Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

You never know until you know... I was calmly driving down the 25 from Santa Fe, en route to the new and lovely yet tedious airport at Albuquerque (just try and find a decent power plug in this joint), I damn near got thrown for a loop. I was vaguely worrying that Underground Guy and The Vanishing of Owen Taylor were starting to sound too similar in who the killer winds up being...and then Jake calmly pointed out that I already know who the killer really should be in OT; I was just ignoring it in hopes of making a big grand statement. I actually stopped the car on the freeway so I could write it down.

Jake don't like confusion or grand statements. He likes it simple and straightforward.

The super big deal about this is, it simplifies the ending of OT, majorly. I was slipping into having 3-4 endings and revelations at the finale and that was getting to be ludicrous. Now it's just one, with a semi-revelation to bolster it.

Sometimes I wonder if my characters conspire against me...or with me...or just like to mess with me...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fighting fear

Dev -- Devlin Pope in Underground Guy -- has offered up something that makes me very I'm going with it. I don't want to say, just yet, because I halfway wonder if the little shit's just testing me. But it fits in with his dark character. Can one be borderline sociopathic? Is that even a possibility, like being a little crazy? Is it something you can control, with meds or meditation or a 12-Step process?

This story's taking me into a world I don't really know -- and I'm not just talking about British law enforcement or English attitudes. Curt was a scary character to write, but that was because of his deep self-righteous anger. Traveling his road was not so much keeping up but trying to find ways to make him still understandable and sympathetic. And most reviewers say I've done that...and some even add they hate themselves for feeling anything for him.

But in the end, Curt wasn't actually intelligent enough to have any sort of self-awareness until he'd gone through hell; he just had serious street-smarts. With Dev, I'm finding his choice of name carries a lot more meaning than I'd anticipated. Maybe he's schizophrenic -- sometimes an angel, sometimes a devil. I'm thinking of making him Catholic...and he's not averse to that. It's just, I almost think it's too obvious a monicker.

Which makes me wonder about the other two main characters' names -- Reg (Reginald Thornton) and Tawfi (Tawfiq Murtada...who never mentions his last name because it's too high-ranking in his home country). They can have multiple meanings, too. Reg is the abbreviation for regular and Tawfi is pronounced toffee, which used to be British slang for a condescending member of the upper class; I don't know if it's still part of their everyday vernacular.

But then...that kind of fits Tawfi. Upper crust. Money. Member of the political class. Well-educated. Very intelligent and quite smart about the ways of the world.

Maybe it's all meant to be as it's coming into being.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I made a big mistake...

I backed away from rewriting NYPD Blood because it would have been too damn much to handle -- both time-committment-wise and emotionally -- but I stupidly said I'd help the guy publish it, since I've already done that a couple times with my own work. order to publish it, the document has to be in a certain format. So he sent me his version, in Word, and I started going through the story to update it, because he swore he had it proofed by someone else. Which was bullshit, because it is so god-awful a mess, I started editing for grammar and spelling. Meaning I had to read it. And I'm wondering just how much of a masochist I fucking am.

But there's something in me that just can't let it go out like that. Books are damn near sacred to me, and to allow this thing to march past, as is, with my help goes against everything I am. Everything I want to be.

The new title is French Connection Blues. I got through 65 pages while flying between Baltimore and Albuquerque, out of 354. And there were massive numbers of errors on just about every page. No commas or even periods to end a sentence. New paragraphs beginning in the middle of a sentence. Dialogue jammed together with quotation marks in the wrong places. I tried to justify it as being experimental in the telling, kind of like Ulysses...but that was bull. It was simply rewritten by a man bordering on illiterate.

Still I'm sucking it up and not changing a thing except the mistakes...even though some parts don't really make sense, anymore, because he cut out the set-up for them. And he's added bits that come out of nowhere. But it's his story now; all I will let myself do is proof it. And thank god I've got a good copy of the book I wrote. I'm not putting my name on this one.

This is why I suck at collaboration...because this isn't the first time my work's been fucked up by somebody else, and it wrecks me every time. Now I think I'm close to the point where I'd probably have killed the motherfucker for so perfectly fucking up the story I wrote. Fortunately, he's in Florida and I have no idea where. And I do not want to see him, again. Ever.

One more thing -- I'm never writing anybody else's story ever again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Quick note...

Too much happening today to get anything done on my writing, but I have been zeroing in, slowly, on U/G. Maybe on the plane to Santa Fe, tomorrow...if we get off. It's supposed to be 0 about the time I have to head for the airport with a windchill of -20. Who knew I moved to North Dakota?

I'm having fun with the amorality of my lead character, Dev. He is what he is and if you don't like it, too effin' bad. Something like Antony in RIHC6 but without the psychosis...well, visible psychosis.

An interesting concept has attached itself to the story -- Berserkers, as explained by Wikipedia --

Berserkers (or berserks) were Norse warriors who are primarily reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested to in numerous Old Norse sources. Most historians believe that berserkers worked themselves into a rage before battle...

It's an interesting idea for Dev...but it also fits with Carly Kills...and if it does, so what? I'm not averse to repeating myself. I've two totally different versions of Aristophanes' The Birds going in the back of my brain.

Gettin' pretty damn crowded back there....

Sunday, January 26, 2014

U/G informs on O/T

I don't mean in a nasty sense -- like snitching. It's helping me see a problem that's been building in the Vanishing of Owen Taylor...and even in Place of Safety...that I'd been all but ignoring. I keep trying to play it safer than the story and characters want to because it makes me uncomfortable.

