Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Begone 2015, you bitch...

This was not a stellar year for me except in one way -- I got a couple drafts of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor done and some solid feedback so I can make a good final draft. Oh, and I wrote a vicious screenplay called Carli's Kills that I am pumping like crazy. I'm even doing the totally obnoxious, you-should-never-do-that thing of suggesting Katee Sackhoff and Alex Minsky in the leads for it.

As Starbuck in BSG, she held her own with any man, even when she was being vulnerable. And she looks like she can handle herself, not like some twig making believe she's kung-fu queen.
He's a real goofy character who sounds a bit drunk when he talks, thanks to the injuries he suffered when his leg was blown off...and he plays guitar, which is part and parcel of the whole story.

I like the dichotomy of them both -- she looks like sunshine and light but winds up being a very black force; he's dark and brooding but turns out to be decency personified. I think their love scenes would be hotter than hot.

I've already sent it out a couple dozen times and, so far, only have two refusals. I may get 2 dozen on Monday, but...

I'm still thinking about the restructure of UG because it just won't let go. Not sure why. It would be a lot harder to write...and I keep thinking of it as a film project. Guess my subconscious is fighting me tossing aside film and the dream of directing. But if I had about $30,000 I could shoot it.

And therein lies the problem of my brain, this year. Bouncing around like a friggin' ping-pong ball in a small boxed in a ship caught in a storm. Even when I slow down to a few hops, the waves crash and against the walls do I go, again. It's tiring.

And fun.

So here's to 2016 being the year I stop bouncing off walls and settle into a corner to plot my next dangerous project.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What if...

I had an odd thought hit me. What if I took the relationship building between Devlin and Reg and made  Underground Guy into a long dialogue taking place over one night? Drop the serial killer stuff. Drop the involvement of a Middle Eastern Prince who's sexually fluid. Instead, make it about a man who uses sexual violence to provide him with a form of control connecting with the heterosexual man he almost raped but didn't, and who shatters his walls without meaning to.

Talk about making it a completely different story; I'm not sure why I'm even considering this. I have probably ⅔ of the book written. There are some sections that need to be joined together, a couple of bridges to build, but that's it. Yet what I did the other night between Dev and Reg tangles gentle around me, like ghostly smoke from a candle.

Could this be me avoiding the reality of a book that's turning into a novel long enough to rival the Bible in length? Again. Am I trying to find a lazy way out? I dunno. Maybe. I'm not averse to avoidance.

Years and years ago, I saw My Dinner With Andre, which is just a conversation between Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, two men involved in theater and film as actors, writers, and producers. It was fascinating to sit in a theater and be entertained by two talking heads, but it was mainly on an intellectual level. I never even considered trying to do something like it.

But then I went through a period where I was heavy into Willem De Kooning's abstract-expressionist art while also loving the portraits work of John Singer Sargent...who is his polar opposite. I was living in Houston and had just pulled myself away from a hideous filmmaking experience, and I remembered MDWA and thought about working up a low-key project between a young reporter and a reclusive artist famous for his abstract expressionism but who had disavowed it. Something pure to remove the taint of what I'd been through and allowed to happen.

I was able to work up about 25 or 30 pages -- I think I still have them in one of my boxes, someplace -- where the artist agrees to be interviewed only if the journalist will model for him, naked. Only I couldn't get it to really go anywhere or become more visual, and I thought about the difficulty in working up the pieces of art that would be needed, so I dropped it. Looking back, I just wasn't that good a writer, yet.

Now I'm thinking of a long conversation in bed between two men who've made a connection after a violent confrontation, to the shock of both of them, and how they reveal aspects of themselves as they go along. That sounds like a film or play, not a book. In fact, that is basically what Weekend was about -- two gay men connecting one night and spending the next couple days together before one of them leaves for another country. I wonder if my affection for those two films is playing on this?

Thing is, it would work as either. I saw a production of Homebody, Kabul, a play by Tony Kushner, where the opening monologue was transfixing. Forty minutes of a woman sitting in a chair talking about her life and love of a country she's never been to. Breathtaking. The following act, which was more traditional and had more people, was nothing compared to it.

William Shawn opened MDWA with this comment -- The life of a playwright is tough. It's not easy as some people seem to think. You work hard writing plays and nobody puts them on. You take up other lines of work to try to make a living. I became an actor and people don't hire you. So, you just spend your days doing the errands of your trade.

I guess one of the errands of my trade is having thoughts buffet me about.

Underground Guy

I've been back to work on that story. My plan is to finish a first draft then rework Owen Taylor to simplify the opening couple chapters, then do another draft of UG, then polish OT and publish it. Then, if I feel UG is ready, polish it and publish it. Then get back to work on Place of Safety.

It helps that I've gotten some more positive response to OT in its current form, so don't really need to do much on it. I also got turned down by the NEA for a grant to work on P/S, and re-read what I'd sent them...which included the chapter of Brendan traveling to Claudy early on January 5th, 1969 to be with the students marching to Derry. And it scratched at my soul. He needs his story to be told.

