Wildside

Well, Monday has yet again rolled around, and I am staring down yet another work week.

The weather changed again yesterday–it was in the low sixties when I woke up–so there is hope now that perhaps fall has actually, finally, arrived in the Crescent City. I don’t mind the heat, but I do get weary of it by October–particularly when it’s late October and usually it starts cooling down in mid-September. I’m choosing not to look further ahead in the weather forecast; if it’s going to get unseasonably warm for us again, I’d rather not know ahead of time.

I got another short story rejection the other day; the masochism of being a writer is kind of like when you have an aching tooth and you can’t stop irritating it with your tongue. It was a lovely rejection–something I’ve noted lately from markets I’ve submitted to has been the return of the lovely, well-worded, take the sting out of it rejection emails. I no longer get angry or depressed or wounded when a story is rejected; as a long time anthology editor myself I know what the process is like and rejection doesn’t necessarily, if ever, mean you really suck at this do us all a favor and stop, okay? It is what it is. I continue to try to write the stories I want to write, say the things I want to say, figure out what it is I want to figure out, with each and every story I write. Sometimes the longer a story sits without being finished, or without being revised, is better. I had another couple of thoughts yesterday, for example, for “Never Kiss a Stranger” that I think are going to be key to making the story richer and deeper, more powerful to read, and hopefully connect with potential readers better. I’m glad I’m not rushing this story, but letting the characters and the time live with me a while is helping me to know them better and is turning the story into something much better than I’d originally envisioned for this tale.

And that’s a lovely, lovely feeling.

I opted not to watch the Saints game. The LSU game on Saturday evening was enough stress for me to voluntarily take on over the course of a single weekend; I chose to have s relaxing day of getting things done and cleaning up little chores I tend to put off; making the house more neat and tidy always helps clear the cobwebs from my brain and allows me to free-associate; I make lots of notes and also identify problems in stuff currently in progress that I hadn’t thought of or noted before.

(Okay, I did tune in for the last two minutes of the game. I mean, wow. Seriously, Saints? WOW. I swear, both the Saints and LSU will be the death of me this season.  A missed extra point sealed the win? Oh, my heart…

I am savoring my reread of ‘salem’s Lot, taking it slowly so I can get to know the characters and the setting all over again; enjoying how King builds his slow burn of a novel and sets everything up for the heart-pounding non-stop tension of the second half of the book.

I was also thinking that October is here, and usually I pay tribute to the books and movies and short stories in the horror genre that I’ve enjoyed and have had some kind of influence on me, as both a reader and a writer. And here it is, with only ten days left in the month and I have yet to even acknowledge October and horror; despite having watched (and greatly enjoyed) The Haunting of Hill House this month.

This coming weekend is the bye week for LSU before the Alabama game, so I will be at loose ends on Saturday. I do want to watch the Georgia-Florida game–crucial to determine who will win the SEC East–but other than that, with no LSU game to watch I will most likely have to entertain myself in other ways on Saturday; which means perhaps going to the library at long last and finally getting a New Orleans Public Library card–something I’ve been intending to do for a very long time. The Latter Library on St. Charles is very close to my post office; I can simply make a quick detour there after picking up the mail on Saturday and get my card. The Latter Library is, if you are not acquainted with it, one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. It’s housed in an old St. Charles mansion, which supposedly is not only haunted but was at one time home to a silent screen star–but it also has an enormous plot of land., taking up an almost entire block of St. Charles.

And now, back to the spice mines. I have a lot to get done this week, as the end of October looms large on the horizon.

Have a great day, Constant Reader!

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Everything About You

Saturday morning. A good night’s sleep had me up earlier than I would have thought this morning, but I feel rested and good; I was exhausted last night for some reason; Friday, perhaps? I don’t know. But I feel good this morning, I only have one errand to run–which is the grocery store, and I’ll try to get that out of the way momentarily–and some cleaning and organizing needs to be done. I also need to do some writing and editing today; yesterday I was too tired to work on the Scotty revision when I got home, so I need to get caught up on that today.

GEAUX TIGERS!

LSU plays their fifth ranked opponent today, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs roll into Tiger Stadium tonight ranked 22nd in the country. They have some nice wins under their belt, and some losses to quality teams–last week they surprised Auburn–and so this is by no means going to be an easy game for LSU. There could be a let down after last week’s huge, physical win over Georgia; Mississippi State is going to come in hungry; and LSU has to be careful not to be over-confident, must stay focused, and try not to look ahead to the big Alabama game in two weeks–which won’t be as important should LSU lose to Mississippi State. I will undoubtedly be extremely tense during the game, but am going to try my best not to get overwrought and overly involved in the game. It’s supposed to be fun to watch for Christ’s sake.

