Don’t Dream It’s Over

Saturday, and LSU is taking on Vanderbilt at eleven a.m. on the SEC Network. GEAUX TIGERS!

I feel pretty good this morning. The massive volunteer project is now over but for the shouting, and I feel pretty damned good about it. I’ve been sleeping well, and starting to feel more rested–the emotional and creative hangover I’ve been experiencing has been absolutely horrific–so hopefully this weekend I can focus and get more work done. I am soooo far behind where I need to be with everything right now; but that also seems to be where I am at all the time, regardless of what else I am doing. I tend to always fall behind.

ALWAYS.

But I am taking today as a day of rest from everything–don’t worry, I’ll still be cleaning during the football games today (LSU-Vanderbilt, Georgia-Notre Dame, Florida-Tennessee) and maybe get some reading done; I also will have my journal perched on my end table so whenever an idea or thought comes to mind, I will be able to jot down notes whenever ideas come to me–and they almost always do, without fail. It really is a good idea, for the record, to write stuff down. I often go back through my journals and find jewels I’d completely forgotten about secreted in there.

And I have a veritable plethora of choices for my next book to read. The TBR pile around here has been out of control for quite some time, and I’ve got to start reading some of these books. I have some more reading to do to prepare for Bouchercon–I’m moderating two panels–and of course, there’s the Diversity Project, but I think I am going to read Lisa Lutz’ The Swallows next. I’ve also got to start preparing for those panels, thinking up good questions that will stimulate a healthy, vibrant discussion. Moderating panels is a lot of work, but I always try to think of them in terms of being like talk shows; like as moderator I’m Oprah and they are my panel of guests to talk about books. Loving books and authors as much as I do, it’s not much of a reach for me, and I am moderating some panels with some pretty smart, amazing, and talented people.

I seriously know some of the most amazing people. I have the most fantastic friends. I am so lucky.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines–LSU kicks off in half an hour.

GEAUX TIGERS!

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Everybody Have Fun Tonight

Well, we made it to Wednesday and survived, did we not? It’s payday, aka pay-the-bills day (yay) and I also only have to work a half-day, which is lovely.

I didn’t want to get up this morning; the big project I was working on was officially finished yesterday and turned in; and I was amazed at how much it had taken out of me. I was exhausted when I went to bed last night; emotionally and physically. Today I get to start digging out from under; my email inbox is completely out of control, and I’ve been trying to keep up with it as much as I can lately, but also haven’t really wanted to face some of them while I was so vested in something else, frankly. Today I have my half-day, and tomorrow I have the day off because I have to deal with some personal issues that will involve me driving all over New Orleans and Metairie–and no, none of it is anything that will resolve any issues I’ve been having with other things; I still need to figure out when to get to the dentist and to the Apple Store with my laptop and get the oil changed in my car. But as most of tomorrow will be spent driving somewhere and then waiting, I can hopefully get a lot closer to finished with Rob Hart’s wonderful The Warehouse, which I am greatly enjoying but have been too tired to read.

The goal for the rest of this week is to get some good work on writing done, get the email inbox cleaned out from top to bottom, and figure out what I can get done the rest of this month before I have to work on another project. I started some prep work for the Kansas book yesterday, which is basically being completely overhauled, just brainstorming name changes as I realized I used many of these character names in Sara (which is also a Kansas book), and therefore really can’t use them a second time. There’s definitely a couple of short stories that need to be finished, and of course, the Lost Apartment really needs to be cleaned thoroughly from ceiling fans down to the floor.

Something to do while college football games are on Saturday, I guess. LSU is playing Vanderbilt, but I don’t know if it’s a day or evening game–haven’t had the time to look it up, but definitely will, obviously, before Saturday–and other than that, I don’t know what other games are on tap for this weekend. But it’s lovely to know that I can have my usual Saturday again–writing in the morning before errands, then cleaning while watching football games the rest of the day, and reading as well–after several weeks of not having normal weekends.

I do rather think that once my brain has rested, it’s going to probably explode into another episode of mass creativity; which is daunting to think about, quite frankly, but always winds up being fun of some sort, and who knows what creative efforts might come forth. I’m still so discombobulated from all this work that I don’t know whether I’m coming or going to be honest; it’s kind of like that time after the Great Data Disaster of 2018, when I was literally on fire with creativity and balancing multiple projects and having a great time with everything…until the betrayal of my electronics.

