they've lived with this sort of terror since the country was created, with it coming to a head when Sharon provoked the Second Intifada, in September 2000, that wound up killing 3000 Palestinians and 1000 Jews during the next 4 years. It wasn't till Arafat died and both sides realized nothing was to be gained by the non-stop bloodshed, that they found a way to end it. Palestinians are still killing Jews and Jews are killing Palestinians, and Hamas is still lobbing rockets into Israel and using money donated to the Palestinians to fund it, leaving their people in miserable circumstances, especially when Israel strikes back, but it's not as bad as it was.

This is how it's been since the beginning of civilization. People slaughter each other till they grow tired of it and decide to stop (like in WW1). Sometimes it takes the near destruction of a country to end the violence (like in WW2). Sometimes the slaughter doesn't stop till an entire group of people have nearly been obliterated (like the Armenians by Turkey and Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda). Cities have been destroyed and men, women and children killed for being the wrong kind of religion, something that even happens under Christianity (like the sacking of Constantinople, a Christian city, by Christian Crusaders, and the slaughter of Protestant Huguenots by French Catholics).

We're just seeing mankind do what mankind does best -- destroy -- so maybe it's time Mother Nature removed us from the gene pool and started afresh; we are like a cancer to this world.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Return from Toronto

I took a more scenic route back home, not so much along the QEW as after I crossed back into the US. Instead of hopping on the freeway, I took the parkway that ran beside the Niagara River Gorge, and it was a good choice.

From here you can see the northern part of the city of Niagara Falls, with the Nexus Bridge going into Canada, over which Amtrak takes passengers across.
This gives you an idea of the river's rush. This is from De Voeux Woods State Park, by Whirlpool Point. Somehow that little boat made it up close to the main rapids.
More of the rushing river, with another sightseeing boat. You can just make out a cable car that rides across the gorge, in the upper right corner.
Close-up of the cable car. Seems you can only take it from the Canadian side, and have to stay in till it returns.
Then the river meanders on past a massive hydro-electric facility that uses the water from a reservoir behind it. What feeds that, I have no idea. This photo was taken from Devil's Hole Park. You can just see a small boat headed up the river, in front of it.

I like Toronto but the traffic is nasty, mainly because no matter where you go, there's construction and lanes are blocked off and intersections closed and it's a mess. Took me nearly an hour to go 10 miles from my hotel to the job site.

The only reason I got there that quickly was I put my LA Driver attitude on and pissed off a lot of other drivers.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Czar Snowflake strikes, again...

The creature that calls himself president has decided to rescind America's participation in The Paris Treaty signed by Obama. Its goal is to lessen carbon emissions around the world, and all but 2 other countries signed it. But apparently the creature who drove several businesses into the ground, is known for not keeping his agreements, has the temperament of a 5 year old child, and whose skin isn't even as resilient as wet toilet paper is going to negotiate a better deal for the US. As if.

So far this creature has harmed America's relationship with NATO and the EU, has fawned over dictators around the world, has made his spokespeople into liars moments after they said they were speaking for him, has signed an arms deal with the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism and Israel's sworn enemy, and has canceled out every one of Obama's executive orders. He's acting more like a vindictive bitch-man out to ruin his predecessor's legacy than leader of the free world...and he has acolytes who see him as next to god, if not god himself, so he thinks he's doing good.

I am so beyond angry about this nonsense. It's worse than embarrassing to the US. It's like we're Rome under Caligula, and we're crashing into the same fate as that great empire. And Czar Snowflake is damned well going to make sure it happens. I do not understand why, nor have I any idea how to change the course of events, let alone stop them. The GOP is too busy using him as their shield as they dismantle everything this country has built since 1933. What they are helping him get away with used to be considered treason, and we executed people for it.

I despised Reagan; I disliked Bush 1; I distrusted Clinton (both Mr. and Mrs.); I loathed Bush 2; and felt let down by Obama...but I don't recall ever wishing any of them were dead. I cannot say that about Czar Snowflake. I wish him straight to hell...him and his whole goddamned administration.

They are the evil in this world.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I be busy bee...

I just reworked my schedule for June and July...and it's pretty well packed with jobs in Toronto, Tallahassee, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and maybe Seattle. Of course, the two biggest jobs aren't set, yet -- one of three in San Francisco and the Seattle one -- but I'll still be doing a lot with the rest of them. I've still got two definites in the Bay Area, two definites in SoCal, Toronto is tomorrow morning, Florida next week, and New Jersey the week after. I had to do a printout just to keep track of myself.

Regarding LA, I'm set to be in Tarzana the 19th to the 21st and Sierra Madre the 22nd and 23rd. I won't have spare time during the day, but if anyone's open for dinner...I'm all for it. Especially Indian at India Grill or Tex-Mex at Marix. I'll post on Facebook, too, see if anyone still wants to see me.

I wound up working till nearly 8pm to get everything done, at the office, and built a nice hunger headache so haven't done anything on A65, really. Some notes here and there and checking the consistency of the chapter headings. In LD I worked up some cutsie titles for each chapter and while they fit the tone of that book, I don't think it would work for this one. It's like I'm trying to be just a bit too emphatic...and I don't want that. So I'm only numbering them. Right now I'm at Nine.

