Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This is the song...

I like her version a lot better than Dylan's.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Last bit of the prologue to Place of Safety...

He was found off the Limavady Road, miles from where he’d normally be. His coat pulled down his arms with his hands bound behind him and every finger broken. His face pummeled into the mere hint of a human visage. Blood staining his shirt down to his trousers, the knees of which were torn and scraped, as if he’d been forced to walk on them or be dragged. Some said his teeth were all broken off, but the Coroner refused to discuss it. His only comment was that “Mr. Kinsella perished due to a gunshot fired into the crown of his head after enduring what may best be described as torture at the hands of his murderers.”

So his wake was held with a closed casket. And his burial was quick and paid for only through the intersession of Father Demian, the priest who’d so often visited the man’s home in times of distress in the years prior. And he comforted the new widow as best he could, but she would have none of it, wailing, “What’s to become of us? How shall we live?”

And how did we live? That part was simple. After his death, the first cash from the dole went all for food, instead of half for drink. The burned toast and weak tea he’d wept on about (like so many self-serving bastards) were replaced by porridge and milk. Now fish and chips could be bought off the shop on Waterloo Street as an occurrence and not a dreamed-about treat. Clothes could be bought, and even if they were second hand, under Ma's tight needle and thread they wound up better than the rags most other children wore. Debts could be maintained instead of ignored and the one good thing about having to deal with poverty on so consistent a basis was, Kinsella's widow knew how to stretch a penny the length of a mile. Well, there was almost a second good thing; because the widow had five with another soon due, the Derry Corporation was shamed into promising better lodgings for us, once the Rossville Flats were completed. If there were room still available on the queue, of course. Can’t make promises one might have to keep.

So the pure fact is, with Eamonn Kinsella’s death, his family was left better off than they’d ever been while he lived. And some old hens clucked viciously that the wailing offered up by his widow -- no, let’s call her by her right name, now; Ma...Bernadette, to her friends -- it was loud more from her sense of guilt for often having wished him dead than at the fact that he was. And while I may have agreed with them, it was wrong of them to cast judgment on those who’ve lost someone, even if that person held little value to all and the rest of the world. Only a man’s blood may determine the meaning of his passing...and me being his second son, I was allowed to think what the old cows had no right to whisper.

So yes -- I felt no sorrow at his death. I sensed even then it was for the better of us all, though to be honest with myself the feeling was colored by the recent occasion where he’d nearly crushed my right hand because I dared wish to keep the shilling I’d earned fixing Mrs. Cahan’s toaster instead of hand it across so he could have one more pint of porter. And never once since has my mind changed its belief.

But the problem was, Eammon Kinsella was born, lived and died in Derry (Londonderry for those who cannot be bothered to learn the city’s proper name). And upon his death a typical thing happened -- he was memorialized for who he was, that being a Catholic man, as what he was quickly passed from memory. And when it was discovered he was killed by two drunk Protestants who swore they’d only meant to have some fun with the Paddy and things had gotten out of hand (which was as high a pile of shite as could be imagined but, of course, was accepted as the most reasonable explanation by the Constables) he became a martyr to one and all who were Catholic. He was raised up as yet another example of the hatred sent our way by the Orange bastards who never missed a chance to flip us off. A poor family man trying only to keep kith and kin together as he slaved for the pennies tossed his way by Loyalist scum.

It would sicken the most forgiving of men.

Still, that would have died off as well but for several Catholic schools being attacked, that year. And the discovery of a band of Loyalist mental defectives who, sensing the growing restlessness of the oppressed in Ulster and the push already building for civil rights, stupidly thought killing a few of us would remind the Papists who was still in charge. They formed a new group called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers and were planning to become bigger and better than the Ulster Volunteer Force. Instead, they wound up murderers, banned and in Long Kesh. And thanks to them, during the summer’s marching season, when the Orange Proddie lads would toss pennies off the Derry walls to show contempt, as often as not they were met with rotten eggs, vegetables and fruit being tossed right back.

I’m proud to say I helped toss them, though it was more from the sport of it than the politics or symbolism. I even saw a overly-ripe tomato I slung up smack this one ginger-haired snipe full in the eye and send him wailing. Of course, I got only quiet satisfaction from it, for my mate, Colm, laid claim to the hit and crowed about it for days...which he could, since it was more his style of fighting than mine.

Not that I cared; I was also busy scampering after as many of the pennies being tossed at us as I could gather, not yet believing the change in my family’s fortunes would stick. I pulled together near a pound.

But someone saw me and knew me, and suddenly Bernadette and her wain’s were at the bottom of the queue for fresh housing, guilt or no. Now we wouldn’t be relocated till it was time to “redevelop” her street -- meaning clear it of all housing and put in dirt till it was determined what to do with the foul-smelling place. Meaning we kept living in that hovel for nearly two years more -- Ma and the girls in the front bed, me and the lads in the back -- as life settled into a fresh direction around us.

