Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, October 31, 2014


Just under an hour to when I can start writing in Bugzters...and I have no idea how to start the story. I may jump into some other parts and work on those till I can figure this out. I guess it all depends on what age group I'm aiming for. Or not. I'd like to begin with a grabber...but I just don't have one, yet.

Seriously, do I start with Alex lost in space and describe how he's playing a video game with his beat-worst friend, Billy LeGrande? Should I explain why he doesn't want to move, first? I've got four other possible openings and I don't really like any of them.

Of course, that's the most important part of a book. I can't tell you how many novels I pushed through and wound up liking because the opening was great. There are others where, even though the first pages were tedious and I was reading the book because it was a classic, I wound up liking them. But only because I refused to give up.

I'm at that stage of my "career" where I wonder if I've used up all that I have in the way of storytelling ability. There are a lot of people who think you only have one novel in you, yet I've written 33 scripts, 6 books and so many short stories and I don't know.

Never did, really.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rearranging the future...

Looks like I'm not coming to California in February. I'm handling the Miami Map Fair, instead. This year, the ABAA is holding the California Antiquarian Book Fair in Oakland instead of San Francisco. At a hotel convention hall in downtown, meaning there'll be no room to do the pack & ship thing I'd been doing the last few fairs. So no need for me to be there.

On top of that, the map fair is the same weekend as California's, and since we have a number of international clients who exhibit there, someone needs to be on site. So...I've got a room set up close by and I'll be in Miami for the third time in my life. Never been much impressed with the place, but maybe I'll run into William Levy, while I'm there, and we can talk about how he was robbed of the championship on Dancing With The Stars.

I'm trying to organize my workspace for the challenge...which will only be where I work for 3 weeks. Seven days will be during my trip to Hong Kong, so I better do better than the average, up front. There's also the possibility of another job, and I'd have to go there on the that's only 22 solid days to make Bugzters a book.

Well...I do like to travel. Wonder if I'll be able to get back to London anytime soon? Or Paris ever again? Only way I could afford it is on the company dime.'s something to strive for...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I should've been drinking...

I wrote the first draft of Find Ray T in 8 days, while buzzed on beer. I wanted to see what would happen if I did that, so I took a week off from work and got it done from start to finish...and the basic structure hasn't changed. Spoiled actor is forced to help the mob (Mafia to start with, shifted to Russian) find a snitch who put their boss in jail and vanished into the witness protection program. Why the actor? The snitch wrote a book about his exploits and the actor played him in the movie version, then boasted he'd met the man to show him the film. Only it was all hype, and now he can't figure out what to do because no one knows where the snitch is, and the FBI won't help.

I played it for laughs as well as action and suspense from the start. Got my characters down pat. Even after workshopping it in a writer's group, it kept its shape. So I know I can do it...when I'm drinking. And maybe thats' the only way. Because I ain't gettin' it done this week, not on Wrecker or Killer Tiger or Death Tiger or whatever the hell it wants to call itself, these days. I need to be building up Bugzters in my brain for the novel-writing challenge, which starts in about 48 hours.

Oh, was a thought. I'm halfway done. Sort of. And I did start late and have to work this week. So I have all my excuses lined up nice and ready to pick from. Only I gotta stop that. No excuses. I was doing it for the wrong reason -- to get my brain clear and keep it busy till November 1st. That's not good enough to make the story come together...and I really know better. it's set. For me to write free and uncritically, I gotta have a six-pack in the fridge. Not wine; that just makes me mellow and sleepy. And I don't really like whiskey except mixed in with something where I can't taste it. Can you be like Hemingway on Amstel Light instead of Wild Turkey? We'll see what happens when I take time off around Christmas.

Hmm...maybe I'll OD on eggnog.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Goofy review that gets a couple of points wrong (Ed Gein was in Wisconsin, not Texas; Janet's character worked for a real estate agent, not a bank) but it's still fun...

Monday, October 27, 2014

If I only had a chin...

I've never had one. I've got one of those necks that starts at your chin and slopes in. Even pictures in high school, when I weighed 145 lbs, show me having that. I've always thought that if I do get plastic surgery, it'll be to have a firm, strong chin.

I'd love to have one like this guy's -- practically flat across the jaw line till it hits his throat. It might help me feel better about myself and my appearance. Make me look less like a terrorist.

That's what a co-worker said to me -- that I dress like a terrorist. I've never been the neatest dresser. I got lost in clothes for a couple years but then grew out of it so much, I did a 180. I've never looked as slick as I suppose I could. But it's never been that big a deal to me.

Unless someone snarks about it. Then it digs at me, for some reason. Settles into my sense of self and become one of the tools I use to beat up on myself when I'm down. I was born with some anomalies to my body structure that became more pronounced (at least, in my own mind) as I grew older, so anytime someone feels like they need to comment on my appearance, it only adds to that lack of inner self-worth.

This guy's Kirill Dowidoff, a model from Russia who's sculpted himself into near perfection. but he has the genes for it -- long limbs, clean muscles, body in proportion. It's absurd for me to compare myself to him, even to show how taut his chin is and sigh about mine. Even if I'd worked out 2 hours a day, every day, I'd never look like that. My DNA is totally different. But still...I do...and sigh at my own inadequacies.

It ain't just girls who have body issues.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fighting myself

Okay...I'm using my old script, Iron Cross, as the basis for another script now called Killer Tiger...and I find myself getting lost in making it as good as I can. Now normally that's not a bad idea. Logic works well, even in movies...usually. However, tossing MMA in with Vampires isn't exactly on the same level as Shakespeare, nor does it need to make much sense so long as it works within the frame of the story.

