Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Last pass then let it sit...

I finally learned it's best to take a step back from what I'm writing and give myself time to separate my brain from it so I can come look at it with a fresh attitude. So I'm doing one more red-pen pass on Porno Manifesto as I ride down to NYC on the train, tomorrow, then I'm shifting focus to working on artwork to back up the reading of The Alice '65. I'm in a sleeper so I'll have privacy and a table, and I've got my pencils out and a fresh sketchpad, so I should be set.

I managed to cut one whole page out of PM, so it's now 119 pages long instead of 120. Woohoo. And I've done some rearranging of the story's points. This last pass is just to make certain everything is where it needs to be.  There's some voice-over, where Alec explains things, here and there...and I do a round-about opening where I start with the bashing, go back to the night before, then return to the bashing after adding some context...but overall it's a straight shot from beginning to end.

I don't see it happening, but wouldn't it be funny if this attitudinal script is the one that gets made?

I've decided to use Arnaud Dehaynin as the image for Alec, even though he's not blond. He's attractive enough to be wanted by a gorgeous guy like Alec's ex, Woody, but off-beat enough to think he's not good-looking enough for him. And I indicate throughout the story that Alec works out. So we'll see how it goes, in the morning.

I watched the first episode of Vera, again, as I ironed clothes. It's not the greatest mystery story, but the chemistry between Brenda Blethyn and David Leon is amazing. When he left, the show lost a lot of its heart.

Of course, it's possible he was let go after the fourth series. Because something I noticed was, in the title credits in the first 4 series, his name was part of the title sequence, after Brenda's. Beginning with series 5, the only actor whose name was in the title sequence was hers.

A lot can be read into little details like that, and I do love to read...

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Things change when you change them...

That may sound nonsensical, but reality adapting PM into a screenplay, I'm doing what writers have been doing for decades when shifting a book into film format -- changing aspects of the story. Clarifying parts that were left up to readers to decipher. Rearranging scenes to fit the flow of the storyline. Expanding characters and combining others.

It's still the same basic plot -- a gay man is attacked, the cops do nothing about it, so he takes revenge on his attackers. But in visualizing it from Alec's interior monologue, I've found that emphasizing the toxic relationship between him and his ex is best done sprinkled throughout the script to help illuminate what's happening in real time, for him...and give him little moments of catharsis.

I never thought I'd be able to do that with my own books. I've gone the opposite direction -- shifting a script into a novel several times -- but that worked well because I used it to dig deeper into the characters. Add darkness and light. This is removing many of the shadows of the story to make it available for others to layer in their own forms of illumination. And in doing so, I'm finding new meaning in Alec's actions.

What's added to them is remembering Jimmy Somerville's piercing voice in Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy.
This song tore into me when it came out in 1984. This was back when MTV still played nothing but music videos and when I caught it, one night, I stopped cold and didn't move till I was able to come to terms with many things in my life. Now I'm adding this into Alec's sudden shift in existence...not just once but twice...and giving him a new edge and better reasoning for his vicious actions.

But that also means it's taking me longer to get done than I expected.

Friday, March 29, 2019

This is from a blog I follow...


I received yet another email telling me how online promotion has changed. A message telling me how I need yet another podcast, book, or blog series about how to sell my book differently in order to do well. I deleted it. And I'll continue to delete them. . . for now.

Because right now I'm writing. I'm into Chapter 8 for one book, and Chapter 6 in another. (Yes, for some strange reason I've tackled two books at once.) I lay my head on the pillow at night purposefully with a scene in my mind so that my subconscious will work out the kinks. I often pop awake with ideas. Or maybe I don't, but when I sit to write, more ideas still happen to flow.

But study now about how to market a book that isn't close to being published? Nope. Delete. Delete. Delete.

But we're supposed to be marketing around the clock, if you read the gurus online. I swear there are more gurus than there are novelists. But I'm deep into plot, sculpting dialogue, infusing the senses and depth into character. . . honing the twists. I'm making magic. I have no time for lessons on becoming a salesman.

No, I'm not procrastinating. Really, I'm not. I'm making a conscious decision to conserve and preserve my talent and energies for the story. We learn a new language best from immersion into the culture. Where everyone and everything around us is about that language, and we are forced to adopt it, embrace it, and become fluent in it. Which doesn't happen when we are half one language and half another.

Besides, per the emails I received just today, in reading just the subject headers before I deleted them, apparently Amazon Marketing has changed, BookBub marketing came up with new methods, and Facebook Advertising takes a new sort of deft hand to not lose your shirt. So why worry about marketing now when it will become a different animal by the time you write THE END?

Sometimes you just write.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Another pass on PM done...

I finished inputting the changes for PM, so now will print it out and do another pass. What you see here is the title page; I still like the book's cover, as is. The model is from Brazil -- Saulo Melo, who could be the image of Surfer, in the story.

I'm not crazy about the final voice-over; it's messy and too all-encompassing. Needs to be stronger and to the point, but right now I can't think of what else to say. It's there to tie up the last of the strings in this story...and way overdoes it.