I want a decent first draft of the first section of the story before my next birthday. That gives me seven months to complete three books. Right, that's gonna happen. But it's a goal, and I'm not working up the entire book of P/S; just the first one. Books 2 & 3 will follow.

I'm finally accepting that I don't like to write hyped up drama in stories like P/S. I want a more natural flow to it, especially since the events it's located in are dramatic unto themselves. When I wrote Desert Land, I used the style to rack up the intensity of the drama, but that wouldn't be something you could extend over a massive book.

I'm reading My Antonia by Willa Cather as I sit in the tub, each night, and it has a clean spare style that works for the area -- Nebraska of the late 19th Century. Nothing much happens except life and the messes it brings. The completed piece I have that's closest to it is Wide New World, which is pretty low-key but as naturalistic as I can make it. A guy takes a photography class and tears his family apart.

So I know I'm capable of doing that in OT and UG...and maybe finding the simplicity in those will help me build it in P/S...maybe.

It's certainly something to strive for.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Back from the deep end...

When I finished the 75 page rewrite of We Come I figured I'd go through it and see what I could expand upon so it could get back up to 90 pages. But as I started, I fell into my old routine of letting the characters run things and trying to make sense of it...something that usually works...but this time it collapsed. I wanted to write a nice cheap SF-horror script to sell to one of the contacts I have, and I couldn't. I hated the story, hated the structure, hated everything about it. So I had to put it aside.

It didn't help that someone who read Bugzters asked if I got the idea from Inside Out. The story of an 11 year-old child whose parents move her from a home she loves to one she doesn't like, as several emotions in various colors try to guide her to an understanding and acceptance of her new life.

Bugzters is about an 11 year-old boy who doesn't want to move from the home he loves, and who has some different colored aliens in his MacBook help him come to terms with his new life and at the end he has accepted it.

When I was rewriting this for animation, I was told over and over the ending had to be different, that I had to combine the boy with his genius next-door neighbor girl to centralize the character, and he had to achieve something, not just peace of mind. When I wouldn't change that, the script was finally taken away from me. That was 9 years ago. I'm not aware of anything having been done with it, since.

And now it's dead. Yes...the details of my script are different from Pixar's, and I wrote the first draft nearly 17 years ago, but that is immaterial. Since Inside Out is a Pixar/Disney film, the people who read it (and who knew they'd have to deal with another party if they went forward with it) feared they could be sued for working with something that could be seen as a rip-off. "Loved the script but have to pass."

That's when I went through all the submissions and queries I've made over the last year, for scripts, as well as competitions, and got overwhelmed with the rejection of it all. I have a full series of writing workshops I bought to help me write a sellable script and I've taken seminars...and they've been worthless. Nothing has made any difference.

So I tumbled into this blank universe, where words vanished and it was all I could do to just surf the web and comment on Facebook. This wasn't just a crash and burn. The ground give way beneath me, and I slipped into a sort of drowning phase. I have nearly drowned, before. I can't swim because when I know I'm in water that's too deep for me to stand up in, I freak out. It's a visceral reaction. I need to know I have that minimal bit of support in the back of my head or I cannot function.

I guess that's true of my screenwriting, as well. I needed a minimal amount of delusion to keep going, and I don't have it anymore. I'm not going to write the next Scream or Halloween or Hitchcockian action-adventure script. I don't have the ability to let go and vomit out just anything. But that's not the real drawback. It's that I do not have the kind of luck it takes to make it happen. Meeting the right person at the right time to get something like The Alice '65 into the hands of Russell Tovey or Darian's Point to Aidan Turner or Carli's Kills past Alex Minsky's or Katee Sackhoff's people. And so far the three agents who were willing to read my work will now not even respond to me.

Eventually you have to accept that the trouble is not with everyone else; it's with yourself. And it's not just that I do not know how to sell myself or network or any of that; it's that I don't write scripts that producers will go nuts for. I need the kind of luck that will help me find the one producer who will so love my screenplay, he or she will force it to get made. I thought I had a couple of times, but it turned out not to be, and I seriously doubt I will, now, living in Buffalo.

What finally pulled me out of this collapse was sitting down and working up a quiet moment between Devlin and Reg in Underground Guy. A gentle, brutally honest discussion, 10 pages long, of what was beginning to happen between the two of them -- one a straight married British cop who can't understand his attraction not only to another man but to someone he knows is a rapist; the other, the American man who abused him, sexually...and who is realizing his past actions were evil...and who is trying to find a way to make amends. I worked on it till three, this morning, and reread it just a little while ago...and I like it. I can see it. Hear it. Feel it. And it would never work on film...but I don't care.

So I am not writing or rewriting another screenplay, not until I have sold at least 2 of the ones I currently have. I've written a total of 33, but in reality 12 of them were works for hire, like Bugzters was, and only 9 or 10 are good enough to offer. I have a dozen more ideas, but it's a waste of time and misdirection of effort to do this unless I know it will be worthwhile. It's ludicrous for me to keep working up new scripts and rewriting the ones I have in hopes that someday lightning will strike. It won't. I just plain do not have that kind of luck. Never have.

