Thursday, March 29, 2018

A few amusing finds in my editing today.

A few amusing finds in my editing today.

Mercedes was enraged. She was having a bad day, mental breakdown, and now she was expected to be civilized. She wanted to punch someone... again.

"If this isn't hell, get me a bus ticket."

#amediting #amwriting

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Just edited two more chapters tonight. That takes me to the half way mark. Half way through draft two. Gonna plan to...

Just edited two more chapters tonight. That takes me to the half way mark. Half way through draft two. Gonna plan to get back on task and finish up this draft by May 31. Crunch time.

What about you, lovelies? How's your writing coming these days?

#amediting #amwriting

Sunday, March 25, 2018

No bathroom breaks for spies.

No bathroom breaks for spies.

Was playing Perfect Dark a while back, because it's an epic game, and this poor woman in training desperately needed a break it seems.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stayin' Alive (cover) by Capital Cities.

Stayin' Alive (cover) by Capital Cities.

I have always loved the Bee Gees' song Stayin' Alive. And also the rap cover that came later. But I stumbled on this very 80-ish cover last week and it's everything. Prepare for glory!


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A gentleman to all people.

When I was a kid, my dad was huge on making me hold doors for people. If we were entering a restaurant or something, he'd tell me to wait and hold the door for people behind us. Many interesting things happend in those times. Some people appreciate it, and thank you. Some people love it so much, that they thank you and assume your position for the next people. Some hate it and will push the door while you're holding it, as if to say, "I could have done that." Others just don't pay attention and don't even notice you.

Sometimes the line of people coming for the door was so long, I often found myself questioning whether I should pass it off to someone else at a point. Or questioning if it was too long to wait for so many people. Sometimes there would be a large gap and I could see someone out in the parking lot coming and wonder, "Should I wait?" And then I realized that it was absurd to even question. An extra 20, 30, or even 60 seconds of waiting on someone was not going to disrupt your day. It was worth it to wait.

My dad never taught me to hold the door for "ladies" or any particular group. I believe that's because he wanted me to be a gentleman to all people. So that's what I did. No matter who was coming to the door, I would wait and let them in first. I still follow this ritual to this day. And I think we all should do the same. My dad was right -- we should be gentlemen or gentle-ladies to all people.

Dad walking on a California beach with my eldest brother in late 70s or early 80s.

Mercedes has a new home, and she's wrapped in Cellophane

I told you I had a big update on Mercedes coming, and it's huge. Big. Bigger. Enormous. Gigantuous. Okay, that's enough of that. It's just some really cool news. But I'm also wrapping this big update in Cellophane, which will make sense later down the read.

She has a new home.

What do I mean by this? Well, she's moved over to Emerald Dragon Tales. Why? Because after some hard consideration, I've decided to publish her through my publishing brand Emerald Dragon. Emerald Dragon is the same brand we used to publish the collaborative novel Fatal Flaws, and will be using to publish the second String-Along GUN soon.

What does this mean for Mercedes? It means you'll be finding a lot more about Mercedes over at the Emerald Dragon Tales website. So head over there and snatch the blog RSS feed for your Feedly or however you follow blogs. Also, sign up for the email newsletter to stay up-to-date. And check out her own page. There you'll find a list of future working titles in the series of novellas I plan to do with our frustrated hero, Mercedes Masterson.

Where are things at?

I have a first draft complete of the first novella in the series, and am halfway through editing draft 2. When the second draft is complete, I'm gonna have some beta readers give it the once over. After that, I may make some more changes. And after that, I'll need a professional to edit it, and then after all the butchering--publishing! And reading!

I can't say for sure when the first book will land, but I would like to see it land before the end of this year or at the start of the next. GUN is currently slated to unveil this year, so that is taking priority publishing-wise.

Mercedes is wrapped in Cellophane.

Way back in the day, 2005 to be precise, I wrote a screenplay for a short film and introduced Mercedes for the first time. It was primarily a character written for the purpose of giving a friend a role in the film. We were 4-5 actors wanting to make a movie and as I began work on the screenplay of choice from the group, I realized I didn't have enough characters in the original concept to fill the cast with all of us. So, I thought for a bit and asked myself what was missing from the little film noir homage I was working on. The cops. A murder took place almost immediately at the start of the script, and yet I didn't appear to have any investigation taking place around it. While the investigation of that murder was unimportant to the plot, and more importantly the character development, I still needed to show that there were consequences in this story.

My solution? I created a female homicide detective strictly for that purpose and for giving my friend, Heather, a character to play.

