Fooled Around and Fell in Love

It’s Sunday morning in New Orleans and I am already awake and swilling coffee. It looks kind of gray outside my windows this morning. The sun is trying to come out from behind the cloud cover so I don’t think today is going to be one of those rainy days like yesterday, but it’s kind of nice. The humidity has returned–Friday was miserable–and it’s only May. The true dog days are yet to be upon us. Heavy heaving sigh.

Yesterday I was moving stuff around, trying to lessen the appearance of clutter as well as to figure out where to put all the extra paper towels (thank you, Costco!) and put the things I was moving into places that I would remember when I discovered a copy of the first anthology I ever published a short story in, released way back in August of 2000: Men for All Seasons, edited by Jesse Grant, and from Alyson Books. It’s an erotic story, of course; my first two published short stories were erotica an d I don’t think I published a story that wasn’t erotica until “Smalltown Boy” in Rebel Yell 2, several years later. It was also interesting to look at the table of contents and see that my original by-line for fiction was Gregory Herren, not Greg; I do think I switched to Greg for the second story that was published that same month in Men magazine. Going through the list of contributors, I was struck by how many of those writers are no longer writing–or if they are, they aren’t using their “erotica” pen names anymore.

Back in the day, if you worked really hard you could make a lovely little income writing gay erotica. I was paid $300 for the story in Men; I published a second story there a few years later for the same pay. I think I got $75 for the story in Men for All Seasons. I started writing erotica primarily as a lark; Alyson’s publicist advised me to start writing short fiction for their anthologies, primarily for the publication credits and the money, as well as to make my name better known and more familiar to the Alyson editorial staff. He was right; Alyson wound up buying my first novel Murder in the Rue Dauphine, and I stayed with Alyson for the first five Chanse books, as well as several erotica anthologies I edited for them. I always called myself “an accidental pornographer” because it wasn’t anything I’d ever wanted to do, but the money was nice and the books actually did very well. But now…now there’s no market for actual gay erotica. Anthologies don’t sell and so no one is doing them anymore; the only market for erotica is novels, and reality is most of those are written now by straight women for other straight women, and that’s not the kind of erotica I write. (This is not to say straight women cannot write gay erotica geared toward gay men; in my editing days I worked with a lot of straight women who wrote horny, nasty, raunchy men on men erotica and you’d never know the author was a woman.) But the women who like to read the m/m stuff don’t like the erotica I write, and so I don’t really write it anymore.  I don’t miss it, to be honest–there are only so many ways to write about male on male sex originally, only so many words–and I even at one time wrote a column for the Erotica Writers Association on how to write good porn. I think my favorite column title was “Sometimes A Cock Is Just A Cock.”

I didn’t do much writing yesterday–actual physical writing–but I did do a lot of thinking and rehashing and going over my notes for the WIP. I doubt very seriously I will get as caught up as I had wanted to get this weekend, but you know, that’s just how it goes sometimes. Today is May the 5th, and I am going to dig into Chapter Six again in just a moment, with the hopes that Chapters 7, 8 and 9 will fall into place as I go…and then maybe I can start with Chapter Ten. I got so far off track with this WIP that I don’t really remember the story I was trying to tell in the first place, which is terrible–my memory, once so incredibly dependable I didn’t really need to take notes, in now completely unreliable. Part of the reason I decided to go back and redo the chapters I’d already written was to get myself immersed back into the story, get a feel for the characters, and maybe find the flaws and mistakes and holes in the plot. I’ve managed some of that, of course, which makes it all worthwhile, and I did find the outline for Chapter Ten in my journal (which I’d completely forgotten I’d written down), so yes, not actually spending time at the keyboard yesterday while actually simply reviewing notes and rereading things was a pretty smart thing to do.

Going through the current and previous journal also reminded me of some short story ideas I’d had that had somehow slipped, unbidden, from my memory. I also managed to page through The Gulf by Jack E. Davis yesterday, and I believe it will be a rich source of ideas and materials for me to write another book–my spring break murders novel, Where the Boys Die–and many others. Nonfiction is a great source of material for fiction, in case you were wondering.

And now I am going to sign off with this entry as I have another, Game of Thrones specific one I started yesterday that I would like to finish this morning.

