Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Down day...

I stayed in the hotel all day and worked on A65. I just didn't feel like being out and about and doing things I'd done a hundred times before. I'm flying up to Seattle, tomorrow, for the book fair so won't have a lot of time to work, after this, and I have a fridge in the room so stocked up on what I needed. Put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and went to work.

It was slow-going, because I was cross-referencing two versions of the story that were similar in 75% of the wordage, but I not only got it all input, I had new ideas and added little bits to make it fresher. I'm now through 92 pages, not counting the notes I have in the rest of the hard copy.

I think from this point it will move faster. I have about 50 pages of changes I lost, completely, so will dive into that portion like I'm doing it for the first time. The only real major change that I can recall losing is when I switched the descriptions of Casey's and Lando's mansions. I decided to make hers Spanish-style and his modern cubist; works a lot better for them as characters, but I lost everything I did to make Lando's even quirkier. Oh well.

I got the first rough of artwork for the cover and it's going to be nice. I had a couple of small changes to make so am waiting to hear how the artist feels about them. For LD he was pretty easy-going on adjustments I asked for. I try not to be too demanding, but if it's not right, it's not right...and I want the cover to be right.

I'm going to do a different design for the hardback version. Maybe a photo of the actual Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with a shadow of Gertrude mixed in. Not sure, yet. I've been looking at new hardbacks and their covers are a lot simpler than paperbacks. I know they can get away with that largely because of publishing house advertising and sales, yet it might be better for me to emulate them than like I did with LD and OT.

I'm finding my free promotion on Kindle and BookLife got me nothing for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Lots of people looked and nearly 600 downloaded a free copy, but not one review, yet, nor one sale. It's like the book is dead in the water. My next hope is it gets a review from "Publisher's Weekly", for which I still await word.

I hope this doesn't happen with The Alice '65.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A long trip on a packed plane

Southwest is making it harder and harder to travel easy on their flights. I flew from Chicago to LA on a brand new 737 Max 8 that was delayed half an hour due to technical issues, and packed solid. And even though I scored an exit row seat, I couldn't open my laptop enough to make it easy to use. The new seats have more of a sloped back so that even though the tray has more room, the monitor on my laptop couldn't open all the way.

And there was a screaming child on the first half hour of it all. And I do mean screaming. God, do I mean screaming. I got a headache from it because it was only three rows behind me. Didn't help I was already out of sorts. I finally downed some Advil, made myself eat some of the food I'd bought but decided I didn't want, had a couple of DDPs and began to feel better.

I then input the changes for the first chapter, and added a few new ones. At the rate I'm going, I will not have this book ready by Thanksgiving. It hasn't reached the point where I'm completely happy with it, because I'm still coming up with ways of making it better. I like it, like the characters, like the process of the story, but it still needs too much work for me to consider it completed...and when I feel like that, I know it'll be at least one more draft and a polish before I can even begin to think about publishing.

Oh well...it's more important the story be good than be done by a certain date. This will also give me a chance to get feedback from some British book people I know, if they're willing to read it.

Y'know, on this trip to LA, I just don't feel like seeing anybody. All I want to do on Friday is veg. This hotel's goofy, even for a Best Western, but once again I've got a suite. And it being LA, I had to let the valet park my car. Totally flustered me because I had to get all my stuff out and put packing materials in, and climb stairs to get to the second floor so I could take an elevator to the third floor, so by the time I got to my room, I needed a drink. Wound up having tea...which actually worked.

It's been a weird couple of trips, and I blame it on early flights. When I go to Key West, the end of next week, I'm flying at a decent hour. I'm also close to deciding I want to use a carrier other than Southwest and go Business Class. I'm too old and cranky to do this cattle car crap for much longer.

You may now refer to me as mean old man Kyle.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

In Chicago, again...

Where it's pouring down rain, at the moment, but at least it didn't do that when I did my work. I was smart enough to get everything to my hotel and into my room before it started. Even bought a dinner to nuke so I wouldn't have to go out, again.

I wound up with a nice suite in this Best Western, along with decent WiFi. It's a new building from the looks of it, and this area seems to be hotel city. The best thing about it is, I had a counter to work on as I packed the shipment. Made things so much easier, which I needed; I had to get up at 4:45am to catch my plane and I've been very cranky. I got a message asking me not to come to the location till 2pm, so I could have come on a later flight.

Oh well. While I was waiting, I had a late breakfast at McDonalds (their pancakes and sausage are an addition, to me) and worked in the changes I'd already made to A65's first chapter...and there were a lot. I didn't realize I'd done so much work on it. Got me all pissed off, again, at how I nearly lost it all. The positive thing is, I saw a couple more bits that needed refining so added them in, as well.

Of course, this means I'll need to do yet another printout once I've gone through this one all the way, and another red pen and get the last of the story done probably as I'm en route to Hong Kong, next month. I'm also close to asking a couple people I know in the British antiquarian world to read it and let me know if I've got everything right, as regards Adam's knowledge. I know a fair amount, but I can just see me making a major gaffe over something simple -- like maybe Quires aren't all that important, or back drop boxes are not the same as Solander cases.

So much to do, still...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

WTF Did I Do?

I've lost half the changes I made for The Alice '65. I cannot find them anywhere on either laptop or thumb drives. Apparently, the draft I worked on all weekend was an earlier draft of the story. I remember making a draft titled October 5th then, on Saturday, saved that draft as October 7th to differentiate between them...and I cannot find the October 5th one, anywhere. I've searched my thumb drives and both laptops, and it's nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, I'd printed out the first 92 pages of that draft, on Friday, but it means I have to go back through and re-input everything I did. So I'm now way behind schedule. I thought I'd completed this draft, but no such luck.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I positively despise computers, at the moment.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Alice '65 is done, again...

I just finished the latest draft. 301 double-spaced pages, 64,950 words. Tighter. More precise. Ready for more proofing. I'll think about doing that, tomorrow; right now, I'm brain dead.

The work today was mainly taken up with making the fight in the jet read more clearly. I don't know if a large passenger jet can even do what I have this one doing, but right now I don't care. It works for the story.

The nice thing about focusing on writing is, I can ignore the crap that Czar Snowflake keeps spitting out. A hurricane's hitting New Orleans, but the SOB's off golfing, again. Let the rabble take care of themselves and take credit for anything that goes right while blaming Obama for anything that goes wrong.

I wasn't crazy about Obama. He was not a real progressive. He did some great things -- the ACA, and saving GM and Chrysler, and bringing a lot of respect back to the US after Bush's disasters -- but he also increased the drone attacks that killed civilians and his plan to help homeowners wrecked by the financial collapse did next to nothing, almost deliberately, and he did not go after the scum on Wall Street and in the banks who caused the collapse. But this knee-jerk reaction by the right wing to lay everything bad at his doorstep is beyond ludicrous into diseased.

Considering the chaos exploding in the world and the vile actions by the GOP and its vermin followers, I'm beginning to think it may be a good thing for Mother Nature to make mankind extinct. Or at least cut us back to a manageable level. Right now, we're fouling our nest and turning on each other like rats trapped in a cage. It's truly frightening, and having a maniac with his finger on the nuclear button is terrifying.

I keep telling myself things have been worse in the past, which they have. Germany's 30 year war in the 17th Century killed off 2/3 of its population. The Black Plague wiped out half of Europe. Aztecs and Incas practiced human sacrifice. Tribes in Africa ate their enemies. Not so much of that, now. Just maniacs mowing down people in movie theaters or concerts or as they go to school.

What a world I'm bringing my tender little book into.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I'm close to hating my new laptop...

When I'm working on it, things seem to go bad far more often. I have to make corrections in every sentence, no matter how hard I try, because if I even brush against a letter next to the one I want, it inputs it. Or it pops up with a window that offers either an explanation of what a word means or access to some other window. And when I want to click and drag, I have to try to do it 3-4 times before it stops just opening the damned file and agrees to let me do what I want to do. Other times, even if I hit a key, it doesn't take.

I'm not the world's greatest typist, but in the previous paragraph, I had to make 14 corrections. Those slow me down immeasurably. That's half the reason I shifted back to my old MacBook to work on A65. I don't have anywhere near this much trouble on it. And it has a separate click pad from the track pad, making it a lot easier to do click and drag and highlighting and locating.

If this is the direction Macs are going, I have to rethink them. Because the reason I liked Mac was its ease of use and helpfulness. Now it's so tight and sophisticated, it's beyond my ability to use. And that pisses me off. If I have to have an artistic hand to fucking word process, that defeats the purpose.

I didn't do any work on A65, this evening; it was time to handle bills and my schedule and catch up on emails. I haven't heard from Zan Varin about my art for the book cover, yet, so sent him a message. I will finish inputting the book this weekend; I don't need to leave my apartment so can concentrate on it. Then Monday I'm printing it out, double-sided, to go over again.

It's a never ending process...at least, the way I do it, it is...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

One of those moods...