That's also page 135, meaning I'm over the halfway hump...but this chapter is going to be a bear to rework because I'm slicing out much of Casey's background and I don't want to. I want to figure out some way of having her tell him about herself in a manner that seems natural and not merely self-explanatory. Like how she helped Lando buy his house, and when she fell in love with him on a cable car in Cape Town. Would she share that with Adam, this quickly? I don't think so...

But I need it in there. That's the dilemma. It's time for Casey to begin revealing herself in order for the next section of the story not only to make sense but keep her from seeming like a bitch...

And make it understandable for Adam to be falling for her.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

63,000+

I seem to be edging up to 65,000 words for The Alice '65, and that feels right. Some characters keep expanding while others shrink. It's almost like playing chess with them, where some advance correctly and others stand aside to let them. So far none of them have been removed, completely, but you never know what will happen next.

Won't get much more done, the next couple of days; I'm off to Toronto for an overnight job on Thursday and have to leave at 6:30am. I considered getting a hotel and going up tomorrow night, just to avoid dealing with morning traffic, but there was nothing close by that was cheap enough to make it worthwhile. So I'll act like I'm doing a flight at oh-dark-thirty and bear it. Take a thermos of tea and nibbles.

Seems I joined Twitter to bitch and re-tweet anti-Republican motifs. My initial intention was to build interest in A65, but so far I've done 5 tweets about it. Same thing happened when I worked up Facebook pages for Adam and the script. I did some posting but don't know what to write now in order to gin up some support. Hell, I can't even get people who I know have read my books to give me reviews on Amazon, which wold help sales.

God...I suck as a salesman.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Plowing through...

I just finished Chapter Eight of A65 and hope to have this version done before my massive list of travels begins. I had Adam refused entry to the movie and unable to buy anything because he hasn't any American money, so he went outside to use a pay phone to contact his bank.  Rather than have him spending hours trying to get the bank to authorize use of his cash card in the US, he winds up being dragged into a bar by Manny and Julie, and has a blast while waiting for Casey's movie to finish its premier.

Just part of the controlled chaos of the story...that I'm still trying to keep locked into possibility. For example, the reason Manny and Julie are there is because Orisi told them about the premier and they came to see Adam. The reason he was able to tell them is because he had Julie tracked down to put a henna tattoo on Adam's right hand to match the left one. And the reason he had Julie's contact information was because Adam borrowed some of Manny's clothes and was going to send them back to them, once he was done...so Julie wrote her address on one of her business cards.

Next comes the trip to Lando's party and the incident in the back yard...duh-duh-duuuuuuuuuh!

It all seems to be falling into place neatly enough...though I don't want it too neat. That's death to reality. There should always be a hint of sloppiness in whatever you do; it's what brings fictional situations to life. The hard part is keeping the sloppiness under control.

But that's the story of my life.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A bit more...

I'm being lazy in posting these bits of A65 instead of writing a real blog, but it's all I'm thinking about, right now...well, that and the catastrophe that is the current administration. If America survives this and the GOP's treason, it will be the greatest country ever...but I'm not convinced that will happen.

Anyway, Adam is washed and henna'd and now faced with a complete make-over...and also a little stoned from Patricia's breakfast cookies...(and BTW -- his dog's name is albacore).

-----------

Once he felt clean, he dried off and found a comfortable bathrobe on a peg near the door, sandals in a pocket, so wrapped himself in them and took his place in the center of the office, once more. This time, half a dozen minions of Orisi stood at parade rest, all of them dressed in black turtlenecks, black trousers, black boots, and black haircuts. They looked so much alike, it was difficult to tell the lads from the lasses. The only part of them that moved was their eyes, which followed Orisi as he briskly circled Adam, snapping like a drill sergeant, "We got zero to start with, people, so face -- hair -- nails -- all of it gets built." The only time he stopped pacing was to yank the robe open to reveal Adam's chest and sneer, "No need to wax."

Adam just sighed and muttered, "Careful ... "

Orisi responded by spinning Adam around and yanking up the rear of his robe, snarling, "Ass, either."

Of course, that is when Patricia came in with another glass of juice and chirped, "Oh, my ... "

For some reason, Adam did not feel embarrassed or shaken. Instead, he merely closed his eyes and muttered, "It's for the Alice ... it's for the Alice ... "

It was Orisi who bounced from agitation. "Out, Patricia!" he screamed. "Out! You know Orisi don't do audiences."

Patricia merely smiled sweetly and responded, "You are so full of shit. And Adam needs another glass of juice."

"Thanks," Adam said. "Are you also washing my clothes?"

She gave him a laugh. "Honey, I told you -- I got no idea how the damn thing works."

"But ... but I need my y-fronts. I always wear y-fronts."

"And you still will," Orisi all but crowed as he held up a pair of black boxer-briefs. Very nice-looking. Quite comfortable, even ... except for the tiny silver and black sequins that made up a gloriously detailed fig leaf on the crotch.

Adam burst out a laugh. "You want to put glittery bits on my bits? Are you mental?"