No...actually, it just doesn't do a good job of explaining what the Porno Manifesto is and why it matters. I know a lot of people will be turned off just by the title, so I want it to have a solid meaning before it goes out in the world to do battle.

It's now at 120 pages. I'm going to see if I can cut back by 10 pages. I don't usually have much luck with that, but it never hurts to try. There may be too much description, and there are long passages with no dialogue that can probably be condensed.

I'm off on another trip to NYC on the train, come Monday, this time using the roomette both ways so I'll have not only comfort and a meal, but will be able to work on both PM and the artwork for A65's video/slide-show. If I can make that happen...

I'll be doing a lot of experimenting, now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Porno Manifest nears completion...

Porno Manifesto has become a pretty solid script. I finished the packing job early, on Saturday, had my ritual In-N-Out burger animal style, then spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday working on it. I’ve been to the Bay Area so many times there’s nothing interesting here, anymore. Besides, I had a bad reaction to a frozen dinner I nuked and it was good to stay close to a toilet till Imodium kicked in.

I did two red-pen passes over my printout and began inputting the changes, today, so I can print out another copy and do it all, again. The story stays pretty much the same, but I’ve combined a couple of characters into one and made him a black lesbian who’s friends with Alec, my MC.

I’ve also rearranged a couple scenes and cut a near episode where Alec almost does something evil. He’s got justification to go after the guys who attacked him; not anyone else. And my explanation of what the Porno Manifesto is, at the end, doesn’t make sense, I’m simplifying it.

Plus, I’ve given Alec more of a back-story -- dealing with a gorgeous asshole he got involved with, in part, and noting that his father’s dead and his mother’s an alcoholic.

There’s a scene in the script (that’s also in the book) where Alec sees one of his bashers has fed a girl a roofie and is taking advantage of her in his frat-house room, so Alec sneaks in and rapes the guy as he’s raping the unconscious girl. Later, he convinces the guy he raped that it was one of the other gay-bashers and convinces him to get doing it back to him.

This is definitely a no-apologies script...and I’m having a hell of a lot of fun with it. Because to my mind, it’s a damn good. It goes fast and straight. It’s morally ambiguous, to put it mildly, and it has something to say about our world, today and the casual amorality allowed for white males but no one else.

I’m looking forward to sending it in to a bunch of screenplay competitions.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Porno Manifesto in first draft...

Man, stripped down to the basics...this is a wicked script. Close to amoral except it's got a strong morality to it, one that's not limited by hypocritical renditions of what is right and wrong. Not locked into pandering. Vicious and cruel, at times. Lost at others. I'll print out a copy to take with me to Oakland for a polish...make sure it's consistent...then it's off to AFF and the Nicholl.

Oh, it's 112 pages long...and could probably be cut down to 105 because I've got some areas a bit heavy in dialogue. But I also have some long sections without a word spoken, so...

If I'd had this attitude thirty years ago, I'd probably have a couple of writing Oscars now. Who knows? I might also have been driven to suicide by the destruction of my scripts by talented directors and actors. Who knows?

I used to was At The Movies with Siskel and Ebert, who were fairly intelligent about film. But sometimes they could really get it wrong. During one show they complained about how screenplays were badly written and how the writer didn't do his part right, then in the very next week's program talked about how actors make scripts better by sometimes ignoring what the writer's put in them. What irritated me wasn't just the two-faced aspect of what they were saying, it's that they were basically suggesting they had no idea how a film is made.

The script is the beginning. The director goes through and reworks the action and angles to suit himself, usually by deliberately ignoring what the writer is indicating; can't have people not know he's directing this movie. Then actors come in and ad lib or rework lines to suit themselves or drop lines altogether because they just know they can project the meaning better in their eyes.

But then comes the editing...from God knows how many different takes of the same scene...and you can completely rearrange a film's story at that time. If you've ever seen The Stuntman, you'll see how that works. That movie was completely restructured in editing; you can tell by the clothes the actors are wearing and where they are in the set.

Another way of screwing around the writer is by having so many different angles and shots and takes, you can cut the damn thing to ribbons. I saw that happen in two different movies, both of which had fantastic scripts -- A Chorus of Disapproval and The Last Time I Committed Suicide. The directors of both films edited them so quick and hard and needlessly, they destroyed the rhythm of the script and even the beauty of the performances.

But's always the writer at fault, right?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Article on writing...

I wonder if I should listen...

Why Starting a “Blog” is a Terrible Idea
Getting out there on the internet is kind of like making friends as a five-year old.

Sarah Kathleen PeckFollow
Mar 23, 2015

The internet can be an intimidating place — it’s full of people who seem to write effortlessly and publish often. It’s like they have crowds of people gathering and listening, which makes other people wonder if they’ll ever be able to join in.

Pretty soon the voices of doubt crop up: Why bother? Will you ever get to it? Should you join in at all?

Starting a blog is a wonderful idea, and it’s also a terrible idea. To be clear: you should definitely write, but if you think you should “start a blog,” well, I have some ways to reframe that which are really important.

Everyone wants to write, but a lot of people are scared to.