With Underground Guy, not happenin'. This little beastie is running headlong towards anarchy and anger, and intends to show how hate is manipulated by people for their own reasons...which aren't, necessarily, based on fear or even hate. And it's running so fast, it's all I can do to keep up.

I was aiming for something similar in OT...except it did still have more hate in it than I kept thinking ought to be. I excused my uncertainty by saying it was becoming too complex and expansive and wordy...but now I see I was pulling back because of the implications of what the story is saying...and I didn't want to have to deal with those. Jake's willing because he doesn't really understand what's happening until the very end, and it changes him. Bigtime.

It's the same with Brendan in P/S. Building the center section, in Houston, was the real problem. I had no trouble with where I know the story needs to go; it was getting there that troubled me. Now I don't think it will. At least, I hope it won't.

Most writers like to think they can control their work...and for the most part, they can. If they don't mind turning out crap. I've done that...and one of the biggest battles in my work is me trying to find out how to stop that sort of habit. It ain't easy...if it's really possible. But I keep finding that if I let the story go and just follow the characters to wherever they lead, I'm happy with what I wind up with even if others aren't. And sometimes others have been VERY unhappy with some of the things I've written.

Guess that's part of the writer's crown of thorns -- hate from those who have no idea what hate truly is.

Hint: this is NOT cause for it, nor is it an excuse.

I'm a night writer

Seems the best time for me to write is after I've been up most of the day and worked my brain into total awareness...and then start writing about 9 and go till 1am. that's how I added more to U/G -- and I'm up to 57 pages. That's at least ¼ of the way through the story.

I've got a bit of a headache, still, from it, but a lot of that is because I went into work today to get caught up with everything from last week. One client took a solid 10 hours to get into shape, and I'm still not 100% sure he is...but we won't know till his paperwork is dropped off to customs.

Positive thing is, I have more money than I thought I would. I got reimbursed for my travel expenses and also found a prescription I've been taking for the last few years has gone from a $120 a month co-pay to $5, thanks to my new health insurance. Surprised the hell out of me; my previous policy wouldn't really kick in till I'd hit a $1500 deductible. Comes in handy when you're facing $6000 in taxes and just have 10% of that in the bank.

At least I was able to pay quarterly on my NY State income tax, so I doubt I'll have to worry about that on top of it. But I need to figure out when to work this up; I'm off to Santa Fe on Tuesday and then to San Francisco for a book fair and another job, then down to Pasadena for that book fair and home, again, on the 10th. I've always said I liked to travel...and truth is, I do. It just makes a mess of my writing schedule.

What schedule I have...which is none...I just...write....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Just for the hell of it...

I work visually. If I can't see it, I can't write it. And this image helped me with another scene that's taking the story into anarchy.

I never know what to make of anarchy. It seems a bit old-fashioned. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned. Naw, I'm open to experimenting with my writing, and will be doing so here, with a lead character who's amoral.

Makes me nervous...and that's good. It means I'm not playing it safe or doing the same crap I've always done.

Unless I am...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Best musical I've seen in years...

Been so cold in Buffalo, it hurts my nose to even breathe, outside. So I watched this gloriously wild video about The Russian Broadway Theater being shut down because it's too gay. I'd embed it, but YouTube is being bitchy about sharing.

As regards U/G...I'm throwing inhibitions to the wind. I was getting nervous about aspects of the story, but that's a childish way to act. Whatever happens in it happens, and I'll be damned if I'll self-censor anything.

Nor am I sharing anymore until it's done. I halfway wonder if my posting parts of the story is my passive-aggressive way of getting encouragement to continuing working on it. Like some obnoxious kid bringing his kindergarten finger-paintings home and expecting mommy to ooh and ahh over them...and then getting pouty when no one responds. Or even when they do, just nodding in the back of his head and thinking to himself, "Of course they're great."

I think it's time to be a motherfucker for a while.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Underground Guy

I wonder if I should change the title? It seems a bit bland for a story that's becoming very provocative. Maybe even amoral.

I'm using the image of Eric Hanson as Devlin Pope, the narrator and lead character. Eric used to be a porn star who was always a bit ethereal in his beauty...but today his eyes are haunting. Taking him as the ideal my lead wound up making Dev a bit older than I'd intended -- mid-thirties, now. And he's got a streak of dangerous in him that's proving unpredictable.

The journey's his, now, but it's also Reg's. Because already things are happening to confuse the guy and make him a little afraid of Dev. Fact is, Dev's finding he's afraid of himself, suddenly.

Mixed in is an Arab Prince, Tawfiq -- Tawfi. He's deep in the closet because he works in his country's London embassy, and he is also a suspect in the killings. I'm using a photo of that model/actor from Dubai who was so good-looking Saudi Arabia kicked him out for fear he'd drive women wild (and probably did bring a woodie to a few sheiks).

I get their point...he is effin' gorgeous...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Better late than never...

I just saw this. The story is a bit different every time she tells it, but it doesn't matter. What matters is, she stayed for all the right reasons...and Dr. King made it happen.

Nothin' more to say, right now.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Slowing down...

Work was intense, getting ready for San Francisco, Santa Fe and Pasadena, starting next week. Seems book dealers don't know how to add or follow instructions on their packing lists. Some of them include items that will need a license to be exported from the UK, even temporarily, but don't bother getting the license and will argue with you over we decide what laws customs and the Arts Council of England will use for their basic demands.

I'll be working through the weekend, so focus on UG has been difficult. I got 5 pages written but I'm only happy with 3 of them. Now I'm zoning.

This harp is from the Guinness Brewery. It's set up so if you run your hand along the glass, it will strum the strings. Very cool.