So that was my new beginning at the ripe old age of ten, feeling joyful and finally free even as the subtle reality of my bright new world surrounded me, waiting for the best moment to bring forth the fullest impact, growing closer and closer to an explosion of hatred and brutality made only the more awful by its happening in a supposedly civilized part of the quickly dwindling British Empire.

But I couldn’t see the build of history, then. So few can. Events occur that you’re a part of, but at the time carry no meaning beyond themselves. They just happen, and you either rejoice when all ends well or weep when it doesn’t. So my father's death only held resonance for me in the most selfish of ways – that I could now live my life happy and in the way that I chose, that of a child filled with hopes and dreams and prayers and promise, believing himself to be in a place of safety.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Continuing Place of Safety from yesterday...

His wife (my mother) was born a Farrell on Clarendon Street, near Queen. Her name? Bernadette, though I didn’t know this for the first eight years of my life, calling her only by Ma. She was small and dark, and to first glance seemed so fragile...that is, until you saw into her icy-sharp eyes then caught the hard manner in which she kept her lips pursed. Her hands still had the look of delicacy to them, with long fingers and neatly kept nails, but if you vexed her they could dig into your arm or neck with a ferocious strength, and her slaps could be as quick and stinging as Da’s fists. She was the first of two girls amongst five boys, not a one of them still living in Derry at the time of her widowhood.

Four sons they had to their credit, the first being Eamonn, Da’s namesake and growing to be his twin save for the searching eyes laid upon him by his grandmother. Large and brown, they held a careful vision of the world that could bring all but the hardest heart to want to comfort him. He was yet to be as large, but by his fourteenth year he had the solid feel of the man and showed cruel flashes of his temper and intelligence, so could lie his way into occasional jobs shifting coal at the Derry docks.

Then there was myself, Brendan, third born and named for the saint rumored to have landed on Greenland for some reason or another. Many were they who told me I must have been blessed with the same wandering soul, though I never understood why they felt it, for I’d never been away from Derry by that time. My looks I took more from mother, being small, darkly-fair and slim even for a lad recently turned ten years of age, and my way with fixing things I took from God only knows who, though I once heard Mrs. Rafferty, a neighbor from two doors down, say I must have been born to it since my hands were so neat and precise. My thick hair was so massed with curls, unlike the straight brown mops of the rest of my siblings, when Mrs. Haggerty, a friend of Ma’s on Lecky Road by Westland came for tea, once, she told Ma, “He has the look of a surprised angel and a watcher’s way about him, your Brendan, so you know he misses little and would say nothing about it.” Ma was asking her what to do about me, for my focus could get so extreme, were I fiddling with a clock in need of its springs being reset or a hoover whose motor was burned up, I’d not hear a word she was saying to me till she flicked my ear with her finger.

Her response? "No, I think he's just simple."

Following me was Rhuari, a year less than myself and my shadow in every way he could be, the little weasel. His face and feel were simple and direct, with small eyes and a long nose, a child with no time for fibs or even lies and who could spend hours watching me work my magic on a broken wind-up toy. He had yet to take the form or look of either parent, and Mrs. Keogh, of Doolin Street by Ann Court, was certain he was more from what she called “a friendship” Ma’d had with a certain butcher than from her own husband...though none could prove it; I only knew because I overheard her yammering with Mrs. Haggerty, who merely nodded with pursed lips, the old cows.

Last would be Kieran, born but three months after the death of our father and the better for it, growing up never to know the question of whether or not he’d meet the end of Da’s fist or the back of Da’s hand. He came early, as if impatient to get started, and the whole of his life would be as tainted by that need as his looks were tainted by Ma with none of Da noticeable about him.

Second born was Mairead, who what many referred to as “a handsome lass.” Straight brown hair down the middle of her back, practical in everything from clothing to housework, with no time for foolishness. Her size and mine were near matches while her face took the length of our father’s and her eyes never held anything but hope and love for us all. She could take Da’s slaps and curses without a twitch to reveal her true thoughts about him, and was better at deflecting his anger from Mam than were I or Eamonn the younger, and by the age of thirteen was already blessed (or cursed, if you prefer) with a figure well-noticed by boys half again her age. She knew it and laughed at them over it, seeing them for the child-like men they were as she faced the world like a full-fledged adult with an adult’s burdens.

After Rhuari came Maeve, but six years old and so obviously the sister to him, Mrs. Keogh’s gossip extended to her, but that situation was quickly disposed of. For by the time Maeve was set into motion, the gentleman in question had long encamped for Australia and the prospect of a better life. And the truth was, both she and Rhuari had the look of our mother’s sister, Maria, who went by Aunt Mari. You could tell even from the photos she’d send from America. So Maeve was spared much of the nastiness that had been whispered his way, and she grew to be quite happy and content.

There were two miscarriages after her, whereupon the one doctor Ma finally saw severely warned her against having others. But the church being the church, meaning science and sense had no place in man’s day-to-day life, that advice was ignored. A woman is there for her husband and God will decide who lives and who dies and to interfere with that in any way was hubris of the most blasphemous sort. Which is why Kieran came along to be the last.

