Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Momentary sidestep...

I posted information about Carli's Kills on Amazon Studios to see what will happen. It's a rather involved process that involves a logline, long-form synopsis, image to go with the submission, biography, PDF copy of the script, and they also seem to want you to use their cork-board to put up scene summaries, though I haven't really dug into that yet. It took longer than I expected; next time I post a script to them, I'll be better prepared.

That said, I now have an okay one-sheet style image for the script. Legally licensed and everything. The only thing missing is a gun or knife in Carli's hand, but this will do for now.

It's a very violent script, told more like a horror story with Carli the monster than a simple thriller. I think she winds up sympathetic, mainly because of Zeke...but you never know.

What's best is, it could be shot for very little. It's set around a biker cantina in the desert that has Zeke's shack behind it, an apartment in town, and the place where Carli's staying. Oh, and at the very beginning, a high-rise on LA's Wilshire Corridor that could easily be shot anywhere and green-screened in. Everything else is exteriors around the desert.

I may also post it on InkTip. That costs money, but has a greater reach.

Back to UG, now, and the wild world of Devlin the devil...

Saturday, November 28, 2015


A meeting between Dev and his sister-in-law, Diana, changed directions, today. Initially, I was going to have it all happen in his hotel room, but then she took a walk before they got to the meat of the moment and that part now occurs in a pub near Piccadilly Circus. But by doing that, she showed Dev she thinks...or knows...his room is bugged by the cops and she doesn't want them to hear anything she has to say. So now he's aware of their surveillance and his paranoia is making itself known...including realizing Tawfi may be the real target of their investigation.

I'm in that lovely space where I have no idea how this will pan out. Which direction it will go. Anything. This moment wasn't part of the outline, meaning the characters are taking over and interacting with each other like they damn well want to. Which makes me so happy. That's when the story really comes alive for me.

And I have fallen in love with my characters. I honestly do not know if other people will feel the same way about them. The story takes a while to get going, something I cover up with Dev's kidnapping and rape of Reg and the following interrogation. Those take up over 100 pages of the 241 I have so far. It's not until page 145 that Dev begins to take matters into his own hands, and then only haltingly.

At the rate this is going, I'll wind up with 750 pages of story. The Steven King of gay-sex-murder-suspense-mysteries. But without his ability to wring terror from anything. I've read his book on writing and it has influenced my style. I'm trying like crazy to cut down on the use of adjectives, but sometimes I just have to have them. They're like an addiction that I can't completely free myself from.

Maybe that's the problem my first reader had with OT -- not enough adjectives...

Friday, November 27, 2015


I've gone back through the first 105 pages of UG to make sure I'm headed in the right direction, and then I wrote another bit between Devlin and Tawfi that sort of hints at Tawfi being the killer. Not sure what that's all about, yet...unless it's to involve Devlin even more in the investigation. Guess we'll see where it winds up fitting.

This pass-through cut about 5 pages from the total, mainly because of repetition. Devlin overly explains what's going on with his brother, Colin, and refers to the same story about Colin's wife a couple of times when once is sufficient. But I also added something...later in the story, after Devlin and Tawfi have connected for the second time...


Tawfi lay his head in the small of my back and ran his tender fingers across my skin. He stopped, a couple of times, then moved on. Finally, he said, "You have some curious scarring."

I closed my eyes and just nodded.

He shifted to look closer at them. "There's an odd consistency to them. May I ask, what happened?"

His fingers whispered over them, gentle. I kicked myself for removing my shirt. I said nothing.

"Devlin, you're not sleeping. If you do not wish to answer, merely say so."

Not wish to answer? God, there was nothing more I wanted to do...but the words clawed at my throat, refusing to let go.


"My father," whispered from me.

Tawfi drifted down to lie beside me, his eyes locked onto my face. "He beat you?"

I could not keep his gaze...had to look away. Give the vaguest of nods. "And my brother. And mother."

He let his fingers glide up to mingle in my hair. So soft. So tender. More words released themselves.

"He had a belt. With this buckle. And if I was being a brat, he...he could have it off and whipping at me in two seconds. Then Colin would get between us and it'd catch him. This was after mom was gone. It kept up till I...I took it away from him. And beat him with it. And threw it in the East River. After that he...he focused more on Colin. And I let him. I went off to college and left Colin with him. After I'd let him protect me. After I'd let him get hurt for me. I left him with the son-of-a-bitch. The only thing that saved him was...our father died. Eleven years ago. Almost twelve. And I still don't believe it."

