Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Off on a big job...

I spent yesterday and today prepping for a week-long stay in Oklahoma City, another place I've never been to and wouldn't visit on my own. And it's going to be a tough job -- packing 10,000 books and journals into 450-500 boxes for transport to another country. I'll have helpers, fortunately, so it might get done in the time-frame I've been given...but only just.

Means nothing's getting done on A65 or blogging, because I will be beat. So...signing off till this time, next week. Maybe having this space and focus away from my writing will help.

Maybe...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Completing obligations...

I worked up a 14 page treatment of French Connection Blues, kicking myself for the sloppiness of the screenplay the whole time, and using that to give a bit of clarity and movement to it. Dunno how successful I was because the truth is...it's not my story and the characters are only acquaintances who aren't that open with me. All very need-to-know kind of crap.

Anyway, I sent it off to the guy and I will have nothing more to do with it. I've fulfilled my duty to the story...but what's funny is, I'm a bit sorry. I did get the impression the characters would like to have worked with me more, but they were held back. When I did try to work things to be more interesting, most of the time I got shot down with the old, "It didn't happen like that." And everybody would back off. Too bad; it might have an interesting story to tell, if I could have worked in a more disjointed style.

So to clear my head, I watched a couple episodes of Vera on Acorn. It's a series of murder mysteries, each an hour and a half long and some decent production values. Four to a set. I'm up to Set 2 (Season 2) of 7, number 3 in the set...and I like them. The first couple were on the "meh" side, but they've gotten better and better...and now I can't figure out who the killer is until just before the reveal, which doesn't count.

Brenda Blethyn now owns the lead role. I like the irascible relationship she has with her crew, especially David Leon. She's short, round and fair; he's tall, dark and handsome. This and the excellent remake of And Then There Were None make it worth the $5 a month subscription.

And I can watch them on my tablet -- woo-hoo...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Scrrew the negative by embracing it...

I bitch, grouch, and complain a lot...and I'm sure it gets tiresome. Sometimes I use my blog to work things out in my head; sometimes it's just verbal vomit. But I have found that when I do my snap, snarl, growl, self-flagellation thing on here, I wind up clearing away some kind of debris in my brain and the ideas come, again. The words make themselves known. The characters stop being as pissy and start guiding and illuminating, once more.

I think half the reason I so disliked my biographical script of that cop's life is, I've since written a book and dug deeper into his character. In fact, in one draft I went a bit farther than he was willing to go in order to show he was a bit unstable, mentally. I forgot that he thinks the conspiracy against him was real and some of the hallucinations that wound up driving him from the force were probably brought on by chemical means instead of the stress and a weak psyche. I still had some of that in...mainly in plotting out the ending...but I get the feeling there was a lot more to what happened with him than he let on.

Still...while the script has that, it's not as tight as it should have been. Had I done a step-outline before I finalized it, I'd like to think I'd have seen how loose and meandering it was turning out to be. Lots of moments and no real sense of urgency or life.

The guy I did it for liked it and I fulfilled my obligation to him...but I blew it with me. I never let the characters become comfortable with me, and it tells. In OT, Jake and I knew each other from the first second. He could be an asshole, but so could I. He could get pissed at me just like I'd get pissed at him...but it's like we were brothers in spirit, and I think it tells in my writing. I agonized over it till it was right.

I didn't do that with this one. I just wrote it and made it polished...and never found the spark in it to make it real. That was my failing and no one else's...and I will not let it happen, again. If I cannot commit to letting a story become part of my life, I won't do it. I'd churn out something lifeless and without meaning. As Hemingway said, "Writing is easy; you just sit at the typewriter and bleed."

My writer's moral to the story -- Stories ain't got lives if you don't agonize over them...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The gift that keeps on giving...and giving...

Eight years ago I wrote a script for a guy, based on his life story as a cop in NYC. It never went anywhere because, truth be told, his experiences had already been done to death in movies like Serpico and Prince of the City and the like. I told him this, up front...but I did it. I thought that would be the end of it.

Then I got talked into making the script into a book. I worked my ass off on that book and got what I thought was an interesting character study of a man with too much imagination and too little control spinning into madness...and it got published...but it didn't sell very well.

So...the guy got the rights back, rewrote it and was shopping it around. In and of itself, that's not so bad, but my name was still on it and he knows nothing about proper grammar. Granted, mine isn't great, but it's decent enough. So I polished it up, like an editor, and helped him self-publish it through Ingram and Smashwords...and now he's back.

