Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finally, another draft done...

The Vanishing of Owen Taylor is now 543 pages long. And the alternates between brutal and tender in ways I hope work. You never really know. I want to do one more pass through it to smooth out some things I added. Then I'm ready to get reactions.

I already have some people lined up. Sort-of strangers who will be honest. Members of GoodReads. People who've liked my writing in the past. All I can do is hand it out and see what triggers what.

It's rained all day, so that helped keep me in. I used the building laundromat to do some clothes, even though the dryer isn't all that great. I kept the loads light -- just what I had to have -- and that worked okay.

I'm reading a lovely book called This Is Not The End of the Book;, which is a conversation between Umberto Eco, Jean-Clude Carriere, and Jean-Philippe de Tonnac. Eco wrote The Name of the Rose; Carriere is a playwright and screenwriter; de Tonnac is a writer and editor. It's a discussion about the future of the book and knowledge, in general, and is fascinating to follow.

So far my favorite bit is a story told by Carriere about a man whose father was a book collector. The son was the only one in the family to see the value of the books, so when his father died, he told his brothers and sisters they could have the rest of the estate if they'd just let him keep the library. They happily agreed. So he took the books away...and sold them to book dealers throughout Europe. Apparently, he lived off that for years, and his siblings never knew the true value of those old books.

This comes in very handy for The Alice '65 and Adam's way of viewing the world. I guess that's getting close to being ready to write. Along with half a dozen other stories in my head.

I need to win the lottery so I can stop working and start treating my writing seriously.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Scorched Earth

That's the title of the chapter I've spent the last 2 days on, working and reworking and shifting and and rearranging and slamming my head against walls and floors and computer screens...but I think it's finally making sense and is not too scattered. I don't want the usual explanation bit, like when Hercule Poirot lays out all the clues and explains what they mean. Instead, I've got Jake junked up and out of control and referencing movie musicals and cult films as he lays it out. The reader will have to work a little, but it should be clear.

For example, in Cabaret there's a song, If You Could See Her Through My Eyes. So when Jake finally reveals he knows who the killer is, he does it by singing to the lead-in melody for that:

"I know what you're thinkiiiiiiiing.
You wonder why I chose youuuuuuu,
Out of all the suspects in Palm Spriiiiiiiiiiings.
It's 'cause I know you did it.
But how'd I know you did it?
'Cause the biggest fuckin' cluuuuuuuue,
Came the day that I met youuuuuu."

I may have made it too goofy; I don't know. I'm enjoying it, as is Jake. And there's a fun little twist on the end of the chapter that should keep things embroiled in suspense.

Looks like The Lyons' Den may be going out of print. The publisher's hinting they want to do it. Sales are way, way down. Not that it was ever a huge seller, but it was the first book I made money on. I suppose that means I could come out with a second edition, self-published...and with a better cover. I'll have to think about it. I've got this beastie to finish, first, and I'm so broke I'll have trouble getting it done. I may see if I can get someone else to publish OT.

For about five minutes it looked like I might be going to Jerusalem to pick up a book and hand-carry it back into the US, but I worked up the cost and seriously doubt the university it'd go to will go for that. They'd on the cheap-assed side and have already cut us out of one packing job because they thought we were too expensive. I used to get hurt by that, but the reality is half the time these twerps have no idea what they're doing, and when something goes wrong they wind up paying a lot more than they'd have paid us.

There have been occasions where book dealers thought we charged too much to transport books into and out of the UK so decided to carry them in their baggage on the plane. Which they can do and is cheaper. But then they stupidly do not declare the books at their actual value. I say stupidly because books going into the US and UK are duty and VAT free. So even if it's a $10,000 book,  no long as you properly declare it. If you don't, and your bag gets searched, and you're dumb enough to leave the actual price of the book in the book, and it doesn't match up to what you declared, they can seize it for mis-declaring it.

That actually happened to one dealer. He called us to see if we could help, but by that time all we could do was refer him to a lawyer who knew customs law. It took three months and thousands of dollars to get his books back, and now he's flagged; anytime  he comes into the US or UK, his luggage gets searched.

I was stupid enough to do that once, at Heritage -- mis-declare a book going into Italy to avoid paying VAT on it. The book was seized and cost us $5000 in fines and legal fees to get back. After that, you couldn't pay me to not do it right.

You see, what we do where I work is make sure crap like that doesn't happen. We insist the dealers give us proper documents and handle customs requirements (which keep shifting oh-so-slightly) and make sure they have all the paperwork needed to show the books was legally transported...especially if they require an Export License from the UK. It's extremely important, these days, when even major museums and universities are having items seized because they don't have the proper provenance for them. 