I honestly do not know what it is, but nothing was making me happy, the last couple days. I'm tired, sure, from this whirlwind trip...getting up at 4am to catch a plane so I don't have to pay for another hotel night, not eating well the whole trip because I'm in a part of the country that believes in salting everything a dozen times and slathering it with butter -- even a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Greenville's airport was a disaster; what they call a Margherita pizza was more like soggy toast with tomato paste, Cheez-whiz and six (6) nickel-sized leafs of basil.

So I get in after midnight, sleep till 10, don't go into work till noon, work like crazy to catch up on all the changes to my schedule, next week, and grumble and mutter, then after I leave can't figure out what I want for dinner because I've got nothing at home figure, "Y'know, I like Indian and this one place has really good curry." But then I think, "I want a real meal and that's only almost one."

Still I talk myself into it, only to have the waiter hover over me and try 5 times to fill my glass with water, even though I've told him not to. Then the Samosas are fried to a crisp and the beer is middling and it takes forever for my lamb curry to arrive, and I just want to leave.

So I come home with leftovers and somehow talk myself into working on A65...and that made me happy. I feel like Adam and Casey are my children, and they've grown into lovely adults right before my eyes. I'm at the next morning, after the chaos of Lando's party, and Adam's being tender and caring about Casey, understanding why she did what she did, and she's enjoying being with him and it all looks good for them...until a brutal crisis in the next chapter. Then it's all roller-coaster time.

When I finished for the night, I checked on BookDaily's promo to find 354 people checked out OT, which was good, I guess. Amazon did the business of getting it known, too, with an additional 200 "clicks" on the offering. Whether that will turn into reviews is still up in the air; I don't even know if any of these "clicks" wound up with people actually downloading the book; that info's not offered. But I've done what I can, for now. The next couple months will let me know if it's worth the money.

Hope it is.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Spending the night in Dillard, Georgia...

Man, some of the places I go to. This is in the northern part of the state, where the Smokey Mountains begin. Some lovely scenery and that's about it. Next week I do another round of trips to Chicago, LA and Seattle, then after that is Key West. I keep thinking there's something in the background I'm forgetting at the very end of the month, before China in Print in Hong Kong...meaning I gotta get my butt in gear if I want this book done by Thanksgiving.

I'm trying an experiment with OT, right now -- giving away free ebooks for 5 days, through Kindle and BookLife. It started Sunday, and so far nearly 500 copies have been downloaded, making it a number 1 in gay mysteries; I took a screenshot as proof.

So that part of the experiment was good. Next comes seeing if I get any reviews out of it and then whether or not it makes people open to paying the whole $1.95 for it in ebook.

But if this does work, I'm using it for A65. I got another chapter done, even though I'm exhausted. I was up at 4am to catch my plane down here, so for much of the morning I was Mr. Grouch. Good thing is, I scored empty rows on my flight to Atlanta and then to Greenville. Better for all concerned.

Now I'm fading and that's enough for the night.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

And a bit more of A65...

Continues from yesterday's to the end of Chapter 1 --

-----

"So what about that bloody Erasmus? Been on the shelf a week and you're expert on it and — "

“It's set to photograph,” Adam said.

That is when Hakim, their unctuous, fastidious, self-proclaimed office manager, popped in to snap, “The provenance better be right, this time.”

Adam huffed. Once, when researching a manuscript copy of Richard Wagner's Die Nibelungen for The Arts Council, he'd neglected to put an umlaut over a "U" in his transcription from the German. Never mind it was he who realized it and informed Hakim before the provenance was sent over, the man now acted as if Adam's work was constantly riddled with errors.

Adam meant to respond with an off-hand, “Of course,” but instead shot Hakim a glare and noticed Elizabeth was about to pass with a thick volume bound in vellum. He bolted over.

Wait, is this Die Schedelsche Weltchronik?” he asked, in German. “The one found in Romania?

The book had caused quite a stir around the department — an original Nuremberg Chronicle, by Hartmann Schedel, created at the end of the Fifteenth Century and considered the first and most exquisite example of illustrations being integrated into printed books. This one had been discovered in some attic in Bucharest and was being offered to Merryton, for sale. Photos had been sent and most of the staff thought it was a legitimate copy, as did Vincent.

And Sir Robert. Butterworth. The most recent addition to the governors. He was the one pushing the expansion of the rare book collection, and he was more than a little perturbed when Adam insisted the binding did not look original and the photographs were of pages too easily reproduced. He had overruled Adam and now the book was here for consideration.

"This arrived quickly," Adam continued, still in German.

Elizabeth sighed and snapped, "Adam, English."

He was so used to being reminded he was speaking another language, he merely asked, "Why're you taking it? It’s outside your area of expertise while mine is perfectly suited — "

“Vincent asked me to,” she snapped.

“Why would he do that?”

Hakim snorted. “You argued with him."

To which Elizabeth added, with acidic sweetness, "And Sir Robert, neither of whom likes being contradicted."

Adam huffed. Sir Robert had also put down a substantial deposit to guarantee the purchase because he felt it was too good an opportunity to pass up. He would not like being made to look foolish, but if the book did turn out to be a facsimile and not a first printing, it would be worth a fraction of the owner's asking price.

“Elizabeth,” Adam said, taking the book from her, “you must already see the binding is not contemporary to the book. More like Eighteenth-Century, at earliest, and — ”

He looked inside and huffed, again.

Elizabeth had put her initials on the first endpaper, in soft graphite. It was to show Jeremy by whom the book was catalogued so he could note it in his log, then it was to be carefully erased once photographed. But it was not supposed to be done until the book HAD been catalogued, something she had yet to begin.

Adam cast a glance of reproach at her then tenderly shifted to the title page — and saw that he was right; it had been slipped into the volume with such expert care, only one tiny crinkle showed in the paper. “Here you go; her title page is affixed — ”

Elizabeth cut him off with, “Adam, it's not a person; it's a thing.”

He cradled the book in one arm and carefully held the page up for her to see what was blatantly obvious. To him. “But look at the — ”

She snapped the book closed, clipping his nose with a corner of the front board and making him yelp, then she yanked it away.

“Give it here!” she snarled. “Hakim's right. Half the time you've got no idea what you're talking about.” And she stormed off.

Adam noticed Jeremy was snickering, and Hakim was glaring at him as if he were fully incompetent. This was not to be borne. When he was right about a book, he was right, and he knew he was right. But if he had to prove it, he knew exactly how.

He strode back into The Dark Chamber, aiming for a tiny lift situated in a back corner while rubbing his nose to keep from sneezing. The lift was the main way down to the basement, which held row after row of sturdy shelves packed with books on collectors and collecting, bibliographies, biographies, annual sales records, auction and dealer catalogues, correspondences, encyclopedias — over ten thousand volumes the department had gathered over centuries, for research purposes. Adam considered it a treasure trove.

The basement's one drawback was how dark and dreary it was. Electric lighting had been added a hundred years ago, when the shelves were much fewer, but had not been expanded. That left large sections in shadows so deep, Adam had to use the light on his phone to see or read the books’ labels.

Elizabeth had nicknamed it The Dungeon and hated to go down there for fear of rats or mice. Adam thought she was being too dramatic, for they had Henry the Fourteenth to handle vermin. He was a ginger cat named after the thirteen preceding him, and who was always happy to greet one as the lift door opened then wander off to be content in some dry corner till it was time to hunt for supper — which, considering his hefty weight, he was not wanting for. So perhaps Elizabeth had a point.

The lift was sitting in its place, ready to be used. It had been added at the same time as the lighting, and was barely large enough for one man and a book cart. Plus one had to take extra care when getting in and out as its door and gate were manual and loved to catch your fingers.

Adam sneezed then opened the door and the gate to step in and heard —

“Now, Jere, one of those is mine.”

He turned to look past the shelving and saw Jeremy framed in the doorway with both cups of tea in hand. His expression was as innocent as that of the angels on high as he said, “Sorry, duchess, but last I heard, no means no.”

“And I'm sure you heard it just last night,” Elizabeth snapped, appearing in the doorway with him. “Hand it over. It's my cup.”

“Come and take it,” he cooed, as he backed to his room.

Elizabeth followed him.

Adam sighed and absently closed the elevator door. He was not surprised she liked Jeremy. She could look him straight in the eye, when in heels, and you never knew what he might do from one moment to the next, while the track of Adam's future was straight and obvious till the age of death. Deviation not allowed.

Adam shook his head and absently closed the gate — and it pinched his left thumb. He yelped. It had cut his skin. He pulled a handkerchief from his suit pocket to wrap around it, then set the lever to Basement and started down. He had clean bandages in his rucksack so would get one when he came back up. Oh well, at least the day couldn’t get any worse.

Or so he thought.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Worked through A65's chapter 7, so...

Here's a continuation of chapter 1,  from yesterday:

----

He decided to make a note for Vincent to suggest as much, but Elizabeth, the lovely young woman in cubicle number four, whirled in to remove her coat and sling it over the top of her half-wall, every movement brisk, controlled and beautiful in a slim, blonde, London sort of way. She removed her high heels, which brought her down to Adam’s height, and slipped into a pair of slippers as she asked, "Has Vincent been in, yet?" Then she pulled her hair into a ponytail.

