Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last post of 2017

I can't say goodbye to this year fast enough. The only truly good thing about it, so far as I'm concerned, is I republished The Lyons' Den with a cover I liked and for a decent price. The rest of the year's been chaotic and intense, to say the least.

I don't count The Alice '65 in 2017 because I'm still waiting for my editor to get back to me with her corrections and comments, and then comes getting someone in the UK Antiquarian market to read it to make sure I haven't fumbled the story. When I do get it published, it will be a joy.

Same for Underground Guy, but for different reasons and aimed at a very different audience. Today I wrote a section where I was going to have Devlin apologize to one of his victims in hopes of making his situation smoother; instead, he blackmailed him. Just popped out. I tried to mitigate the brutality of that but in going over it I have to admit...doesn't work any other way. Dev needs this taken care of, now, now, now, so no time for niceties.

I did make a couple new friends online, this last year, but I'm still pretty much isolated here in Buffalo. I haven't met anyone I want to be friends with, or whom I'm around long enough to have it just develop. I'm going to change that.

2018 is the year of getting rid of the GOP...relegating that vile organization to history, if at all possible, so I'll need to be part of a group to have any effect. I'm going to begin volunteering once or twice a week to help bring that about.

I'm also going to join the Y, again, as part of Silver Sneakers. It's free and I want to build up my stamina and get rid of my excess weight. I've cut back on a lot of food intake, but that's done very little. I'm going to work up an exercise routine I can do, even on the road. Nothing major, just activity since I sit at a desk writing and at work, too damn much.

I'm not calling these resolutions; they're more like lifestyle choices I'm making. My only true personal goal in 2018 is to finish a first draft of Place of Safety so I can start my never-ending rewriting process. I've been at this story for too damn long and used too damn many excuses to avoid it. Not anymore. I'm now comfortable enough in my writing ability to face it and work it to completion.

Again, not a resolution, just a goal I've waited years to set.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Getting there...

I'm now at more than 300 pages and just under 70,000 words but still have a fair amount to do to connect the end to the rest of the book. I don't think the final fight goes quite as anyone would expect, especially once the cops arrive. A lot is left unexplained, so I'll need to do a chapter for that...which I've begun. And I'll get to use my favorite line, so far -- "Devlin, who do you think you are -- a Padishah with his concubines?" Delivered in Tawfi's elegant English accent.

I'd like to think I'm doing a good job in writing of the story. I honestly don't know. I'll get feedback on it, as usual, but as of now it's my own impression telling me this, and I do like it. Which is usually a danger signal, for me.

One more day in this year and we begin anew. My hope for 2018 is very simple -- Czar Snowflake is out of office before my next birthday. Seven months till I hit 66 and start taking Social Security, if the Republicans haven't killed it, by then. If they do, they'd better fucking leave the country, because there will be more than anger at that. And I don't care how rich their buddies are, anybody can be killed. Anybody.

I never really thought of myself as bloodthirsty or even capable of wishing that on anyone, but watching this Congress has been a lesson in my own sense of fury. I was pissed off at Bush for invading a country that had done nothing to us...but this far outweighs that.

I honestly do not known what I'd do if I ever came face-to-face with Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. Spit on them? Slap them? Punch them in their fucking throats? I have no idea. I just know I despise them more than I do cockroaches. At least my next job's in Houston, not DC, so no temptations there.

Except for having decent BBQ.

Have my ending...

Worked up the final confrontation, where Dev takes care of business. I even worked out a way to show how the murders were committed and who committed them without explaining it. I show it as the killer's trying to kill Dev. Put some twists on it, too, I think. Now I just need to connect it to the rest of the story and have the final bit, where Dev realizes what was really going on.

It took me a while to get down to where I could write the story. I had a doctor's appointment, this morning, with a new doctor...and when he came in, I nearly gasped. He wasn't just good-looking, and it wasn't just because my gaydar went off, on him; it's because he looked so much like someone I lost so long ago, it jolted me.

His name was Charley and he was Latino...though not completely, I don't think. Half and half, maybe. Dark hair. Sweet smile. Buff with only some light fur on him. We had a thing, for a while...but I was selfish, then, so didn't do what it takes to maintain a relationship and we drifted apart. We remained friends, of a sort...then came the AIDs pandemic...and it got him.

It's quietly horrifying to watch a healthy, beefy man dwindle down to skin and bones. He'd get so cold, he'd even have the heater on in the middle of a Texas summer. His parents...his family kicked him out when they learned what was wrong with him. Bexar County paid for his funeral.

Then today I learned Czar Snowflake fired his entire HIV/AIDs advisory team. Via FedEx. I thought I already hated that motherfucking son-of-a-bitch as much as I could, but now it's beyond that. I no longer want him dead; I want him alive and suffering the tortures of the damned. Him and every goddamned SOB who supports him.

I remembered how Ronald Reagan refused to even think about HIV until Rock Hudson died and Elizabeth Taylor shamed him into it. And how even today idiots want to put us into concentration camps or execute us because they hate and fear us. I became sick to my stomach, I was so angry and hurt and torn up. Still am, a little

I was off-center for the rest of the day. Couldn't concentrate on anything and wound up leaving the office the middle of a snowstorm. Didn't have dinner till late, and then just some soup. Then I used working on UG to shift my focus to something else, which may have helped it become very, very brutal.

But sweet Charley...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reaching out...

I contacted a couple of British antiquarian book dealers I know to ask if they would read through A65 and make sure I'm using their language correctly. Not just the British idioms but references and words Adam uses in his dealings. I doubt I'll get a response before next year; the California Book Fair is in six weeks and we're already beginning preparations for are they, figuring out which books to take and working up catalogues to hand out and paperwork for the shipment to the US. But it's a start. And I have more I can ask...including a couple of the guys I have crushes on.

I know, I know, it's silly for a man my age to have a crush on any guy young enough to be his son, but I do. One's taking really good care of himself and is even better looking now than when I first met him...Jesus, fifteen years ago. Maybe I'll use his face for Adam's on the book cover.