The crew gasped.

Patricia scurried from the room.

Adam froze.

Orisi glared at him, a wolf-like snarl crossing his lips. He looked as if he were about to go for the throat, moving closer and closer. Without thinking, Adam backed away.

Orisi's voice became terrifying in its quiet control as his face returned to a shade of burnt umber. "Mental? Me? Son, that ain't possible, because I am Bernardo Giancarlo Michelangelo Orisi, not some fruit-loop from Montana, and you are MY man, now, so my rules apply, and you got no say in it. Therefore understand from this day forward, you will not eat on a night when you are going to be seen by anyone but your mirror. Nor, from this day forward, will you wash; you will cleanse, and you never, never, EVER utter the word soap in my presence, ever again. Nor will you just try things on, but from this day forward your clothing will be fitted to your frame. Every stitch of it! Because an Orisi man dresses from the skin out, beginning with designer briefs made from Egyptian cotton, with a thread count of twelve-hundred, min-i-mum. And understand this, as well -- if you ever, ever, EVER let plain white boxer briefs near your ass at any time in any way or any fashion, I personally will track you down and whip you to within an inch of eternity. And don't even begin to think I won't know, because I will. Do I make myself clear?" Then he whipped the briefs up, like a black flag.

Adam downed the orange juice in one gulp. And coughed. And reminded himself, "Es ist für die Alice. Es ist für die Alice. Es ist für die Alice." Then he took the sequined briefs and discretely pulled them on. They actually were quite comfortable ... except for how the sequined area felt odd against his crotch. Then he smoothed down his robe and stood back in the center of the room, still humming, "It's for the Alice. It's for the Alice."

Orisi circled him three times before he clapped his hands, triumphant. "Let's go, go, go people. We're makin' a man from this lump of clay, and we're late, we're late, for a very important date."

So off came Adam's robe and out came Orisi's tape measure and a gleaming tablet appeared in one minion's hands, and in quick-quick fashion, Orisi snapped the tape here and there and around as he shot out, "Waist -- 30.25, bend left, not too high; hips -- 39, like a damn linebacker; front rise -- 11; thighs -- 23.5, jumpin' jeebus, you are a linebacker; inseam -- 33, no break in the cuff; feet -- 10.5, wide, of course; shoulders -- 18; chest -- 41; length -- 30; waist -- 38, not too pinched, no Zoot Suits, here; bottom -- 42; sleeve -- 24; shirt neck -- 17."

By this point, Adam was well-beyond worrying about being half naked in front of a pack of strangers, even after he was jammed into a chair so the Minions could attack his nails with buffing and scraping and clipping, oh my. A mask of lavender and lace was smeared on his face. His hair was sliced and diced and buffed and burnished and tipped and coiffed and yanked and grabbed and spiked and unspiked and spiked, again. He even let a female minion sit next to him to touch his skin with colognes to be sniffed at ... and moaned over ... and wiped off with an alcohol pad ... until she started trailing up one of his thighs, and even then, all he muttered was a simple, "Careful ... " So she started using his calves ... and toyed just a bit more than necessary with the hair on them.

Through it all, Orisi scrutinized and grunted and growled and grimaced and snapped and snarled and everything else anyone could think of as his crew worked and worked and worked.

What made it bearable was downing another couple of cookies and finishing off another glass of juice. And despite the turmoil, Adam was building a nice, lovely glow ... so much so, he barely noticed as the process continued ... and continued ... and continued ... until Orisi cried, "Enough!"

The crew stopped dead. And stepped back. Hair mussed. Eyes glazed. Pants wrinkled. Turtlenecks askew. The walking wounded. And two seconds later, another minion arrived with a suit bag and carryall.

Orisi took the bag, held it as if it contained the purest gold, and said, "Now comes the final test."

He unzipped it, slow and easy, luxuriating in the sound of the zipper as it opened the bag wider and wider ... and he maneuvered if off the hanger to reveal ... a nice blue suit.

"Dress," Orisi said, as if in prayer.

Adam grinned, pulled on the shirt, put his feet into a pair of silk socks, stepped into the pants, tucked in the shirt, buckled a belt of the purest leather, whipped the tie under his collar and prepped it, then slipped into a pair of Italian loafers before he let Orisi guide him into the coat.

Adam marveled. "It's a perfect fit."

Orisi snorted. "Like I said, we ain't Wal-Mart. Wait here."

Then he led his crew from the office, and even from behind Adam could tell they were frazzled beyond belief.

"Casey," he heard Orisi growl, "you're payin' me triple, givin' my whole crew a shot of Stolichnaya, and if this was the Golden Globes, I still wouldn't let him out of the house."

Casey's voice shot back, "You're forgetting why I'm taking him."

"Jumpin' jeebus, I never forget anything, like that! But get yourself ready." He whistled and cried, "Adam. Come."

Adam barked like Albacore, laughed, then peeked his head out with the goofiest, crookedest, sweetest grin he could manage and sang, in a charming, jokey, growly voice, "Oh, I'm an Englishman, that's for sure, who's just had his first pedicure."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Back to the A65...

