Rock a Little

Well, here we are on Saturday after a rage-infested Friday during which my anger burned with the white hot heat of a dozen burning suns. I somehow managed to get things done–the world keeps turning, no matter how shitty whatever is going on that day might be–and yet succumbed to the need to rage-tweet and retweet; Twitter is such a horrible place and it just feeds on itself.

The other day I was talking about #shedeservedit and why I wasn’t entirely comfortable promoting the book–but the abomination of the ‘supreme court’ and its rulings of this past week have completely changed my position about that entirely. I am very glad that I wrote that book, because part of its story also addresses the need for legal abortion. YES I AM PRO-CHOICE AND I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, even when I was a child. I remember when the Roe decision originally came down; I was twelve years old, and everyone was talking about it. My sister wrote an anti-abortion piece for our high school newspaper, so I knew where she came down on the issue; my parents never really talked about it but I felt pretty safe in assuming, based on their upbringing and their faith, where they came down on the issue. It seemed kind of wrong to me, but the more I read about it and the more I understood the position of those who argued in favor of it, the more I came around to the pro-choice side. No one should have to carry a child to term against their will, period. I don’t know why that is so difficult for so many men to understand or grasp; if men could get pregnant Planned Parenthood would have drive-thru service. And the right to privacy these judicial activists just struck down? The ripples of government intervention into personal life choices that are none of the government’s or anybody else’s decisions is the epitome of government intervention and overreach that conservatives are always screaming about. The abominable sexual predator Clarence Thomas* even specifically named other decisions regarding privacy and government overreach he felt were ‘wrongly decided.’ Hey, if I was married to one of the biggest traitors in American history this side of Benedict Arnold I’d probably have all the seats and keep my mouth shut, but you do you, predator.

Sigh. I’ll probably never stop being angry about this.

I did manage to get some things done yesterday. I did my day job duties. I also took a short break to go wash and vacuum out my car (I finally found a do-it-yourself car wash that is easy to get to); I also got my brake tag renewed, which was marvelous. (It expired during the shutdown of 2020, and there were no places open to have it done. Naturally, I forgot all about it until a conversation at the office the other day.) I don’t have to worry about that again until 2024. I also picked up the mail and came back home to do more work. After my work duties were finished, I made three binders for working projects–yes, this is something that I do. I print out every draft, three hole punch it, and put into a three-ring binder used specifically for that purpose. I had recently emptied out the binder for A Streetcar Named Murder, and so I am reusing that one of Mississippi River Mischief. I also made a new one for Chlorine, one for “Never Kiss a Stranger ” (and the other novellas), and one for another project I am slowly but surely working on for some reason that doesn’t really make sense to me; someone has shown an interest in it and so I am writing it when I can’t make any progress on what I am currently focused on working on. Today I have an eye appointment in Metairie at noon; I’m debating as to whether to donate books to the library today to get the boxes out of the living room before heading out there. I am probably going to treat myself to Atomic Burger on the way home–I was thinking Sonic, but I’ve not had Atomic Burger since pre-pandemic times so that sounds like more of a treat for me than going to Sonic. (it’s also been a hot minute since I’ve had Five Guys…)

We watched this week’s episode of The Boys last night (thoroughly enjoyed the season finale of Obi-wan Kenobi the night before) before catching another episode of Loot (seriously, Maya Rudolph is killing it on this show; one of the best female comedy performances since Veep–she and Jean Smart will be definitely fighting it out for the Emmy this year, and the entire cast is actually quite good. Very sharp comedic writing, as well, and then once we were caught with that we moved on to First Kill, which we are still enjoying, weird as it is. I also want to spend some time today with The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver–it’s quite wonderful–before I head out to the burbs. (I also laundered the bed linens and got caught up on the dishes as well.) I do want to finish reading it this weekend, so I can find out where it’s going and enjoy every page as well as to move on to my next read before Pride Month runs out. I have all these marvelous books just collecting dust here in the Lost Apartment, and just begging to be read.

On that note, I am going to make myself another cup of coffee and head over to the easy chair with my book before I have to start getting ready to head out to the eye appointment. Have a great Saturday, and remember–channel your rage into action. To quote Game of Thrones, “there is no justice in this world unless we make it.” I intend to spend the rest of my life, as I have spent so much of it already, fighting for justice. I’d kind of hoped that I wouldn’t have to anymore, but letting your guard down just gives the Fascists an opportunity to regroup.

“Henceforth I shall only refer to him in this manner, just as Kavanaugh will always be “the rapist Brett Kavanaugh.”

After the Glitter Fades

Well, I never thought I’d make it here in Hollywood…

That’s the opening line of today’s title, lifted from Stevie Nicks’ classic song from her debut solo album, Bella Donna, which is from beginning to end one of my favorite albums (and one I need to listen to more). But it’s an unusual work-at-home Friday for one Gregalicious, and I have data to enter as well as other things to do for the day job while I am here at home today–and I am going to take a break later on to get my brake tag, wash the car, and pick up the mail–all of which will be super fun in the heat advisory. Woo-hoo!