I have 22 pages done...but was aiming for 30 by the end of today. Problem is, I got lost in working out the logic of the piece. Why does this happen? Would that really work that way? What is the flow of the story? Nonsense things that really won't matter. It took me over an hour to stop trying to answer those questions and return to the idea that things happen because they happen and screw the flow.

Now I'm bouncing around the idea of changing the title to Wrecker, which is a nickname given to the main character, Derek Tighe. Initially, Killer Tiger was the play on his name...but Wrecker works so much better. Guess I just talked myself into it.

Plus I have an idea for a nice little horror piece using The Loft as its basic structure. That's another script I wrote for someone else, who then turned on me when he found god. According to him, because I'm queer I should be executed. So this is almost like a fuck you to him. Once it's done, it'll be completely different -- no demon or ouija board in it, no suicides -- and all the characters will be American and cute, even though it's post-apocalyptic.

I'm doing this because I want to see if I can write a script that will fucking sell. Doesn't have to be perfect or brilliant, just interesting enough to get someone to buy it and make it. I need to know this, because I need a new path in my life. I want the fuck out of the job I have, and I don't want to shift to another job like it just to keep making the bills; that's been my whole life up till now. I want a new direction. Period. This is the only one I can see as a possibility, right now, short of getting SSI early. So... least al this got my mind off Bugzters.

Busy work...

I'm skimming through a script and cutting back on my overt directions in it while biding my time till next Saturday. My plan is to make something that can be done nice and cheap, with MMA in it and lots of fighting, and Iron Cross fits that. I did it partly for a guy who was a kickboxing champion and wanted a script to show off his abilities in acting and kickboxing. He was gonna be the Wonder Bread version of Jean-Claude Van Damme.

It was set in Manila and had action, comedy, suspense, redemption, death, violence, you name it. There was even a woman who was good at Savate (basically French kickboxing) who helped him...and flew off into the sunset with him. The lead was ridiculously heroic and taciturn, as he should be.

Well...I got him a solid draft...and he did nothing with it. At all. I already had the feeling he was a talker...and that's what he proved to be. So I backed away from he project.

Now I'm setting it in LA, with a sidebar in Seattle that won't need an actual trip there. It's going to have drug cartels, a hero who refuses to fight in MMA again because he killed a man, who's forced to do that, again, so the villainess can get revenge on him...and maybe even vampires. I have this funny feeling if I do something goofy like that, it'll get more attention.

I started working on the idea while I waited for my car to get done. Then got knocked on my ass when they told me I'll need $1800 in transmission work on top of the $300 for the oil pan. Overall, I'd be spending in repairs more than the car is work, Blue-book. But...I got to see the underside and both the mechanics showing me this were impressed with how rust-free it was. One guy joked he'd like to buy the car off me.

Can't be done, right now. I don't have the money for any more repairs, and if I sink that much into my car, I'll have to keep it a lot longer. Which kicks the idea of an HRV out the window, even if they don't show till Spring of next year.

Typical for me.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Canada shows some class

Too bad America didn't act this adult after 9/11...

Friday, October 24, 2014

I hate technology

Every time I turn around, I have to "update this" or "download that" in order to play videos or stream or do work or anything on my computer or my phone. I've been burning most of my work onto CD-Rs because I had them available and don't have the ready cash for another thumb drive. Now I need to upgrade Flash...even though I did it only last month. Another app bumps me off half the time, so it needs to be updated. WTF is going on? How the hell do you keep up with all the crap when there's only 24 hours in a day and you're working or sleeping for at least half of it?

This hasn't been a good day, at all...and tomorrow promises to be even worse. My car's water pump is loose and rattling and I have to get it fixed before the fan rips everything apart. And I'm damn near broke. Means digging into my tax fund.

At the same time, I'm close to quitting my job, I'm so upset. I got bawled out for trying to plan for a packing job because it's supposed to be top secret. No one said it was...but so what? The people I work for expect you to know what they're talking about when they don't spell anything out.

I'm tired. My head's going nuts. I'm not in the mood to do anything. Perfect place to be...back to whining.

I ought to start this post over, but I promised myself I'd never do that...dammit.

The man responsible for my demise...

I've seen all but a handful...and those are out of print or lost.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chatter fills the air...

There's been lots of it about packing jobs in Chicago and LA and Germany and New England...but not one of them is concrete enough to do anything about. Which leaves me feeling jagged. I'd like to know what to expect and plan for, if I can, so I can figure out how to do the writing.

Like my trip to Hong Kong. It's a 16 hour journey, but it's more than likely my plane will have power outlets for me to plug in my laptop and write. So that may help me with the writing challenge. but everything else? Who knows?'s the 22nd...and I have 8 more days before I can begin writing, officially. I don't want to get onto anything else and lose the contact I'm building with Bugzters...but I feel like a junky going through withdrawal. I wanna dig into someone's psyche using my laptop's keys. Now. NOW.

Psycho, Kyle, qu'est-ce que c'est?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet Michel Grasley...

He'll be the author of books like Bugzters, since I have another book I was thinking of writing geared at a younger audience -- Kid-Co. That one's about twin boys who've just started 7th grade and have to deal not only with a bully who takes their lunch money but an older sister who tries to swipe it, first; she makes them lunches to take instead of giving them the money mom left. I wrote it as a short script...that wound up being 30 pages long. It'd be funny. Well, as funny as I'm capable of.