In every writing seminar I’ve been to — both as a teacher and as a student — the most frequent thing I hear is doubt:

“I want to start a blog, but I’m not sure where to start.”
“I have an idea, but I’m not sure anyone wants to read it.”
“I have too many ideas, so I end up never writing them down!”
“I’ve always wanted to write, but I haven’t started yet.”
“Someone else has already written about what I’ve been meaning to say.”

Why you should write: the magic of the Internet.

Let yourself be found — carve out a second home on the internet.

What do people find when they put your name into the Google machine?

If and when you DO want to connect with others, it’s important to carve out your own “home” on the internet. In the world of Google-ability, we are quickly researching each other in order to learn about their skills and talents.

The good news is that you can own this answer pretty quickly. If you want to craft three articles on a particular topic that’s interesting or a hobby to you (ideally something you’d like to be known for), you can start a Tumblr, Weebly or a WordPress site for free or almost free (less than $50, max, if you want to own a domain name and buy a theme) and post three articles under a header with your name and contact information on it. This can be done in as little as four weeks.

All of a sudden, when someone types in your name, or better yet — the topics you’ve written about — you can now be found. Your ideas can be known.

Resumes are static, and we’re searching for ideas through our web-maze of online information. In today’s world, it’s your job to make yourself “findable.” Put your information onto the web so that search engines — and people, and serendipity — can stumble across it.

Without putting yourself out there, it’s a lot harder to be found.

I get so many emails from people that say, “I was looking for an article about how to improve my writing, or how to write a thank you note, and I started reading your blog and sat down with you for an hour last night. It was so fun to read your thinking.”

By putting my words and ideas into a space where other people can find them, I’ve let myself be found. I can become known for my ideas. If you have an idea and it’s stuck in your head, there isn’t an easy way for anyone to know that you have it. Serendipity comes through connection and collision, and when people can find you and your ideas, possibility sparks.

Now these interactions didn’t happen right away; I blogged for at least six months with only my mother commenting, gently correcting most of my typos and spelling or grammar errors. My sister discovered Grammar Girl and gleefully pointed out my mistakes as well, which, as a younger sister, I’m sure delighted her. (I then hired her as my editor for my print projects, which probably made her happy as a clam — now she gets paid to point out all of my mistakes.) There was nothing perfect about my first few essays. Perfect is a pipe dream. There will be people who point out your mistakes, and people who see the bigger picture and connect with you over ideas. Both types of people exist, and you will meet both of them.

Don’t let being afraid of making a mistake stop you from making anything at all.

Start small: create a project, not a life.

The other thing to remember is that some of the best websites aren’t by people who show up every week. You might not have the stamina (or the resources) to enter into a writing relationship that’s indefinite in its time frame or scope. In fact, I think that’s a terrible way to start. For people starting a blog, I recommend thinking of it as a “Project” and not a “Indefinite Relationship.”When you commit to a blog and say to yourself that you’re going to write every week for the next two years, the minute you mess up or miss a week, you’ve essentially failed the project. Who wants to be disappointed that they tried something?

For people starting a blog, I recommend thinking of it as a “Project” and not a “Indefinite Relationship.” When you commit to a blog and say to yourself that you’re going to write every week for the next two years, the minute you mess up or miss a week, you’ve essentially failed the project. Who wants to be disappointed that they tried something?

The alternative, and what I recommend in all of my writing classes, is to create a project that you can do well at, by changing the parameters. Instead of promising an indefinite relationship, drastically reduce it in scope and start with a reasonable project that has a defined ending from the beginning.

When you can close a project successfully and complete it, you’re much more likely to continue on to a phase two or phase three of a project, rather than let it taper off into the land of incomplete projects. You also change the feelingrelationship you have with yourself — instead of creating an inevitable failure-situation, with resulting disappointments and twangs, putting pressure to show up in a way that might not be reasonable for you because of all of your various commitments–you’re creating a success situation, where you can end the project within a concrete time frame and still be very happy that you did it at all.

I recommend creating a project that says, “I’d like to talk about _[topic]_ in 4 posts, within the next two months.” Give yourself a start time, and end time, and a quantity. Specify a topic. Perhaps you want to blog about four fabulous meals that you cooked and created. Maybe you want to chronicle your science journey behind the lens of a microscope. Maybe you want to document your notes on a new class you’re taking. You could start a Tumblr with your favorite photos of doorways in your quirky city. The possibilities are endless, but you must pick one small one (and only one).

Don’t believe me? Blake Master’s compilations of Peter Thiel’s lectures is one of my favorite sites to read and there’s a fixed (static) amount of content — 13 lectures — accessible indefinitely for those that want to self-teach and read the series. He’s not adding more content. He’s creating great content and sticking it up in a place for people to find it.
What I find with myself–and others — is that if we try to start too big, we actually fail to start at all.

When we dream the big dream of master projects and hundreds of photographs and best-selling books, many people fail to start because the dream is too big. I’m all for big dreams and goals–and relish in them, dance in them, and visualize them — but when it comes to the implementation, start with something small enough to do in a day or a week. Want to write a best-selling book or post? Start by researching your ideas, one at a time, in short posts. You can collect them later. In fact, the short pieces will serve as your building blocks for the bigger pieces.