Worked on Adam and his dilemma all day so feel like just posting a bit more. This is after Adam's agreed to accompany Casey to the premier of her new movie and been bullied by Orisi into bathing.
----
Adam just sighed as the bubbles drifted over him, like a blanket. He sipped some OJ and bit into a cookie ... and stopped in mid-chew. "I'm sorry," he said, "would you and Dumpling like a biscuit and some juice?"

"Thanks, I'm fine. But, Dumpling, would you like some?"

Dumpling worked his way off the counter and toddled over to grab at the cookies, his black eyes never leaving Adam. That is when Patricia barged in with a fresh plate, saw Dumpling about to bite into a cookie and swooped him up in one arm as she set the plate down. Then she took the cookie from his hand, grinning.

"Oh, I've got something lots better for you, honey," she said. "Cereal! With bananas."

"Thanks, Pat," said Julie. "But he likes tea with half milk and two lumps. And do you have porridge?"

Patricia gave her a completely blank look so Adam piped in with, "Oatmeal."

Patricia brightened up. "Right! I use that for the cookies." She tickled Dumpling into giggles as she chirped, "I gots some straws-berries and blues-berries and you'll like it lots more." Then she carried him from the room.

"He won't vomit, again, will he?" Adam asked.

Julie smiled. "No worries. Solid ground."

By this point, the mass of bubbles had covered Adam up to his chin, so he turned off the water and leaned back in the tub, forcing himself to relax.

"What is it people like about bubble baths?" he murmured, deep and growly. "I feel as if the oily residue left on my skin is meant less to cleanse and more to fill my pores with petroleum by-products, thus enhancing the possibility of pimples."

"Manny and I love them, but we use a light soap and rinse off, after. Dumpling ... he accepts."

"Too bad I've no access to a shower."

"What about these buttons?"

Adam looked at a set of colorful dots atop the right edge of the inner basin. One had a shower icon next to it. "Do you think it is?" he asked.

"Try it," said Julie. "Just keep this hand safe till it's dried."

"We'll have to see what happens," he said, looking at the ceiling tiles. "Where is Manny in all this?"

Julie cast him a sly look. "Next room, being all Fan-Boy."

"With Casey Blanchard? He's heard of her?"

Julie giggled. "If he had known it was she you were coming to see, he'd have crawled into your lap before Dumpling had a chance, and discussed her films and career the entire flight. Puts her on a scale with Angelina Jolie and Sigourney Weaver, he does. One of his mates let the cat out when he said, Bitches who can beat you to a bloody pulp, and wouldn't ya love it? Our first date was to see ... which was it... Sky Knights, I think. It's hard to keep track; we own every one of them, and Dumpling has slept through Ilithium Four twenty-seven times."

"You might want to make that twenty-nine," said Adam.

Julie whispered the first touch of henna across the tops of his fingers as she said, "I'm counting yours, sweets."

"Oh."

"You really didn't know who she is?"

Adam shrugged. "I'm not much of one for film. I read. Prefer it. There's something permanent about a book. Steady. Comforting. But I can't really tell her that, can I? It'd be like dismissing her entire career."

"She's been around long enough to handle it. Manny says her first job was when she was ten, on a sit-com. The Family Saint. For the first year. Played a neighbor's daughter on several episodes. We have that on Blu-Ray."

"Dear God, Manny is fanatical."

"But he's my fanatic."

Fifteen minutes later, she had set the mandala and a car was returning her, a reluctant Manny and a sleeping Dumpling to their hotel, and Adam was draining the tub. He found another dry face-cloth, turned his right hand palm up, draped the cloth over it and pressed the shower icon, using his left hand.

Glass walls rose up between the two basins and several ceiling tiles shifted to reveal tiny shower nozzles. He set the tap to going ... and a moment later, water rained down on him. He was just able to keep his right hand out of its way as he leaned back and let the whispery warmth cascade over his head, face and body, bringing him a tender peace.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Henna me, baby...

Well...I have now experienced the full measure of a henna tattoo. Like the little brochure said, it starts out looking very light, after the mud flakes off, but it darkens...and so it did.

What's interesting is the slight difference I feel in my skin, between the parts undyed and those with the tattoo. It's the barest hint of slickness with a touch of a dip when I draw my finger over the top of my little lion.

Adam's would, of course, be much more refined and detailed. Julie would make his seem almost 3-D in its depth and meaning. But something I hadn't thought about was, it wouldn't be at its height till he was back in London. It would be soft and yellowish, slowly burning darker and darker till a fine genial color more like burnt umber than raw sienna.

This is why online research is never really sufficient for digging into a story. You can get the gist of it and the ideas and the form and function, but the details that make the story humanesque come from actually being there...doing it...or watching and talking and listening.

I found that out many years ago, when I first wrote Return to Darian's Point. A major point in the story comes when Perri, the hero, is taken to The Cliffs of Moher to learn the truth of himself. There's a squat round tower just up the hill from the touristy part of the Cliffs, and from the photos I saw it seemed to be an easy jaunt.