He doesn't give in, this guy, which is probably a good thing. He has a possible producer interested in the project, but he needs a step outline for the script. So I went in intending to just do a quick ABC outline as I flew home, today...and OMG, it is such crap. I wrote a piece of shit. Small wonder nobody wants it; it's not a script; it's a catastrophe and needs a page one rewrite.

Jesus, how could I let that happen? I'm capable of one hell of a lot better. Granted, I wasn't all the invested in the story and felt a bit hamstrung by his requirements and the story's demands...but it really reads like a first draft. I'm ashamed of myself for thinking it was worthy of showing to anybody.

But now what do I do? I don't have time for a good rewrite; I've got a 5 day packing job in Oklahoma City, next week, and my laptop won't let me use Final Draft. Nor would I probably be in any shape to do any writing, since this is a push of a job -- pack 10,000 books in 4 full days and 1 day for picking it all up.

I should never have said I'd do the script, since it's obvious my heart wasn't in it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Another job done...

I just completed another packing job, this one in Boca Raton, Florida...and it almost didn't happen. And I mean, after I'd gotten down here. It was in a gated community and I was just pulling up to the gate when I got a phone call telling me to hold on. It seems the recipient's insurance company suddenly decided they didn't like the way we were going to transport the shipment so were voiding the coverage on it.

Talk about last-minute...the only reason I wasn't already in the donor's condo was, I'd stopped at a 7/11 for some water and something to have for lunch. I wound up sitting in my car, in Florida's lovely warmth (not) for 3 hours while everything was hammered out. Which it was. Which also added a requirement I note what books are in each box, along with photos of them. Which put me way behind. I thought I'd be done in one day; took 2.

That's not such a big deal; I can be flexible when required. What's irritating is, no one bothered communicating the situation to the donor till he called to complain about me being late. I was asked not to; the recipient was going to do that...but didn't. So I looked like a flake. Not that I'm never one...but I was on time, for this one, and would have let the donor know about the situation the second I could.

Oh, well...worked out. And it's a nice collection. And the donor's happy. That's what counts.

And I got nothing done on A65...mainly because yesterday I caught a 5:45am flight to Fort Lauderdale and went straight to the donor's location. Meaning after I was done for the day, I was zoned. Went straight to bed, got up early, this morning, and, after it was all done and one its way, crashed at my hotel for a long nap. Now I'm catching up on emails and other business...so Adam and Casey will have to wait till I'm home.

And it'll be more of the same, next week...sigh...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Stepping back...

I've avoided social media and the news, for the most part, today. I am sick of hearing about Czar Snowflake and his family using the US Treasury as their ATM, and have actively started hoping he will be impeached and run out of office straight into prison along with his whole administration. But that's not going to happen unless Democrats take back the House and Senate, both, in 2018; the GOP is too busy using this distraction to take the country back 100 years. But I'm already getting the feeling the DNC is going to commit the same damned mistakes it did last year, when running Hillary against Bernie and then Snowflake.

They don't seem to want to push a 50 state strategy. They want to choose certain districts to put candidates in who the "think can win" but who stand for nothing. They aren't willing to get as down and dirty as the GOP does but seem to believe by rising above the fray, people will respect them more. They won't; people will respect the loudest voice, as Snowflake proved.

I've actually looked into emigrating to Canada, but they won't have me. I'm too old and don't have a skill they want. And England is becoming as insane as America...maybe even trying to be even worse than us. The racists in our civilization have been given license to howl their filth, and they are taking full advantage of it.

It's starting to show up in the way corporations treat people. Look at United and their bullies. Look at the police and their killings and beatings. Look at how the media doesn't bother to mention that a man who murdered his wife and two innocent children was a Christian pastor, or claims that any white man who slaughters people is a lone wolf and mentally ill, while any Muslim who does that is emblematic of the whole religion, to them, and any black man who kills is proof African-Americans are violent creatures.

I once put in a script that one character believed we were entering a dark age, like there was after the collapse of the Roman Empire, thinking it sounded cool. I had no idea I was being prophetic.

Just call me Jeremiah.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sometimes I do all right...

After my whiny rant, yesterday, I sat myself down, today, and worked on A65 right through to the end. No major rewriting done but lots of notes and shifting of sections and at least a better handle on the story. Now all I need to do is input these changes, print out another copy and go through the whole thing, again.