Adam took a deep breath, catching the hint of a garden from her perfume, and shook his head. "You're safe. It's just gone nine."

"Thanks." Then she vanished behind her wall, and he heard her cry, "Bloody hell, my computer won't wake up."

That is when Adam's computer flashed that it would now allow him access to the database.

"Mine just now has," he said. "Took its time."

"But you shut yours down; I let mine sleep."

"Best do a restart, then."

"Well, Vincent can't say anything if I don't have access to the server." Then she got up and headed for the kitchenette.

Adam smiled, shook his head and turned to his computer to complete the provenance on the Orlando, then he dove into a copy of Erasmus' Morais Enkomion, which had been sitting on the incoming shelf for several days. He broke for tea at 10:55, had lunch at one, and finished the provenance by three, just as his mobile phone chirped a thirty-minute warning of a meeting Vincent had scheduled with him.

He stood and stretched, still a bit sore from Saturday’s scrums, neatened his tie, and carried the Erasmus to a short side hall while singing it a soft little song. In Greek.

"I see a book that's going to be took for Jeremy to photograph and put with all the rest. She's a lovely little book which soon will find her nook, and she will be considered to be one of our best."

He had sung the same song to the Orlando, albeit in Latin. It helped make the book feel welcome to her new home.

He took the Erasmus into a room they called The Dark Chamber — a smallish square with thick, solid shelves on the walls and two freestanding units. Its bare illumination came from sconces fixed high above and a single oval window of cut leaded glass up near the ceiling. Here, newly arrived books waited to be archived or photographed, after which they were set on the center shelves for their journey to a climate-controlled vault.

The photography room was just down a short hall from The Dark Chamber and was jealously guarded by a half-Scally, half-punk, half-Eastenders lad named Jeremy. He had jammed his computer, table, camera, tripod and light kit into a space little larger than Adam's cubicle and consistently whined about being cramped, which was no surprise, him being at least four inches taller than Adam. More than once he'd suggested swapping his space for The Dark Chamber, but Vincent consistently refused. Which made Adam very happy. He loved the room's tender play of dust and light and darkness, like it was wrapping the antiquarian volumes in the safety of shadows and silence.

He set the Erasmus on the to-be-photographed shelf, nice and gentle, then checked his phone to make sure his alarm was still set to remind him of his appointment. He had done it wrong more than once, but it looked all right. He figured he had time for an early cup of tea so popped into a kitchenette just across the hall.

He set the kettle to going and pulled down his cup — a black one with A room without books is like a body without a soul (Cicero) wrapped around it in white lettering. As he filled it, he caught a glimpse of Elizabeth slipping into The Dark Chamber with a drop-back box that contained a set of handwritten letters from Henry James to someone in the south of France. He thought it funny she was archiving them, since she had read none of his books.

"I tried Washington Square," she had told him, "but his style is so arch. I prefer Virginia Woolf."

Adam was shocked. "But how could you not have?"

"Have you read every book in German?" she had snapped. "Or Greek? Or Latin? Or made prior to 1501?"

"That's not the point, Elizabeth."

"Don't patronize me, Adam. I know Henry James well enough to make even you sound idiotic." Then she had worked on the letters all day, without a word to him.

He let it pass because it was now obvious that, while her specialty might be Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century literature, she was not a book person. He doubted she ever would be, though he was open to helping her learn, if she wanted.

He pulled down her cup, and plopped a bag into it, calling, "Cup of tea, Elizabeth?"

"Tea?" she called back.

"Water's hot. Be set in a flash," he said as he poured hot water into it.

"Quarter milk, no sugar?”

"Just the way you like it," he said, dolloping milk into both cups.

“No, thanks,” she called back.

Adam froze. He now had two cups of tea and only time enough to finish one. And they had to be drunk in the kitchenette; to take any sort of food or liquid back to your cubicle raised too great a risk of an irreplaceable book being damaged.

That is when Jeremy popped his head through the door and growled in his happy-puppy way, "Tea? You never make me any."

Adam had no idea how to respond except to say, “Didn't know you drank it.”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Just to show you how A65 has changed...

Here's some of the re-re-re-re-re-re-re-written opening.

------

When Adam Verlain left for work at 7:35 am, he expected it to be a typical day. He wore his usual suit and tie, with his Oxfords polished and his Macintosh over one arm. His russet hair had been neatened by the monthly visit to his barber. His pleasant face was well shaved and his glasses freshly washed. A gray rucksack slung over his right shoulder held a notebook, a sandwich, an apple, a bottle of water and a new copy of Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter to read on the underground, and he strode down the walk with an openness that made him look more like he was fresh from university and not someone approaching the age of thirty.

He caught the 7:46 at Epping Station, changed for St. Pancras at Liverpool Street and entered his cubicle at 8:54 to start up his computer. As usual, he was the first to arrive.

Adam was an archivist of antiquarian books for Merryton College in London. This was neither the oldest nor best known university in England but it had a good reputation in the liberal arts and sciences, and while their library of rare volumes was hardly the largest, it was more than respectable. His focus was incunabula and manuscripts, in German, Latin, or Greek — though he could handle French, if need be — and he loved his job. Loved investigating when a particular book was printed or written, by whom or for whom, who had first owned it, who its binder was, who its later owners were, when and how often it sold at auction — everything one could imagine.

The one drawback was that he could become so engrossed in his research, were someone to ask him a question ... well, first, they would have to ask it twice, then he would take a moment, look at them with the expression of a curious kitten, remove his glasses, look at them a moment longer and then say, "Sorry? What was that?" As if he had been in a separate world and had to go through a twelve-step process to rejoin this one.

His desk was situated in what was once the school’s old chapel, a shadow-riven room whose flagstone floor was partially covered by a well-worn Persian carpet, and whose wooden ceiling was held in place by four-hundred year-old beams and braces. A wrought iron candelabra hung from the center beam, its electric bulbs twisted into the shapes of little flames that offered a bare minimum of illumination while, along two walls, tall slim windows of leaded glass allowed a fraction of light to pass through. Not that Adam minded; he felt it bestowed upon the room a gentle aura of mystery. Unfortunately, that feeling was marred by the set of four bland chrome and grey cubicles in the center of it all.

Adam's was number three.

This particular Monday, he was set to finish the provenance on a fine copy of Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, an edition in Latin that had been presented to King Victor Emmanuel in 1866. There were indications it might have first belonged to Pope Pius IX which, if true, would greatly enhance its historical value despite the last quire missing a page.

Vincent, the library's curator, a man with the age and appearance of a Victorian ghost, had dismissed the story as nonsense, but Adam had become so focused on trying to confirm the events, he had worked on nothing else for three days. When Vincent found out, he'd stormed up to Adam and towered over him, his face almost filled with color.

"We've dozens of books to archive," the old man had snapped in his 1950s BBC radio announcer tone, "yet you're still working on this one inconsequential volume?"

Adam had huffed. Granted, the book's binding was rather pedestrian, but the possibility of a pope having presented it to a king at a time of major political upheaval was more than worth the effort. So he had responded with a simple, "Sir, I have never believed any book to be inconsequential."

Causing Vincent to jolt ramrod straight and snarl in his worst headmaster attitude, "Nor is this one more consequential than any others in our collection! Be done with it!" Then he had stormed off.

That was at the end of the previous Friday.

Fortunately, Adam had already intended to complete the provenance, first thing, after which he would take another book from the incoming shelf to investigate. If Vincent thought this was due to his order, that was of no consequence.

Still, Adam felt he had let the book down, in some way. As his computer continued to contemplate the possibility of making itself available, he picked it up, with a sigh.

"You'd be just the right item for a pope to give a king before a war, so don't think I'm giving up on you. I'll unlock the last of your mysteries, eventually."

He set the book back on his desk, saw his computer was still in contemplation mode, so swiveled in his chair to look around and rub a scrape on his chin, evidence of a rough rugby match with his mates, on Saturday. The opposing team had been quite emphatic about winning, but Adam was happy to say they had not.

He stopped his chair moving when he noticed a beam of light illuminating some soft sparkling dust, close by ... and he smiled. This was such a gentle, elegant room. So filled with history and wonder. It should have tables and cases of books and manuscripts to boast of, not four hideous blocks of walls in its center. Removing them and putting in a simple row of desks would provide it far more respect.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The changes grow and grow...

Today en route home from work I realized my descriptions of Casey's and Lando's home need to be exchanged. What I have her living in is more his style of house, and his is more hers. So this is no longer a polish but a complete rewrite. I've even gone back to square one and started from the beginning...and found more ways to not only condense but clarify the action in the first two chapters.

Once I saw how much work needed to be done, I told the last 6 people I was hoping to get feedback from to forget it. By the time I got anything from them the story would be completely rewritten. I got what I needed -- a jolt to get me out of my love for my words and into the reality that I have to make the thing readable and interesting. Still got a ways to go on that.