[caption id="attachment_1451" align="alignnone" width="2048"]10380631_10154341930240637_9003473352123772389_o Heather Jackson-Chirban, the real Mercedes Masterson.[/caption]

I can remember sitting at the PC, with huge (read thick) monitor by today's standards, trying to come up with a name before I could write the first line of her dialogue. I wanted a very traditional, noirish sounding detective name. I settled on Masterson. I also wanted a very distinct, equally fantastic first name, one that would roll right into that Masterson name well. I chose Mercedes, an homage to the character of the same name in Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. A French connection, which I liked, and felt there could always be more to that. I had it: Detective Mercedes Masterson.

When we went to film the first scene with Heather as Mercedes, something felt really right. Not only did she nail a lot of what I had in my head, she went beyond. She brought a lot of things to the table, some things I had only scratched the surface a little on in my head, others I had not even thought about. She was seeing the character on a higher level. And that brought it to my attention in a way, I had not even intended it when starting out. Remember, she was originally only a plot device.

When it came time to write the second screenplay (yes, it was planned as a trilogy), I had so much more to work with Mercedes and Heather. I knew this was a big character, and one I wanted to really develop. She became a much more prominent character in the second script, and Heather and I shared many conversations about the development of the character. That's when she shared with me a song she listened to while getting into character for the first film, a little ditty called Cellophane by Amanda Ghost. I had never heard it. But I listened to it, and liked it. It felt appropriate to the character.

I always try to keep the song Cellophane around when I'm working on Mercedes. But I hadn't really listened to it, I mean really listen, for several years. Until a few weeks ago. I set it on repeat and just listened to it over and over, each phrase of the lyrics. Really breaking it down with regards to the character. And I picked up on a lot.

Cellophane by Amanda Ghost.

A lot of this character is in this song. And so, I'd like to break down some of the ways I can I hear Mercedes in Cellophane by Amanda Ghost.

Firstly, I'd like to give credit to the songwriters: Lukas Burton, Ian Dench, Amanda Goseine (Ghost), and Sasha Skarbek. They have written a beautiful song with incredible lyrics that are very relateable.

You can listen along here:

Nobody moves me…
Right off the bat, this one grabs me. First line of the song. And truly, it would seem that nobody moves Mercedes. She has gone through a lot of relationships in her life, and from her point of view all relationships end poorly. And so the notion that nobody moves her, sounds about right to her view of the world around her and those in it.

I’ve been through this life
With no place that I can call my own…
Again. Relationships. This time on a much bigger scale. Through all of her life to date, she still can’t feel comfortable calling any place home. She’s lived in Babylon her whole life, grew up there. But it doesn’t feel like home. There’s no neighborhood she can call home, no house. No family she can call home.

I never seem to find anybody that can feel like home
And I try and I try and I try…
Carrying on with that theme, it strikes home more apparent. Despite all her trying, all the relationships she’s been through. She can’t seem to find anyone that feels like home. Someone she can call family. Someone that will always be there, through thick and thin. She tries and she tries and she tries, but all relationships end.

Funny how it feels
When there's nothing to say…
Now we’re into the chorus, out of the first verse. This little piece speaks to me about her overall social anxiety. This is only something I’ve been able to understand more accurately in recent years, as my own social anxieties have kicked in. A lot of her social anxieties are wrapped around her general distrust of people, because of previous relationships and experiences. Another reason is because of her ideals…

Trapped with my ideals
I can't contain…
If you’ve read or watched anything with Mercedes yet, you probably get this line. If not, you probably will. I always liken her as a good cop who occasionally goes vigilante when the justice system fails or is corrupt. She would burn the whole system down, if she determined it was the best possible outcome. And she surely can’t contain her ideals, as she has no problem speaking her mind in no uncertain terms.

And just to make sure there’s no confusion here, I’m not considering “ideals” with the most obvious definition. But rather as “a standard of perfection; a principle to be aimed at:” (Oxford Dictionary). She has her ideal of what justice is and anything that falls short of her definition, that standard or principle of justice, she can’t contain herself.

Nobody told me
Obsessive needs were always following me around…
I think in many ways this just speaks volumes to her overall character, and I like the idea that she’s blaming someone else. Nobody told her. Classic. But it also could be a reference to her “evil conscience” as I often refer to it. She has an identical twin so to speak, a figment of her imagination who follows her around. Occasionally appearing at the worst possible times, to give her the worst possible advice. To nag her about her obsessive needs.

