Break My Stride

The regular season came to an end for LSU last night with a 45-21 win over Texas A&M, and I am going to miss the seniors and the guys the team will lose to the NFL draft. It’s been a pleasure watching you all play for the last few years. I also want to shout out to Danny Etling, who has never really gotten the kind of respect he earned over the last two seasons. He’s not Eli Manning, but he was a cool, competent quarterback who made some big plays and only threw two interceptions this entire season. That’s pretty amazing. And considering where the team was at one point, it’s no disgrace to take pride in how they closed out the season, winning six of their last seven games–including a win over Auburn, who went on to win the West division spot in the conference championship game by beating Alabama yesterday–the second CFS Number One team they defeated in three weeks.

GEAUX TIGERS!

I also continued working on the Scotty Bible yesterday–found some discrepancies that may not be able to be corrected, at least maybe not right away–but the ones I can’t correct are easily explained away; and I can correct things like the fact that Storm apparently had children in the first two books that completely vanished from the series later. Oops. (I’m not sure if they disappeared or just were never mentioned again; I don’t think I ever said Storm didn’t have children; I just never mentioned them, and that is kind of weird, really; why wouldn’t Scotty or his parents ever talk about his nieces and nephews? Although it might be kind of fun to bring them into the story at some point….hmmmm. Also, I mentioned in one book that Frank’s parents lived in Chicago and then in a later one that they were dead. I think I can correct that in the earlier book; let’s hope.

Obviously, I should have done this years ago.

But I have only one more book to go through–Garden District Gothic–which is incredibly exciting, and then I can create the Scotty Bible, which….is not so incredibly exciting. Ah, well. I have a lot to do today, so it’s probably best to get to it.

Here’s how it looks so far:

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Talking in Your Sleep

My God, that Saints game. My God. There I was, watching the game as I went about my business of the day–I’ve learned not to solely focus on the Saints games, as I can hardly handle the stress–and thinking, well, seven in a row is still pretty damned good, and this loss doesn’t mean the season will end prematurely because we can still regroup. Can I be blamed for moving into the “acceptance” phase? We were down by fifteen points with about three minutes left in the game. BLAM! The Saints move down the field and score, and it’s 31-23. Yeah, sure, but we have to kick-off and the defense hasn’t exactly played well all day, right? And we’d need a two-point conversion to force overtime, on top of that. But you know–that glimmer of hope was there. And then sure enough, there it was–a great stand on fourth down and the Saints get the ball back. Paul had fallen asleep on the couch somehow, and I woke up him up when I shrieked when the Saints got the ball down to about the fifteen yard line for a first down–so he was awake to see the next play; that insane juggling catch for Alvin Kamara that he took in for a touchdown. And sure enough, there it was–the two point conversion. Tied, 31-31, with about a minute left in the game. Still plenty of time though for the Redskins…but it was not to be. OVERTIME. The defense forced a three and out and the Saints marched right down the field and kicked the winning field goal.

I still can’t believe it. 8-2. Eight in a row.

I turned to Paul and said, “remember back in September when we wrote off this football season?”

At that point, the Saints were 1-2 and LSU had just lost to Troy. Troy. TROY. We were looking at probably the worse LSU season since 1999, and the Saints weren’t looking much better. “Oh, well, we had a good run,” I remember saying to Paul. “It’s been a long time since both the Saints and LSU were bad at the same time.” (I distinctly remember one weekend a while back being very excited because both LSU and the Saints had won on the same weekend.) Now, the Saints are 8-2, LSU is 8-3 and, with a win over Texas A&M next weekend and a possible bowl win, could have a 10 win season.

And people are talking Super Bowl for the Saints. I think that’s a tad premature, but it’s kind of exciting all the same. It’s been awhile since the Saints have won eight in a row–probably going back to the year we DID win the Super Bowl.