On a positive note, the story's down below 65K in wordage and slimming down even more. 60K wold be a good size for a book like this. Lean and clean and a nice Summer read...if I can get people to notice it. Won't that be a trick?

I'm still aiming for a Thanksgiving release, but that may mean not doing National Novel Writing Month, this year. I won't have time to develop the cover and rewrites and polishes and everything. Oh well, such is life in the big city.

I've begun writing standing up, again. I sit so damn much during the day, my butt and back were beginning to irritate me, so I made a space on a shelving unit that comes up to about the middle of my stomach and use on that. My legs aren't completely happy, but I hear it's healthier.

Plus, I'm back to using my old laptop. It's nowhere near as irritating as that friggin' trackpad on the MacBook Pro. I'm beginning to see what happens with it depends on where on the trackpad I click. If I do it at the area closest to me, it highlights and opens what the cursor is on. If I want to click and drag, I have to do it from the upper part of the pad. I don't know if others are like this, but if this thing was deliberately developed this way, the fucking engineer ought to be shot.

And for a while, yesterday, I'd have been happy to pull the trigger.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Slow going on "The Alice '65"...

I'm finding this rewrite to be more focused on details than I expected, so I've only gotten through another 2 chapters. I'm checking my grammar and sentence structure for clarity and removing the ellipses with abandon but still having to make certain the paragraph makes sense, and it's proving to be demanding. My hope is it proves to be an even better, easier read...but I doubt I'll be able to start on the dust jacket for the hardcover edition, this weekend.

I usually go into projects with too optimistic an idea of what I can and can't do and how quickly it can be done. I've been trying to temper that with a bit more reality, but I don't always succeed. Looks like this was one of those times.

I think I'm going back to using my MacBook to finish this rewrite for A65. I'm finding my new MacBook Pro is a pain in the ass when writing. I need to relearn how to use it so I can stop messing up my work. This evening, I brushed over the trackpad in some way that caused it to highlight a couple of sentences in a paragraph then, when I went to get out of it, wound up shifting those sentences to a different part of the paragraph. I was able to correct it, easily enough, but only because I noticed it. And this is with me trying to minimize the sensitivity of the trackpad. So that's also slowing me down.

Of course, I rarely take into account the distractions of life -- like needing to iron or clean my apartment or deal with bills or certain stupid moments in interactions with people or companies online. I wish I had an assistant to just take care of all that. A nice little intern who looks like Chris Evans and thinks I'm brilliant.

Yeah, then I'd talk to him all the time and never get any work done...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Once more, with feeling...

I've begun the rewrite of my rewritten book. Got through chapter 2, and I've cut 3 pages. I did get another bit of feedback from a niece who actually understood why I used the style I did -- with the ellipses and dashes. I was writing the story as if Adam were thinking it, and that was his thought process. It was a fun experiment, but I don't want people to dismiss the book because the style is too difficult to get into. I have that situation with The Lyons' Den; it takes people a couple of chapters to get into Ace's patois and very few people will bother.

I think that is all the feedback I'm going to get, now. I got another Sorry, no can do from someone else who'd said they would, and the rest are ignoring my email query. That's fine. I'm about at the point where I'm going to ask a friend or two in the British antiquarian book business to read this next version to make sure I'm using their references right. Then comes a polish and publishing.

I'm getting the new draft done this week so I can use the weekend to start the setup of the book's cover. I won't have the artwork till the end of next week, if I'm lucky, but I can get the rest of it started -- like the synopsis and bio and detail work and barcode.

I'm off to North Carolina a week from today to pick up another archive, so I'd like this pretty much set by then. I'm also thinking of making this a smaller hardcover than OT. That was 9x6 inches, but I think A65 should be like a 5.5x8 or something like that. I'll decide once I've got this draft done, since I'm pretty sure the page count will wind up being pretty damn close to what the final count will be.

But maybe smaller is better, in this case.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Distilling the time need to reach "Fuck 'em."

I got three solid slams against my writing, today, and went into a funk that messed with my ability to do anything.  One was from a reviewer who wanted to give me a positive review on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor...but only if I paid for it. Didn't she like it enough to do it for real? That back and forth did not go well, so if I get a one-star on Amazon, I'll know why. The other was from BookLife, which passed over reviewing OT; "not up to their standards." Then another family member said she wouldn't finish reading The Alice '65 because she just didn't like it.

I don't have enough ego to know for a fact that my work is great and wonderful and needs to be read or seen. I love the praise but what digs into my soul is the criticism. Meaning, still too much artist's sensitivity in me and still too much awareness of my limitations, so crap like this gets to me. Always has. I mean, like my work but I consistently see where it can be improved and know I can not notice inconsistencies and contradictions, sometimes.

However, once upon a time I'd be in this funk for weeks. Today? I'm already past it. I am strong enough to see that not everything is for everyone, and that sometimes people try to take advantage of you by preying on what they perceive to be your weaknesses. So instead of 10 days frozen in place, I spent an hour and a half. Now I'm listening to KCRW's Metropolis and plotting out the novelization of Darian's Point.

After work, tomorrow, I'm getting back to A65 and inputting my changes. I didn't get back to Buffalo till 3pm, then had to drop off what I picked up, which took till after 4, and return the rental...and I was beat, by that point. Which may be why I spent so long in stasis.

Anyway, fuck 'em all. If you don't like my work, you don't like my work. I won't die from it, nor will I let it stop me. I have stories to tell, and some people will like them. That's all that matters.

But God, it makes me tired.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Interesting car ride, today...

I didn't get started for Utica till after lunch and arrived rather quickly, since the traffic was nice and smooth. So smooth, I was able to realize I'd neglected a couple of inconsistencies in A65 when I did my red pen, so made notes and corrected them on the docx file, in the hotel. I also had a couple of ideas but will save those to make sure they work with what I've already done.

The best thing was, however, since I was trying to figure out whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo, this year, I went through the stories I had percolating in my head and on the page, already...and jolted onto Darian's Point. I've been thinking for a while I wanted to make that into a book, which would include showing how the entire curse began, 3000 years ago...and damned if it didn't take complete control.

If I do DP, I can work out everything about the story, which I love the idea of. But what jolted me the most was how Return to Darian's Point would not be part of it. It's a sequel, not an endemic part of the story. The first book is about how Morriggan developed the Old Women of Moher from the Dagda's sins, the battles that ensued, and how they were forced into a truce that included human sacrifice. The original script, DP, is how that horrific agreement comes to an end. RDP is really just an extended coda and would unbalance the symmetry of the story.

I feel awful about that. And yet, I'd have to go with it because it's right for the novel. I'll keep RDP as a screenplay because I think it works damned good as one, but the book would be only those two parts. Meaning they could be two halves of the story -- no middle, just a beginning and an end.

So that's settled. During November I'm writing on Darian's Point. And researching the ancient times to make them as accurate as possible. And the best part? I'm getting completely into an Irish frame of mind to dive back into Place of Safety. I've got books galore about Irish history and this will bring me back to it. Lay the foundation for the characters.

Dammit, I'm excited about it.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Work helps keep you sane

I spent today completing the corrections and changes to A65 on a printout. All red pen, as is my wont. I'm off on another trip, tomorrow, so won't be able to get back to it till Monday or Tuesday, depending, but it's cleaning up. I'm still open to getting feedback on it, because I'm thinking I want to do one more pass through it in order to get things in top shape...but it's close, now. Very close.

What the last couple of days have done is keep me away from social media and paying much attention to the asshole in the White House or the scum who support him, which has kept me somewhat sane. I so despise that creature, I can't even refer to him by name. I wonder if this is how racists felt about Obama? If so, small wonder they were always so angry. Difference is, their hate was based on the man's skin color, which in unforgivable; my hate of Czar Snowflake is based on the evil SOB he's proven himself to be, over and over and over.

And I do hate him. If he dies before I do, I'll dance a jig. I guess it's rather like how many Brits played "Ding-dong, the witch is dead" when Maggie Thatcher died. That bitch changed the whole of England in ways still playing out, making London even more the center of their society when cities like Manchester and Liverpool and Birmingham used to be almost as important.

But I digress. And should hold my anger to put into Place of Safety. The way things are going here in the US parallels that society too closely -- with the overt discrimination and out of control police force and deliberate attempts to use elections to keep control in the hands of one party instead of both. I don't know when gerrymandering really got started, but the Protestants in Northern Ireland made it an art form to keep Catholics from gaining any form of power.

I just hope we don't wind up in a conflict like the Troubles, but I'm not optimistic.

Quick note: I'm offering a free Kindle copy of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor on Amazon between October 1st and 5th. All I ask in return is a review.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Deatils are what make the devil work...

I've gone through half of A65, cleaning it up and making notes about what needs updating and consistency and getting rid of repetition...and finding typos neither editor noticed. Not cool. I guess I'll do my thing of reading the book backwards, page by page, to double-double-check for typos.

I cut a fair portion of the first chapter out, where I'm going on and on about Adam's knowledge of books. I finally saw I was showing off, a little, and it was hurting the story. I think I removed about 4 or 5 pages in the first two chapters, and don't think it will do anything but make the read both easier and better.

