Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

And another face I'd like...

But probably cannot get. Not for a price I can afford. He goes by Jordan, and he's done work for artists like Exterface and Pierre et Giles. He's been in DNA Magazine. He's got a resume out the azz...but damn, he'd be good...
In some of his images, he has a goatee. And his eyes carry a haunted, wary look that fits. He's in his early 30s, now, but I saw some images of his late 20s -- he's got his own website -- and he's got the profile.

I got more done on OT, today, as I did two weeks' worth of laundry. I reworked the ending to better fit Jake's story, and I can see where to adjust things to illuminate that, even more. One guy who got cut got added back in, and I'm closing in on 118K in wordage. I'm back to hopeful I can get a decent draft done, soon.

Had to stop to pack for tomorrow. My plane's at 7:50am, meaning I have to be at the airport by 6:50, which means I have to get up at 5:45. What's positive is, once I'm in LA, I won't be getting up for work till the equivalent of 10am.

That, I can live with.

Friday, January 30, 2015

New face needed...

I think I'm as ready as I can be for my trip on Sunday, paperwork-wise; tomorrow's the day I do errands like inform the bank of where I'm going and get my travel sizes and do laundry so I'll have clean clothes to take. Tedious nonsense that means running around. That gave me the chance to start looking for another face for Jake, this evening, and I found some interesting ones...though none exactly right.

I happened onto a site called CanStockPhoto, and a photographer who's come close to what I'm looking for...and who may be open to working up one just like I want.

This one is interesting for his expression and eyes, but not enough of a goatee. Still, he'd work; he's got a decent growl going. I'd just have to get rid of the racket and arm.

This guy has the goatee, nose and eyes, but he's a bit soft. Still, for the cover his expression is also good, in a surprised and wary way. I bought a license for both at $8 each for a quality file. That's a bit cheaper than Shutterstock and you can buy them individually instead of having to get 5 to get the decent price.

I do like this one of Jon Gomez, who does self-portraits. His face is damn close to Jake's, but his beard is full. I may contact him -- he lives in Brooklyn -- and see if he has anything similar to this, only with a goatee and wearing a shirt. This is not going to be an erotic novel, so I don't want to give off the wrong impression.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

I go Portugal...

Bought my ticket, today. Be there 5 days, with a car for three of them. This may prove interesting. I'm thinking back, and the only literary reference I can recall to Lisbon is in Candide, then he gets there just after the earthquake of 1755 and is nearly executed as a heretic, or something. It's been a while since I read the book. Of course, there's the last plane to Lisbon, where there's a Clipper to America, in Casablanca.

And that brings an odd sense of connection to my writing, since I just changed a script to be set in Casablanca. I know I posted this before, but it seems even more appropriate, now...

World goes round and round...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Feeling better...

Cipro's doing the job, even though it's the granddaddy of all antibiotics. I'm still worn out and a bit down, but that could be from other causes.

The photographer refused my request to use Guilherme's photo for the cover of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Seems my earlier work freaked him out. Oh, I know what I'm looking for. I've got a couple of credits left at Shutterstock; I'll check there in more detail, but first glance is not promising. A full beard is NOT a goatee, and most of the guys are just ugly. Maybe I'll contact the photographer who helped me on the new cover for Porno Manifesto. He came up with a damn good image.

Man, February's shaping up to be an intense month. I've got the packing job at UCLA, The Miami Map Fair, a pickup to supervise in Dayton, OH, and a trip to Lisbon to plan...and that's on top of helping with the setup of shipments back to dealers from the Pasadena and Oakland book fairs (that's 130 shipments at one time, with customs paperwork to file on ⅔ of them). My co-worker, who can multi-task like you would not believe, is even a bit frazzled. For me, multi-tasking is chewing gum and typing at the same time...and even then I sometimes bite the inside of my lip.

That hurts.

OT's not getting done, yet

I got overloaded, today, with prepping for the upcoming book fairs and packing job. I also had an EEG, this morning, to make sure I have a brain; they say I do, but I'll wait for the results. And I'm in the middle of prepping a brief for the packing job I went to scout, which will be a fun one; I need that done before I leave on Sunday. And even better, I wound up with a urinary tract infection so spent half the evening at the doctor's late hours clinic and am now on Cipro. I will be throughout my trip to LA. MFSOB.

Oh, least it wasn't cancer or a kidney stone or an ulcer or even my liver deciding it's had enough of me. I had a friend with Hepatitis B and his liver went nuts, to where he was in a hospital, hallucinating, for a week. Such is life in the big city. My new goal is to have a good draft before I head to Lisbon (yes, they accepted our bid!).'s some photos I took of the drive back.

 Naked trees stuck in snow.
A babbling brook that would probably make you into an ice cube if you even stuck your toe in it. My phone said it was was 8 degrees and wind chill -3. They weren't kidding.
And this is along the I-90. I don't know what it is, but I love the look of these frozen cascades. I missed getting a picture of the best one; it was nearly 60 feet tall, but there was nowhere to pull over and semis were barreling down on me. What makes that spooky is, I was going 70.

I also tried to do a video of me whipping down the I-90 at that speed. Can't use it, unless you take dramamine. But it is pretty country, and The Berkshires are magnificent in the snow.