That so many were crammed into a maisonette of two-bedrooms up and a sitting room and kitchen down, only half-wired for electric and a toilet outside, was not considered unusual for those in the Bogside. Hundreds of households exactly like it spread over the rolling hills that faced the Derry walls and up the hill to St. Eugene’s, white curls of smoke drifting from their coal heating into the sky, laying a haze of ill-tempered air over the city. And each was packed tight with sometimes as many as three families, since housing was short in the area, even more-so with a redevelopment underway that tore those houses down before their replacements were built. Some families were even housed in caravans so small and cramped, a simple paraffin heater was capable of suffocating the inhabitants.

But that was how things were, that February in 1966. Cold and blustery and wet. And the fact that Eamonn the elder’s body had laid in that ice for a full day and night before being discovered helped to preserve him. Of course, it also made it difficult to set an exact time of death -- though sometime between midnight and five in the morning was decided upon, and probably closer to the latter number. For his passing had been neither a quick one, nor easy.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Polished beginning of "Place of Safety"

This is sort of the prologue...but I'm debating calling it that:


Those who knew Eamonn Kinsella -- and were being honest with themselves -- had to admit that had he been born but ten miles to the west or north, his murder would have been seen as the fitting end to a hard and brutal man. That he drank too much was not the problem; so did most of the men in his pinpoint of the world for it was often the only comfort offered in their existence. Nor was it that he was quick to temper when a pint too many wandered into his heart. Sometimes anger was the only emotion men like him were allowed to hold forth with. And if his wife was seen at market with a fresh bruise over one eye or across one cheek, well...she, herself, was not one to be known for gentleness. Besides, occasionally the only way a man can claim he still is lord and master in any way is by proving it to his missus. But when your sons come to school with plaster over a split lip or a cast on their limbs, and your daughters wear long blouses to hide the markings on their arms, and when a priest is called to quiet the house twice a week, on average -- well, there was something that was simply and plainly wrong.

He was a big man, Eamonn Kinsella, and he knew it and used it against any and all. Though drifting into sloth, he once had worked as a navvy in Belfast, and despite it being years since his last position, his hands remained callused and beefy, his shoulders stayed broad and restless on a frame that stood above six feet, and the strength in him allowed no question of it. His dark hair, bleak eyes and long face brought to mind tortured poets and sad accountants until made lively by drink. At those times, he took on the soul of the devil's fire and fury in all its righteous evil, and it was best to keep away from him. On more than one occasion, his fist sent a man across a table or to the floor for nothing more but that he sipped a pint too loudly while at the counter next to him.

That's not to say all was evil about him. He could sing to make angels weep, mournful tunes of Ireland's ruined past and dead future. And he could spin tales wondrous to behold. You had to catch him between his second and third pint to get the best of it...but if you hit the rhythm right, he'd weave melodious tales of GrianĂ¡n Aileach, the ancient ring fort but six miles and a hundred worlds away from town, or talk about the fairies that live in oak groves old enough to have seen the birth of Christ, even waking his children to share in these stories if he wandered home in a good enough humor, all brought forth in such perfection you'd have thought he lived through each and every one.

He may well have, for all the anger in him. It was hard to see how so much could be poured into one man in fewer than thirty-five years unless he had carried it over from a previous existence. But filled with it he was, and injustices both real and imagined danced forever through his head, all roaring to life at about his fourth pint. He could rage for hours about the horrors of being a working man without work in a land cursed by God, with a wife and five wains to feed. Barely living off the dole, they were, with naught but toast burned over the gas flame and tea made from twice used leaves for their breakfast. Rags on their backs. A two-up, two-down hovel of a dwelling on Nailors Row. No hot running water or steady heat or indoor plumbing. No prospects for a decent job as once he’d had, even though that one had been a cruelty to his back. Now all of life was a cruelty for such as him, and please won't you front me another pint, m’boy?

So it would go for hours at a time. And when the drinking establishments were closed and he tottered home to his six responsibilities (which some old hens said would soon be seven if they knew a thing or two about women) if he hadn't found just cause to floor a man in the pub, he'd find some reason to do so to his wife or one of his sons. All just to prove he was still who he laid claim to be.

And that was all anyone knew of him -- what he claimed by voice alone. Never was there word about parents still living or siblings anywhere, though the coroner mentioned an uncle of his situated in Jamaica. But so little information came with it, many grew to believe he was merely repeating gossip. Another story that circulated was, his parents and family died in the bombing of Belfast by the Nazis and he’d escaped only because he was in jail for petty theft. But that would’ve put him at the age of nine so he’d have gone to an orphanage and for all the complaints he had, never was there word of that, so once again it had to be gossip.

For reference...

This 8mm series of clips are from Derry in 1965, showing not only Nailors Row, where Brendan lived till he was almost 12, but the redevelopment that was going on at the time.
So does this little clip from the same man...