I also have some reading to do, and some editing that needs to get done, and an author interview I need to get started. My intent is to clean out my email inbox before leaving for the grocery store, as well as get some morning cleaning done here in the kitchen/office. My day job is moving at the end of this month, and I will no longer, in the new building, have my own office; I shall be in a cubicle like everyone else–and so have had to empty the bookcases in my office as well as take down all the pictures from my walls. I do not have the wall-space here in the Lost Apartment to adorn my walls with these pictures–mostly of our trip to Italy–and I’ve been trying to squeeze the books in wherever I can, which for obvious reasons has not been easy to do.

I’m still reading Empire of Sin, and am hoping to get further along in that this weekend as well; it may be in my lap during the game tonight. My reading has slowed down dramatically; and I still haven’t done a blog entry about Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls. Maybe later today.

I finished watching season three of The Man in the High Castle last night, and by far and away, this third season is the best of the show so far. It is interesting to me how well they’ve done with the character of John Smith, an American who fought against the Axis during the lost war and has switched sides, climbing the ladder in the American nazi hierarchy and also being groomed for leadership by Himmler himself. Underplayed beautifully by Rufus Sewell, the personal journey of this monster has sort of humanized him–which is, in and of itself, terrifying; this man is a monster and the antithesis of a patriotic American; everything a true American patriot would despise–and yet, those personal problems and tragedies and little heartbreaks in his family life make him almost win the audience’s sympathies…then he does something monstrous and you remember, there are no good Nazis. This show, and its message, are particularly real and powerful and important, given these times in which we live.

In the early 1990’s, I has an idea for a dystopian series of novels, built around the collapse of the American republic and the rise of a totalitarian state in its place; which I was going to call There Comes a Tide. I have all my notes and ideas in a folder somewhere, which means I might take a look at them sometime soon and see if it’s something I want to write in the next year or so. I have a y/a on deck to write after I finish the Scotty revision, and I am also going to be working on the WIP in the meantime as well; I kind of wanted to try writing a cozy after the first of the year and I also have a noir I want to write, in addition to a paranormal suspense thriller I’ve been toying with the last few months. There’s simply never enough time to write everything I want to write, and all the procrastination doesn’t help.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I’ve also decided to pull a long story from my collection and replace it with two shorter stories; the longer story will probably go up as a Kindle single at some point, and I also am in the midst of another long story that will probably turn into a Kindle single as well: “Never Kiss a Stranger.” I’ve recognized that story needs to be longer but it’s not enough of a story to be a novel…and there’s always Kindle single.

And now, back to the spice mines. I need to wash the bed linens, put some dishes away, get these floors cleaned, organize and file….and stop procrastinating.

Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader!

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Warm It Up

Well, the weekend turned out to be a total bust as far as getting anything writing-wise accomplished; this means I didn’t actually sit down at the desk and revise or write. I did scribble ideas in my journal, though, which while not counting as actual work, does count as something. I did manage to get the apartment cleaned during the LSU-Georgia game on Saturday (GEAUX TIGERS!) but on Sunday, I relapsed a bit into whatever-it-was I had last week; fevers came and went along with headaches and some nausea, some post-nasal drip. So, I curled up in the easy chair, covered myself with a blanket, and finished watching The Haunting of Hill House.

I will say that I thought the finale was a bit of a disappointment, but I thoroughly enjoyed this show. I knew going into the final episode that it would most likely be disappointing; the ending is not something Shirley Jackson would have written or done, and up until that moment, the show had done an excellent job of channeling Jackson. It was thoroughly involving from the very first moment, the writing was superb, the production values excellent, and the acting perfectly en pointe. It was chilling, eerie, creepy and terrifying; everything I would want from a Jackson adaptation. The show also had a lot of shout-outs to the original and to Jackson–I loved where in one scene one of the kids was reading The Lottery–and actually gives me hope that the film adaptation of We Have Always Lived in the Castle might be good.

So much of Jackson’s brilliance was about the internal, not the external–which is what the people involved with the hideous 1999 remake of The Haunting got so completely wrong. And while in Jackson’s novel you never see and never know what is haunting Hill House, seeing some of it in this mini-series didn’t spoil it in the least; it was done minimally, and in such a way that added to the creepiness.

But this morning I feel better. My head feels clear, my sinuses aren’t full, there’s no drip going on in the back of my throat, and I don’t feel feverish. So I am hopeful that the whatever-that-was is over and done with, history, archived, collecting dust in the file rooms. And that I can focus this week on getting the things done that I need to get done.

Here’s hoping, anyway.

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One

GEAUX TIGERS!

Yes, second ranked Georgia rolls into Tiger Stadium today to take on the twelfth-ranked Tigers, reeling from the first loss last week at Florida. I’m trying not to get to invested in the stakes of the game; I just want the Tigers to play better than they did last week and be competitive. I want them to win, I will be rooting them on–but I will also likely be cleaning and keeping myself occupied to handle the nerves.