Almost everyone I know that’s created something big started one, small, tiny step at time.

Bottom line recommendation? Create a fixed, small project that’s do-able within a time frame of less than 3 months.

Start writing — right now:

My takeaways for you? Build yourself an “internet home,” even if it’s only to enjoy making something by yourself.

I’m biased — I think we should all participate in this new form of community space, this digital world where we can place our creations. If you’re wavering about creating something, let me be clear: I think it’s time for you to join in.

To make it easy on yourself, start small. Pick one topic or project that you’re interested in, and make a small commitment to create a collection of pieces–drawings, ideas, words, notes, stories, essays, paintings, photos, or other–around this topic.

Give yourself a deadline of 3 months or less (ideally one month). And finish it.

What happens? It gives you something to point to. It’s a reference point for the future. It’s a means towards executing your projects. It’s a way to start a conversation. And it’s a way to do the things you’ve been talking (or thinking) about doing.

And best-case scenario? You get to meet a few people along the way who like talking about what you’re doing.

Is it time to join in?

If you’ve been thinking about joining the online conversation, or dreaming of starting a blog, website, or publishing more, it’s time to start.

The goal isn’t to have the loudest voice on the internet. It’s to have a voice: your voice. The point of writing is not to just to publish for someone else: Writing and storytelling are about developing a relationship with your voice and ideas. It’s about finding and practicing ways of expressing your ideas to yourself, and then to others.

It’s an incredible place. I hope you’ll join in.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

En route home

I blew off JetBlue and grabbed a train back to Buffalo; no real cash loss, just points. I'm in what's called a roomette that's like a little office, with comfy seats, a table, a private toilet, pillows, power, and wifi. I even got a decent meal with it. Worth the $170. It's a nice ride, scenery wise, if a bit jumpy while traveling at high speeds...but it's very relaxing, with a 45 minute layover in Albany to stretch your legs.

I did office work on this leg of the journey -- naming photos I'd taken of the collection I packed and sorting out paperwork. I did a bit of web-surfing and back and fort on twitter, but that's about it. I may have another job in NYC but won't know about that for a while. I used some of today to go check it out.

This weekend is Oakland...and the client wanted the packing done on a weekend. So I'm flying in on Friday and returning on Monday. Nothing else lined up, after that, so I can finish shifting PM into a script and get it off. Then comes the sketches for the reading of A65. 

I'm going back and forth on the sketches...whether to do them in soft graphite or colored pencil. I'm also still shifting the images I've roughed out around, and I added another one, today. I may take out a couple that are just too quick to matter, as well. I'd do markers but I am so completely out of practice on that, I think it'd be a waste of time, and I don't want to mess with acrylics, right now.

BTW, this is the building I was working in, yesterday...on an upper floor with a great view of Central Park. It's a spooky building; the wind moans and calls like howling creatures of the night, thanks to the service elevator. The basement's entry stays open so every breeze zips in and up the shaft. I can't imagine living there with that sort of noise all the time.

But it's very high-end. I think the condo's been sold (probably for 8 figures) and that's why the valuable books had to be gotten out before the movers came to get the furniture. You don't dump a first edition of Gulliver's Travels in the same box with novels by Leon Uris or Tom Clancy.

It's just not right...

Monday, March 18, 2019


I worked nearly across the street from Strawberry Fields in Central Park, so once I was finished I strolled over and saw John Lennon's memorial -- Imagine. I took a few shots but like this one the most, with his home, The Dakota, in the background caught behind the trees. A man in a guitar was singing Imagine and people were taking selfies and photos of themselves by the circle. I didn't like like being that close to it; no context aside from the historical and emotional...

It's a funny thing, saying that. History and emotion are contextual things...but they rely so much on individual perceptions of what is and isn't important to what is being seen.  I didn't go to the archway where he was killed, either. I feel to do that would be, I dunno, ghoulish? To me, a photo of where he lived without the lovely mosaic in the pavement close by leaves open reminders of a movie -- Rosemary's Baby...which had devil worshipers in the building.

Supposedly, the building is cursed, with its first victim possibly being Peter Tchaikovsky, the very first resident to move in. He supposedly died of cholera but there are rumors of suicide. Maybe he set the stage for the building's life. Who knows? What I do know is those old buildings had a life of their own. I was working on the 21st floor of the San Remo, two blocks down, where the service elevator whistled and whined in the wind. Very creepy...

Other famous people have lived there -- Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Boris Karloff, Rudolph Nureyev -- and it's been a landmark since 1969, but it's John Lennon's murder that's solidified it in people's minds. And mine, truth be told. But I figure since I passed it by en route to this latest packing job, I'm meant to pay at least some homage to keep the fates happy.

So I did.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

NYC after a 9 hour train ride...

I hopped Amtrak to hit the Big Apple and it was on time all the way, Can't quite believe it. But it was a well-spent 9 hours. I can't work on PM's script because my Final Draft only works on my Mac Mini, so I used the time to work out what I'd need in the way of imagery to accompany a reading of the first bit of The Alice '65.