But when I got there, the first time, I found not only was it up a steep incline, but at that time the main pathway was damned dangerous. Uneven steps right next to a 700 foot drop to the ocean. No barriers to hold you. Sharp winds. I saw some Italian kids squat on a flagstone just inches from the edge, their backs to the sea, to have a friend take their photo. I learned their coast guard was always picking up bodies of people who hadn't taken the Cliffs' danger seriously. It altered the story a bit...and made it stronger.

And now, as regards A65...experience has done the same, again...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sick little puppy...

Man...I got slammed with a cold so didn't go back into work till Wednesday...and probably shouldn't have. But I had so much to catch up on and so much to do. I'm pretty much booked solid through July with packing jobs. Well...if two of them come through. I have four others all set. All up and down the West Coast -- Seattle, San Francisco, and LA (I hope, I hope, I hope).

Today was the first time I felt good enough to work more on A65. nothing much, jut updating some things and making sure of a couple of consistencies I wasn't sure about. If I want to work on my laptop while traveling on a plane, I need to get rid of my gut, because the seats are getting closer and closer together, and right now there isn't room enough for me to open it so I can use it. Today's travel is meant for those with 30 inch waists.

The arc of Adam's character is now obvious to me; I just need to make sure it's an honest and smooth transition. Casey's is beginning to become known. She had a lot more layers to get through before i could really understand her, and still have some to peel back, but she's getting there, too.

I'm having fun with Patricia and Orisi, and adding Julie and Manny into the mix, with their baby, Dumpling, is helping. Lando and Veronica are still pretty much one-note and I don't like that, but they're being careful...which I understand. They aren't exactly sympathetic characters.

Mind is blitzed...I'm still not over the cold and coughed myself into a headache, earlier, today, which I'm just beginning to get over. So...how about some more of Brighton, from the east, near Hove, since it now figures into A65?
I'm actually looking back on it with fondness...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wandering around Brighton...

I slept in, this morning...didn't get up in time for breakfast so had one at a shop on St. James Street, then went wandering. And I did something I've never done before...I got a tattoo. Not a real one, a henna tattoo in support of Adam in A65.
The artist is Arthur and he has a booth on Brighton Pier. He's been doing this for 22 years and uses a little bag to do the design, like he's decorating a cake. As mine dried, we chatted and shared cups of tea and I watched him do all sorts of art...mainly on girls and women, but a couple of guys...from simple little lightning bolts to full hand and finger. All quick, neat and lovely. And...he has a facebook page -- https://www.facebook.com/hennatattoobrightonpier/.

He let me read his book of Mehandi, from India, which spoke of the medicinal qualities of Henna, and we joked about Lucille Ball using this to color her hair. Time well-spent.
 I then wandered up the promenade through a mile and a half of Minis. Seriously. There was a special Classic Minis festival that ran from Brighton Pier to the Marina.

They ranged from regular little Minis to...
Mini trucks to...
 Mini Limos! It was a sort of contest, and some famous dude was announcing the various awards as I passed.
This is at the other end, when I was ready for a cold drink and a pee. And seriously, there were nothing but Austin Minis (and a couple of Wolseley Minis) the entire distance.
I then hopped a bus over to Beacon Hill Nature Preserve just to see the windmill...
...and got a nice view of the city.

Brighton's quirky and its own kind of town, and has a massive gay presence...and I like that. I'm using it in A65, for when Vincent suggests Adam take his former girlfriend off for a weekend, once he gets back from LA.

It's a much better choice than Sheerness.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Another job done on time...

I finished this job with some great help from an assistant...who turned out to be a bit homophobic. Nothing nasty, him just saying if he'd known he was helping pack up books and archives dealing with GLBT history in the UK, he'd have passed on the job. He found some of the subjects offensive, though he never specified which ones. Otherwise, he was a pleasure to work with.

I honestly didn't react to it, I'm so used to that kind of attitude. I sometimes think I should call people like that out, but truth is, I didn't care. If that's how he wants to be, fine; he worked hard, did the job as needed and left with no other complaint. And the truth is...some of the things in the library startled me, too.

What also startled me was, out of 2000 books of gay lit and nonfiction, not one of my books was in the library. Shallow on my part to have hurt feelings about that since the man died in 2011, but still...he had some that I knew were poorly written. Oh, well.

After getting done, I went to a play the donor was part of -- a long one-act about Lord Alfred Douglas -- Oscar Wilde's muse, who ignored him when he went to trial for sodomy but who, upon Wilde's release from prison, gave him a place to live till he died -- and his wife, and their horrific marriage. Called Olive and Bosie, the lead actor, Nigel Fairs, wrote it and it was quite good. The lead actress, Abi Harris, was playing to the rafters, but not too terribly so. What made it super fun was, it took place in the old Brighton Jail Cells under Town Hall. Very creepy and dismal.

We were taken from a lobby like this...
...down these stairs...
...through a hallway...

...down more stairs...that led to a long room with a single light bulb in it, Abi sitting in a chair reading some correspondence...then once we were seated on narrow benches that ran the length of the room,  the play began.

It was part of the Fringe Festival going on in Brighton, right now. All kinds of music and art and theater. After the play, I joined the group at a pub for a Guinness and Scottish Egg, then wound up with them at a gay bar, dancing!