What I did was a surface bit of work, but it at least got me going on it, again. There are a couple of spots where I let Casey or Adam just tell some of their history, and that's not quite proper, yet, but I do think with this next draft I'll have the spine of the book set.

What's interesting is how things have changed from the screenplay. Like Casey's reasoning for insisting Adam accompany her to the premier -- she has him done up nice to make Lando jealous. That's her intention, anyway...but it doesn't quite work out that way, thanks to Jeremy, the archive's resident photographer.

I do still like the growing symmetry in various bits, and the little reversals that pop up, every now and then. I guess it helps that I got a solid 8 hours sleep and had no reason to leave the apartment...though I did make cornbread. Just to snack on.

It seems sales of all my books have stopped, dead. So far I've sold a total of 5 copies since the first of April. Could it be due to tax season? I hope?

I'm not paying mine. I don't want to give that SOB in the White House one more penny to spend on his fucking golf game. Actually, I'll pay them when contacted by the IRS, so we can work up a payment schedule. Draw it out.

Maybe he'll resign before I have to sign over a penny.

Friday, April 14, 2017

I should never discuss my plans or thoughts...

It seems the moment I do, something happens to screw them up. I haven't worked on A65 all week...well, since Monday. I don't know why. I just haven't. Can't get the enthusiasm going that I had...or need. Can't get the interest.

Don't read, either. Or sketch. Anything. I just wander through facebook and twitter and the news and Tumbler and achieve nothing. And now I'm whining about it. In a low-key way, granted, but still...

God, I don't understand me. It's like somewhere deep down inside me I don't want to succeed and I throw up roadblocks and shift moods to make sure of that. And that's what I'm doing, right now. Told myself as soon as I got home I was going to dive into my rewrite...and it's now 5 hours later and not one red mark added to the printout.

A65 needs work, but it's a fun story. It's fairly mainstream -- nerdy straight boy is used by hurt straight girl but in the end, it all works out and they have an HEA. I like the idea of it. I like the characters. I've even tweeted about it. But now I'm having to fight myself to work on it.

Hell, I'm having to fight myself to write this stupid little post. It's pathetic. And now I'm coming up on a busy couple of weeks of travel -- Boca Raton, next week, and friggin' Oklahoma City the following. Both set up in ways I did not want -- hopping a 5:30 am flight to Boca so I can start working the second I get there because the powers that be did not want to pay for an extra hotel night, and packing OKC within time constraints that are just ludicrous, even with 3 assistants.

I have another job I'm working up a quote on where the owner of the library thinks you can pack 2000 books in a day or two. Yeah, if I bring in 10 helpers. Oh, but can't we do it for $1.98, total? Two jobs we bid on dumped us because they wanted something cheaper...and one was for 7 books that were valued at $150,000. It would have cost $1200 to do pick them up, pack them and ship them, total...not even 1% of their value...and that's too much. Stupid.

Bitch, whine, and complain. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I just need a break. Two weeks of nothing but watching movies, reading books in bed, eating crap and drinking wine. Slob city.

I could deal with that.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Symmetry happens...

So I'm going through A65 adding in notes and thoughts and details before I continue with my re-re-re-re-rewrite...and it suddenly hit me that I've got a nice bit of symmetry going...without meaning to. In the initial story, there's a party at Lando's home that is...bizarre, to say the least. But along the way, since expanding the role of Adam's seat-mates en route to LA, another party jumped in to counterpoint Lando's. And helps Adam, a lot.

Man, I like how alive the story is beginning to seem, now. How natural and yet surprising. Still a bit too slick but with potential. It's following its path...but Adam keeps getting shoved off into little side roads that increase the meaning of what's happening to him. At least, I think so.

However, I may be too old-fashioned to really make this story as wild and crazy as I want. I tried that in The Lyons' Den and found that, even though I took that one as far as I could, it was still a bit on the conventional side when all was said and done.

But...there is still a fair amount of controlled chaos in that story. I'm trying to get away with that, again, in A65. I don't want to add events just for the sake of stirring the pot; I want them to be endemic to the story...which may be why my writing is still a bit too careful. Maybe I shouldn't be so locked into the A-B-C of plot and just let something happen.

That is how Alice's Adventures in Wonderland goes. It's a dream of bizarre events but it follows it own madcap sense of logic that has no logic. Maybe I need to stop being so controlling and just let it rip, in this one.

You never know till you try...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

More than halfway...