It's just, since I'm under the weather, right now, I want winter over (and my non-stop typos to end).

Monday, January 26, 2015

Long drive home...

...It took 8 hours, thanks to snow and sleet, but made it back. Grumpy because I didn't stop for dinner and didn't like anything I had here, to least, anything that wouldn't take an hour to fix. So I had some tea and finished off some snacks I'd brought along in case I got snowbound.

What's good about these drives is, once I let my mind roam, I get ideas on stories I'm writing. What's bad is, I get ideas that show me I made some wrong choices. My ending for OT needs to be rewritten because I finally realized it's totally backwards. I like it...but it ain't right. Jake's actions on the last two pages are totally wrong. Dammit.

However, the new direction I'm taking it has given me the answer to the question that starts off the book. Which I didn't really have yet. I'd plugged in a response, but it was weak. Now? It's granite.

I better watch it. I'm starting to feel comfortable about how the story's playing out. That's always a bad sign, with me.

I had ideas for other stories, too. The Alice '65 is starting to seem more and more like a book in my head. Same for Carly's Kills. And I'm trying to figure out how to spend two months in Ireland to research both Place of Safety and Darian's Point. The latter to dig deeper into Irish mythology and research at the University in Galway. The former, returning to Derry and digging into the society that was theirs in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Hmph, sometimes I wonder if this is the direction I was meant to go, the whole time, and I'm just now seeing it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Illness does not become me...

I made it to Springfield in 7 ½ hours, but it was a struggle. I barely slept, last night, thanks to this cold or flu or whatever, so stopped at every service area on the 90 between Buffalo and Massachusetts to keep from getting sleepy. I even drank a Red Bull. Not my favorite drink...especially in blueberry.

I rented a car to drive here, which I will be reimbursed for. It's a Nissan Juke 4-wheel drive and is not easy on gas, but I figured it's better to have extra traction than take the little-bitty Fiat I was offered. I can just see me trying to get through snow in that.

Problem is, the Juke is not very comfortable. The seats are on the hard side with minimal support, and it's difficult to position them in the right place for me to hold the steering wheel. It had cruise control, at least, which I kept at 5mph over the speed limit. That way, I was able to avoid getting tickets, because state troopers were out everywhere.

Leaving Buffalo, there were snow flurries and occasional threats of worse, but not enough to cover the road. Once I got past Syracuse, it was blue sky. I hear the storm is now expected tomorrow, hopefully not till I'm en route back to Buffalo. All I'm doing is scouting out a packing job's logistics; my goal is to be out of here by 11am.

It's a long drive, and I don't like doing it when I'm not feeling good...and I did not let a single writing thought enter my brain...but that's the way it works. And truth is, I like the solitude.


Long drive ahead

Headed to Springfield, MA to scout a job, tomorrow, and it's going to be cold icy weather all the way. A 7 hour trip may take 10 hours. Not looking forward to it.

I found an image I want to use for the cover of OT, and got hold of the photographer who took it. It's an image of Guilherme Duprat, who I used as the image for Daniel in The Lyons' Den. We're discussing my licensing it, but he has to talk to the guy. Of course, if it's too expensive, I can't do it.

Since getting my flu shot, I've tried to come down with the flu, twice. First time was in Hong Kong. Today it hit me and made me cranky, and it was hard to focus. At least I got through another chapter then sat in a hot bath for an hour. I feel a little better.

I'm trying to get into The Blood of Others, by Simone de Beauvoir, but the way she's got the women as flighty subjects of the men, and the men as deep thinkers who are all action, even as they say they are's hard to believe this was written by a woman.

Shit, I'm tired; I'm going to bed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crazy time begins...

Let's see, we have two book fairs and a map fair, four packing jobs and a scouting trip happening in the next four weeks...including what looks like a probable trip to Lisbon, Portugal the last week of February. My head's spinning trying to keep track of it all.

Sunday I'm driving 350 miles to scout out another packing job that's not due for a while but will be good-sized. The 8th I'm headed to Miami to handle the Miami Map Fair after spending a week in LA on two other jobs. Both whirlwind trips because of all the paperwork that needs to be addressed for the California book fairs.

It amazes me, sometimes, that I'm able to still be able to work on OT. But I've gone through two more chapters, again, and it's twisting its way to the end. My feeling is, the explanation's still to convoluted, so I'm going to keep aiming for clarity. Problem is, that increases my word count, something I've been trying to avoid.

I did get an idea for the book's cover image. An over-the shoulder shot of Jake, looking back at the camera, his face in profile; a silhouette of a man's figure on a hillside in the near distance; and the lights of Palm Springs spread out between them up to a set of dark mountains and midnight sky. I did a quickie sketch of it, last night. Now I just need time to start working on it.

Ah, time...the poor man's luxury...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wildness in weirdness...

Okay, you have to see this to believe it...because Carol Channing can rock even the craziest of moments imaginable...and she proves it in spades, here...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Promises are absurd...

I'm going through the last part of OT in pairs of chapters to keep from getting all caught up in the story and characters, and it's been good to do. I see inconsistencies easier and find my typical typos. I also get ideas to make those chapters stronger, but that sometimes means going back and changing things.