I will keep submitting the ones I think are good to producers and production companies and fellowships, but nothing more. I don't know how this will work out, but I feel like I'm finally taking a serious step towards being a novelist instead of using writing books as a substitute for screenplays.

I'm finally accepting the story being told and the characters being seen are what matter, and doing that in a book is better than making a movie.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This is what happens...

Well...We Come is a grand total of 75 pages long. NOT feature length. So...I need to go through and figure out how to make it at least 88 pages, and do it without padding and in a way that will keep me engaged in the story. That's the hard part...and most dangerous, for me. If I get to where I care too much about the characters, I stop trying to please the market and just tell the story as it wants to be told. Which tends to piss readers off. They're looking for Save the Cat's plot point on every age, these days, and it just flat ain't gonna always be there.

I've been trying to figure out a way around this, all day, and everything points to deepening the characters in ways a SF-Horror film doesn't really go. I guess I'm just not cut out to do quickie one-offs...unless I get drunk.

That's how I wrote the first draft of Find Ray T -- buzzed on Corona, or something like it -- and got it done in 8 days. Even crazier, the basic structure of the script hasn't changed. I guess the booze lets me have a don't-give-a-fuck attitude and put anything down I damn well want.

That said, the details have changed dramatically, over the years. Damon grew more proactive. Tara built into someone any straight man would want to be with. Celia became more important. And oranges became a recurring motif, in that Damon doesn't like them but they keep winding up being in the middle of everything.

What I'm thinking of doing is truly screwing around with the SF-Horror genre. Make the script totally existentialistic, extrapolating Sartre into the realm of George Pal. Having Danny, who comes from an abusive family, reach an understanding with an alien that has killed a dozen people because it wants to get home to its family.

I wonder if the SyFy network would go for it? Some human characters on BSG came to terms with the Cylons, even though the latter had practiced genocide against the former. And Gravity is really that sort of film. So that might make it fun to do.

Hmph, not much self-aggrandizing here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Many mirrors of me...

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.Walt Whitman

This quote applies to me so damn much. There are times I wonder just how many people there are in me, all fighting to have a story told or be paid attention to or just control my life instead of me controlling theirs. Sounds crazy, I know...but I addressed that in The Lyons' Den. Talking to the characters in your head. Arguing with them. Loving them more than the real people around you. Wondering if they're the truth of your existence.

Going through a bit of that, right now, with We Come. For some reason I don't know who is what or why in this story. Don't know the reason for it or the meaning of it or even where it's going. Which is silly to worry about; it's a Sci-Fi-Slasher script. Kids v. the evil creature who wants to destroy them.

Except...the creature isn't evil. It just wants to get home to its family. Just wants the hell away from this planet and sees humans as a method to do that. Like we ride horses. Like we build airplanes and boats to carry us places. People are tools to it, and it acts from that perspective.

It's funny. I think the greatest creature feature ever made was the original King Kong in 1933. Today, the stop-motion ape and dinosaurs look silly and amateurish...but at the end...even though Kong has killed dozens of people indiscriminately...including an infamous scene of him pulling a woman from her bedroom, seeing she's not who he wants, and tossing her hundreds of feet to her death without a thought -- as he's being shot down on top of the Empire State Building, you feel sorry for him. He was a wild animal who only acted from instinct to protect that which was his, and now he's dying. And it's heartbreaking. And there is my problem with the script -- I want the murderous creature to be a tragic hero.

Yeah, that'll sell fast.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Parables of Søren Kierkegaard

When I get lost, sometimes this brings me home...
The Two Artists

What is the difference between requiring love of the neighbor and finding lovableness in the neighbor?

…Suppose there were two artists, and the one said, I have travelled much and seen much in the world, but I have sought in vain to find a man worth painting. I have found no face with such perfection of beauty that I could make up in my mind to paint it. In every face I have seen one or another little fault. Therefore I seek in vain.” Would this indicate that this artist was a great artist?

On the other hand, the second one said, “Well, I do not pretend to be a real artist: neither have I travelled in foreign lands. But remaining in the little circle of men who are closest to me, I have not found a face so insignificant or so full of faults that I still could not discern in it a more beautiful side and discover something glorious. Therefore I am happy in the art I practice. It satisfies me without my making any claim to being an artist.” Would this not indicate that precisely this one was the artist, one who by bringing a certain something with him found then and there what the much travelled artist did not find anywhere in the world, perhaps because he did not bring a certain something with him!

Consequently the second of the two was the artist. Would it not be sad, too, if what is intended to beautify life could only be a curse upon it, so that art, instead of making life beautiful for us, only fastidiously discovers that not one of us is beautiful. Would it not be sadder still, and still more confusing, if love also should only be a curse because its demand could only make it evident that none of us is worth loving, instead of love’s being recognized by precisely by its loving enough to be able to find lovableness in all of us, consequently loving enough to be able to love all of us.

–Søren Kierkegaard

Works of Love, pp. 156-57

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Zap zonk zowie...

