Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/22/17

We all know what an unreliable narrator is, right? The more time I spend online, the more I worry about how ineffective subtlety can be. In an age where people get their news from Twitter and entertainment from reality TV, sometimes it takes a baseball bat to make a point.

I'm bringing this up because I just wrote a scene that a 10-year-old might completely misunderstand. They might think the character is crazy. But this isn't a children's book. Anyone who's read an adult book or two should get it, but I've been told that I overestimate the public too often. Personally, I think people are smarter than the publishers, studio executives and networks are giving them credit for, but Twitter and reality TV are working overtime to prove me wrong.

I was also thinking about titles for the fictional Bernardo Bertolucci film, and I wondered what he would call a film about Émile Armand. But I don't know Bertolucci at all. I've seen his movies and I've heard some gossip. That tells me nothing about what's in the man's head.

I could come up with a few titles for a movie about a French anarchist who sleeps around a lot. But it seems to me that Bertolucci might be the kind of filmmaker who uses working titles.

Studios and producers love to keep their movies secret with working titles. Back to the Future was Spaceman From Pluto at one point. Return of the Jedi was called Blue Harvest to keep people in the dark. Annie Hall was famously called Anhedonia.

Woody Allen often uses generic working titles like Woody Allen Spring Project. So I'm calling the fictional Bertolucci film Untitled Bernardo Bertolucci Production. I think it adds a little something to the overall sense of confusion that a real title would lack.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Directed by Steven Spielberg
© 1982 Universal Pictures

Return of the Jedi
Directed by Richard Marquand
© 1983 Lucasfilm Ltd

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/21/17

I finished chapter 9 in record time. I was pretty surprised by how quickly I punched it out. I was almost ready to pat myself on the back. Then I checked the word count. It's currently at 1,891 words. That's incredibly short for a chapter.

Obviously, a lot will change. This is only the first draft, and everything will either get longer or shorter when I get back to it. Some chapters are supposed to be longer than others, but I know from experience that the first draft will look nothing like the final print.

Chapter 10 starts with the scene that gave me the idea for the entire book. I almost started the story here, but it's better if you know the characters a little. It would be more shocking to start here, which makes publishers happy and probably helps sales, but I think there's more of an impact if you know the people involved.

It's like a jump scare in a horror movie versus something that's actually scary. Jump scares sell more tickets at the box office, but the truly scary moments are far more memorable.

This book isn't a horror story, by the way. That was just an example. I'm sure I don't have to point that out, but this is the internet, after all.

The Exorcist
Directed by William Friedkin
© 1973 Warner Brothers

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/20/17

Émile Armand was a French anarchist/pacifist who wrote magazine articles and books about communes and anarchy, mostly between 1900-1930. He was also a big fan of free love, and had some radically liberal views on human sexuality. Even today, some of his ideas would shock a lot of people, especially Americans.

The fictional Bertolucci film in my book is about Émile Armand. He seems like the kind of guy Bertolucci might make a film about. Émile Armand hated the establishment, was a raging atheist, loved the ladies and was a bit of a voyeur. Bertolucci could easily make a controversial film about him with sweeping French countrysides and plenty of wall to wall nudity.

I've made MGM the distributor. Mainly because MGM is all but destitute. I'm going to say some unflattering things about whoever produces the Bertolucci film, so I thought maybe it should be a studio that can't crush me like a grape.

I also love the great MGM musicals. I think it's sad how far that studio has fallen. They were the biggest studio in the world, putting out all the best Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire movies. Now they don't produce anything without another studio helping out.

Also, and I probably shouldn't admit this, I thought their office was in Santa Monica. It turns out they were in Santa Monica for a few years, but then moved to Beverly Hills. Oh, well.

Émile Armand

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/19/17

I've dragged Bernardo Bertolucci into this. In the story, one of the characters auditions for an acting part in a movie. I could have created fictional directors and producers, but I decided to use Bertolucci because of his reputation. He's generally considered a great filmmaker and a royal pain in the butt to work with.

If I created a character, it would have been a Bertolucci type. Since the real Bertolucci is mostly a recluse, why not use him? He won't sue me, for several reasons, and I don't have to worry about personally offending him since it's highly unlikely he'll ever know this book exists, and I can almost guarantee that we'll never meet.

Something I only just considered is that he's not exactly a spring chicken. His health has been going downhill since he had a series of botched spinal surgeries. He's in a wheelchair now and rarely leaves his houses in Rome and London. If he dies while I'm writing this, I'll have to change it. Obviously, his death, whenever it occurs, will have far greater consequences than any rewrites I have to make. I know how insensitive that sounds. But he's lived a pretty full life. Whenever he leaves, I think we can all be comforted by the great films he's given us.

The Conformist
© 1970 Paramount Pictures

The Sheltering Sky
© 1990 Warner Brothers

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/18/17

I've finished another chapter. It's pretty short and mostly dialogue, so there will be some changes later.

Dialogue is both the easiest and hardest part to write. As an actress, I'm supposed to know how to read a character and say things the way they would say it. I've played characters who suffered from crippling insecurity, depression, insanity, alcoholism and a wide range of problems I've never had. If you're going to act, you have to play characters that are nothing like yourself.

Reading dialogue in another voice is easy. If I know who the character is, I can imagine how they would say it. The trick is deciding what they should say. Acting doesn't prepare you for that. You can't improvise Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams. Writing dialogue is nothing like reading it.