It is amazing what a difference not getting up to an alarm at six makes. I woke up at six on my own, and went back to sleep for about another hour and I feel absolutely marvelous and rested this morning, which is a good thing. I have a lot to do today–data entry, some errands (odious ones, at that)–but I feel like if I can stay focused, I have the energy to get through the day preparatory for going into the weekend relaxed. I do have an eye appointment in Metairie tomorrow (sigh), but I think I may treat myself to an Atomic Burger or something since I have to go out there. Paul will be gone–he has his trainer in the late morning and then either rides the bike at the gym for the rest of the day, or goes to the office (he’s working on yet another grant)–so I hope to get home from that appointment and do some more writing. I’ve been working on this draft I’d hoped to have finished by the end of the month (ha ha ha, I am 750 words into Chapter Two), but a good push over the weekend should have it in good shape by Monday–or so I hope at any rate.

I also sent out early, unfinished copies of A Streetcar Named Murder to some author friends who all graciously agreed to read it for potential cover blurbs; this is a weird part of this business that I am not entirely certain I completely am comfortable with–never have been, and generally I just skip this part and just reuse the ones I asked for and have gotten over the past twenty years, but since this is something entirely new for me I thought it was probably better to start from scratch. Which, of course, is nerve-wracking; it’s always nerve-wracking to have something you’ve written in the hands of people you deeply admire and respect. Fingers crossed.

We watched some more of First Kill on Netflix, which is an interesting take on the original romance story on Teen Wolf, only the couple are lesbian teenagers, and instead of a werewolf, the “monster” half is a vampire. It’s clever and interesting and has really funny moments; it’s also some interesting world-building as it seems to be creating its own supernatural mythology–also interesting. We then watched two episodes of Maya Rudolph’s new show on Apple, Loot, which is really funny; Rudolph and the rest of the cast are great and the writing is as well. Highly recommended; more to come as we watch more of each show.

I also hope to finish reading The Savage Kind this weekend–I just keep falling further and further behind on my reading, but coming home after work in the heat, and running errands in it after a long day at the office, has had me brain-dead when I get home and I just can’t focus on reading anything. I hate that, and I kind of blame the pandemic for the shortening of my attention span and how much easier I lose focus than I used to back in the day.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. The kitchen is a disaster area that needs cleaning before I start doing my data entry and get going on my work day, and none of this stuff is going to do itself, so it’s on me as always. Heavy heaving sigh. But happy Friday, everyone!

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around

Thursday and my last day in the office this week. Huzzah! Which means I do not have to get up at six tomorrow morning, which is lovely, and next week my work at home day is Monday, so I don’t have to be back in the office until Tuesday, which is kind of nice. I need to do a couple of errands tomorrow–brake tag and wash the car–but I am also kind of hoping against hope that I can make it to the gym tomorrow in the early evening as well. I hate that the first thing to go out the window whenever I am overwhelmed with work are the two things I enjoy most in life and are, really, things that are just for me: working out and writing.

I entered #shedeservedit for the Thriller Award for Best Children’s/Young Adult this week; I am not sure if there’s any point, really, but you cannot complain about queer books not making award shortlists if you don’t enter your own and encourage every other queer writer to do so as well. I am also entering it for the Edgars. Dream big, Gregalicious.

I have to admit I’ve not really been promoting #shedeservedit the way I should be, and I am not entirely sure why that is. Every step of the way of writing that book I was worried about whether I was the right person to tell that story or not…something I would have never even thought about ten years ago. I still don’t think I would have been the right person to tell the story had the main pov character been a girl; making it a guy, seeing everything that was going on in Liberty Center from a male teenager who is also on the football team, for me, made it more palatable–and it’s not just the story of the toxic masculinity and the rape culture permeating the town of Liberty Center: there’s a whole lot of just plain wrong going on in that town, and my main character, Alex, was affected and damaged by all of it, even as (sometimes) merely a witness to the shenanigans. Everything has a ripple effect, after all. But at the same time, the book has a content warning–which, I am ashamed to admit, never crossed my mind that it would need when I was writing it. How would a young woman who has experienced this, or knows someone who has, react to reading this story? That thought also kind of made me pull back a bit from the promotional stuff. Even with a content warning, is what happens in the book–even though it’s all already happened, and is seen only through flashbacks–going to be too difficult for a young woman (or a young man, for that matter) who has experienced something similar to read? The book has been out in the world now for over five months, it has a four and a half star rating on Amazon (I will not look at Goodreads, and no one can make me go to that barren hellscape for authors)…but at the same time there hasn’t been any pushback thus far on the book–which also doesn’t mean it won’t eventually happen, either.

But this week, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed (I honestly don’t know why I do this. Sometimes I have fun joking around with my friends there, and I’ve seen posts about books that I went on to read and enjoy, but for far too large a percentage of the time I have to step away from it in revulsion when I see how truly terrible so many people are willing to be behind the anonymity of a computer screen, a cartoon avatar, and a fake name…and how many more are unashamed to reveal their monstrous true selves with their actual names and images proudly on display for everyone to see) and I came across a piece from The Cut, which is a part of New York magazine and Vulture and I am not sure what all other websites and so forth are involved in that tangled mess of on-line and print publications. It purported to be about a high school teenager who “made a mistake” and “got canceled by his school.”