Sigh.

I slept in this morning–I did wake up around seven, but chose to stay in bed for another hour, before finally getting up and getting a load of laundry started. I feel extremely well-rested this morning; which is absolutely lovely. I have a lot of cleaning and organizing to do today in order to clear my plate so tomorrow can be all about writing and editing and reading. I am greatly enjoying Empire of Sin; it’s giving me all kinds of ideas about stories to write and maybe even a novel or two…I’ll probably read Herbert Asbury’s The French Quarter next.

Lisa Morton once suggested that I do a New Orleans version of her book Monsters of LA. I am thinking that might just be something I can do, now that I’m reading all this New Orleans history.

I also started streaming the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House last night; I got through the first two episodes, which I greatly enjoyed. I was tempted to watch  yet a third but stopped myself as it was getting late. There’s been, since the trailers for the show dropped, a lot of anger and disgust from Shirley Jackson fans as well as horror fans, since obviously the show was going to be different from the novel, and why does this even need to be? Well, I am a huge fan of both Jackson AND this particular novel; one of my proudest moments was when Night Shadows was a Shirley Jackson Award finalist. (I love the rock I got for being a finalist.) The show is good. It didn’t have to be Hill House; it didn’t have to be The Haunting of Hill House, but that’s what it is, and it is inevitable, as such, that it’s going to be compared to the original. Jackson’s structure is there; Hill House, the Crain family, the Dudleys; even some of the things that happen in the book happen in the show. It’s being told in a parallel structure; when the Crains moved into Hill House, a young couple with five children, ostensibly to renovate the house and flip it. Something horrible happened while they lived there, and the parallel story being told in modern times is about the Crains today; all five of the kids grown up into severely damaged adults. The children are Steve, Shirley, Theo, Nell, and Luke–the names of the characters from the novels plus the novelist’s name–and the parallel story structure works. The performances are good, and I also like the concept–it’s very Stephen King’s It, because clearly they are all going to have to return to Hill House and face not only the house but their own demons. As I watched and began to understand the story structure, I also thought to myself, ah, this is a great direction modern horror is going in; not only dealing with the paranormal elements but the also dealing with the psychological aspects of having dealt with something so traumatic as a child. It reminded me somewhat of Paul Tremblay’s novel A Head Full of Ghosts in that way. I am really looking forward to continuing to watch and see how it plays out. I don’t see how this can become a regular series…but then again Netflix turned Thirteen Reasons Why into a multi-season show and the second season just wasn’t very good.

I’m also still watching season three of The Man in the High Castle, which is sooooo good. The first season was terrific, the second kind of mess, but they’ve really hit their stride in Season 3.

And now, I have laundry to fold, dishes to put away, spice to mine.

Have a lovely lovely Saturday, everyone.

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All I Want

Today is the first time I’ve felt human all week.

I don’t know if I am completely over being sick yet, but I don’t feel bad and I don’t feel faverish and nothing aches, so I am considering this a win and that I’ve weathered whatever flu-ey type thing this was that descended, unwanted and uninvited, on me last Sunday. I am also hoping that I can make it through this day without getting sick again, and of course, now it’s the weekend and I can recover over the next two days and catch up on everything that’s lingered and slid this week.

Here’s hoping, at any rate.

LSU plays second-ranked Georgia this weekend in Death Valley; I imagine I am going to get a lot of cleaning done Saturday afternoon. Ceiling fans, windows, baseboards…maybe even sweeping dust off the walls.  There is no Saints game on Sunday–this is the bye week–so I should be able to spend the day writing, reading, editing and perhaps doing some cleaning; and maybe even make an appearance at the gym. Now that my sleep has returned to what I used to consider normal–waking up every morning just before seven–there’s no reason I can’t go back to what I used to do; answer email, write blog entries, do some writing, go to the gym–on the days when I don’t come to the office until later in the day; and on the days when I get off work early I can also go to the gym in the evening. The key is to not give in to the laziness and the inertia of doing nothing and once I get things moving, and get into a more regular routine, I can make a habit of it. I also need to focus on eating better; I think I lost a few pounds while I was sick.

I’ve also not worked on anything the last few days while sick, so I also need to start getting caught back up on everything again, since I am now behind. Heavy heaving sigh.

But I started reading Gary Krist’s wonderful Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle of Modern New Orleans. I just finished reading about the murder of Police Chief Hennessy and the lynching of the accused Italians–horrific, and horrifying–and have just gotten to the part where, in an effort to clean up New Orleans, the city decided to restrict prostitution to a small area–Storyville.