Tawfi put his fingers to my lips. I looked at him. Realized I was weeping. Could just barely make out his eyes were hurt.

"Now you know what I am," I said. "An animal that only cares about itself. You'd be smart to keep away from me."

His fingers drifted over to caress my eyebrows as he whispered, "It may not be appropriate to reveal this so quickly, but I would hate my life, if I did."

I shifted to kiss the palm of his hand, then said, "So would I."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Met the challenge...

But nowhere near the end of the book. 56,726 words written. Maybe 50% done...maybe 60%. Looking over my outline, I'm hovering right around the halfway point, but this part of that is pretty detailed so I can't really say. Whatever; it'll be what it'll be and I'll deal with it once I'm done.

I'm not completely happy about Devlin having a reason for going after Reg. Makes him a bit more reactive than I wanted -- or he wanted -- yet it makes sense for the story. And since Reg became ex-Army and was wounded in Afghanistan, that keeps Devlin's actions more on the animalistic side and helps to jolt him out of his brutal intentions. Without him realizing, of course, until he's well on his way to redemption.

It was nice not having to deal with anything during Thanksgiving except my writing. I'm off till Monday, when I go to Wyoming. Have to change planes twice and I'm staying in a Motel 6, but it will be interesting. Maybe. Dick Cheney land, so I dunno...

I read a book a long time ago, by Sinclair Lewis -- It Can't Happen Here -- about the rise of fascism in America. A U S Senator named Buzz Windrip leads his mob-like followers into forcing his election to the White House and immediately sets about destroying everything the Constitution stands for while claiming to protect it and promising instant prosperity. It's supposed to be something of a satire, but there are parts of the book that are absolutely chilling. Like one point where a doctor who says something wrong is immediately dragged into a courtyard and shot.

Donald Trump's push for the White House reminds me so damn much of this book, it scares me. It seems no matter how badly he behaves -- like making fun of a reporter's physical deformity or flat out lying about thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets for joy, in Paterson, NJ at the fall of the Twin Towers (something that did NOT happen) -- his poll numbers keep going up. People defend him. Say he tells the truth, even when faced of proof of the bastard's lies. It's insane.

Sinclair Lewis was right -- it CAN happen here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tomorrow's the big day for numbers...

I'll hit 50,000 words, and still have another ⅓ to ½ of the book to finish writing. So I'll keep going on it till Monday; that's when I fly to Jackson, Wyoming. All while I'm still coming down off jet lag and trying to realign my body clock. I guess maintaining the same schedule in Hong Kong that you have in New York makes things worse for you. I've been starving all day and can't keep my eyes open.

Since I'm not an automaton, the shredding of OT affected me...and what I'm doing with UG. These are two completely different types of stories so to hold them up to each other for evaluation by the same criteria is absurd. UG is a sex-charged murder mystery built on suspense and some character development. OT is a character-driven story that unfolds in its own natural way. UG starts off running at 90; OT starts from ten mph and works its way up to 120...then gears down.

What I'm trying to do with OT is make Jake and his world as real as I can while slowly upping the drama he's faced with -- Palm Springs under attack by homophobes out to take their city back. It's got a lot more going on, and I'm trying to show how insidiously that insulates itself into the town's society. It's a dark story but with some humor...I I guess if you don't buy into Jake as someone you want to follow, you aren't going to buy the book.

Thinking about it, I had a vaguely similar complaint lodged against Bobby Carapisi, a few years back -- that the story didn't get started until it reached Allen's letter detailing how he raped men. I guess I need to make it clear that, even though there is sex in the books, it's not the raison d'etre for the books. That never has been the case in my writing, though the sex does get pretty damned intense, at times.

I dunno...maybe I'm just writing a Russian novel, with hundreds of characters and each playing his or her own small part in the full story...and fancy myself the gay Tolstoy... I a baby or a big boy?

Got my first response to my latest draft of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, today, and it was pretty much a complete rejection. Boiled down to it needs to be cut in half and has too many characters. So...what does that mean? Well...nothing, just yet. I do have a previous response that isn't supposed to count; the reader wants to go back through to be able to give me better notes because he got lost in it...i.e. loved it. I'm waiting to hear from a couple of others, as well, before I make any decisions about what to do next. But it cuts you.

