Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I did a read of Killing Moon as I did laundry, looking for typos and other things. Found a few but not many. Made a couple of changes. Emphasized the terror of a couple murders. And now think my script is into dangerous territory. So...I'm submitting it to a couple of horror script competitions. Just to be a shit.

I violated a couple of rules -- like making some of the characters who die nice people, and killing the hero 2/3 of the way in. There's also the attack on misusing religion to suit your own ends, and all the emotional and political connotations of someone being lynched. It's not your everyday horror film, and it doesn't count as grind or torture porn. It's a middle finger kind of script.

Anyway, it's done. And I'm hitting a time for change in my writing and such. I'm not renewing my postings of The Alice 65, Marked For Death, and Carli's Kills on Inktip. It's proven to be worthless, for me. The one time a production company downloaded a script to review, I wrote to them and asked about it and they didn't have the courtesy to even write me back. E-mail me. Anything.

Reality is, the vast majority of producers and such on InkTip are minimal people looking to find a script to take to another real production house and try to set up. You IMDb these people and they have maybe 1 or 2 credits for shorts or TV. So it's not worth the money to keep going.

Now I'm off to Derry to do my research, and I've got my list of things I need to check out. If I get half of them addressed, I'll be doing good, since I'll only have 2 real days there. Can't afford any more.

Story of my life.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Well...I've done it...

I put every bit of spit and vinegar I could into Killing Moon. Got a lot of shit out of my system ... and it's brutal. Obnoxious. Cruel. Maybe even offensive. No ... probably ... and I love it.

It’s set in North Carolina’s backwoods country ... you know – that lovely land where  Deliverance  took place. A bible-thumping preacher named Avery makes a deal with the devil to raise a demon in exchange for him killing 5 innocent people and getting a crowd to kill 1 more for all the right reasons. He claims it’s to prove the reality of evil but he’s really doing it to save his son from drugs.

His first kills are 2 girls his son was getting high with. Then 4 college kids – Mike, Joe, Lissa and Troy – arrive to spend Spring Break at Troy’s father’s cabin by a nearby lake. Lissa and Troy are a couple, as are Mike and Joe ... if Mike can get over thinking he caused his brother’s death in a car wreck. He keeps having visions of the guy’s bloody corpse.

But it turns out Mike is the only one capable of stopping Avery before he achieves his goal. Avery senses this, blames him for the murders, and rouses the town to hang him…in front of live cable news feeds. Kind of hard to stop a demon when you’re dead.

So, yes ... I’ve got every cliche in the book of horror movie-making -- kids on Spring Break at an isolated cabin, screwing each other and having oblivious fun as a serial killer lurks nearby ... along with a religious villain, gay heroes who actually do have sex, a lynching at the hands of a “Christian” mob, a church burning, and while Mike is now white, Joe is Jewish and from Texas, and learned how to fire a gun when he was called a “queer Christ killer.” All in 92 pages.

It’s like Friday the 13th done by John Waters, albeit without the scatological references. Never gonna get made, but I don’t give a fuck. It’s done and it’s mean, and I love it.

Woo-hoo …

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Light at the end of the endless tunnel...

I felt good enough to try and break my writer's block by working on something other than Place of Safety...and it seems to be helping. I have a horror script -- Killing Moon -- that is about as in-your-face as can be. It's got a preacher as the villain and the hero, who's half-black, gets lynched by the white townsfolk after a sermon by the preacher works them the media stands by. Oh, and the hero's girlfriend is Jewish and from Texas, so learned how to shoot a gun at the age of six, after she was called a Christ-killer. No chance in hell of it ever getting made, but it gives me pleasure to just let it rip.

Another possibility was working on my gay serial killer book set in London...but I couldn't get going on that. It needs a lot of work, too, and would take a major shift away from PS. I'm not willing to go that far to break my block.

I'm still achy and my neck is bugging me from sneezing so are my sides...but it's not as much as it used to be. And I took a nap when I got home so that seemed to help, too. And I sound like an old man talking about his ailments. Jesus, when did I turn into a cliche?