NowI'm headed for a shower and sleep. Too tired.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Guinness Building

I'm writed out thanks to focusing so hard on UG the last few days, so here are some photos of the magnificent Guinness Storehouse Tour building...

This is the exterior, all brown brick during the day and elegant lighting at night.
 The interior's been hollowed out up to six stories, with arrows painted on the floor to lead you through the self-guiided tour along with snippets of information to add to the experience.
This waterfall is part of the section dealing with the importance of a certain water to the brewing of the ale.
 That waterfall is also a fine backdrop for a romance -- or so I luridly thought. Turned out they were brother and sister. So much for my ESP abilities.
And finally, a selfie in the bar atop the building, with the lights of Dublin gleaming past my reflection in the window. It took me twenty minutes to get just the right space without people wandering in or sitting in front of me. That's my free Guinness in hand.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My writing methods are crap...

When I set up my trip in such a way as to stop off in Ireland and do some research for Place of Safety, I knew I'd be working on finishing The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, as well. Which was fine. Gleaning details to put in a story is one thing; finishing an almost completed book is another. And all was going well. I added more to OT as I flew over and made notes and had a nice list set up for when I hit Belfast.

But on Tuesday, while headed back from Canary Wharf to my B&B...I saw this guy on the underground to Wimbledon. You can't tell it from this photo, but he was having some sort of texting argument with someone and it was upsetting him, greatly, even though he was trying hard not to show it. So much so, I began building scenarios in my head as to what was going on.

And before I knew it, another story grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go. Totally threw me off working on OT. Made it hard for me to focus on doing my research at PRONI, which proved to be even harder than I thought it would be. And it dragged me, kicking and screaming, into a new book...for which I have 30 pages typed up, another 12 pages handwritten and the whole damn thing plotted out.

It's called Underground Guy and I named this fellow Reg Thornton. He's an undercover cop trying to help stop a serial rapist/killer in London. The story is told by an American in town for business, Devlin Pope, who's gay and fixates on Reg, who's straight and married with two kids. Initially, the Metropolitan Police think Dev's the killer; instead, the plot twists and turns and becomes even worse than anyone could imagine...and darker...and more banal.

As of now, there's a happily ever after ending, of a sort...but I never know what will happen till that thing's done.

I snuck a dozen photos of "Reg" but this is the only one that came out...and it doesn't begin to do justice to the expressiveness of his eyes, his clean good-looks, or the masculine beauty of his hands. Didn't hurt that he's got a footballer's body and that slightly bandy walk. I came so damn close to following him off the underground, it spooked me, because I didn't get nothin' in the way of gay off him...and that could have turned nasty very quickly.

However, here's proof, yet again, that you never know when the muse will show up or where it will take you, and you damn well better follow or your life will be ashes.

But shit...I wish I knew his real name...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Last day in Ireland...

I spent it at the Guinness Brewery, once I got to Dublin. I checked into my hotel and took the bus straight there; seem #13 ferries you door to door. I'd prepaid my ticket so sailed right in and immediately went to Arthur's Restaurant, where I had the best Irish Stew ever.

You have a great view of the city, even from this restricted space. And that was the first of 2 pints I had while there (the second one was free). It's amazing how fantastic it tastes. It's not bad in the US, but comparison...
Then you ramble through this amazing building on a self-guided tour of not only the brewery but the city of Dublin and the history of treating your employees right. I'll deal with the exhibits, later; right now I'm still just amazed at how wonderfully they've used this building. It's my third time doing this tour...and being overwhelmed by it all.

I stayed till they closed, then hopped a bus back to O'Connell Street and walked over the Poet's Bridge, AKA: Ha'penny Bridge. Legend is, it used to cost half a penny to cross so you didn't have to go all the way down to O'Connell.

This view is from the center of the bridge (that bridge in the distance is O'Connell). It looks almost magical, but what you can't see is how much quieter Dublin is as compared to the last time I was here. In 2006, traffic was so bad, I got caught in gridlock trying to return a rental car and almost ran out of gas. Today, so many shops are empty and signs everywhere are offering spaces "to let"'s close to spooky. People are begging in the streets, just like they do in San Francisco or New York. Talk about hearbreaking.

You can thank the rich and their minions for screwing up what was once a vibrant, exciting economy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

To Bust or not to Bust...

Well...I got to PRONI and it's in a big beautiful new building right near the Titanic Museum and you have to join to get access to their files and they've got a LOT...of everything I don't need. If I wanted to research family, I could do that. But facts and figures of life on Nailer's Row in Derry in the 60s? Nope. And you can't find this out online; very few of their records are available, that way.

BUT...this did lead me to an archive of video bits from Northern Ireland, including Derry before the Troubles began. Like a nice long one about the closing of the Great Northern Rail Line in 1965.

AND...they pointed me to a library where they had a book containing this map of the city of Derry in or around 1964, before reconstruction took off. No photocopies allowed, so I snuck a shot with my camera; no flash.

Then THEY sent me to an archeological foundation where they have information on everything that went on in Derry for the last few centuries...but nothing about the living conditions on Nailer's Row. However, I may have instigated a research project, because the gentleman I spoke with was quite taken with the idea.

Well, at this point I'm close to renting a car and taking a run to Derry to took into a small museum I once visited on the Waterside area...but I've been directed to the Belfast Main Library...where they have an office set up strictly for news papers...and they have actual bound copies of The Derry Journal from 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969...and I stayed there till nearly 8pm. Damn, I could spend a week in that place.

Now I know where to go if I come back to this town.