I really like the story. Like how Adam's become his own character, and how Casey has, too. It's too bad I haven't gotten more feedback from people, but I don't believe in pushing. Once the book's set, I'll tell them not to bother. And I'll send them all a copy of the paperback.

I'm trying a new promotional sales tool for OT through BookBaby, to see if it'll work for A65. A freebie Kindle edition, available for 5 days. So far nothing I've done has made any difference in sales. I guess gay murder mysteries with minimal sex in them aren't the type to be best-sellers. That or I screwed it up, totally.

Probably the latter.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Got a graphic artist...

I spent all day, today, trying to come up with something that would be acceptable for the cover of A65, and this was the best I was capable of. It needs a lot more work -- cleaning up the lines, doing something about Casey's fingers vanishing into her dress (what was I thinking?), and Adam's glasses need to be silver rimmed or maybe gold so the half on Gertrude doesn't vanish into her color -- but I had no idea how to make it zing.

Then ten minutes after I gave up for the day, Zan Varin, the Irish guy who worked up the art for my redo of The Lyons' Den got back to me and is open to doing The Alice '65. Makes me relieved.

He's got a few commissions in the queue so can't work on it till next Friday, but that's fine; I can now focus on rewriting the story and prepping it for publication. I've got good solid feedback from my two  editors and response from another reader, so I'm digging in. If more people provide responses, I'm happy to consider them, but I want the book out by Thanksgiving.

Once that's done, I'll start setting up the book cover. Since I'm doing this in hardback with a dust jacket, first, I can prep the layout then add the artwork in once we come to terms about the final look. I've also been in contact with a more comic-book style artist who might be good for the paperback version. I have to talk with him some more.

What's great about Zan is, he can add a lot of zing to the cover -- highlights, shadows, depth, the works. This flat style I'm using just doesn't really do it for me. I was thinking of playing with it using CS's filters, but no longer needed. I hope.

But you never know till it's done.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Man, I am out of practice...

I spent all day working on a cover for The Alice '65 and went through a rollercoaster of emotions while doing it, from uncertainty to confusion to anger to sadness to despair to depression to certainty I was never much of an artist to finally accepting I needed help.

Here's what I started with -- Adam holding the book, Casey behind him, Gertrude on the other side. But I didn't like something about it so changed it to...
Same setup, but with Adam's suit coat half off and his shirt torn. But then I decided I didn't like his wary, almost fearful expression. It didn't make the book seem like fun, at all.
So I worked out this -- where he's smiling and Casey's happier and Gertrude is also happy...but that was bland and not really that interesting.
Then came this, working in color pencil, combining Adam and Casey from #3 with Gertrude from #2...and it's awful. I like the setup, but the colors and the detail ink are crap. Adam's fingers look dirty, Casey's hair is lazy, and don't get me started on their eyes; OMG, they're zombies. And now I'm beat to hell and calling to my artist friends on DeviantArt for help.

I may start over in the morning, see what happens if I just do it in outlines and lay in the color in photoshop. Or work it in just graphite. I dunno.

I'm probably pushing too hard and being impatient. Thing is, I used to be really good with color pencils. But it's been so long since I've done anything of note, it's going to take me a while to get back into the groove...and I don't have the time.

I really should practice more.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Not the best day I've had...until it became a good one...

It started with me not being able to find parking close to my job, thanks to a Prius that had taken 2 spaces on the street. I wound up having to park the next street over and walk through a private parking lot. I fussed and fumed the whole way.

I spent the day prepping for a couple of archive jobs next week and the week after, one of which includes flying down to North Carolina. Oh Boy. I also pulled together the beginnings of a quote for another job even as one of the cats decided I had to be her personal brush and butt-patting slave.

En route home was accompanied by the usual idiots who can't seem to keep their cars in their lane. Almost got sideswiped. Then a clerk at a drug store was chirpy and happy as she questioned my ability to use a discount card I had...and was surprised when I got $4.50 off on my purchase.

When i finally got home, I found a canvas print I'd ordered of Southern Justice sitting by my door. Not only was it just okay, painting wise, the dimensions were off. Not by a huge amount, but enough to feel odd enough to check them and see the original had been compressed, lengthwise, to fit a standard canvas frame. Two of the characters are elongated while the one on the ground is squished. Now I can't even look at it.

But ... then I got an email from BookLife with the evaluation of The Alice '65...and it was very positive. Here's basically what they said:

Plot: This book is a madcap caper with delightfully zany characters and enough fun switcheroos to keep readers hooked to the end.

Prose: The writing is strong, striking a perfect balance between action and interiority. The dialogue of the many characters is varied and natural.

Originality: This book is clever and unique. It parallels Alice in Wonderland nicely, with it's kooky characters shuffling the protagonist along a twisty plot.

Character Development: The characters really drive the novel. The protagonist is complicated and kind. The side characters work well in service to the plot and theme.


And this was off the uncorrected proof I sent them. I can even use some of it as a blurb on the book's jacket if I want. So I guess I've got nothing to really whine about, anymore.

Still seeking a good photo to use for Adam and Casey, but I did find the perfect image of Gertrude. I'll start working out the positioning, tomorrow, since I'm off, and try to get an idea as to whether or not this will work.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The search begins...

I'm looking for a good photograph of a guy to use as the basis for Adam's face. I want a certain expression, but do you think I can find it? No way. I've dug through Shutterstock, a website geared to male models and Google, and I'm coming up empty handed.

I've got some that are close and I might be able to manipulate them into the look I want, but it would be so much better if I could find the exact right one. I suppose I could just make him up, completely. I've got the raw materials needed, and I could start right in.

I want to get onto it to keep myself away from beginning the rewrite of A65. I'm putting it off to give people time to send in more feedback, and hopefully I will get some more. But I've been through this many a time and it's not promising. Not even family members have responded.

Of course, a fair portion of this evening was taken up paying bills and spending an hour on the phone with the IRS over a notice I received. I owe back taxes and have a payment schedule set up, with deductions to be made straight from my bank account, but I got a bill that suggested it hadn't been done, yet...and turns out that is the case.

So right now it's all about the waiting and wondering what to do next to keep my mind off the waiting and wondering. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I know what I want...

Still tired from the trip but back home and ready to start in on The Alice '65's cover. I know what I want for it, but I don't know if I can execute it well enough. I'll be trying that, this week. In color pencil. With Adam, Casey, Gertrude and Lando on it. I just need to figure out whose faces to use as templates.

I can't go with someone known, like Russell Tovey or Daniel Radcliffe, so will hit Shutterstock for some models. I wonder if any of the Englishmen I know would be willing to let me use them? There are a couple who'd be nice...

There was also a bartender at The Bear Hotel in Divizes whose face would have been great for Adam. He had a slightly remote yet almost sweet face and wore glasses, but I didn't ask him. I should have. I did try to sneak a shot but it came out very blurry.

I really want to get more feedback from people before I start in on the rewrite...but I feel like I'm ready to go on that, too. I want to get a copy of A65 off to Publishers Weekly to see about a review, and if they do work one up, have it out around Thanksgiving, at the same time as the book. But I can't ask till I have a good cover and the book is well-corrected.

I've got a dozen articles to read about how best to get A65 known, so there's more to do. It won't be easy working up all of this...and I'm already worrying myself about it...but it has to be done. Maybe by the time I'm set to do Place of Safety, I'll know what I'm doing.

HA!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

In Toronto...

Everything went according to how it should, with the packing and finalizing of the shipment, then I spent the night in a full-fledged hotel instead of a B&B...and it felt so comfortable, I didn't go into London. Would've been a nightmare, anyway, what with that bomb that sort of went off at Parsons Green.

I've taken the District line. It runs down to Wimbledon, where I've done two packing jobs. You have to wonder what kind of devil lives to convince some idiot to try and kill people who've done nothing to him. Just slaughter anyone you can because some religious freak tells you to. I'm beginning to think civilization will be destroyed by the proliferation of the stupidly weak.

And I apply this to all religions, not just Islam. Christians have been killing each other for centuries, as have Hindus and Jews and even Buddhists. Once people reach the point of "my God is better than your God," it's the end of the line. The only real way to stop fanatics is to kill them, because if they're weak-minded enough to be won over by some butcher, then won back over by some enlightened soul, they'll have the capacity to revert to slaughter-scum, again.

Of course, Czar Snowflake tweeting never helps, especially when he sends one tweet about the bombing then gets back to whining about CNN or ESPN or MSNBC in his childish, adjective-laden way. I'm to the point where I honestly hope he has a stroke and doesn't die; I want him to live in his body for a long time and see if he thinks about his actions.

Rant over. Had a decent flight from Heathrow to Pearson. Wound up with a window seat; how, I have no idea. But I also watched most of Season Ten of The Big Bang Theory because there was a squalling baby on board that did not want to shut up. No writing done, but that's the way it goes.

Now I've got a headache and just want my bed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Turned out good...