Like just a moment ago, as I was about to shut down...all of a sudden Jake pulled out his sketch pad and did some sketching. And it reminded me that's the first time I have him do that in the whole book. He's an artist. If he's anything like me, he'll need to do some work every day to feel like he's okay with the world.

So...I now want to go back and add in a couple of bits where he pulls out his sketch pad or book or something. Guess it's going to come together despite me.

I'll be in LA the first week of February, working in Westwood. I got a hotel on Sepulveda, not too far away. And there's the possibility of me being sent to Lisbon to pack up a library. That's still in the formative stages so I can't even begin to be hopeful, but I think it'd be wild. That's another place I'd never go on my own.

Hmm...I've been trying to come up with a good image for the cover of OT. I want to start doing some preliminary publicity for it and one thing would be to work up some images. Maybe I should have Jake do a self-portrait and use that. I did that after the fact for the characters in The Lyons' Den and like how they turned out.

But I doubt I'll be allowed to use Aidan Turner's image.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Breathing room...

Tonight was spent reading a book -- The Blood of Others. It's interesting how it changes tense constantly through the first chapter, like a memory. Hard to follow until you catch the flow and then it's like contemplation. Chapter 2 is more straightforward narrative.

I wonder if I'm missing subtleties in the translation from the French. I really should work on it; I love the language, love the films, love the idea of France, but my knowledge of her grammar was never strong and is weakening, rapidly. Hell, I can barely comprehend English, sometimes.

Anyway, this book reminds me a bit of the Benjy section of The Sound and the Fury, by Faulkner. That book's told in 4 parts, and Benjy's is the opener, as revealed in the mind of an adult man who either has Down Syndrome or is severely retarded. Very stream of consciousness. It's the only one of his books that I've read that I really liked.

I think The Blood of Others might have been influenced by Faulker and James Joyce (Ulysses is a bitch on wheels to follow as you read it). It deals with a man named Jean Blomart who's sitting vigil as Helene, a woman he thinks he loves...or may not love, is dying. He remembers moments from his past that led him to the point where he is now a leader in the French Resistance of WW2...and who probably sent her on the operation that got her mortally wounded. An existentialist tragedy.

The closest I've come to writing anything like this is Death Target, a revenge screenplay where the lead wants to be killed in order to destroy the man he thinks murdered his family. It's set in Marseille and Casablanca (originally it was set in LA and Moscow and called Kazn) and is told like a thriller, but it has a hopeful ending. I'm pretty sure this book does not.

No...How To Rape A Straight Guy is pretty rough and harsh, too. Probably more-so. What Curt does in that is violent and understandable and probably mostly a lie that could be the truth...but even it ends on a gentle note.

I've never written anything that has a bleak fade out. I like there to always be at least a glimmer of hope at the end. I think that's a very American thing. We like to believe that anything is possible, even if it's just mending a marriage or changing jobs or surviving the evening.

I'd like to think we still do...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Still long...

I dug through the last three chapters, again, and they still need clarification. But more got cut, which is good, and one of the killers got changed out with somebody else, so there's a fair amount to do to maintain consistency. My hope is to have a decent draft by the end of the month. Then I'll start begging for feedback. And I'll need some that's really serious.

On GoodReads, I found a detailed review of The Lyons' Den that'd been posted a couple months back. It was a tough one, but in a good way. She liked my characters and the story, but for some reason took a special like for Tad. In fact, her one real gripe was that I let Tad become a total asshole at the end instead of maintaining a level of humanity in him that she thought was very three-dimensional. And I can see what she's getting at.

Tad does seem to love Daniel, at the beginning of their relationship, but he also uses Daniel and only sticks around till he gets the rights to two more of Daniel's books. Still, there is a more interesting depth to him in the beginning of the book than there is at the very end. That was a deliberate decision by me...and maybe it was wrong.

Problem is, I can't get a good cross-section of feedback on it to see if others feel the same way. Of the other critiques I received, one had problems with Ace's patois, till he got used to it, and the other was just brutal and petty. The rest are positive but not informative as to why.

So...I'm going to be doing everything I can to get an idea of how OT is going. I want it to be solid work. I added up all four sections, and as of now I'm at just over 116,000 words and 526 double-spaced pages....and that's with me cutting a fair amount. But it's needed to tell the story honestly.

Guess I do still love my words.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Unofficially done...

I worked through to the end of OT, today...and the last three chapters need more work before I call it quits on this draft. They get way too convoluted and don't quite jibe with what comes before. But I am happier with the story. It's getting cleaner and clearer...I think. I hope.

Once done, I went down to get my mail, and a copy of Simone de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others arrived...shoved into my small metal postal box. It irritated me because it was not only hard to get out but showed complete disrespect for books. But...what's good is, it sparked a moment in my brain for the novelization of The Alice 65. So here's Adam thinking back on working in his father's London book shop when he was a teenager.
He remembered a book arriving in the post, one day. A copy of the Pantheon paperback edition of Simone de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others. It came in a loose plasticized wrapper, folded at one end and taped closed. He had to use scissors to cut it open. Out came a slightly oversized book in soft gray-brown covers, the edges worn, the spine cracked straight down the middle and with a small tear where OD and O had been in the title. It was over 20 years old, so he supposed the condition was not to be unexpected...but still, it had not been well-cared-for.