I'm at 40, right now, and could easily double it...but I need to go through and see how it feels. Again. I've only done this twice, already, and changed a couple bits around and added others. These are just preliminary sketches done on half-sheets of used typing paper I've folded over...though done in a bit of detail so I don't get lost. Just like storyboards.

I may still cut some of them out. I'm a bit image-heavy at the beginning. Still, it's a fairly solid start. Adam gets ready for work, rides the underground, goes to Meryton, remembers an argument with Vincent, his box, Chats with Elizabeth, finishes a book and makes a cup of tea after recalling a small argument with Elizabeth.
I'm using this guy as the model for Adam; he's the one on the cover and pretty much fits him. When I do the final images, I'll be making each one more precise than I usually do., so I've got lots of shots of him.

That's the first 6.5 pages of the book so are meant to compliment what's being read aloud. I'll probably play around with it a lot more till I'm happy enough, and a lot depends on how long the reading takes. That awful one was 12 minutes long...and is still up. They're still ignoring me.

Not happy about that...

Tomorrow is packing up a high-end library of about 99 books. I'm not slated to return to Buffalo till Tuesday night on the late flight, just to be safe. Then next weekend is in Oakland.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Downhill slide on PM

I'm into the third act of my screenplay for Porno Manifesto...and I think it works well as a film project. It won't hit the cineplex, but for cable? Gay cable? Logo or Here? I seriously doubt Netflix will go for this. The sex is on about the same level as True Blood, but since it's gay it's considered more risqué. Sort of like how black men are considered more dangerous than white men, even though the opposite is recent events have shown.

I'm making the script more relevant to today's political climate. It was pretty much on target 10 years ago, and a lot of what it's saying hasn't changed a bit, but I've included MAGAts and the other bullshit that makes the world such a dangerous place, now. It's like we're close to shifting into a new Dark Ages, like what happened after the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476. Not a great way to see the future.

So...PM is not going to be a sweet script in any way, form, or fashion. I thought about adding some comic relief by keeping in a couple of geeks who're having Alec, the protagonist, write a video game for them, one that puts Resident Evil to shame. He has fun with it even as he's putting his plot against his gay-bashers into play...but what worked in the book messes with the flow of the story, now.

I think the script is more suspenseful than the book, too. We don't have Alec's interior monologue to distract from what he's doing, and some of the moments are pretty when he gets into the frat house when everyone is off on Spring Break and learns even more about his attackers. And the way he spies on them in their most intimate, vulnerable moments.

The book, itself, has always been problematic for me. I like it, like how it works, but think I could have done better by it if I'd given it one more pass. Maybe two. This is almost like I'm making it up to the story for being so cavalier and letting it turn out like a typical sophomore effort. I did right by my other books...

Well, except for French Connection Blues. That one was never anything more than a work for hire, and I couldn't get really connected with it. Plus it's changed names so many times...from Inherent Flaws to NYPD Blood to something I'm no longer part of that process.

At least it taught me not to take on a project I couldn't commit fully to.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Christchurch..."Slaughter by appointment..."

I have no here is this...

Slaughter by appointment.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I'm doing my own damn reading of A65...

The people at Wildsound and the Novel Writing Festival are ignoring me, regarding taking down that awful video, so I'm doing my own reading of The Alice '65. A friend who's a good actor has said she'd read it for me, and I can work up a slideshow to go with it. Maybe 12 minutes long, depending on how she does it, but she's well-trained in acting and can give it the feel it needs.

I'm headed down to NYC so can work out what I'll need for the slideshow on the train. And I'll need to figure out what I need in the way of a program to work it. I have Garage Band and iMovie, so maybe I can work up a video using those. Dunno yet. This is going to be a learning process. And if she winds up unable to do it, shit...I'll read it aloud, myself. I couldn't do any worse, and at least I know how to pronounce Kristin Lavransdatter.

I'm also about halfway done with the script for Porno Manifesto. I've toned down the sex scenes to where they're on the level of cable...which isn't by much...and taking out all the internal contemplations of Alec is making the story not only cleaner but is showing me it's pretty well-structured. Now instead of Alec signaling what he's planning to do, he just does it and the viewer follows.

I've also added a couple of complications. Like when he sneaks into the frat house to scope it out before hiding cameras in his attackers' rooms. It's supposed to be deserted during Spring Break, but he's almost caught by some of the guys coming back to get some things.

I think it'll wind up between 115 and 120 pages long...and maybe once it's done I'll see if I can sell it. I can just see that happening -- all my work on straight Hollywood scripts and the first one I sell is a gay-revenge-rape fantasy...

That would be hysterical...

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice, I'll be a bitch...'d think I would learn not to expect anything from anyone after they screw me around, but I still fall flat-faced into crap of my own making. This time it's from the National Novel Writing Festival, about whom I've already complained. I thought they were doing something honest...and boy did I get fooled.