Doesn't help that I'm also still kind of off-kilter from the trip. The flight back from Hong Kong got off late, arrived late, and felt really, really long. And my brain was not doing well in the focusing department, so I watched their entertainment selections. First up was the first season of Prime Suspect...and damn it's still good. Better than 99% of the police programs on TV even now, and that's with it being 25 years old.

Another offering was SPY, with Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law and Rose Byrne -- and it was a hoot, to my surprise. It got a little silly in parts, when Melissa was being bad-ass, but overall? I'd watch it, again. I actually got startled into a snorting laugh in the middle of this deathly quiet airplane. I think I woke up a couple of people. Very embarrassing.

One major disappointment about Hong Kong this year, aside from the heat index being 9000? The lack of good-looking men to glance at. The best one was a book dealer from the UK, whom I've known for a while and sighed over for just as long, and whose name shall remain unknown...and who was smart enough to have his pretty wife with him. Dammit.

But outside the venue? Nothin'. I remember the first year I went to this fair, I practically stalked this gorgeous Frenchman up to The Peak. The weather was cool so I had on a pullover, and he was wearing a neat leather jacket. I got some decent photos of him...somewhere. I'll have to see if I can find them. Of course, he noticed me doing it and cast me a Get the F away glare. Not that it mattered; once on The Peak, half a dozen caught my eye...including a couple who were coupled.

Still...some spy I'll never be...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

And More of Hong Kong...

This is during a lull at the China in Print Book Fair.

An exhibit of Hong Kong boats at the Maritime Museum.

Another exhibit...

Real life on Hong Kong harbor.

The book fair is over and it was successful. Most everyone wants to come back, next year. I wouldn't be unhappy to do the same, now that I know someone here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A few more bits of Hong Kong...

IFC Tower behind the Central Ferry Terminal

 A ferry about to head for Kowloon, as seen in the distance.
Kong Kong Central with the ferris wheel now working.

Doing the tourist thing...sort of...

Down day so went to Stanley to get a chop made and then changed buses to go up to the Peak, but I've done all these things before so didn't spend much time there. Just gonna share some of the photos I shot:

 This is a shot of Pier 9 from the Maritime Museum; I only shot it because of the old man using a fishing line to try and catch a fish...

These two shots above are Refuse Bay en route to Stanley, while the one to the right is one the road to there...
Stanley is an ugly little town so I focused on its bay...
These two shots are of Happy Valley, a suburb of Hong Kong...if the city has suburbs...

From the Peak...very gloomy and completely repetitive...

A couple of skinny high-rises by Stubbs Road coming down from The Peak..

And a pagoda-style Chinese house nestled on the road back to Central Hong Kong...

If I'm here next year, I think I'll just take a tour bus to see what I'm missing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Upside down..

I've been totally out of whack since I got to Hong Kong. The flight left at 1:20am and arrived at 5:30 am local time. I did a fair amount of writing, but after a while I zoned so dozed, a bit. I cannot sleep on an airplane. Hell, I can't even sleep with someone else in the room; I'll doze and wake up and doze and wake up all night. But that little bit kept me going till 1 pm, so I could get everything done that needed to be. Then I crashed until almost 9 and had to eat in the hotel because everything else around me was closed.

I stayed up to work on UG some till 3am...then took a nap before heading over to the book fair venue for the move-in. I really like this venue -- the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. It overlooks the harbor, is a nice open space, and since the restrooms are downstairs I caught a glimpse of the exhibit on Chinese junks...and want to see the rest. But I was beat so came back to the hotel to nap, some.

Letting Dev be his own little devil has made the story more least, to me. He now bounces between regret at what he did to Reg, to anger at being treated like scum for doing it, to confusion as to why he cares about what he's done since he never did before.

At first, he thought Reg was like a vice decoy out to mess with someone over what Dev considers nothing, but then he learns Reg was trying to help catch a serial killer by putting himself in danger...and it messes Dev up. He hated cops thanks to how they brushed off his father's physical abuse of his mother as well as himself and Colin, his brother, but Reg's action have jolted him out of regards him; Dev still has a visceral dislike of the Chief Constable trying to question him. I'm still playing it cagey by having his earlier assaults be against men who've wronged him or his brother in some all kinds of roller-coastering here.

Officially, I'm up to 46,000 words and maybe halfway done, but I'm still in the process of shifting Dev's attitudes over what I've written so I'm only just over 40K. I'll make the challenge number, but I don't think I'll have the book done by the end of the month.