It ain't easy to keep this up, and it ain't cheap to do it right. It's very time-consuming. But we're too expensive.

Oh, well...

Thursday, May 28, 2015


The closer I get to being done with The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, the more I have left to do...dammit...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meltdown thanks to Russia...

I was working along on OT and inputting changes I'd made and streaming KCRW when this melody came on -- Evenings Near Moscow (AKA: Moscow Nights). And I stopped because it reminded me of a movie moment that meant something to me and I can't remember what it was. All I can catch in my fuzzed up brain is that it was black & white, either the end or near it, and it was made in the 60s...earlier rather than later. Maybe a war movie? Something set in Europe? Maybe a European film? I can't remember and it's driving me nuts.

I've done the Google thing and all the comes up is it's Russian, written in the early 50s, and was appropriated by The Mitchell Trio in 1961. It was a huge hit at the time. So maybe it was mood music for some film. But now I can't get the damned thing out of my head and can't remember where or when I first heard it being used...but I'm almost positive it was in a movie theater.

Whatever it was, it jolted something in my head and I think I'll be adding some bits to the story. Dammit. But it's necessary for Jake's through line. For his development as a person and to explain why he didn't move to California once he was exonerated.

I still managed to get some of OT done...well, a lot. I have about 230 pages left to input, but we're getting into the heavy-duty changes area so I expect to slow down. And I definitely need another pass through the story to smooth in the bits I'll be adding. My Tolstoy-like murder mystery...

Hmm...maybe I'm just Russian at heart.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Part One is undone...

I've input the changes in the 1st part of the story, and so far I've cut one page. I thought it;d be more, but I keep adding bits to illuminate aspects of what's happening and setting things up, so I guess I should be glad.

I'm still kind of sad because I had to get rid of this lovely character named Judge Leffick, who reminded Jake of a withered prune and hacked like he'd never drawn a clean breath of air in his life. He comes across as weak and weaselly, until the DA tries a sneaky one; then he's a lion. I'm going to try and put him in somewhere, if not this book then another, someplace. Don't know yet.

This section was the easiest to do because I've been over it more than any other part of what I've written. I've already done a fair bit of slicing and dicing and Osterizing, so it probably is good I was able to get a page gone. But I am back to thinking I need to do another full-fledged pass to maintain consistency.

Not that I'm anal or anything...I'm just scatterbrained...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Now an alpha?

Okay, I just completed a rewrite of OT using a hardcopy I'd printed out. And the ending definitely truncated itself. Maybe too much so. I still have to input the changes and do another pass, but I've got some people lined up to read it when I'm done, so...I'm getting it off. I doubt it'll really be where I want it, yet, but I need to know if I'm heading in the right direction.

The killer's still the same, but instead of having the big explanation of what happened, I broke it up over a couple of chapters and then a final face-off. It's rather anti-Agatha Christie and Perry Mason, but I prefer it...if it works. And if any of my followers want to read it, just let me know. The more feedback I have, the better.

I'm having no luck finding the right look for the cover. This is okay, but I do not want the guy representing Jake looking straight out. I want a back view with him looking over his shoulder...but I can't find anything that's right and the photographers I've reached out to either aren't interested or don't have anything that fits. So I've started trying to think up something else.

Suggestions are appreciated.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I'm sort of Centaurian...

Right now I have a nasty headache thanks mainly to my back and shoulders being so tight and snarly, but I just cropped out probably 25 pages of crap in OT for a clean, clear line to the killer. Didn't take much, just sitting in a chair for too damn long and ignoring the niggling cramps warning me about this. Now I'm going to pop a dozen Advil, clean the tub and sit in a hot bath for the rest of the year.

I also moved the location of the final explanation. There's some leading up to it, but it all has to be put together so it's easily explained, and Jake has to face some new realities about himself. It's not going to be pretty, but it is going to finally make sense.

And so, before I head into silence, allow me to offer the following observation:

Damned if it isn't true...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eurovision winner

Sweden took this year's Eurovision competition...and justly. Doesn't hurt Måns Zelmerlöw is not only kind of cute (like a ferret) but also has a strong stage presence and powerhouse voice.

It is one of the best songs. Most of them are usually pretty generic. Yay, Sweden...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Am I a hawk?

As I work on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, I feel like I'm circling around searching for something specific. Like a hawk circles looking for the stray field mouse or gopher or rabbit to have for din-din. And like that hawk, I won't know what it is till the damn thing moves and catches my attention.

This brings to mind the phrase “hawk’s eye,” meaning not only keeping a close watch on things but also having insight into what's happening. Or, like in my case, trying to sense the subtle meaning behind actions being taken by my characters.