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Lowdown

I woke up to a major thunderstorm around seven this morning, and quite frankly, curled up under my blankets even more and went back to sleep. I didn’t wind up getting out of bed until after nine, which felt lovely and now I feel wide awake while well rested at the same time, which is actually quite nice. I need to run to the UPS Store today, pick up the mail and a prescription, stop by the bank, and make groceries at some point, but ugh, how horrible to do this in the rain. It’s supposed to rain here all day, alas. But that will certainly encourage me to get them done as quickly as possible so I can get home.

Today I need to also do some more cleaning around the house, and at some point I am going to close the browsers so I can focus on writing. I want to push through these revisions of these chapters of the WIP, and I’d also like to push through and get a strong revision of “And the Walls Came Down” done, so I can submit it to some markets this week. My short story for next week will be the “The Problem with Autofill,” which is a strong story but the ending needs to be altered and changed somewhat. I still like the concept of the story–it’s kind of a Sorry Wrong Number thing, only with email–but I’m still not sure how to make it work completely.  But I still persist in trying to make it work. I also would like to work some more on “Please Die Soon,” which I think is a terrific idea for a story, and I’ve done the requisite research to make it work, methinks. I really want to stick to this goal of either revising a short story or finishing an incomplete first draft of one every week.

Goals. Must stick to goals.

I survived Costco yesterday, my checking account less scathed than usual–although it easily could have become Sherman’s March to the Sea. Yet I was able to resist, and came very close to staying within the budget I set for the trip–and had I not bought two books off the book table (Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis; the Owens was nominated for an Edgar while the Davis won the Pulitzer Prize) I would have stayed under budget.

The book table is always my downfall.

And while I didn’t accomplish near as much as I probably should have yesterday, I did manage to get some chores done, some of them loathsome, so that’s a win for the end of the week, methinks. The key is what I can get done today and tomorrow…and my primary focus has to be on writing. Once I get the writing gears dusted off and oiled, I am hoping I will be able to get the first draft of the WIP finished by the end of May (there’s a three day holiday this month as well, which I am really looking forward to enjoying).

The Gulf itself looks interesting. Most American histories, of course, focus on the Atlantic colonies and the spread westward from there; there really isn’t anything taught about the history of the Gulf of Mexico–which, once Florida, Louisiana and Texas passed into American hands, basically became an enormous American lake–and I am very interested in becoming better acquainted with this history. It can, after all, only help, since most of my fiction work is focused on the Gulf states. The more Louisiana history I know, and read, the better I feel my fiction will become.

I think once I finish Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things my next book will be either Rachel Howzell Hall’s All the Way Down or Joseph Olshan’s Lambda nominated mystery, Black Diamond Fall. I’m greatly enjoying the Mason novel, and perhaps at some point today, once I’ve run the errands and done the cleaning and written all I need to write today, I might curl up in the easy chair with The Hidden Things and make some serious headway on it. I also have an article to write and another column to start planning for. And yes, it does all seem a bit overwhelming, but what I need to do is make a list and just start checking off boxes.

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

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That’s the Way (I Like It)

Friday and we have made it to the end of the week, Constant Reader!

I am most pleased, and am even more pleased that I woke up before my alarm this morning. This, as you can imagine, doesn’t happen as often as I would like, and I was not only awake but functional, so I went ahead and got up. The kitchen is a mess this morning, primarily because I made dinner last night after cleaning when I got home yesterday afternoon, so I should probably do something about that before I leave for my half-day this morning. I am hoping to run to Costco after work today, and then come home to my usual Friday chores–primarily washing the bed linens–and perhaps getting back on track with writing. I really need to get back into the habit of writing some fiction every day. I do have other errands to run this weekend–making groceries being the most important of those–and I absolutely have to clean the Lost Apartment. I’ve not done the floors in forever, and the kitchen windows are filthy, absolutely filthy.

I also would love to finish reading Jamie Mason’s quite marvelous The Hidden Things this weekend. This is Jamie’s third novel; her first, Three Graves Full, was quite a stunning and brilliant debut, but I’ve been holding on to her second until she’d published another so I would always have one of her books that I’ve not read on deck. It really is quite odd that I do this; but I never want to run out of authors I enjoy’s books. (I’m still holding back on some Mary Stewarts, Daphne du Mauriers, and Charlotte Armstrongs)

I’ve also had a strong breakthrough on my short story “And the Walls Came Down,” which I reread this week, and think I can fashion with another revision into something quite marvelous. So, that’s also on the agenda for the weekend–and I’ve decided that each week I am picking one of my short stories for a reread and a final revise. At one story per week, it’s going to probably take me the rest of the  year to get them all done–I had no idea precisely how many short stories I have that are in some sort of progress–but at some point I am also going to have to finish the ones I’ve started and never finished the initial draft for–I also need to go through my journals and start digging out the short story ideas I’ve jotted down over the last year, because there were quite a few of those as well.