Last night I had a nice meeting with a friend of my buddy, Brad Rushing -- Scott Hessels, who is an artist living in Hong Kong and commissioned by Hong Kong to make conceptual kinetic sculptures. He used to work in film but, like many independent filmmakers, was barely etching out a living. Then he shifted to sculpting moving image and programming works of art...and now he's being exhibited all over the world. Fascinating man.

We went to a bar called 208 on Hollywood Street, -- an Italian pizzeria with 2 for 1 Peronis -- and sat and talked. I had more beer in those 2 hours than I've had in the previous month, but it was fascinating. He's led a much-more out-there life than I have.

Unless you consider the books I've written...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

En route to another adventure...

I'm currently in Toronto's Pearson Airport waiting for my 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. I took a bus up so did some work on UG as we drove...well, tried to. It was a small bus and really needed new shocks. There were parts of the freeway undergoing resurfacing and you could feel every bump. I still managed to shift Dev even closer into being an asshole, and that's making him happy.

The plane is supposed to have power outlets on board, so I'll be able to get more done. I'm still at about 30,000 words in good condition...which will be in better condition once I'm done with Dev. And probably shorter. Some parts are unnecessary and others are redundant. Plus Dev's confrontation with Sir Monte would be better served by being more focused on his being willing to fight back and less on his being upset by what happened with Reg.

I'm still not clear about a couple of things -- like why the cops release Dev, after he's arrested, instead of holding him for as long as they damn well want. I need a reason for that, in order for Sir Monte not to come across as a fool...and to avoid just letting it happen so the story can move forward.

I once started a script where I didn't have a similar situation worked out, and it stopped cold at that point. Everything leading up to it was going great...then I had to get the lead out of jail and could not make anything I came up with work. So I put it aside. I knew the ending, but every bridge I tried to build to it came crashing down.

That happens, once in a while, and I learned a long time ago if I just slap something on thinking it won't matter, I'll turn out crap and people will think I cannot write. Why churn out shit if it's going to hurt you more than help you?

I have some friends who I think would agree.

Monday, November 16, 2015

UG Moves Forward...

I finally found Dev's spirit animal -- a black panther on the prowl. Looks beautiful but you don't want to pet it...not till it says it's okay. And even then, be very, very careful.

Changing the collision between Devlin and Reg from chance to something Dev deliberate seeks out is a hell of a lot better for him and the story. It also makes it a hell of a lot more complicated and tosses out half of what I wrote in the confrontation between Dev and Reg's boss, Chief Inspector Sir Montague St. James...AKA: Sir Monte.

Dev's become more insolent. His killer instinct makes him a good salesman, and he's able to schmooze with the best of them, but like any cat, once it's tired of you, leave it alone or it will tear you up.

Talk about the epitome of an anti-hero...

Tomorrow I'm off to Hong Kong so no telling how often I'll be posting...or when. I'm meeting up with a friend of a friend for a drink, Friday evening, and may be connecting with another business acquaintance on Saturday. It's looking like a full trip. Busy...

At least I'll be able to get my hair cut, tomorrow, and not have to deal with it flopping in my face.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Je suis francais...mort aux cons Daesh...

Nothing much to say after the slaughter in Paris, Beirut, Iraq, Syria, and Russia. Religion may be the excuse animals like this use for their atrocities, but truth is they are just animals, not human beings. They have regressed into savagery for the fun of it.

Something similar began to happen in the IRA, when bombs would be set around Northern Ireland and the UK, and the warning call would be deliberately garbled so the authorities couldn't get there to evacuate people, bringing about death and destruction. Difference is, the IRA saw it as a public relations disaster and made damn sure it was stopped.

Some people get off on causing that sort of horror. It gives them an almost orgasmic thrill. Serial killers, for example. I've read where some psychologists think creatures like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Andrei Chikatilo (in Russia) got more pleasure from the terror their victims suffered than the actual rapes. Leonard Lake and Charles Ng even videotaped what they did to their female victims, so they could watch it after the women were dead.

Makes you wonder if ISIS...or Daesh, as the Muslims refer to attracting serial killers who get off on the slaughter, even as they die.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 we go, again...

Looks like UG will wind up being 80-90,000 words, at the rate it's going. I'll have 50K done by the end of the month, for sure, but the way the story's twisting and turning is bringing in more detail about Dev's life and his manner of handling his inner anger. But that's what I like -- building people in the story instead of mere characters to carry the plot. Then I let them do things that are really not good for garnering sympathy but make them even more human, in my eyes.