Then there's The Lavender Curse, which is a goofy story about a cop about to make a big bust getting his mind switched with his less-than-beloved mother-in-laws just as she's about to compete in a senior lady beauty pageant. Freaky Friday for the geriatric set?

I got over my concerns about pseudonyms by posting the question on NaNoWriMo's Forum and got some very positive responses -- all saying yes to pen names and pointing out why. I think the one that convinced me pointed out it's a form of branding as well as a firewall for parents. So in, did I give.

I'm not sure what I'll do about stories like Place of Safety or The Golden Sea. The gears have started working on them...and I caught on to where GS wants to go. I thought it was going to be a story about redemption and forgiveness...and it's the exact opposite. The female lead is black and was widowed by a white cop. She's Christian and finally seeks the cop out to say she forgives him, but when she sees him, she can't. Because she looks into his eyes and sees nothing there. He'll do it, again.

What's funny is, it won't be a bleak book. The two leads will get their lives back in order once they let go of the past and face their respective demons. But it won't be sugar-coated.

Life isn't.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I hate to wait...

I have Bugzters pretty much outlined, to the point where I'm ready to start writing it. But I have to wait till November 1st, not because anybody's watching but because to do otherwise would be a complete cheat. And yes, I know, I'm almost cheating by using a script as the basis for the book. But reality is, a screenplay is only an outline of a novel.

Characters are but sketches of themselves, meant to inform an actor as to what they will portray in front of the camera...when they're willing to. All too often, lately, actors will ignore the meaning of a character and go their own happy way with whatever they "feel" at the moment. I've never thought of that as acting, just lazy self-indulgence.

Also, the settings are barely described, so there can be room for the input of the producer, director, cinematographer, production designer, and locations scouts. Granted, a screenwriter works out the dialogue best suited to the character throughout the story, but it's often tossed aside and reworked by the director and producer and actor.

Fact is, screenplays are the most impermanent form of writing, even less than an outline. Because what the film starts with is often completely different from what the initial writer envisioned. Consider this -- the romantic-comedy, Pretty Woman, was first written as a tragedy. And in Sunset Boulevard, the narrator tells of how one of his scripts started out being about Oakies in the dust bowl and wound up being set on a submarine in the Pacific.

I was told a story in film school by one professor about a writer who'd labored over a script for two years. He turned it in, was lavishly praised for it, paid well, and promptly forgotten about. He wasn't even invited to the premier. So he went to a showing of the film at a theater near his home, and walked out after seeing the first image. It was of the lead actor riding across an open plain, going from screen right to screen left...and the screenwriter had envisioned him as riding from left to right. Smart man that he was, he knew it would only be downhill from there.

Wish I was that smart.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I love it when the book takes over...

By that, I mean it takes on a life of its own. Sometimes it turns out to be a mess, like what happened with OT, but I'm beginning to think that only happens because I'm not really listening to the characters as they tell their stories. And looking back, Jake was getting flustered with everything that was going on, like he felt he had to keep adding more and more to keep me interested.

That's not to say what he brought in was wrong, some of it just detracted from his meaning. Now that I've got some distance from that, I can see how cluttered it had become. And how him telling me who the bad guy is was a way to try and simplify things. I'm amazed that I fought with him on it.

I'm hoping I've caught on and can keep that in mind with Bugzters, because it's started telling me what the story's really about, and wants me to add back in a character I cut to help clarify that. In my first draft of the screenplay, Alex had a brother named Drew, who was ill, and Alex blamed him as the reason for them moving. I was asked to cut that and focus on Alex, completely, in the script, with Taylor as his supporting friend. I did...and it was the wrong thing to do.

Then when we were doing the rewrites making BZ into an animated script, I was being pushed to get rid of Taylor, too. Combine her with Alex. By that point I'd learned my lesson and flat out refused. The reaction was not pretty. I'm lucky they're allowing me to do this as a book.

I thought for a bit about putting Drew back in the story...but I couldn't see how he'd fit, anymore. Until tonight. When the Bagh-star understand how much Alex hates moving from his friends, they try to fix things as a thank you to him. But it comes after he realizes his father is the reason for the move, so it's no longer necessary. The man is never satisfied with where he works and keeps thinking the next job will be a better one. What these moves do to his family is secondary in his thought process.

It's still going to take some finagling to work Drew in, but he's suddenly become essential to Alex's development as a person. It feels funny saying that about an 11 year-old boy. At that age, you're anything but developed. But sometimes you learn things about life that jolt you out of childhood.

Hmm...maybe I should stop referring to this as a children's story...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Prepping BZ...