I am now up to the lynching massacre of Italians in New Orleans that took place after the chief of police was murdered in the 1890’s in Lords of Misrule; another disgraceful period of history but at least one that wasn’t memorialized like the Battle of Liberty Place. I’ve read about this mob violence against Italians before, in Gary Krist’s Empire of Sin (which I highly recommend), and I know there’s a story in there somewhere for Monsters of New Orleans, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.  But I will get there someday.

And oop–there it is. I just figured it out. See what I mean? This is how my mind works. It’s seriously crazy. But it also solved a problem for me with one of the short stories I have in development; ah, if I just tweak this and add this bit, now the story works much better and maybe I can now sell it. How cool is that?

Pretty fucking cool, methinks.

Okay, time to get to the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone.

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Livin’ on a Prayer

Good morning, and a happy Sunday to you all.

LSU pummeled Northwestern State 65-14 last night; they were sluggish in the first half on both offense and defense, allowing the score to be 24-14 at halftime and me wondering if this was some kind of terrible, awful, no-good let down after last weekend’s big game. Never fear–Joe Burrow came out on fire in the second half. LSU scored on it’s four possessions of the third quarter to go up 44-14, adding three more scores in the final period with back-up quarterback Myles Brennan (who also looked fantastic, which is good news for the next two years of LSU football as well), and had the game well in hand. Northwestern State maybe got three first downs total in the second half? But it was amazing to see LSU score 41 points in a half. I never thought I’d ever see the day when that happened, and yet…here we are.

I managed to get the Lost Apartment relatively cleaned up yesterday, and worked on some writing that’s due soon, but have a lot more writing to do today. I am having coffee with my friend Lisa this morning before she leaves town heading home for Atlanta, but after that I need to come home, strap my ass into my desk chair, and finish writing everything that needs to get done today. The essay is the most important thing for me to get done as it is due today; I struggled with it yesterday but I know what I want to say in it but have to figure out how to order the points I am trying to make with it. That is a lot harder than it sounds, and I really want this to be a good essay. I have remarkably little confidence in my ability to write anything, but the scars from college about essays run even deeper than the ones for short stories. But, as my friend Laura always reminds me, my blog is a short daily personal essay, and I have been writing these almost every day for the last fifteen years–which is a terrifying thought, really. I don’t write one of these every day–although I do try–but even if I only do 200 per year….that’s 3000 of these.

Three thousand.

So, yeah, I’m not precisely sure why I still get imposter syndrome about anything to do with writing, other than basic insecurity. The insecurity is something I am trying to work on; it’s an on-going process, obviously. I mean, if I still get imposter syndrome about writing fiction–after all the books and short stories and awards and nominations–obviously it runs very deep in me. I’m not sure why that is–most likely because of the never feeling like I fit in that developed as a gay child–but there you have it. It’s not comforting that other writers experience it as well, although it does help somewhat to know I’m not alone in this.

Okay, sorry to be so brief, but I’ve really got to get to work. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

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Alone

GEAUX TIGERS!

LSU plays Northwestern State tonight; I’m sure it’s being televised somewhere. I just haven’t had the chance to look it up yet. This has been such a crazy and exhausting week I’ve barely had time to think, let alone plan or get anything done. I need to make certain I avoid being overwhelmed, because that is the surest path to not getting any of it done. I have a lot of writing to get caught up on, not to mention how filthy and disgusting the Lost Apartment’s current state is. Heavy heaving sigh. I didn’t sleep well again last night; for the last two nights I’ve not been taking the medication that puts me to sleep because, as always, I fear dependency issues arising. I also have to get my email under control; because it is completely out of control.

Yesterday after I got off work I met my friend Lisa for a drink. Lisa is in town for the weekend from Atlanta–we’re having coffee again tomorrow morning before she leaves town–and I never get to see Lisa nearly enough. I met her at the Elysian Bar in the Marigny, which is part of the Hotel Peter & Paul complex, which used to be a Catholic church and convent. Paul had actually been there earlier in the week–they might be using the place for a Williams Festival event–and came home raving about how lovely and cool the place is. It actually is quite lovely, and I had a lovely time hanging out with Lisa. I also got to meet her friend Audrey, whom I only know through Facebook, and local television anchor Sheba Turk (both, along with Lisa, are absolutely gorgeous women–intelligent and talented and smart). It was absolutely lovely, then I stopped at Rouse’s on the way home. I started watching a BBC series on Netflix, The A List, which is just weird, yet oddly entertaining, and each episode is less than half an hour.