I've been told that I write good dialogue. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's worth noting that I usually think the dialogue is the worst part of any book I've ever written. People sometimes tell me it's the best part. The main compliment I usually get is that the dialogue fits the character, especially foreign accents. And that's exactly where I think I've failed the most.

The good news is that I'll keep trying to do a better job. The bad news is that there are no foreign characters in this book.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/17/17

Ikea opened a store in Burbank, California a long time ago. That location was surrounded by hotels, a shopping mall and a freeway. So when they wanted to expand, they moved the store a few blocks south, opening the largest Ikea in the United States.

This is the kind of thing I'm learning while researching this book. It's not about Ikea and Ikea doesn't play any significant role, but when I mentioned it in passing, I wondered if there really was an Ikea in the neighborhood. According to Google maps, there were two next to each other. That seemed strange to me, so I looked around and read some articles about how terrible the parking was when the new store opened. It may be the largest Ikea in the country, but apparently, the parking lot can only be accessed by a single side street. On an average day, it probably won't matter. But during that opening weekend, people were really freaking out.

Memorial Day
Santa Monica Beach

All the Things She Said

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/16/17

Writing, writing and more writing. At this point, I'm concentrating on three characters, but there are more that come and go. Someone somewhere is bound to complain.

Who's the main character?

Does there have to be one?

I'm hardly an expert on writing – or much of anything, for that matter – but I know one of the cardinal rules of doing anything artistic. Someone somewhere is going to complain no matter what you do. Sometimes, that's how you know you've succeeded.

I've also introduced the members of a new, completely fictional, band. Their names are Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Beth plays keyboards, of course. I'm a little worried about those names, for obvious reasons. I don't think it's particularly clever, but they're minor characters. They're women, though I never mention their heights. They have to be called something.

Palos Verdes, California

Queen Bitch
David Bowie

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/15/17

I did a local TV commercial when I was in high school. It's not on my resume because it's stupid. And it was a long time ago.

I've used that experience for a scene in this book. Everything's different, from the ages of the people involved, to the product being advertised, but that tedious feeling of shooting a TV commercial is there. The end result might be 30 seconds of non-stop shaky cam and jump cuts, but it takes days of sitting around and waiting for a lot of people to get those 30 seconds.

Someone once asked a filmmaker who just made a movie about making movies, it might have been Robert Altman and The Player, why they didn't show what it was realistically like to make a movie. Altman, or whoever it was, answered that it would bore the hell out of the audience. From the actor's point of view, most of the time on set is downtime. Being in front of a camera is anything but glamorous. Hopefully, I've shown that effectively.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/14/17

The next chapter starts out with a story that's based entirely too much on a story a friend told me after an unsuccessful audition several years ago. It's kind of a funny story after time passes and you can laugh about rejection. But I have to change it because it's too close to the truth.

What's wrong with the truth? Absolutely nothing. But it's someone else's story. I don't have the right to tell it. If I want to write something autobiographical, that's ok because those are my stories. If I want to write fiction, that's ok, too. As long as those are also my stories. It's not a copyright issue. It's common courtesy.

Remember Dreamgirls, the movie and musical? Diana Ross is still upset about that. And with good reason. If she ever wants to tell her life story, everyone will accuse her of ripping off Dreamgirls.

And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going
Jennifer Holliday

I'm Coming Out
Diana Ross

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/13/17

I did some research on vibrators. That's something I don't say every day. This is far from an erotic novel, but there are a couple of scenes that might not be suitable for small children.

Vibrators, as it turns out, are a lot like songs. People who love them really love them, and everyone has their own idea about which are great and which are a total waste of time. And just like with music, there are some real snobs out there.

Something I found interesting was that every article I read had testimonials from sexual health experts about how vibrators are a healthy component to a fulfilling relationship with another person. Every article wanted to convince the reader that they're not sinful, dirty or perverted or anything to get choked up about – unless you use them the wrong way. I thought it was interesting because obviously there are a lot of people who must think vibrators are sinful, dirty and perverted. Otherwise, there would be no testimonials from sexual health experts.

The characters in this book are in Los Angeles which, it turns out, has a lot of sex shops. I would assume that most people buy their sex toys online these days, but if you like to hold things before you buy them, Los Angeles has you covered.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, I have no idea about. Prostitution is legal and there are all kinds of massage parlors and dance bars in the various red light districts, but most of that is aimed at men, if not all of it. Satisfying women doesn't seem to be big business.

Then again, China is a very repressed culture. Europeans say that Americans are uptight, which is true, but we're all raging hedonists compared to the typical Chinese. You can buy porn at some of the few places that still sell DVDs, but even the porn is censored in China. And, of course, we have HBO. That's practically porn. Except in China. It's heavily censored. Have you ever watched an episode of Game of Thrones without any sex, violence or nudity? It's kind of pointless.

Speaking of things that threaten some men and repulse some women, there's a scene in the book that's not nearly as graphic as I'm about to make it sound.

If the story takes place today, then it's only reasonable that some of the women would be as bald as Fred Flintstone's tires. But if it takes place in the late 1990s, everyone might be a little warmer on a windy day. Personal hygiene has changed a lot over the years. That's something to consider that I honestly had no idea I'd ever have to think about when I started this.