Well over, in fact. I'm at page 146 of 246 total pages in this latest rewrite of my rewritten rewrite that's in need of rewriting. The point where Adam is about to sneak into the back yard of Lando's home in order to help Casey...and, of course, things don't go as planned. Do they ever?

There are still sections that aren't nearly as defined as I want, yet, but now that I'm finally getting a tighter grip on the story and the characters, as well as the tone and POV, I can start massaging my style to make it more interesting. I hope. But that won't come once I've settled everything else down.

I watched Stairway to Heaven after I'd reached my saturation point on A65. It was made in 1946 and stars David Niven, Kim Hunter, Raymond Massey and Roger Livesey...and is in both color and black & white. It's about a British bomber pilot at the end of WW2 who's shot down and his parachute is destroyed. As his plane is crashing, he connects with an American radio operator, gives her his last messages and jumps from the plane...only due to a nasty English fog, death loses site of him and he survives. He finds the radio operator, and they fall in love, but now Heaven wants to complete his "contract." He fights back by appealing his date of demise...as doctors operate on him to repair a brain injury that could kill him.

The story is all over the place, but David Niven, as the pilot, and Kim Hunter, as the radio operator, anchor it. In fact, there are moments when Niven should have been onscreen when he wasn't, like during his trial. I can also see storyline references to The Devil and Daniel Webster, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait, and A Guy Named Joe. It's interesting that Heaven is presented in black & white while Earth is color.

It's been years and years since I've seen this film, so long ago I don't remember if it was in a theater, on VHS or it played on TV. I halfway think it was in Houston and I rented a tape of it from a really great video store just off Montrose and Westheimer. Not sure...but it feels right.

Hmm...I just had a feeling that something major is going to happen in the next few days. What it is or even to whom, I have no idea. It's just...a weird sense of...shit, I dunno what. But when I watched Star Trek, last night, there were moments where I thought, "I've seen that before," even though I haven't seen the film. Most were near the end...like the overhead shot of the Starship tracking the attack pods through the space station while under a long pool that had a transparent basin, so you could see the ship passing.

It gave me such a massive sense of deja vu, I checked the movie's trailers to see if maybe it had been in one that I've seen...and nope. Not that shot. I don't know what to make of this...it's just, when I've had them, before, it's meant a major change in my world...like my mother dying or me moving to LA before I'd even thought about it.

I just hope it's a good one...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Back on track...

I spent today adjusting and cutting and re-emphasizing the 4th and 5th chapters of A65...and it works better. It took me a while to work in the little reveal of how Adam looks once Orisi's done with him, but I think it still has the right effect. I left in him getting stoned without realizing it, and I expanded on his arguing against staying the night. Increases his disorientation.

There's a fair amount of restructuring to do in the next four chapters, because that's as far as I got in adding in Casey's POV so it's not so bad, really. It'll just take some time and care...and attention. And I'm finding I pretty much get wiped out on this story after 5-6 hours at it.

It'd funny...I say I trust my characters, but by paying more attention to Casey than to Adam, for a while, it took him slamming on the brakes and nearly killing the story before I heard what he was telling me. Which turned out to be right. Tolstoy can shift from one character's inner world to another's without trouble, but I'm no Tolstoy. Doubt I ever will be. I guess that's why I prefer to work in first person; it's an absolute POV as opposed to an omniscient one.

I finally had dinner and watched Star Trek: Beyond...and found it only barely interesting. Jeremy Sisto is still a great Spock, and Karl Urban and Simon Pegg do well as Bones and Scotty, but I'm not a huge Chris Pine fan, and the script sacrificed originality for pacing...and complete coherence. Too many easy outs for characters in danger mode, and one shift in the villain that made absolutely no sense to me. Oh, well...

Tomorrow I'm watching something classy -- like Out of the Past or Stairway to Heaven, both of which are phenomenal.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Completely misdirected?

Tonight was spent in a low-key battle with Adam over A65, where he finally let me know he's not happy with what I'm doing in the book. He says it's his story, and he thinks I should keep his perspective throughout instead of trying to make it more commercial by bringing in Casey's POV, as well. And truth is, the shift to her after following him for three chapters is ... jarring. Hence the awkwardness of their meeting and such.

And the difficulty I'm having finding a balance with Casey as I try to keep from revealing too much of what she's planning while letting out her thoughts and concerns...and memories. Which is what Adam's been nudging me about. He doesn't care that it's being told in 3rd person; he just thinks I should let the reader find out what's going on as he does.