I've decided I'm going to do the artwork for the hardcover's dust jacket. I'll make it as good as I can, probably in colored pencil but I'm also considering acrylic or even crayon, of all things. Won't know how it'll work till I do it, but I saw this saying posted on Tumbler and almost clapped. Then I got pissed at myself for being a coward and made my decision. The jacket will be what it is and I will put it out. I'll use Zan's art for the paperback and avatar for the ebook.

As regards UG, I'm working on the ending so I know what I'm aiming for. I have it prepped but I want to make certain this will work before I set up the rest of the story, for it. The action seems a bit complicated, at the moment, but we'll see how it goes after I've reworked it a few times.

That's my middle name -- Rework-It.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Reworking my way through, again...

So I completely redid my ending for Underground Guy, simplifying the overly complex back and forth I had and tying Dev's craziness into it. I may have dropped it down to 450 double-spaced pages and about 105,000 words...but we'll see how verbose I get once I'm writing it.

Devlin's character arc isn't completely set, yet, but that's workable. Once I get this first draft done, I can start rearranging his details to make his growth more consistent and, hopefully, less predictable. His attempt to get Reg into bed backfired completely, on him, so that's one step in the process. And there's a story Reg needs to tell Dev to let him see what's really going on that had to come later...but I'm still structuring that.

Overall, this is just going to be a piece of erotic gay mystery lit, more-so than The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. That book doesn't have much detailed sex in it, except for one part near the end, where Jake's about to get killed while he's stoned out of his mind. I'm really proud of that whole sequence, but so far no one's mentioned it...

No, I shouldn't say that. One of my readers said he hadn't been surprised by a rape scene in years, but that one did it. And another was surprised at who the killer turned out to be, so I guess I did an okay job with that one. Too bad it's not selling better...but I've done everything I can think of short of taking out high-priced ads in magazines to get it notice.

UG will probably sell well because of the sex. And The Alice '65 is mainstream enough to where anybody might be interested. Guess we'll see how it goes.

Then comes my Irish novel in a Russian style...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Paranoid writer comes to the fore...

The person editing The Alice '65 for me said she'd send it back on December 15th, but I got nothing and now I can't get hold of her. No answer to my emails. Naturally, in my limited brain, this means she hates it and is having to force herself to read it or else will soon come up with some excuse that she can't do it, after all. Even though I'm telling myself it's Christmas and she's got a family and everything's crazed prior to it...I've come to the conclusion her silence means the story's a disaster.

It's the writer in me. I do other things weird, as when I went down to check my mail. As usual, the hallway was empty and suddenly I half wondered if I was in the Overlook Hotel...and half expected to round a corner for the elevator and find twin girls saying "Hello, Kyle. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Kyle. Forever... and ever... and ever." Very psychotic, I know, but so are some of my characters.

For example, Devlin Pope in Underground Guy. He's proving to me that he is completely insane...but is smart enough to say, "I know I'm nuts, but by telling people I am, they think I'm not. Even when I prove it." I know that came out of me, so it makes me wonder if I'm doing the same thing -- telling people I'm crazy but don't really think I am; I just don't want them to know I think I'm not, even though I probably really am.

How did I come to this conclusion? Because Devlin keeps proving he's an animal with no concept of the feelings or concerns of others except for Colin, his brother. His blood. He's horrified by what he did to least, I thought he was. But when Reg shows up at his hotel room, Devlin uses the guy's confusion and pain to try and work him into bed. And I'm going WTF?!?!? I actually had to stop working on the story at that point and reground myself.

I did it by watching Kurosawa's High and Low, again -- an amazing kidnapping move that is filled with character details like a Russian novel. It's based on an Ed McBain novel, King's Ransom, which I read years before seeing the movie, and it was a good mystery book. Kurosawa's film is about how some people maintain their humanity, even to the point of near self-destruction, while others only offer the idea of it, even as they descend into evil.

 None of which was in the book...and something that helps me better understand where I'm going with UG -- straight to hell.

Monday, December 25, 2017

278 pps, 65,600 words...and maybe 60% done

That's the current status for Underground Guy. I've slashed 3 sections in my outline and the story is moving towards a conclusion faster than I expected, with Devlin redirecting the media to a newer, less dramatic story about his arrest -- that it was just a misunderstanding. He thought Reg was interested in some fun so followed him off the underground, made a move and freaked out when Reg tried to bust him, claiming he didn't understand British English in his best Brooklynnese.

It's a goofy smoke-screen, but might work well enough for the story's purposes. He's also tracked down where Griffin Faure is staying, just in case he needs to go after him. He really does intend to kill the man if Colin, his brother, hurts himself or anyone in any way.

I've had some odd notions pop up, as well, that might change the ending of the story. Not sure enough about those, yet, to discuss them...but they're intriguing and fit into my basic outline. They may cut a day off the timeline, too. That's always good.

I'm sure I'll be making more changes as I go along. The outline I came up with is long enough for a Russian novel, and the story doesn't really support that. 

Christmas is almost over and it was a nice quiet one, for me. I did not leave my apartment yesterday or today. Phone calls were all it took to keep in contact with family, and since I'll be facing them in March, at my Texas niece's wedding, I think this is fine.

Getting ready will be taking me lots of effort.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Leisurely day of writing...

I added more to the first part of UG and am beginning to think I may be chipping off a fair portion of the outline I'd worked up. So in reality, I'm not adding so much as shifting around. Which is good.

I'm not sure if this will stay where I have it, now -- the day after Devlin's dinner with Diana...but we'll see.

The next day I went to the British Library by St. Pancras and used their WiFi for my new phone. I stayed in the technology area, where they had thousands of books relating to nano-tech, while using my phone to find out more about Tawfi and Kenneth and Faure. Not much more to be had.

I had a late lunch in their café so I could call the office once I knew Marci’d be in...only she wasn’t, yet. Very unlike her. Then I called Colin. He was at home and his voice was spooky.

“It’s her, Dev,” he said. “It’s her.”

“Oh, Jesus,” whispered from me. “Are they sure?”