And there are meanings...I know there are. I refer to Jake as a wolf throughout the story, as in lone wolf but also one of a pack and the sort of animal that mates for life. He's been disowned by his parents, so he's seeking to form a new pack. He's joined with Antony and brought Matt in. He senses his uncle was doing the same thing -- building a family to take the place of the one he'd lost. People who believed he was sinful and immoral, even as they committed much greater sins.

That brings to mind the hypocrisy of people like the Duggars, who hold themselves up as paragons of virtue while fighting gay rights...and hiding the fact that their oldest son is a pedophile. And the worst part is, they did everything they could to keep it hidden and him out of jail. No...actually the worst part is how the Duggar matriarch argued against a trans-gender non-discrimination bill in Fayetteville by painting gay men as the worst of the worst, while knowing full-well she'd helped her son avoid criminal penalties for raping a number of pre-adolescent girls.

Of course, hers isn't the only example of right-wing-religious hypocrisy. One preacher went so far as to tell a troubled gay teen he should commit suicide because he was going to hell, anyway, only to be caught seeking sex from men on Grindr, himself. It's all so damned ludicrous and soul-destroying, you have to back away from the news just to keep your sanity.

Of course, this is what Jake's going through, in the book. So I guess I'll keep circling to see if something grabs me and then dive down to grab it.

Hope it's a tasty morsel.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Halfway is better than no way...

I'm at the end of section 2, where Jake realizes his uncle has been murdered and he's deciding to find out by whom. A lot's been set up, and I can see it beginning to expand into a vague sort of chaos, so I'll be focused on focusing the story on Jake and his own turmoil. Sometimes I use lots and lots of action to hide the fact that I don't know what the hell is going on...and just hope it turns out for the best.

Having a printout of the story is helping. I can jump back and forth to make notes, which is pretty damned hard to do in Word. And there's something about actually seeing it on a page that makes me read with more care. Of course, it's also intimidating. The damn thing's over 500 typed pages and fills a 6" ring binder to the max. If I dropped it on my foot, I'd be crippled for life.

At the same time, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It becomes more real. On a computer, you're dealing with different shades of light that can vanish if the power is cut off. And you're limited to the screen you're looking at. Other pages deep in the memory of your computer are available, sure, but as I said...they're not as easy to access.

I think that's why books will always be with us, no matter what some people say. Electronics only work so long as there's a steady source of power, and if that's disrupted, how can you do anything in the way of reading or watching films or writing? You can read a book by candlelight; you can't read a tablet whose battery's run down. You can write with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper; you can't if your computer's not getting electricity.

A book is as perfectly developed as is a wheel, and is just as essential to life, really.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Love is love...

I gave up on Christianity a long time ago because of how so damn many followers of Jesus thought this was worthy of attack and/or death.

What the hell is so wrong with two men being in love? Or two women? Why is it anybody's business but the loving couples' if they want to marry or not? Raise children or not? Why is it okay to deny millions of Americans the same basic rights as others? Religions cannot answer this except to refer to fearful ideas concocted two millennia ago...back when people thought the earth was flat and our bodies had humors instead of blood flowing through our veins.

I'm getting into this because it's part of OT. Palm Springs is a battleground used by right wing busybodies as a testing ground for their new push to re-criminalize faggots. The town is so deeply entrenched in the gay psyche, with between 25 and 50 % of its population being gay, they figure if they can turn people against the queers there, they can do it everywhere. Apparently they think it's okay for conservative perverts to stick their noses into private bedrooms and legislate what's allowed to go on in there.

The epitome of this insanity is Ted Cruz saying the left wing is too obsessed with sex. The right wing spits out laws governing women's bodies, contraception, hell, even family planning, down to the point where some of them want trans-vaginal probes before allowing an abortion and call rape illegitimate unless it suits their idea of what it is...but it's the left obsessed with sex.

Just listening to the clowns and their supporters is enough to make you wonder if you're in some alternate universe where up is down and stupid is smart. I honestly want to slap the shit out of those people, it's so insane. The only thing I can do is fight to get someone into office who doesn't put up with that crap. So I'm pushing for Bernie Sanders as President (since Elizabeth Warren won't run) and refusing to support Hillary or back Barack in anything, since they were the ones who slapped lefties like me down during O's first term. Something O's started doing, again, and doesn't seem to think will matter to us. I want honest liberals in office to start countering the vile, despicable, diseased crap coming out of the GOP and too many parts of the Democratic Party.