Seriously. I could get lost in New Orleans history research for the rest of my life and die there, happy.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Good for Me

The LSU game on Saturday was not pleasant, alas; it’s never fun to lose, particularly when it’s to a hated rival. I was far too tense during the game, and realized that it was because of pent-up nervous energy. I correctly diagnosed that if I got out of my easy chair, turned both the upstairs and downstairs televisions to the game, and used the time to listen–occasionally watching–while cleaning and organizing, I could remain calm and cool and not get overwrought. I love football, but I don’t love the anxiety and stress that comes from total immersion in a game…so I think from now on I am primarily going to listen while cleaning the house.

And when the game was over and LSU had lost, I had a clean apartment and had done several loads of laundry and several loads of dishes. So that counts, at least for me, as a win. I also started another book purge; recognizing that some of my justification for hoarding some books (“someday I’ll write a non-fiction book about blah-blah-blah”) was just that: justification. Rather grimly, as I started pruning books off my shelves I told myself, you’d only ever have time to write that non-fiction book if you reached a place where you could support yourself solely by writing. And if that is the case, you can always buy another copy of the book.

The Saints didn’t play yesterday; rather they are on Monday Night Football playing the Washington Racist Stereotypes Redskins, which means getting home from the main office tonight will be a chore–which means I have to go the long way to avoid the Superdome and the Central Business District. Yay. It also means Paul will have to walk home from work, but I am sure he is already expecting that outcome.

Yesterday I didn’t feel well; a fever that kept coming and going, runny nose, congestion…very unpleasant. I couldn’t focus because I had sick head; my mind couldn’t focus. I tried writing for a while and finally had to give up on it. Instead, I curled up in my easy chair and finished reading Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls.

 

 

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She’s Playing Hard to Get

GEAUX TIGERS!

LSU plays at Florida today at two-thirty central time. Paul is going to be out all day; he has to go work at the office and is attending an event tonight. I have to do some errands around noon–post office, bank, mail–and of course I want to get some writing done today. I didn’t write at all yesterday; I came home from work and started cleaning, then relaxed and watched some television until Paul came home. I’m trying to get as much of this book done as I possibly can today, around the LSU game.

I’m trying not to get worked up about football as much as I used to; it is, after all, just a game and the players are just young men, barely adults. This has worked for me since the Auburn game; during the first quarter I was very anxious, and found myself getting highly irritated in the second quarter. When LSU fell behind 14-10 just before half-time, I thought, let it go. Stop yelling at the television. They can’t hear you for one, and it doesn’t make you feel any better, and the players are just kids. This isn’t life or death. It makes ZERO difference in your life for the better or worse if LSU wins or loses. 

 It worked and I calmed down considerably, and was able to watch and enjoy the rest of the game. Of course, it didn’t hurt that LSU won the game, coming from behind to score nine points in the last five minutes or so of the game. I suppose the real test of this attempt to watch games calmly will be a game LSU loses.

It’s a lot of energy to expend on something over which I have no control. So now I try to watch the games with detachment rather than overhyped emotion. It also makes no difference also in that I am never going to stop rooting for LSU.

Maybe someday I’ll get more zen about the Saints’ games.

I woke up just before eight this morning, but stayed in bed for another forty-five minutes before finally getting up. I feel rested. My sleep has been better for the last week or so–the overnight rains have helped in that regard tremendously–plus getting up at seven three days a week now instead of just one has helped shift my sleep patterns to something more manageable. For years I woke up at seven every morning like clockwork; that changed when I started working late nights and my sleep has never been the same since that time. Now that I am back into a regular sleep pattern, I get up early every morning and get to do what I used to do in the mornings, before I faced the world; answer emails, write blog post, read my social media feeds, even do some writing, on the mornings when I don’t have to be at work by nine. On weekend mornings, like this one, I can relax with my coffee and get some things done around here. I like this new schedule I’ve been on for the last few weeks; I get to start cleaning the house and doing the laundry early Friday evenings, and then I can relax with television or a book (honestly, cracking open the wine usually results in me watching television instead of reading; and I still haven’t finished Circe; again this is a not a testament to the quality of the book. Thus far it is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.)

And so now, it’s back to the spice mines. I’ve got laundry going already, and the kitchen is fortunately already clean. I need to work on the living room some today as well; I can do that during the LSU game without disturbing Paul since he’ll be at the office. I’m going to spend the rest of this morning working on Scotty and maybe starting to pull apart the WIP. Ironically, I’d begun to think that a y/a novel about rape culture wasn’t timely anymore; these last few weeks have proven to me that it’s just as timely as ever. I have to put aside all of my doubts about being a gay man writing a novel about rape culture and just write the damned thing. As I said earlier this week, it needs to be pulled apart and it’s own stand on its own book, which means starting from scratch (which I had already kind of done) and then start piecing it back together again. The shell I’ve already written can certainly be recycled into another book, if need be, and I even already know what that book is going to be. So, this is a win-win, really.

Have a  great day, Constant Reader, and hang in there.

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