Man, I have a cast of characters in this story --

Alex Lunquist -- 11 years old, stubborn and angry, typical kid.
Taylor Castillo -- 11 year old genius, Alex's best friend, gets lost in techno-speak.
Billy LeGrande -- 11 year old brat, sneaky, just like his dad.
Morika -- 11 year old brat, queen of toys and you're not.
Morika's Mother -- trendy, entitled, condescending, crass.
Cheyenne -- 11 year old brat, Morika's best friend...for now.
Mrs. Rutledge -- crossing guard, gruff but cares about the kids.
Mr. Smith -- owns Joys Toys, his dead wife's store, old-fashioned but not unwilling to change.
Mr. LeGrande -- obnoxious and entitled, wants Joys Toys location for his Virtuoso-Splosion.
Mrs. Castillo -- Earth mother who's happiest baking a cake, level-headed.
Mr. Castillo -- Top-level Computer Nerd who gets lost on the internet.
Julia Lundquist -- Real estate agent, caring mom to Alex but close to losing it.
Hal Lundquist -- Techno-dad, restless, one of those "grass is greener" types.
Bagh-Star -- 6 neon vapors in varying colors, leader 1st seen as hologram of Hal then as Tesla, speaks with German accent.
Chester Harry -- clumsy fisherman dude, not very bright.
Hex-on -- silver orbs that turn themselves into likenesses of Chester, very 3-stooges in quadruplicate.
Ms. Chris -- MESSIES agent, dressed in beige, too cool for you.
Mr. Carter -- Beige MESSIES agent, dressed in beige, even cooler.
CPO -- Navy Liaison to the Beige Pair, aware of reality...maybe too perfect a Navy man...
Mrs. LeGrande -- Stepford wife
Mr. Eberhard -- droning teacher
Mrs. Freeman -- principal, caring but no-nonsense.
Coach -- at school
Rowdy -- Alex's friend in Albuquerque

I've already got notes on how to dig into Alex's past and why he hates to move, and how this is affecting his relationship with not only his mother but his father. Same for Taylor; Alex is her only friend and she doesn't want him to move, either, because then she'll be alone. The story's going to have a serious undertone...which I don't mind...but I need to keep it joyful enough for kids, too. That'll be a challenge...

Well...that and making the Chesters work on the page instead of on film.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Arguing with yourself...

I've spent the last couple of days trying to make a decision. I've been told having my name on books like How To Rape A Straight Guy and Rape In Holding Cell 6 make it improbable anyone would want to read one of my books aimed at younger readers. That this is what's hurt David Martin. Someone can go online, look up me up on Google and the first thing they're likely to see is one of those in-your-face titles. And they're right; it is.

Meaning they think I should use a pseudonym when I do the novelization for Bugzters and publish it. It's too late to change the author of David Martin; Amazon will always have the Kyle Michel Sullivan version up on its site. The assholes. They'll happily dump my work when they feel like it, but when I ask them to drop the old editions of my books, they swear they just can't. It's ludicrous. So when someone goes on their site, they see I'm not only the author of an off-beat book like The Lyons' Den but also what many people think is gay porn, so even gay readers might pass it up thinking it's going to have tons of porno-sex in it when it doesn't. feeling is that if I do use a pen-name, it's like I'm ashamed of my work. And I'm not. Sure, I've had people say my books should be banned...and Amazon and Kobo have done it based solely on the titles...but I've gotten praise, too. And I'll put passages of HTRASG and RIHC6 up against any other author's, that's how proud I am of them. Granted, I'm no Tolstoy or Hemingway, but I'm not Dr. Seuss, either.

At the same time, the reality is...a lot of people will not read my books based on the subject matter and titles, and that will bleed into my other work. My books don't sell all that well, but they are high-profile enough to have been referenced on Queerty (positively) and Fox News (disparagingly), and have invited not only good comments but vicious attacks (which probably means I'm doing it right).

I dunno...I can't figure out which way is the best to go. Maybe I should try publishing Bugzters under the Michel Grasley name and see what happens. I'd like it to be read...and that would give it a chance to work on its own instead of being weighted down with my past books.

Or is that giving in to fear?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More of Mrs. Muir's ghost story...

Lovely discussion of the movie, but I think it's as famous for its exquisite musical score as the story. Bernard Hermann was phenomenal, not just as Hitchcock's musician but also Citizen Kane's and The Day the Earth Stood Still's and Taxi Driver's...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Southwest Airlines is going downhill...

I used to like flying Southwest. It was quirky and cheap but still comfortable and easy to deal with, once you had the routine down. And if you sat in the back of the plane, you were just as likely to have an empty set in the middle of your row as not. But the last few flights have not been fun, at all, and this last one to and from Seattle was a pain both ways.

First off, the planes are always packed. I'm getting to think that if they don't have 95% capacity on the flight, they'll cancel it. So no more empty seats by you unless you're really lucky. And the later the flight is in the day, the more likely it is they'll be running late. Then god help you if you've got to make a tight connection.

That happened to me going from Seattle to Buffalo. I had to change planes in Chicago and had just a 50 minute window to do it. That's not time enough to eat or anything, especially since they like to put connections at opposite ends of the terminal. On top of that, they start loading half an hour before the flight and if you're not in the A group, you're screwed. Well...the flight was 20 minutes late getting away from Seattle and an additional 10 minutes late getting into Chicago. On top of it, I had to go from B2 to B26, which was nearly half a mile away. I got there just as they were loading my group in.

Then we got off half an hour late from Chicago because the bags were still being transferred from my flight. I didn't get home till after 1am. And as if to add insult to injury, I was serenaded the whole way by a couple dozen college girls giggling and singing Disney Tunes, which were too loud to be drowned out by my ear buds. If I ever hear "The Circle of Life" again, I'll kill somebody.

I should have done Jet Blue's redeye on Monday night. It's a bit more expensive, but most everybody sleeps on that plane and you get in and up to Buffalo the following morning and can nap enough to take you till that evening. Not a good idea, staying the extra day and taking a day flight.

Live and learn...they say...but I don't believe them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Plotting so as not to plod...

Bugzters works pretty tightly as a screenplay, but in the rewriting I did I cut out  and trimmed down a couple of characters I liked so I'm aiming to add them back into the story. I'm finding that harder to do than I expected, because it interrupts the rhythm of the piece.

