Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, July 31, 2017

Still handling shifts and changes...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

One little change...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Done deal...

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

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

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

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

Dunno how I feel about that.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wondering about Adam, again...

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Taking another trip...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Laptop...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

Back to work...

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

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

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

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

Hope I can do it all, tomorrow...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going off the grid for a few days...

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

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

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

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

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

Next trip, I think I'll visit Alcatraz.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Winding down...

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

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

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

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

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

Rather unusual, for me.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Insane week...

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

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

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

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

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

Shit, I am tired...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Still dreaming...

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

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

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

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

And yet...I still dream...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mixed bag...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hoping to get back on schedule...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes me feel very good.