I wanna go back to the Armadillo...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Still feel like dirt

I'm fighting this beast but it's too soon to say if I'm winning or if it's taking a breather before it makes a serious counterattack. Right now, my nose is so dry, it hurts, but that's lessened the irritation of my throat. And I'm seriously pissed off, still, instead of morose or maybe that's good. And it's probably good I live alone, right now.

I remember the first time I visited Ireland...back in March 2002. My first night there, I went into a fish & chips shop on the pedestrian walkway to have a decent serving of the stuff. It had picnic-like benches and people would share the table without knowing each other. I was eating, this Irishman sat across from me, and he had the worst-sounding cold. Sniffling and snorting breathing like a Mack truck. I wrapped the remains of my food up and left as quick as I could...but it did no good. I started feeling it the next day, the little prick.

My B&B had a bar downstairs, and when I told the bartender what had happened, she made me the best hot toddy ever. Said it would kill the cold. It knocked it back, that's for sure...and if I'd had another, I'd have been fine but instead I got busy looking the city over and taking a ferry out to one of the Aran Islands and driving around the countryside and going to the Cliffs of Moher...and the morning I caught my bus for Derry, I started feeling it, again.

I was sick the rest of my stay. And when I ran out of Tylenol, it was on a Sunday...and just try and find a place to buy drugs in Ireland on a Sunday. The only positive aspect of it was, the beginnings of the cold made me fussy and irritable, and probably contributed to me missing my bus back to Derry from Grianan Aileach, the circle fort just across the I had to walk. And that's when Brendan began talking to me about Place of Safety.

And freaked the hell out of me. Fourteen years since then...that's how long I've been circling and working on this book. 14 friggin' years, and I'm still unsure of it. No, I'm unsure of me and my ability to tell the story honestly. Truthfully. Honorably.

And at the moment, feeling like I do...I really don't know if I'll succeed...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I got a cold

I haven't been posting the last few days because my bosses brought a lovely cold back from Europe with them and kindly gave the fucking thing to me. My joints ache. My nose and eyes are driving me nuts. My throat is close to being torn out, if it doesn't stop itching. And, of course, this happens just before I'm taking my unaffordable trip to Derry, NI. I'm so fucking pissed off, right now...

I haven't been sick like this in years. I've flirted with it, a few times, but when it's hard to breathe because your chest is angry at all the sneezing you're can't say it's a minor problem. I don't want to read or watch movies or TV or anything, let alone write on PS. I just sit and zone.

Of course, this is also when I get my latest dozen rejections from producers, thanks to InkTip. "Thanks but not what we're looking for." 12 of them in the last 4 days. The Alice 65 turned down by someone seeking romantic comedies. Carli's Kills turned down by producers seeking thrillers with a female lead and/or low budget. Marked For Death turned down by producers seeking action or thriller scripts. Same for Find Ray T. Not one of them getting past the pitch stage. I think I'm up over 500 rejections for the last 12 months.

I've taken so many classes on how to pitch and changed my loglines according to how "the experts" tell you to do it and even used a pseudonym for a couple of submissions, just to see if it was my association with my books that was hurting them. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Won't even read the synopses, so it doesn't matter how carefully I've crafted those.

Of course, in my current mood of illness, I'm prone to crashing and I've done. Making me think maybe it's time to admit it's just not going to happen. That I'm an okay writer but not one with that spark people want or the luck and ability to make it happen, even if I am mediocre. Maybe I should just stop. But I've tried that, before, and then I think of a new story and wonder if this is the one that might help me break through...

I'm fucking pathetic.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Read, not write...

I'm going through one of my typical writer periods where nothing I do makes any sense and what I already have done is on the edge of falling apart. So...instead of making myself work at fixing it, as I used to try and do till I was bloody from banging my head against the wall, I'm reading some of the books on Northern Ireland I have.

First one I dug into was Children of Wrath, by Michael MacDonald...and OMG is it dry and dense -- like a doctoral thesis that's been published and given away to friends and one of them sold it on ebay or something. In each section, he states his premise, outlines the details, presents facts to back those details, then restates his premise...but as a conclusion. Not one word about the Civil Rights March that was attacked at Burntollet. Barely a mention of Bloody Sunday, where 14 Catholics were killed by British paratroopers. But several references to Bloody Friday, when PIRA set of 22 bombs in Belfast, killing 9. Urk...I put it down once I read the section I needed.