I'm plowing through We Come just to get the new structure in place, then I'll rewrite it as much as I have to for it to be fun and fascinating. Danny, the lead, is proving to be very quiet and sane. His girlfriend, Catherine, is coming across as bossy while the rest of the group haven't taken on very distinguishable personalities, yet. But those will come; I see hints in Mario as the guy with all the answers and Chill as cooler-than-thou, while Miner is hinting at being a true existentialistic villain who is angling to get away with his crimes. We'll have to see how that plays out.

I know I'll make it better because I had someone ask me for Find Ray T and I went through it to check for typos (found a half dozen, which is good, for me) but didn't want to change a thing in it. VERY unusual for me. The story works. The characters are sharp and delineated. It moves along fast. It would be a fun project to make, and if the right actor was in the role of Damon, make a lot of money. No question in my mind. Are you listening, Liam Hemsworth?

I've pretty much given up on Amazon Studio. I've sent them 9 of my best scripts and they dismiss them within 24 hours...meaning they're looking for something very specific but won't tell you what that is. It doesn't cost anything to submit, and I don't think I need to use their format to work out the screenplay...and if that is a requirement, the hell with them...but I'd like to know why I get a form letter that verges on insulting:

...(W)e have determined that (your project) does not meet the needs of our Development Slate at this time. ... If you make significant revisions to your work, you are welcome to re-submit it in the future.

Uh, no. Not gonna. I like these scripts as they are, most have won awards, and I get the feeling you aren't even bothering to read them but are still telling me to fucking revise them. Picture a one-finger salute here.

It helps that I've gotten some more positive feedback on OT. A new bit of restructuring is working its way through the back of my brain, and I think it will turn out really good. I'm keeping my opening, but shifting the background explanation to later in the story, and I'm trimming out about 40 pages. I let Jake get a bit too descriptive, at times, and there is still some repetition I could get rid of. Tighter is better.

Or so I'm told...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

We-come is next...

I'm reworking a SF-Horror script I wrote that is set in the desert, about an alien that crash-lands on Earth and uses humans as batteries so it can send home a distress signal. It's being helped by Miner, a man it controls -- he brings it people; it keeps him alive. It's set up in some caves under a motel called the Welcome Inn, but the L is missing...hence the title -- WE-COME.

Everything is going great until some skateboard kids are lured to the motel to use its empty but pristine pool to play in. The pool is the relay dish the alien uses to shoot off its messages. Miner goes after the kids only to find they aren't such easy targets.

I've got the first act written, leading up to the point where the kids realize something is very wrong. One of them is hurt but they can't use their phones to call for help and their cars will not start. I've also added in a couple of victim-characters, to pump up the suspense angle. In the first draft, I did the A-B-C thing of introducing everyone and giving their back-story...and it was boring. Now?
Now I introduce the kids -- Danny, Catherine, Chill, Mario, Skye and Powell -- as they're driving through the desert en route to the motel, playing a kind of tag, Danny driving a classic convertible, Chill behind the wheel of a pickup. I envision it with aerial and tracking shots of the vehicles as Yanni's Aria plays over. Maybe the title sequence. Use the full four minutes. By that time, the audience will be completely on the kids' side without them saying a word.

Of course, if I do sell it, the director will probably ignore my suggestions and totally screw it up. I had that happen in the first rewrite job I did for a cheesy Corman series. I rewrote three episodes to add humor and humanity, but also did a three episode arc with the two main characters -- a professor and a sheltered schoolgirl; it was an erotic series meant for European distribution. Justine -- that's it. I rewrote episodes 7, 8 & 9, and the arc was for Justine and Professor Robson, and a couple of secondary characters.

Anyway, the director loved my work and shot it...and then, after it was done and on its way, told me he hadn't realized I added the arc till after it was edited, so he didn't do anything to enhance it. Even cut a few lines that would have helped. Maybe people will catch it, maybe they won't. But it was my second introduction to the blindness of directors.

The first one almost turned me into a murderer...but that story was visited in a much earlier post.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

DP Synopsis

I'm open to feedback on this synopsis for Darian's Point...
In 1910, on a tiny island off the western coast of Ireland, creatures known as the Old Women have killed a child, bringing terror to one and all. Now the island matriarch, MRS. O’BRIEN, must ask her only son, THOMAS, to honor an ancient pact that calls for his death.

That would be a problem, because Thomas lives in Boston, ten day’s journey away. However, he has already come to Ireland with his American wife, MARIAN. Things are tense between them due to her upper-class background and him being considered beneath her by her family. This journey is one last attempt to save their marriage. If this doesn't work, they plan to accept an annulment being offered by her father's friend, the Cardinal of Boston.

Mrs. O’Brien dislikes and distrusts Marion from the moment they meet, but her focus in on Thomas and convincing him of his duty to the islanders. The O'Briens have run this snippet of land for centuries and are the only ones who can fulfill the pact.

It began three thousand years ago, when the Dagda, the father of the ancient Celtic Gods, raped a woman of the Ua Briain clan after being given shelter. His wife, Morriggan, was furious and had the girl killed, but not before she gave birth to a son. This was a huge insult, and caused the Dagda to turn on Morriggan and wash his sins away in the waters of The Cliffs of Moher.