I'm saving these for future reference. Same for this gentleman's videos in Youtube --

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It's time...

My scripts are good. Jake and Tone are now out in the world and being seen. I've tried to get started back on what I thought would be a dangerous book about a man who needs redemption but doesn't want it. But I've realized it's a stall. It's me giving into fear. And self-doubt. Hell, brutal self-criticism before I've even really begun. Using a book that's borderline silly to avoid what I really need to face.

I am finishing Place of Safety, next. I am writing a full and complete draft of it before I go into anything else. Period. I swear to myself I will not be sidetracked...or let myself back down. Brendan whispers to me, again, and has shown me the ending of the book. He's waiting for me to prove I have some kind of strength left in me to take this through to the end.

I've been a coward for too long about this book. Fearful I wasn't up to writing it even though it's a story I've been chosen to tell, and even though I accepted the obligation to tell it. And here I've been trying to weasel out of it ever since.

Well fuck that. The world is on the verge of chaos. Civilization is beginning to collapse, just like it did in the 6th Century. It may take a thousand years to rebuild; it may take ten days. I don't know. All I do know is, I tell the story now or it doesn't get told.

And that is unacceptable.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nyle won!

A man who cannot hear...
...won a contest based on sound as well as movement. And he won it fair and square.

No boundaries.

No limits.

No walls.

'Nuff said.

Congratulations to him and Peta, his partner.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sounds of Silence

I've always been able to hear, but I haven't always listened. This was brought home to me by a single 3 minute dance, tonight, by a man who is deaf and does not speak, but has said so much more than I ever could think of saying.

Right now I am speechless. If you want, the show's site has a poor-quality video of it. Maybe they'll put up a better one, later...but at this site you can get an idea of what it was, from prelude to finale...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Carli's Kills, redux

Today I reworked CK to change it up. Meaning all I did was make the sheriff a woman instead of a man. Didn't redo the story or action or even much dialogue...and yet, it altered everything. Now the ending is even more horrific...and acceptable. Funny how that works.

Then I read a shooting copy of The King's Speech, which won an Oscar in 2011 for Best Screenplay. It's got so much in it that I've been told one should never do in a's like the screenwriting gurus are handing out misinformation. It's got CUT TO's and camera directions and tells the actors what to think and on and on. It's amazing.

I also watched Spectre, the latest James Bond film. It was fun, but the script was very lazy. Things happen because they have to happen to keep the story going. Anything inconvenient to the pacing of the story gets ignored -- like totally trashing several cars of a passenger train, during a fight, then being let off at an isolated stop in the middle of the desert, without a peep...or visible injuries. And the ending was so damned obvious, it was an insult.

So it's not the quality of the writing or the beauty of the structure that gets films made; it's finding the person who so desperately wants to make your script into a film, they won't take No for an answer from anyone. Nor will they care if all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. And that is like finding one particular grain of sand on a beach that's 5 miles long.

All the screenplay competitions in the world won't do you a bit of good for that. Well...they might help you narrow down the search...and even increase your luck in making the right connections to get to someone who will get it done...but only if you're lucky enough to hit the right reader at the right time. Because if you get someone who's sick of thrillers and is assigned one, you're getting harshness in response. Same for guys having to read rom-coms. And that is something I need to reconsider, because the damn things ain't cheap.

No...what gets movies made these days is a producer, director or actor who will fight to get your script made. Writers have no pull in Hollywood...which is silly, because Hollywood wouldn't exist without them. But try telling that to the powers that be. Well, I'm not wasting my breath, anymore. I'm aiming for actors who have some pull but aren't so high up the food chain, they are unreachable.

I'm aiming for Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner, and Chris Salvatore.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rebooted, yet?

Okay, it looks like RIHC6's updated e-book is live; I've even sold a copy, already. However, I don't have the official word, yet...and expect Apple to piss and moan, but that's what weasels do. Enough of it, already; it's time to get back to writing...really writing.

Though I do want to expose more of my writer's ego, for a moment. I submitted Carli's Kills and Marked For Death to Table Read my Screenplay in London competition. They've been doing them all over the place, and while I doubted they'd help me achieve anything, it was worth trying to see if I could get a table read of one of them.

Neither one made the finals, which was fine. I was a bit surprised because MFD is set in London and has a good solid through-line, but NBD...until I noticed in the list of finalists are two scripts I've read -- both of them poorly written and packed with cliches -- and another screenwriter I know and whose work I'm familiar with...and enough said about that. My scripts weren't as good as those? Seriously? I feel insulted.

Fortunately, I saw the new Star Trek: Beyond trailer (I didn't see the first one) and it looks like the crew is back on track. Put me in a better mood.

If those fools can't tell a good script from a crap one, it's their loss, not mine.

Friday, May 20, 2016

I just love today's electronic age...