“They’re gonna run DNA but...”

“Colin, I’m so sorry you’re the one who had to go through this. Jesus. we know mom didn’t abandon us.”

“She died. They showed me her locket. Wasn’t around her neck. Chain was broke. Had it tight in her hand. They say. Way the bones were. Like she knew she was dying. Knew she’d be found, some day. They let me see it. You and me...picture inside...we were smiling. I don’t remember smiling.”

His voice sent chills through me. “Colin, Diana’s on her way home.”

“Yeah. Lands in an hour. Wants me to pick her up.”

“Do it. But don’t drive; take a cab or Lyft or something. Where’s Marci? Let her drive you.”

“She’s at the office.”

His voice cut into me like razors. “Colin, listen to me. I can’t believe how strong you are, in the face of this.” He snorted a soft laugh, in response. That's when words started pouring out of me. “No, really, I thought you were the weak one, you take after mom and she let dad get away with so much and I was so angry over it because I thought she was weak, but it’s how she tried to protect us, and when she was gone, you took over for her and you let dad hit you and I thought...I thought it was because you were afraid but now I see, you kept yourself between him and me and...and now I really do see it...see you were the strong one, ten times stronger than me. You’re facing what happened to mom and I...I couldn’t. I got myself into a situation here where I couldn’t go home, so I wouldn’t have to face it, because I was scared, scared of what I might do, but you’re facing it like a man, not a scared wild animal.” I ran out of breath. Could think of nothing more to say except, "You're the strong one."

Colin just sighed. “Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.” I had to whisper, I could barely breathe.

“Were you at home the day dad died?”

I did stop breathing, for a moment, then I nodded. “Yes.”

“He hit you?”


“Was he dead when you left?”

“No. He was on the floor. Sitting. Drunk...shit, too drunk to get up.”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “His alcohol level was .25.”

“ has been since we were born.” I let out a deep sigh. “How long’ve you known?”

“Neighbor saw you leave. Blood on your face.”

“Since that day!?”

“No. Marci told me. Yesterday. When she told me you’d been arrested, so couldn’t go see...”

Oh, that fucking bitch. I had to grip the table to keep from screaming. “I told you,” I croaked. “I got into a situation where I can’t come home. Not yet.”

“Diana’ll be home in a little while. I need to go get her. When I get back to the office, I’m firing Marci. Having the books audited.”

“Do it. Diana can take over. She’s sharp, and she’s got some good ideas for the company.”

“More’n I ever had.”

“Cut it out.”

“Y’know, dad was gonna leave it all to you. Said you were twice as capable as me. It always was about you. Said I’d fuck it up. And I damn near proved him right.”

“Colin, tell me, seriously -- has anything gone wrong since we dealt with the Faure family?”

“No. Thanks to you.”

“Wrong. You kept it going. I was on the road half the time. You kept the business going. Made sure the dealers were happy. And if I brought in new ones, made them feel at home. I’m good at handling problems; you’re good at preventing them. You are the strongest of us both. You had to be.”

“Yeah. Right. Gotta go. Talk to you later.”

“...Okay.” Then I snapped, “Colin. Colin!”


“If you do anything stupid, I will commit murder.”

That caught him off guard. “What?!”

“If you do anything stupid, I will kill Griffin Faure.” I let my voice be as harsh and cold as I could. “He’s here in London, and I will find him and I will cut his fucking throat.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“I’m like our father. I’m a mean motherfucking bastard, and if you do anything stupid, I will blame him and track him down.”

“Don’t be a dumbass, Dev. Jesus. I’m...I’m gonna do anything...”

“I mean it, Colin. I fucking mean it.”

He was silent for several seconds then asked, “Are you drunk?”

“No. I almost was, yesterday, but I...I felt like shit this morning.”

“Then you’re not like dad, so stop making this about you. I gotta go.”

He ended the call.

I sat in the café for another hour, drinking enough tea to float a battleship and having a pastry, just so I could keep from screaming. It wasn’t till I got a text from Diana that Colin was at JFK with the car that I was able to relax.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

More of "Underground Guy"

Dev's begun making plans to minimize the damage of his arrest and likely conviction by shifting the direction of it all. But first he has to meet with Diana to find out what gossip she's picked up, for him. But he's also a bit drunk because he's learned Griffin Faure is in London, that he's under constant surveillance, and that there's a connection between Tawfi and one of the murdered men. He's also forgotten to call his brother to tell him the police may have found the remains of their mother.


I called Diana about dinner. "There's a Pizza Hut on Regent at Jermyn, if you're up for something that's trying to be American."

She all but laughed at me. "I'd die for a good slice, right now, but Pizza Hut?"

“I know, I know, I know, but in a pinch...”

She sighed and said, “How many have you had?” As if she could smell my breath through the phone.

“Not enough.”

“Where are you?”


She hesitated before asking, “Why there?”

“Possible client. For some new pins, with chips. In fact, their I-T guy’s interested in helping make it work. That...uh, that’s why I’ve had a few. First, Ghadir, then...”

"Tell me about it over dinner. Can you make it by six?"

“See you there.”

I got there at five-fifty-five. Diana strolled up a minute later. I greeted her with, "Are you really desperate for a slice?"

"Of Tony's on Millbrae, yeah."

"There's a pub around the corner. I need a real beer and I'd love to try their fish and chips."

We headed for it, then we both had the greasiest, best-ever fish and chips. She downed hers with two Shandys -- hardly what I’d call a real drink -- while I had a couple pints of Guinness. The joint was noisy enough to have to speak in above-normal voices to be heard. No way could anyone record us there...and just to be sure, I turned off my phone.

Diana was interested in Ghadir’s comments and Mahjub’s interest. I didn’t bother mentioning Tawfi’s embassy in any way. I just got her to talking about the shower.

“It was just like one in Brooklyn,” she said, “but with gifties from Harrod's instead of Macy's. I was smart and bought a Tiffany spoon for ten times more than it was worth, just so I could have it in their very recognizable box. Big hit.”