And…LSU is looking really good. The game this weekend, a 30-10 win over Tennessee, was sloppy; but the weather was insane and hey, a win is a win. It’s almost as though that loss to Troy woke LSU up; when we went to the season opener against BYU in the Dome I wasn’t impressed with this year’s Tigers. They seemed to sleepwalk through the game, and the same again the next week when we went to the home opener against Tennessee-Chattanooga. Then came the embarrassing loss at Mississippi State, the sluggish win over Syracuse–and the horrible embarrassment of losing to Troy. But that loss seemed to snap the Tigers out of their season malaise; as though they finally realized they couldn’t just show up and win. They’ve only lost once since then–to Alabama, and hey, they’re only undefeated and ranked number one in the country, and the Tigers weren’t humiliated; it was a much closer game than the 24-10 would indicate. The win over Florida at their stadium, 17-16, was the start of Florida’s slide that got their coach fired; and good Lord! That come from behind win over Auburn? We watched the first half and the first drive of the second in our hotel room in Toronto; we had to leave to go meet friends for drinks and then dinner. I followed the game on my phone and could not believe they came back. I shouted in the Sheraton club lounge when my phone told me the game ended. (And Auburn trounced Georgia, when Georgia was undefeated and ranked Number One, setting up their Iron Bowl showdown with Alabama next weekend with the SEC West and the play-offs on the line; kind of similar to that year of the Kick Six. Auburn lost to LSU that year, too.)

Next year could be an awesome year for LSU….and this season could be an awesome one for the Saints.

Lesson learned; never count out those Louisiana teams after September.

Oh, yes, I am also in Facebook jail for seven days. I probably waste too much time on there anyway, so without that distraction maybe I can get everything done that I want to get done this week. We shall see, shan’t we?

And now back to the spice mines.

Here’s Charlie Hunnam, flipping off Facebook and Zuckerberg.

 

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I’ve Got a Rock and Roll Heart

I wish the time would change already. I don’t know why it was moved back another week or two, but seriously.

I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I needed to, but that’s okay, you know. Any progress is better than no progress, and I am inching closer to the finish line. Yesterday I started doing a line edit of Jackson Square Jazz, but decided that it would be easier now to just do an electronic edit–there’s a lot that needs to be fixed and changed (I cannot believe what a messy manuscript I turned into Kensington all those years ago!) and so instead I am rereading it and making an outline from it, as well as making notes on continuity errors that need to be checked against later volumes in the series…you so rarely get a chance to correct them from the beginning, you know? I really shouldn’t let this opportunity to correct the continuity mistakes in the Scotty series go by; plus I also see this as an excellent opportunity to finally get the Scotty concordance/Bible done, so as to avoid these problems in the future. But it’s a lot of work, seriously, and I do wonder if I am using all of this as an excuse not to work on the new one.

In fact, I am wondering if I am using this as an excuse to not work on many things, if I’m going to be completely honest.

In other exciting news, we’ve got tickets for LSU-Arkansas. Huzzah!

But I did start rereading the Scotty WIP last night and started making an outline for it. I’m also going to slowly start revising it, based on the notes I’ve made, and keep going forward. I’ve not heard back from any agents, but I am going to focus on Scotty this week and then spend the weekend and the next week to tweak the book I am submitting for representation. Another young adult novel that i wrote a while back and put in the drawer because I didn’t know how to fix what was wrong with it–of course, last night it came to me how to fix it, so I am now trying to figure out when to squeeze working on THAT into my already busy, hectic writing schedule.

Sigh, life as a Gregalicious is never easy or for the faint of heart.

And now back to the spice mines.

Here’s a hunk for your Tuesday:

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Pass the Dutchie

Bouchercon next year will be in St. Petersburg, Florida. It will be hot and sticky, but there will be lovely gulf breezes and a sun shower every afternoon right around three o’clock.

Last night we watched LSU beat Ole Miss 40-24; we’re on a three game win streak now and bowl eligible. There’s a bye next week, and then LSU has to play at Alabama. Heavy sigh. I don’t know if I’ll even watch that game…I know I will, but it’s going to be hard to watch. LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2011, and it’s not very likely they will this year. The fan in me is hopeful; the realist in me isn’t.