Paul and I then watched the first episode of Showtime’s Murder in the Bayou, based on Ethan Brown’s book. I’d already watched a similar docuseries on the murders on Hulu earlier this year, only that was called Death in the Bayou: The Jennings 8, and was very different than Brown’s book (which I read after watching the series on Hulu); it left out some crucial details about the women’s lives, but that was undoubtedly because the show was produced with the cooperation of one of the victim’s sisters; if you remember, this show and book inspired me to consider writing another Chanse book, based on the case, which I still might actually–probably will–do; it’s just such an interesting and fascinating case, and still unsolved.

We have to take Scooter to the vet for his annual physical later this morning–he always loves getting into the carrier so much–and he’s also going to get his razor-sharp claws trimmed. I probably should get over my fear and reluctance to trim his nails myself; I just remember a friend doing that once and cutting them too close and the poor kitty was bleeding and in pain, which of course I wouldn’t be able to ever get over the guilt if I were to do the same thing. It’s probably not that difficult, and Scooter is passive enough to probably sit still for it–it only took him about eight years to get used to his flea medication application enough to not fight it anymore–but again, I’m too afraid of hurting him to go through with it. I’ve noticed on-line that have nail caps for cats; I’ve considered getting those. He loves to knead bread when he’s purring, and of course the claws come out and go right through my clothes to the skin. He doesn’t understand, naturally, that he’s hurting me in his show of affection, and I always feel bad that I have to stop him because those fucking claws are sharp.

This weekend I have to finish an essay and a short story, at the bare minimum, and I’d like to get a chapter of Chlorine written if I can. I feel rather defeated this morning, quite frankly, and I am not sure how to get around that other than actually getting things done, you know? I mean, what better cure for feeling overwhelmed with work than making progress, right? And perhaps if I can get a lot of work done today, I can reward myself with Rob Hart’s The Warehouse, as I’ve also fallen horribly far behind in my reading. And the books keep piling up.

All right, I am going to get to work on the kitchen and doing the laundry, opening my essay file and try to get some work done this morning.

Happy Saturday, Constant Reader!

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Shake You Down

And just like that, it becomes Tuesday.

Another restless night of sleep, yet I managed to get through yesterday after a similarly restless night, so I guess I’ll be okay today. Tomorrow is a short day for me (yay!) and so I just need to get through this really long day before the easy part of my week gets here.

And today is the official launch date for Royal Street Reveillon. I know some of you have already gotten and read it–thank you so very much!–and I hope my incessant reminders that the book is dropping today haven’t been overly annoying. I never know about that–it worries me somewhat to always been on self-promotion mode, and yet some authors seem to go there all the time without a problem, so maybe I’m doing this all wrong?

Then again, this is my blog, which is pretty much all about me to begin with, isn’t it? In a way, my blog is my own version of a reality TV show; a carefully curated but essentially honest version of my life. Something to ponder, at any rate.

I got another ask for a short story last evening after I got home from work–a solicitation to submit, not a guaranteed inclusion–and it’s something that immediately struck my fancy, so I said yes immediately. Without going into many details, it’s a pastiche; an assignment to write a story using another author’s incredibly famous characters to create something new, with a slight twist–the characters can be anything other than the famous nationality that is very much a part of them. Immediately, I came up with a great title (it’s one I’ve had in my back pocket for quite some time and thought I’d never get to use), which is always the first step of the process for me, and then jotted down some notes for it in my journal, which is usually the second step in the process for me, and then I realized I can probably start even writing the beginning, which also came to me last night. I have another story to finish by the end of the month and an essay I have to finish by the end of this week, so I need to stop procrastinating and get to work, don’t I? And the last round of the volunteer project is also on deck, so I suspect I am going to be very busy this week–which is also kind of nice.

This month is also flying by a lot faster than I would like, but that’s pretty much every month these days. So, for the record, this week I need to work on two short stories, finish an essay, and write a chapter of Chlorine, all while working on the volunteer project around the day job. Heavy heaving sigh. No rest for the wicked, I suppose.