We chit-chatted a bit more about the high-tea-freaks, then she took a good swallow of her Shandy before saying, "Marci told me about the call from New Jersey.”

Shit, I’d forgotten about that. “How’d she know?”

“When the locals called the troopers, they figured you wouldn’t show so they called the office, and Marci called me. I told Colin, and he’s meeting with them this afternoon."

"How'd he take it?"

She took another drink then sighed. "For the first time since I met him, I have no earthly idea." A smile filled her face. "And you cannot believe how happy that makes me. It's a horrible circumstance, but I...I honestly think he can handle it. All by himself."

I found myself smiling. "God, I hope so."

She leaned on the table, clasped her hands and rested her chin on them. "Now it comes down to you, Dev. Can you handle your self?"

"What do you mean?"

"You didn’t tell me about your visitor, the other night," she purred.

Shit. "Just a guy I picked up. Get my mind off the crap."

She sighed, in response. “Dev, cut it out. I know you like to sketch the men who mean something to you, and you use your fountain pen for that. There was still some ink on your fingers, when I showed up."

Shit, and I'd washed my hands. "Mommy don't miss much, does she?"

"I learned from my mother how to keep track of everything. She had to, sometimes, just to keep me alive."

“Okay, okay, but it really was a pickup. I just...I liked him. Even got his info. Stupid, ain’t it?”

She grew very still, her eyes hot on me. “Devlin...I already told you -- gossip’s hot about the Met being in an uproar -- the egg-on-face, kind. That a British cop might have been molested. Then today I hear that it happened in the middle of a bungled attempt to catch a killer who might be connected to an embassy in Knightsbridge, letting another man get butchered. All rumor, of course...but considering when you got arrested...”

Shit, she knew about that, too. I drew in a deep breath and nodded. “It’s nowhere near like you think. Trust me, on that.”

“You don’t know what I think.”

I leaned against the table, rubbing my temples, fighting a sense of horror welling up inside. I noticed a waitress passing so stopped her with, “Excuse me, do you carry Jameson’s?”

“Black Label.”

“Bring me a shot, please.”

She nodded and zipped off. I looked at Diana and could all but hear her mind screaming, Oh, my God, as bad as that.

I said nothing until the shot appeared and I’d downed it then chased it with a gulp of Guinness. Her eyes were so sharp on me, I had to say, “I’m not turning into my father. I don’t usually do this...but it’s been a nightmare and I -- I just need something to ground me.”

Her voice was careful as she asked, “Is it working?”

I took in another deep breath and shook my head. “Nothing is. Every time I turn around, it gets worse.”

She nodded. And waited.

The pub’s noise was oppressive -- men and women scream-chatting and clinking glasses and singing songs. The one positive thing was, no one could record us in here. So I ordered another Guinness. And took a deep breath.

Then I laid it out about Reg...

...Right down to the hole it tore in my heart.

Whoever said that confession is good for the soul is a fucking liar. Because once I was done, I felt empty and alone and two milliseconds from breaking into sobs. It was like I relived the whole damned thing and now felt twice as guilty and ashamed and wondered if I actually had contributed to Martin Perriman’s death. My hands were shaking and my last Guinness hadn’t been touched, yet.

Diana let out an endless sigh before saying, “Jesus Fucking Christ, Dev. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“I -- I don’t know.” I was about to lose the battle against tears --

Until she grabbed my wrist and snarled, “Don’t you dare fucking cry on me. You haven’t got that right.”

That jolted me and I held back.

She let go, sat there and said nothing more, for several minutes, then she gave a soft half-laugh and said, "At least you feel guilty about it.”

I took a swallow of Guinness. “Guilty? Shit, I hate myself, for the first time.”

She took a deep breath. “How many others were there?”

I shrugged. “Seven. Eight.” Then I cast her a sharp look. “But they deserved it.”

“Judge Devlin.”

“You gonna tell me after what Griffin Faure did to us, he didn’t? And Kenneth, planning his bullshit. And what I could tell you about the others -- ”

“Like Ryan Oriaggio?”

That made me blink. "Hell -- Hamilton filled you in, good."

"Hamilton didn’t need to," she said in her mommy voice. “You know, you’re not coming home.”

“I know, I’m on bail, right now, but -- “

“No they won’t let you. At the very least, you’re guilty of kidnapping and raping a cop, and making the Metropolitan Police look like idiots. They’ll want to save face, and there’s talk about three other men you might’ve attacked in the London area.”

“That’s bullshit; I don’t go for English guys.”

“Not a good defense, considering Constable Thornton.”

“His name’s Reg.”

That made her lean back, her mommy-eyes locked on me. “They are turning over heaven and earth to see who else they can find, on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“You can thank Griffin Faure for that. He’s in town and let me know he’s enjoying the show. Probably helping Sir Monte with possibilities.”

She nodded. “Well then, as things currently stand if you don’t wind up in prison, here or there, it’ll be a miracle.”

“Thanks for the pep-talk.”

“It’s reality, Dev. You know how to face that, don’t you?”

I sighed and nodded.

“What we need to do is change how things stand.” She finished her Shandy. "Do you still have Tavelscha’s photos?"

"At home. Right desk drawer, red thumb drive," was my reply.

“What about Faure’s?”

I looked at her for a moment then said, “Hamilton has that. In a safe deposit box. Gramma’s maiden name.”

“Any others?”

I swallowed. “Couple.”

She sighed. “And Constable Thornton?”

“His name is Reg.” She just looked at me. My hands began shaking, again. Hell -- I was quaking inside, like a 9.9. “They...they’re on my cell phone. I’d rather not turn it on, right now.”

She took in a deep breath. “Understood, but they will be seen, eventually, so you better get yourself ready. Find a psychiatrist. Someone here. Someone who can explain this -- these actions of yours. We’ll pay for it. I’ll talk to Hamilton about an attorney, here, too.”

“You hate me now, don’t you?”

Her voice became a hiss. “Begging for sympathy, Dev? After this?” She pointed to the phone. “I’m helping you because you’re my husband’s brother and I love him, and the only way I can protect him, right now, is by protecting you.”