I did manage to finish reading Anna Dressed in Blood yesterday. I’m not going to review it, though–it was okay; I can see why it appeals to tweens and young teens, but it doesn’t really work on an adult level. I think maybe if I hadn’t watched all eleven or twelve or however many seasons of Supernatural there are, I might have enjoyed it more; but it was too reminiscent of the show for me. The main character’s name is even Cas…and of course, there’s a Cas on Supernatural. Apparently the author, Kendare Blake, has turned it into a series, and that’s terrific. I doubt I’ll read another. I only knew of the book because a tween reviewer raved about my own Sara and compared the two to each other favorably; she also compared it to Pretty Little Liars, which I also appreciated. I started my reread of The Haunting of Hill House last night as well, and also finished reading Craig Pittman’s Oh, Florida!, which I also enjoyed. It reminded me a lot of childhood summers spent in Florida, and even inspired me to drag out an old short story set in the Panhandle, “Cold Beer No Flies,” which I’ve been sort of working on since getting back from Toronto. I do recommend the book highly; while it doesn’t fully explain the weirdness that is Florida, it is very informative, at times funny, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

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It’s even got me thinking about writing a new series set in Florida, if you can believe that. But that’s how my mind works. I’ve been toying with a couple of ideas for noir novels set in Florida for a long time–I also have an idea for a funny noir style novel set there as well–and the lovely thing about having this book on my shelf is I can always take it down and reread a section to get my inspiration jump-started.

I also need to get that damned copy edit of Jackson Square Jazz finished this week. That’s my goal; get the copy edit done, start the final revision of the WIP, and do two chapters of the new Scotty this week while writing some short stories. It’s lofty, but I think I can get it all done.

And on that note, t’is off to the spice mines.

Take Me to Heart

Being an LSU fan is not for the faint of heart.

Saturday afternoon in Toronto, after my panel, Paul and I retired to our room and flipped on the television to see if we could see the LSU-Auburn game up there. There was a CBS station from Buffalo, so we were able to do so; the primary problem being that when we turned the game on, it was late in the first quarter, the score was 17-0, and Auburn had the ball.

We both sighed resignedly and collapsed onto the bed.

I was raised on college football. My dad’s family are Auburn fans, my mother’s Alabama. I’ve had relatives play for both teams; bestselling author Ace Atkins also played for Auburn, and we bonded many years ago over our lifelong fandom of the Auburn Tigers. The rules in my family were very clear: we rooted for Alabama when they played everyone but Auburn. I always liked LSU, though–I thought the whole “Death Valley” thing and having an actual live tiger mascot was kind of cool, and of course I’ve always loved the colors purple and gold. After we moved down here to New Orleans, Paul started watching college football with me on Saturdays, and he started rooting for LSU; the same way we both rooted for the Saints. I followed the same rules I’d grown up with: root for Auburn, root for Alabama when they play everyone else but Auburn, and added root for LSU when they play everyone else but Auburn and Alabama.

Paul, of course, always rooted for LSU.

I remember one night a year or so after we moved here, we were out with friends at Lafitte’s and I happened to notice that the Clover Grill’s television was tuned into the LSU-Florida game. Florida was riding the nation’s longest winning streak, hadn’t lost an SEC (Southeastern Conference) game in a couple of years, and was ranked Number One in the country; LSU wasn’t given much of a chance. I wandered across the street with my beer to watch the kick-off and was stunned as LSU jumped out to an improbable 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. I only walked back across the street to get more beer or go to the bathroom or when it was half-time; I watched that entire game without sound through the Clover Grill’s windows and improbably, upstart LSU managed to hang on and win the game 28-21. It was probably the biggest upset in LSU football history, and Death Valley went crazy–I could also hear people yelling around the Quarter every time LSU scored.

Everyone knows about the great Halloween game between LSU and Ole Miss back in 1959, when LSU was ranked number one and Ole Miss number three, and LSU won on the great Billy Cannon punt return, 7-3. I watched the Auburn-LSU game in 1988, when LSU upset 4th ranked Auburn 7-6 on a last minute touchdown and the fans were jumping up and down so much it registered on the LSU’s geology department’s Richter scale (my cousin was playing for Auburn then, and in full disclosure–I wasn’t thrilled to see that Tommy Hodson pass completion). That game is now known as the Earthquake Game, and clinched a tie for the SEC title that year for LSU with Auburn.