It also brings up an interesting point. When future generations watch movies with lines like “does the carpet match the drapes”, will they have any idea what that person's talking about?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/12/17

The Gates was a controversial art instillation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Central Park for two weeks in 2005. They put thousands of nylon torii gates along walking paths throughout the park.

In typical New York fashion, everyone either loved it or hated it. Millions of people visited the piece while local news and talk show hosts ridiculed it.

I've seen real torii gates in Japan. Nylon fabric hanging on posts is not nearly as impressive. But I wouldn't have objected had I lived there. It was only for two weeks. If it was permanent, I could understand people going nuts.

The Gates
Central Park, New York
By Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/11/17

During a camping trip, one of the characters is the stranger in a strange land. She's a city girl with no experience in camping or spending much time in the great outdoors.

Fortunately for me, I have some experience with camping. I've never gone camping in the Santa Susana Mountains, and would never in a million years have the adventure they're having in the hills, but I know how to pitch a tent and start a fire. I'm never going to go on one of those reality TV survival shows where they're naked in the wilderness, but I can safely spend the night outdoors without freezing or getting eaten by bears.

This camping trip is very different from anything we used to do when we went up to Land O'Lakes or St. Croix.

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/9/17

I've opened chapter 6 with what sounds like foreshadowing of some big moment to come later. But what the reader might assume is going to happen isn't. I certainly don't want it to, and I think I have some say in the matter.

It's false foreshadowing, I suppose, but it's not a plot twist or a red herring. I'm not saying that what isn't going to happen is going to happen. I'm simply doing nothing to stop people who like to jump to conclusions. Is that cruel? I don't know. But this isn't a mystery. There's no reason to look for any clues.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/8/17

I haven't settled on a time period yet, but one of the characters seems to be into late '90s music. I could see it happening then, but I'd have to change a few things first.

I Don't Want To Wait
Paula Cole

Sunny Came Home
Shawn Colvin

Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/7/17

The beach scene is finished. It took a while. And with it, so is chapter 5. For now.

I know I'm going to go back to chapter 5 sooner or later. For one thing, it's four times longer than any of the other chapters. I'm a firm believer that a chapter should be however long it is. They shouldn't all be the same size. But when you have one that's four times longer than the others, it really stands out. If that's what the story needs, so be it. But it's not in this case.

Let's take Harmony On Spring Hill as an example. Mostly because I have the information in front of me. The shortest chapter is 3,736 words. The longest is 8,181. They're clearly not all the same. But that was never intentional.

Then there's Weekends In China. The average chapter is 5,500 words. The shortest is 4,100. The longest is 6,690. They're all relatively the same length. But that was not intentional either.

It's too soon to say how this one will work out in the end.

From Here to Eternity
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
© 1953 Columbia Pictures

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/6/17

Another day, another beach. Or the same beach. I really need to narrow it down. I'm still working on it.

Beaches are great places for atmosphere, but my problem, or at least one of my problems, is that I can focus too much on the atmosphere. In this scene, it really doesn't matter. The smell of the salt air, the sound of waves crashing against rocks or how the sand feels between their toes has nothing to do with anything. They're at the beach for a specific reason, so I need to concentrate on that.

La Jolla Avenue
West Hollywood

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/4/17 – Tel Aviv Edition

I wanted some of the characters to go to the beach, but which beach? Los Angeles has more than one. They live in the San Fernando Valley, which is close to none of them.

I'm familiar with Santa Monica, but I want an empty beach, almost deserted. Santa Monica and Venice are anything but deserted. Farther south you have Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. That's a nice, long stretch of sand, but the exact opposite of isolated.

In the opposite direction is a long stretch of beaches just south of the Santa Monica Mountains. That's where the surfers and movie stars go, but Point Dume and Malibu Lagoon look pretty good. I'm currently leaning toward Point Dume.

Even if you've never been to California, you know what Point Dume looks like.

Planet of the Apes
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
© 1968 20th Century Fox

Malibu Lagoon

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 6/3/17 – Tel Aviv Edition

I'm doing a little writing in Tel Aviv, but not as much as I would at home. There are too many other things to do here. I can't say if this environment is affecting what or how I write. I doubt it. The story takes place in Los Angeles, which is nothing like Tel Aviv – other than the beaches.

I wrote a saucy little oral sex scene yesterday. It contrasts last week's rape scene nicely. One is a horrible act of violence and cowardice. The other is a consensual little slap and tickle. They work well together, I think. But there's a 50/50 chance I'll cut out the rape scene. I'll give the oral sex scene 3 to 1 odds.

And then I wrote my first lesbian sex scene. I don't know what's going on around here.

This isn't an erotic novel by any stretch of the imagination. It has to have sex. That's just the way it goes. But it doesn't have to have any graphic scenes.

The lesbian aspect is fascinating to me because I don't know the first thing about being a lesbian. It's like asking me what it's like to be a midget. I have no idea. I can make all kinds of assumptions. I suppose some things are just common sense. But I really don't know.

If I start writing a lesbian midget scene, I swear I'm taking a vacation.

The Children's Hour
Directed by William Wyler
© 1961 United Artists

Directed by Michael Curtiz
© 1942 Warner Brothers

Friday, June 2, 2017


I've experienced my first Shavuot in Israel, or anywhere else. I still don't know what it's about.