Ah, another story about the evils of cancel culture, I thought to myself, should I bother?

Reader, I bothered. And dear God in heaven, I am so sorry I did. If you want to read the nauseating swill for yourself, if it is still up, it can be found here: https://www.thecut.com/article/cancel-culture-high-school-teens.html. If you have high blood pressure, I would advise against it.

What makes the entire thing worse, in my opinion, is of course they assigned this piece to a woman. There’s a reason why men accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault will inevitably hire a female defense attorney–it subliminally communicates to the jury would a woman defend this person if he were a rapist? No woman would take on such a case! But when I was doing my research for #shedeservedit, one of the things I noted was how many women didn’t believe the girls, how many of their peers didn’t believe the girls, and that the nastiest and most vicious critics of the victims were other women/girls. I remember reading about Brock Turner’s mother, weeping and sobbing about how her son’s life was being ruined (implied: by that drunk slut!); the former girlfriend who wrote a character reference letter for him to the judge, and on and on. (I always wonder–as I did with Brock Turner–does he have any sisters or female first cousins? What do they think about this?)

Anyway, the author of this piece–whose sympathies are entirely with this boy whose only regret for sharing nude pictures of his girlfriend with his friends (when he was “drunk,” because I guess that makes it okay) is that he was shunned by his entire high school–misses the lede in this article so many times. She is so desperate to make us all feel bad for this kid for being made to feel the absolute least amount of consequence possible for his actions that she misses that the girls at this school felt so betrayed and dismissed by the system–which is supposed to protect them–that they took action on their own. That is the story here–what the students had to step up to do because THE ADULTS and the SCHOOL SYSTEM failed them.

But no, we get another “oh this poor boy”. (Who went to four proms and is leaving for college in the fall, where none of this will follow him.) By a woman writer who, per Wikipedia, has teenaged daughters of their own. How must THEY feel when reading their mother’s latest work?

Not even ten years ago the victims in Steubenville and Marysville were the ones shunned; not the guys who got them wasted and took advantage of them. (At least the Steubenville victim got some justice, as two of the boys were convicted; the poor girl in Marysville got nothing but slut-shamed and eventually she committed suicide.)

My original inspiration for writing this book honestly came back in the early 1990’s. Remember the Spur Posse at Lakewood High School? (No less an august literary figure than Joan Didion herself wrote about the Spur Posse, in her New Yorker piece “Trouble in Lakewood.”) I thought I had read about the Spur Posse in Rolling Stone–which, let’s face it, I was more likely to read at the time than the New Yorker–and was completely appalled…I sat down and started writing an idea for a book based on it, where the girls of the school, getting nowhere with the police and the school administration and so forth, become ‘avenging angels’ to publicly shame and embarrass the boys…and then they start dying. I wrote a couple of chapters, created some characters, and titled it When Stallions Die (stallions, obviously, a stand-in for Spur Posse); I always meant to swing back around to it at some point because it was an interesting idea (if you agree, you should read Lisa Lutz’ brilliant The Swallows from a few years’ back) and I still might–one never knows. But it was the Spur Posse situation that made me start thinking–long and hard–about sexual assault and sexual misconduct, victim-blaming and slut-shaming, and the weird need that some women have to protect men at any cost: “boys will be boys,” “any red-blooded American boy”…”locker room talk.”

And since I had been wanting to write a Kansas book, and had been playing around with a story for a small city in Kansas, its teens, and its high school football team, #shedeservedit kind of evolved from there.

I don’t know why I am so reluctant and/or nervous to promote the book. It was a deeply personal book for me to write (as was Bury Me in Shadows), and yes, I put a lot of my teenaged self into that book–not the surface Greg everyone saw and knew, but the interior Greg, the one who was so deeply miserable and unhappy and alone on the inside.

Wow, this rambled on for a lot longer than I expected it to! That article clearly pissed me off, did it not?

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines.

Leather and Lace

Wednesday and pay-the-bills day. Huzzah?

Note to self: at least you can pay the bills without worry. Not everyone can say that, chuckles.

We were in a heat advisory yesterday and I haven’t acclimated to the summer yet. I ran errands after work yesterday, and was exhausted by the time I got home. Paul had worked at home yesterday, so shortly after I got home we started watching television–we started The Ipcress File, which is extremely well done, but Paul wasn’t enjoying it as much as I was, so after three episodes we switched over to First Kill, which isn’t bad but is essentially the same set-up, kind of, as the original storyline of Teen Wolf, only with vampires. There’s a family of vampires and a family of monster-hunters; naturally the hunter daughter and the vampire daughter–both of whom need to get their first kills (hence the title)–are attracted to each other, which sets up an interesting twist on the usual Romeo and Juliet type romantic tragedy. It was entertaining enough to keep watching, even if it is the same essential story as the Scott/Allison romance from the first seasons of Teen Wolf, without the homoeroticism.