The flight over to London was good and my trip to Devizes was easy enough. I ran into one snafu, where a bus driver refused to accept my ticket and I had to get a supervisor to tell him to. But I got there easily enough, and am in a small hotel that has uneven floors. Literally.

This job is all packed and ready for pickup. I'm heading to London the day after tomorrow to finalize the transportation then home on Saturday. I'm ready. I've got an assistant, here, who does not believe in silence, so it's been rough.

The job went a lot smoother than I expected or feared. They were ready for us and had lots of room to work in. Very helpful. England is expensive, even in a small town...a small town where everything but the restaurants and pubs closes at 5pm.

After tomorrow's pickup, I'm going wandering, if the weather permits. It looks like there's a lot of history, here. Aged buildings and a market square in the town center and churches with spires that are fascinating. The countryside is green and rolling hills predominate...as do cattle, horses and corn fields.

I'm itching to get back to The Alice '65. I got some great feedback from a contact in England, and I want to start work on my book cover, as well. If the others I sent the story to can come back soon, that would be great. But so far it seems the story is solid and it's merely detail work needing to be done.

Devil's in the details.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Off on another job...

This one, I have no idea how it's going to go. I'm not dealing with books or the usual archives and only have a few photos that don't seem to cover everything that's being packed. Plus it's out in the middle of the English countryside, not far from the border with Wales, so no way I can order more supplies if I've underestimated or gotten the wrong sizes of box. But that 's half the adventure.

I'll be there a week with God only knows what kind of wifi access. And no time, really, for jaunting through London. Dammit. But what the heck; the farthest west I've been -- not counting taking the train from Holyhead to London off the Dublin Ferry, 12 years ago -- is Salisbury and Stonehenge. Should be interesting.

I've corrected the errors found by a couple of editors into my hard copy of The Alice '65. The story's still holding up, it seems. I also noted what ellipses and dashes I'd like to get rid of...which is a lot of them. Commas work just as well, as does making short sentences out of those bits. What's fun is how each editor found different mistakes. I'd say they both noted 80% of the same typos, then one caught a few that the other did not, and vise versa. And I found two that neither of them noticed, not to mention an inconsistency in one part of the story's details.

That's why I like getting as wide a response as possible. Makes it far more likely to catch everything. It's also interesting to get their different takes on punctuation. For example, one wants to remove as many commas as possible while the other despises semi-colons.

As regards commas, I do tend to be more old school about that. I use them for clarity, and while that can become a bit overly emphatic, it's not a killing point. Plus, I started learning grammar in England, so I may have the Oxford comma branded into my brain. I do know it took me years to get to where I didn't automatically spell "color" or "honor" with a "U", and I still sometimes say la-BOR-atory.

At least I'll be in a part of the world where no one will laugh at me for it, next week.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

"The Fire Next Time"

I'm reading James Baldwin's book about his life in the 30s, 40s and 50s, and it's interesting to see how little has really changed. It's not extremely detailed as regards actions, but his thoughts and comments are precise and intense. One struck me hardest.

It's when he's discussing the Nation of Islam's growing influence and white America's shock at the horrors of the Second World War. To his mind, what happened in a Christian nation like Germany destroyed any pretense that Christians or Christianity were superior to others. He could easily see it being done to African Americans in the US -- since it was still the pattern in the South, before, during and after the war -- and it's summed up in his understanding that civilizations are not destroyed by the wicked, but by the spineless.

It resonates today because he saw that Hitler did not really seize power, in Germany; he was allowed to have it. Same for the horrors that followed. Germans weren't stupid people; they knew what was going on...but far too many of those who thought the Holocaust was wrong and evil weren't willing to try and stop it. Some did, but when you're surrounded by cowards and fools, it's hard to get any traction on an honest resistance.

We have a similar albeit less defining occurrence happening now, with that diseased SOB in the White House being allowed to do as he damn well wants by the spineless Republicans as his attack dogs howl at those who fight back against him. What's more, they deride anyone who opposes his vile actions by heaping their own beliefs onto them -- calling ANTIFA and BLM racist and violent even as their side carries Nazi flags and spits racist chants while carrying assault rifles and wearing Kevlar vests.

And the spineless media goes along with it. Even FaceBook helps them. It's been revealed that company allowed ads filled with lies and propaganda from Russia supporting that excuse of a man who's now president to be spread on its pages in exchange for money. No vetting. No care taken. And we're only just now getting a basic, "Oops," followed by a so-what shrug. They're too big to punish or fail, and too few people are willing to take them to task.

On top of that, when some right wing vermin complains about you for any reason, FaceBook suspends you, without a second's thought. But it lets Nazis post swastikas and KKK symbols and nothing happens unless the company is shamed into it. Tells you where their sympathies really lie.

I don't know what to do about that. Americans have become too much like Germans prior to the war. "Just leave me alone and let me live my life, and I won't care about what happens to anybody else." James Baldwin saw it for what it was -- a dead conscience.

And I'm not sure it can be revived.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Too clever for my own good...

Well, it seems a stylistic choice I made is falling flat, and I can understand why. In The Alice '65 I used ellipses to indicate pauses in the storytelling, and they're not going over well with anyone who's commented on it. The consensus is, it slows down the momentum and takes you out of the story. I thought it was clever, but it turns out to have been rude, crude and totally misconstrued.

It's not as if I'm wedded to it. I can take them out. Sometimes they're needed, but nowhere near to the extent I used. And reality is, I was already thinking they'd become overwhelming. This just backs up my inner critic.

This isn't a first, for me. I once got into the habit of putting a period after dashes at the end of a sentence and have no idea why, because nowhere can I find that as being justified. I will put a question mark, still, for clarity, but I'm getting rid of the nonsensical dot.

The latest comments also mirror those made earlier -- that the story's sluggish in the first two chapters. It doesn't really get going till Adam is on the plane. I need to address that, because it's one of my failings. I need the info in there but have to work harder to make it palatable and natural, and right now it isn't. It took me a lot of work to get that handled in The Vanishing of Owen Taylor; A65 is just as worthy of the focus.

On the positive side, they all like the story and seem to care about Adam. No real comments on Casey, yet, but it is much more his story than hers. And no one has come forth to say I've mucked up this or made no sense with that.

The latest job in San Francisco is done and ready to ship. Then Saturday I'm off to the UK. Looks like I'll miss all the fun of Hurricane Irma. I was going to do a job in the Florida Keys; it now looks entirely possible that will be blown away by a record-breaking storm. But the right wing says that climate change is a hoax.

Goddamned idiots.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

First notes on The Alice '65...

Mainly dealing with typos, punctuation and missing or extra words. The only real comment was, the opening chapters are a bit too long. Which I can understand, and I will try to trim them, but I need the opening bits for later reference as Adam's world changes. And at the end, to show how much it's changed.

Something commented on, and which I'm contemplating changing, is my use of ellipses and dashes to indicate pauses and hesitations. I'd already cut back on them, some, but I can see their point that they slow down the read. It might be better to get rid of a lot more and make shorter, Hemingway-like sentences to replace them. I'll have to think about it.

I've already noted the needed corrections in my printed copy. Now I'm just awaiting more comments to see what to do, next. Hopefully, it will be along the same lines, but you never know till you get them.

Tomorrow I'm off to San Francisco to collect another author's archives, to ship to a University they've been donated to. This will give me time to think about what I'm going to do with Place of Safety. Brendan's not going to put up with more delays...and I don't blame him.

I'd be irritated with me, as well.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Could it be...?

I wonder if I'm still avoiding Place of Safety, but this time using the idea that once I get started, if I have to shift back to A65, it will kill my momentum and hurt what I'm aiming to do? It's an important project, to me...one I'd rather not stop and start on, like I have so many others. And today, I woke up thinking of the dozens of other projects I want to write, once P/S is done...and that depressed me. Going at the rate I'm going, I'd have to live to be 95 and be at least as sharp as I am, now, to get them all done. Not sure about that.

Since no one wants my screenplays, I've been aiming to shift them into books. Like I'm doing with The Alice '65 and did with The Lyons' Den, and started to do with Bugzters and The Golden Sea. I've got 23 original scripts I've done...well, original for me; no one else involved in the writing. By that measure, it includes my adaptations...except for Straight On Till Morning, since I don't have the rights to that pair of books.

Of these, four would work best as stage plays, if I can sit myself down to do them right. Two of those I'd want to do as musicals -- The Cowboy King of Texas and Cyber-tribes...something I've never done before. That would definitely mean collaborating with someone who writes music, which would be a lot of work unto itself.

Of the rest, they would need a fair amount of reconfiguring, and couple just plain wouldn't work, as they currently stand. We-come, for instance; totally conceived to be a low-budget sci-fi horror movie. I just can't see that as a book.

And then there are the projects I've had in the planning stages forever. Like The Six Days of Jemmy Tee (which would do better as a book) and Uplanders (which really should be a movie). However, Blood Angel would do nicely as an erotic romance. Same for Carli's Kills. So...

So either I shut the fuck up and get my ass to work, or I blow all of them off and die with nothing but regrets.

Oh, that would not be the way to go.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Stasis, again...