And I'm putting as much of this anger into OT as be warned...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"The Blood of Others"

I finally finished it, and I think it's going to factor into the book version of The Alice '65. Because it's a classic of existentialism but I felt it was self-indulgent, in the extreme. The style changes, constantly, from third person to first and back, again, often without rhyme or reason. One sentence it's about Jean Blomart and what he's doing, or Helene and her self-involvement, and suddenly it's a first-person account of what they're doing and thinking. Very distracting, and not in a way that's experimental or engaging or thought-provoking.

A while ago, when I first got the book, I wrote a small piece about Adam working in his father's book shop and wanting the read the book, and his father telling him to ask him mother about it, since she'd read it years ago. I didn't know why that came up...but now I do. Adam's mother is a strong woman who found Helene to be childishly drawn and locked into doing things for the man she loves instead of just for herself.

It's not until the last 10 pages she senses there is more to her life than that, that important things are going on around her...and then she's dead. She's not even given the right to have her death explained except in the most oblique of ways...and I'm not giving anything away about the story, by saying this; it starts out with Jean sitting with her as she dies from a bullet wound.

He's given all the existential angst you can imagine. The intellect. The caring. The curiosity. The action.  The sensitivity. All Helene does is want him to love her, and when he doesn't she drifts about with nothing to anchor her. And that's what Adam's mother disliked about the book -- it was written by a woman to glorify a man.

I think that reflects on what Casey's doing in A65. She's pissed at Lando and wants to get back at him instead of just realizing he was a shit and being glad to be rid of him. Granted, her ego's hurt. Her feelings. And that's not easy to let go of. But she's using Adam to smack the guy down, meaning she's still making her decisions based on Lando's actions.

I'll need to work it in better, but it's given me a hint of where the story wants to go. I halfway think the reason I decided to read the book was to get my mind working on it so I could segue in once OT is done.

Hmm...serendipity strikes again...maybe...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Back to before...

I've dug into The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, again, and the time away from it has been good, actually. I've already noticed a couple of spots where I say the same thing twice, just in a slightly different way each time. Not needed.

But overall, the first 86 pages are mainly like I want them. I'm up to where Jake's in Palm Springs and about to have his first run-in with the cops. It's later in the story that I'll need to make corrections. A fair number of them, too.

I got my information back from the Riverside DA's office, finally, and I've gone too TV-DA in some spots. Plus one bit with a judge will no longer work because it's just plain nonsense...which I hate, because I liked it. But it flat out would not happen the way I have it...dammit.

I'm also putting the local DA's office in its new building, behind the Larsen Center and across from the new jail. I've taken too long to pull the story together, and I don't want it to be dated before it's even out there. Oh, well. My own damn fault.

It's been over 4 years 3 years since I published a new book...not counting David Martin. That's really more of a novella telling a fable. Nor do I count French Connection Blues (or NYPD Blood, as it was initially called) because that was not mine, officially, and the initial edition was a fiasco...which I, fortunately, had little to do with. Or unfortunately...because I like the new version's look a lot more, so maybe that's how it should have been from the outset.

Who knows, anymore?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sometimes silence is wrong...

As I was driving from Rochester to Buffalo, Public Radio was live-broadcasting a concert being given by the Minnesota Symphony in Havana, Cuba. It was all Beethoven, including a piano concerto with choral accompaniment. The piano was played by Frank Fernandez, who's considered a hero in Cuba for his ability with music and work around the world. A couple of Cuban choirs provided the voices. It was raining off and on, during the drive, but that only added to the beauty of the music...and colored my mood a bit.

Earlier in the day, I drove through Scranton and stopped to visit my aunt, in Carbondale. The night before, I'd received a call to inform me she had terminal cancer. If I wanted to phone, the next day, I should check first to see if she was up for it. Instead, I changed my route home, had lunch at a Mickey D's in Carbondale, got some flowers, and texted to say I wanted to drop by in 15 minutes. Didn't give them a chance to say no.

She's 84 or 85, and looks every day of it, but hers has been anything but an easy life. A child of divorce (and abandonment by her father, my grandfather) she converted from Presbyterian to Eastern Orthodox Catholic, had 7 children, two miscarriages, buried my grandmother, two children, her husband and a grandchild, and worked as an RN for nearly 30 years. My uncle was in the Air Force, so they lived all over. In fact, my oldest cousin was born in Japan. When I was growing up, I often wished I was part of her family, not mine, because around them I felt safe and brave.

While there, I learned about the death of her grandchild, a year ago. Second cousin to me. He was thirty-three. I hadn't seen him since he was seven and only got hints of how difficult his life was after his mother died. And the only reason I found out was, I asked how he was doing. The response? "Oh, you didn't know he passed?" When I asked what happened, all I got was, "He was in with the wrong crowd." The casual dismissal of it still leaves me breathless.