Which means a fair portion of what I've written for Casey would go into the trash. Which pisses me off and depresses me. And makes me kick myself for not seeing this sooner. Or considering it. Because my gut says it's right. Dammit. So nothing got done, tonight, and now I'm verging on whine mode.

I'll deal with this crap, tomorrow.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dammit, stop throwing crap at me!

I'm at that stage in my story where the characters are coming up with nonsense just to mess with me. Like Casey suggesting she wants to change the reason she takes Adam to the premier and the after-party. Doing it her new way would change everything that follows and make her into a real bitch. NOT gonna happen.

Same for another character who wants to dance with Adam in the middle of a bar, which diminishes the moment when Casey and Adam dance, later. It's like they're angling to see who can get the best bits thrown in for themselves, no matter what the rest of the story demands...and I hate it when they pull this crap.

And love it. I now have my white rabbit and dormouse characters...albeit merely indicatively. And it does add to the madness of Adam's world. So who knows? I've got my own insane process and it seems to work out in the end.

Of course, this may all be moot. Czar Snowflake (the POTUS whose name I will not speak) has attacked Syria. Apparently after warning Russia that he would. Meaning Russia warned Assad and they made sure there was minimal damage from the $70m worth of cruise missiles we sent. Makes the Czar look good, in his mind and in the diseased brains of his vermin followers. But...this could easily lead to the apocalypse, in which case there will be no one left to read my books and all will be for naught.

Maybe I should try to build a time capsule to be found 10,000 years from now, when the next masters of the universe reach that point of civilization.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

18 Chapters...

At the moment. And more rearranging done. I have a feeling the book will still wind up being about 62,000 words...which is short, for me. But it's rolling along despite my best efforts and I'm seeing ways to make it smoother and clearer. I'd say the next draft I input into Word will be good enough to be considered a first rough draft. When I go through that one, then I'll be ready to start a second draft.

It took me a while to get going on the story, this evening, because I didn't like Casey's introduction. I liked that it was set in her attic as she's watching the CCTV monitors of security cameras all over her property, but it was too deliberate. I danced around it and banged my head against it and moaned about it for a couple hours before finally realizing she wasn't up there to watch her mother arrive with Adam and get the reaction of the paparazzi twins who've been stalking her; it's a place she goes to just zone, with the images on the monitors like white noise to her. She's caught in memories, at the moment, and it's Adam's arrival that breaks her out of them.

I'm trying to find low-key ways of showing she has not left her home in nearly two weeks, due to her breaking up with Lando. Having Patricia say it was just too obvious. Lando can comment on it because he makes it all about him, but he's not there till the premier. And I don't think Casey should admit to it till she knows Adam a lot better. Maybe over the Mac & Cheese they share. So I'm just slipping in hints and nudges, so far...and not completely satisfied.

I'm still using Eliza Dushku as my personification of Casey. She fits her too perfectly. Hope she doesn't mind. I consider it a travesty that she wasn't invited to the 20th Anniversary shoot for Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. She was a solid part of the show and made a huge mark on how it went.

I still like the idea of Russell Tovey as Adam, but after watching the few episodes of Quantico that I could stand, he's too charismatic a persona for it. The ease with which he blew better-looking actors away on that show was a case study in what it means when the camera loves you.

Matthew Lewis is better; he looks like someone who could start out awkward and turn into a prince. And yes, I know, I'm talking about a book not a film project...but I still think in images, and I'm trying to make that work in a narrative format.

Like lots of other, better writers have been doing for centuries.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Bumps in the road...

Okay...Chapter 4 is good but Chapter 5, where Adam and Casey meet, is awkward and stumbling. I've got the elements I want in it but they don't connect, yet. They just happen. Seem forced. And I still shift POV between her and him, even in 3rd person; gotta find a nice middle ground in that.

I think I may need to reverse a couple of things -- give some of Casey's actions to Patricia, and work more on how Vincent forces Adam to stay overnight in LA; it's too easy, just now, and Adam's reaction is not panicky enough. A fair bit of work. And to think I only have two dozen more chapters to go through with this rewriting...though I doubt it will be all that many when I'm done. I hope.

I posted The Lyons' Den on Amazon in Kindle. It should be available in the next couple of days. I'm not doing well on selling it and as much as I prefer Smashwords, they don't have the network or reach of Amazon...and I want the story to be read. I've been trying to get an accounting of how many copies sold when it was with STARboks Press, but they ignore my requests for information. I guess they think I'm out to audit them, or something. I'm not; I just want to know.