These are the guys who had a "professional editor" read my novel, The Alice '65, and tear it apart. Used bad grammar to complain about my grammar. Had typos and missing words...and misused words. Ignored how the story was told in third person but with a first person viewpoint. It hurt...then it angered me, once I got past that. Then it confused me, because they said I'd gotten a really good score and won an audio reading of the first 2000 words of the book.

My gut instinct was to say no...but I talked myself into it. The other videos they had posted were workmanlike enough to be used as a sales tool. Well...yesterday they posted the video they did for me, on their site and on YouTube. It's of a man sitting in a cubicle in an office, a camera trained on him as he reads my book off a tablet and stumbles over it like he's never seen it before. He's trying -- I can't fault the reader -- but you can hear office noises in the background and it's obvious this is the first time he's set eyes on the story. It's so cheap-assed and amateurish, it's a detriment to the book.

I was livid. But I held back and asked some friends what they thought, just to make certain I wasn't over-reacting. Consensus's like a first cold read-through in preparation to do a better job. To my mind, there is nothing in it to help the book except my words...many of which he cannot pronounce. Granted, Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso doesn't roll off the tongue...but that's why a reader should familiarize himself with the work.

I used to belong to the Playwright's Kitchen Ensemble in LA, and every week we'd have actors do cold readings from scripts. Granted, the majority of them were trained in speaking and had a focus few people have, but they also spent every moment they could prior to the read getting familiar with the work. A cold reading isn't really cold, it's just a first-time being read aloud. Some of those people, after five minutes with my pages, found aspects of my scripts I didn't know were there...and which I made damn sure got added in. It was amazing to watch and to hear. These people did nothing even remotely like that.

Now here's the capper -- what that festival did for my reading was nothing like they've done for anyone else, and I'm damn close to feeling insulted by it. I asked them to take it off their site and off YouTube. I want nothing to do with it. It's an embarrassment.

Moral of the story -- listen to your gut.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Porno Manifesto wins...

I'm working along to shift the book into screenplay format, and it's coming together very neatly. Alec is working his plan out in plain view, like an obsessive maniac...and the fact he's stalking a group of guys who tried to kill him makes it very conflicting.

I'm at the point where he prevents them from carrying out another gay-bashing and now knows he's got the right group of MAGAts. What happens from this point is going to be morally awkward to any and all, because he's going outside the law to exact revenge on a group of stupid college brats who haven't really thought about the consequences of their actions...and I'm lovin' it.

This has altered my game-plan a bit, regarding the Nicholl and Austin FF. Doing HTRASG is definitely a Fuck you to it could be simply dismissed. But Porno Manifesto isn't...or could be seen as a deliberate attempt to write a gay-revenge it can't be as easily shrugged off. And when it is, I can legally scream HOMOPHOBIA!!! That'll be the most fun.

And the truth is, I really don't think it will go anywhere with either of them. My work has never done well in the upper-echelon competitions. I don't know why, but no matter what I tried or sent in, I only did okay in the lesser contests. So...there's something about how I write scripts that doesn't work for those who claim to be the real deal in competitions.

And still doesn't, really. I didn't even get a "No thank you" response from the Universal Writers Fellowship, and producers I've been referred to by friends who know them won't even respond to me. So screenwriting was never going to be my method. What a thing to realize after nearly 40 years of trying.

Therefore, I'm writing PM to have fun and be a dick instead of a guy trying to please. It's rather liberating. Maybe it's how I should have been from the outset, instead of just aimless and scared and inconsistent. I've known a number of talentless dicks who've gotten ahead in the business. Naw...I like being merely psychotic touched with a layer of schizophrenia...'s the freak in me...

Saturday, March 9, 2019

I'm being an asshole...

Brendan and I are head-butting, again, and I don't feel like dealing with it. So I'm not. I got a notice from the Austin Film Festival in yesterday's mail about the next screenplay competition and it put me into a truly pissy mood. I tried for years to work within their system and got nowhere. They all but laughed at me.

So I decided to shift How To Rape A Straight Guy and Porno Manifest into screenplays and send them in. Just to be a dick. Same for the Nicholl Fellowship, who never liked anything I sent them. I pulled up the Word docs of each book and saved them as RTFs then transferred them into Final Draft on my old Mac Mini; it's got a version of the program that works well enough.

However, I'm already seeing HTRASG is going to be more work than PM because so much of it is internal, so I focused on PM. It's coming together a lot better and easier than I expected. I've got almost all of the first act set. It's going to be a chore to get both of them done in time to submit, but even if all that's done is PM, it'll be something they've never seen before, that's for damn sure.

It's a pretty well-constructed story, starting out with the gay-bashing and having Alec shift into a jungle creature when hunting down the boys who did it. I've added in MAGAt hats and am making it more relevant to today's political climate, especially after the Tiki-torch bearing Nazi-boys in Charlotte. Alec still works as a quiet guy made raging beast by the unprovoked attack and how the cops and the judicial system closed ranks to protect the brats who hurt him because one's the son of a judge.

