Derry, Northern Ireland

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

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.


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 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 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... 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 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.