I've got a couple of articles on how to use Twitter and Pinterest and SnapChat to sell my books, so may do some of it with A65. Seems half the battle is how you promote it prior to publishing, which is a bit late for my other works. I already do a little promotion of my work on Facebook...but that's so 2014.

Problem is, I'm still too 1999.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

First chapters are the hardest...

So far only Chapter One needed serious reworking (and still needs tweaking and proofing; I can't believe how many typos I found in a read-through today). Chapters Two and Three are in decent shape, since that's where the story starts getting going. I've tried to find another way of beginning Adam's tale, but jumping in when he connects with Patricia, Casey's mother, at the airport felt awkward and having him be told he's going on the trip as the beginning was too...I dunno...unimportant.

I like beginning with Adam's normal day and giving just a hint that something will wind up wrong about it. Then introduce some characters who will come into play, later. I also like how it connects Adam to where he works and how much he loves it; that becomes important, as well, so I think laying the groundwork, here, is good.

Initially, I was jamming way too much information in at the beginning, as is my usual practice. I start out afraid the story won't make sense unless I do, then calm down with each successive draft. I could probably do a bit more removal...and have already decided on a couple of thing that didn't need to be detailed, yet...so it's getting there.

I also had a huge synopsis of Ilithium 4, the movie Casey starred in, that was completely superfluous...and would actually have been problematic. The Alice '65 should parallel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in a vague way, but talking about the movie and the book it was based on and the book the book was based on shifted the whole emphasis in ways that were confusing...so out it came.

I did get bits of the movie in, however, because even though Adam does not want to watch it, he has to in order to keep the brat in the seat next to him asleep. If he turns the movie off, the brat wakes up and looks like he might vomit on him, again. So Adam is forced to endure watching a hideous film adaptation of a book he loves...twice.

But at least it introduces Casey well before he meets her and sets up just how beautiful she is.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

I'm being that writer, again...

Today was spent tossing out the first chapter of The Alice '65 and completely reworking it. Hopefully, it is not as busy as the previous one...but I'm open to feedback...'cause here's the first 4 pages --

Oh, and just for the fun of it...imagine Adam being played by Matthew Lewis as he goes from this...

...to this, through the course of the story...

----

When Adam Verlain set off for work at 7:35 am, he expected it the be a typical Monday. He wore his usual suit and tie, his hair having been neatened by his monthly visit to the barber, and carried a rucksack holding a sandwich, a bottle of water, and a copy of Kristin Lavransdatter to read on the underground. He caught the 7:46 from Epping, changed for St. Pancras at Liverpool Street, had a brisk five minute walk and arrived in his cubicle at 8:54 to start up his computer. As usual, he was the first one there.

His job was archiving rare and antiquarian books for Merryton College in London. This was neither the oldest nor best known of England's schools, but it had a good reputation in the liberal arts and sciences world, and while their library of such volumes was anything but the largets, it was more than respectable. It was even housed in its own climate controlled extension of the old chapel.

Adam had joined with them straight out of university, almost seven years ago, his specialty being codices, incunabula and manuscripts, in German, Latin, or Greek ... and he loved working there. Loved investigating when a particular book was printed or written, by whom or for whom, who had first owned it, who its later owners were, when and how often it sold at auction -- everything one could imagine. He could become so engrossed in his research, were someone to ask him something, he would look at them with the expression of a curious cat, remove his glasses, look at them a moment longer and then say, "Sorry? What did you ask me?" As if he had been in a separate world and had to remind himself to rejoin this one.

He had his own cubicle in the old chapel, one of four set in the center of the shadow-riven three-hundred year-old room. Its flagstone floor was partially covered by a well-worn Persian carpet, and the arched, wooden ceiling was held in place by intricately carved beams and braces, unchanged since first put in place. An iron candelabra with electric bulbs in the shape of fire hung from the center beam, directly over the cubicles, giving the room a dark, aged feeling of mystery, enhanced by how the tall slim windows of cut leaded glass in colorful images allowed only a little soft light to pass through.

This particular Monday, he was finishing the provenance on a truly elegant copy of Orlando Furioso. It was an edition printed in the early Nineteenth Century that had been presented to King Victor Emmanuel, in 1866, prior to the Third Italian War for Independence. Vincent, the library's supervisor, a man with the age and appearance of a Victorian ghost, had dismissed the book as unimportant, but it was printed in Latin and Adam found indications the book might have been a gift to Pope Pius IX on his selection to the papacy, twenty years earlier. He focused so tight on trying to confirm the story, it got him in some difficulty with Vincent.

