If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

I have to panel today and tomorrow at Saints and Sinners; one is a genre panel and the other is an on-stage interview with Jewelle Gomez; we are being interviewed by Eric Andrews-Katz. I can’t seem to get it into my head which is which day; old age is not pretty for anyone. The irony is the primary topic has to do with being prolific and/or maintaining a career over a long period of time; considering I haven’t published a novel under my own name since 2016 and the last Todd Gregory was January last year (I think), it seems kind of weird to be talking about being prolific. But I suppose all the stuff I’ve published since 2002 kind of makes up for the last year or so of slacking off.

I guess I can talk about how I used to be prolific.

I’m also supposed to read from my work. Sigh. Not sure what I’m going to read. I can always fall back on Timothy, I suppose; that always goes over pretty well. Or I could read from this story that is eventually going to be available on Kindle as an ebook. (It IS up, but I keep finding mistakes, and having to upload a corrected file; and I am not going to try to start selling it until I have it right. My fabulous friend Erin also put together a better cover for me AND made sure the formatting and everything was done in a new file, but since I had already corrected something on the page–adding a tag line about A new story of suspense from award-winning author Greg Herren–I have to wait until the page corrects before I can put the new file up AND the new cover; and trust me, the next time I do this I am going to make sure I do everything right the first fucking time.)

I have downloaded a copy of the story from Kindle, so I do have an electronic file, so I could just read from my iPad, I suppose. And since I’ve read it out loud a few times already the last few days in order to catch mistakes…I’ve kind of practiced. It’s a thought.

Heavy sigh.

I’ve also been playing around with the short story collection. I realized I was including stories in it that are out for submission, operating on the assumption that if my publisher wants it, it wouldn’t come out until sometime next year, so the stories would either have been accepted or rejected by then; but by including them in the collection I was assuming they would be rejected, and why would I put that kind of energy out into the universe? I know one is going to be used; I’ve already gotten corrections from the editor of the anthology, but the others–well, it will be a while before I hear back from them; and one is notorious for how long it takes to respond; they still have a story I submitted last summer so still keeping my fingers crossed on that one. But again, gay characters in this one, so the odds against me are even stronger than they were for the other story.

It’s funny, but I am so damned stubborn, you know? Twenty-odd years ago when I decided to finally make my dream a reality and started taking writing seriously, I deliberately chose to write about gay characters and gay themes and tell our stories. I knew it was going to limit my success; making them crime novels limited the success still further. I said the other day I never tried writing crime short stories for the longest time because I knew gay crime stories wouldn’t get published in the limited markets for crime stories, and the limited markets for gay fiction wouldn’t publish crime stories. “Annunciation Shotgun” was the first time I wrote a crime story with gay characters, but I also knew it was going to be published; New Orleans Noir’s editor had requested the story, and had requested specifically I write about a gay character. And now that I’m going through this burst of writing short stories, some of these could have been about straight people, sure…but in some instances the story requires the characters to be gay. “The Weight of a Feather,” which I just revised this week, was written years ago for the MWA Ice Cold anthology; stories about the Cold War. It didn’t get used, and I recently took the plunge and sent it somewhere else. It was rejected, but not because of the characters; the story moved too slow, and I immediately saw the value of that critique from the editor, which I used in the revision. (I had always seen, stubbornly, the opening of the story being the image of a man, in winter, in a trenchcoat, standing on a bridge over a creek as snow starts to fall; then he throws a gun into the water and as he walks back home, the story is told in a sort of flashback. I now have rewritten the story to open with the actual commission of the crime, the middle with him walking tells the why; and I am probably just going to use it for the collection. I fucking love that title, too; it comes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the goddess Ma’at weighed the heart of the dead against the weight of the feather of truth to determine whether the soul was admitted to the afterlife; my story basically illustrates a situation where, despite the crime, I’d be curious to see how the scales of Ma’at would balance….)

Need to get ready. Later!

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