Devlin is proving to be a real problem to understand. Jake was a pain, but I knew basically where he was coming from. He'd drive me nuts with it, but he was never anything but a good guy...even when he's doing something questionable, in a moral or legal sense. As for Tone, he always had this laser-like focus going that could both help him and get him into trouble. He's complicated but not that complex.

Devlin, however...I don't want to say he's mentally unstable or brain-damaged from his father's physical abuse because those are easy outs. And he wants nothing to be simple or simply decent about him. He's close to being like Curt, with the animal in him, but he's a hundred times smarter and more I can't use Curt's limitations with him.

I'm toying with the idea that Devlin senses Reg is a cop and deliberately targets him, just for the fun of it. And that's what gets him into so much trouble. He notices Reg paying surreptitious attention to another man on the tube...and sees Reg do something deliberate to draw attention to himself...and Dev hates cops because they refused to help his mother...

Loki...that's Dev...the trickster...never sure which side he's on. He helps the Norse gods, and hinders them. Causes the death of one...that's why he's bound to the rocks, with a serpent dripping a painful poison onto him. Sigyn is the woman catching the poison in a bowl, but when she shifts to empty the bowl, the poison strikes Loki and his agony causes earthquakes.

I need to re-read the Poetic Edda...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Took a while...

I ran headlong into wondering why everything starts happening with Devlin now, in Underground Guy, while he's on a trip to London instead of at home in NYC. Why is he suddenly jolted out of his normal pattern so he can careen into what turns out to be chaos? And the reason was already indicated in the outline; it just took a bit to remind myself of it.

Devlin's father is an abusive drunk with his mother, his brother, and much so, Colin was permanently damaged by it. He's functional, but has difficulty remembering things and dealing with their clients. Their mother disappeared when Devlin was eight, and everyone thinks she walked out on the family. But even at that early an age, Dev wonders if his father killed her.

So he's at the tail end of a successful business trip for his company when he gets a call that a body's been found and linked to the missing persons report filed when his mother vanished. He's supposed to meet with officials to provide DNA to compare against...but before he can return home, he jumps out of his safety zone and goes after a guy he sees on the Piccadilly Line of the Underground, and winds up stuck in the UK for god knows how long.

This is kind of a Hail Mary jump for me, in order to keep the story going...but so far it works. Dev thinks he's on top of things, but his actions jolt him into realizing he's got major issues he's been ignoring and are being forced into the open by his illegal actions. It's almost like him jumping Reg is a form of avoidance...and self-punishment.

A bit Freudian, but...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Too much to do...

UG just fell apart on me so I'm rethinking it...dammit.
If only I was this cute while doing it.

I'm done with job two and waiting for a plane at el Paso's airport after a great bit of BBQ at Rudy's. Nice spicy sauce...spelled sause...and brisket so tender it nearly melts in your mouth. I'm bringing two bottle of their sause with me, and bottles of their turkey and beef rubs.

It they make it through the airline's baggage claim...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some of Cape Cod area...

Changing planes in Austin and trying to catch up on UG since the flight was so damned noisy with kids, so no time to think out a full post. Instead, here are some photos I took around Hyannis and Cape Cod.

 This was en route to Chatham. There are little lakes like this all over the place.

Chatham Beach at the "elbow" of Cape Cod...

 ...and looking the other direction. That water is rushing by at about 50 in a channel about 30 feet from shore.

Chatham Light...nice but not sure it was worth the trip.

I thought about going up to Provincetown or maybe over to see Plymouth Rock, but those would have taken hours more and I wanted to get to the Gorey House and back to the motel to write.

Not the best flight from Boston. The plane was packed, as is becoming routine with Southwest, and there were 7 toddlers on the plane in various stages of meltdown. Plus I was sitting on the aisle next to a couple of women who make me look like a twig. This is what I get for trying my trick of getting to the back of the plane in hopes of having an empty seat next to me.

Austin's airport is nice, but they wanted $15 for a piddly plate of brisket with a watery sauce, here. I got a grilled cheese, instead.

Just 2 more hours to go till I head to El Paso, my least-favorite city in the world.

Monday, November 9, 2015

UG worked on and worked on...

Devlin's taking his time getting going. I have to wonder what he's up to. He's spent more time reminiscing about his past exploits than actually doing anything...and considering he's thought to have helped a serial killer commit another murder, you'd think he'd be out to make things happen.