He carefully opened the book to find the pages yellowed with age and occasional writing in the margins. In ink! Without thinking, he murmured, "Philistines." The top still held hints of the dust that had accumulated, and a small stain whispered over the area nearest the spine. Hardly the good condition promised by the seller; more like acceptable, at best. But still, he cradled the book in his hands like the finest of the fine.

The shop was quiet, at the moment, so he cleaned his glasses, set aside the pile of papers his father had left for him to sort through, and researched the book on-line. Not much showed up.

When his father returned from the auction, Adam showed him the book. The older man looked through it and sighed, "I asked him to send us a sample of the best ones, and this is all that came?"

Adam nodded. "I've checked on ABE and they seem to believe it's worth about two or three pounds."

"What do you think of it?"

"Whoever's owned it, they were not book people. University student, maybe? Reading it for a course? I've never read de Beauvoir...but this makes me want to."

"How so?"

"The way bits have been removed from the cover, as if to hide what it truly is. Makes me curious. And the cover photo -- the young woman in clothes that appear modern, her hair cut short, while the man seems dressed from a hundred years ago. The poster in the background reading 1941. None of it matches, and is quite intriguing."

"Would you buy it for the shop?"

"Dunno. I might. We don't have any de Beauvoir. I might even buy it for myself."

Mr. Verlain smiled and handed the book back to Adam. "Did he ever mention the number of books he had?"

"His list carried seventy-eight titles, Twentieth Century, all, but I think some are multiple volume so I'd say the total number is more like a hundred to a hundred and five."

"I doubt we'd sell this for more than a couple of quid, but write him back and let him know we'll take the lot for sixty pounds if he'll ship them to us. He may not want to spend the money."

"Don't you think they'll be worth the price, Da'?"

"A book is worth whatever you're willing to pay for it."

Adam nodded. "If I remember right, one of his e-mails said he'd be in London, next week. He could drop them off, then."

"That would be best. Perhaps something else in his library will intrigue you."

"You mind if I do read this one?"

"Of course not. Ask your mother about Simone de Beauvoir. Her answer might surprise you."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Once again, the Oscars are controversial...

This is so funny. Apparently, because all the acting nominees for this year's Oscars are white, it's "just awful" and "infuriating" and on and on. Al Sharpton wants an explanation and Spike Lee's screaming, "Fuck 'em." As if it was some grand conspiracy to diss the African-Americans who wrote and acted and directed films this year.

First off, I can't believe this is even a story worthy of headline news, but the media's all over it. ISIS throws gay men off a building to execute them and posts images of it, and nothing about that on CNN or MSNBC or Yahoo News. But David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay get passed over for nominations and it's racism, racism!!!!

I'm trying to think of a single year where the Academy Awards has NOT dissed somebody...and can't. Jimmy Stewart was passed over for Vertigo in 1959, a performance that's now considered his best. Marlene Dietrich was shrugged off for Witness for the Prosecution in 1958 when she did an amazing job. Hell, even Bette Davis was ignored for her powerhouse work in Of Human Bondage, causing a major uproar...and that was in 1935. Even this year, nothing for Jennifer Anniston or Angelina Jolie or Ralph Fiennes or even Special Effects for The Hobbit.

There are so many other places that need anger and attitude slung at them -- the GOP for attacking Social Security, Obama for enlarging the surveillance state, multi-billion dollar companies like GE not paying a penny in income tax, a military budget closing in on a trillion dollars a year, cops out of control and killing people left and right, and on and on. To make a big deal out of an awards show that rarely honors those who really are the best is just plain silly.

But I think that's all we have now instead of honest thought or contemplation -- childish temper-tantrums.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


This is a beautiful low-budget film by Andrew Haigh about two guys in Nottingham, England who connect one weekend...
...and spend hours talking, drinking, doing drugs, having sex, flirting, arguing...
...learning about each other and themselves...
...and changing their lives and themselves in ways they never expected.
Chris New and Tom Cullen fill the roles with flesh and blood, becoming people you've known and want to know, in all their glory and grumpiness.

I watched it, again...and will watch it again, in the future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seems I have a brain...

Though sometimes one would be hard pressed to prove it. I was wondering because I had a weird moment in the shower when I could not remember the day or year or even my age. Freaked me out, since dementia runs in part of my family. My great-grandmother had it, as did a great-uncle. That might explain my lapses over the last couple years.

But I saw a neurologist, today, to see of there's anything to me having dyslexia or early onset of Alzheimer's...and I scored a perfect 30 on the tests he ran -- meaning I'm damned healthy. You'd never know it to look at me. We're doing an EEG and an MRI of my head to see of anything weird shows up, but he doubts it. Still, I will now have a solid baseline for my brain, in case I do get to where I'm acting weird.

Can't wait to see this bill.

I made some more changes and simplified another moment between Jake and Lemm and another guy, but I haven't gotten rid of a followup confrontation (the one that feels like it's too much). I'll do that, tomorrow.

Happiness will be the day I'm finally satisfied enough with this story to let it go.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NYC is out of control...