I switched fully over to LSU after Hurricane Katrina, during the evacuation and the return, watching the LSU games because watching those games was something about Louisiana that was normal; when everything else seemed to be disrupted there were the Tigers playing in Death Valley. I didn’t have the Saints that year because they weren’t playing in the damaged Superdome, and there was talk about them being moved to San Antonio. Tiger Stadium had been a triage center as FEMA and the Coast Guard and the Marines air-lifted people out of New Orleans; many of the players were from the city and had relatives and friends and neighbors crammed into their apartments with them. LSU and the campus were instrumental to the rescue efforts, and essentially, a life-line for the city I loved so much. That year LSU moved to Number One in my heart, and they have stayed there ever since.

And the games! My God, LSU games are nail-biters almost always. and from 2005-2007 LSU seemed to almost always pull the game out at the end with some kind of insane end. LSU won the national championship in 2007; the only time a two-loss time did so, and were the first team with more than one loss to be able to lay claim to the national title in over forty years. There were so many great moments that year–including the insane come from behind win over Auburn. With time running out and the ball on the thirty yard line, one point behind…quarterback Matt Flynn threw a pass to the end zone that was caught to win the game 30-24 with one second left on the clock.

There have been many games like that since–the Tigers don’t always pull them out, but they do more often than they don’t. Last year’s Auburn game was the same–a touchdown pass completed to win the game as time ran out, only to have the officials rule the ball was snapped after time ran out and nullified the touchdown.

Coach Les Miles was fired after that game.

This year’s LSU team hasn’t looked good. Paul and I went to watch the lackluster win over BYU in the Superdome to start the season; we went to the season opener in Baton Rouge to see another lackluster win over a second-tier team. LSU was blown out at Mississippi State, but still managed to stay ranked….until they lost two weeks ago against Troy in Tiger Stadium; the first loss for LSU against a non-conference opponent since 2000. Somehow they managed to upset Florida 17-16 the next week in Gainesville…but this weekend, Auburn was ranked Number 10, rolling over everyone they played. Mississippi State, who had beaten LSU by thirty points, lost to Auburn 49-10. No one had high hopes…even though Auburn hadn’t won in Baton Rouge since 1999.

That year, after beating LSU 41-7, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and some of his players walked out onto the field to the tiger eye at the fifty yard line to triumphantly smoke cigars. It was an insult no one here has forgotten….and Auburn has lost every time they’ve played here since.

After forcing Auburn to kick a field goal to go up 20-0, LSU scored to make it 20-7. Auburn managed another field goal, but LSU scored in the closing seconds of the first half to make it 23-14, and were getting the ball back first in the second half. A comeback wasn’t out of the question….but on that first possession they had to punt, and despite keeping Auburn from getting a first down, a stupid penalty gave Auburn another set of downs and it was time for us to go.

I was certain the game was over.

I checked my phone later in the lounge as we ate hors d’oeuvres and drank wine in the lounge while waiting for it to be time for our dinner reservation–and lo and behold, the score was now 23-21 with about ten minutes left. I kept hitting refresh and BOOM! LSU kicked a field goal to finally go ahead 24-23.

They held on, kicking another field goal with just seconds left in the game to go up 27-23…and somehow pulled it off.

I still can’t believe I missed seeing it.

Geaux Tigers! I hope to see a replay of the game at some point.

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Death Valley: where dreams come to die.

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

I slept very well last night and woke up to sunshine this morning. Nate kept turning to the east as he headed for land last night. We didn’t even get high winds here at the Lost Apartment; and just a little sprinkling rain. He also came ashore much sooner than originally anticipated; the weather at the Michigan-Michigan State game looked much worse than it was here. LSU also won yesterday, a nail-biting and highly nerve-wracking 17-16 win over Florida in Gainesville, which we watched while we waited for Nate to arrive.

I’m enjoying Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, and it has a lot of interesting things to say about modern society and the zombie apocalypse; basically, the theme is that modern society is just as much a zombie apocalypse as an actual one. And it’s an interesting world he’s building there, with his post-apocalyptic Manhattan. This is a zombie novel, but it’s also literary; I appreciate Whitehead’s take on zombies, but it’s more literary than zombie, if that makes sense. I’ll keep reading it, because it has a lot to say, and the insights and language are quite lovely…but nothing has happened, really, and I am about 100 pages in. When you compare that to, say, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which is only about 170 pages long…I decided yesterday that the thing to do was read it along with something else; maybe a chapter or two a day of Whitehead while reading something else more traditionally horror. I got started on two more books that didn’t pass the fifty-page-test and went into the donation pile, and then started Stephen Graham Jones’ Mongrels, which is pretty interesting so far. The voice is pitch-perfect; and I am curious to see where it goes. I found a couple of more books in the TBR pile to add to the Halloween Horror Read-a-thon; let’s hope those pass muster.