Of course, part of the problem is, he's a fish out of water, being an American in the UK with not much idea how the system of justice works there. US law may be somewhat based on British jurisprudence, but it ain't all that close. So can he help in the investigation in any way? Except as a bumbler. I may have painted myself into a corner, here, with no door or window to sneak out of or even make, like Harold and his purple crayon did.

The ideas I have for the story are so damn coincidental, they bother me. I need something more as a reason for it to be. I've got Devlin's evolution from an animal to a human being plotted out, but that's not really jibing with the sex-murders aspect of it...though I do toss in a reference to Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy. Thinking about it, that movie had a protagonist who wasn't very nice and didn't do anything for himself till after he was convicted of murder, ¾ of the way into the film.

I wonder if I've been influenced by that movie?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Who knew Edward Gorey was here?

Job's all done, except for the pickup in the morning, so I did some sight-seeing...and found out Edward Gorey lived close by and his house is a museum. It's on a nice quiet little street in the middle of a nice quiet little neighborhood, and the man who greets you at the front door is so happy and chirpy, you know not to turn your back on him...

 Edward sees you in...
 ...shows you his coat..
 ...reveals all his toys...
 ...and some of his collections...bottle, glassware, off-beat items...

 ...and his tools of the trade... well as the books they worked on...

 ...with special note of his famous Dracula sets, when Frank Langella did a sexy vamp back in the 70s...
 ...and a loop of the Mystery Theatre titles with its three hosts below...

 ...and Y is for Yorrick in the room... wind up with the ivy-filled critter in the back yard...

The sad little Sherlock Holmes Museum in London could learn a thing or two about how to do it up right.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Having fun with UG...

Underground Guy is being written without rules or limitations, and I'm having fun with it. There's sex and drugs; I think I need to work in some rock-n-roll to even it out. Needless to say, I seriously doubt NaNoWriMo's had anything like it in any of their challenges. Officially, I'm at 13,401 words on 53 pages.

I know the theme for the story -- control. Every character either has it or wants it or feels like they've lost it...and Devlin, the protagonist who's also the anti-hero/hero, is all of them at one time. He'll come to understand what's going on and figure out who the killer is because it so closely duplicates his own life. It's my fervent hope this works out organically and doesn't have some bright light moment, where the hero goes, A-HA!

This packing job turned out to be a lot easier than I expected, mainly because all the books are smaller than I thought they'd be. I was told the majority would be quarto sized -- about 10x7 inches -- but actually the vast majority of the hardcovers are more like small octavos -- about 8x5...or less. 700 of the books are regular paperbacks; I got all of those into 10 boxes, with padding. So it's working out that I've got double the packing materials that I need, and I'll be done tomorrow instead of Sunday.

Not that I mind. I think I'll stay in the hotel and work on UG. I've got a small fridge and microwave so have some nuke-able meals in the freezer and DP chilling. If all goes well during Monday's pickup, I'll have the afternoon to go exploring. It's pretty up here...but god help anyone trying to get around without GPS. It's like doing The Time Warp while driving on two-lane blacktops.

"It's just a jump to the left...and then a step to the ri-i-i-i-i-ight..."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

25 quotes from authors on writing...

Please enjoy as I procrastinate on writing anything of my own on this blog and, instead, focus all my energy on completing Underground Guy for NaNoWriMo...