Shavuot is one of the big pilgrimage festivals, when people were supposed to go to the Temple. Since the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, and rebuilding it would start World War III, no one is expected to go anymore. But it's still a major holiday.

From what I can tell, Shavuot is about God giving Israel the torah on Mount Sinai. Part of my confusion is because everyone I spoke to had their own interpretation of the holiday. Every other holiday seems to have a long list of laws and rules that they're supposed to follow, while Shavuot is more traditional than scriptural. Most of the day, like a lot of holidays, is about eating and praying.

A unique tradition on Shavuot is to stay awake all night reading the torah. That makes sense, since the holiday is about the torah, but the reason for staying awake all night depends on whom you ask. Some say it's because the Israelis were up all night partying before Moses came down from Mount Sinai. Some say it's because sunrises were especially beautiful at the Temple. The Temple was long gone when I went there, but I know how great all that old Jerusalem stone looks at sunset. The Old City glows gold and orange when the sun goes down. Direct sunlight at sunrise is blocked by the Mount of Olives. At least it is in this century.

Whatever the reason, it's nice to see people out and about after midnight. Jerusalem usually shuts down pretty early. If you like to eat late, Tel Aviv is a better choice.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dragon Boat Festival

Tuesday is 端午節, the Dragon Boat Festival. I won't see it because I'll be in Tel Aviv.

Tuesday is also Shavuot, one of the main pilgrimage festivals in Israel. I don't know the first thing about it, but it's an important holiday, and I was already scheduled to go to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, so I figured I might as well go a little early and see what all the fuss is about.

One thing I know about Shavuot is that it's supposed to be better in Jerusalem than Tel Aviv. That's easy enough to believe. Tel Aviv is a better party town, but if you're doing a religious festival, Jerusalem is the place. Getting from one city to the other is very easy, so I don't anticipate any scheduling conflicts.

The Dragon Boat Festival is pretty important in China, but I've seen that several times. Coincidentally, it's also a holiday I've missed a few times because I was out of the country. That's probably because it's always at the beginning of summer. I took a cruise a few years ago and we happened to dock in Hong Kong during the Dragon Boat Festival. That was pretty interesting for me because I was on a cruise ship in my own city, and the views of the dragon boat races from the top deck were incredible.

Not the view from the ship, but this is what the races look like.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/26/17

Current events are tricky. Mary Tyler Moore died in January. I was thinking about her, so I put in a reference that makes perfect sense right now. But by the time this book is finished, it could be a year or more after her death. People might read it several years later.

Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. At least, it doesn't have to be. Shakespeare has current events all over his plays. Most of them don't mean much of anything to us now. But it still works. The original audience for Macbeth was well aware of the Gunpowder Plot against King James I. We know it today because of Guy Fawkes, but Shakespeare's audience was more familiar with the religious superstitions and sorcery that run through the play.

I don't think about Guy Fawkes when I watch a production of Macbeth, but I also don't wonder what he's babbling on about either.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show
© 1970 MTM Enterprises

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/24/17

I just wrote an incredibly graphic rape scene. It's probably unnecessarily graphic. That just opens a whole can of worms.

The first rape scene I ever remember reading was in The World According to Garp. It's disturbing and upsetting, as it should be, and more graphic than I thought necessary at the time. Now, I'm not sure. John Irving was correct to include it in that particular story.

But it's pretty obvious while reading the scene that John Irving is not a woman. Not because of the psychological effects. A million different people could have a million different reactions. Then again, that scene is written by Garp, so maybe it's not John Irving's fault. Maybe he's even smarter than I thought for doing it the way he did.

But in this story, it's written by a woman from the point of view of a female character. So I can't blame Garp. The entire issue is a land mine that I don't think I want to walk through at this particular time. I'm tempted to cut it out, but I have to be sure I'm cutting it for the right reasons.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/23/17

I wrote about Baltimore today. At least I've been there. It's a lot easier when you can picture your surroundings.

If I'm writing about, let's say, two people having a conversation while they take a walk through Victoria Park in Hong Kong, I'll picture the exact path where they walk, even if it's never mentioned in the story and doesn't make any difference. It's better for me if I can see them near the model boat pool or wherever. If I can't picture it my head, I'll look at photographs I've taken over the years. Even if the photograph doesn't show the entire area, it will remind me of everything nearby. Photographs you take yourself are a million times better for recall than online photographs.

I don't know what science fiction writers do when they're writing about alien planets. I'd probably have to draw some rudimentary landscape so at least I know how everything might look.


I'd love to credit whoever drew this.
If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/19/17

Today's to do list:
Confederate uniforms of the 24th Virginia Infantry
Model 1840 noncommissioned officers' swords
Hoop skirts and pantalettes

It's been a strange day, indeed.

Most peculiar, mama.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/18/17

While writing about Ventura Boulevard, one of the main streets that run through the San Fernando Valley, I started thinking about the America song, “Ventura Highway”. There is no Ventura Highway, but there is a Ventura Freeway from northern Los Angeles to the city of Ventura, California. In the Valley, Ventura Boulevard and the Ventura Freeway run parallel.

None of this has anything to do with the book, but Jesse Ventura was the first governor that I ever paid any attention to. He took his name from the city of Ventura, California. “Ventura Highway” has the line, “Sorry, boy, but I've been hit by purple rain”, which inspired another native Minneapolitan to write a song. The album version of “Purple Rain” was performed live at First Avenue, a place I know well, at a benefit concert for my dance school.