In answer, Morrigan used her powers of sorcery to form the sins into seven harpies, who lay waste to the west of Ireland. After many battles, four harpies were killed and a great many widows made before the Dagda brought about peace. In exchange for a promise to live in the caves of the Cliffs and leave Ireland's people alone, each hundred years a young man of the Ua Briain bloodline would be given to the remaining three harpies to feast upon...and Thomas is of that bloodline.

Only Thomas is now from a world that values science and reason, so he laughs at his mother’s claims...until he is attacked by one of the harpies in a crumbling tower known as Darian’s Point and understands he is bound by honor to fulfill the ancient pact. So with his mother’s help, he prepares himself to die.

Marian does all she can to prevent what she thinks is nothing more than an insane ritual murder. Then darkness comes...and a thick mist surrounds the tower...and she hears the shrieks of the ungodly creatures and realizes the legends are true. But she may be too late to keep the man she loves from being killed atop Darian’s Point.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm a pantser...who maybe ought to be a plotter...

I stole this from Hope Clark's Funds For Writers newsletter, this week --

The Importance of Planning in Self-Publishing

By Joel Friedlander

Fiction writers are sometimes divided into “plotters” and “pantsers” depending on how much advance thought they put into the development of their novels.

The “plotters” like to work everything out in advance. They may develop elaborate outlines, timelines, character portraits, diagrams of pivot points in their story, and know, even before they strike the first key, exactly what the story is and how it will develop.

“Pantsers” get their name from “flying by the seat of their pants." These writers might start with an idea, a scrap of conversation, a setting, or some dramatic situation, then sit down and start writing to see where the story goes, what characters show up, and how the whole thing will work out.

What about self-publishers? They can also be divided in terms of how they approach the publication of their books. Consider:


As soon as a planner gets going, they have specific dates for all their events. An author may have booked the blogs on which she’ll be appearing during her book launch several months away. She might locate vendors for the services she’ll need, set up a publishing company, and get all her “ducks in a row.”

Although all this preparation is impressive, planners may be driven by anxiety, remaining keenly aware of all the things that can go wrong, and try to avoid unplanned events disrupting the timeline.

Free Spirits

Free spirits approach publishing with a less structured approach, and are more concerned with the task in front of them, not with future events.

A free spirit author may be so absorbed by finishing his manuscript that he doesn't engage an editor in advance. While working with an editor, he may pay no attention to other tasks, content to wait until the moment when they are needed.

Although it sounds slower, these authors may be more open to serendipitous meetings and spur of the moment inspiration. Although they don't get the benefits of advance planning, they may have more fun in the process.

Questions Arise

Most people think that a book is a simple, commonplace object — words on a page, one page after another until you reach the end. What’s complicated about that?

But then, when you decide to publish yourself, the picture becomes murkier. You begin to realize there are many decisions that go into making a book. The questions start, and never seem to stop:

• Hardcover, paperback, ebook?
• How big a book?
• Where to sell, and for how much?

Then it gets even more confusing:

• What should I do first?
• How long will it take?
• How do I stay on track?

Planning to Succeed

Many authors are also teachers, business people, retirees, consultants, electricians, military, lawyers, doctors, and so on.

They have expertise in their own field, but they don’t know how book publishing works. They have no grasp of the whole book publishing process.

Ideally, you could have an expert sitting next to you as you plan your project to explain all the steps and when to do them. That's a great solution, and some authors end up hiring a book shepherd or publishing consultant.

But only a few do that. Most try to figure it out by reading, talking to friends, and asking questions.

Understanding the sequence of events in publishing a book should be your first task when you decide to self-publish.

So if you're thinking of publishing your own books, educate yourself first. Nothing will repay you as much as getting clear in your mind about how the process of turning a manuscript into a book works in the real world. You'll soon be a publishing "pro" yourself!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

DP is done...

It's now 100 pages long and reads much cleaner than before. I've sent it off. That's all I can do. I like the script and the story, and really do need to write the opening to it; the part that shows exactly what happened to start the whole curse. I have it worked out, but it'll be long if I put everything into it.

Something interesting about this is, by accident I learned I was spelling the ancient name of O'Brien wrong. I had Ui Briuin; it's Ua Briain. I thought I had it right and the site I'd happened onto was wrong, but some cross referencing said otherwise. So I've changed it in Return to Darian's Point, as well. I have a feeling one is just another version of spelling for the other and that's where I got it, but it doesn't matter. It's everything else that does.

I saw my eye doctor, today, and also found out my eyesight is still 20/20. Plus my bloodwork's results were posted on my doctor's site, and my cholesterol is down to 154. Everything else is screwy, to no surprise considering how poorly I ate while traveling, but that's really good. I'm trying to eat better, but it's Christmas and we're getting nothing but munchies from vendors we use. One sent us oranges that made amazing juice, but mostly it's cookies and candy. Oh, well...after the new year, all will be different.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sidetracked, again...