Paul and I watched the first season–there were only seven episodes–of a Netflix show called Bonding–which was actually quite funny at times and rather clever. The premise of the show is two former close friends from high school run into each other as adults; she is now a dominatrix and he’s an aspiring stand-up comedian who has too much stage fright to ever actually get up and do his act. He winds up working as her assistant, and they begin to bond and learn from each other while negotiating their own hang-ups and possible new relationships. I’m not entirely certain this is an accurate depiction of the BDSM community, or even of what a dom is like; but it was clever and cute and funny; and up till the last episode, we greatly enjoyed it. (The last episode got kind of weird.)

I also got some new books in the mail yesterday: They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall; Miracle Creek by Angie Kim; A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab; and Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok Banker. I’ve bumped Rachel’s book to the “on-deck” position on my TBR pile; so I am hopeful I can get Jamie’s book finished this weekend so I can dig into Rachel’s.

I am also bound and determined to get caught up on the WIP this weekend, so I can start writing new chapters next week.

Or…I might just be a slug and lay around and not do a goddamned thing all weekend. It happens.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Friday, everyone.

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A Little Bit More

Thursday morning and I have errands to run before I head into the office. Prescription pick-ups and the mail, which means a voyage uptown and then taking Highway 90 all the way back across town until I can get on I-10. I’ve started taking I-10 to and from work, which has dramatically cut back on my travel time. My office is literally a block from the on/off ramps, and I only live six or seven blocks or so from the highway. It only recently occurred to me to take the highway, and was stunned when I got from the office parking lot to my house in about six or seven minutes; if I hit the lights correctly on St. Charles I can do it in almost under five.

Driving through the city instead? Anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour. #madness

I woke up tired and a bit out of it this morning; not so much tired as more not rested enough. I’m not sure what that’s all about or why, but it’s annoying and it needs to stop happening. It was that way yesterday as well; I couldn’t really focus because I felt like I was still drowsy all day. Tomorrow I have to get up ridiculously early again (sigh) but I am also going to Costco tomorrow after work, which means girding my loins and sucking it up. The tiredness yesterday also precluded me from actually doing any writing–I did reread Chapter Six, and that was part of it; the chapter as written is a mess and is going to require brain power and work to sort and I just kind of sighed and surrendered in defeat to  it yesterday–and I also reread my story “And The Walls Came Down,” which I want to rewrite and revise and possibly send out to some markets over the course of the weekend. (There’s also more than a slight fear that the early part of the week will render me useless on the weekend, but I do think a good night’s sleep on Friday night will resolve that problem.)

And, of course I am really looking forward to seeing this weekend’s episode of Game of Thrones, to see how the show is going to move through these last three episodes now that the threat of the dead from the north is over. I just have some errands to run and some house to clean–since I get off from work early tomorrow that should do the trick; I am hoping to go to Costco and then come home and perhaps go to the gym (!!!!) before coming back home and cleaning the Lost Apartment. If I can manage to get it cleaned up on Friday, I shall have the weekend to write.

And continue reading Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things, which I started reading this week and am really enjoying thus far.

And that’s kind of the goal for now, at least.

And now back to the spice mines.

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Love to Love You Baby

Paul’s flight was delayed a bit, but he got home last night just after nine pm and all is right in the Lost Apartment. I have ceased to exist to Scooter except as a conduit for treats, food or water–he hasn’t even gotten out of bed yet this morning to demand food! I also woke up this morning feeling much much better than I have in days, which means I think I should be able to return to work tomorrow. Huzzah!

I’m sure it’s an utter coincidence that Paul’s return home cured me.

Yesterday I ran some errands over to the West Bank that simply couldn’t be put off until next weekend–and, I figured, it was better to try to get it over and done with while still feeling slightly unwell than wait until today when I might have relapsed–and so I have Paul’s birthday present ready to give to him when he wakes up, for yes, today is Paul’s birthday. He was honored with the Leadership Award from the Publishing Triangle on Thursday and today is his birthday, so he’s had quite a lovely long weekend of it. I also spent some time reading Kellye Garrett’s delightfully fun Hollywood Homicide yesterday, while I also did some odds and ends cleaning up around here. I still have some cleaning to do today, and I want to get that pesky chapter written once and for all today so I can move on to the next and try to get this entire pesky thing finished soon enough. I am behind, of course, as I always seem to be, but I am hoping/hopeful that I can get this first draft finished by the 15th of May. That’s basically two weeks, and there’s absolutely no reason I cannot be finished by then other than sheer, utter laziness.