Of course, I also did a hint of sight-seeing. This is Belfast's City Hall...
And this is the new waterfront area, leading to the ferries to Scotland and Wales. All of this has happened in the last 8 years.

Damn, it's been that long since I was last in Ireland?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In Belfast

I arrived late...deliberately. My train wasn't slated to get into the station till after 9pm, so all I've seen of the city is dark buildings. It's very open, for the most part, and seems to be chugging along.

Getting into Dublin was so simple, I wound up having 4 hours before my train, so I sat in Connolly station and worked on some writing. Plotting out what I need to research at PRONI, tomorrow. I've got a nice long list...and hope they have the information I need.

I then hopped across the street to a pub for a Shepherd's pie that was to die for. Just beef and carrots cooked together and covered with mashed potatoes...but the sauce was perfect. Wow. And they had WiFi but it kept cutting in and out so I stopped trying to deal with it. Same for on the train; says wWiFi, but just try and get it to work.

Right now I'm in the lobby of a Travelodge in the city center, using the free wiFi here. If I do this in my room, it's 6GBP. Not gonna get into that. I've already spent too damn much money...and not by my own fault. Seems the airport exchanges truly ream you when they change out currencies. I was expecting a rate of $1.65 to the pound; once you factored in fees and their ridiculous rate, it's working out to more like $2 per GBP. Same for Euros! Which are cheaper!! Compared to this, what my bank was going to charge me doesn't seem so bad.

What the hell ever happened to American Express? I used to be able to buy currency there for decent rates, but they're closing all their offices. The one they had in Macy's is no more. Shit.

Fortunately, I don't mind buying a cheese&chive sandwich in a convenience store (for the equivalent of $5.50!!). Damn, how the hell do people make it in these towns?

Barely, is my bet.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Job's done...

So I did what I should have done, last time I was in London...

...I went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street. Cost me 8GBP to get in and check out a rather sad little setup. The bobby at the front door checks your ticket and lets you take a photo with him...which I wouldn't do because the plastic shiny material on his hat was peeling and looked decrepit. I should've put aside my scruples; he was a doll.

 You go upstairs to a number of little exhibits, spread over 3 levels, of details about the Holmes stories and mythology. I actually enjoyed the one from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Little Ken dolls dressed up as Holmes, Watson and Sir Henry Baskerville, with what looks like a china dog as the hound.

Holme's violin and chemical workspace. This was the coolest part of the exhibit and seemed most honest.

I hesitate to share the photos I took of the mannequins dressed as characters in the books; they were so cheesy and expressionless...
 At least this gets the atmosphere right -- the silhouette of a bobby in the doorway. I'd talked myself into taking a picture of him, despite the hat...but it was a different guy; bobby #1 had popped out for dinner.
After that, I toodled over to Canary Wharf, a huge complex of new office towers and residences right on the Thames, that looks like a new office complex in every other big city in the world. But it did provide me with a different view of London, looking up the river.

You can see from the Gherkin to the Shard...and I don't know what that Cartoon-building in the middle is called, but it's the one that supposedly melted a Jaguar thanks to the reflection from the sun via its windows.

Tomorrow it's off to Belfast.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

This is me and my characters...

More London

They let me check in early so I too a nice long nap, then hopped out for some fish&chips...should have done the Indian. Oh well.

I would love to live in London, but it's damned expensive. However, it's very easy to get around in, and I'm sure there are ways to keep the costs down, once I start looking...or once I stopped just visiting and committed to a long-term situation. I've already found a place that sells 2 litre bottles of Dr. Pepper for 1.79 GBP.

This town is jigging my mind with ideas for The Alice '65. I've neglected that script, but the positive thing is, by leaving it alone for so long I should be able to read it with a clear understanding of what needs to be done to better tell the story.

I also worked some on OT, clarifying parts of it and changing the revelation of a killer to a different point. It's a complex tale, hopefully not too much so...and Jake's changing as it goes along.

Wish I had a Jake of my own to kick my ass when I needed it.

London calling...

Just a quickie note -- I be here. Just got ripped off buying Pounds Sterling, so now I know I'm in the UK.

Nice flight, overall, on time and got more done on OT...until my battery ran out. Only first class gets power outlets on US Air. But I had a window seat and a great view of Greater London's glistening lights as we flew in. Reminds me of LA in size and scope.

I will say, that airline was in chaos at Buffalo's airport. All I had to do was check a bag...and it took me 45 minutes. You check in at the kiosk and then the gate agent calls your name once the bag tag is printed up. Only all the agents were helping reroute other passengers, so they didn't get to that till more help showed up. And I even beat the long, long line that showed up after me.

Not that it mattered. I was there 2 hours early...and the flight was 2 hours late taking off. Had plenty of time.

Now it's off to the tube and hopefully an easy trip to the B&B I'm using. I'll be ready to eat when I get to Wimbledon, and there's a nice pub with great fish and chips near the station...hmm...sounds just right.

But there was a nice Indian place near the B&B...if that's still there...

Dammit, now I'm starving.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Another snippet of OT...

This comes about ⅔ of the way into the story. Jake has broken the law ten different ways to get the serigraph of this painting back. Owen did it, years earlier...

That’s when I noticed Tone was fixated on the serigraph of me and Dion. I wandered over to him. “Matt get you what you needed?”

He nodded but didn’t look at me. “This is so beautiful.”

I shrugged. “Guess who I got my artistic ability from.”

“This is how you were with each other after just a week?”

“Four days. I came out Friday night. Met Dion Saturday. My uncle worked this up on Wednesday. And I flew home Sunday.”