I haven't been dancing in decades...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Brighton, UK

Long trip made longer by taking the bus from Buffalo to Toronto instead of driving. We got stuck behind another bus that was having some kind of immigration issue at the border, so sat there for nearly an hour, then I had to change buses, twice, got taken the back way to one bus change because of construction on the QEW, so made it to Pearson Airport in Toronto an hour before my flight instead of the three hours I had planned on.

But...the plane got off on time and I wound up in a row with an empty seat beside me, so I was able to work a little on A65. Got Adam's memory of his father from him telling it to Casey to him "remembering it" then jolting once he realizes he's actually been verbally sharing it with her.

Anyway, the plane landed on time, took an hour to get through customs, but I still caught an early train to Brighton...and grabbed a cab because these are the craziest streets I've ever come across, and we're talking me having been to Hong Kong. Barely wide enough for 2 cars. Twisting and turning. Changing names. One-ways all over the place.

Here are some photos...maybe more later; right now I'm dead...

 This is the view from my hotel room...
 I have a bay window, so this is the view from the other side of the window...

It rained the whole day. Tomorrow should be interesting...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stop-gap...

Getting ready for my trip to Brighton, so just a quick post of more that I've done. I've already decided to rework some of Chapter 6. Make it a bit more reflective of Adam's emotional and mental state.

Orisi demands that Adam take a bath before beginning the ritual of his makeover, but he notices Adam had a Mandala painted on his hand (by Julie Marshe-Croton, Dumpling's punk mum) and is not happy. This messes with the symmetry.

---------------------

Well ... if Adam thought the office was large, this room put it to shame, even though it was more like a quarter the same size. But it was so massive and bright and open and beautiful, with translucent tiles on the walls, wash basins and mirrors that covered one wall, hanging plants everywhere, soft light filtering in from skylights cut into the ceiling, a floor of warm granite, and in the center a massive white tub within an even more massive navy-blue one, it was more like a conservatory that a simple bathroom.

He set the basin to filling, with just the right level of heat, wolfed down a cookie and followed it with the last of his OJ. Patricia brought in another glass of juice, saying "Soup's on in three minutes and counting," as she spun around and headed back out.

"Thanks," he said as he sipped at the juice and said, "Very tart, and with so much pulp." He sipped more then finished undressing and slipped into the tub. Luxuriated in it. "A basin as big as my bed. Imagine," whispered from him. He began to feel very mellow. Perhaps this evening wouldn't be so bad, after all.

That's when Orisi burst in with several bottles of colorful liquid stuff.

Adam grabbed a face-cloth and scrunched up to keep hidden as he snapped, "Hang on!" Then he saw a woman behind him.

"Julie?!"

Indeed it was. Holding Dumpling!

"Hallo, luv," she chirped, bright and happy. She cuddled Dumpling and said, "Here, you go, sweets. That's the man whose life you thought you ruined. Who knew he was coming to this?"

"I wasn't. I was supposed to turn around at the airport."

"Jumpin' jeebus, son, would've been better," Orisi huffed as he turned down the hot water. "What's this steam for?"

"I like a hot bath."

"Why? You ain't no Dim Sum."

Julie set Dumpling on a counter then swatted Orisi on the butt. "Be still, O. He's a lovely man, and for my work to work, I need him calm, so ... be still."

That is when Patricia entered with a bowl of something that smelled both delicious and curious, saying, "Fettuccine a la Stouffer's," but Orisi shoved her back out of the room.

"NO CARBS!" he cried.

"But it's just a bowl of pasta!" Adam cried.

Orisi all but screamed, "And I still gotta get your measurements and I don't want 'em changin'! You wanna get all boated, do it on your own time! This is Orisi's time, now!"

Patricia peeked around the door and said, "Adam, I'll bring you another glass of juice and some cookies. Keep your strength up." And before Orisi could explode she pinched his cheek and said, "Organic. No gluten."

"Keep my strength?" Adam snapped. "I'm English! Have you seen an English breakfast? It's not just cookies and juice!"

"And this ain't England!" Orisi roared.

Adam nearly growled, then pointed to a nearby stool. "Julie, if ... if you'd give me the towel, I'll get out and forage for -- "

"The hell you will," Orisi huffed. "We're just gettin' started on you." Then he poured some red liquid into the tub.

Now Adam huffed. "What's that?"

"Gotta do something with that skin, son. Now -- use these to cleanse." He held up a different colored bottle for each word. "Body." (Green.) "Feet." (Orange.) "Face." (Blue.) "Hair." (Cream.) "And everything in-between. Each one's got its own story so use 'em all. Scrub-a-dub-dub!"

He plopped the bottles on a table beside the tub and grabbed the clothes as Adam held up a nicely-scented bar and said, "But I ... I have soap, right here -- "

Orisi spun around and turned four shades of unadulterated burnt umber. "Soap!?" he shrieked. "SOAP!? JUMPIN' JEEBUS, CASEY, YOU TRYIN' TO RUIN MY LIFE, TOO!? SOAP!"

He grabbed at the bar but it plumped out of Adam's hand into the tub. Orisi dove his right hand in to grab for it, making Adam jolt back and cry, "Careful!"