Everyone who thinks I won’t be done by the 15th, raise your hand.

Bitches.

And so I shall spend this morning cleaning and working on the WIP. I suspect Paul, who was exhausted when he got home last night, will sleep till about noon–if not longer, which gives me a free morning to get all of this done. I am planning on going to the gym (I know, right?) around noonish/one, to get started again with my regular workouts and getting my body back into shape. We’ll see how it goes, but that is my plan at this moment–although there’s also a stray thought that I should go now, this morning, to get it over with and get my day kick-started, but no, I think I’ll spend the morning doing precisely what I said I was going to spend the morning doing. I need to get that fucking chapter finished, and maybe even get started on Chapter Five while I have Word open.

I also want to start doing something with all these short stories I have just lying around here in one form or another. Maybe after the gym I can read some of them, or something. They aren’t doing me any good sitting in my computer as files, that’s for certain.

And I also need to steel myself for tonight’s Game of Thrones. It’s certainly going to be a bloodbath, with characters whose lives I’ve been following since the very first season an eon ago certain to die tonight. Perhaps I should take a Xanax before watching? I also want to read some more of Kellye’s book, so I can move on to Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things, which is up next in queue….although I am very tempted by Marlon James’ latest, an epic fantasy set in Africa which is being called “an African Game of Thrones“, although I am certain that’s simply a marketing gimmick to try to appeal to George R. R. Martin’s fans, and fans of the show. Marlon is a terrific writer, and he won the Mann Booker a few years ago for his A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I’ve not read, but have wanted to for quite some time. My TBR queue is quite something, I have to say, and I am really looking forward to reading all the books in it at some point.

At some point.

There will never be enough time, will there, to read everything I want to read and write everything I want to write. I think that’s why I get so caught up in falling behind and the sense of time slipping through my fingers, which gets more intense the more I age, which is, of course, every fucking day.

And now back to the spice mines, my friends. It’s already ten and I’ve gotten nothing done other than writing this.

And that shall not stand.

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Only Sixteen

I woke up this morning with no fever and no congestion, huzzah! I still have a sore throat, however, and a little bit of medicine head, but I also went to bed early last night and woke up at a relatively decent, respectable hour–not too early, not too late, which of course is quite lovely. Paul returns home this evening (or sometime in the late afternoon). Therefore I have to run some errands this morning–it cannot be helped–which include going to the West Bank (on a Saturday! Madness) to get him a birthday gift, for his birthday is tomorrow. Since I am over there, I am going to stop at Sonic for lunch (it will be lovely  eating something other than soup, let me tell you) before heading back over here. I need to vacuum downstairs before I head out for the errands, and then until he gets home I am either going to write, or read Kellye Garrett’s wonderful Hollywood Homicide.  I wanted to do both yesterday, but my head was too foggy and medicine-y from all the DayQuil and the final spike of whatever it was that was wrong, and I couldn’t focus. I wound up mostly falling into a Youtube vortex on my television for most of the day–it’s really amazing how many fan videos/theories of Game of Thrones are out there–and I also rewatched last week’s episode of Game of Thrones again. It was, of course, the first and perhaps only episode of the show where someone, anyone, didn’t die–and you know what that means: CAST BLOODBATH TOMORROW. It was so emotionally manipulative, but at the same time genius: by giving the audience these incredibly touching moments, it makes this weekend’s deaths all the more heartrending and poignant. And yes, I cried several times during the rewatch; knowing what was coming didn’t change that: I cried when Jaime asked to serve under Brienne; when Theon offered to fight for Winterfell if Sansa would have him; when Sam gave the sword of his family to Ser Jorah; and of course, the ultimate tears came when Jaime knighted Brienne. Gwendoline Christie deserves an Emmy for that scene alone.

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode, even though I know I’ll probably have to take to my fainting couch after.

And those were the scenes that made the tears come; there were others that came close. It was probably one of my favorite episodes of the show, from start to finish; primarily because it was all about character. And that’s what Game of Thrones does so well; character. It’s an epic show to be sure, and even without the strong character development it would still be great to watch…but the character arcs, for me, is what makes the show spectacular.