“Where was his studio?”

“He didn’t have one. He’d sling a cloth on the floor, pull out his materials and work that way.

“Then where’re his art supplies? There’s none here.”

Shit, maybe they were at the warehouse in one of those boxes. Talk about a signature on a confession, that’d be the same as him saying in a trial, “I owned the warehouse and we shot porn there and I killed a man to watch him die.” I’d better go back, soon as I could.

All I did with Tone is shrug and say, “Maybe he has one, now. That’d be something to look into. It’s not like he needed me and Dion there all the time. He did studies of us. Took a thousand digi-photos. They’re probably in a file on his laptop. You can look through ‘em, if you want.”

“I don’t,” he snapped.

“Okay.” His eyes were still sharp on the picture, so I kept on with, “Y’know...I had to talk Dion into this.”


“Yeah, that’s why he wouldn’t go completely nude. Why he’s sitting. He was self-conscious about his height. If he’d been standin’, I’d only of reached his chin. Now he’s totally the opposite.”

I noticed Tone was looking at me. “Your smile when you speak of tender.”

“Shit, don’t tell me you’re jealous. We’re talkin’ about ten years ago.”

He hesitated then looked back and the pictures and said, “No. Angry. Envious.”

“About what?”

Another hesitation. He was working up to something. “He’s open, easy, content. I’m not. But that’s what you want.”

“Well, I ain’t gettin’ it from him; he’s married.”

“He wouldn’t be for long, if you asked him. He still loves you. He’d love to keep you. Make you happy. Which I can’t do.”

The whispers in his voice made me nervous. “Don’t be silly...”

“I’ve always hated people like that – people who know what they want. Comfortable in their lives when I never will be. Look at him. He hasn’t changed. He’s still this picture. He’ll always be this picture. And that’s how you’ll always see him. Remember him. While I’m destroying your memories of us.” He got this ice cold look on his face. Tight mouth. Total focus on one thing. Like a leopard about to pounce. I’d seen it before, when he was about to attack a diver on his college's swim team. My hands went cold. “I hate people like this,” he continued, his voice growing colder with every word. “I want to fuck him over, so bad, just to show him what life’s really about and make him less perfect and --.”

I grabbed him and slung him around to land on the couch. Didn’t even think about it, but my side sure made damn sure I knew what I’d done...and regretted it. He looked at me, stunned.

“Don’t ever talk like that around me, again,” I growled, my voice boiling with rage. “Ever, or so help me god I’ll -- .”

“Jake...?” Matt got between us, concerned.

I swallowed the rest of my comment and forced my anger to step back. But my eyes never left Tone, and for the first time, he looked afraid of me.

I didn’t blame him.

By then I had control enough to back away and head into the kitchen, grab the bottle of wine, fill a glass and down half of it in one gulp. But I was still shaky. Why the hell didn’t we have some Tequila in the place?

That look on Tone's face – I’d been pissed at him, the first time I saw it, but I’d kept control. I’d pulled him back and shown him he was being used. I could’ve done that, again.

But this time...the knife in his voice when he’d threatened Dion...I didn’t even think; I stopped him, cold. Came damn close to hitting him. Just like mom had said I would, eventually. And if Tone’d fought back, I’d have torn him to shreds. He’d of had to kill me to make me stop. That scared me more than anything else that’d happened in the last couple days.

Shit – mom’s poison was in me, too.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some of "...Owen Taylor"

This is leading up to the big reveal, after Jake's got it all figured out and just needs the proof about what happened to his uncle --


Matt had learned Father Paul was comforting someone who might be related to one of the murder victims. Hearing that damn near made me sick, because now I knew exactly where he was.

"Lemm," I sighed, "can you handle going back to your old apartment?"

"For why?" he said, his voice a bit shakey. He was in the passenger seat, so I could also see his hands were trembling. "Those people...they drove me away. Attacked me. Because of what I am."

"I won't let them do that, again."

"Jake..." Matt started, his voice sharp and warning, but I cut him off with a shake of my head.

"We don't have time to be nice about this. I need to verify what I'm thinkin', and I need Lemm there for that."

Lemm looked at me, hard. "You are wrong about Father Paul; he is a good man..."

"He's a despicable motherfucking son-of-a-bitch who spouts about God as he pours gas onto the flames of hate in this town, all while buyin' off people like you with his 'good deeds'...till you weren't perfect in his eyes, anymore. Then look what he did to you. Hypocrite's too damn good a word for him."

I glanced at Lemm and saw confusion in his eyes. He swallowed and looked straight ahead, still not really believing me. His hands were still trembling. God, what I wouldn't give to know what's going in in his mind, right now.

Matt nudged me and asked, "Do you have a gun?"

I shook my head.

"I thought all Texans had guns. Like it's law you have to carry one, or something."

"Don't need it. I'm locked and loaded all on my own."

I pulled onto the street leading to Uncle Owen's apartment complex and saw the lights of news crews already set up. I could see the Azteca and Piercings each talking to different news crews
. Yeah -- it looked too much like at least one positive ID had been made, and I had a sick feeling a young woman was never gonna get married to the father of her child. Suddenly I wanted to keep driving by, because I wasn't so sure of my plan of attack, anymore. This could turn really nasty really fast.

I stopped behind one camera truck and turned to Matt.

"Get behind the wheel," I said, "and keep the car runnin', just in case."

"You're not going in there?" Matt snapped.

"That's where Father Paul is." I turned to Lemm. "You remember a guy who lived here? Had a girlfriend. Kid. They were gonna get married."