That's not to say it's wrong to put them in; in the initial drafts, they made perfect sense. For example: Mrs Routledge is a school crossing guard who winds up suspecting one of the Chesters is up to no good with the kids she's there to protect. She doesn't know there are 4 of them, and her suspicions are on the child-predator side as regards the Chester she she does her best to keep tabs on him. She even runs him off from the school, once, and warns the cops about him. That may help set up the arrest of one of them...

Another deal is the agents from MESCIS, who had more of their too-cool-for-you chatter going on, not to mention Ms. Chris' casual sexual harassment of the CPO. That may be a bit adult for the book, but I think it's kept enough in the background. I'll have to play that carefully, since I'm aiming this at 4-7th grades.

Thing is, by adding them in I need to find a new rhythm for the piece. As a script, it shoots off and runs 90 to nothing. As a book, I can meander a bit more (so long as I don't get lost in that meandering) and dig deeper into the characters. Especially Alex and Taylor...who are dealing with the typical 11 year-old kid things on top of the Bagh-star situation. That's proving to be a trick, even in working up a new outline.

That's not to say it can't be done; The Lyons' Den started out as a script that became a play that became a book, and I think the book works fine. It's not as easy a read as I thought it would be -- keeping track of Ace's patois apparently takes some getting used to -- but it does the job, and I think Daniel winds up being a rich, complex character.

This is going to be more interesting than I expected...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book to movie...

It's amazing to compare the book version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir to the movie...and wonder how Hollywood thought it would make a good film. The book is a meandering mess that rattles on for decades as Mrs. Muir lives her pathetic life. Captain Gregg is never seen by her; he's only in her mind...except when he's really angry. And Lucy Muir is such a sniveling piece of work, easily bullied by her in-laws and everyone else, who only grows a hint of a spine after she's 50 and has been cajoled into it by Captain Gregg, a voice in her head that always puts her down as immature. I didn't like either one of them. And the ending paragraph of the book was just awful.

In the movie, Lucy is stronger. More independent. The main action is compressed into a few years, and they dropped her obnoxious son to keep the daughter. As portrayed by Gene Tierney, Lucy Muir is still very much a turn of the 20th Century woman but with enough self-assuredness that she can fight back when need be. And Rex Harrison as Captain Gregg is still an overpowering presence, but he's not nearly as demeaning and meddlesome as in the book. And you can see him...which is, of course, necessary for a movie.

The film is just a beautifully realized romance directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz that's laced with mysticism and a sense of mutual-respect between a living person and a spirit (talk about love against impossible odds). The book is the story of a mousy woman's life, who's always misused by men and can't seem to handle her own affairs without a man's help...even as she's about to die. And this was written by a woman, and was a best-seller! Talk about changing tastes...

Wow...if I hadn't already thought Philip Dunne was a good screenwriter (he did screenplays for Suez, Stanley & Livingston, How Green Was My Valley, and probably added the humanity to Kiss of Death), I'd definitely think so, now.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I was alternating between reading The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (I already liked the movie, but this book makes me appreciate it even more) and working on the updated outline for Bugzters while on my plane trip when I had one of those moments of revelation writers so love. There were a couple of screaming babies on the flight, so I plugged my headphones into my laptop and listened to some Enya...and realized what the story had been missing from the start. It was so obvious, I could kick myself for not seeing it earlier.

The synopsis is in my previous post, so I won't go over that, again. But at the end, the Bagh-star do get back into space and on their way to Venus...and an uncertain fate, something I alluded to in the story. Throughout the script, I note how they love dancing on the cosmic waves of energy whispering throughout the universe. They call it The Wave, since the Earthly definitions of "surfing" best match their understanding of it. That's what Alex and Taylor are trying to get them back to.

Thing is, in one scene, the lead Bagh-star admits they don't know if Venus will be hospitable to them, and may die trying to find out. But if they don't do that, they face extinction, anyway, at the hands of their enemies. So they do what they must...putting Alex's complaints about having to move to a new town into serious perspective.

But in the script, I never show them being on The Wave. They're always on Earth. That is what's known as an obligatory scene. Period. And I never even thought about it until Enya's To Go Beyond from The Celts album played at the precise moment I was digging through that part of the script. I froze...and I could picture it. And this is what I wrote...

Quickly they rose, shooting through rain and cloud and sun, tiny globes of what we call light so fragile and pure, certain of their destiny. Straight through the earth's thin, delicate atmosphere and its ozone protection into the void, into what humans thought of as nothingness. Then, one by one, they caught the gentle currents that shape the universe into such magnificence. A whisper of awareness...a tender them direction and bringing them absolute joy. They clung to it and danced around it and with each other. It was the wave, again. The wave. Giving them strength. Building them anew. Leading them away from the confining fields of glorious green earth and across the deep dark distance between her and the swirling beauty of her nearest neighbor in the galaxy.

On they rode, twisting and spinning and laughing as if they were the coolest surfer dudes in the whole of existence, riding the wave like it was the perfect pipe, growing closer and closer and closer to what they hoped would be their new home...closer and closer to finding out whether or not this bright new world would be the savior of their fellow creatures. Closer...and still dancing to music heard only to them. Closer...and still laughing for being free once more. Closer...and still sure of their purpose. Closer and by one...they vanished into the furious storming clouds of Venus.