Next up is Reflections of Derry, which is the third book in a memoir written a man named Philip Cunningham, who lived in Derry. It's actually quite nice and has some details I needed in it. For instance, the house he lived in as a newlywed was next to the house on Fahan that wound up as the Free Derry corner. He and his wife had the front bedroom of a terrace home occupied by his aunt, and only his room and the parlor, below it, were wired for electricity. The toilet was outside.

A third book is Northern Ireland Scrapbook, published in 1986 and which is mainly a compilation of photos of NI from about 1968 to 1984, taken by soldiers and news photographers and locals. None of Eamon Melaugh's or Willie Carson's are in it, which I find interesting since they were very prolific, and its recaps of what was happening in the country are slanted towards taking the official line on most events, but it is a valuable resource. I bought it used and have had it for a while...and it shows. I've gone back to it a lot because it's very useful to keep the timeline in mind.

I've got half a dozen more books I haven't read, yet, so I'm going to drown this mood with detail and hold off on the writing till I return from Derry. Maybe by then I'll feel better about my efforts.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Secrecy abounded me...

I'm back home after a whirlwind trip to a place I'm not allowed to speak of for a client who insists on anonymity. Dammit. What I can say is, it was hellacious. I was expecting 75 boxes so allowed for 80; turned out to be 160 boxes and some loose items that were very fragile, not to mention a slim mounted piece of art that's 75 inches long. A 1-day job turned into 2 and the weight of the shipment doubled.

Fortunately, I'd booked my return to Buffalo on a redeye so I'd have time to visit a book dealer's new location. Well, that didn't happen. Instead, I was out by the airport all day and nowhere decent enough to be around to visit with anyone. I used the men's room to clean up a bit and put on a fresh shirt, at least. I had a t-shirt I'd brought along, just in case.

On top of that, I was so exhausted by the time the pickup and repacking and reconfiguring was done, I actually dozed on the plane instead of staying awake to work on Place of Safety. Totally zoned. Helped that I had a comfortable seat, for a change.

Such is life in the big city. One thing after another.

On the trip over, I did get some reworking of the bit revolving around Brendan's first interrogation done and have it closer to what I want. Still not there, yet, but now I can see a good direction for it and can let it sit while I shift over to other aspects of the story.

I'm headed over to Derry a week from Tuesday, and already I've got dozens of details I need to get answers for -- how were buses handled when coming from Dublin? How did goods arrive into Derry? What were the wages of the girls at Tilly's Shirtmaker? When did the last buildings along Fahan get torn down to make way for redevelopment? On and on and on. I could spend months there.

I made up a street for Brendan's family to move to not long before he winds up in, that has to happen before Internment begins, in August 1971. It will be away from the area where Bloody Sunday happened, at the end of January 1972...just days before Brendan's 16th birthday.

I may work on the Bloody Sunday section, next. Get that done. It's a rough one, but necessary, because it's here that Brendan starts thinking he and Joanna should leave so they can live in peace. At 16 he could get a full-time job at a decent wage and she could go on to university. The one big thing is, her experiences as a Protestant girl, have been vastly different from his, and that makes her feel the need to step away from the chaos less intense. Plus she still has another year of school to finish.

God...just when I think I'm making headway I realize how much is left to do.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I love writing except when I hate it...

And right now we are not having a love fest. I've been trying to work out another way for me to get in the occurrences I need in Place of Safety for the story to advance while keeping it within the realm of reality, and the muse is not helping. Instead, I'm being messed with. It's irritating as hell.

I did manage to step back from having one character in it who was just a bit too much on the convenient side. In fact, it was a very easy method of handling Brendan while being not the least bit realistic, considering there's a curfew he's violating. So out it went and that put me one step closer. But I still need a reason for this pistol to be in Brendan's hand at this time...

Something I may do is shift up relationships in here. That might help. Right now, I've got Brendan's older sister, Mairead, living in Liverpool with her husband, Terry, and their children, none of them old enough to be left alone, yet. Maeve, Brendan's younger sister is 21 and studying to be a nurse...what they called a Sister. And things are prosperous enough for them to have a phone and live in a new place in the redeveloped area. Maybe I should reverse it, where Maeve's off in Edinburgh at nursing school and Mairead's home with their mother.