Spent the day in NYC under a bright beautiful sky and in freezing temperatures, dealing with people who think the middle of the street is a good place to park, so long as you put your flashers on. And Google Maps thinking taking me into Manhattan so I can get to Brooklyn from JFK is the fastest way to go. It wasn't. Hell, I wouldn't have gone if the damned program hadn't tricked me into driving across the Williamsburg Bridge.

I got out of that mess by ignoring that crazy woman's voice telling me to go left when there are signs saying No Left Turn, doing a loop to the right and returning to the bridge to get back across the East River. Then she wanted to take me back onto the 278 instead of letting me go through a couple of stops lights to get to my destination.

Listen, I like New York, but I don't know if I could live there. What I do know is, I would definitely not have a car. Driving in that town is worse than LA, and the pedestrians have a death wish.

After my one-hundredth WTF!!!!!???? moment, I gave in to the madness and turned on WFUV, which was playing some very odd, voice dominant, atonal jazz-classical-industrial stuff that actually helped me cope. Weird, I know, but I may ask who the artists were. Sometimes weird is good. I've got a CD of Edda's Medieval Icelandic folk melodies and they're very wild.

And led me to another insight into thank you NYC for being such a pain.

The above photo was taken from Federal Circle Station after I returned the rental car. I wanted to get to Terminal 5 and eat; I skipped lunch to get this job done. Wound up with an overpriced burger.

Tomorrow, I'm having Indian food.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rolling stone gathers moss...

I rolled it up and let it down and rolled it up and let it down and finally came to realize I didn't need the second confrontation. So I cut one character's role in the drama back to more like a bystander, and now it's working.

Lemm's who helped me battle it out. Jake was a bit too caught up in the whole thing, so having Matt and Lemm get involved is what completed it. Helps with the timing and the flow, and now that boulder's sitting nicely on top the mountain. Until such time as it decides to tumble down, again.

I used Bernardo Velasco as my visual for Lemm. He's a Brazilian model/actor whose physical symmetry is amazing, and I'm playing with the idea no one can tell which side he's on or when he's telling the truth. He's able to get away with being so opaque because he's so beautiful.

Off to NYC to scope out a job, tomorrow, so while I'm waiting in Terminal 5 for my flight, I'll work more on the story. But I'm finally seeing serious light at the end of the OT tunnel. Hell, I may finish this next draft before the end of the month.

Fingers crossed...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sisyphus redux...

Sometimes writing is like rollin' that boulder up that hill...then watching it roll back down so you gotta start all over again. Even though it doesn't always go all the way to the bottom. Always.

I got to the end of part 3 of OT but found it wasn't setting up the ending, right. There's supposed to be a big reveal...and it was falling flat. Maybe it's because I know what it is, and it may still come across as a surprise to someone reading for the first time, but I don't feel it.

I went back over it four times, trying to find the key. Dropped some repetition and dismissed a minor plot point that really didn't matter. Added in more discussion of what happened...and while it reads like a real conversation, it circles the issue...which is needed, considering who Jake's trying to pin down...but it just doesn't rise to the occasion. It could also be that I have a really raw, emotional scene before it, and that mitigates the effect. Now I'm thinking I should drop the whole thing or put it later. Except there are things in it that I need to happen, right then.

When I get to that point, it's better if I put it aside for the evening, so I watched the Golden Globes as I ironed...and ironed. It didn't seem to be as much fun as in the past, and I'd only seen The Grand Budapest Hotel out of all the nominees. Glad it won, but it was a very goofy movie. Tomorrow, it's back to the un-rolled stone.

Dunno how much I agree with Camus...but I can't disagree with him.

I miss "Friends"

I used to have all 10 seasons of the show, on DVD, and I'd plug one in whenever I needed a pick-me-up. I never thought the show was exactly great; I got some laughs out of it, but for the most part the jokes were silly. I kept watching through the first season for one reason --

David Schwimmer. I was crushing on him, big-time. He's not classically handsome, nor did he have the body of Adonis, but his geeky-cool-clumbsiness was fun to watch, as was his relationship dance with Rachel. When he got flustered and angry...well, let's just say it's a good thing he was on TV and not somewhere that I could pounce.

By the end of the second season, I was enjoying the show for the relationships between the characters almost as much as watching him as Ross. Only almost.

I met him in a quick passing-by way when I worked at Book Soup. He was on his way to the Emmys and stopped to get some magazines to read in the limo. I guess that's what they were for. I just rang him up and said, "Thursday nights is the only night I watch TV." He did a perfect Ross head-bop as he thanked me.

I did a graphite sketch of his face, not long after, and sent it to him care of his agent. I don't know if he ever got it; I never received a thank you note. Didn't matter. The crush continued throughout the series' run...and I still think he's attractive.

I had to sell my DVDs when I was living in Texas and caring for my mother. I had copies of things that were out of print, like The Stuntman, and other things that were in Friends and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But if your car needs work and you ain't got the money, you do what you have to do. Once I get myself righted, again, financially, I'm going to buy the full series. Maybe it comes as a full set, like Buffy... and Battlestar Galactica.


Friday, January 9, 2015


I'm caught up in a 16 page section of Owen Taylor that isn't working, just yet. I've rewritten it three times and it's close but still not there. I'd just let it go, but this bit is too important to just toss aside because it sets Jake on the true path. And redoing it also affects aspects of what's already happened.