Well...my glorious plans to be working on Place of Safety are staying just that -- plans. I'm caught in a total block. Can't focus on anything for more than an hour or two. I get one project done and then mind shuts down. I'm lucky I did anything at all with anything...and I know why. I'm waiting.

I thought I could just send The Alice '65 off and shift my attention to at least reading up on what I need for P/S...but no. Something in me is saying, "Not yet, buddy. Keep your eye on this story till it's done...then you can shift gears." Meaning wait till you've got feedback and keep making your notes for ways to improve the story. So all I was able to do was sort out my books and contemplate the paperwork that's already been done on P/S.

I was able to push some more awareness of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. It's up on "Publishers Weekly" and it's gotten a couple of sales, again. It had pretty much gone flat. Plus, I am caught up on my financial paperwork and I've got everything in line for my next packing job...so I guess I'm doing good.

But there's no way I can start writing anything else. At all. And I shouldn't be surprised; I've done this before. Hibernation till ready to move on. I just keep thinking this time I can do it differently. No such luck.

Dammit.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Off to SFO

Seems I'm traveling to San Francisco to handle a pickup and pack job instead of Chicago. The latter one got pushed to the end of September, just as I'm coming back from the UK. Not unacceptable, but in researching the possibilities of the trip happening later in the week instead of on Labor Day, I learned I could fly Norwegian Airlines from Oakland to Gatwick for a little more than it costs to fly from Buffalo.

I also found out Norwegian is flying from an airport in eastern New York, south of Albany, to Dublin for $200, each way. Which is half what it costs to fly from Buffalo to San Antonio. It's insane...and I'm seriously thinking about it.

I'm waiting to hear back from a couple more people to see if they will read A65 and give me feedback. I figure this will give me as wide a selection of opinions as possible. May make things harder to deal with, once I get back to writing it, but better to know that be told after it's available.

That happened with Porno Manifesto. One reviewer pointed out something that I was leading up to then didn't follow through on...and he was right. I didn't see it till he pointed it out, but by that point it was done and in circulation. Granted, it's not the kind of book you want your more genteel friends to read, but feedback would have helped. It certainly did on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor.

I have started some preliminary publicity for A65, with "Publishers Weekly" and a couple of other spots. And I'm reading some articles on how to better launch the book that I hope will help it do well. This isn't going to be something my usual readers will go for.

I did a proof to see how the current version would work once it's set for hardcover, and it came out to 149 pages of story, and a total of 164 pages in the book. That, I can post at $24.95 and still make a little on it. I don't charge a lot for my books because I don't want them priced out of the market. Not many people will plunk down $30 for a book written by someone they don't know. So I keep my margin low but on the positive side.

It's helped, a few times.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Aimless couple of days

I haven't gotten much done the last two days, half because I'm not sure what to do next, half because I don't want to lose focus on A65, and half because I'm just a bit too lazy. I know the math doesn't work out, but it does in my head. So I lazed most of my time away reorganizing my shelves of books on Northern Ireland and watching videos of Irish history and dealing with emails and Facebook and basically being a slug.

I did lay the groundwork to try and get a review for A65 out of "Publishers Weekly." Once I've got the next draft done, I'm doing the e-book format, first, and sending it to them to see if they'll look it over. Nothing guaranteed, but it doesn't cost anything...and I can post about the book on their associate page -- "Booklife." Get a bit more awareness of it.

And I now have 13 people reading this draft of the book to give me feedback -- people who are editors and/or writers, and people who just read for fun. As much of a cross-section as possible. And that includes some family members. God knows how long they'll take to get back to me, but I have it printed and ready to go to incorporate my notes, and am able, so far, to keep my grubby red pen off it.

Of course, I'm going through the usual writer's paranoia -- "OMG, I got it to them 2 days ago and they haven't responded? They must hate it!" That's the second-hardest part of being a writer -- learning patience and accepting the fact that other people have lives of their own.

I'd watch one of the Miss Marple episodes on Acorn to get my mind off it, but I'm finding them problematic. I haven't read all of Agatha Christies' works, but while these movies are supposed to be based on their actual stories, I know things have been added to "update" them...and the additions don't work.

One I watched was A Murder Is Announced and it was ludicrous. The writers put a lesbian couple into the story (NOT something Agatha would have allowed) and a son with a Oedipal complex (that is strictly a maybe), and when the murderer is revealed, it was preposterous because of the timing involved and one amazingly stupid detail -- the killer was female with her salon-coiffed hair in perfectly sprayed 1950's condition...after having committed a murder in the pouring rain only a short while prior. No way in hell could that have happened, let alone having the killer know she had to be there at that particular time to kill that particular witness.

The last one, Sleeping Murder, relied on a young woman not remembering she'd lived in England for a couple of years, as a toddler. I don't have the best memory, but I can recall being in my grandmother's back yard when I was 2 or 3. It also required the child to say nothing to her father about witnessing a murder...not asking about it, not referencing it, nothing until she returns from India as a 21 year old woman about to be married and begins having visions. Didn't buy it, at all. And on top of it, an incestuous angle? PUH-lease.

Oh, well...I guess they can't all be Hetty Wainthropp. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Long day...

Dealing with health insurance and a doctor's office not talking to each other or updating their files is exhausting. 9 times out of 10 you wind up arguing with someone who thinks that know what they're talking about but doesn't, yet insists they're right and you're wrong. I read through most of a 200 page book detailing my insurance coverage, today, to make sure I was right...and finally I got hold of a guy at Blue Cross who put me on hold, asked someone about it, and acknowledged I was being over-billed by $100 due to them not updating their system.

Didn't help the billing department of the doctor's neglected to notice the error, even though it was blatantly obvious and not at all like they claimed. And they never did admit their error, nor are they willing to take my word for it that they've over-billed me. Blue Cross has to get them new paperwork before they will adjust anything.

So I wound up with a blinding headache. I got it down to a normal level (it's just now gone away) and hit the post office just before closing, got groceries, printed out a new copy of A65, had dinner at Panera Bread and came home, then watched a Miss Marple Mystery to get my mind off it all. And...I sorted paperwork while on hold with Blue Cross, so not as many piles of paper on my desk. But I was in a state.

At least I got A65 out to a few more people to read, so I'm up to an even 12. It's kind of light fare for the GoodReads group I'm part of, but I may ask, anyway. I figure the wider my net for reaction, the more likely I'll listen if they all tell me to change something...no matter how much I hate the idea...unless I hate it so much I refuse and decide to accept the consequences.

I still have a lot to do, tomorrow, but I'm hoping the worst is out of the way.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Don't know what to do...

I spellchecked and grammar-ized A65 and have it out to 10 people, so far, for feedback. And now I'm going through that blank period I always have after a push like this...wondering what the hell to do, next. As if there weren't a hundred things that need doing. Paperwork. Classes to figure out this too-too sensitive laptop. Hell, starting back on my research into Derry for Place of Safety.

Instead I'm bingeing on Agatha Raisin mysteries, on Acorn and stuffing myself...albeit with decent food. Of a sort. I did stir-fry enough for two meals and ate both of them. All vegetables -- zucchini, squash, green beans, carrots, green pepper and onion over rice. I was hungry.

I guess tomorrow is time enough to get back to real life. I will need to do some running around; I'm out of peanut butter and almost out of milk.

Now back to Agatha...

Done

The Alice '65 is input. 304 pages, 65,750 words. I'm going over it, tomorrow, with spell check and grammar check, which will take time due to the way I write, but that's it. I now need the feedback. I'll send it out on Monday and hope it's not too big a disaster.

I say that because whenever I feel good about something I've written, the feedback slaps me around, hard. It's a necessary process, but I'd rather it come across as good instead of needing more work. We'll see how it goes. For all I know, it won't make a damn bit of sense to anyone but me.

Truth is, the fates like to beat up on me whenever I start feeling good about anything -- like my finances or my car or my health. The second I let anything positive creep into my attitude, life smacks me down. My car's now making noises that can't be good. My youngest brother in San Antonio is back to needing money so he won't wind up homeless. Perfect timing, that, considering Hurricane Harvey. And I got a bill from the doctor's office for $130 that doesn't make sense, but I can't talk to them about it till Monday.

I guess I should just accept that I'll be screwed over till I die, since that's how a lot of my life has been...much of it thanks to my own actions. Actions that seemed right at the time but were actually pretty damned stupid, in retrospect.

Good example -- going into film. I was an artist in San Antonio. I sold some of my work. Did commissions. Free-lanced and did okay. But then I decided I wanted to be Alfred Hitchcock and shifted to a career that I was not suited for. And then when things went my way, despite me, in order for me to do better in film, I either didn't see them till it was too late or got contrary and refused them.

Perfect example, my parents lived in Glendale when I graduated from Trinity University. I could have come to LA and started working in film and stayed with them till I was on my feet, but no. I kept working at a bookstore and decided to go to graduate school. Why? It did nothing but postpone my life. It was stupid.