Marilynne Robinson: “Beauty,” Writing, What Storytelling Can Learn from Science, and the Splendors of Uncertainty
“We are part of a mystery, a splendid mystery within which we must attempt to orient ourselves if we are to have a sense of our own nature.” (Dunno if I want that...)
Stephen King: Writing and the Art of “Creative Sleep”:
“In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.” (Can't tell the difference, sometimes)
Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing
“If it sounds like writing … rewrite it.” (My biggest woe...)
Michael Lewis: Writing, Money, and the Necessary Self-Delusion of Creativity
“When you’re trying to create a career as a writer, a little delusional thinking goes a long way.” (Was she talkin' to me?)
Annie Dillard on Writing
“At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then — and only then — it is handed to you.” (Aware, am I)
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” (Still crazy after all these years)
Italo Calvino on Writing: Insights from 40+ Years of His Letters
“To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being… what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it.” (Contemplating the possibilities)
Ernest Hemingway : Writing, Knowledge, and the Danger of Ego
“All bad writers are in love with the epic.” (Was he talkin' to me?)
David Foster Wallace: Writing, Death, and Redemption
“You don’t have to think very hard to realize that our dread of both relationships and loneliness … has to do with angst about death, the recognition that I’m going to die, and die very much alone, and the rest of the world is going to go merrily on without me.” (Dammit)
Isabel Allende: Writing Brings Order to the Chaos of Life
“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” (Bitch makes fun of me half the time she does show)
Stephen King: The Adverb Is Not Your Friend
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.” (I try...hopefully)
Malcolm Cowley: The Four Stages of Writing
“The germ of a story is a new and simple element introduced into an existing situation or mood.” (Screenwriting helps, here)
Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing
“Work on one thing at a time until finished.” (Good luck with that...)
Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Rules for a Great Story
“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” (I can see it...)
Susan Orlean on Writing
“You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.” (Daily, if not hourly)
Zadie Smith: 10 Rules of Writing
“Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.” (Oh, thanks...)
John Steinbeck: 6 Tips on Writing, and a Disclaimer
“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish.” (God, is this true...)
F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Secret of Great Writing (1938)
“Nothing any good isn’t hard.” (Knowing this already, thank you...)
“Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound.” (Liking this...)
Ray Bradbury: Creative Purpose in the Face of Rejection
“The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.” (Tell me about it...)
Mary Karr: The Magnetism and Madness of the Written Word
“Be willing to be a child and be the Lilliputian in the world of Gulliver.” (Not sure what she means)
Kurt Vonnegut: How to Write With Style and the 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word (1985)
“The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not.” (Yepper)
“However thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.” (Speak for yourself)
H. P. Lovecraft: Advice to Aspiring Writers (1920)
“A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of Poe’s will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook.” (I concur...except I don't know who Addison is...)
Henry Miller: Reflections on Writing
“Understanding is not a piercing of the mystery, but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through and by it.” (Story of my life)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Delacroix on self-doubt...

Stealing another article, this one written by Maria Popova and posted in Brain Pickings.

Here's one of the best parts --
How stupid to get into the habit of reserving what one imagines to be the finest subjects for a future occasion!
The absurd mania I have for doing things in which I am not vitally interested, and therefore doing them badly; the more I do such things, the more I find to do. I’m always having excellent ideas, but instead of working on them while they are still fresh in my imagination, I keep telling myself that I will do them later on — but when? Then I forget about them, or worse still, can no longer see anything interesting in ideas that seemed certain to inspire me. The trouble is, that with a roving and impressionable mind like mine, one idea drives another out of my head quicker than the changing wind alters the direction of a windmill’s sails. And when I have a number of different ideas for subjects in mind at once, what am I to do? Am I to keep them in stock, so to speak, quietly waiting their turn? If I do that, no sudden inspiration will quicken them with the touch of Prometheus’s breath. Must I take them out of a drawer when I want to paint a picture? That would mean the death of genius.

I know what he's talking about. Some of my ideas should have been done when I first had them -- like updating Aristophanes' The Birds to a cyberpunk world. I did some of it, got a pissy first draft done and then set it aside. Twenty years ago, when I was heavy into Gibson and Neuromancer. Back then, it would have been forward thinking; now it would just come across as derivative.

Another script of mine -- Dair's Window, about the need for gay marriage -- was timely when I first wrote it but by not pushing it to get done, it's become outdated. I can still rework it, but I have to have another reason for it to exist, and I haven't found one, yet.

Of course, I could just be putting off making the decision to make them both work.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

10 things successful writers do...

I stole these from a South African blog, of all places. Successful writers...

1. Live in the present and look to the future. They don’t dwell on rejection. They start writing another book as soon as they finish rewriting and editing the previous one. (like I'm doing now)

2. Take chances. They don’t think there is only one way to do everything. They are willing to try a different genre or a different viewpoint. They enter competitions, and start a blog – even if they’re terrified. (God, have I ever...)

3. Listen to advice. They respect people who have worked in the industry. They are willing to learn the rules so that they can successfully break them. They don’t think they know everything and realise writing has been around for a long time. They are prepared to take a writing course, or join a critique group. They do not obsessively quote one or two famous authors who claim they did not take advice. (Did this a lot in LA; harder to do in Buffalo...but I am sending my work out to be critiqued and edited, so...)

4. Put in the hours. They know that first books are seldom good, but they are a rite of passage that most authors have to go through. They also write every day, even if it’s just a poem, or a note, or a blog post. They don't buy into The Myth of Writer's Block. (I've put in the hours...times ten...)