It's interesting that this happens -- that I come to a spot in the story that needs to be paid more attention to, and I can't go forward till it's done right. Like I've glanced at something deep inside me that is part and parcel of the process and have to figure out how to open that door, again, even though none of it's a conscious process.

A lot of my writing is like that. What was it Michelangelo said when he was asked how he was able to do a statue as beautiful as The David -- something like, "All I did was free it from the stone." I feel a bit like that, at moments like this. I may be seeking one single word to make the whole thing fall into place, and I have to free it from the room in my head that it's hiding in...a bit like Magritte frees heads from bodies...

So...sound crazy enough, yet?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The joy of fountain pens...

I like how they feel in my hand. The way they glide across the paper. The permanence of their ink. Using a fountain pen is like being a serious writer, to me...or an artist, even. I go a bit slower as I put words on paper, get a bit more thoughtful, contemplative. And its sense of absoluteness gives you pause; I mean, you can't get rid of what you've done with a pen like this except by showing how you tried to.

I feel somewhat the same about pencils, when it comes to holding and using one. A #2 is like sketching out thoughts, no matter what you're doing. All preliminary. I'm freer, more open to trying new ideas because if they don't work out, they can be erased. And I prefer the look of a pencil sketch to one done in simple pin and ink (the more elaborate styles using India Ink are the exception; those go both with pen and brush).

None of this is something you can do with a ballpoint pen or anything felt tip, not really. You can approximate the feeling...and I have, sometimes...but those are really more work-a-day stylos good for business and finance, not as a partner in your thought processes, and their aura is commercial and plain.

Problem is, you can't use fountain pens except on good paper; otherwise the ink seeps through and you wind up only able to use one side of the sheet. I avoid writing with one in my journal, for example, because I do that in a composition book. Same for legal pads; one side only. And on checks, you have to wait till the ink dries before you can do anything more with it. I don't remember it always being like this.

When we lived in England, our neighbor had a teenage daughter who would babysit for my folks. And she'd do her math homework with a fountain pen on paper that held it fast. I could watch her for hours. I tried it a few times and quickly returned to the safety of a pencil, because I made a massive mess of the page. But it took a lot of ink for it to seep through to the other side of the sheet.

I have Calligraphy pens, and pens I've used for India ink sketches, but the feel of a reservoir pen nestled between your finger is just...nice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Doin' that two-step...

The rewrite was going smooth until I came to a section where I had to decide which way to take the story. If I went left, a huge section had to be rewritten...and it felt right as it is. If I went right, I'd have to get rid of a subplot about Tone and his legal troubles...that didn't add anything to the off it went. But it means jumping back to page 90 to rework two chapters. Grr...

BUT...I've cut nearly a thousand words out. That's not a lot when you're over 110,000 words spread across four parts and 550 pages. I've got an epic going here, fer dang sure.

I've been following the police action in Paris after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. Twelve people were killed, including a janitor. And a policeman lying wounded on the pavement was brutally executed. Islamic leaders have condemned the attack, but you wouldn't know it from the American media (and let's just not bother considering Fox to be part of that world, since their only business is to build fear and loathing, not dispense information).

The magazine was threatened numerous times for publishing cartoons showing the prophet, Mohammad, which is thought to be a no-no. The staff stood up to the threats, and I admire them for it. What's interesting is listening to how quickly this is being turned into an anti-Muslim screed. People doing that completely miss one aspect of this -- Charlie Hebdo is a liberal magazine run by people who cared about humanity; they would be horrified at being used to push anti-Muslim hate.

Stephane Charbonnier is among the dead.

I once had a character in a screenplay spout a profundity about how the world was slipping into chaos. I thought I was being clever and cool with that; I didn't think it was really more prophetic. But the last couple years have convinced me we are entering a new dark age, like after the collapse of the Roman Empire. That lasted 500 years.

I pity the generations after me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

California's looking to the future...

The most important kickoff in America today will not happen in Washington, where the 114th Congress begins its work. No, a far more consequential beginning takes place on the other side of the country, in modest Fresno, California, at an invitation-only ceremony on the corner of Tulare and G Streets. There, officials will break ground on America’s biggest and most ambitious infrastructure project of the century, a high-speed rail line linking San Francisco and Los Angeles that, when completed, will run at speeds of 220 miles an hour and move people between those metropolises in around two and a half hours, half the time it takes by car. ...

I got the story from Salon; read the rest,'s too-too-kewl.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to forward motion...

I got a couple more chapters done on OT, including changing Jake's meeting with Lorinda, Owen's real estate broker/lawyer. Here's their meeting.


She was late, so I got a table and ordered a tea. Man, nothing's weirder than CPK. They had a bar area walled off by glass panels, high tables with chairs, and servers that ask you every five seconds how everything is doing. And everything on the menu has chicken in it, like they should call themselves California Chicken Kitchen.

The second I saw her burst in off the street and head for me, I knew her nickname was Little Miss Golden, her clothes were so bright and business casual, and her hair was bleached and hair-sprayed just right. She looked ready to take you stalking through a hundred homes that day, if you could keep up. Even in casual pumps. And when she got to talking? Dion way-understated her ability to chatter.

Oh, and she just a-dored my uncle.