Someone in the UK wants to read Darian's Point so I was checking it for typos and realized it's written in a rather archaic style. So I'm halfway done with updating it. No changes, except having an argument between Thomas (the male lead) and his mother, Mrs. O'Brien, in Gaelic instead of English; that did feel necessary. The rest of it, I like. It's just my novel-esque descriptions of what's going on that had to be gotten rid of. By removing the mini-hyperbole, I've dropped 2 pages.

It's still an off-beat story. Gothic horror, of a sort, set in 1910 off the west coast of Ireland in a clash between old-world belief and new world reason. I still think Aidan Turner would be perfect as Thomas, and Ann Hathaway as Marion. That'd be fun...

I've been submitting scripts to Amazon but they're turning down everything with the same pat phrase -- Not right for our slate but if you do major rewrites you can resubmit it. I mean, they're turning down award-winning scripts in the space of a day, and I know I'm submitting the projects right. If they're going to be like that, they can kiss my ass. I've sent them my best stuff, already -- romantic comedy, horror, thriller, action...not sure what else I can do.

I'm still waiting to hear back on several other applications I've made for scripts or writing jobs. I need to start keeping a log of this crap.

I got some feedback on OT, and once more it's the first 2-3 chapters that are the problem, according to this guy. After that, he says it's like I got hold of the story and everything settled in, so I need to think up a way out of this mess. Maybe I'm trying too hard to keep it as a stand-alone instead of feeding off RIHC6. Maybe I just need to let that idea go and make it its own tale, with only general reference to what happened before, throughout the book. I need some time to think about this.

Hell, I need months worth of time just to catch up with myself.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Questions never stop...

I'm at a point where I need Devlin to be released by the Metropolitan Police, but I can't just have it happen. It needs to make sense, and I couldn't figure out a good excuse. Not till I was doing my dishes and having a hell of a time cleaning a frying pan...when Reg and Dev started talking to each other...and it worked itself out.

Sir Monte, who's Chief Inspector on this case, still thinks Dev's helping the killer and is hoping he'll lead them to the guy. Of course, he's smart enough to know Dev will figure that out, so also uses Reg to keep him off balance. Knowing he may be putting Reg in serious danger...and, in fact, is. But he's out to stop a serial killer and will do anything he must to do it.

I'd written a chapter between Reg and Dev in Dev's hotel room...but it's now wrong. Reg wasn't being a cop who's also seen war in Her Majesty's Army; he was being a confused bloke. The conversation he has with Dev now shifts that, and a few harsh truths come out. And what's even better, Dev is completely off center, now. The mess with his mother's body slammed him harder than he realized, and he's halfway wondering if he pulled his crap with a man he suspected to be a cop just to make sure he wouldn't have to deal with it.

Well...when in doubt, Freud it up...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Devlin Pope living up to his name...

I got into a nice long bit of back and forth with Dev about Underground Guy and finally came to the understanding that I'm holding him back. I've been trying to find excuses for his behavior...and those are still going to be in the story, because otherwise it doesn't make any sense...but he's not going to be a nice guy about it. He's going to be something of a monster. Not consistently, but every now and then a button is pushed and he turns into a raging animal.

The button to start the story off is, he thinks Reg is a cop out to trap some gay man into making a pass at him on the underground so he can arrest him. And Dev hates cops because they consistently let his father beat him, his brother, and his mother. In fact, the police would suggest they did something to set dad off on his rampage. Then when Dev's mother vanished, they were too willing to assume she just ran off, leaving her two boys behind; Dev, however, even at eight years old suspected his father killed her and disposed of the body. And the story now begins with a body being found in some marshland in New Jersey that might be his mother's, and all that old anger and fear is churned up.

That is what sets him close to the edge, this time, and seeing Reg do something to attract the attention of a man Dev recognizes as gay punches the button. He sets out to teach Reg a lesson about fucking around with people...and winds up in deep shit. In a foreign country. Where he doesn't have his attack dog of a lawyer available to defend him. And all hell tears loose in him.

Dev even had me set up what is about to happen to Reg by having him remember doing it to an undercover vice cop in San Francisco. Dev went to grab a piss just before his redeye flight was due to leave and the cop tried to get him to make a move. When Dev dismissed him, the cop's feelings were hurt so he tried to bust Dev...only to find out my guy don't take that kind of crap off nobody.

In short, in the first 10 pages Dev attacks a cop and gets away with it. That the story doesn't follow the expected path from that point...well, that's me and my characters.

I think Mr. Devlin Pope is going to be both interesting and scary, to say the least...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Synopses for A65 and CK...

If anyone's willing to give me feedback on whether or not these work, I'd love it.
(I should note -- CK is done like I'm told some producers prefer, telling the full story; A65 is like I prefer to write my synopses.)

Kyle Michel Sullivan

Revenge can destroy the innocent as well as the guilty.

First comes the death of Anastasia and her married lover, set up to look like a murder-suicide. Then in a bar called Cantina Madriza, Carli picks up a damaged man named Grady, in a game of pool. She takes him home, drugs him, and shows him a video of him raping a young woman -- her daughter, Lara. Several other men were helping, and Carli is going to punish them all.