I also got my first page pass copy of A Streetcar Named Murder yesterday; I gradually read my way through yesterday to get a sense of the book now and see if it all coalesced; I think it did and it reads very well. I did see a lot of mistakes–missing words, typos, etc.–that are going to need to be corrected, so I will spend some time with it this weekend taking notes of those issues so they can be corrected in the final edition. I am starting to get excited about the book’s pending release (December) rather than terrified; I also have to go blurb-shopping for it, which is my least favorite (well, one of my least favorite) things to do as a writer. I have a pretty healthy list of people to ask, so here’s hoping some of them say yes to me. Fingers crossed, everyone!

I didn’t write or read yesterday when I got home from work–Paul, as I said, was at home and running errands in the late afternoon/early evening heat/humidity had essentially worn me down–and as such, the kitchen is a complete disaster area this morning again. The dishwasher isn’t working again–it is full of water in the bottom, which probably means that a mouse has eaten through the hose one more time–but I honestly don’t mind washing the dishes by hand; I always do anyway before I load them in the dishwasher anyway (that’s another quirk you can blame on my mother), but it’s great to have the dishwasher racks as a place for the dishes to dry so it doesn’t take up my limited counter space (which I have to clean off completely when I get home from the office tonight). I do need to both read and write tonight; I hate this yearly adaptation to the heat. But you do eventually get used to opening the front door and stepping into a sauna, or leaving the office and sitting in my car that has been out in the sun all day and feels like a preheated oven when I get in–the buckle of my seat belt was too hot to touch yesterday so had to use my shirt to grip it. Madness.

I also got some great stuff–yes, more books–in the mail yesterday. I meant to take a picture of them for social media but…no clear space on the counters. Heavy heaving sigh. I also want to make a cucumber salad recipe I saw on the New York Times cooking section; my avocados have ripened and now I have to worry about them turning before I use them. So, when I get home tonight I need to do some laundry, put some dishes away, clear off the counters, make cucumber salad, do some writing and then some reading. Hopefully I’ll have time to get all this done this evening.

And on that hopeful note, I am heading into the spice mines on this “Pay the Bills” Day–and I should probably, you know, pay the bills.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Nightbird

Tuesday and back to the office. Huzzah?

I guess. It doesn’t feel like I accomplished much this weekend, but that’s nothing new. I always feel like I should have done more when the weekend–especially a long one–has ended; but I am trying not to beat myself up as much over stuff like this as I used to. It’s not good for my mental health, for one–always a shaky thing at the best of times–and it’s counter-productive. I feel very strongly that one should never regret things–no regrets is kind of a mantra of mine–because regret is really a waste of time and energy. You can’t change it, after all. (I am not saying this rule should apply to everything–murder, for example–but for anything that isn’t a crime, you should have no regrets. All you can do is change the behavior and not repeat it if you feel regret but wallowing in the regret is counter-productive and kind of self-defeating. I think you get the point. I’ve not had enough coffee to be certain I am making the point properly.) I didn’t finish reading my book, I didn’t write nearly as much as I could have, and I certainly didn’t get the apartment as clean and organized as I would have preferred. But it’s also a short work week, we have a regular weekend coming up and then another three day holiday after that; and then I am off to Florida for Sleuthfest–which makes that an even shorter week than usual. And since yesterday was a holiday, I actually get to use my Friday as my work-at-home day of the week. Huzzah! That will be nice, and I have all kinds of things I can take home and do this Friday.

We finished watching The Defeated last night and it’s really quite good. It was originally released in 2020 and approved for a second season, but the pandemic interfered and it looks like they went into production sometime last year, but where is the second (and final) season? It’s really good–if you enjoy Babylon Berlin or have any interest in the second world war and it’s aftermath, you’ll really like this show.

Well, yesterday I ran my errands–Metairie and the North Shore–and after I was finished and heading back home, I realized something: you can actually tell where an area falls on the political landscape based on the length of the drive-thru line at a Chik-Fil-A. The one in Metairie on Veteran’s Boulevard yesterday, for example–was so long it backed out onto Veterans and was blocking a lane of traffic. No offense to right-wingers, but there’s really no fast food in the world good enough for me to sit in a drive-thru line that would take that long (although now it occurs to me that it could also be an indication of how slow the line moves, which again–no fast food is so fucking good that it’s worth waiting in line for a minimum of twenty minutes for).

It was exhausting, of course–the heat index was well over a hundred yesterday–but it was also a beautiful day for a drive across the lake. I used to loathe driving over the causeway bridge, and it’s still not a favorite thing for me to do (the five dollar toll to come back to the south shore doesn’t help; yes, it’s free to go to the north shore but you have to pay to come to the south; just like when the Crescent City Connection was a toll bridge going to the West Bank was free but you had to pay to come back to New Orleans), but I’ve adapted and can now relax (depending on the idiot drivers, of course; there are always a few) as I drive across and enjoy looking at the beautiful expanse of water. The bridge is twenty-four miles long, so you can reach a point where you can’t see land in any direction, like you’re out there in the middle of the water with no end to it in sight–I think that was what always used to bother me about driving across the bridge. The north shore is also actually quite beautiful, too–you really feel like you’re in the South on the North Shore, more so than on the south shore, where it feels like Louisiana, if that makes sense? (although it would make for an interesting thing to write about in a Scotty book, hmmm) I do wish I had more free time, because I would like to go exploring around the city a bit more–the north shore, the river and bayou parishes–but the cost of gas is also making such explorations prohibitive. Maybe over the 4th of July weekend I can head down to the river parishes….I kind of need to for this new Scotty book. Then again, I am inventing a parish out of my imagination, but it also doesn’t hurt to ground a fictional parish in reality, either.