Lemm shrugged a yes. "Hugo."

"When did he vanish?"

"I cannot say...perhaps a month after I move here. Father Paul was working on his papers when he was taken by Immigration."

"I don't think that's what happened. What apartment were they in?"

He frowned at me. "The corner. In the left. Why do you think...think...?" His voice vanished as he started to understand what I was saying. His voice grew soft. Painful. "His mija is Loretta...their nino is not a year...Luis...she was nice to me, until...until..." Anger began to fill his eyes. "You are sure Father Paul knows who did this? And he has done nothing? Nothing to stop it?!"

I nodded. "But he won't tell me who it is. He might tell you. Not directly, but in a way."

Steel shifted down Lemm's spine. His face grew calm and unreadable, like a politician's, and his trembling was gone-gone-gone. He nodded and got out of the car, so cool and deliberate, I wondered if he was back to being numb, but then the TV lights illuminated his face, and I saw how tight his eyes were. He was in attack mode. All I had to do was keep up with him.


This is my car after the blizzard. That's six inches of snow piled on it. Took me close to half an hour to get it all off and make a passageways for the car to drive off, and that's with it being somewhat protected by a building. But it started up, straightaway. Damn good car and battery.

I left my wipers up so they wouldn't stick to he windshield. That can ruin them faster. And that stick by the door is my snow brush. Very handy, those things.

I'm zeroing in on the finale of OT. I actually started revealing who the killer is, in the middle of a near riot with news cameras around and no one wiling to believe Jake knows what he's talking about. It's sloppy, right now, but it's getting there. And Lemm and Matt are in the middle of it.

I've dropped reworking NYPDB. I just can't handle it, right now...if ever. No, I flat out cannot do another rewrite of it; I've already done two and the last one took me forever to get into. I just don't want to go through that, again. So I told him in an e-mail. I feel bad about it, but the fact is, I don't have the time to keep working on a project that isn't mine and hasn't made me a penny outside of a couple free dinners.

As regards my trip arrangements, so far all I'm out is the $30 for a plane ticket to Dublin on Ryan Air. It would've cost more to change the ticket than to just buy a new one. But I've already begun working up things I need to find at PRONI, in Belfast. And maybe I can work it so I have better access online than I currently do.

Nothing else left to say...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Okay...get ready for something wild and crazy. My flight out to London, this morning, was cancelled, but not until like 7:30 am. So...I called US Airways to find out about rescheduling. The earliest I could get out was Saturday, the 11th, to arrive on Sunday. Same flights, different days. Okay, so far that's livable.

But...I still had to return by way of Dublin; if I shifted the return flight to being from Heathrow, it would have cost hundreds more. "So fine, let's do that," says I. BUT...the earliest flight they have seats available on is the following Saturday's -- the 18th. Same return flight numbers.

Well, I'll be done with job #1 on Monday...and job #2 on me 3 free days in the middle of the week instead of 2 free days on a Friday and Saturday. I can fly to Dublin on Wednesday, catch a train up to Belfast to stay at a Travelodge that's just over a mile from PRONI, have all day Thursday there...and that's their late night; open till 8:45. Then I can hop a morning train back to Dublin on Friday and catch my return flight Saturday morning.

In short, having my plans screwed up worked too much in my favor for me to ignore, so I rescheduled everything to do just that...and now wonder why the hell Brendan couldn't let me know this was the better way to go before I went through all this angst?

That said, I guess this is about as clear a message as the fates can send -- you wanted to go to PRONI, you got it. Now get your butt back onto writing P/S, you little shit.

So that's where my day went, reworking everything. I tried to fly straight into Belfast but the timing was way too screwy for minimal savings. And I considered hopping a train up to Holyhead and ferrying across to Dublin...but that was change here and go there and on and on, for the same money as air fare and a roundtrip train ticket.

But now I'm all set, thanks to a snowstorm that thought it was screwing me over...or else, having fun letting me think it was instead of it being in collusion with the muse. Now I'm wondering what the hell else is in store...

Not that I'm paranoid, or anything.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back to work on Owen Taylor...

I spent the day digging through what I'd done on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor up till now, and it's in need of me finishing the story before I can go through and straighten out some things. It's turned into more than a simple mystery, to me. I like to think I'm building a world of real characters and possible events to surround the questions about what's going on. It's a bit repetitive...but deliberately so. All I have left to do is the denouement.

I got a copy of the new edition of Bobby Carapisi, today, and it's still on the big side...well, thick, but it's a lot better looking than the earlier edition I did. And it's cheaper by $8. Can't argue with that.

I've been checking on my flight all day, but so far it's still slated to go. I'll check, again, in the morning before I head to the airport. But in the back of my mind is how I made it to Philadelphia to change to a flight to Paris and it wasn't canceled until I got off the plane and to the international terminal, thanks to that Icelandic volcano. Oh, well...I'm a bit on edge about it, but the fact is, there's nothing I can do except keep moving forward.

Rather like my writing. One section of OT is still a bit weak but better than I remembered. I was smart enough to remove some details that were bogging it down. I'm going to dig through a folder of notes to see if there's anything more I do want to add to the story, but as of now, I'm relatively happy with what I have.

Jake's a solid character, with street smarts, who's building a take-no-prisoners attitude. He has a confrontation with one lawyer that I absolutely love. And Antony's still thinking he's smarter than everybody while Matt just wants to get along. I'm close to falling in love with Dion, and I realize Meredith is based a lot on my grandmother, so she's special to me.

Hopefully, no one will figure out who's done what till it's revealed, but you never know. I may be making it brutally obvious. That's what's feedback's for.