5. Keep an open mind. If an editor, or a publisher, wants to make changes, they will consider what they have to say. They are not precious about their work. Being stubborn can become tiresome if you don’t have a good reason to dig your heels in. (I'm better about this, but once something in the story's right, in my mind, God himself couldn't get me to change it.)

6. Embrace change. If they have a book that nobody wants to read, they will write another one. They realise a book can only be a commercial success if people want to read it. They understand they can’t force the public to like their writing. They learn when to let go of ideas that are no longer popular. They start writing new books. After all, they can always come back to the book that 50 publishers have rejected, in a few years. (Check)

7. Focus on strengths. If they are brilliant at plotting, they write books that are plot-driven. However, they are willing to work on improving characterisation and sentence construction. Similarly, if they are brilliant at writing beautiful sentences, they are happy to write literary fiction, but are willing to work on improving their plotting techniques. (My strength is writing people; plotting isn't my best ability...but I'm working on it. Maybe that's why I'm writing mysteries; they're more plot dependent.)

8. Practise patience. Writing is a process and learning how to do it properly teaches them to be patient. It takes 10 000 hours to become good at anything. Becoming successfully published is a result of many years of hard work and constantly improving your techniques. (I've been at this since 1980, so no effin' comment)

9. Learn from mistakes. They learn how to write query letters and synopses. They target the correct literary agencies. They realise they need to learn about self-publishing if that’s the route they choose. They do not blame the industry, readers, or the Internet for their failures. They are happy when other authors are successful. (Not sure about this; you can take too much responsibility for failure, too...)

10. Persevere. They don’t give up. Successful authors carry on trying if writing is truly important to them. They set goals and deadlines and pursue them until they succeed. (see my comments in # 4 & #8)

We'll see how this goes for the next year...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Quick pass on CK

It took a few hours, but I polished up Carli's Kills...well, more like went through and corrected typos and inconsistencies. Such as having 5 Harleys outside the cantina when there should only be 4, and a small mistake in the timeline. Found nearly a dozen things that should have been corrected, and a couple things I missed that added to the story. The bad boys still say crap, but now they get called on it.

I really like how Zeke and Carli work out. The way they connect and build their relationship works so well I didn't change any of it. And I made her more active in the part that was called dull. I could see where it needed it, and all it took was adding a couple of lines to have her move instead of sit and watch, and I brought Zeke's dog in a bit more.

I really do need to get feedback on my scripts; if I've gone over this one all those times and still didn't catch everything...god knows what the rest are like. Readers for OT didn't catch everything, but some people would notice one typo while others noticed a different one so I was able to focus on those...and probably make new ones, the way I work.

It's rarely anything really big; more like missing letters, reversing them, missing words, repeating words when I didn't intend to, that sort of thing. I even double-and-triple check my blog to make sure I've got everything in it that the post needs...and if I read it later, I still find typos. I'm hopeless.

Right now I have a nasty headache. Seems if I stand while working for too long, my neck muscles tense up and it spreads from them up my neck into the back of my brain and makes it hard to concentrate.

If this is old age, stop it, right now!

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Jumped straight into NaNoWriMo and will have the book done by the end of the month, come hell or high water...and this being winter, probably blizzards. I posted the first 2000 words of Underground Guy on it, along with a new idea for the cover.

This works better than the one where the guy's eyes are downcast. His expression is almost dreamy. I enhanced his features a bit and blackened the people around him. And no need for the little tag that I usually put on my book covers; this works better without one. Clean and simple...

I got feedback on a script -- a short-form sort of coverage for Carli's Kills. They really liked it except one section that dragged, and they weren't happy I have the bad guys use anti-gay comments. I went to look at the pages they referenced and what should jump out at me but a typo. I went through that script a dozen times searching for typos, but somehow I missed having Hr instead of Her.

The great thing about it was, the ending did what I wanted it to for their reader. I was really unsure about that, because I don't let Carli off the hook for the things she's done. So I'm pleased, overall. I may put the script up on Talentville, to get more feedback.

I read a script that's already posted on that site and offered feedback. It was a nice enough one, but very careful and linear when the story cried to be told in a different way. Good dialogue just too much of it...and for me to say that, you know it had to be a lot.

But them's the dues you gotta pay on places like Triggerstreet and Talentville -- reading sub-par scripts,