It's a small world after all.

Ventura Highway

Purple Rain

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/17/17

Chapter 4 is mostly not in Los Angeles.

Before I started actually writing this story, I thought it would take place entirely in Los Angeles. Most of my initial research was on people and places in Los Angeles. It's definitely a big enough city to hold everything.

But then the story demanded that two of the characters go out of state for a little while. That disappointed me at first. I liked the idea of everything happening in Los Angeles. I could always change it, but it wouldn't make as much sense.

There's a novel called The Mezzanine, which takes place entirely on someone's lunch break. I like the idea of such a narrow limitation. How hard would it be to write an entire book about someone's one hour stuck in an elevator, for example? But then there's the story. You have to do what the story demands. Limitations are a nice challenge, but as soon as you have to choose between the story and your own self-imposed limits, you have to choose the story.

Sorry, L.A.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/16/17

I wrote a scene that takes place at Stoney Point in Chatsworth, California. I've never been to Stoney Point. Or Chatsworth, Topanga Canyon Boulevard or the Santa Susana Mountains.

Most of the people who will read this story have probably never been to any of those places either. But there's always the possibility that someone has. Have you ever read a book that mentions a place you know well, but it's obvious the author knows nothing about that place? It's annoying.

I can see why science fiction writers like to explore fictional planets in fictional solar systems. No one ever told Isaac Asimov that Terminus was actually mostly land.

On a related note, how do you say kissing bandit in Spanish? Besando bandido? El bandido de besos? La Besar Bandido?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/14/17

I've started writing about the Civil War. This is where all that research pays off. You can say whatever you want about grocery stores. If I write that there's a Ralphs on the corner of Devonshire Street and Mason Avenue, a handful of people will know that it's a Vons. Most people will neither know nor care. Maybe one person will say, “Hey, by the way...”

If I write that the Battle of Gettysburg took place in the winter of 1864 when General Grant moved his Confederate forces from Texas into New Mexico, where he fought General Stonewall Jackson's Union army, I would get reams of angry letters and death threats.

This story is pure fiction, and not at all about the Civil War, but it does get mentioned. You can't wing it with a popular war that's been so thoroughly documented.

The Patriot
Directed by Roland Emmerich
© 2000 Columbia Pictures

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/11/17

Chapter 3 is finished. For now. It's currently the longest chapter, but that means absolutely nothing at this stage.

I was talking to a guy who wrote a book about Disneyland, and he said it was funny how the longest chapters take the least amount of time to write. I don't know if that's true, but with chapter 3, I just typed and typed until it was obviously finished. I suppose that's why it's the longest.

Sometimes the shortest chapters take the longest to write. Maybe that's why they're the shortest.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/10/17

I just wrote a pool scene that I'll probably cut out. It tells you something about the three characters in it, but there's something about it I don't like.

It's essentially the characters playing truth or dare. There's some foreshadowing in there that I want to keep, but I don't like how it reads like a 1980s teen movie. I haven't decided if this story takes place in the past, but even if it does, it's not that far back. At most, some of them were born in the '80s.

Directed by Bob Clark
© 1981 20th Century Fox

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/9/17

There's a movie where a very young Phoebe Cates climbs out of a swimming pool and takes off her bikini top in slow motion. Anyone who was a teenage boy when that movie came out has that image carved into their memory.

I've never been a teenage boy, so the name of the movie escaped me. It was driving me crazy. Then I went to Google. Type “Phoebe Cates” in an image search and it's the first thing that pops up. There are even animated gifs. I have to say, purely from an artistic point of view, she had a nice rack.

The movie is Fast Times at Ridgemont High, famous for starting the careers of an entire generation. And that pool scene.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Directed by Amy Heckerling
© 1982 Universal Pictures

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 5/8/17

Now that I'm back home and back into my daily routine, I'm back to work on what may or may not become my next book.

I wrote one paragraph today. It's currently 103 words, but that could easily change. I never check the word count of specific paragraphs, but I was curious this time. 103 words is nothing for a full day's work. This blog post alone will be more than 103 words. And it will only take a few minutes to type.

You just never know how productive any given day will be. Sometimes it seems like I just can't stop typing. Sometimes I only stop because I have to do other things. On a previous book, I wrote an entire chapter in one day. Unless you count any editing that came later. That's when I think I'm going to finish in no time.

Sometimes, it goes a little slower. It's possible to get in a single sentence. That's when I think it's going to take years to finish. I'm on chapter 3, so this one could take a few months or a few years. I can't tell when it's going to be finished until I'm on the last edit, which is mostly just reading it all the way through.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


During my brief trip to Tokyo, I stayed at the Hotel Monterrey Hanzomon in Ichibancho. It's a quiet little hotel on a quiet little street. But it's also right in the middle of Tokyo, just next to the Imperial Palace. Walking down the street, it feels like Tokyo, but without all the noise and crowds.

The benefit to being in a tiny residential neighborhood is that it's quiet day and night. The downside is that there's not much nearby. The metro is right across the street, so getting around the city is easy, but I'm used to staying in Shibuya, where you have everything you need around you. You don't really need the metro.