I dunno. I'm off on another job, tomorrow...a 6 hour plane I may just try thinking about it on that. It's a whirlwind job, coming back on a redeye so I don't have an additional night's hotel room. I'm getting tired of that. At least I've indulged in a higher-priced seat on JetBlue so there's room enough for me to relax and open my laptop and just start typing.

Sometimes writing gibberish and bullshit is the best way to find reality.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

No writing done on PS...

In the midst of dealing with unexpected expenses and bills that were higher than I thought they'd be, not to mention the minutia of daily life in the electronic age, the third section of Place of Safety fell apart. Completely. The part of Brendan in Derry from 1966 to 1972 is okay; I've only done about 40% of the part in Houston and that's working out all right, so far; but when he returns to Derry flat out exploded in my face.

I had it all outlined and I've written about 60% of it..maybe 65%...but as I was filling in between the sections I've written, it started feeling like a Hollywood script. Everything was too pat and obvious. An entire sequence I'd crafted so perfectly (to me, anyway) now could easily fit into a James Bond movie. It defied logic, completely.

So...the ruins of my beautiful work (to me, anyway) sent me crashing into writer's block. I tried everything to get around it -- arguments on FaceBook and in various stories' comments sections, notes like crazy, reading through my older books on The Troubles -- none of it worked. I'm still caught in it.

Tonight I gave up and watched Seven Samurai, again; the new Criterion version. Its image is crisper. It has more precise subtitles. The story is magnificent. And it has Toshiro Mifuni fighting the climactic battle in the rain while wearing a breastplate and a Fundoshi (a Japanese jockstrap; that's mud on his legs in this picture).

This is one of my favorite films, and is almost Tolstoy-esque in how it depicts human character and emotion, albeit mingled with a dash of Noh Theater. I saw the 1960 American remake with Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen; doesn't hold a candle. And I have zero interest in the new one coming out, with Denzel Washington and one of the Chris's -- Pratt? I've seen the trailer and it just looks silly, to me.

What was good about this is it cleared away some of the cobwebs. I can see part of the problem with the return section is repetition. Not exact...but I have Brendan grabbed by the RUC and interrogated, then I have him taken by the British Army and interrogated. The first one minimizes the impact of the second one. BUT...there are aspects of the first one I really need in the how it's a childhood friend who's Protestant and betrays him to the Constables...and how a ghost of a friend who died stops him from getting himself killed. I just need to reconfigure that part...I guess...

Still so much to do on this damn much...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Stop messin' with me!

Jesus, Christ, every time I turn around there are a dozen things that demand my attention. A new health insurance policy has to be decided on; my current one will cease to work at the end of the year and I have only a certain space of time in which to choose. Stay with Blue Cross? Go to another provider? And not a word on what the cost of the policies are; you have to go online and dig through layers of links that lead to more links and nowhere so you have to start over in order to get that.

And my credit cards are all shifting to chip cards, so they have to be updated and anything I have automatically charged to them has to be changed because the security number and expiration dates are wrong. And I had to get my driver's license renewed and do I want an enhanced one? If I do, then I have to have two forms of ID, my SSI card and a bill that has my address on it to prove I am who I am, even though I already have a passport and have lived at the same address for 6 years. And there's Nexus, which is necessary for me because it helps me get through the lines at the terminals faster and helps me cross into Canada faster and Caladex really wants me to have it but I have to go to the border crossing in Niagara Falls for an interview with BOTH a Canadian and US Customs Official before they'll give it to me.

I think my "favorite" demands come from Democratic candidates. I gave $25 to Bernie during his run for the nomination, and in return he gave my name to the DNC, who in turn gave it to every damned Democrat running for office. And all of them have been deluging me with begging requests for more money. Even Obama, supposedly. Which i can ignore...but now they're trying to use guilt to get cash out of me. ""You're the only one who hasn't given us even $3" and "Why won't you sign this petition or that demand against the GOP? We've tried so hard to get you to understand how important this is."