“Protecting me? By having me tell you about Kenneth in the hotel room? Knowing the cops were probably listening in?”

“Yes! That way your side of the story’s known before opinions get set in stone, and lets the bastards know there’s more going on than they’ve been told by the American side.” She stood up to pull on her coat. “Y’know, speaking of ol’ Kenneth -- I think it’d be a good idea for you to call him, tomorrow, and, oh, make amends. No, make it Wednesday, after I've had a chance to, um, water your plants. Where do you keep your extra key, again?"

Without even thinking I said, "Office desk under the calendar corner."

"Time it for about 10 am, our time. I think Kenneth reads his e-mails by then. I’ll send you his address."

"How do you know all that?" She just smiled, tight and cold. " sure you want to get into this?"

"No, but have you ever known me to back down from a fight?"

"I've never seen you in one."

"Well, you're about to. And something I learned a long time ago is, always play by your opponent’s rules. And always assume they know more than they're letting on. That way you're never surprised when you find out they do know it all."

“Jeez, wish I knew what made you into such a hard-ass.”

“Ask my mother, sometime,” she said, grabbing her purse. “Like I said, she had to become one to keep me alive till I was old enough to find someone I cared about more than me.”


She stopped and her smile grew warm, again.

I leaned back in my seat, unable to look at her. “How’d you know he was the one?”

“Because I hurt for him,” she murmured. “Didn’t take me a minute to see he was special. That he needed someone to hold him. Just...hold him. By the time we got back to his apartment, I was ready to kill anyone who hurt him.”

“Good thing you didn’t find out about dad till -- “

“I knew. But for that, I wanted Colin to tell me. Work with me. I didn’t know what else to do or how to handle it in a way that wouldn’t make things worse, for him. Then I saw that S-O-B slap Colin and...” Her voice trailed off and she gave me a slight shrug. “You can’t change the past, Dev. All you can do is accept it and, if you’re lucky enough to get a second chance at becoming a decent human being, take it. I got lucky.”

I finally looked at her. “He thinks he’s the lucky one.”

A gentle smile crossed her lips. “I know. What about you?”


She nodded. "You've changed."


"There used to be an edge to your voice. Something taut, like an overstretched wire. It's not there when you talk about that cop -- "


That softened her expression. "Reg."

I sagged, a little. "You know how you feel about the kids? And Colin? That's how I feel about him. And I don't get it."

"Don't you?"

"You're not gonna tell me this is love.”

"No. Only you can decide that.”

“But he’s straight!"

“And your voice grows gentle when you say his name. But you have a point -- I can’t see how you’ll ever make it right with him, short of a miracle.”

Then she walked away.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Head banging can work..

I finally got an idea as to what the problem was with Underground Guy -- this section of the chapter was too full of detail.'s what I've honed it down to. Devlin's been released on bail and was attacked in his hotel by someone with a knife. The cops think he arranged it to throw suspicion off himself. It's the next morning and he's been awakened to be informed his sister-in-law wants to come up and see him.


I grabbed a hotel robe and wrapped myself up in it then washed my face. I remembered I hadn't bathed the night before but figured I wouldn't be too rank, yet. Then came the knock at the door.

I opened it to find my brother's wife looking at me with an expression that could be amusement or bemusement or a need to use the toilet, for all I could tell. She was in her casual chic mode and looked like she'd just finished prepping for a ladies' lunch, not sat up all night on a crowded plane. I let her in with a growl of, "You got here fast."

"I was invited to a baby shower, Dev," she said. "I wasn't sure I could make it, but my mother changed her plans to watch the boys and Marci said, even though she's really busy, she'll handle Colin for Monday and Tuesday. So, here I am."

"Good ol’ Marci. No bags?"

"Downstairs. I’m staying with friends."

"You talk to Colin?"

"When do I not?"

Oh, shit, this was gonna be rough. "I'll order coffee."

"Tea, please." She looked at my arm. "Rough night?"

"My room got broke into," I said. "Not even worth Channel Four taking note."

She just nodded.

I put in an order for a full English breakfast and the hell with the cost, then sat on the bed as she eased into a chair, her eyes locked on me. I'd seen that look before when I'd done something she didn't approve of, like a mother disappointed in her child. I took in a deep breath, grabbed a pillow, and shifted to lie back, my eyes watching her eyes watch me. "Okay, let's have it."

"Glass always half-empty with you, isn't it?"

"Diana, I ache all over. I didn't sleep well. And I'm still freaked out at getting attacked, last night, so cut the crap and get down to -- "

"Some of our dealers were interrogated by FBI agents, this weekend,” she said. “About you. Two in Los Angeles. One in Chicago. Three in New York."

Shit. "Why?"

"The FBI’s questions were regarding an extortion racket, and FYI -- Griffin Faure filed the complaint."

I laughed. "You’re not gonna tell me he came back to the States to admit what happened?"

"He’s been back for a while,” she said, causing me to sit up. “And yes -- he’s telling his version, with the suggestion there may be others who've been, oh, caught in the same trap."

"Papa Faure's pushing this, and he’s just pissed 'cause golden boy and I had some fun,” I snarled, then added for good measure, “and I recorded it."

"I know. In fact, I know all about that.”

“So much for client-attorney privilege.”

“You think Hamilton told me?”

That made me blink. “ haven't seen the videos, have you?"

"You can be sure the FBI has. What's more -- a certain Congressman is helping the Faures push this. Now what you did with that shit son of his -- I really don’t care. He stole money from us and nearly drove Colin to suicide. He got off light. What I want to know is why this shit is coming down on us, now, and what you did to cause it."

That made me look closer. She had her mommy eyes on; I'd seen them when one of the kids was trying to pull a fast one. "How did you find all this out?"

"I used to be a party girl in the city that never sleeps and could teach Vegas a thing or two about keeping it there. Once I make friends, they're friends for life. You never know who'll come in handy when you need some help. And I get the feeling you're in need of that."

"You think you can offer any?"

"Depends on how you answer a question."