This is the side of the family that pretty much ended contact with me after they found out I was gay. I was told about a couple of deaths after the funerals, never about weddings or births or anything else. I didn't even know Carol had moved to a new house until she responded to a Christmas card I'd sent by saying it had gone to the wrong address...but fortunately, the postman knew her so brought it to the right one.

I visited for nearly two hours, until she was beginning to need some pain relief, then headed on. The next time I hear from my cousins, it will be to say they've buried her.

I've shed no tears over this. I'm hurt, sure, but I no longer feel any real connection to them. I'm more affected by what my characters go through on the page. In fact, as I drove and listened to the symphony, Jake gently touched me and asked me to finish his story. And I realized just how long I'd been writing The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and felt shame at having not completed it, yet. That is my next project.

I've finished MFD and sent it off...and it is what it is. I could easily spend the next five years finessing it, but I'm not doing that, anymore. It's ludicrous. Ben's set, and I have everything I wanted in the story. I'm happy with how it turned out. In fact, the ending wound up more gentle than I expected, so he's happy, too.

If anyone ever wants to know why I feel so much closer to the characters in my mind than real people, this whole post gives you a partial explanation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chris Salvatore...

Like I've got nothing else to do...
I found a new look for Daniel -- an actor named Chris Salvatore. The guy isn't that different from Zachary Quinto, but his sensibility is closer to Daniel's fragility. His brows are a bit manscaped, but that's NBD. Plus, he's the exact right age for it. In fact, I think it would be perfect if a movie got made with Chris as Daniel and Zachary as Ace. And Ryan Gosling as Van. I don't dream much, do I?

He's been in several Eating Out movies and some other work. A gay actor who's doing his thing. He's even got a little series on YouTube and posted a fun video with his elderly neighbor, Norma. Check it out at ; it's very minimalist, but try not to laugh at Norma's comment about Italian sausage.

I sent him a message on FaceBook asking if I could send him a copy of the book. Crazy, I know, but what the hell. The worst he can do is yell at me for posting his image on The Lyons' Den page. I'd do the same for Russell Tovey and The Alice 65, but all I can find on Facebook is fan pages, and that's worse than useless.

Maybe I should Twitter...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MFD is 95%...

I just did a once-over and found some typos and inconsistencies, but overall it works. I think the reason the ending comes across as glib is I'm rushing the telling of it, so I'm going to let it breathe a bit more. I thought about cutting back one more character, but then I'd have to rework the ending and I don't feel the honest need to do that.

I've got a company in Toronto that has expressed interest. I'm to send it to them this weekend, once I've input the corrections. That's surprising, because I mentioned it's set in London...but the fact is, they could shoot a good portion of it in Canada and just the necessary bits in the UK. Or maybe they have a deal with a British production company. I dunno. I'm just glad they didn't ignore me.

I was reminded this morning about how ludicrous it is to drive in NYC unless you absolutely have to. These people are the worst when it comes to double-parking. Or delivery trucks stopping on a one-way street with one lane of traffic to drop off one box, backing traffic behind them till they get damn good and ready to go. It's insane.

But I am seeing parts of the city I've never been to, before. Like this morning, I passed Grant's Tomb. It's an amazingly lovely area, too, along that stretch of Riverside Drive. And headed back to the hotel along Clayton Powell Thomas Boulevard, I saw a church spire that's like a combination of Gothic and Gaudi. For a Baptist Church! I never knew Baptists to be that ostentations. Obnoxious, maybe, and too damn sure they know it all when it comes to God, but filigree? Don't think so.

Of course, only some of my family was Baptist -- like my Aunt Elsie and her husband. The rest of us were Presbyterians...which makes sense, considering that side of the family has Scottish roots (or Dutch; apparently that depends on how the name Clark was spelled when they got to America -- with an "e" or without).

I will say, my Aunt Elsie was the sweetest woman who ever lived. I never saw her cross, and she was always very appreciative of everything she got. When I lived with my grandmother (who was her older sister), we'd invite her over for Mexican food -- homemade enchiladas, Rice-a-roni Spanish rice, and refried beans from a can, with buckets of iced tea (unsweetened but with lemon and sugar available). Man, she loved how I made "enchi-lallies." And we usually sent her home with a plate to heat up, later. She lived almost till she was 90, probably because she was so sweet.

Hmph, then by that measure, I should have died twenty years ago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 "Hyena" for me...

The only time I can see the movie is 9:10 pm Wednesday night. Meaning the earliest I'd get back to the hotel would be well after midnight, and I have to be at the packing job and done and out of the city by 3pm, Thursday. Dammit. Such is life in the big city.