And you can't ignore me…
Word that. You can’t ignore Mercedes. You can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Look at my face and then tell me my place in town…
This one grips me, because it says something but I’m not even 100% certain what it all means. I feel like this line has tapped something I haven’t even tapped into yet with Mercedes. Her trying to find her place in Babylon. I don’t think this is something I’ve even addressed in the slightest, despite having written so much about her. Having meditated so much on her and discussed her so much with Heather. I feel like there is a conversation that needs to take place around this single line. We need to look her in the face and tell her what her place is in Babylon.

And he's in and she's in and he's in and she's in…
This one speaks to me again about her many failed relationships. He’s in, she’s in, he’s in, she’s in. They’re constantly coming and going. She can never maintain a single relationship indefinitely. And that’s not to say it’s always her fault when a relationship ends, because it’s not.


This has been a tremendously fun journey going through Cellophane’s lyrics with you all. It has given me a chance to think back a lot on Mercedes. She’s come a long way. A long, long way. Long, long. Really long way. And it’s always a pleasure for me to write any story with her in it. Heather and I have tried to bring so much to this character, so much. And I’m always happy to share more of her with you all. In many ways, she’s the person we always wished we were while at the same time being someone we can relate to through the pain. She’s a beast of a character. And I hope I never tire of her.

One last bit of trivia about her conception. My original thought on the character was to create a femme fatale who was also a protagonist. I think that still applies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rapper's Delight by Sugarhill Gang.

Rapper's Delight by Sugarhill Gang.

Man, I forgot how amazing this song is... it had been too long since I listened to it. So set aside about fifteen minutes and prepare for glory. Original rap glory. And with a touch of disco.

You should probably put on some dancing shoes or kick off the ones ya got, because it's about to go down in your Google+ stream.


Saturday, March 10, 2018



That's right. A while back, they made a Doom movie. That's right, the old Doom game got the "movie" treatment. I put movie in quotes, because it's terrible. It's horrible. It's cliche.

And yet...

In recent times, I've found myself enjoying its crappiness.

It stars The Rock, Karl Urban, and Rosamund Pike. If that sounds like a good cast to you, but you aren't familiar with the movie, you might be wondering what happened.

I'll admit I'm a sucker for Karl Urban and am starting to become one for Rosamund Pike, despite that I always feel she's kinda awkward. Like a deer in a headlight awkward.

But back to the movie. It's crap. I know. A horrible blend of Resident Evil movies type horror and action. But worse. But it manages to tickle my fancy in the "I kinda like crappy movies" department.

I have the extended/unrated cut and enjoy the extra amount of cheese they've afforded me with it.

If you haven't seen it, I recommend watching it with popcorn and maybe some friends for some laughs. If you have and you feel cheated by it, because you saw it in theatre and paid a lot of money hoping it would be amazing, I'm sorry. Because it isn't. Not by a long shot.

I give it...





Friday, March 9, 2018

This is a nice feature. The info pane was always cool, but lackluster. I'm game for this.

This is a nice feature. The info pane was always cool, but lackluster. I'm game for this.

Originally shared by G Suite

ICYMI: The Google Drive preview pane is now a place of collaboration. Comment, assign tasks or mention coworkers on Office files, PDFs and images.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Was almost at my destination when Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen came on the radio. And I was like, "Great. Now I can't...

Was almost at my destination when Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen came on the radio. And I was like, "Great. Now I can't get out of my car."

This blog is 11 years old

Last month, February 7th to be precise, my blog reached a tremendous milestone. Eleven years. I started the Tales from Babylon blog on February 7, 2007. That kind of boggles the mind.

Looking back, some of the earliest memories I have of working on this blog were of sitting in a McDonald's getting in some work just before going to actual work.

While the blog has been around all that time, it's changed a lot. And even moved around. In the beginning, I was hosting it on Google's Blogger platform. At some point I moved to Office 365 for a year, using SharePoint for the front end. That was interesting and fun. The past few years though, I've been resting on WordPress of the dot and com variety. I used to hate it, but changes over the years have made it a nice place to hang your coat. Arguments could be made about all platforms. And I've tried about all of them, but I believe the ones I've ever felt comfortable moving to were Blogger, Office 365, and This platform isn't perfect, and sometimes I'm frustrated with their lack of support for certain things. But it's still good. Good enough to leave again? I don't know. I'll probably do a reassessment of my hosting platform again in the near future. But alas, BORING! You didn't come here for that.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I give you the first post on the blog: NOIR, Chapter 1. The first chapter of a novella I was working on at the time.

For those of you who have been with me or partially with me since the beginning, I thank you. And have a good read on the house. 😉