So...who might be open to reading it once I'm done? He asks for the umpteenth time, not remembering if anyone's actually said they were up for it and being too lazy to go back and see from past posts.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Looks like Tuesday's going to be a bust...

That's when I'm slated to fly to London, but if the airlines continue their ways, my flight from Buffalo will probably be cancelled due to weather. It's supposed to be around 6 or 8 degrees that day...for a high. And snowing. Which will be a huge problem, because I did this trip in stages and will lose at least the air fare between London and Dublin. I'm keeping watch on it, and hope it doesn't come to that...but so far 2014 has been kicking me in the ass. We are not happy and sincerely hope the rest of the year will be less problematic.

Maybe the fates are telling me I'm traveling too much, lately, and need to pay more attention to my writing. Maybe I've had too long a stretch of easy, that's not it; there've been ups and down on that. Maybe Brendan's cursed me for not going to Belfast and the archives once the packing job's done...and never mind I couldn't possibly have made it in time on a Friday to do any serious research for P/S. PRONI closes at 4:45pm.

I need to find some way of making at least a one-week trip to Belfast and Derry, this summer. High season, of course, so no cheap prices...but I need access to those archives and the museums and libraries in those towns. They don't have everything I'm looking for online. I've read so many books and dug into PRONI and NICRA, but there are details I still lack -- the price of LPs and which stores were most popular with which kids; bus fares and schedules between Derry and Belfast; the topography of locations in Belfast...hell, I really should spend a year there so I can get it all. Maybe I should work up a query letter to see if I could get enough of an advance on the book...

Excuse me...I'm actually laughing at myself on that idea.

What this means, of course, is GET OT DONE ALREADY, Kyle. That's the only thing standing between you and P/S, right now. Everything else is either set or can wait, and sending out query letters does not take all that much time. My goal is 5 a day, and I already have the stamps. I just need the stationery.

I have been bad about my writing, I have to admit. I've never been much of a time-organizer. I just do what I do...and it's telling on me because I'm not getting anything done.

Old fart needs to change his ways...and I'm laughing, again.

The trip from HELL...

I flew to NYC to pick up a book, today. Plan was to hop down on a 9:25am flight, grab a car, drive the 60 miles to get the book, return to JFK, have a nice dinner and relax, and fly home, being back to my place by 10:45pm. Gave me plenty of time, to allow for stuff that might not quite work out.

I got to the airport a bit early -- 8am, but the plane starts loading at 8:55 so I wanted time to go through Security. Only I was one of just 4 people going through. Cool. I bought a nice mint tea and scone and sat down to read my book, thinking I didn't want to go online for what would only be about 45 minutes.

At 9:30 they told us the plane intended for our 9:25 flight had just left its prior destination and we wouldn't be boarding till 10:30. Okay, NBD. I left myself enough time for everything. I was slated to get to the client's between 1 and 3pm, and it just meant I'd be there by 2.

No such luck. The plane didn't take off till 11:30, because some people had to be rerouted via our flight to catch their flight to Aruba (JetBlue was holding that flight for them). Then we circled JFK for half an hour...and then the jetway wouldn't work when we finally got to the terminal; they had to call in repairs. I didn't get my rental car till 1:15pm, and it's a good hour and fifteen minutes to my destination.

So I call the client and tell him I'm running a little behind...but I still expect to be there before 3; he has to leave then. Only it was murder getting out of JFK...and the rental car I was handed by Enterprise was filthy and had next to no windshield wiper fluid in it. The streets are covered in slush, so within a couple of miles I can't clean my windshield enough to see out of it. I had to get off the friggin' freeway and find a place that sold fluid. It was hell on earth getting back on.

Of course, this being NYC there's also construction everywhere and lanes blocked off, snarling traffic. So I have to call the client to tell him I can't make it by 3. No way. We work it out so his son's girlfriend will stay at the house so I can get the book.

I get there at 4. Nice book. I've got a carrying box for it so only have to wrap it up and slip it in after taking a couple photos (the front panel's detached) and she and I chit-chat about collecting books and French literature. I'm there 16 minutes and head back to JFK.

Of course, there's some snarled traffic, but I got time. Except it's right about now I realize I haven't eaten anything since that scone, but no way in hell am I getting off the freeway. The GPS on my phone would yell at me.

Oh...and that phone. I was stupid enough to sync iTunes up with the music I have on my laptop. BIG mistake. Do NOT do it!!!! You cannot turn the damned thing off; you can only pause it, and it likes to turn itself on at the most inopportune moments -- like when you're talking in traffic to a client and can't hear half of what he's saying. I didn't have the nerve to ask if he was hearing the music, though I doubt he'd have minded it; the tune playing was one of Lorena McKinnitt's.

So I turn in the car, get credit for the washer fluid, find their driver is on a break so just walk over to the AirTrain station (it's only 2 blocks but it's through slushy snow) because I'm hungry and want to get through Security and have a nice dinner and relax. Guess what gets stopped at Terminal 1 (when I need to be at Terminal 5)? The AirTrain. Some obstruction on the tracks. We sit there for fifteen minutes. By this point I'm downing TicTacs like they're a source of nutrition.

Again, I'm one of 4 people going through security, so it's nice and fast. I decide to have an enchilada dinner; there's a restaurant called Revolucion in Terminal 5 that's usually quite good, and it's right by the gate I need to be at. Well, I get seated, put in my order, get my ginger ale (I was too hungry for a beer; it would've knocked me out)...and my food comes fifteen minutes later, damn near ice cold. And you think I can find the waitress? Plus, I had to steal cutlery off another table. She took it away. Heated it up. Came back nice and crispy (which is not how you want enchiladas) but by that point I didn't care.