The disparity between what Paul Manafort pulled and got imprisoned for and how people of color are treated by our judicial system is really being brought home, lately. When I first wrote the story, Obama was running for president and Bush was crashing the economy. The BLM and Me,too movements hadn't even been thought of, yet, and people were just beginning to realize they could videotape cops doing their dirty work as they did it and post that on Facebook.

Now? the whole thing's exploded into near chaos. Twitter and Instagram help keep the reich wing from taking control of the narrative, like they used to do with the mainstream media, and the powers that be are still trying to figure out how to take those venues away from us. The owners of those three are working with them, but it's not doing much good; they're too massive to really control, anymore, unless you shut them down completely...and that ain't gonna happen.

The revolution has begun, and it IS being televised...just not on TV.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

An off-beat path...

I came up with an idea that I thought Brendan was pushing, to give more of a reason for him to end like he does...and it worked well until he pointed out it undercut the ending. I spent hours on it...and now am thinking I may cut it because he's right. Dammit. I hate it when this happens.

I really did think this path was Brendan's idea, but now I'm not so sure. And could be turned into something that works...hell, I don't know. I wrote it and now I'm trying to find ways to minimize or reverse the meaning of what I wrote. Drives me nuts.

I'm deliberately avoiding the news because it just pisses me off. I just learned Paul Manafort, who committed fraud to the tune of millions and worked with foreign governments against the US, got 47 months in prison. A woman who voted in 2016, but who wasn't eligible to vote, was sent to prison for 5 years. 60 months. Over a year longer than that motherfucking traitor, and he'll be in a minimum security prison known as Club Fed while she's doing time in a hard-assed prison in Texas.

I had someone ask me, once, why I constantly criticize the American system of justice in my books, and I tell them it's because it only works for the rich. They said I was overstating the situation. I'm going to find that little shit and ask him if he still feels that way after this.

My bet is, he will...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A bit more of APoS...

This is after Brendan's been taken to Houston after witnessing a bombing and collapsing into a catatonic state. He's living with his aunt and uncle adjacent to River Oaks.


It took me a week after that dinner to be able to even so much as climb the stairs without being exhausted, and days after that before I ventured from the house, and then it was only because Uncle Sean was working on his car. It had rained and the air was thick and wet, making it difficult to breathe, almost. I was lying in my bed, staring at the blank ceiling, drifting in my usual nothingness as I heard the motor chugging, outside, over and over and --

Josiah O’Shea’s Cortina wouldn’t start on damp mornings and he’d had near everyone he could think of check into it, at no small cost to himself, until he let me look into it and I found the problem and --

I rose from the bed and went to the window. Uncle Sean was at the Volvo, under the bonnet -- the hood, as it were. It was a dark blue PV444 and looked like it had the twin SU Carbs to it. A decent-looking car it was but in need of a wash and maybe attention paid to the rust spots developing between the passenger door and front wing. The interior wasn’t quite as good of shape but wasn’t beyond saving, and from here the motor looked fine. But when Uncle Sean get behind the wheel to turn the key, I could hear the car creak a little so it definitely needed lubrication and maybe a fresh set of dampers.

I stood there and watched Uncle Sean try to start the motor and it just chug along, working really hard to catch. Then he’d go back under the bonnet, unplug the spark wires and re-plug them and try again only to get nothing. Then he’d go back under the bonnet and undo other connections and redo them and try again. Over and over. It was comical, for he didn’t sit easy in that car.

I finally had enough of it and went downstairs and out the back door. The ground was still wet and sticky, and the air felt even more smothering without the house. I wore only my pyjama bottoms, still, no slippers even, so the soaked grass tickled my feet.

“Having troubles?” I asked.

He jumped and looked at me as if I were a madman, which I probably seemed to him. “Brendan, what you doin’ out here? You ain’t dressed.”

I didn’t care. “Would you care for me to look at it?” I said, motioning to the Volvo.

He shrugged. “Does this every time there’s a fog in the mornin’. Then in the afternoon, it starts up fine. But I need to get goin’ an’ this is the only car left.”

I looked around and saw two dry spots where two cars had been. “When’s Aunt Mari due back?”

“Dunno. Guess I’ll just grab a cab. Lookin’ at buyin’ this bar in up in The Heights and the owner’s due at one. I’ll get it towed into the shop, later.”

In answer, I leaned over the motor and checked the cables. They were on the old side, probably original. Same for the coil. I pulled at it without gripping the glove and it nearly separated. “Try starting it, again.”

He shrugged and sat behind the wheel and the car creaked; definitely needed lubing but maybe only a topping off on the dampers. I pushed both ends of the coil’s cable against their gloves...and the motor fired right up.

Uncle Sean bolted from the car, startled. “What’d you do?”

“You need a new coil,” I said. “It’s coming apart inside the glove, so you can’t see it. It’s not making the connection. Is there an auto supply shop nearby?”

“Up Shepherd. I can stop on the way.”

I nodded. “You might want to think about having all the cables replaced. They’re about due.”

“Damn, Brendan, where’d you learn that?”

“I’ve been at this since forever. Clocks, tellys and the like. Cars. Made money from it. Had a job.”

“Your mother never told us.”