There's a nice little bakery just down the street and a tiny grocery store across the street from that. In the other direction is a tiny produce store and a larger grocery store. The hotel is also between a 7/11 and Family Mart, of course. That might not sound like much, but 7/11 in Japan is a million times better than 7/11 in China. Chinese 7/11 is convenient, but Japanese 7/11 actually has food you can eat. In Shibuya, it wouldn't matter. There's food in every direction. But in Ichibancho, it's nice to have a 7/11 nearby.

The hotel itself was nothing exciting. It's a standard business hotel with all of the usual amenities. Since it's in Japan, it's exceptionally clean and the service was polite and efficient. I have no complaints about the hotel, but I'll probably never stay there again. I like Tokyo to be loud and bustling. But if you want a calm neighborhood in the middle of the storm, this is a good choice.

I can't really say, but my impression was that Ichibancho is more like a smaller city in Japan. That's only an assumption on my part since I've only been to Tokyo, but the neighborhood around the hotel felt like a smaller suburb. I'll need to go to Hiroshima or Nagasaki to make sure.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Paul McCartney One On One

The last time I saw Paul McCartney in concert was in Kansas City (Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey). We were both younger in those days.

The first time I saw him was in St. Paul. I was in high school and he was single. Oddly enough, we never went backstage together. I suppose, in hindsight, that's a good thing. I would have considered that creepy and the press would have noticed Paul McCartney with a high school student. I'm pretty sure that's not his style anyway. His soulmate was an older woman.

Now that I'm too old to pay $300 for a concert ticket, and Paul is far older than anyone ever expected of a rock star back when he started, this could very easily be the last time I see him perform. He can't do 3 hour shows much longer, and I can't rationalize the high ticket prices. That and his refusal to acknowledge any country in Asia besides Japan. I live in the single most populated country in the world, by a long shot, and I have to fly to another, far smaller country to see him.

The opening to Thursday's show at the Tokyo Dome was a little strange, with his Hofner bass on the video screens like it was a golden idol, with fireworks exploding behind it. I've never seen anything like that in a concert before. While the audience was cheering, Paul and band casually strolled on stage. It looked more like the end of a concert than the beginning. Then they played “A Hard Day's Night” and the crowd went wild. The light show on screen reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don't think it was supposed to.

“Junior's Farm” was the less political, radio-friendly version. Although, right now might not be the best time to sing about jumping the fence at the houses of Parliament.

They showed clips of A Hard Day's Night and various Beatles footage during “Can't Buy Me Love”. We all knew it was going to be a nostalgic night, with mostly songs from the '60s and '70s.

“Letting Go” was a little disappointing. Not because of anything the band did or didn't do, but because nothing can compare with the Wings Over America version. “Temporary Secretary” was also a little disappointing. Despite using keyboards for all of the string and horn parts on every song, which is just criminal, the keyboards for the synthesizer part on this song sounded wrong. It's essentially an electronic song. The keyboards should be easy.

“Let Me Roll It” was one of the rare times Paul picked up an electric guitar. “Let Me Roll It”, “I've Got a Feeling” and “The End”. Most of the night, he was on acoustic guitar and Hofner bass. He actually played lead guitar on “I've Got a Feeling”, with a solo in the coda. He also played an acoustic guitar solo during “In Spite Of All the Danger”. It's kind of odd that he doesn't give himself lead parts more often.

People like to complain about Paul's voice, especially during songs like “Maybe I'm Amazed”, which requires a combination of screaming and soft ballad. I'm sure that's hard to do in your 70s. And maybe he shouldn't do it right after screaming at the end of “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five”. But he didn't sound bad Thursday night. He just didn't sound 28 anymore.

He tried to speak Japanese before “In Spite Of All the Danger”. He had a script on the floor, which he stared at the entire time, but it was still pretty bad. He obviously doesn't speak a word of Japanese. The audience loved it, though. Japan is one of those countries where people appreciate the effort, even if you butcher their language. No one will ever yell at you to “learn Japanese or get out” or “go back to Mexico, Pablo”.

“You Won't See Me” was interesting. He did a little acoustic intro that most of the audience didn't recognize until he started singing the lyrics. The audience sang along with “And I Love Her”. I was looking at one of the video screens when he did his little booty shake, so I got to watch his 50 foot tall butt dance to the song.

The saxophone solo on “Lady Madonna” freaked me out. I was looking around the stage, but I couldn't see anyone with a saxophone. Then I realized that Wix was playing it. That was disappointing. They might as well use drum machines instead of real drums. I bet Paul could afford to hire real musicians.

Just before playing “FourFiveSeconds”, he introduced the song with, “We just played the oldest song and now we're going to play the newest song.” But the song he played right before was “Lady Madonna”. Hardly the oldest song he played that night. He played a lot of Beatles songs. Half the concert was Beatles songs. And most of them are older than “Lady Madonna”.

What surprised me was that five people cheered when he started to play the guitar intro. What really surprised me was that he played that song at all. The lyrics were on the giant screen behind the stage, but they were in English, so I don't think as many people sang along as he expected.

The funniest part was when they showed a picture of Kanye onscreen and some of the audience booed. I don't know what Kanye did to offend the Japanese, but his fans weren't in the audience that night.

Before he introduced “Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite”, he led the audience in a little sing a long, during which he gave a dirty little giggle that really surprised me. I've never heard him laugh like that.