Then I got accepted to NYU and threw a hissy fit because they wanted me to do the full 3 year graduate course instead of letting start in second year. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

So here I am writing books and now nervous as hell I've screwed that up, too. I've got one review on Amazon for OT, and that's of no use to me. Nothing else. And I've been both blistered and praised for some of my other work. So I dunno...

Maybe I'm still dumb.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Not a lot done, today...

I made it through one whole chapter after dealing with a Dr's appointment and questions about a bill they'd sent me and a pharmacy that didn't refill a prescription I'd asked them to refill on Monday and issues with my youngest brother, in San Antonio, and grocery shopping and preparing for a couple of jobs next month. I guess I'm lucky I got that much done.

So...in September I have packing jobs in Chicago, Syracuse area, and England. Then come Key West, and the Seattle Book Fair, in October...and a couple more possibles. I like doing the jobs, but I also want to shift focus to Place of Safety, and this will make it awkward. I've got lots of books to read and reread, so I can keep going with those, on the plane. It's the videos that will be problematic; I've found WiFi in hotels doesn't really like to do any streaming.

Still...I only have 70 pages left to input for A65, so I should have it ready when I said I would. I'm still trimming and condensing and clarifying, as I go...and I'm sure I'll do a lot more of that once the feedback comes in...but I am at the point where I like how it's going. I think one thing leads to another, naturally, and the characters do their arcs in a way that is believable. I doubt anyone will notice this only takes place over the space of two days, with a coda later in the week.

Not that it matters; what counts is if they accept it.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Twitter proves its worth, to me...

I was having a hell of a time finding the right way to describe something Adam uses to trick Lando into revealing he has Casey's book...and damned if a twitter user didn't happen to pop up with the right word -- Quire.

I looked it up on ILAB's glossary and here's the definition -- "When used by binders or bibliographers, this is synonymous with a gathering or section. To a paper-maker it means one-twentieth of a ream of paper. It is also used in the trade more generally as a measure of extent, as ‘x quires’." (John Carter)

And Twitter also led me to this lovely commentary about celebrity and the lack, thereof, being a curse to those who crave it. A Tassel to the Purse of Merit. Not sure if I see myself as Byron, Shelley, Chatterton, or Polidori...not that it matters. I have my own claim to fame.

I've been banned...twice in three years...and fought them back, something not even Byron can boast of.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I guess I'm picky...

So I got this lovely new Mac Book Pro, thanks to Caladex; it was partially paid for as a bonus for all the work I did on the West Coast. And it's nice and shiny and fast and all that...and it's driving me nuts with its quirks. The pad is so sensitive, if I brush over it wrong, it changes pages on me or expands the page I'm looking at and then will not let me make it smaller, again. The keys are tight against the board and sensitive, so if I hit too close to one as I'm typing, I suddenly wind up with two letters -- like gt or vb -- so I'm doing a lot more correcting.

Something else -- everything I post on it goes onto the Cloud, which I'm not 100% crazy about. I don't necessarily want every friggin' photo I have on there; most of them are crap. But I have to specifically take them off so I don't use up space with junk. Same for documents; I don't want a letter I work up to send to the IRS or my insurance posted on the Cloud, but there the damn thing is.

I like it for its speed on the internet, and I can do my financial stuff on it, thanks to it being a lot safer, but I'm seriously thinking of returning to my old MacBook to do any work in Word. Just like I use my Mac Mini for photoshop. Maybe I should take some classes in using the damn thing so I can reset its sensitivity...but have only just begun to have the time to do that.

Friday I have a doctor's appointment about noon. After that, I may drop by the Apple Store in the Galleria and see what classes they have, next week, to help me gain control of this critter. I feel like I'm driving a Ferrari so need to up my skills behind the wheel before I do a crash and burn.

Sometimes improvements are not what they claim to be.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day trip...

I drove to Stockbridge, MA to the Norman Rockwell Museum to look at the original of his painting, Southern Justice (AKA: Murder in Mississippi) and came away haunted not only by the power of the piece but also how poorly it was treated. Not just by the museum, which had it in a back room next to the famous Ruby Bridges painting (The Problem We All Live With), but how it was dismissed by its creator and how "Look Magazine" didn't even use it.

"Look" used this abstract study by Rockwell as the illustration in its story about the KKK's murder of 3 civil rights workers...and it's awful. It's got the basic pose down, but the young men are semi-human blobs facing hints of shadows. The focus is soft, unreal, more a Goya-like impression than the sharp, precise painting above. The whole idea of this hideous slaughter of innocent people is diminished by that choice, and is close to inexcusable.

I know Rockwell thought the anger had gone out of the final product, but oh my God was he wrong. Andrew Goodman lies on the ground, dying, in pain, and the detail of his hands gripping the earth as he tries to live is chilling. Michael Schwerner holds James Chaney and looks at what he knows will be his killers...and while his face is stoic and his pose almost submissive, the expression in his eye holds pure terror mixed with disbelief. And his grip on a bloody and dying James Chaney, who's desperately fighting to stay alive, is stronger but more shaken, not semi-heroic, like in the study.

This shows why artists cannot decide for themselves how their work will be perceived. Nor can their curators, apparently. No prints or pictures are offered for sale of this painting. Nothing but a post card was available. I guess I can sort of see why. People like how Rockwell sugar-coats things.

Look at the Ruby Bridges painting -- it's a horrible event made palatable by the cute dress, stoic attitude of the child, and 4 faceless men stiffly posed in suits marching in step to protect her. The only jarring note is a smashed tomato on the wall next to a soft rendition of the N-word. Not one of the people hurling hate at her is seen, not even their shadows. But you can buy a dozen different size posters and pictures and lithographs and refrigerator magnets of that one.

I think Southern Justice is Rockwell's best work. I looked over everything and nothing else he did has the power and depth of that painting, nor did anything else affect me like this one. And just to add to the indignity...the museum was having an exhibit of Andy Warhol's works -- with his litho of Richard Nixon to the left of the painting, as if mocking it -- and James Warhola's illustrations for SF books and "Mad Magazine"...and The Garbage Pail Kids having more play and interest than this image.

I never paid much attention to Norman Rockwell, before, but Southern Justice has elevated him in my esteem.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Taking a break...

I'm making a quick trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts and will be home, tomorrow evening. That gives me two solid days away from writing on A65, even though it really doesn't. As I drove, ideas kept coming to mind and another logical aspect I needed to address made itself known...but for the most part, the story is set, the characters are set, and the action is in its preferred order.

I also think I'm being overly descriptive in the first chapter or two. I need to be careful about that. I tend to put a lot into the beginning because it's important to the end, but that usually turns off a reader so I'm trying to get out of the habit.

And yet, I need to establish at least the idea of Adam's life before he heads for LA...which happens by page 25 in the current form, meaning about page 14 or 15 once I have it reformatted. And truth is, everything in the first two chapters keeps recurring or being referenced in the rest. So maybe I'm being too critical.

I'm trying to avoid a tendency I'm seeing in more and more mysteries and TV shows where the twist is more important than the story's logic. I like Vera, for example -- a British mystery show set in the Newcastle area of England -- but the last one of Series 3 was ludicrous. One murder is committed by striking the victim with a car, then that car is found and tested and it proves who the killer is.

The problem with this started when the killer found the victim at just the right time in a dark area with no traffic as she's walking, alone. Very coincidental. But then the car didn't have any damage, afterwards. None. If you hit someone hard enough to kill them, things are gonna get smashed -- windshield, headlights, fenders, hood -- hell, you can dent those things just by leaning on them wrong. And that was just one of a half-dozen logic issues in the show. Hinterland, which I don't really like, is the same thing....just with low-rent David Fincher style.

I had a couple of issues with parts of Porno Manifesto working out way too easily. It was lazy writing, but I could get away with it because it was also filled with sex and attitude. However, I cannot do that with A65...Adam's world collapsing around him has to make sense and work out in ways he comes to appreciate.

Again, for example...I have Julie and Manny (parents to the brat who vomits on Adam, in the plane) and Orisi showing up in the most unlikely of places, but I still make it kind of logical. Like how Julie and Manny decide to start pub-hopping in a bar across the street from the premier Adam's attending because Orisi told them about it and they wanted to see how Adam turned out.

Once again, one thing leads to another and another and another and boom -- I've got another crazy-assed story...and I do love that.

I just want it to be a logical crazy-assed story.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Another pass completed...

I finished yet another red-pen over The Alice '65, looking for typos and inconsistencies and ways to make the story clearer. Now I'm going to let it sit for a couple days then input the changes...and then it's done, for now. I need to start getting responses to it and see if it's working. It does, for me, but that means little, at this point.

And I just had an idea to add to the ending. Dammit. And yet, not dammit. I can still work it in, and it takes care of a logical issue I was trying to ignore.

I want to give my apartment a major overhaul, now. Maybe rearrange my furniture, what little I have. Throw things out that I'm not using and condense the space taken up by my tables and desk and bookcases. My place is nowhere near balanced in a Fung Shui style. I never did really work out the best way to furnish my place; I just put things where I could get to them, easily.

Oh man...I'm getting a headache...time to sign off the laptop...