I'm in the basement of this hotel, BTW. Surrounded by junkyards and car repair shops. I had to order Chinese food to get dinner. Tomorrow I'm eating in Manhattan, even if it's a junky little dive diner. It's better than the delivery guy asking you for a $5 tip instead of the $2.70 you gave him on top of the $8.30 tab. And that's for food I couldn't really finish eating. This is what you get for $130 a night in New York.

The room reminds me of the time I spent a summer in NYC, being an asshole. I'd been accepted to NYU's graduate school in film and stupidly said no, after I got up here, because they wanted me to go for 3 years instead of 2. Biggest mistake I ever made in my life, and I think I knew it, down deep; which may be part of the reason I turned into such a jerk.

Anyway, I was staying in a basement apartment with no windows and a subway half a block away. When the lights went out, it was pitch black. This place is a bit like that -- but with a window up high. And the train above-ground instead of below. And no roommates to drive crazy.

The drive was long, this time, partly due to this minivan having issues. It's a Chrysler and usually they're really nice, but I think the one I wound up with need serious servicing. It's short on power, even when doing the cruise control. It rides rough. And the brakes feel weird. Not squeally or grinding or anything, just...uncomfortable. Maybe a little spongy. Like there's air in the line. I'll take them to an Enterprise once I drop off the shipment, on Thursday; ask them to check the brakes. Maybe bleed them.

I had another idea of something that needs to change in MFD -- the reason Ben finally starts paying attention and realizes he's being used. I sort of hint at it -- seeing Aurelia having a fight with her father -- but it should be more overt. I think I'm being too subtle or obscure, here.

As usual.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Okay enough to polish...

I've got Marked For Death down to 102 pages, and may be able to remove another page or two. So far the ending has everything I want in it...but it feels busy instead of exciting or suspenseful. And the explanation is still long and wordy, even though I cut it up with flashbacks to show what's happening. I also think I'm missing a crucial image...but I have to think about that; I have no idea where I'd put it.

I wonder if I should show it all in one sequence, as little dialogue as possible, then return to everyone at the marina? More voice-over? More food for thought as I do another packing job in NYC. But as it currently stands, I'm not 100% on it.

Right now, I'm torn between working on Underground Guy or Carly's Kills. UG is going to be close to prurient while CK is a vicious script, but more in the vein of Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill than Kill Bill. Carly's not going to be some slim blond who knows martial arts better than The Karate Kid's teacher.

I kind of miss the whole exploitation series of movies that came out in the 60s and 70s. Tacky things that had no redeeming value beyond how far they were willing to push the envelope. Maybe I'll go to the Canadian Niagara Falls and have dinner and watch the water crash down to its next level and let my mind drift until it settles on something.

Won't be this weekend. Tomorrow I'm driving to NYC and staying at a hotel in The Bronx. Won't be back till Friday. Seems everyplace I wanted to stay was booked up or $500 a night; that ain't gonna happen. I have no idea how I'll be able to find a way to see Hyena, but I'm going to try. We'll see how it goes...

God, that's my favorite phrase, lately.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

New ideas mean new directions...

I had a bright idea about how to get the third act into gear better, which shifted a number of aspects of the ending around. I'm down to 103 pages, now, but there are moments that don't quite fit together yet, so I may be longer...or short. Who knows?

I want to get it done and settled this weekend because I'm driving down to NYC on Tuesday for a packing job and won't be back till Friday afternoon. I can only work scripts on my desktop Mac because it has Final Draft. To put FD on my laptop, I have to buy a new version and I just don't feel the need to put the money out. I'm fighting hard enough to keep my debts under control, as it is; I don't need to buy something that may or may not be necessary. I've got a good updated version of Word for my books.

If I can, I'm going to see Hyena when I'm in NYC. It's at a theater down on 12th street, while I'll be working up near Columbia U, so it's not a definite, yet. Plus my hotel's not on an easy subway line. We'll see. I think I've made Glyde a pretty bad guy. Good and tough with everybody. Plus Ric and Aura are stronger, less innocent, and Ben's emotional arc is clearer.

And the story's even making logical least, for now.

Friday, May 8, 2015

MFD is Officially 105 pages...

And the ending is insane. It takes place at a marina by London's City Airport, which is wide open and on the seedy side. Only one way in or out. No cover. A Mexican Standoff between bad guys, cops, two innocents, and our hero, Ben Forrier. Not to mention a sneaky assassin lurking about. It's got a gunfight. Bombs. Sniper rifles. An Aston Martin convertible. And DRONES! I even threw in a kitchen the galley of a cabin cruiser moored nearby. And mixed in is Ben's explanation of what happened.

It probably makes absolutely no sense, right now, but so what? As Alfred Hitchcock once said, "It's just a movie." Right?