She leaves Grady staked to the ground in the middle of the desert to be eaten alive by ants and buzzards. When his body is found, there's not even enough left for fingerprints, but the county sheriff, Anson, suspects his death is connected to Anastasia's murder-suicide.

Now Carli focuses on the other men who raped Lara, a biker-gang led by Dax, who is also the local drug kingpin and owns Cantina Madriza. An ex-Marine named Zeke, who lost part of a leg in Afghanistan, tends bar there. In fact, all of Dax's men are damaged ex-military who were tossed aside by society. Carli snuck a bug into the bar when she played pool with Grady, and can now listen in on their conversations. She learns Anson is in league with Dax.

Dax and his boys make plans for the next day and leave, then Zeke closes the bar. He lives in a shack behind the building with his dog, Loki. He can't sleep so plays his guitar on the porch. Carli approaches him and they talk...and she realizes he was not one of the rapists. Interest grows between them.

The next day, Carli spies on a meeting between two of Dax's men and a college student who deals for them. Once the student is gone, Carli shoots both men, to disable them. But when she comes down to confront them, one is still able to fight her. She kills him then kills the other one the same way she killed Grady.

Afterwards, she cleans up, then calls her mother and asks her to use contacts to find out who the college student is. Finally, she watches a video of Lara sending her a Christmas greeting, indicating Carli has not been around much. Carli weeps.

She goes back to Cantina Madriza and talks with Zeke. He takes her to some rocks in the middle of the desert, a place where he loves to watch the sun come up, and they have an impromptu picnic. They learn a bit more about each other...and love begins to grow.

Later that day, Carli tracks down the college student, Chase, and learns Lara was set up to be raped as payment for a drug debt owed by Anastasia. Zeke was there and tried to stop it but was beaten back. Carli convinces Chase to work with her in sending Dax to jail.

En route back to the bar, Carli is confronted by Anson, who knows she is involved in the deaths but cannot prove it, yet. Afterwards, she goes to Zeke. He has a makeshift target range behind his shack, so she fires off a rifle to vent some anger. He reveals he knows she is Lara's mother, and he feels guilty about not stopping the rape.

They wind up in bed and Carli finally reveals she was a troubled teen who had Lara at an early age. Unprepared for motherhood, she left the girl with her own mother and joined the Army, finally becoming a sharpshooter in Afghanistan. She pretty much remained out of her daughter's life until the girl was raped by and driven to suicide after a video of it was posted on her college's website. Now her own guilt is gnawing at her.

Zeke reveals he's been disowned by his family and had nowhere else to go once he was done with rehab for his leg. Dax gave him a job and a place to stay...but he misses water and trees.

When the next two bodies are found, Dax thinks another gang has moved in on his territory so kills some of them. Anson is furious; that has brought in the State Police and FBI, and all hell is about to tear loose.

Carli and Zeke make plans to leave, but at work that night Zeke overhears Anson and Dax discussing Carli and realizes she killed three of his friends. Torn between protecting her and the horror of what she has done, he calls Carli and tells her to go away. But Anson and Dax overhear him and try to force him to tell them where she is hiding. He refuses and is brutalized.

But thanks to the bug under the pool table, Carli overheard it all and roars in to face them in a battle to the neither she nor Zeke may survive.


Kyle Michel Sullivan

Books are ADAM VERLAIN’s life, so being an archivist of rare volumes for a London University is exactly right for him. But when they insist he go to Los Angeles to pick up an extremely valuable first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, he asks not to be sent because his father was killed while transporting another copy of the book up to Scotland, 15 years ago. But it is that or lose his job, so he agrees. Won’t even stay the night.

What he doesn’t expect is CASEY BLANCHARD, the top line movie star who inherited the book from her grandfather. She wants Adam to accompany her to a movie premier to show her ex-boyfriend, LANDO GRISSOM, this year’s butch action-movie hero, that she has moved on.

Problem is, Adam brought no clothes, so Casey's style guru – ORISI, a snarling boot-camp-drill-sergeant who never heard the word, “No,” -- has to slam him through an insane makeover (during which Adam winds up more than a little drunk) and into a five-thousand dollar suit. Then off they go, followed by a pair of paparazzi who will haunt their every move.

The premier is for the last movie Casey and Lando made together before breaking up, and they are quietly catty with each other about it but are doing well-enough...until the after-party at Lando’s Beverly Hills home. Their argument becomes vicious , so Adam comes between them...only to wind up ejected by Lando's bodyguards. Worried about Casey, he tries to sneak back in but almost drowns, ruins the suit, does his own verbal sparring with Lando, and nearly becomes dinner for a pet black panther named GERTRUDE. He also realizes why Casey wanted him with her – she knew that being seen with a guy who was such a bookish nerd, after having been on big, bad, beautiful Lando's arm, would be the perfect insult to the arrogant jerk.

By this point, all Adam wants is get the book and go home. But then he discovers that it has vanished...and that Gertrude has escaped and wants to be his girl...and that despite all the chaos and hurt and duplicity, he has fallen for Casey...even though he now suspects that her copy of the Alice '65 may be the same one that was stolen from his father...meaning her grandfather may have had a hand in his father's death.