“He’s like the uncle you always wish you’d had. Like cool and calm and sweet. My mom met him and she’s like, ‘You know what a Dutch Uncle is? That’s Owen.’ But I didn’t know what a Dutch uncle is, so I’m all, ‘Mom, what do you mean?’ And she’s like, ‘He’s practical, direct, outspoken, stubborn, blunt, well-organized, and thinks he’s always right.’ And I’m like, wow, that’s him. Who knew? And when I told him she’d said that, he laughed for like half an hour, he thought it was so cute.”

She paused long enough to take a bite of her salad, so I hopped in with, “Did you handle all of his real estate deals?”

“Oh, no, I only took over two years ago, from the guy who was doing it because he and Owen didn’t get along, but there hasn’t been much for me to do except make sure he like keeps up on his taxes, though I did handle some legal stuff. Like when he wanted to buy that condo. We tried like crazy to work it out but the bank wouldn’t say yes, and once word gets around everybody’s like ‘No, I don’t think so,’ and you can't get them to change their minds not matter what you do, so don't even try.”

“When was this?”

“About a year ago, maybe more, maybe less. Time gets away from you so fast. Like I thought today was Friday and I’d have a day to catch up but it’s not, so I’m scrambling to make all my appointments and I’m like wondering why I set so many up, but some of them look good, so I can’t say no. Can I?”

Another breath. Another bite of salad. Whooh.

“I know my uncle owned four of the townhouses and an apartment complex. Was there any other property?”

“I think so, but it wouldn’t be stuff that I handled. It’s like I think there was some property he bought, like some kind of partnership under Baskin and Baskin, with some other people and – oh, they’re not like the ice cream place, where you get all those flavors and cones. Like Baskin Robbins. No, these guys’re like really serious lawyers, so they'd handle anything he’d partnered with people on, so you ought to talk to them. But you have to wait till Monday. They’re big enough to get weekends off -- of course. I’m like scrambling to find time to do my nails, and they really do need a touchup.”

“But he called you about a lawyer -- .”

“Oh, yeah, Scott, oh, yeah -- he said he’d deal with it and I guess he did because I like didn't hear anything more about it, after that, but then that's just like Owen to get things done and taken care of without telling you. Back when we were planning to buy another townhouse, he had some illegals come in and start painting it before the bank said okay, like it's nothing to even think about.”


"Couple of Mexican guys. Brothers, I think. They looked alike, but one was way too young for me, but the other one -- makes you want to break the law."

Another bite. A moment of silence, broken by me before it was broken by her. "Uh ...break the law, how?"

She leaned close to whisper, "Oh, you can't sleep with an illegal guy. People might think you mean it, and think you like think it's okay that he's here."

"But...what if he's a citizen?"

"But he was like Mexican."

"California used to be part of Mexico."

"Then why don't the cities have Mexican names?"

Okay, that so startled me, I went blank for a second. I covered it by asking, “What...what...what about this Scott-guy?”

“Baskin. The old man’s grandson. He does rock climbing and he is like so much. Ooh. With him, nothing would be illegal. Not one thing. Nothing.” She actually fanned herself. “But he and Owen didn't get along, so Owen went his own way. Just like a Dutch Uncle. I need to call him and find out what he’s been up to. Oh, wait, he like ran off, right, a couple months ago? Some legal thing, I think. Oh, and it’s time to talk about property taxes. Like, so quick. Ugh. He better hurry back. Riverside doesn’t like give you any leeway.”

Two minutes later, she was on her own way to her latest appointment, leaving behind a third of her salad and half her tea. I was left to catch my breath and pay the bill.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Anger is good...

I should get pissed-off more often. It seems to shatter my barriers and I suddenly see places in whatever it is I'm working on that I can improve. So after the last couple of days of ranting and raving around my apartment -- I did not go out; if I'd driven anywhere, I'd probably have smashed my car into one of the idiot drivers in this town, just out of spite -- anyway, I stayed in and made myself sit down to OT, today...and bam. Jake took over.

He finally sees someone he dislikes is being set up to take the wrap for a murder. How he handles it is pure Jake. He's a wolf to the core, all right. An alpha. He doesn't quite get it, yet, but that entails certain requirements -- like taking care of your pack. And deep down he's sensed, whether he likes it or not, this person is one of his. So he shifts into protection mode without a thought.

I know I've danced around this idea in earlier posts on this blog, but today it got clarified and I went straight to the section in question and changed it. Which means a lot more has to be changed in the rest of the story, but that also means cutting a sub-pot that probably should have been cut, anyway. I weep tears of the crocodile.

Something else that happened was, I saw a way into writing the very beginning of Darian's Point -- the part where the harpies are brought to life thanks to actions of The Dagda and Morriggan. I'm reading Seumas MacManus' The Story of the Irish Race -- which is really an anthology of other people's writings about the beginning of civilization in Ireland. I had to give up on that insipid collection of gay mysteries when I read one that was a direct rip-off of a Ruth Rendell mystery from the early 50s, and a rotten one, at that.