"Oh, jeez, that crap, again?” I sighed and leaned forward. “Okay, hit me."

Her smile widened. "I just need to know -- did you ever know someone named Kenneth Tavelscha?"

Oh, son-of-a-bitch, it was worse than I thought. I just nodded.

She nodded back. "Have you kept up with him?"

"Not since college."

"He's that Congressman. Republican. Bought and paid for by the Faure organization, and they have been cross-referencing. Apparently, for a while, because less than an hour after you'd been arrested by the Metropolitan Police -- and yes, I do know about that, too.”

“Christ,” shot out of me. “You didn’t tell Colin?”

“Devlin! And freak him out?”

“Right. Sorry. Guess I’m the one freaking out.”

“You should be, because Tavelscha had the TSA add your name to the no-fly list, and an hour after that, the FBI opened up that investigation into your blackmail racket."

"Oh, fuck!" Papa Faure’s attack dogs were barking loud and clear.

Fortunately, room service arrived and I was able to shift focus away from my inner chaos. I let them set everything up, signed the bill and tipped them and got them out, the whole time trying to figure out what I should and shouldn't say to her. Didn't do any good; her mommy eyes never left me. She calmly poured out tea for herself and coffee for me, then set up a chair beside the tray, took a slice of toast and piece of bacon, and sat back in her own chair.

I kept standing by the door, unable to move, my brain spinning.

After another minute of watching me and sipping her tea and nibbling at her food, she said, "Devlin -- you know how Colin and I met, right?"

I had to nod. "He...he got lost and you...uh, you found him. Brought him home."

"You know where I found him?" I shrugged a yes. She smiled. "I always thought it interesting you never said anything."

I sighed and glanced at her, my mind beginning to focus. "I didn't need to."

Her smile widened. "Y'know, the only reason I approached him was, I'd heard my usual connection got busted, and that I should assume the new guy's a cop. Then I saw Colin, and no way did he belong in that neighborhood. Fuckin’ rookie, was my first thought, so I went over to play with him. Be a real bitch. But he looked at me with those lost dark lovely eyes and the first words out of his mouth were, Oh my god, you're so beautiful.” She sighed. “I wasn't. I was at the tail of a party weekend. But his attitude...his whole demeanor was so simple and straight and honest and sweet, I fell apart. Sobbed. He said he was sorry and gave me a handkerchief. Cheap white cotton. Buy 'em by the half-dozen. I still have it. Wouldn't part with it for anything."

I turned to her. "You're good for him. For both of us."

"Thank you for that." She smiled and pulled out a tissue to dab her eyes. "It took me ten minutes to find out he'd met with a client and parked his car in a cheap lot to save a few bucks, but couldn't remember which one and was close to falling apart. I offered to call someone but he panicked and said you were at school and your father off on business and no one could know how he'd screwed up. So we went to every lot I knew -- and found it at the fifth one. By that point he was shaking so badly, he couldn't drive, so I got behind the wheel. And I stayed. And we got married. And we have three beautiful perfect sons." Then she looked straight at me to add with a near growl, "And I will never, never, never let anyone -- anyone at all -- hurt him or them. So if you don't give me the complete and absolute truth, I'm here to have fun at a baby shower for an old friend and then back to New York.”

Where they will circle the wagons to protect the business, and I will be fucked.

Of course, she was right. I'd just been trying to postpone the explosion till I was back in the states and had our own attack dogs lined up, ready to rumble. Hamilton could get just as down and dirty as the other side, but he needed my version of the story and no way was I spilling it in a phone call or email. Now it looked like I was going to be stuck in the UK for a lot longer than I thought and I was already building up a nice paranoid idea that what happened last night was not merely a burglary gone wrong.

It must have shown on my face, because she kicked the chair away from the tray and said, "Sit."

Like a well-trained dog, I did.

"Now tell me all about Kenneth."

"Why? What good would that do?"

"Dev, this son-of-a-bitch is messing with my family. I want to know why, and you’d better fucking tell me."

I jolted at her anger. Warrior Queen all but flared from every fiber of her. It was to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or God help you.

That's when the beast gave a short huff and let out a long sigh, and lay down to sleep. So I focused on my breakfast, and as I ate, I laid it all out about Kenneth fucking Tavelscha.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I need to get drunk...

I haven't been drunk in years...nothing more than barely tipsy. I've been feeling more and more bound in and need something to help me cut loose. A serious drunk. There's a bar across the street named Jake's, of all things, so maybe I'll go over, have a few shots of everything and get plastered.

I'm in the middle of a health scare and pissed as hell about it. No details, but I'm seeing a specialist on the 29th...the earliest they could fit me in without going to an emergency room, and it's not bad enough for that. It's just fucking irritating. Yet may be expensive, and just as I was getting control of my finances. But that's the way it's always been with me. The second I start to get ahead, life kicks me in the gut. I should fucking stop it.

This comes as I finally realized I need to make some major changes to Underground Guy. Devlin and reg reconnect too soon, so another chapter must be worked up after his dinner with his sister-in-law; that's what the problem was. Devlin wants to be in action, now. Trying to make sense of the information swirling around him and seeing if he can find out anything about the killer, himself. If he doesn't, he'll never get to go home.

The fact of the matter is, the story begins with him kidnapping and assaulting a cop working an undercover operation. The British police won't let him go; they'll scream for him to be in jail the rest of his life...unless he does something so heroic, they have to back down. As in stop a serial killer. So...while I was sort of drifting into that scenario as a subplot, it's now the focus...and everything else has to come from that and not just Dev's psychoses.

So what has that done to the story? shifted to make Tawfi, Dev's other romantic interest, a business partner with a Griffin Faure, a man who screwed Dev's business over and got punished, brutally, in return. Could revenge be behind this? Doesn't make sense; three of the murders happened before Dev was in the country. Will it wind up that Tawfi and Griff are working in tandem to distract attention from some scam they're pulling, and using Dev as part of the smokescreen? I don't know, anymore. I don't make these things up; I just write them.