And on that note, I need to head into the spice mines. Happy Tuesday and will chat at you again tomorrow, Constant Reader.

Beauty and the Beast

Holiday Monday, which is celebrating Juneteenth (if you want to know more about the holiday, this is a great place to start). It’s hard to believe, and more than a little sad, that it took until recently for this to become a federally recognized holiday. Honestly.

Better late than never, I suppose–which is hardly any consolation, really.

But it’s nice to have another three-day weekend (I can’t remember which holiday we gave up for this one at my dayjob, but we only are allowed no more than eight holidays for some reason), and I slept late again this morning. The cappuccino yesterday morning had no effect on my sleep, so I am having another one this morning, which is lovely. I really do love the way they taste; I just wish making them wasn’t so complicated and dirtied up so much stuff. I made Swedish meatballs yesterday afternoon and that mess still needs to be cleaned up as well. Heavy sigh. What can I say? I got caught up in watching television once the meal was ready and stayed in my easy chair until it was time for bed. We watched the new episode of Becoming Elizabeth, which isn’t bad but it’s not overly compelling either–which is weird, because the period between Henry VIII’s death in 1547 and Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1558 was very fraught and very dangerous (Anya Seton brilliantly captured this period in her seminal novel Green Darkness, which I highly recommend along with the warning “it’s quite long”); but it’s not really translating to the screen very well in this production. I also spent some more time with John Copenhaver’s marvelous The Savage Kind, which I hope to do again today.

We also started watching an amazing show on Netflix that originally dropped in 2020 and whose second season was endlessly delayed by the pandemic (I checked it out on-line as we watched) called The Defeated starring Taylor Kitsch as a Brooklyn homicide detective who is “loaned” to a small precinct in the American sector of Berlin in 1946 to help rebuild their station along American police standards; which is a challenge. None of the people working as cops there have any experience in being police officers; some are young boys while the majority are women. The Germans aren’t allowed to have guns, so they have an “arsenal” where they keep their bedposts and other wooden sticks; the Russians are horrible; and Kitsch himself is looking for his brother, a soldier with mental problems who’s gone AWOL and whom Kitsch suspects is targeting and murdering Nazis. It’s extremely well done–think Babylon Berlin but only in another twenty years–and it also asks a lot of ethical and moral questions that really don’t have answers. The woman who runs the station, is the “superintendent” or captain of the squad–wasn’t a Nazi but her protestations about “we weren’t all Nazis” have the same credibility of a prisoner at Angola claiming innocence: no one admits to being a Nazi once the war was lost, after all. At one point she says, very poignantly, “The war is over and the entire world hates us because of what we did, or allowed, and who can blame them?” This seems particularly poignant given the current political climate in our country; I know it seems extreme, but I’ve seen other people comment on Twitter and other social media about how they feel sometimes like “they are living in Weimar Germany and it’s just a matter of time.”

I know I’ve certainly felt that way at times.

We also watched a classic old Bette Davis film, The Letter, which I’d realized I’d never seen yesterday so I pulled it up and started watching. I had read the original short story by Somerset Maugham a few years ago for the Short Story Project, and enjoyed it tremendously. The story is told from the lawyer’s point of view, while the movie certainly shifts the focus over to Leslie Crosbie, wife of a Malaysian rubber plantation owner, who shoots and kills a man she accuses of trying to rape her. Everyone believes Leslie…but you see, there is this letter that exists that contradicts her story, and the more lies she tells, the less her lawyer believes her–although he ultimately pays a blackmailer to get the letter back so she escapes conviction. In the story it’s all from the lawyer’s point of view; she’s merely the wife of a friend he is taking on as a favor, and he doesn’t know her well…but as he (the lawyer) discovers the existence of the letter and recovers it, he slowly begins to see through her lies and to see her as she really is. He doesn’t expose her–he allows her to escape her punishment–but he confronts her with the letter after the verdict and she confesses everything…only to return to her loveless marriage at the rubber plantation. The story and the movie both are steeped with the Imperialistic and racist overtones of the time the story was written and the film made; the ending of the movie is different than that of the story because of course, for the Hays Code of the time she couldn’t be seen as not being “punished” for her crime; she is murdered at the end by the Eurasian widow of the man she killed (his marriage to this mixed-race woman is what sets the tragedy in motion) during a party celebrating her verdict. There was one scene in particular that really made me shake my head: after she has told her story of being almost raped and committing murder to protect herself, she makes dinner for her husband, a friend of the family, and the local police magistrate and they sit around eating and talking about things like nothing’s happened. As we watched this season, Paul–who had no idea of what the movie was about–said, “Oh, he didn’t try to rape her, did he? She’s a cold-blooded killer.” GREG: “It’s Bette Davis, what do you think?”