I made it up to myself with a DP and Milky Way. And read more of my book. And heard announcements that various Jet Blue flights were being cancelled, including one to Buffalo but not my flight number. We boarded late, but the doors are closed and they've done the safety crap, so I'm all set...and we sit there for an hour as they work on fixing a cargo hatch that won't shut right.

But...we finally took off and landed in Buffalo just before midnight. And what's the capper? As I'm getting off, I hear one of the ground crew telling the co-pilot about how another flight from JFK arrived without any luggage. They'd had to change out planes but the NYC ground crew didn't change the bags out...and then the plane got fixed and put on a flight to Atlanta...with 131 passengers' luggage in its cargo hold. I saw them still in line at the JetBlue baggage claim, looking very dangerous.

I beat it to my car and got home and locked the door. Dunno what the hell was going on out there, tonight, but I'm glad I'm done with it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Flashman and the Mountain of Light"

Okay...I'm hooked...and am having as much fun reading the book as these critters are...

This is how life should be lived, dancing and prancing and reading funny works. This book is set along India's Northwestern Frontier in 1845, when the Sikhs were poised to overrun India and drive the British back to England. Harry Flashman is 23 years old and sent to the Punjab court as Her Majesty's envoy (and secret agent). Oh, the horror...

I'm just past page 100, and Flashy, as "the rutting little pig" calls himself (the line that came from damn near killed me) has just survived an assassination attempt while being bathed by a naked beauty after spending the whole night servicing a lovely, lewd Maharani. He is exhausted beyond measure, aches in every bone, and has been through more emotional ups and downs than a roller coaster has hills...and then he's faced with a lovely slave girl in his very own bed, wearing nothing but a flimsy strip of black gauze. She wants him, but all he wants more than anything in the world is to sleep. Desperately. Still, as he gazes upon the lovely female, he sighs and thinks, "To thine own self be true," and he puts temptation aside to give the girl exactly what she wants. Ah, the sacrifice...

James Bond's got nothin' on this boy.

This book is damn funny...and I'm going to keep reading till I figure out how the hell George Macdonald Fraser does it! But I have a feeling a lot of it stems from frolicking like ferrets in a box of styrofoam peanuts.

I have a friend who has a ferret; they really are like that.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New thoughts on a cover for HTRASG...

This one may actually work...

I like the starkness of it, and it feels dangerous. I added a hint of light to the eyes, and that seems to emphasize the threat. But I wonder if it comes across as too focused on evil? Or if that's what it should have as its undercurrent? Considering what happens in the book, it's really a maybe I'm being wimpy.

I'm beginning a letter to send out with the book and notes on the postcards, hoping to get book shops to take in copies of David Martin instead of just offering to order it for a customer. I have no idea if any have been bought, yet, but I've ended the Facebook ad. That damn thing was expensive and for next to no reaction from people. I did better with The Lyons' Den and Bobby Carapisi, the Complete Novel when I had ads up for them. At a lot less. Facebook's gotten greedy.

We're having a vicious winter storm, right now. My hands got frozen even in gloves and driving the car, not to mention my feet sloshing through the snow. Last I checked, it's 5 degrees with a wind-chill of minus 15. That's Minnesota weather, you betcha...

Saturday it's a hop down to NYC to pick up a book to hand carry to the UK for a client. I hope my plane will be taking off, let alone be on time.

World flier Kyle.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Will this be a truly new year?

I have to wonder. I always start off with a lot of hope and promise...and then life barges in to distract me and soon I'm wallowing in regrets and the feeling that I've wasted another year. I sort of have that going on, still, even as I acknowledge I did a lot to set up 2014 to be different from 2013...and 2012...and 2011...

I now control all but two of my books -- NYPD Blood and The Lyons' Den. I'm giving up on NYPDB. I wrote it. It got published, albeit not very well done. Something happened between my "co-writer" and the publisher and I can't find out what. But he has the rights back...and he apparently wants to rewrite it. I don't. I've tried to get myself involved in it, again, but the changes he wants are making it like I'm writing a whole new book, and I'm just not that into the story. I've written it. I like what I wrote. If he doesn't, he needs to get someone else who will do it like he wants.

As for LD, I'm fine with STARbooks and what they've done. I'm not crazy about the cover or their lack of publicity, but they actually paid me royalties on sales. That means a LOT. I can live with them keeping it going, and I can push it harder, on my follows...

This is what I've come up with for a post card to use in a mail-out for LD. I'm not 100% on it, yet, and would appreciate any feedback. it too busy? Can you read it okay? Should I just use the book's actual cover? (I'd need to get artwork from the publisher, for that, so would rather not.) The nice thing is, all this is my own artwork, so I don't need to license anything.

I've also been working up a new possible cover for How To Rape A Straight Guy.

This one seems a bit raw and ranuchy...but I like the power of it. I'd need to find a similar photo to the one of the guy in the t-shirt; I snagged this one off a website but they'd reposted it from somewhere else and have no idea who the photographer or model are.

Another thing is, the guy in the t-shirt's a bit on the Stanley Kowalski side, and I'm not sure I want to bring that idea into the sales pitch.
This one's more in line with the tone of the book, but is it too mysterious? Am I being too coy? Not coy enough? Not honest enough about the subject matter? Is the target site too much?

Thing is, I can do this one using licensed images from Shutterstock.

Still in forward motion, it seems...for now...and planning to spend even more money.

Typical for me.