So I'm reading the part about Fionn and the Fian -- which is damn close to the Celtic version of Camelot and knights and honor and adventure, even though it takes place 1000 years earlier -- and the opening came to me. I'd had a problem with getting the Celts to Inish Ciuin, the tiny island near the Arans on the West Coast of Ireland where all three parts of the story take place. The story begins 3500 years ago, when the Tuatha de Danaan ruled Ireland, and the boats they had at the time would be barely seaworthy...unless the sea was preternaturally calm.

Well...Morriggan's a witch. She can control the earth and the sea and the make use of it. Instead of a storm to emphasize the emotional turmoil to come, everything is unusually calm and beautiful. Makes perfect sense, once you see it, but sometimes there's too much garbage in the way. Garbage is gone, now.

Reason for the garbage?

1. My insurance company double-charging me for my premium, even though I'd called them earlier in the month to make certain everything was okay. I was told they'd put the auto-debit on hold for January, so I paid my premium, then. On the 2nd, the auto-debit took out a payment for my premium, and customer service insisted that by the time they got the money back to me, I'd have to send it right back to them, anyway, so it's better if they just hang on to it. Fortunately, I could cover it, but it was irritating.

2. A word fight on Facebook with a young woman (and some man who backs her up) over Obama filling the military with illegals so he can have them come kill white people. I kid you not. This is the kind of two-bit mentality that thinks since you're queer you've got HIV and need to get tested, and accuses you of being on welfare because you don't agree with them. They are a danger to America, and they seem to be growing in number. What makes it really scary is, these are people who do not know the difference between "you're" and "your".

3. Family issues.

4. Getting an award-winning screenplay spit on, again, by people who think everything has to be according to Save the Cat. If it isn't, it isn't good...and you're not a good writer. I used to take criticism like this to heart; now it just infuriates me.

5. And then the old standby -- financial crap. Seeing how I'm deeper in debt than I was at the beginning of the year, even though I've been trying to change course. Maybe I'm the Titanic of monetary issues.

Hmm...sounds more like I'm becoming a cliche of a writer. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Guess which one is me, right now...

Need I provide an answer?

Taz is still spinning, spitting, snarling, and grrring. So silence will remain the best option.

Taz is not happy...

Better to be silent and alone, right now, so no one gets their feelings hurt. But MFSOB, do I want to rip some heads off...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Oops, there it is...

What fun today has been. I spent it at home using the laundry facility in my building (it's next door to my apartment) so I could work on OT, some more. My goal was to finish the rewrite of parts 1 & 2...and I did. But in doing so, the picture Owen painted of Dion and Jake together popped up, again. It apparently is important to the story.

How? Well, one might ask, but all one would get from the characters involved is deafening silence. I guess I can only hope that the big revelation comes as I'm working on parts 3 & 4, because I got no clue except it pisses Tone off and leads to a nasty argument between him and Jake.

Hmm...I'm suddenly remembering an Italian Opera -- Tosca. Floria Tosca, the lead in Puccini's opera, is jealous of a painting her lover, Cavaradossi, has almost completeld. It's a representation of Mary Magdalene but has the likeness of another woman Tosca knows, a beautiful Marchesa who is blond and blue-eyed. Tosca insists Cavaradossi make the painting's eyes brown...and it's her jealousy that leads to the story's tragedy.

Could this painting lead to Jake and Tone's breakup?

I resolve to not resolve...

No New Year's Resolutions. They're a waste of time. Waste of effort. Waste of positive energy on something geared towards failure. And the fact that I've never kept one is beside the point. I've also grown to believe that once you actually give voice to a resolution or plan or intention, something deep in your psyche -- or a force in the universe, if you prefer -- aligns itself against you. At least, they do with me.

I've discovered, for example, that every time I get into a line for anything, it's the slowest one. Doesn't matter how fast it was going when I joined it; the second I'm locked in with people behind me, it all but stops. I actually had a good grocery checker swap out for an amazingly inept one at a Wegman's, who then called for assistance 3 times while checking people out ahead of me. Then she was replaced with one who couldn't understand the concept of putting bread and bananas in last, so they're on top, instead of slinging them in as you go along.  I wound up putting my own groceries in the bag.

I also make wrong turns. If I hit a fork in the road and go left, it winds up that I should have gone right. And what's the latest? For the first time I let myself get talked into getting a flu shot...and it turns out it's for the wrong strain of the epidemic happening on the West Coast, right now. Perfect. Means I'll probably wind up with the effin' flu.

So the only thing I can do is embrace my wrong-way-ness. It's been suggested by a "friend" that if I wanted to write books with gay characters and intense sexual situations, I should have used a pseudonym so it would lessen the impact on my more mainstream work. And logically, they're right. If you Google my name, what comes up first are links to me as author of How To Rape A Straight Guy.

It's also been suggested that if I'd written my books geared to heterosexuals, I'd probably have sold a lot more. 50 Shades of Gray is used as an example of how kink can sell to suburban housewives, and Jackie Collins sells millions of copies of books with intense sex in them; hell, she can be found in the damn library. But two guys having at it? Ew.

Well fuck that. If I go left and should have gone right, I'll just change course. And I'm writing what I fucking want to write, from now on, and if it doesn't sell a million copies, so be it. I'm at that stage of life where I'm going to enjoy myself and if people don't like it, so what?

I am Tigger...hear me ROAR...wait, did I just make a resolution?