While introducing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, he spoke a little Japanese. There were subtitles at the bottom of the video screens, so everyone understood him, but I got the impression that he thought everyone understood his bad Japanese. After the audience cheered, from reading the subtitles, he said it again, only much worse. And not a single person in the stadium cared.

Some people ask why Paul still tours at his age. There was a brief moment during “Band On the Run” where he leaned against Rusty Anderson and smiled before bouncing up and down. The look of pure joy on his face answered that question.

The first “Live and Let Die” explosion scared the hell out of the woman standing next to me. She had never seen Paul in concert, and didn't seem all that familiar with the song, so she didn't know it was coming. She also thought the stage was on fire, with all of the lights and lasers – and actual fire – but the people she came with reassured her that we would all survive. It probably didn't help that the video screen directly above the stage showed nothing but fire. I suppose it would have looked like something went terribly wrong if it was any other song.

The audience laughed when Paul pretended to go deaf from all the pyrotechnics, but it was pretty loud. At his age, he might want to rethink that.

The only time his voice really sounded like he was an old man was during “Hey Jude”. He struggled a little here and there throughout the concert, but it looked like he was having a hard time breathing during “Hey Jude”. With his mussed up hair and a spotlight right in his face, I almost thought I was going to witness a heart attack on stage. He caught his breath as the song went on, though. By the na na nas, he was good to go. Of course, he mostly doesn't sing that part.

When he started playing “Yesterday”, the audience wanted to cheer, but everyone knew they had to be quiet if they wanted to hear the song. That was one of those times I knew I was in Japan.

“Hi Hi Hi” was funny, simply because he was playing it in Tokyo. The greatest revenge is selling out a stadium concert while the politicians are long gone.

The crowd went nuts during Abe Jr's short “The End” drum solo. And then it was over. The confetti and smoke when Paul left the stage was pretty weird. If you're going to shoot your confetti load all over the crowd, make it bigger.

I can't say it was the best concert I've ever seen, or even the best Paul McCartney concert I've ever seen, but it was probably the last time I'll ever see him. He's never coming to China, and going to Japan for a concert is absurd. Maybe if I happen to be somewhere while he's there, I'll see him, but I'm sure those concerts would be sold out long before I got there.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tokyo To Tel Aviv

I flew to Tokyo yesterday and then I'm going to Tel Aviv. The Tel Aviv trip should be standard, but the Tokyo is unusual, for a few reasons.

I've been to Tokyo, but I've always flown in to Narita Airport. That's the main international airport with most of the flights. But it's pretty far from Tokyo. They have some fast trains to get into the city, but wouldn't it be better to actually land in the city itself?

This time, I went to Haneda Airport. It's at the southern tip of the city, but at least it's actually within the city limits. The most expensive express train from Narita takes about an hour to get into the city. The cheaper trains are about 90 minutes. From Haneda, I got to my hotel in less than 30 minutes. Japanese trains run on time, so when they tell you how long it's supposed to take, that's how long it takes.

Another unusual aspect to this Tokyo trip is the hotel. I usually stay in Shibuya. I like the neighborhood and it has everything I need without having to crowd onto the JR. This time, I'm in the Ichibancho neighborhood of Chiyoda. I don't know this neighborhood at all, so it should be interesting. My first impression is that it's very quiet. It's definitely not Shibuya.

Easily the most unusual aspect of this trip to Tokyo will be the Paul McCartney concert today at the Tokyo Dome. That's something I've never done before. I've seen Paul in the United States, but never in Asia. And if you want to see Paul in Asia, you have to go to Japan. He doesn't seem to know that China exists.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/25/17

I spent a good chunk of the day reading about Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance. Unlike Mary and Molly Bell, there's a lot of information about Edna Purviance out there. But this book isn't about her either, so I think I'm satisfied with what I have.

Also completely unrelated to this story, when I was much younger and I thought I might become a famous movie star one day, I thought about thanking Edna Purviance in my first Oscar acceptance speech. Now that I'm a little older and doing absolutely nothing to become a famous movie star, I still think it would be cool if some modern star named her as an influence. Her contribution to acting in film, especially comedy, does not deserve to be as forgotten as it has.

When you're acting next to Charlie Chaplin, you're never going to be the star of the scene. He was the biggest star in the world for a reason. He could even take the focus away from children and animals. But she was incredible.

Edna Purviance

Shoulder Arms
Directed by Charles Chaplin
© 1918 Charles Chaplin

The Bond
Directed by Charles Chaplin
© 1918 Charles Chaplin

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/23/17

I've started writing one of the main characters. She's the first one to use the clever and/or stupid naming system that I think I mentioned earlier. It's not a name I would have used otherwise, so maybe it's a good idea. It's important to get out of your comfort zone as often as possible.

This story takes place in the United States, so using words in the native language that describe the character isn't going to work this time. That's what I did with the French characters in Shooting For Paris and the Israeli characters in Harmony On Spring Hill. The French isn't as obvious, but I'm almost hoping that no one who speaks Hebrew or Arabic reads the other one.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/20/17

I just finished chapter 2. Once again, finished doesn't mean finished. In fact, it's pretty short. There's no way to know how it will end up at this point, but it will either get longer or, more likely, get absorbed into chapters 1 or 3. I think it might want to be part of chapter 1.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/19/17

I wrote a scene about one of the main characters doing a photo shoot as a model. The whole time I was typing, I kept telling myself that I'd already covered that subject. But I can't change it to something else. It has to be a photo shoot. I've looked at it from a few angles and the only options I see right now are to keep it as is or cut it out entirely. If I cut it, I need to find a way to introduce the character that gets introduced at the shoot. And I'd have to change who he is and how he moves the story forward.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I guess I'll just have to repeat myself.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/18/17

I've considered making this book take place in the recent past. For now, no time period is mentioned, but I'm thinking it might be just before 2000. I wouldn't come out and say when it is. I'd just causally mention the Braves winning the World Series or that new movie about the Titanic.