And right now I'm back to not knowing WTF is going on...and normally would like that...but it's irritating me, instead. And I can't do the Hemingway or Fitzgerald thing because there's also some automatic firewall in my own psyche that stops me on the rare occasions I do want to go on a bender. My automatic brakes engaging to keep me from spiraling out of control...I guess. I dunno.

I just fucking want to get drunk.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


I had to go back an extra chapter and do some rearranging there to set up the problem one better. That took all evening, but now it's working. Devlin and Diana have dinner in a pub and talk about his situation, and he unloads on her, and she lets him know she's pissed as hell about it. She even tells him to find a psychiatrist and get help.

She also points out that he's going to jail if the situation doesn't change. The Metropolitan Police want to save face after he messed up their operation, and an American politician is gunning for him by pushing the FBI to investigate his actions in the last few years, and has put him on the No-Fly list. She's only helping him because he's her husband's brother and the best way she has to protect her husband from this mess -- is to help Dev.

This spurs Dev to action. He now sees the only way he can change the course of his life is to find the killer, and he thinks that since he's gay he might have a better insight as to what makes the guy so hate-filled. And that is what leads him to begin to think everything is too clinical in the murders. Too precise and exact. Too deliberate...leading him to wonder what's really going on. This is page 217 of the story -- 12 point Courier, double-spaced -- and the beginning of Chapter 8.

Now it's 11:15 pm and I'll be lucky to get to bed by 1am...but I feel better about the story and may have shortened it a little bit more. And I'm sure I've repeated myself a bit too much. It's my hope to keep the story to about 600 of these pages, which would translate to about 325-330 pages of a paperback. I just have to stop falling in love with my words.

Oh...but I like them so...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Confusion sets in...

I just got to a chapter in Underground Guy that decided to rearrange itself and now it makes no sense to me. I'll need to go back over it to see WTF is going on here. It started out with me not liking how Dev starts telling another character what's really going on with the least, his interpretation of it...and then it brought in stuff that went this direction and that, so I have to stop and fix the chaos it's engendering.

Doesn't help I'm in a very weird mood. I saw this photo of a gendarme sweeping a street -- probably after an accident -- and it hit me in such a way that...that it hurt me. I can't explain it beyond that. I've had pictures do that to me, before, where I see one that's nice and all but a bit innocuous and wind up gripped by it. Caught by it. Lost in it.

This one's just of a young nice-looking cop and a broom on a French street, somewhere. Nothing really there. And yet...well, I don't know if it's the composition or the simplicity of it or the hints of a story behind it or even if I'm attracted to him; I keep coming back to it to look at it, again and again.

And feel feel my breath go soft and the shadows in my heart grow darker...

Sunday, December 17, 2017

I love staying home...

I haven't been to the office since Wednesday, last week. Thursday was NYC but Friday-Sunday was staying home and working on UG, and I feel so happy and relaxed, right now. I'm even casual about the work I'm doing on UG because I know it's just a first draft. There'll be some major changes in it, once I have the story down and begin rewrites, but that's to be expected, the way I work.

The only thing I did was laundry and groceries, today, because both were desperately needed. But I still worked on UG at the laundromat and when I got home. I'm at a point in the story where it's moving a bit faster, and could come in at 600 pages. I'm also beginning to wonder if I should cut a character whose story is not as joined to Dev's as the others.

I'm at the point where Dev has learned Tawfiq, an Arab man he connected with in London, knew one of the murder victims and he's trying to figure out what this means. But first he has to have dinner with his sister in law and lay out what's going on with the local police and his arrest...and she notices he's begun to drink like his father.

This was changed from him explaining to her about another guy -- Ryan Oriaggio, in Chicago. It was a good 10 pages long...and didn't work there, so I shifted it to another file and let Diana, the sister-in-law, come down hard on Dev and his ways. She even tells him he's getting help or she'll help put him in jail. All of which adds to the chaos in his mind.

It's still clumsy but works as a place-holder. And it adds to a sub-plot about second chances. So now I don't know if Ryan's bit fits, anymore...considering the direction the story's taking. But that's half the fun, I guess, working it out.

You never know where the paths will lead...if you let them carry you forth.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Got socks and a dock case...

I dislike how my MacBook Pro does not have any serious ports -- no USB, no Ethernet cable, just these insipid little slots for power and a USB extender -- so I ordered a Dockcase. Got it and I now have the equivalent of 4 USB ports and one for an Ethernet cable and some slots I'm not sure what they're for but like the flexibility they offer, if I ever decide to learn about them and use them. It's also a protective cover for the laptop when I'm traveling. The one drawback is, the panel holding all the ports gets pretty warm...almost hot.

I also got 30 pairs of fun socks in dark colors. I'd ordered them from a discount place for a total of $25 and they're all here. 100% cotton, they say, so we'll see how it goes. I feel very wealthy in footwear and electronic extensions.

I worked on UG much of the day, getting to chapter 7, where Devlin is taking control of his situation back from those who've been smacking him around with it. This puts me a quarter of the way through my outline and just under 200 pages. So maybe the story will tap out at 750 pages, or so.

His sister-in-law has shown up, claiming to be in London for a baby shower but really out to find out as much about what's really going on as she can. She used to be a major party girl and has connections Devlin can't even image exist. She's also proven that she's a tigress when it comes to protecting her family, and she doesn't want Dev's mess to destroy their company.

I'm having a blast with this. Even threw in an Andrea Dworkin reference, where a woman says she's glad men are being raped and murdered instead of women, for a change, because then it might make the system of justice put some real teeth into the rape laws. Pretty bloodthirsty...but part of Andrea Dworkin's writings are that sex is rape against women, even consensual sex...hell, even gay sex between men. Her attitude seems to be that a man is using a man as a substitute for a woman, so in effect he's having symbolic sex with a woman and since sex with women is rape, to's weird and I know I don't understand the subtleties of it, but I don't care.

I'm having fun.

Friday, December 15, 2017

UG continues...