I'm digging back into The Blood of Others and finally got to a part that grabbed me. It's the last 60 pages of the book, and Paris has fallen to the Nazis. Blomart, the lead male -- one of those self-satisfied men who feigns dissatisfaction (my description, not de Beauvoir's) -- casually talks a couple of friends into setting up their own branch of resistance against the German occupation. One half-heartedly points out that if they do commit violent acts against the German soldiers, there will be reprisals. Innocent people will die. A reality that is so easily rationalized away, it left me shaken.

The Resistance in France during WW2 has been so romanticized beyond recognition or honesty, it's more like a fairy tale than something that really happened. And, of course, most Frenchmen will insist there were very few collaborators during that time. So to read this moment in a book written only a couple years after the war's end sent a chill of truth across the nape of my neck.

People die in war -- innocent and guilty, alike. Soldiers and civilians. Men, women, and children, not to mention other living creatures. Even now. It's like a tornado or earthquake or tsunami, completely without anything in the way of human concern with its aftereffects. It just is what it is. The only difference is, it's man-made instead of a natural occurrence.

You have to wonder why anyone -- anyone -- would want to have that happen. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let's make that "the last act..."

I'm still trying to configure the final big scene in Marked For Death...and it's expanded to where I have to rework the entire last act. I won't say I was being overly ambitious with it...I'm still fighting to keep everything in that I want...but either I expand one character's role to where it matters as to which side he's on...or I kill off another character. Which I don't want to do because that will poison my ending.

I've got a feeling this script is going to wind up being more like 105 pages than its current 100. Which isn't bad. But I'm doing this little thing where I don't overly describe fights or action bits, meaning the pages will be heavier, in those areas. And yet I'm adding a bit more dialogue. So maybe it was going to be an hour and forty-five minutes, no matter what.

I want to be done with this script so I can get on to other work. I finally heard from that Deputy DA in Riverside and he's pulling together the answers to my questions, regarding The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Meaning I can do my last draft on it, with the reality of jurisprudence mingled in instead of what I remembered from Perry Mason, LA Law, and Law & Order.

I also want to make Carly's Kills...but haven't figured out the best way to go with it, yet. I do know what I want to do with Underground Guy; strictly book and my "hero" an asshole in need of redemption. Sort of like Curt in How To Rape A Straight Guy.

I'm also having more ideas on how to make The Alice '65 into a book. Which it should be. Adam and Casey are too complex to easily explain in a script, and I can delve deeper into the whole antiquarian book world. I may even be able to get some people I know give me input about it. I could also get back to doing Adam's facebook page. It's been sitting there for too long.

Like most of my writing.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Down to the last 12 pages...

I think I finally have a handle on making MFD a solid script ready to show. It has to do with taking everyday items and making them dangerous even as I keep building the complications. What's going to be fun is tying it all together at the end. In a marina on The Thames under the flight path of an airport in the middle of the night with no cover and a Mexican standoff happening under the glare of CCTV cameras with only one way out of the place as the cops approach and a secretive killer is out to make a hash of everyone else with two innocents and Ben caught in the middle.

Not asking for much, am I? But if I can pull this off...

What's especially interesting is how an old lady who worked at Sam Houston Book Shop in Houston, when I did, gave me the clue. Lois. She was only about five-foot tall and silver haired. Always in a dress, never pants, never a skirt and blouse, and she walked a bit like a drunken sailor. She died years ago, and I hadn't seen her since 1992, but she's locked into my brain. An old Texas woman, no guff to her, didn't take crap off nobody, working part time to bring in money because her son suffered a stroke while being audited by the IRS for his former partner's business dealings and he was living with her, on disability. Hers was a rough story.

She reminded me a bit of my Texas grandmother, though Nana was five-nine...five ten in her nursing shoes. And her hair was white and fine, and she loved to wear slacks. My youngest niece looks so much like her, it's scary.

Anyway, Lois would come to work, take care of the fiction paperbacks -- restocking, reordering, going over new book offers, returning those that didn't sell -- and make a cup of tea. In a mug. with an immersible heating coil.  I was at that store seven years and that coil worked non-stop for six of them. And that gave me the link.

I have a scene where a knife is used to torture a man...and I thought, that's typical and tedious. What could be more interesting? Hmm...burn him with an immersible heating coil. Because those suckers boil water. Fast. My scary flights of fantasy took off from there.

Do I make you nervous, now?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flyin' high...

I just got a kick-ass review of The Lyons' Den on Saguaro Moon Reviews! The reviewer got what the story's about. I don't yap about it because I wasn't sure I succeeded; I just thought I'd had fun with it. But there it is. Maybe I do know what I'm doing...for now. I'm sure I'll drop back to self-deprecation mode in about 23 hours.