That leads to a few interesting dilemmas. I know that today, in 2017, high school seniors go to professional photographers to have their senior pictures taken for the school yearbook. They're usually very individual and look nothing like the junior and sophomore pictures. Some schools give students a very wide berth. Some are more strict.

But did they do that in Southern California in the late 1990s? Or were they still using the old system where seniors had general portraits taken just like everyone else? I don't know. They say Google knows everything, but Google doesn't know either.

Amy Adams

Alec Baldwin

Larry David

Zooey Deschanel

Morgan Freeman

Zach Galifianakis

Katharine Hepburn

Robin Williams

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/17/17

What I know about tattoos could fill a postage stamp. I don't care what anyone else does with their body, but I've always considered the idea of a tattoo crazy. It's like picking out a necklace, but you have to wear it every day for the rest of your life. The style you might like now might look ugly and terribly outdated in a few years. The only way to take it off is with painful lasers or piling on more tattoo ink.

What I really don't understand are tattoos on your back or some place that you can never see. I guess it would be good to not have that constant reminder, but then what's the point?

There's no way to talk about this without some tattoo fan getting morally outraged, so I'll repeat that I don't care what anyone else does with their body. If you like tattoos, great. Go nuts.

Right now, the big trend is getting phrases stabbed into your arm or abdomen or wherever. That seems even worse than a flower to me. A sentence that you might find inspirational, deep, funny or clever might sound stupid at a later point in your life. Or you'll see the same sentence on a million other people and it won't seem so edgy anymore. Or you'll just get tired of reading it every single day.

The tattoos I like are when people get Chinese characters without being able to read a word of Chinese. I actually saw someone with “stupid foreigner” tattooed on their arm. I don't know what they were told it meant, but I doubt they knew the truth.

A few of the characters in this book have tattoos. It makes sense that they would. It's a hip trend these days. But writing about getting a tattoo doesn't work when you know nothing about getting a tattoo. Watching Popeye cartoons doesn't help.

Looking at a million pictures of tattoos, it's clear that some of this “art” really is art. Some of these people who tear ink into other people's flesh really know what they're doing. Like anything else, I'm sure it takes a lot of practice to do well. But if it's art, why put it over your butt? How often are you going to look at that?


Friday, April 14, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/14/17

And then I cut out the scene about the Brady Bunch. It doesn't help the story and was only distracting when I read it through.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/13/17

Today I wrote about the Brady Bunch. That was an odd experience. I'm familiar with the show from a pop culture perspective, but I don't think I've actually seen a single episode.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/12/17

Shopping malls are also a big thing in Southern California. I'm from Minnesota. I know a thing or two about malls. I grew up next to the oldest indoor mall in the country and the largest mall in North America. But Southern California has to be the suburban shopping mall capital of the world. They don't have the largest or smallest, oldest or newest, but the San Fernando Valley alone has at least a dozen full scale shopping malls, with another 20-30 in and around Los Angeles. You never have to drive more than 30 minutes to get to a mall.

For the record, I'm mostly looking at the Northridge Fashion Center in Northridge, which is right in the middle of some of the freeways that frame the San Fernando Valley.

Northridge Fashion Center

Beverly Center

Hollywood & Highland

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/11/17

I've finished the first chapter. It's worth noting that this is a first draft and “finished” is a relative term.

My current plan is to move on to the second chapter, but I could always go back and work on the first. More often than not, I'll go over a chapter after it's finished and rewrite whatever needs rewriting. That's also when I catch most of the typos, even though it's not anywhere close to the editing stage. By the time I start editing, I've read each chapter so many times, there really shouldn't be any typos. But you always have to keep an eye out for those little devils.

This time, I'm thinking about moving on after each chapter and just pushing forward. Sooner or later, I'll go back and read over everything. At that point, something will change. I guarantee it. I'll either make a few tweaks, edit it heavily or rewrite it entirely. I might even cut it out completely. It's too soon to say.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hailey's Novel Diary – 4/10/17

How important are grocery stores in this story? Practically irrelevant. But I know pretty much nothing about grocery stores in Southern California. I've spent more time in Santa Monica than any other part of Los Angeles, but I can't tell you anything about the grocery stores. I vaguely remember a Whole Foods. It was simply never important to me while I was there.

Most of the stores seem to be large chains that are mostly located in the western United States, and smaller independent bodegas. There's definitely no Byerly's, Kowalski’s or Seward Co-op.

From what I can tell, Ralphs seems to be the king of the San Fernando Valley. Vons is what they call Safeway in California. Gelson's is the Dean & DeLuca of Los Angeles.

The amount of time I've spent looking into this is ridiculous, especially when you consider that it doesn't affect the story at all. I could have just had them go to the grocery store, but then I realized that I didn't know anything about what that's like in Los Angeles.