I am terribly behind on the WIP. April slipped through my fingers somehow; there are only three days left in the month and there is simply no way I am going to be able to get this entire first draft completed in three days. Hell, I haven’t finished the revision of Chapter fucking Four yet, and I still have fifteen new chapters to write. I think it is fairly safe to assume I am off-schedule a little bit (a lot of bit) which means I won’t be getting to the final draft of the other WIP in May the way I’d planned. Meh, it happens. I also need to check my project schedule; I am not sure when exactly I have to step away from all of this to work on another one; it’s sometime this summer, I know, but I don’t remember the date off the top of my head. But I feel so much better this morning than I have all week–I think whatever was wrong with me these last few days clearly started earlier in the week; I was lethargic and fairly low energy since last weekend–and so maybe, once I get home from the errands today I can sit down here at the computer and get Chapter Four finished and maybe even make some headway on Chapter Five. And perhaps work on a short story.

Paul will be home tonight and tomorrow is his birthday, so perhaps I’ll take a look at the movies available to rent on iTunes. I got a giftcard in the mail–when I bought the new Air I also got an Apple Mastercard (ugh, like I need more credit) and I’ve already earned a reward; a $25 gift card for iTunes or the Apple Store. So…maybe I can rent a movie for us to watch tonight for his birthday. There are still plenty of other movies still on both Prime and Amazon that I want to watch, but…since tomorrow is going to be all about Game of Thrones, tonight will be the only option. I think I am also going to get us a deep dish pizza from That’s Amore for our dinner this evening (and it will take care of all our food needs for tomorrow as well).

And on that note, I need to get things done around here before departing for my errands, so I’d best get started on that now.

Happy Saturday, Constant Reader!

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Dream Weaver

It’s Wednesday and the week is partially over; Paul departed for New York this morning and I am alone in the Lost Apartment with what I assumed would be a very needy kitty, but I haven’t see him anywhere yet since I got out of bed twenty minutes ago; he’s either sulking (he starts sulking/being needy once he sees the suitcases) or he’s completely forgotten about everything and is sleeping, thinking it’s just another normal middle of the week day.

The real test, of course, will be tonight.

I was terribly tired all day yesterday–another long day at the office–and as such was unable to get more than 700 words or so done. I am highly annoyed at how far behind on this manuscript I’ve fallen; but it’s fine, I suppose. I was so tired yesterday there were things I couldn’t remember if I had actually written and added to the manuscript already, or if I had just thought about writing them.

Ah, Scooter just howled at me, so he’s around–he must have just gone back to sleep after Paul left (I didn’t even hear his alarm, that’s how deeply I was asleep) and didn’t hear me get up. Scooter was supposedly two years old when we rescued him, which would make him round eleven now; sometimes I wonder about his hearing, but then he’s a cat and they have had millenia of experience ignoring humans calling them, so there’s that. How would one tell if a cat is losing its hearing?

So, while Paul is in New York getting the Leadership Award from the Publishing Triangle tomorrow night, I’ll be here in New Orleans trying to get caught up on my WIP, and trying to cross off all the other things on my to-do lists. He’s coming home Saturday afternoon, so it’s not like he’s going to be gone for a long time, but that gives me some quiet downtime–although, to be honest, other than watching our shows together in the evening, he’s spending a lot of his home time upstairs working on his own writing projects on his computer, which pleases me.

I am feeling more ambitious about my work these days, which is part of the reason being too tired to work much the last two days has been so aggravating. I am getting good work done, but I guess I also need to remember as I get older that the days of cranking out anywhere from three to five thousand words in a day, several days in a row, are probably not as likely as they used to be and I need to stop holding myself to that standard..which is self-defeating. Any work done is a step forward–perhaps not as big a step as I might prefer, but it’s still a step and a step ahead is better than not taking a step–just like with working out: three times a week optimal; two times better than one; and one is better than none. I need to get back to the gym; perhaps this weekend I can just go ahead and carve out the time. I think my writing work comes easier when I am working on my body as well; the two are so intertwined that perhaps part of the lost feeling I’ve had with my writing and my career over the last two years has had something to do with the fact that I don’t go to the gym anymore. I fret about the loss of time, but also need to realize that it’s not a loss of time; getting my body into better condition and shape is an improvement on my health, will probably help me sleep better, and increase my energy so I don’t tire as easily.

And I really do want to feel better.

And on that note, I need to dive back into the spice mines so I can get some writing done before I head to work this morning. Happy Wednesday, Constant Reader!

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