That said...I'm finding my way down to a meaning for Marked For Death. I've bounced a number off the back of my brain, but as I was going through a hardcopy of what I've got, so far, a new idea began to build.

The first one to come up was, "The sins of the father are visited on the son." Which I didn't really go for; Ben's got a great relationship with his parents, so that doesn't fit such a narrative. I thought maybe I could have it turn out that Forrier is NOT such a great guy, that it's all in Ben's memory of him. But that bothers me...not so much because of the reversal and betrayal behind it all, but because then Ben would be seen as backing away from wanting to die because he's lost respect for his father. And that is just wrong for him. He needs to make the decision without external forces forcing him into it.

So another one  popped up, "You cannot run away from yourself." Which is a bit too New-Age-y-Pop-Psych for my taste. Besides, Ben's not running away; he's confronted the reality of his life and wants to die...just not without meaning.

I think what it's boiling down to is..."Where there's hope, there's life." A quote from Anne Frank, but it fits Ben's case. He feels dead and wants to end the last vestiges of awareness...until he meets Aurelia. It came out of something he says to her, near the end of act 2 -- "In you, I see life, again." Not love. Not desire. Not even hope, really. He senses what could be a future...and even, maybe, some happiness. A reason to keep on going, even while still remembering... that what it really is all about?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Kinetic Sand...too damn cool...

This is a magical interactive glass sphere installation...

Tres, tres cool et tres, tres chic...


This is a British crime film from last year, supposedly in the vein of Bad Lieutenant, that I think I need to see. About a semi-crooked cop and the Albanian/Turk criminals he's trying to bring down...if they don't get him, first. It's just getting released in the US, and I doubt it'll go much outside LA and when I can get it, I will. I think it'll help me with Marked For Death.

(5/3 note: If I want to drive to Columbus, I can see Hyena. Or NYC. Or Chicago. Anywhere but Buffalo.)

I've begun to wonder if MFD is too soft, story-wise. It's Ben's story and he's out for revenge, but I don't think I've taken it quite as far as it need to go. The way it is, now, he's dealing with a drug kingpin...and that seems trite. But it got me to wondering what the story's about...and I honestly can't say.

There's my usual "revenge destroys the innocent as well as the guilty" part to it, but that's not the core of the story. There's the idea that the sins of the father are visited on the son, but that doesn't fit in with Ben and his Da. I could change that, but then what's it about?

An idea that's beginning to wriggle its way out of the dirt is, something to do with redemption. But what that is or how it fits in, I have no idea. So far, I'm just having fun with drones and posturing. Not the best way to build a movie...especially when it takes nearly 6 pages to explain everything at the end. Doesn't matter how much you cut it up, that's deadly boring.

Of course, I could be overdoing the self-criticism and holding the story to a ludicrous standard. I've done that before...way more than once. So what's the story's story, Kyle? What're you trying to say?

Damned if I know.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The greatest brain ever...

(Belonged to) John von Neumann (December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) ... a Hungarian and later American pure and applied mathematician, physicist, inventor,polymath, and polyglot. He made major contributions to a number of fields,[3] including mathematics (foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory,geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and fluid dynamics), economics (game theory), computing (Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics.[4] He was a pioneer of the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics, in the development of functional analysis, a principal member of the Manhattan Project and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (as one of the few originally appointed), and a key figure in the development of game theory[3][5] and the concepts of cellular automata,[3] the universal constructor, and the digital computer.

Von Neumann's mathematical analysis of the structure of self-replication preceded the discovery of the structure of DNA.[6] In a short list of facts about his life he submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, he stated "The part of my work I consider most essential is that on quantum mechanics, which developed in Göttingen in 1926, and subsequently in Berlin in 1927–1929. Also, my work on various forms of operator theory, Berlin 1930 and Princeton 1935–1939; on the ergodic theorem, Princeton, 1931–1932." Along with Hungarian-born American theoretical physicist Edward Teller and Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, von Neumann worked out key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb.

Von Neumann wrote 150 published papers in his life; 60 in pure mathematics, 20 in physics, and 60 in applied mathematics. His last work, an unfinished manuscript written while in the hospital and later published in book form as The Computer and the Brain, gives an indication of the direction of his interests at the time of his death.

There's a lot more to this, and if you link to Wikipedia you'll see I stole these three paragraphs and the photo from them. But this is just too fascinating not to share. I'd never even heard of him, before, but someone said he probably had the greatest brain since Da Vinci, if not greater, and off I went in research.

A gentle thought to end the week...