I didn’t get as much done yesterday as I would have liked; I did go to the grocery store but failed to get the things I really went for–so was unable to make Swedish meatballs for dinner last night. (Seriously, the most important things to get were ground sirloin and heavy cream…the two things I didn’t get.) So, today I am going to focus on getting things done. I did get the filing done yesterday, and today I need to make a packing list for the trip; a to-do list for the week; a submissions spreadsheet for the agent search and short stories; and I need to clean. I am also going to go back to the beginning of the Scotty and start revising, to write my way out of the hole I’ve gotten myself into. I’ll take the other WIP with me to Toronto to make notes. I’ve also relaunched my wrestling blog, which I kind of let slide for the last years or so, with a goal of posting at least once or twice a week. That’s something that’s just fun for me; I need to do fun things periodically in order to keep my writing fun. I was thinking last night about a short story I wrote, that was in the collection Wanna Wrestle?, and how much thought I put into structuring it and the story I wanted to tell…I think I might rush my short stories a bit, just coming up with the idea and not thinking about it before I start writing it, which could be why I am so not-confident about them as I should be.

Something definitely to consider.

And on that note, this spice isn’t going to mine itself.

Here’s a hunk to get the week started for you, Constant Reader.

 

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Time (Clock of the Heart)

Good morning! ‘Tis Sunday in the Lost Apartment, and Paul is still asleep. I’m on my second cup of coffee, and my back is a little sore. I’m also dehydrated; which means I’m going to have to guzzle down water at some point–probably when I’m finished with coffee for the day. We’re supposed to meet some friends down in the Quarter later on this afternoon; so hydration is going to be key.

We went to the LSU-BYU game last night in the Superdome, relocated from Texas because, well, in case you aren’t aware of it, there’s been a major flooding issue in Houston thanks to that rat-bastard Hurricane Harvey. It was the first time we’ve been to an LSU game outside of Tiger Stadium, which also felt kind of weird; it was also weird to go to an LSU game we could have to and from. The game wasn’t sold out; the tickets only went on sale Wednesday and of course, being Labor Day people probably already had made plans, weren’t planning on going to Houston for the game. Still, there were about 53,000 people or so in the Dome–which gets really loud–and I’d say probably about 90% of the people in attendance were LSU fans. (Reading a write-up on the game from the Salt Lake newspaper this morning, I laughed when the reporter said Apparently there’s a side split canyon to Death Valley in New Orleans.  So, while the crowd was partisan Tiger fans primarily it still wasn’t a home game and that seemed weird when you’re used to Tiger Stadium. They also had the Dome at an arctic climate so I was cold, and by the fourth quarter I had goosebumps from the cold that wouldn’t go away. All the reports I read of the game was that it was a dominating performance by LSU, and it kind of was; the defense smothered the Cougar offense which never crossed the fifty yard line, and limited them to maybe four or five, at most, first downs. They also got an amazing interception that was just beautifully played. The LSU offense was…well, it got the job done but wasn’t particularly exciting other than a long pass from Danny Etling that set up the second LSU touchdown in the second quarter after the interception. (LSU scored two touchdowns quickly; after an initial drive, they kicked off and on BYU’s first play after that came the interception.) But we also missed a field goal, and didn’t make a 4th and 1 from the one-yard line.

I’m not sure how confident I am that this is going to be a great season. But it’ll be fun to watch–it always is–and there were some terrific plays in the game last night. Afterward Paul and I walked home from the Superdome. We got home shortly after midnight, and I read for a while before going to bed.

This morning, I’m going to relax and rest and gird my loiB57D1D19-BE70-4E9F-BAC5-D5AF8D7314C6s for going down to the Quarter. I still have tomorrow off–my back is a little sore from doing Outreach last night and the walking last night–so hopefully tomorrow I can sleep in, get some good rest, let my back stop hurting, and get some writing down. I’ll probably try to get Chapter 4 finished today, and maybe even start Chapter 5. We shall see.

And here’s a nice shot of the Tiger band from last night.