I took the day off, slept until 11am and worked on Underground Guy most of the day. Didn't go out since I didn't need anything and it was snowing, and I've spent so much time traveling. I dug through to the point where Delvin is released by the cops, and stopped...because I don't know why that happens. Nor can I figure out why the lead investigator on the case -- a guy Dev refers to as Sir Monte -- asks a certain question.

I really can bedevil myself, at times, with what I write. Something comes out and I don't know why and suddenly the whole story is lopsided and in danger of being nonsensical, What's damning about this instance is, it's a perfectly logical question and one Devlin has no answer to. But Sir Monte insists on a satisfactory answer so Dev tries to make one up but it doesn't work. And it's driving me nuts, now,

I've read books other writers have written about their writing and I don't remember any of them having this issue. Some say they speak to the characters. Some say they let the story develop itself. Some say they work up a diagram and stick with it, no matter what. Steven King just harps on getting rid of adjectives. So is my manner of work really that bizarre? Am I the only one where it borders on insanity?

I honestly don't know. I just know I'm making a very erotic book about a very hideous situation trapped in very deep meaning, somewhere, and it's mocking me for not seeing it. Shit, I'm not D H Lawrence or Henry Miller. I don't have a command of English like they did. I'm probably closer to Marquis de Sade, just not as deep...and besides, he wrote in French.

Hell, maybe I was him in a former life and lost some of my intelligence in the rebirth...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Job 3 done...

This one was hard because it was all artwork. I was expecting it to be unframed and in mylar sleeves, but 18 items were still in their frames and, even though we were told they'd been removed from the frames, they apparently came over to the US that way. And needed to be fitted back into their crate in a way that protected them.

Fortunately, all but one were under plexiglass or plastic; that one glass one got wrapped in plenty of bubble and set in a careful space to keep it from jostling about. But this is not my expertise and I won't be feeling comfortable till they're home and unpacked and nothing is broken.

But it took me hours to get them done. Setting them in and pulling them out of the crate to adjust and rethink and rearrange and test...but I finally got them all in along with the extra items I got handed. Packed to the brim. And I'm beat.

I'm now at Jet Blue's Terminal 5 having had a good burger and onion rings and a Jamba juice, so I'm feeling mellow. Just ready for bed. Soooo ready. My flight, this morning was supposed to leave at 8:20 but didn't go until 9. But I was still up at 6am to get to the airport and that always throws off my rhythm.

So not getting anything done on UG, today. Brain dead. I did go through a folder of notes and found some I'd like to add in. Found another few that helped clarify some issues. I should have gone through this first, but it's not too late to add them in.

And here comes Zonesville...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Typical me...

As is usual in my writing, I got stuck on a section where Devlin goes from remembering the revenge he took on Griffin Faure to wondering why he chose to assault Reg. I couldn't get it to work, smoothly, but it's necessary for these two moments to be connected and I really think they belong right where they are. So I've reworked it four times trying to find the path. I'm closer, but nothing final.

I tried to tell myself something else is needed, there, but that just doesn't work in my mind, yet. I don't know if it will. I may be trying to force something through that just isn't workable. I've done that before and it's taken me weeks to finally get to where I accepted it. I can get so very stubborn when it comes to my initial ideas for a story. Sometimes that's good but other times it's not. I can't tell which is which, yet, not till I've worn myself down past the stubbornness.

Early night, tonight. I'm off to NYC for the day, which has been made harder because my plans for a ride to the job from JFK were scuttled. Same for returning to JFK. I'll have to subway it into Manhattan and then bus it to the warehouse, in Jamaica. Irritating but rather typical.

I have to admit, I'm surprised Doug Jones won the Senate race in Alabama. And considering 3/4 of white men and 2/3 of white women voted for that racist, homophobic child molester in place of him, it's really amazing. Seems black women put him over the top. Small wonder Roy Moore's demanding a recount. Alabama went out of its way to suppress the minority vote...but they screwed it up and don't like to admit that.

People are touting this as America's repudiation of the GOP, ignoring the hideous statistics. If things go as they normally do, the DNC and DCCC will proceed to shrug off black women's voices and proclaim themselves to be the saviors of American democracy, despite all evidence to the contrary. Hell, they're still blaming Bernie for Hillary's loss, even though there were more than a dozen other factors in her crash and burn.

But never let the truth get in the way of a good fantasy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another job done...

Up at 7, flight at 9:30, drive through Washington DC in lovely weather, work in Georgetown, all v ery nice and lovely. Then I needed to find an Office Depot...and found the nearest one had no parking, unless you're willing to pay $11.00 at the underground garage by the store. So I drove to Glen Burnie to get what I needed, got to the trucking company we're using by 3 and hit the airport by 4:30. So I wrangled a seat on an earlier flight and got home at a decent hour. Still had to dig my car out from under the snow, but it wasn't too bad.

I didn't have time or focus to do much about UG, though I did make some notes on possible ways to work in the return of Griffin Faure. He's the son of a billionaire who's idea of good business is not to pay sub-contractors until they threaten to sue you, then settle. Him pulling that nearly bankrupted Devlin's family's business and almost drove his brother, Colin, to suicide for getting them into that situation.

Dev takes a vicious revenge on Faure and forces his father to pay not only what they owed Dev's family but a number of other people they defrauded. So it looks like Griffin learned of Dev's legal situation and has begun to manipulate it to cause him as much pain and suffering as possible. Not yet sure how to work that in, though I have a couple of possible paths to take, but it's a neat fit to my usual paranoid-conspiracy writing. I just wonder if I can use this bit for comedy relief?

Man...that would not be politically correct...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Long day...long night...

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Travel tripe...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I never know what I'm doing...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

Distraction needed...

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

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

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

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

How do you stop that diseased sort of mentality?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Piddly stuff...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lovely day...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 4, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Going old school...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be so much better...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Feel like crap...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

Starting in...

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Changes made

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Step by step...

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is the media the message?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Getting REAL close to a cover...

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

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

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

It's no fun getting old...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

lazy the max...

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

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

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

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

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


Another draft done...

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I'll get there, dammit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Home from the wars...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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