Although it did make me think about false accusations of rape again, which is one of the myriad of reasons women generally tend to not be believed about being assaulted. There’s probably a really good essay to be written about that.

I also wrote yesterday, which was really lovely. I managed to get the first chapter of that manuscript written; I plan to look at it again today and tweak it a bit. I have a lengthy errand to run–must go over to the North Shore–and when I get home, I plan to write for a while before retiring to my easy chair with my Copenhaver book (I am really enjoying it, y’all) before we finish watching The Defeated (y’all, it’s really good). I’m not sure if what I wrote yesterday is actually any good or not; it remains to be seen, I suppose, and let’s face it, I am not (nor have I ever been) the best judge of my own work. But we shall see today, I suppose. It felt good to be creating again and it felt good to be finishing something, even if it’s just a shitty draft. I’d like to be able to get a lot more written today, if I can…

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Talk soon, Constant Reader!

Kind of Woman

Sunday morning and to celebrate the holiday weekend, I decided to not only sleep in–almost till nine!–and then made myself a cappuccino when I finally rolled out of my bed. I feel marvelously rested, which is lovely, and the cappuccino is amazing. (I was only going to have one, but I may have a second…but then I worry about sleep tonight and sigh.) I hope to have a marvelously productive day–yesterday wasn’t that productive–and I think I can power through everything I want, or would like, to get done today.

Or I may not.

I didn’t do much writing yesterday, alas, but I did get some done. I did my self-care errand (Ugh, such modesty; I don’t know why I am being so coy. I got my back waxed, but don’t come for me. I don’t care if other people are into body hair, I don’t care if other people like having hair on their backs. I am not one of those people. If I am not saying too much, I am very hairy and since I can’t see it, in my head I always imagine it’s much worse than it probably is, and I don’t like it. I feel better when my back is smooth, okay?) After that I went to the post office and picked up the mail (which included such marvelous books as The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames; The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas–which I want to read back-to-back with Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; and It Dies with You by Scott Blackburn, a debut) and then did the making groceries thing. By the time I had done all that the heat and humidity had sapped my strength, so I decided to take a break once the groceries were done and watch the rest of Slow Burn, that Watergate documentary series I mentioned the other day. Scooter, of course, seized that opportunity to turn my lap into his bed, and that lulled me into a sense of relaxation that also turned into my rewatching Tootsie on HBO MAX rather the reading–Paul got home while I wasn’t very far into it, but I was already not enjoying it. (I’d forgotten that Michael Dorsey doesn’t decide to pretend to be Dorothy Michaels until at least twenty to thirty minutes into the film, while the time before that is spent showing us what a horrible, difficult, narcissist he was before he got in touch with his feminine side…which isn’t fun at all.) I’d seen the film in the theater–in those halcyon days of the early 1980’s before we truly discovered how horrible Ronald Reagan really was and what he was going to to do to the country; Tootsie was the latest in what could be considered an attempt to “queer” the movies; it came out in the same year Victor/Victoria did (we rewatched that recently to see if it had aged well or had become problematic; it actually does) but I suspected that Tootsie–the year’s other “gender bender” comedy, probably did not. When I mentioned how unlikable the Michael character was and how hard the opening of the movie was to watch again, Paul smirked, “Oh, you mean when Dustin Hoffman was playing Dustin Hoffman?” I laughed–but he wasn’t wrong.

Paul and I then watched a four hour documentary series about fundamentalist Mormons–you may remember the ones with the compound in the early aughts, whose children were taken away because they not only subscribed to plural marriage but also to child marriage and conception? (Girls under the age of consent were being given to men sometimes three or four times their age as wives and had children; yet another example of who the real fucking groomers are.) It’s called Keep Sweet–the credo of the fundamentalist Mormons for how women should behave, which is horrifying in and of itself–and it was terribly interesting. We then caught this week’s episode of The Boys (huzzah for adding Jensen Ackles to the cast!), and then of course, retired to bed. I also did some cleaning and organizing yesterday, which was nice–and I did get a few chapters into John Copenhaver’s marvelous The Savage Kind, which is really compelling. I did do some writing–not much, but some, and the character in that project is starting to come to life, and this is really my favorite part of writing. Yes, it’s daunting to start writing a new book project–knowing there’s so much more work to come–but this is the part where all the possibilities are swirling and other characters are trying to take shape and I am also trying to figure out how to shape the story. I also thought about how to develop and carry the chapter I was working on forward, so hopefully today I can get that done as well as some other structuring and planning for the rest of it. I also want to work a bit on “Never Kiss a Stranger” today; I am feeling like my creative mojo is back in some ways and I really want to take advantage of that while it lasts. And of course, I need to get some things done for Scotty, too.

I am also going to spend some more time with John Copenhaver’s book this morning as my mind and body continue to wake up. I am almost finished with this cappuccino, but I am afraid I’ll probably have to switch to regular coffee rather than having another one; far, far too much caffeine that I will most likely never wear out of my system today. But….that doesn’t mean I can’t have one tomorrow; maybe I can have one a day before switching to regular coffee? I guess we’ll see how it affects my sleep tonight. Fingers crossed that it will be not at all. I’ve been sleeping well for quite some time now; let’s hope the cappuccino doesn’t fuck that all up.