"We've dozens of other books to archive," the old man had snapped in his veddy-veddy-British tone, "and you spend five days on one inconsequential volume?"

Adam had huffed. Granted, the book was bound in bright red Morocco leather and the gold trim and was overdone, but the possibility of a pope presenting it to a king at a time of major political upheaval was more than worth the effort. So he had responded with, "Sir, I have never believed any book is inconsequential."

Causing Vincent to jolt ramrod straight and snarl in his worst Oxford attitude, "Nor is this one more consequential than any others on the shelf! Be done with it! We've dozens more acquisitions to archive and no funds to do it, thanks to the board's maniacal purchasing." Then he had stormed off.

That was on Friday, last. Now it was Monday, and Adam had dug as deep as he could to find nothing but suggestions and hints about the book's history, so as his computer continued to merely contemplate the possibility of making itself available, he picked the book up and casually read the opening canto aloud:

Of loves and ladies, knights and arms, I sing, 
Of courtesies, and many a daring feat; 
And from those ancient days my story bring, 
When Moors from Africa passed in hostile fleet, 
And ravaged France, with Agramant, their king, 
Flushed with his youthful rage and furious heat; 
Who on King Charles’, the Roman Emperor’s head, 
Had vowed due vengeance for Troyano dead.

"You're a lovely little book," he sighed to it. "Probably 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 on his desk and swiveled in his chair to look around. He shook his head at how the bland chrome and rug-covered cubicle walls clashed with the elegant shadows, aged wood and stained glass that had once dominated the room. He had long believed something could be done to make it less incongruous.

"Remove these hideous work-spaces and add desks to the four corners," he thought. "Perhaps a large general table in the center, under the candelabra. There might be some old chairs in storage to put around them, something in the same vein. That would be more in line with how the room prefers to be seen."

He rubbed a slim bandage on his chin, evidence of a rougher-than-usual football match with his mates, on Saturday, and gazed at a nearby play of gentle, colorful, sparkling dust caught in light filtering through a window. He decided to write up a plan for Vincent to consider and turned to make a note ... and a whispery sense of dislocation washed over and around and through him, as though the space he occupied existed only as a hint of a dream. He both knew it and did not know it ... had been here yet had not been here ... and almost felt like he was floating as he sat in his chair, his three-and-a-half blank walls barely visible to him. It wasn't until Elizabeth, the young woman in the cubicle next to his, burst in that he jolted out of the sensation.

He watched her whirl up to her cubicle, remove her coat and sling it over the top of her half-wall. "Has Vincent been in, yet?" she asked him as she pulled her hair into a ponytail.

Adam shook his head. "You're safe. It's just on 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 came on," he said. "Took its time."

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

Adam smiled. This was nothing but a job to her. Granted, she specialized in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century literature, and the regents were expanding that section of their library, but it was obvious she was not a book person. He doubted she ever would be ... but he was open to helping her learn, if she wanted. After all, she was rather pretty.

I like driving...

Drove down to NYC on Wednesday; picked up a print, some books and an art vase; and drove back Thursday. It was cold but not freezing, with bright sunshine going down and rain most of the way coming back...and I felt really at peace. I listened to some Depeche Mode and, get ready for it -- Yanni. By the end of the drive, my brain felt totally relaxed.

I did the drive and the collections like I wanted to, not like how it was suggested, and it worked out fine. This is when I feel most in control and at ease...rolling down a freeway. I think I do have some gypsy in me. Or maybe it's the Viking blood. I dunno.

What it mainly does is let my mind switch into gear on a subconscious mode and lets me work things out on my projects. Lets me think of possibilities instead of all the things that seem aligned against me...something I'm too prone to focus on.

Today I spent getting the items ready to ship and paperwork caught up on, not to mention emails, and then came home to watch a couple episodes of Vera, with Brenda Blethyn and David Leon. Like a little holiday.

I'm ready to get back onto The Alice '65 and get it completed to the point where I'm ready to get feedback on it. The spine of the story is solid, and some of the form is there; it just needs some muscle and maybe a rearranging of a few bones before the skin is brushed on. Like a painting, I suppose.

Layers are what makes it work, not just the foundation.