And it all costs money. The more I try to lower my spending, the more it increases. Same for my weight; the more I try to lose the more I gain. And it all requires time to deal with it. Time I don't get to spend writing. I should stop trying to do anything about my finances or health; maybe then it would go back to normal and I'd be able to focus on what I want to do.

It's good I never have won the lottery; I can imagine how explosive the demands on my time would become.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A bit more from Place of Safety...

I worked on this, today. It's summer 1970. The fragile peace between the British Army and Catholics in Northern Ireland is beginning to fray, and the IRA has broken into two factions -- Official, those who seek a political solution to the situation developing, and Provisional, those who want to drive the British out and join the 6 counties of Northern Ireland with the rest of the island.


Two months after we'd moved to ClĂ­odhna Place, Eamonn came home from Belfast. And announced he was not returning to Queens.

"Everyone's mad, there," he said, his voice holding a quiver in it I'd never heard before. "It's naught but abuse and anger from all in control, and the Army listens only to them. I can't get to me classes without being rousted five times, each way, and all but spat upon for being Catholic."

Mairead was home from Tilly's and asked, "Couldn't you go on to Trinity?"

"Be run off from the country, thanks to their abuse?" he snapped at her. "I think not."

"True," Ma said. "You've never been the sort to back down ... or work those who hate us." Then she shot me a glance, and it seems I was the only one to see it. I paid no attention. By now, I was used to her disdain for me, though not the money it brought in.

Rhuari asked him, "Then what're you gonna do?"

"I ... I have some possibilities," he said, then ended the discussion by wondering about dinner.

Mairead hopped down to McClosky's for some fish as I peeled potatoes to boil, and Eamonn marveled over how easy it was to fix meals with the new kitchen. Ma fussed about him and made him sit at the table with a cup of tea as she worked, as if he were man of the house. Finally he noticed I'd yet to say a word to him beyond hello.

"You're quiet, Bren," he murmured to me, smiling.

I gave him a shrug and focused on the spuds. And for some reason, my bloody cough started up. Not major just ... just enough to irritate me. I finished and set them to cooking, then went back to the parlor to work on an ancient Royal typewriter Mr. Connelly had brought to me. He was having problems with the keys sticking, but it was just him not doing a good job of removing the oil-dabbled dust between the levers, over the years. A mere toothpick drops of fresh oil did wonders. As a courtesy, I was also checking the teeth on the tab key and cleaning the ink tape's fibers from the letters. For this, I'd make a pound ... and all would go to Ma, since she knew of it from the start. I was not happy, but that's no reason not to do a decent job of it.

I'd laid a cloth across the bottom steps of the staircase, giving me a room enough to both work and sit. Eamonn brought his tea in along with another cup and sat on the floor next to me, his eyes soft and careful. He put the second cup on the step. We could hear Ma jostling about in the kitchen.

"You didn't get any tea," he whispered.

I shrugged ... but I took the second cup, and it was done as I like it. I smiled at him.

He smiled back, and struck me so much as someone so much older, at the moment, I had to focus on the tea to keep from gasping.

"Don't you like my decision?" he asked.

I thought about not replying, but then whispered, "There's more 'n what you're tellin' us."

He nodded and was about to say something, but Mairead bolted in with the fish and nearly knocked him aside.

"Jesus, Eamonn, what're you sitting in the door, for?" she snapped.

"Sharing a cuppa with Bren."

"You could put yourself up three steps to do that and be out of the way, if you gave it a moment's thought!" Damn, she sounded so like Ma, just then. She headed on to the kitchen.

He chuckled, rose, and followed her into the kitchen, saying, "Does Terry know he's getting a girl who's nothing if not always in a rush?"

We didn't speak again till I was in bed and he joined me, freshly washed. "What a joy to have hot water in the tap, eh?" he murmured as he joined me in the bed. "You mind sharing your bed with me?"

I shook my head and looked out the window, at the back of Mr. Carroway's. "The view was better on Nailors Row," I said.

He lay opposite to me, almost in shadows. "What's the trouble, Bren?"

I looked at him. He was back to seeming like good old Eamonn, again. I coughed.

"I ... I read the papers," I said, soft and easy so as not to wake Rhuari and Kirean. "Mr. Hennessy -- he's the clerk at the news agent's on Carlisle Road -- he lets me for having fixed the chain on his bike The bloody thing's older than me and ... " My voice trailed off.