At which Dumpling gave out his first serious laugh.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A bit more of A65...

Jumping a bit farther ahead, Adam is forced to stay in LA overnight so will accompany Casey to a premier, thinking she doesn't want to show up alone. He's tired. He's hungry. He's hit his head, again. And he's feeling very unsure, at the moment.
-----
Moments later, Adam was wandering through a room as large as his mother's semi-detached home, gazing out a sliding glass door out on that sculpted yard that he now saw could hold her entire block -- with a pool, of course. Chairs thick with padding, some on swiveling wheels, faced a desk that snaked around more than two full walls. It had five CPU towers underneath, was topped with four massive monitors connected to them by impossibly neat cables and three keyboards, with two laptops sitting at one edge. All it was missing was a partridge in a pear tree.

Jeremy would have had kittens just seeing the space still available, not to mention the array of electronic additions, especially since not even one section of the desk would have fit properly into his little photography room. The carpet was as thick as sponge, and the plants within were almost to the point of where, if there were two more, the room would be its own ecological unit.

Most of the dark fabric-covered walls were decorated with framed posters of films Casey had been a part of -- Minotaur, She Wakes, Minotaur 2, Mini Minotaur, Sky Knights, Blood Angel, Safe Haven, The Wilderness Rule, Mine To Kill, Find Ray T, and others. In the center of them all was a breathtaking Syd Mead-style serigraph of Ilithium 4's world that Adam felt really should have been used for the paperback's cover in place of the rather pedestrian space-view one. Across from it was one of Ilithium 4 under attack that could have been done by Douglas Trumbull, similar in beauty to Syd Mead but more harsh, violent and cynical ... and looking very much like it was an original work.

But what caught his interest most was a full-size corkboard mounted on a thick-wood door, about eye-level, where dozens of darts held a photograph of Lando Grissom in place. Ice-blue eyes looking straight at the camera, a little smirk on his lips, his too-square chin outlined with a touch of scruff that also whispered up and around his mouth in a vague goatee, eyebrows carefully bushied-up, hair neatly coiffed, apparently shirtless, with his left arm flexed and his left hand behind his head suggesting well-formed muscles. The photo was carefully lighted to make very wrinkle vanish and give his cheekbones the feel of a knife. The darts had been slung so precisely into his face, it was obvious there was something far more intense than dislike happening here. Adam even wondered if Casey had really been the one to break up with Lando.

Then Adam was presented with a glass of orange juice and several cookies on a plate.

"Breakfast cookies," is how Patricia described them. Then she asked, "Would you like me to nuke you something?"

"If it's no trouble," Adam said, his stomach threatening to growl. "I'd planned to eat at the airport and -- "

"No problem, honey," she said as she vanished.

He had little time to take more than a few bites of cookie, which was surprisingly bland, and sip some of the OJ, which was surprisingly tart and sweet, because as if awaiting her call from around the corner, a short, wiry, Terrier of a man, dressed in white pants, white turtleneck, black boots, white hair and dark eyes burst into the house, planted Adam in the center of the office without even so much as a "Hello," and began to handle him as if he were a mannequin, part of which included picking at the holes in Adam's jeans as if he were trying to make them longer and wider. This was Orisi, and he considered the concept of personal space to be nonsensical.

"Jumpin' jeebus, son," Orisi barked. "Didn't your momma never teach you to stand up straight? Shoulders back. Tummy in. That's nine-tenths of lookin' good."

Orisi ran his fingertips over Adam's cheeks then groped the bandages on his forehead and chin. Adam could not formulate a coherent word of protest, he was so shocked.

"Gotta shave," snapped Orisi. "Not enough to call it scruff, though you could use some." Then he ran his hands through Adam's hair and growled, "What's this bump?"

He pressed on it. Adam yelped, in pain, and cried, "Hang on!" as he jerked his head away. "I ... I struck my head on Monday," he gasped.

"Self-destructive, that's all I need." Orisi heaved a sigh to fill the ages with regret. "So much for shaving this crap off."

Which jolted Adam into saying, "Shave my -- um ... so much for something that was never going to happen."

Orisi ignored him and kept eyeing Adam's scalp. "Dunno if I can fix it, though. And your skin -- jumpin' jeebus. Have you never heard of exfoliates? May need to apply a base. Now -- your fingernails." The man picked at Adam's nails, then gripped his left hand. "What's this?"

"It's henna ink -- "

"I know that, but who did it? It's a class design."

Adam pulled his wallet out and gave him Julie's card. "She did."

Orisi blinked. Twice. A third time. "Julie Marshe-Croton did this?!" Adam nodded. "THE Julie Marshe-Croton?" Adam shrugged. "Meanin' she's here in LA?" Adam nodded. "Well, she's gotta do the other hand, now. Just one side throws everything off. It's good that you're almost hairless; no need to wax." Then Orisi jolted and spun him around. "Wait -- them's some hairy legs! Do you wax your butt?"

"What!?" Adam all but screamed, spinning back to face the man. "No."

"We'll see."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

No more replays...