“Why would she? She thinks me simple.”

“Didn’t you tell her what you were actually doin’?”

I nodded then headed back to the house, feeling vague and sleepy and actually hungry. Uncle Sean let me go.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

APoS develops...

I've been working over the outline for A Place of Safety and it's coming together. Everything in its proper place and knowing what is needed when and where. It's the how that keeps messing with me. How do I keep this from becoming a James Michener style of writing, where I cram the story with research because I've done so damn much of it? Same for Leon Uris. Dry, bland stories told about cardboard characters with no real meaning.

That's the fight I usually have with my writing -- how to make the characters real and alive and human and not boring. It takes a lot of digging and reworking on my part to do, and the only scripts or books I like that I wrote have characters in them who carry meaning beyond themselves. Even How To Rape A Straight Guy, probably the work that gets the most visceral reaction from people, is told by a man who's slowly coming to terms with the reality of his life and how he let it become that way...something he realizes too late to do him any good. I put all the sex in to keep people interested...or freaked out, depending on your bent. (Yeah, right.)

I tried to do that with Underground Guy, too, but don't know if I was successful, yet; I've received no feedback. Devlin is something of a monster who's built up a nice justification for his actions, lots of excuses, but it's not until he apologizes to one of his victims that he really opens himself up to becoming a different man.

I did have an interesting development, this evening, as I worked on APoS. Just as Brendan has given up hope, he saves someone. Not like getting in the way of a bullet or taking the blame in order to let another person get away. He just nudges them in a different direction that may...or may not...lead them to a better life. A life he wanted but now realizes was never meant to be, for him...because he refused to accept his world for what it was.

Hmm...that sounds rather pretentious. Oh, I dunno. Half of what I put into any sort of outline usually winds up not being used except in my head, so this may also go by the wayside. But you never really know till the job's done...and even then you can't be sure.

The art of writing may be learning to know when to stop.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

I be Instagraming now...

I joined Instagram and tried to fix it so I could post from my MacBook Pro, but the bastards won't let me. Has to be from my phone...which is irritating. The sneak-around offered via Google didn't work. But I've now got a way to add images to the site and plan to use it solely to push my writing. Guess we'll see how that goes. If anyone wants to check it out, my moniker is angerandanarchy.

I've made contact with a couple more people in Ireland to gain better knowledge of the society Brendan's part of...and they're real firecrackers. One shares my last name and is probably more liberal than I am, if that's possible. Apparently there are right wing racist scum in that country, as well, causing trouble and she's on it about them. She should prove interesting...

The bits of Brendan's interrogation I posted seemed a bit flat, to me. Almost academic. A step removed. Today while doing my ton of laundry I think I figured out why -- there's no real suspense. No wondering if he's going to talk or least, not very well noted in what I've written. Brendan seems more to be focused on just staying alive while he's being waterboarded, but I wonder if he should be thinking he should say something to stop it. Anything to stop it.

I don't want this bit to be just horrifying; I want it gut-wrenching, and I don't think it's there, yet. Not sure what to do about that...except keep reminding myself that I'm still building up the context. I almost wonder if I should change who it is the British are trying to identify, regarding the car-bomb Brendan witnessed. I wonder...

God, I've got so much more to do on this book...

Saturday, March 2, 2019


I have officially now lived in Buffalo for 9 years....and I still feel like a visitor here. This town will never be home to me, no matter how long I stay. It's not a bad place to live, and there are aspects of its history that are interesting, but my home is LA. After that -- London. After that -- San Antonio.

I live here because this is where I can make enough of a living to pay off my debts and still be able to help my youngest brother. I don't leave because I travel a great deal so don't have the length of stay needed to grow irritable enough to pull up roots and go. I remain because there is nothing interesting enough for me to do to take me away from my writing...and I have written a lot.

I've published 5 books, republished 4 more, written 6 screenplays and slowly advanced my work on APoS. I've been able to travel to Ireland on several occasions to do research, often as a tail-end part of a packing job in the UK, and I've been to cities and countries I never would have gone to on my own. But for all of this I feel like I'm merely treading water, not advancing.

I also feel somewhat isolated. I've always been the type who prefers being alone, but even the most solitary person needs human contact now and then, and I don't have there here...outside of the people I work with. I never have made friends easily, and there's no one I'm even remotely interested in becoming friends with in this part of the world. Too many upstate rednecks are everywhere.

I'm in a comfortable space, however. My apartment's small but well-situated, relatively speaking. Toronto's not far away, and Niagara Falls is a fun place to visit...on the Canadian side. I'm not really bugged by the winters, and my car's doing all right even as it begins to get rusty...not surprising since I've had it for 20 years. But I am in the early stages of feeling restless.

Thing is, I don't want to move unless it's to an area of Ireland where I can work on APoS as well as Darian's Point, Return to Darian's Point, the beginning of the Darian's Point trilogy, and even Wide New World, all set in Ireland. Would that be Galway? Someplace in County Donegal, like Letterkenny or Buncrana? Maybe live in Derry for a while? I don't know.

I'm just feeling restless...