But that’s my life, isn’t it? LSU doesn’t have another big game until next month, after they start SEC play–Vanderbilt, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas and then Texas A&M, with a week off between Auburn and Alabama–but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to watch their games against lesser-tier opponents in the meantime, but I find myself not all that interested in watching other college games this season. I really and truly only care about LSU (and Auburn, to a lesser extent) and I do have some affection for Alabama, residual leftover from growing up watching them during the Bear Bryant years, but not so much everyone else. Maybe that’ll change as the season progresses; I don’t know. But I am very excited for LSU, and excited to see how they turn out this season.

And maybe sometime I will have the time to actually sit down and lose myself in Rob Hart’s The Warehouse. My reading time lately has been greatly diminished, and I am not happy about that, either.

And now off to the spice mines for the day. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader.

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The Way It Is

Good morning, Sunday, hope everyone is well today. I’m a mixed bag; disappointed that Serena lost in the US Open final yesterday but quite happy that LSU managed to beat Texas last night, 45-38, with an insane second half that basically turned into a high-scoring shoot-out. And you know what’s weird? Every time Texas would pull themselves back into the game, I’d think, Okay, offense, get out there and score again. 

Even weirder? They would. LSU has never, in all the years I’ve watched them, had this kind of offense–at least since JaMarcus Russell went pro after the 2006 season. They scored a touchdown in the closing minutes of the first half to go up 20-7–they never fell behind again after retaking the lead 10-7 in the second quarter–and those two goal line stands in the first half? My God–how do you keep a team from scoring on two consecutive drives inside the five yard line? Eight plays inside the ten, and no points. That was really the turning point of the game for me–that, and that LSU came back and scored again immediately after the second goal line stand. I wondered how good LSU was after the Georgia Southern game–and yes, it’s still early in the season and there’s still a Murderer’s Row of a schedule to get through (including Auburn, Florida, Alabama, and Texas A&M), but wow. LSU is looking championship quality, at least early in the season–and that’s incredibly exciting…although teams we’ll be playing later in the season will be trying to come up with defenses to stop our offense. The defense bailed out the offense in the first half, and the offense bailed out the defense in the second half.

Nevertheless, there was a lot of tension in the Lost Apartment last night until we scored our final touchdown and made a two point conversion to go up 45-31 with less than two minutes to go in the game. Even then, I couldn’t relax until the on-side kick call went in our favor. But it was a big, landmark win for LSU–like Georgia last season–and suddenly, there we are, actually being considered amongst the national elite again.

Wow. GEAUX TIGERS.

Yesterday was one of those days, really–tired, unmotivated, incredibly frustrated with electronics (and increasingly so as the day progressed). My back is getting better but it still tender and slightly sore; I don’t understand what’s going on with the muscles of my lower back, but it really needs to stop. I need to work on a short story and an essay today=–the essay is due this week–and I also agreed to write some website copy at the last minute for a friend’s business. That’s going to take up my morning, mostly, and then there’s some more volunteer work to be done–and my kitchen is a mess and I need to get the filing under control. I’m going to print out the first chapters of the final revision I started on the Kansas book that I wrote earlier this year before having to put them aside–so as to get an idea how to get it going again, and I think I’m simply going to have to figure out how to make the necessary changes it needs before I start trying to write any of it. I am excited about this book, frankly–I’m glad after all the work I’ve put into it I’ve finally figured out how to solve the problems with it and make the story click–but I still have to revise and rewrite it, to get it done and out of my hands.

I am also going to try–try is the operative word here–to write a chapter of Chlorine every week. Last night as I watched the LSU game I figured out how to write the second chapter–and the research I need to do in order to get it right–and I figure if I write a chapter a week, in five months the first draft will be finished, and if I can’t carve out enough time to write a chapter a week I should be ashamed of myself. Obviously, there are going to be weeks I’m not able to get to it–but even if I get a chapter started and not finished, that’s better than not writing anything.

As you will notice, there’s no blatant self-promotion about Royal Street Reveillon contained in this  post. Instead, I will leave you with the opening of Chapter One. Enjoy.

I fished the last olive out of my almost empty glass and popped it into my mouth. I glanced at my watch as I chewed it, and moaned after swallowing. “There’s nothing like a good martini,” I said, glancing around the bar and getting our server’s attention.

 “Do we have time for another?” My nephew Taylor finished the rest of his sazerac and looked at me hopefully.

“I take it you liked it.” I replied, not even trying to hide my smile. “But no time for another unless we want to be late.”

This was Taylor’s first time at the Sazerac Bar. He’d turned twenty-one just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and since we were going to a party at the Joy Theater, I thought I’d treat him to a sazerac in the bar where they were invented. I personally don’t care for the drink—give me gin or vodka any day of the week—but everyone in New Orleans is required to try a sazerac at least once.