Talk about tumbling down the rabbit hole...


This set of packing and pickup jobs finally got to me, so I went to bed early, last night, and got up at 8:30 am to get some blood-work done then have my car serviced. Now it's nearly 4 and I'm still at the dealership having it taken care of. The parking brake cord snapped and I use that all the time so it has to be replaced.

I had to fast for the blood-work, last night, and I'm sure my readings are going to be crazy as hell once it's done...but I've been putting a lot of this off for the last couple months, thanks to work, so I'm not going to worry about it. I'll be eating much better for the next few months, and I'm checking with the Y near me to see if it has a pool. I can't swim, but I can do calisthenics in water up to my shoulders; that's a lot easier on the joints than running, jumping, or pumping iron.

I had a doctor's appt. yesterday and found I've put on 10 lbs during this 'bout of jobs. I ate nothing but fruit, yesterday, it so irritated me. I've been trying to lose weight so naturally I'm putting it on. Typical. And I got a flu shot, so that may have added to my fatigue, because I slept solid...yet I'm still ready for a nap, right now.

Doesn't help I have no idea how shot my finances are. And I have to find some way of paying taxes in a few days. I guess I need to find some way of making some extra money -- like writing some nice cheap scripts to sell for next to nothing. Like I keep talking about. Better put that into practice. I'll need to sell a lot to get myself back on track.

Since returning from Jackson, I've gone through Carli's Kills and The Alice '65 to check for typos and inconsistencies, saved them both and will be sending them out along with Return To Darian's Point and Find Ray T. I want them in top shape to submit to fellowships and and grants, not to mention competitions.

I check Mandy, Moviebytes, Stage 32, ISF, and InkTip every now and then for writing jobs, but not consistently...and I need to start doing that. I have a wide range of work to offer. I've never paid much attention to Craig's List but I did get a couple of storyboarding jobs off them so who knows?

I also get newsletters from writing foundations with jobs and information on grants and fellowships. I'm going to get something going, ASAP. I'm getting the feeling I may not be up here, much longer. Not sure why...but I've had weird moments of deja vu, lately, and those usually precede something massive in my life.

I just hopes it means good and not bad...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mark Twain on critics and criticism...

I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value--certainly no large value...However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden.

I don't mind what the opposition say of me so long as they don't tell the truth about me. But when they descend to telling the truth about me I consider that this is taking an unfair advantage.

One mustn't criticize other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself.

Experience has not taught me very much; still it has taught me that it is not wise to criticise a piece of literature, except to an enemy of the person who wrote it; then, if you praise it, that enemy admires you for your honest manliness, & if you dispraise it he admires you for your sound judgment.

A man with a hump-backed uncle mustn't make fun of another man's cross-eyed aunt.

I have nothing to add to the words of the master when it comes to pure snark...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jackson deux

Not used to an airport that doesn't open till an hour before your flight. But...that made me first in line for Security. Zip. Zoom. I took these en route to the airport, using my cell phone. Not as crisp as my Nikon, but serviceable.

Looking at Jackson, WY across Flat Creek.

Flat Creek in the other direction. Miles and miles of nothing, and I did not see one moose, deer, bear or wolf. Dammit.

The official Grand Tetons. I thought there'd be more of them.

I'm now en route home, a day early. No time to hit Yellowstone or do any more exploring. Nor did I get any writing done. I got a blistering critique of Return To Darian's Point from a reader that even went so far as to criticize my grammar. That was a first, and shook me up, because I was being deliberate in ignoring the rules as regards ellipses and dashes in order to give hints to the actors. Obviously, this person did not like that.

Well, to be crude, fuck 'em. Granted, it took me till 4am to get past my hurt...but reality is, this is an award-winning script. More than once, so we're not talking fluke, here. So if some idiot somewhere (I am deliberately not naming who it is or where this obnoxious twat works) wants to diss my work, fine. I know its quality, and they are the one screwing up.

I've been through worse; I just had to remind myself of it. I had someone refuse to read The Lyons' Den, once, because she didn't like how I described snow. And when Wide New World won an award, I had a production house contact me and ask that it be sent to them, then after they read it told me they didn't understand why I sent then such a piece of shit. On that one, I got angry and used a few choice words as I pointed out they had contacted me. By all rights, I burned a bridge by doing that.

But you can't burn a bridge that hasn't been built, can you?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jackson, Wyoming

One of those places I never would have come to on my own.

The town is typical, albeit with faux-rustic buildings in the place of honest old ones, and it has a lot more in the way of shopping than a town of less than 10,000 normally would...but then, it also has an office of Sotheby's Real Estate and a modern terminal at the Jackson Hole airport.

Hard to reconcile that with an Alberston's offering Bear Spray.

A nice-enough town center done up for Christmas, but I didn't have much chance to look around.
At least it's near the beginning of the Grand Tetons.

However, it is cold as hell. This morning, the temperature was 5 degrees fahrenheit. Tonight, it's getting down to -6. Great for skiing if there's decent snow on the ground.

But I could never live here, unless I was a bear and willing to hibernate...