I'm sharing a bit of Chapter 3, when Adam is en route to LA and has already been vomited upon by his seatmate -- an angelic-looking child known only as Dumpling. The brat's parents, a punk couple named the Marshe-Crotons, have lent him a change of clothes, amiably chatted with him, and now have settled down for a nap, so Adam is going to watch Casey's movie...very reluctantly. It's based on a science fiction update of a classic German novel.

------

Adam had read Simplicius Simplicissimus in his first year at university. In the original German. The story began with the Thirty Years War, which had cut Germany's population by two-thirds. Simplicius was the hero, orphaned by the war and living with a hermit as he grew up. He traveled to France, Russia, and a world inhabited by mermen, and had mercenary adventures and heartbreak and sadness and joy on the way before finally becoming a hermit, himself. Some believed it inspired Voltaire's Candide, a century later.

The science-fiction update split Simplicius into male and female, which Adam had thought actually worked quite nicely. Mar-Lee, the female part, was not only the brains of the story, but its conscience. Creggan, the male part, was the arrogant son of the controlling family on Ilithium 4, a living planet. Well-versed in the art of strategy and war, and some would say a natural leader, he considered Mar-Lee beneath him, even though she proved herself more capable than he on many occasions.

After establishing their lives on Ilithium 4, corporate raiders from a neighboring star system destroyed the family and their workers. Mar-Lee saved Creggan by knocking him unconscious and dragging him into the forest with her. From here, they began their series of adventures across the planets, ending back at their home world ready to destroy those who had destroyed their loved ones.

The girl playing Mar-Lee as an adolescent was just right, as was the boy playing Creggan, though he was presented as more heroic than in the book, and much less foolish. Still ... Adam was hopeful.

But then they cut to a spectacular entrance by Mar-Lee as a grown, beautiful young woman, played by Casey Blanchard -- walking out of fire in a protective cloak and throwing it back to reveal a face that would have made Helen of Troy weep with envy. Sharp green eyes atop elegant cheekbones framed by raven hair cropped short, and with a gaze that told one and all she was a force no one could control. She stood still, for a moment, glaring around her, then went into battle mode.

Kung Fu fighting battle mode.

Mixed with a healthy dose of Resident Evil gunfire, explosions worthy of a Marvel Comics film, and stunts to make one and all think magnificent thoughts about them. There were beautiful choreography and graceful movements, with slow motion bits cut in as Mar-Lee's cape danced elegantly, around her. She became the epitome of an Amazonian Warrior Queen slaughtering everything and everyone around her, with help not arriving until she was done -- in the form of Creggan, a big, buff, towering figure of perfect masculinity under his flowing, nearly white-blond hair, an obvious reference to the greatest of the Norse Gods in Valhalla. Even Thor, in all his power and majesty, would have had all the presence of a gnome, before him.

And what great comment did he make upon arrival? What soaring rhetoric did he use? "Looks like you were busy."

Mar-Lee looked around at him, barely out of breath, a tiny trail of blood from a single cut trailing on-so-elegantly down her face, almost like a tear, and asked, "What took you so long?"

To which he replied, "Traffic was a bitch."

And Adam stopped the DVD.

That was not in the book.

He would have left the movie, there, except for one small problem -- Dumpling Marshe-Croton had crawled away from his sleeping father and over his sleeping mother to watch the video ... and had fallen asleep on Adam's lap. While probably inappropriate, Adam didn't really mind because it reminded him of his Jack Russell terrier, Albacore, who loved to do the same thing when he was caught up in a book. So he pulled Kristen Lavransdatter from his satchel, settled in and would have been quite content ... except Dumpling woke up, saw he had stopped the film and looked at him with those black, dangerous eyes. So Adam started the movie up, again.

Dumpling watched about five minutes of it then fell asleep, again. So Adam turned it off.

And Dumpling woke up, again.

Adam wound up running the film all the way through, twice, forcing himself to endure Mar-lee and Creggan becoming reluctant lovers -- something else that was not in the book, since both of them were only fifteen -- but which kept Dumpling asleep. Until Adam felt something wet and warm trail into his lap ... and discovered that Dumpling was in trainer pants and still wet his bed. A lot. And since Adam was his bed ...

This time, the Marshe-Crotons had to lend him a full set of everything and the flight crew let him use the Premier lavatory to clean up. They also made him sit on a garbage bag the second half of the flight, just to be safe, and he made certain another bag stayed between him and Dumpling, as well.

So when Adam exited US Customs, he had his rucksack slung over one shoulder, his Mandala hand holding its straps in position, a white trash bag filled with filthy clothes in his other hand, and he looked for all the world like a Monty Python version of a Scally-boy tourist. A jagged striped Polo shirt with a rat-nibbled collar hug on his torso, while this pair of Manny's jeans were cut up to high-waters (made more-so by the fact that Adam's legs were longer than his) with carefully shredded holes stripped in lines every few inches. It clashed most severely with his simple black socks and loafers ... though Julie insisted that freshened the look up a bit. But he still wished he had accepted his mother's advice to the point of bringing his entire wardrobe. Then he would not have been faced with customs officers seeing him and looking away to giggle. The one positive thing was, he hadn't worn his suit.