And now I could rest easy, having done not only my civic duty but treated Taylor to a New Orleans rite of passage.

I’d also wanted him to see the Roosevelt Hotel’s Christmas decorations. The Roosevelt was one of the grand old hotels of the city, and their lobby decorations are truly spectacular. Since we were going to a party at the Joy Theater—a mere block or so from the hotel, I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? This was Taylor’s second Christmas with us, and I wanted to do it right. We’d already done Celebration in the Oaks at City Park, and I’d loved seeing the beautifully decorated ancient live oak trees through a newbie’s eyes.

I know it’s corny, but I love Christmas.

Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader!

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Daisy a Day

Good morning, Sunday, how are you doing?

I slept late this morning; we got home rather late last night from the LSU game (GEAUX TIGERS!) and then I watched the first half of the game again, to catch things I missed in the live atmosphere of the stadium, as well as to see how the team looked on television. I am still kind of physically worn out this morning, despite the good long sleep, and as I slept later this morning I’m feeling like oh no you’re so behind already today you may never get everything done you need to–but I am fighting that feeling.

It’s always fun to be at a game in Tiger Stadium; it’s always fun to kick off the season by going to the home opener in Baton Rouge. It was, I have to say, the first and one of the only times I’ve ever been to, or watched, an LSU football game where I didn’t experience stress or anxiety of some kind at some point during the game. Sure, LSU was playing Georgia Southern, but in the past, whenever LSU has played a lower-tier team (UL-Lafayette, Southeastern Louisiana, Troy, Alabama-Birmingham–hell, they even LOST to Troy two years ago) they’ve always seemed to play down to their opponent, rather than operating the way a top-tier team should against a lesser foe. LSU scored last night on their first five possessions, and the score was 35-0 with ten minutes left in the first half.  Yes, you read that correctly: LSU was up 35-0 in with ten minutes left to play in the game. Georgia Southern didn’t even have a hundred yards of offense the entire game, and Joe Burrow threw more touchdown passes than he did incompletions. It was weird, it was exciting, and it was so wonderful to see LSU with a power offense churning up yards and scoring points for a change.

But the first real test is next week against Texas. They are also ranked in the top ten and the game is in Austin. How will the new offense and new attitude of the Tigers perform against a quality opponent? I feel confident I will feel stress during next weeks game. GEAUX TIGERS!

So, today is September 1st, and I am still not finished with Bury Me in Shadows. I did finish Chapter 24 yesterday, and I started Chapter 25 yesterday. Today I need to get that chapter and manuscript finished, and I also have to write that web copy and get it turned in. Fortunately, there’s no Saints game today, and Paul is going to a Southern Decadence party late this afternoon so I’ll be home alone and able to focus. Once I’m fully awake and completely caffeinated, I’m going to dig into Chapter 25 and be done, once and for all, with this draft of the book. Monday I have to work on the volunteer project, and then Tuesday is going to be a bit of a day for me, but I am hoping Tuesday night to be able to start revising the Kansas book for its final draft before submission. I also have to finish writing an essay that’s due on September 15th, and I have a short story due on October 1….so my September looks like it’s going to be really full. A lot of work for one Gregalicious, but I do enjoy me some challenges.

Although….it would be nice sometime to not always have a million things to do. And I really need some time to finish reading Rob Hart’s The Warehouse. Maybe sometime this week…I also really want to start reading Lisa Lutz’ The Swallows. I’m also (finally) reading Lords of Misrule: Mardi Gras and the Politics of Race in New Orleans by James Gill, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Then again, I find almost anything and everything about New Orleans fascinating. I’m still kind of surprised with myself that I haven’t read this book before. I know I’m probably going to have to write another Mardi Gras book; it’s been thirteen years since Mardi Gras Mambo was published; maybe not the next Scotty book, but the one after; I don’t know. But I also found, in reading Lords of Misrule for a few moments this morning, a fabulous quote to start the book off with…and let’s be honest, up until I read the quote this morning I didn’t think I would ever write about Mardi Gras again. But…here we are, right?

I also didn’t think I’d ever write another Chanse book, and now there’s one in the hopper.

I have so many books to write, Constant Reader! So I suppose I should probably stop procrastinating and get on with today’s writing, right?

 

Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader.

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