Seems I'll have to start over with my Table of Contents for the e-book of Rape In Holding Cell 6. After discussion with a techie at Smashwords, the decision is my file is corrupted. So...clear out the chapter links and re-input them. That'll take a day. Dammit. So much for my day of artwork.

I've updated my website -- -- to link the Vanishing of Owen Taylor page to Amazon. Not crazy about them, but they do make buying the book easy. And since it's now available through them, may as well join the crowd. They don't offer it in e-book, yet; they always have been pissy about that, since I don't publish through Kindle. So that link still returns to Smashwords. Which had no problems converting OT to e-book from a Word doc.

I found out, today, the copy of an actual 1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that's going on sale at Christie's, next month, is the same copy I packed and shipped to the owner when I first started at Heritage. The catalogue even references Lou Weinstein as the broker who got the book for him. This is so wild.

I wonder how I can use this to get interest in my script, The Alice '65.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Having a lovely time with Smashwords...

When I finished The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, I updated all my ebooks on Smashwords, and everything went great...except for Rape In Holding Cell 6. They keep bouncing that one back to me, saying the NCX links aren't working (that's the setup that does an electronic Table of Contents synchronization for certain ebook suppliers).

I can't figure out why there's a problem, because I did them exactly the same as all the other ebooks. But they're giving me grief over it...I think mainly because of Apple Book...who won't carry it anyway; they're too lazy to do an adults-only setup like Smashwords.

So I've sent off an email asking about it. Because I went back and did the tutorial on doing bookmarks and hyperlinks for NCX. I've tested it and checked it and can see nothing different about it. Makes no sense.

Anyway, OT is now available on Amazon. Haven't sold a single paperback yet, but you can buy 3 used copies. Very strange...and typical for Amazon.

An Alice '65 is going up for auction at Christie's, next month. If there is any way possible, I want to go see it. I held one, once, years ago when I started working at Heritage. It went into the hands of a private collector. I wonder if this is the same one. I'll have to check the catalogue.

I'm doing some artwork, this weekend; give me a creative break from writing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Headed for LA

It's set...I'm heading for LA on June 7th and returning to Buffalo on the 11th. Not much time, but more than I thought I'd have. I decided to stay a couple days extra...well, a day and a half. I'll be in Claremont the first couple days then down by LAX till Saturday. Can't wait.

I've heard they're remaking The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Lavergne Cox as Dr. Frankenfurter. Talk about a complete travesty. I got no problem with Frankie being black, but he's not a transsexual...he's a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania. And apparently there's talk of Rocky being played by a woman. SACRILEGE!!! Man, if you ever thought Hollywood was run by maniacs and fools who have no idea what they're doing, this is proof positive.

I learned a long time ago very few people in the film biz had the poetry or soul to be filmmakers -- especially producers, writers and directors. I have no idea why they even want to be in it, except to try and make a lot of money. But they do get jobs because they come up with crap that's anything but dangerous or forward-thinking, while those filmmakers who do push the envelope get interfered with and beaten up if anything goes wrong, so they struggle to keep making interesting movies.

More proof of this was the live broadcast of The Sound Of Music...from the stage play, not the movie. Some idiot somewhere thought it would work fine if they used a non-actress who can sing in the role of Maria, and cast a black woman as Mother Superior because she's got a great voice. I couldn't watch it. Nothing against Audra McDonald as Mother Superior (her singing and interpretation were great), but a black woman as the head of a nunnery in pre-war Austria? Seriously? Color-blind casting works fine, most of the time; just not when dealing with a country that was both racist and anti-Semitic, when the story is set. What idiot thought that was a good idea?

Okay, I'm done venting, and tomorrow it's back to the writing. I'm beginning to feel withdrawal from not having done much in the last several days. This is my drug...and I think I'm going to follow through with a wild idea I had for Carli's Kills -- making the sheriff female. I like the script as is, with that role being a male...however, it does seem a bit familiar and easy. But a corrupt bitch who's a match for Carli and has a crush on Zeke, too? That is SOOOOOOOO Russ-Meyer-tacky-tits-cat-fight.

And makes me grin, even though I'm not into girls.

Monday, May 16, 2016

At long last...

I finally got a good proof of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and authorized it to be released for sale as a paperback. It will probably take a week for it to finally hit the distribution channels, and I'll do what I can to move things along, but as of's over what I hope will be the final hurdle.

I watched Dancing With The Stars, tonight, as I did 2 weeks worth of ironing, mainly because I want to see how far Nyle DiMarco gets. He's in the final round, and he keeps amazing everyone. Not only can he not hear, tonight he danced part of his second dance blindfolded, so he couldn't even see. He's showing the world being deaf is not so much a handicap as just another detail in his life...and that's how it should be for anyone.

Doesn't hurt he's gorgeous.

I'd post the video but they cut out the music on YouTube due to copyright issues. And...Youtube forces ludicrous ads on you in the middle of the video. I don't like going there. But I can't find that clip on the show's website. So...that's life.

Now I just need to get out of the habit of whining so damn much and get down to he does.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Possible jobs near San Bernadino...

There's talk of 2 packing jobs in SoCal, maybe the second week of June. Still preliminary but will have to be settled soon so everything can be planned and expenses kept low as possible. Might be for the whole week. God, it would be so nice to be out there, again...I'm feeling homesick...

There's discussion about us shutting down for a month, meaning no salary for a while, but we were going to do that last year and August wound up being too busy. I'm too broke to go anywhere if we do...and yet I might just say Fuck It. I dunno. I'm sick of being in debt.

I'm also pissed off about how Bernie's being dissed by the DNC. What happened in Nevada, this weekend, was classic Fascist putsch...and perpetrated by Democrats. The Dem Chair in Nevada shut the meeting down after illegally denying delegates the right to vote and then ignored a voice vote demanding a recount, but instead declared the decision was made and walked off. I keep telling myself I will vote against the GOP in November, but this march to anoint Hillary as the candidate has so sickened me, I'm close to just writing Bernie's name on the ballot in November and the hell with the bitch.

What's pathetic is, because I gave money to Bernie and a couple of specific Democratic candidates -- a total of $45; yeah, I'm a real power-broker -- I am now getting hit with e-mails and phone calls begging for more money for the DNC and DCCC and even the people I've already given money to as well as candidates I've never even heard of. Well, forget it. I will not give one more dime to the Democratic Party, and if I don't like the candidate they run in my area, I'll vote Green.

And if it means the end of the world, let's just get it the fuck over with.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Music soothing and fine....

The video is 6 years old, but since I was in Lisbon not that long ago I thought I'd share...

Love to write...and rewrite...

I know I whine about it and bitch a lot, but reality is...once it's done...well, once I reach the point of where I'm trying to decide whether to use the or a in a sentence, I know I've done my best. And I'm finally at a point where I know my writing's good -- even in the face of criticism or dismissal of it. The last couple of days have helped me build up my certainty and shown me I finally have a nice, thick hide.

I've been sending out my scripts to various people who post on InkTip and ISA and Mandy and the like, and when I do get a response it's the usual Not quite what we're looking for. Which is fine because 99 times out of a hundred, they don't even know what they're looking for...or they have far more specific requirements than they let on.

But I'm also finding that there's a surprising number of people who read scripts who have no imagination. Have no idea how a movie is made. For example, The Alice '65 has 6 scenes set in London. All interiors. The rest is in LA. I've had two groups who were looking for a romantic comedy tell me they aren't looking for anything they have to shoot outside of the US. It's too expensive. And when I pointed out these were interiors so they could be shot in Los Angeles, their response was, "But they're set in England. We'd need English actors and stuff."

Adam, the lead of A65, is English. And I, personally, when I lived in LA, met half a dozen actors who were just my limited scope in the business. I honestly went blank in response.

What's even funnier? One of them said they couldn't figure out if Adam was English or German...because he speaks German at the beginning. Once. He also speaks Latin and Greek, but those do come after the Deutsch. What's more, it says, flat out, that he's English in the script. Which I mentioned. And got a, "Really?"

However, I think the best actual response I've gotten from one of these submissions is for Carli's Kills. The lead is kick-ass female. Her name is in the title. It's all about her. And I had a producer say, "If you'd make her male, we might take another look." He also added that he didn't want a gimp as the love interest; he'd prefer a hot woman who had issues and is thawed out by the hero before she dies saving him. I think he was looking for something that would give him a woodie. I just replied, "Sorry it didn't work for you."

What was he looking for? An action/thriller with a female lead.

But the latest is the one that finally proved to me I got my hide. Received it yesterday. I had someone at a production company (which shall remain nameless because I snuck the script in to them via a less-than-proper-route) send me a message that basically said, You have no idea how to write a real screenplay. To which I replied, No, you have no idea how to read one. Learn. Totally burned that bridge, but happily. I just hope nobody loses their job over this one.

Still...this made me go back through Carli's Kills, The Alice '65, Marked For Death, and Find Ray T. And for the first time since I began writing screenplays, I changed nothing (except a couple of typos; those are my nemesis). I liked them just as they were. Finally. feeling about my scripts now is, "If you don't like or want my work, you're an idiot."

My writer's ego is back and firmly rooted...and I feel good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Feelin' good...

Had a nice long nap in my own bed after a lovely hot shower. Slept longer than I intended so I may not be able to sleep much, tonight, but I feel good, actually. I didn't get to see much of Berkeley, and what I did see wasn't really very interesting, but no big deal. The Bay Area's okay, but not my favorite place; I prefer Seattle.

Since I cannot sleep on a plane -- I can doze, but not well -- I did some work on Underground Guy, cleaning out a lot of detail from the first section and reworking it so there's nothing to distract from Dev's animalistic actions. Just a straight line of this is what he's doing; no explanations, yet, just a hint of description of how he looks. I don't even mention his name until he gets busted by the cops.

I have to admit, I do tend to over-explain my characters in the first I'm trying to find them. Then I go back and slice out more and more detail. And sometimes, when I think I've done as much as is needed, I find out I can still do a hell of a lot more. Case in point -- the first three chapters of OT got cut down to about one and a bit of background explanation at the beginning of what is now section two...after my second round of feedback.

Ingram asked for more information on the crappy fourth proof, so I sent it to them. I'm beginning to think it might be a good idea to wipe out the paperback submission I've done, so far, and just start over rather than continuing to try and correct what I'm beginning to see as a corrupted file. Might be simpler, faster and cheaper.

Depends on what happens with the next proof I get.

Heading home...

Job's done and packed and on its way. I'm now at San Francisco Airport waiting for my redeye back to New York City so I can hop a flight to Buffalo. I'm slated to arrive home about noon, Wednesday. What fun this will be.

SFO's International terminal is really a sad excuse for an major city's airport. Lots of glitzy shops and restaurants selling overpriced merchandise and food, but when you get to your gate, just try and find a plug for your laptop. Or comfortable chair. And even though you may have TSA Pre-check, you still wind up in the same line as people who don' why bother?

Compared to Hong Kong's airport, San Francisco is pathetic. At least you get free wiFi that works. I tried three times to post on my blog at the La Quinta and got kicked off every time. Didn't help that there were a couple busloads of Chinese tourists and their obnoxious kids using it at the same time. But a lot is also the crap internet service in the US.

Anyway, I finished The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu on the trip over, and love the story. The writer, Joshua Hammer, wasn't very good; he had this suspense-killing habit of letting you know everything turned out okay before telling you about a situation that could have gone bad, very bad. Plus he repeats himself a lot and backs around on himself as he dispenses information. Very 19th Century in style.

But the story overcomes those limitations, and that all but about 15,000 manuscripts were saved is phenomenal. Normally I would love to see this turned into a movie -- and someone may actually be working on that, now -- but I can see them casting Tom Hanks as Abdel Kader Haidara, the man who planned it all. Hollywood's too filled with cowards and accountants to think of anything like actually casting a Muslim man to play a Muslim hero.

Yeah, and Brad Pitt would be Joshua Hammer talking about how he told the story...

Saturday, May 7, 2016

"The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu" by Joshua Hammer!!!

I'm taking this with me to read, on the plane...and hopefully will not lose it, since it's a library book. But it's a fascinating I had already heard about; I didn't know there was a book coming out about it. I'm the first person to check it out..and, hopefully, not the last. I wonder, is it illegal  to take a library book across state lines?

Anyway -- here's what it's all about:

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.

In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.

Over the past twenty years, journalist Joshua Hammer visited Timbuktu numerous times and is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Haidara’s heroic and ultimately successful effort to outwit Al Qaeda and preserve Mali’s—and the world’s—literary patrimony. Hammer explores the city’s manuscript heritage and offers never-before-reported details about the militants’ march into northwest Africa. But above all, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is an inspiring account of the victory of art and literature over extremism.

Indiana Jones, eat your heart out.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Slight detour...

Today was car repair day...well, making sure car doesn't need repairs. There was an odd ka-chunk when I started him up so took the day off work and took him in to be serviced and checked. Fortunately, it's pretty quiet, and I'm leaving for Berkeley Sunday morning so I get some time coming.

No problem with the car; just a clamp that shifted and bumped the floorboard, but a couple things needed work so I was there for a few hours. Jumped one of my cards back to near its limit. However, I was able to use their free wifi to update Bowker's ISBN listings for OT and my other books. Some of that detail work I hate so much. Now the car runs good, is all state inspected, my headlights shine in the right direction, and the mechanic thinks I take really good care of him.

But then I get home and have the latest proof for OT waiting...and it sucks. As you can see. This looks nothing like the PDF proof I was sent, and what's worse? The book is not square. The top edge is 1/16 inches wider than the bottom, the spine is 1/16 shorter than the outer edge, and that strip of white on the lower left edge is how off-center the cover was printed. There's 1/4 inch of bleed space all the way around the original cover file, and they still screwed it up.

I called Ingram and they are having their tech people look at this and send me a new proof, for free. But it's delayed things even more; I can't let it get printed till I know they have it set up right.

What's truly frustrating about this is, the very first proof looked beautiful; I just wanted to correct some typos I'd found. Didn't even upload a new file for the cover, just for the text. And it's been crap ever since.

Next time I do a book, I'm tempted to go to their offices in Nashville (I think) and watch it get done.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I've been working on a post card for OT, to send out to book shops. And I've updated my website -- -- to reflect my new book. I'm working on getting reviews of it through a couple of groups I belong to, including offering a free copy of the ebook if they will review it on Smashwords. Once I have the newest proof and know the book is up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and the like, I'll ask for reviews on them.

I did get a great new review of The Lyons' Den, on Amazon. 5 stars. That's three of counterpoint the single 1 star review I got. I'm so happy they liked it.

I have a couple of seminars I need to watch..well, stream online. People telling you how to write the best logline ever or get steady work as a screenwriter or network or all that stuff that I'm crappy at. I used to think I knew what I needed to know to make these work...well, all except the networking...but since none of my supposed awareness is making any difference, I'm tossing aside my ego and checking to see if someone somewhere might have a snippet of information that might be useful.

So far I haven't. It's mainly people saying the same things I heard 20 years ago. Rare are the ones who share something fresh and new. So I polish my loglines and send out queries left and right and try to frame my letters so they reflect the reality of the script while also fitting the parameters of what the producer wants...and I'll keep going till I drop.

Which may be sooner than later, if I don't stop gaining weight.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Nyle silences me...

I just spent 4 hours trying to update one of my websites to reflect my screenplays...and GoDaddy so screwed me up with their nonsensical web designer, I wound up cutting two pages and only doing half of what I wanted. My rent on GoDaddy ends in December, on this page; I'm looking into other hosting sites. I shouldn't have to spend a month learning how to use a design tool that's supposed to be user-friendly; I don't have the time...or inclination.

So...away went the evening...and up went my blood-pressure...and here's something to keep my mind in check.

This is Nyle DiMarco dancing...the guy who cannot hear a thing...cannot hear the music...has no idea what U2 sounds I'm shutting up about my whiny shit...

Monday, May 2, 2016


Still drifting and waiting to see how the fourth proof of OT looks before I continue on. I kind of like the feeling...but are my characters joining in? No. So farr as they're concerned, there's no rest for the writer.

Dev and Reg have come knocking on my brain, asking me to let them take it over and get Underground Guy done. So have Adam and Carli, over The Alice 65 and Carli's Kills...but since I have those two in solid screenplay format and on InkTip and have a few people thinking about them, they don't have the firepower needed to make me pay anything but a fleeting bit of attention, right now.

Mine To Kill is also making a lot of noise. Seems the characters like some ideas I had while doing the drive down to DC and New Haven and NYC and home, week before last. Can't say I blame them; it would be a wild story...which may be the best reason to do it. I just don't know if I should work it up in script form or novel. See if I can really write a Steven King style psychological horror story...with no adjectives. I may reread his book.

What surprises me is...not a word from Brendan, so far. I hope I haven't driven him off with my fear and procrastination. It's just, his Place of Safety is so important to me...and I want to get it just right...and I'm very intimidated by it...

Which is probably why I should do it next.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Facebook ads are nonsense...

I set up a Facebook page for The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and added a small advertising budget for it. Just to see if things would be different from the last time I did this. Back then, I tried to get interest going for David Martin and The Lyons' Den. So far as I can tell, all I got was clicks on the ad from people in India, Thailand, South America, maybe Africa but I won't swear to that, and no sales from any of those places.'s the exact same thing, again. People from everywhere except my main markets -- the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan -- are clicking on the ad and I'm getting charged for it, but they will never buy my book. I think they do it because it gives them points or money if they do enough of them. I dunno. I just know Facebook ads are a crock.

Fortunately, I also limited the amount of time on it, so after 7 days the ad ends and the charges stop...and the clicks and "likes" will also end. Just like they did for DM and LD.

You have to wonder how Facebook gets away with this.


Just need to recharge my batteries after finally getting to the end of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. Granted, I won't have the hard copy of the book till late next week, but that's fine. I've gone as far as I can with it and pretty much know I could easily work on it the rest of my life and would never be completely done. It's time to let it go and move on to my next project.

Since I already had the raw materials on my computer, I worked up a dust jacket for a hardcover edition...and I like it. But...I also updated my sales on my other books and find that 75% of them are e-book. I don't make a lot of money off them because I keep the price low -- probably another reason the ebooks sell so much better -- but it is reality. Seems the audience I reach is more iPad oriented than paper.

I'm trying an iPad out, myself. I inherited one and have spent part of the day hooking up to my WiFi and upgrading as best I can. It's more advanced than my MacBook so I can do banking on it; I can't on either of my other two computers and flat out refuse to on my phone. I'm also a twitter, now -- @kmswrites. I can do it on that instead of my phone, though that got hooked in, too. The i'Pad's nice and light, so maybe I'll shift some of the ebooks I have over to it and read them en route to San Francisco, next week.

I'll only be there for a couple days -- in Berkeley, actually. Packing up an archive. I got tantalizingly close to going to London to get another archive, but that wound up being too small to justify my expenses. Dammit.

I think the reason I so love London is I lived there as a child. My first three years of school were there, and I learned to love tea and rugby and fog and French and even dreary days. I still like to walk in the rain, of which there is a lot in the UK. Every time I've been there, I've felt like I was returning to one of my homes; my other is LA. San Antonio never was, even though I have family there and spent 25 years of my life in that town, much of it with my grandmother.

If we have lived past lives, I'm pretty sure mine was probably as a Cockney prostitute in Victorian London who wound up on a slow boat to California to work the circuit.