That is when everyone back on the hillside began to move, again. The storm rumbled and flashed. The rain pelted down. The wind whipped through Alex, chilling him to the bone. But still he looked up
, and a tear mingled with the rain on his cheek as he whispered, "I hope they made it."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Planning stages...

Okay, step one is begun. I'm signing up for National Novel Writing Month and I'm doing Bugzters as my book. I'm working up an's my first pass...
Eleven-year-old ALEX is furious. His parents had promised there would be no more moves after settling in Seattle, but now his father has accepted a new job in Albuquerque, which will force him to leave the home he loves. He blames his little brother, DREW, for this; Drew's asthma has been a problem since they moved to Seattle. So Alex fights back by manipulating his home's smart system to scare off prospective buyers, thinking this will change his parents' plans. But during his latest session, lightning strikes the satellite dish and six neon vapor aliens (who call themselves BAGH-STAR) zip into Alex's iMac. They were en route to Venus but were almost captured by evil aliens (called HEX-ON) and now are trapped on planet Earth. Stunned, Alex and his best friend, TAYLOR, a girl-genius who lives next door, promise to help get them back on their way.

First they hide the Bagh-Star in some toys Taylor is developing then begin to formulate a plan. What they don't know is the Hex-on HAVE landed and formulated themselves into four versions of a goofy guy named CHESTER. Plus two Beige Agents from MESCIS (the Military Extraterrestrial Search, Capture and Interrogation Squad) have arrived to track down the aliens. On top of it all, with the Bagh-Star hiding in Taylor’s insect-like toys (which she now calls Bugzters) they work perfectly and every kid in town wants one. ToDAY!

After a series of close calls and as another storm blows in, Alex and Taylor wind up being chased by their mothers, the police, their snotty classmates Morika and Billy, the Chesters, the Hex-on spaceship, a greedy toymaker, and the Beige pair. Everybody winds up on a hilltop overlooking Puget Sound, where Alex and Taylor have just one chance to help get the Bagh-Star back into space. But with so many people interfering, how could it possibly work?
I'm cheating a little; this was a screenplay that turned into a nightmarish ordeal for me, but I got the okay from the woman who now owns the script rights to do the book. I'm taking it back to my initial idea, with a few details added in from the later versions, and working up a step outline for the writing. The only question now is whether or not it will hit 50,000 words.

You should laugh at that -- me not being able to fill a 50,000 word commitment when I so love my writing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In preparation for...

I read an interesting article in the October Writer's Digest discussing the first two chapters of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It detailed the hook that gets you into the story, how a characteristic moment reveals what type of person Jane is, the subtle way she described the location, symbolism to bolster Jane's situation and future, what her normal world is like, how neatly backstory was slipped in and how minimal it was, the manner in which she revealed character traits like intelligence and precociousness, the establishment of the dramatic question that will mold the story, action beats used to further the story and character, the lie the character believes that will propel their action forward, and the extraordinary factor. I've never read Jane Eyre; now I want to.

I see a lot of this already established in my opening chapters of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Hell, the story's first line sets up the dramatic question -- why does Jake stay with Antony? And it keeps pushing through the rest of the book and winds up being more important than anyone thought it could be, with the final line answering it.

Something it got me to thinking about was, maybe I had so much going on in OT because I didn't want to delve deeply into what that question really meant. Not just to Jake but to Antony. In this story, Tone does things to deliberately drive Jake away. He's got his good reasons for doing it -- everybody has their good reasons, to quote a famous film -- but as it currently stands, the whole issue sort of drifts along once those are revealed until I force it to come back to the fore.

It needs to be the final factor that brings about the resolution, with the answer articulated at the end once Jake accepts the truth of what happened. But as it currently stands, I have a 100 pages of running, jumping and standing still crap after that. Not right...but it was a bloody battle to get me to see it.

I'm finally beginning to think the implosion of OT may have been the blessing that kept me from ruining Jake's story.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I spent the last couple of days wallowing in misery and contemplating getting drunk...for about half an hour, then I focused on what my next step will be. First I made an inventory of all my scripts -- not counting the ones that were work for hire or rewrites of other people's screenplays -- and plays. Here's a list, in no particular order.

The Alice '65
Carli's Kills
Find Ray T
Blood Angel
Coby O' and the Pink Palace of Texas
5 Dates
Darian's Point
Return to Darian's Point
KAZN (and its adaptation, Death Target)
Mine to Kill
Brand of Justice
Dair's Window
Killing Moon
Wide New World (aka: Still Life)
Delay En Route
Iron Cross
Bandit Country
The Loft
The Cowboy King of Texas
The Lavender Curse

I've written another 10 that I have no rights to -- and 4 more are half-written. And there are several books I need to finish writing --

Place of Safety
The Vanishing of Owen Taylor
Underground Guy
The Golden Sea
Robert's Wife

I'm near the tail-end of my life. If I don't get my ass in gear, all of my stories will be lost. No one cares about unproduced or unpublished works once you're dead. So I'm seriously thinking about shifting every one of my scripts into book format and the hell with screenplays. I haven't quite convinced myself, yet, but reality is biting me in the ass and it fucking hurts.

When that happens, you better pay attention.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

They didn't even look at it...

Worked my ass off all weekend to get Death Target (the title I decided on for Vengeance) in order and I did a damn good job...and they didn't even read it. I got one of those, "Thanks for sending this, but we already found something," notes. I didn't do this on my own; if it'd just been a notice posted on InkTip or ISA or Mandy, I'd have ignored it. But I was told they wanted to look at the script on Monday. So I got them the script on Monday. And got less than nothing in return.