"And?" whispered from Eamonn as he sat up on one arm.

I took a deep breath. "There were fires in the Ardoyne and Short Strand, in Belfast. Businesses and Catholics burned out. People on both sides shot. The army, how'd they put it? Too busy elsewhere. All that ... and nothing near to Queens. But I can smell it all in your coat. And I hear PIRA's been -- "

He held up his hand to stop me. Looked away from me. His voice was tight as he said, "I have never known you to be one to spread gossip."

"I only say this to you 'cause I'm scared for you." He noticed my words quivered and turned his gaze back to me. "I feel like I did when you were goin' on that long walk and ... and I don't want you hurt, again. Seein' you in hospital, like that ... like you were that time ... I'm scared for you."

He sat up. Laid his arms across his knees and rested his chin on them to eye me. He seemed surprised. Unsure. "I've always wondered what you really think about us. You're so quiet. So focused on what you do. Sometimes it feels as if you're looking down on the rest of the family."

"Eamonn!" It jolted me that he said such a thing.

"I know better, Bren. I'm sorry for having ever thought it. I can't tell you anything more than ... than I did not return to Queens in January. The IRA's cowardice in the face of what's been happening ... it had to be remedied. And so ... it is."

Oh, Holy Mary. "Can ... can I help you in some way?"

He seemed to go deep into thought. His face took on the expression of someone far older, again. Then he said, "Do you ... have you already built some fresh hiding spaces in this place? For to keep your stash?"

I nodded. "It wasn't easy. Ma kept a sharp eye on me, expecting it."

"Is one big enough for this?"

He shifted off the bed and dug into his bag to pull out a felt wrapper ... and inside it was an automatic pistol.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


I have a lot to do, including two new books I got today -- A Secret History of the IRA and Armed Struggle, the History of the IRA -- both of which I can already tell have a distinct bias against the group and the people behind it. Which is understandable; the IRA was hardly an organization of peace and love, and killed as many innocent people as the UDA and UVF did. They deserve to be taken to task.

But in the second book, I read a small section dealing with the Peace March by The People's Democracy, going from Belfast to Derry to illuminate the need for fair treatment and decent housing for Catholics -- the march I have Brendan's older brother, Eamonn, be part of -- and the author, Richard English, goes on and on about how the march was a deliberate provocation and ill-timed and even suggests it may have derailed any chance at peace, while glowing about O'Neill's package of nothing reforms and not even mentioning how Paisley and his ilk were so brutally opposed to them, they had no chance of being implemented.

It's interesting to see just how biased an author can be when dealing with a complex subject, and The Troubles in N Ireland are anything but easy to explain. It's not only Catholic against Protestant and poor against poor; it's Nationalist against Unionist and extremely racist, on the part of Protestants...and yes, they did think of Irish Catholics as a race different from themselves. Which was ludicrous but reality.

On top of it all, the Unionist Protestants were so used to Catholics letting themselves be slapped around and discriminated against, even the idea that they might want equal protection under the law and the right to be heard in government was a threat to their way of life. Why, those mongrels might keep breeding and out populate us all, and that cannot be tolerated! Of course, there were plenty of so-called Christian ministers perfectly willing to fan the flames of fear and hatred, Paisley only being the loudest and vilest of them.

It's funny, but reading through a lot of this material, again, Trump reminds me of Paisley -- using prejudice and intensifying the thought that someone lesser might take away what little you have, just so he can build his power base. Though Paisley, like Hitler, had the gift of eloquence as opposed to Trump's nonsensical meandering and repetition.

And then there's Nero. And Caligula. And Jim Jones, who got nearly a thousand of his followers to drink poison for him. And, of course, Napoleon, who basically coined the idea of a Napoleonic Complex. Man, you could fill a book with all the megalomaniacs who've sprouted over the centuries, each one crashing into death, just like us all, and leaving behind chaos.

It seems we will always have evil men amongst us, and they learn their tricks from those who preceded them. I don't see Trump as Hitler; I see him more as Mussolini, who postured and mugged and bullied like Trump, and who wound up killed by his supporters and body hung upside down to be spat upon.

I hope it doesn't happen, again.