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee, take Copenhaver with me to the easy chair, and read for about an hour or so. Have a lovely Sunday/Father’s Day, everyone.

Garbo

Saturday morning and I feel rested, somewhat. Later today I get to head out into the heat to run errands–one of which involves self-care, so we’re counting that as a necessity, and I also figured it was easier to do all the errands I need to run all at the same time to get them out of the way. On the Monday holiday I intend to return to the gym for the first time in months (huzzah!). I got to sleep in all the way till eight this morning, which is pretty amazing for me lately. I also got most of my chores around the kitchen done last night–the few that are left I will get to over the course of the morning, before I have to get cleaned up and head out for the errands–and Paul didn’t get home terribly late. We watched the new Emma Thompson movie on Hulu, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, which wasn’t bad–nothing like I expected, but enjoyable; Emma Thompson is always fantastic in everything she does–and then two more episodes of Why Are You Like This?, which continues to amuse us. While I was waiting for Paul I started watching a documentary series on Epix about Watergate–I watched the first episode about Martha Mitchell, since we’d just watched Gaslit–and then I was watching the last episode (I know the sequence of events and I know the story, so watching the entire thing in order wasn’t necessary), which was about the Saturday Night Massacre. I think it’s good that Watergate is getting talked about again since we are in the midst of more congressional investigations into the possible criminality of a president; it’s also interesting seeing that some of the same players–Roger Stone, for example–were involved then as they are now. The short term memory of our collective nation is appalling, really; it’s also appalling that there are people who continue to support a criminal even as the depth of the criminality is exposed as even more reprehensible in fact then it appeared from the outside.

I mean, no one’s talking about or reporting on Ukraine anymore, it seems; it’s like that war is over and we’ve all moved on to the next bright, shiny object. Guess what? It’s not.

Today I am going to do background work when I get home from the errands (and shower again). I managed to get some work done on a project yesterday, which was lovely; so today I kind of want to do some writing–always need to do some, every day, no matter what–as well as planning, and then I am going to curl up in my easy chair with Scooter in my lap and The Savage Kind by John Copenhaver in my hands. Tomorrow I hope to spend mostly reading and writing all day–we’ll see how that goes–and the same for the work holiday on Monday (I also have to run an errand to the North Shore that morning). The excitement truly never stops around here…but I am feeling good again this morning, just as I did yesterday morning, so that’s always a good thing. (I am worried that the heat outside, however, will defeat my good intentions and wear me out by the time I get home; we are at that point already in the summer where going outside is exhausting. It’s amazing the way heat and humidity can leech the energy right out of you.) But i must say it felt really good to write some last night–which was a lovely change from the recent “pulling teeth with pliers” way it’s been going lately, and even after I stopped writing (Scooter was most insistent that I provide a lap for him to sleep in) I was still thinking about what I had written and what I would write next on that particular project.

Which makes for a lovely change from the malaise I’ve been going through since I finished the edits of Streetcar.

I also need to edit and rework some short stories; I want to get some submissions out before the end of the month. Some of which will be long shots, as always; others more of a safe bet, but everything in this business is a crap shoot. I think part of the problem I’ve been having is that I don’t have a clear picture of what I want to write and what I want to submit and when things need to be turned in and so forth. I had hoped to have a second short story collection ready to go this year, but I don’t think that is going to happen–which is okay; I’d also wanted all the novellas to be finished and turned into a book this year as well. Ah, well, dreams die first.

And on that note, I am going to head into the spice mines. I have an appointment at eleven, and I need to get ready for that as well as stop to air up my tires on the way there. I hope to be home around two from everything, and yes, I will be completely drained and exhausted from being out navigating the heat and so forth, as well as lugging groceries in from the car. Heavy heavy sigh. But best to get it over with and out of the way today…and we shall see how the rest of the day goes.

Have a happy Saturday, Constant Reader!

Stand Back

New York City, NY, June 16, 2022 – Mystery Writers of America announces the establishment of the Lilian Jackson Braun Award for the best full-length, contemporary cozy mystery published by an MWA-approved publisher. This annual award comes with a $2,000 prize as the result of a generous endowment to MWA by the late Lilian Jackson Braun, who died in 2011 at the age of 97. Braun was the New York Times bestselling author of the “The Cat Who…” series of amateur sleuth mysteries which spanned 29 books published between 1966 and 2007. Featuring clever Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum, who lived with grumpy newspaper reporter James Qwilleran, her books sold millions of copies and were published in 16 languages.

“Lilian Jackson Braun is a legend in the mystery community,” stated Greg Herren, the Executive Vice-President of Mystery Writers of America. “Her incredibly generous bequest to MWA was a very pleasant surprise and will enable us to fund some exciting new projects and programs to benefit our membership. It felt appropriate to honor her career and her legacy in this way.”