It's a good script. Damn fucking good. I don't always feel that way about my work, but this time there's no question in my mind, so I know they didn't turn it down because it was poorly written or plotted. And no question in my mind it could have been done for a million in Morocco while still looking like it cost ten times more. But what can you do when they won't even consider your work? My writing could be on the same level as Shakespeare's and it wouldn't do me a damn bit of good.

That, in and of itself was hard to take, but this evening I finally got hold of someone at the Riverside County Sheriff's Office to discuss the ins and outs of Indio's county jail, and that kicked one subplot and two chapters of OT out the window. I still need to find someone in the DA's office to talk with about other aspects of the story, but as of now...

...As of now, I'm taking a break from writing. I can't handle this shit and deal with traveling to Seattle and handling family crap and being told at least once a day that I did something the wrong way, at work. Not that what I did wasn't correct; I just didn't do it the way they wanted.

Warning, warning...nice, big crash and burn en route to my psyche; take cover.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The first 4 pages of "Vengeance"...or maybe, "Target For Death"...



Large, well-kept, near the Mediterranean. An SUV waits in the driveway, another SUV behind it. A stocky man in a sharp suit, LEGRIS, waits with heavily-armed POLICEMEN.

A solid brick of a POLICE CHAUFFEUR exits the house, followed  by GEORGES BASSIR, 50, well-dressed.

(in French)
Irina, come! We’re late.

A stylish woman -- IRINA, 50 -- strides out, smiling.

(in French)
Jean-Pay is already a day late, and when is the train ever on time?

A lovely young woman follows her -- LANA. She toys with a wedding ring on her finger.

(in French)
It will be, today. But Jean won’t care.

(in French)
Still loves his bride, eh? Wait till he’s married as long as me.


He kisses her, gets in the front passenger seat; the women are in the back. Legris and his cops get in their vehicle.

(to cops, in French)
Try to keep up.

(in French)
No need to rush.

They drive off, Legris and his cops leading.


A powerful, SCARRED MAN lies under a bush. Watches the villa through binoculars. He sends a text on his mobile.

The text shows on a mobile phone -- “he in back car.”

Just down the hill, LEGION, a trim Russian in his 30s, puts the phone away, turns on a small gray drone. Sends it flying.


The SUVs whip through an electronic gate onto a winding road.

Another POLICEMAN waves them past.


He motions back to the guard.

(in French)
This is what you get for butting your nose into other people’s business.

(in French)
You were right to do it, Mr. Bassir. Mr. Legris would agree.

(in French)
I’m glad he thinks so. What about you, Lana? Do you think I’m a fool?

(in French)
I know you’re revered by your son, and his wife.

(in French)
Even though we must now live in a cage?

(in French)
It will not be forever.

(in French)
One hopes.


They speed on.

The drone approaches behind Bassir’s SUV...gets closer and closer...

The Chauffeur notices it.

(in French)
What the -- !

He hits the horn -- BEEP -- BEEP --


Legris looks around and BOOM!


Empty. The sound of the explosion echoes. A strong, goodlooking young man turns -- JEAN-PIERRE BASSIR -- JP. You can see his father in him. A duffel bag beside him. He sees smoke rise in the distance.


JP collapses on a table, drunk, wedding ring on his finger. SASHA -- big, blond, Russian, same age as him -- is almost as drunk.

(Russian accent)
JP, come. Must -- home.


Deserted. Dark. Sasha and Jean-Pierre half-carry each other to a nearby car. Both sing.

Ochi chyonye, ochi zhguchie,
ochi strastnye i prekrasnye,
kak lyublyu ya vas, kak boyus’ ya vas,
znat uvidel vas ya ne v dobryi chas.

JP stumbles on the words. Sasha laughs.

(French accent)
Merde...fucking Russian...


Careful. Is my mother language.

(in French)
I have to pee.
(in English)
That’s French. Means I have to pee. That’s my language.

He stumbles into an alley. Sasha unlocks his car, continues to sing “Ochi chyornye.”


JP pees.



Pied Noir.

JP looks around, angry.


JP cries out -- jolts back -- falls.

JP? Jean-Pierre?

JP sees blood on his hands. Smiles.

(in French)
Finish it...asshole...

The Scarred Man starts for JP. Sasha runs over.


Sasha, non!

He tries to get up.

The Scarred Man slices his knife through Sasha’s throat!

JP kicks the man down -- fights him -- guts him with his own knife. Blood flies. JP pushes his body away, bleeding.

SASHA! ...Sasha...

He sees Sasha’s lifeless body. He passes out.



A long low flat warehouse surrounded by open desert and two or three trees, near Casablanca. An expensive sedan parks by the entrance. YOUSEFF -- a youth-obsessed middle-aged man -- hops out. He strides to a door.

JP (O.S.)
Uncle Youseff.

JP leans against a new convertible. His hair is almost blond.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sent that sucker off...

Spent the day going over Vengeance for inconsistencies and clarity and simplicity...and I found a number of spots that needed work, but it's still 100 pages. New possible title -- Target For Death.

Here are the main characters in my script's world --

Jean-Pierre Bassir, JP (his mother calls him Jean-Pay), the lead, 20s, French-Algerian, rugby player, newlywed. Knows Savate, a French form of martial art. He sets out on a course for revenge against the man he thinks had his family killed. He's suicidal so doesn't care if he dies, until he falls for Abrielle and realizes he may be after the wrong man.

Abrielle Charpin, 20, college student, has a head on her shoulders, sraight-forward, honest, housed in British public schools (private) for years so speaks with a British accent. She knows who her father is but as she says, "You don't get to choose your parents." Very protective of her brother, but vulnerable.

Paul Charpin, 40s, illegal arms dealer, brutal, run out of France by Legris. Now lives in Casablanca and has his business up and running through Spain instead of France. Protective of his children, but not nice about it.

Issam Charpin, 16, housed in British public schools (private) for years so speaks with a British accent, plays football (soccer) for an elite private school, smokes pot, been in rehab and insolent about it. His mother died in his arms when he was 13, uses drugs to escape.

Georges Bassir, 50, Genial bank officer who found his bank was laundering money for Charpin, went to Legris and the cops, got killed for it, along with his wife and new daughter-in-law. Probably was JP's best friend.

Antoine Legris, 40s, solid, hard, high in the French National Police, realistic enough to use his leverage to get rid of Charpin after Bassir is killed, since he can't put him in jail. Uses JP to get to Charpin, again.

Youseff al Masiri, brother of JP's mother, youth-and-money-obsessed, lives in Casablanca, knew Charpin in Marseilles but supposedly out of touch with him.

Lauren al Masiri, British, 40 and youth obsessed, has a thing for JP. Manipulative. Not the maternal type, at all.

Legion, Russian assassin out to kill somebody, question is, who?

I cut it down to 20 locations from 40, and kept JP's flashbacks more than I expected.

We'll see what they say...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rewrite's done

Got it down to 100 pages, and may change the title to Marked For Death. I'm going to scan through it one more time to make sure I have everything in order and all the affiliated changes done...but it's a lot faster and cleaner.

I cut back on the number of locations, too. And I think Spain could substitute for France in the Marseille sequences, so long as the filmmakers are careful. That would be cheaper. There's still some jumping back and forth in time, though nowhere near as much in the Russian version of the script.

If anyone questions that, I can always say I'm trying for a Steven Soderberg style, like in Ocean's 11 and The Limey. I liked how that worked, and how lovely the moments were that it set up in The Good Soldier. And JP's breakdown works better with him being half French instead of full-blood Russian.

Guess we'll see how it goes...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Once you start...

...It's hard to stop. Now that I'm rearranging Kazn into Vengeance, I'm getting hit with ideas on how to make it leaner and cleaner. I dropped another sub-plot about money being stolen from people's bank accounts, using electronic transfers. That works better coming out of Russia than France or England. I also made one character British and another went back to being Russian.

Two others have been cut and I have a car bombing at the beginning that looks expensive but can be shot for very little. The big deal will be shooting some scenes in a villa outside Marseille, overlooking the Mediterranean. Nothing in Morocco looks like that; it's a lot flatter and mostly desert, so they'll have to do a couple days in France.

I did throw in one snarky bit where a guy comes up to customs to enter the country, and when he's asked why he's coming to Casablanca, he says, "For the waters. I came for the waters." I had to fight to keep from adding in, "But we're in the desert," and "I was misinformed." Truncated, but...

Well...need I say more?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Slashin' and a burnin'...

Wow...I've cut 11 pages out of KAZN and I'm only to page 46. But the clarity is better. I think. I hope. I guess I'll find out. I have until Monday to submit it, so that should give me sufficient time. Looks like this may be a hundred page script, not the 124 it was.

For a little while, I was afraid I'd have to travel down to NYC this weekend to pick up some artwork. Our usual guy down there was giving us fits about doing it under a certain timeframe, and a friend of mine who could do it is out of town, so I'd have been gone for 4 days. But it would've cost so damn much more, we're still pushing him to do it.

Normally I like to drive down the road to NYC, and this would be the perfect time of year to do it. But it'd mean probably pushing VENGEANCE too hard...and want this script to be as solid as possible. I've cut out a couple of high-ticket moments so I can focus on the important one -- a fight on a boat in the harbor in the dark. If I work this moment right, the audience will think the hero is really going to die...because I've been hinting throughout the script that's what he wants.

One problem is, I'm not sure how restrictive Morocco is about men and women partying together or meeting at coffee shops, and don't have time to do any real in-depth research. I just know much of Northern Africa and the MidEast have become more hard-assed about such my characters may be too liberal for them. To some Muslims, a woman caught just talking to a man who is not her husband is cause for a hundred lashes -- on her. Not him; like most religions, it's all "boys will be boys and women are whores."

I think the world would be a lot better if it was the other way around.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Sometimes I out-clever myself and get into trouble. That synopsis I sent out...thinking I wouldn't hear back for a few days...or weeks? They already want to see the script. So now I'm in the middle of a frantic rewrite. Which isn't proving to be all that hard, just time-consuming. Because it means changing names and locations and characters, in some cases, which means changing actions.

But the fact is, I'm clearing out a lot of things I'd tried with KAZN -- non-linear structure, telling a third of the story in flashbacks that informed on the current situation, that sort of stuff. This is going to be fairly mainstream and straightforward...and cheaper to shoot.

I'm keeping just the bedrock of the story -- that JP is being used to kill a man he thinks killed his family for reasons he doesn't come to see until he almost does exactly that. At the same time, VENGEANCE is going to be very different from the original. LA and Malibu became near characters in that one. This one, I'm thinking on my feet and coming up with solutions that surprise me.

Like using a drone to spy on people. One of the wonders of our brave new world.

This may prove to be fun...