“I’m thrilled that MWA is finally recognizing the cozy mystery as the powerhouse literary sub-genre that it is,” said Diane A.S. Stuckart, author of the NYT bestselling Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series written as Ali Brandon. “I grew up reading “The Cat Who” books, and my inspiration to write cozy mysteries came directly from my enjoyment of Lilian Jackson Braun’s work.”

Debra H. Goldstein, chair of the MWA committee that created the LJB award and author of Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series explained that “In crime fiction, the cozy sub-genre often is compared to the Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire movies because like Rogers doing everything backwards and in heels, cozy mysteries must stick the whodunit with a solid plot and characters without putting the blood and gore on the page. Consequently, Mystery Writers of America’s honoring of the cozy mystery demonstrates its understanding of the importance and complexity of the sub-genre.”

Honoring Braun’s legacy, any book submitted for consideration for the LJB award must be a contemporary cozy mystery with a current day setting and the story emphasis on solving a crime, usually a murder. As with Braun’s work, eligible stories will be light in tone, often humorous. While the book may reference serious themes or subject matter, it does so in a non-heavy-handed manner. The crime itself must be solved in a satisfactory manner by the end of the story.

Judging will be done by an MWA-appointed committee of cozy mystery authors, and the winner will be announced at the annual Edgar Award banquet in New York City each Spring. Rules for eligibility and submission may be found here.

Please contact the MWA national office if you have any questions.

It’s Impossible

FRIDAY!

I always like Fridays mainly because I can sleep a little later than I am used to–after three completely hideous mornings of getting up at six; it really is relative, isn’t it? I mean, I just get up an hour later than I do on those mornings, and yet it feels like I slept for twenty years or something. Just can me Greg Van Winkle–although I think falling asleep in 2022 for twenty years would be terrifying when you woke up; imagine the leap from 2002 to now.

But for whatever reason I feel good this morning, whether it’s the sleep or whatever, and that’s a very good feeling. I feel rested and relaxed, which is always a lovely feeling, and I am looking forward to a three day weekend. I am going to read and write and do all kinds of things–as always, I have an ambitious plan for the weekend–but tomorrow I am doing some self-care (which is always lovely) before I run my errands, and I am going to try to get that all out of the way tomorrow, so I don’t really have to leave the house much the rest of the weekend, other than going to the gym (oh, yes, that’s on the list for this weekend) and an errand I have to run Monday. I am hoping to start and finish John Copenhaver’s The Savage Kind this weekend, and while I have an enormous TBR pile, I really should just read queer books this month. I think I’ll start revisiting Joseph Hanson, and I’ve also got The Devil’s Chewtoy in the pile as well. And hopefully, I’ll get some writing done this weekend as well. I didn’t work on “Never Kiss a Stranger” yesterday; instead I worked on another project that a publisher has shown interest in, but I need to get it figured out and a draft written. I’d originally planned to get that draft written this month–I am so far off schedule this year that it isn’t funny–but it does interest me and I played around with it a while last night before we finished watching The Victim, which is really well done. We also watched the new episode of Obi-wan Kenobi, and I don’t understand what the on-line bitching by the male virgins in the basement is all about. Why is it so difficult for people to grasp that there would be non-white humans in space in the future as well as a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

Although I suppose their preference would be an all-white universe.

Sad.

I was thinking last night–while I was waiting for Paul to come downstairs and watch television with me; as pop culture list videos autoplayed on Youtube while I doom-scrolled on my iPad–about writerly ticks; things I always seem to wind up writing about a lot more than I should; like of course I am reading something Greg wrote, because here is the part where there’s a thunderstorm or ah, there it is–the car accident Scotty gets into in every book (and sometimes Chanse, too) or ah, this must be New Orleans as written by Greg because its all about hot and humid. One of the reasons I do love living in New Orlenas is because I love rain. One of the things I miss the most about my office on Frenchmen Street (besides the awesome street name) is that the building directly behind my actual office had a tin roof, so every time it rained I’d open the window so I could hear the rain drumming on the tin roof. It always made me think of my childhood; my grandfather’s house had a tin roof when I was very young–the barn’s was never replaced–so I can remember listening to the rain while I was lying in bed, all snug and warm and dry; to this day I find a weird emotional comfort when it’s raining outside and I am snug and dry and under a blanket inside the Lost Apartment. I can even remember a scene from a Trixie Belden book–The Mystery of Cobbett’s Island–where Miss Trask was driving Trixie and the other Bob-Whites to Cobbett’s Island for a vacation, and it started raining on them; I was reading it in the car on the way to Alabama from Chicago and ironically, it was raining on the car as I read. I even started writing one of my many attempts to write a juvenile series a la Nancy Drew/the Hardy Boys/Trixie Belden with the characters getting caught in a thunderstorm while driving en route somewhere–I don’t remember anything else, but I remember writing about them riding in the rain….and ever since then, it seems like I write alot about thunderstorms. There’s even a thunderstorm scene in A Streetcar Named Murder, because of course there is.

I always write about rain–and I don’t think i could ever live in a desert climate again because I would miss rain too much.

So, note to self: no rain and no car crash in the next Scotty. We’ll see if I can stick to that.

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader.