Right Back Where We Started From

A very good morning and a very good Friday to y’all. I slept late this morning, which was fabulous. I did wake up once, sometimes after four, but rolled over and focused and was able to fall right back asleep, and yes, marvelous doesn’t even begin to cover how lovely it felt. We had a terrible storm last night–it was much worse on the north shore and in Mississippi than it was here–but there was lots of rain, wind and thunder/lightning. I was able to leave work early–half-day–and came home feeling exhausted, so I went right to my easy chair while getting some laundry going. Paul and I then finished watching the third season of Cardinal, a Canadian series that it quite excellent–Bill Campbell is exceptionally good in the lead–and then watched a few episodes of a cute comedy series, also Canadian, called Kim’s Convenience, also in its third season. I then went to bed after folding a basket of laundry; the second basket is currently tumbling dry in the dryer. At some point I need to run to Rouse’s–although I am trying to stick really hard to the “don’t be a food hoarder anymore Gregalicious” mentality I developed thanks to the Termite Armageddon.

I really am going to make it a goal to clean out the kitchen cabinets more frequently; perhaps once a quarter?

So, the three day weekend looms large before me. I realized last night I forgot my flash drive at the office, but never fear…this week I managed to back up everything, including the flash drive, to my back-up hard drive AND the cloud, so I should be able to access everything I’ve been working on. I may not have the three hundred or so words I managed on chapter three of the WIP, but I have also found that reconstructing work I have already done sometimes–not always, but most of the time–turns out better than the work I’d already done. So, yes, I am going to try to do that this weekend, and get some other work done. I have more things on the “get done” list than is likely to actually get done (as always), but hey, it is what it is, you know?

Obviously, as always, there is cleaning I want to do, and there are some books I want to read–Alison Gaylin’s Never Look Back in particular, which I’ve started and is amazing thus far–and I also need, at some point, to do some book review blog posts. I think I may have taken too much time between reading the last two books I read and writing about them; we shall see, I suppose, once I actually start writing about them.

But this morning I feel good and ready to go; rested and better and all about getting things done today, which is quite lovely. I hope this motivation lasts, frankly–although it’s pretty easy to see it going south fairly soon–it doesn’t really take very much for me to get off track. But this morning I am going to do some writing and do some laundry and some cleaning and perhaps some organizing and we’ll see where the day takes us, shan’t we? I am also going to spend some time writing answers to my emails, which I will send on Monday morning (email begets email; so I stopped answering emails on the weekends several years ago and it felt marvelous; it still does, actually).

And now, back to the spice mines. Have a lovely good Friday, everyone.

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You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine

It’s Thursday. The last day of my work week.

Huzzah!

Alas, this afternoon we are supposed to have horrible weather–rains, possible street flooding, high winds, and tornadoes!

AIEEEEEEEE!

But it’s also my half-day, and tomorrow is Good Friday (thank you, Catholic New Orleans, yet again), so I am slipping into this day like it’s the last day of my work week before a three day weekend because it is.

I have gotten, somehow, absolutely nothing done this week. I wrote maybe two or three hundred words on the WIP, answered some emails, and finished reading a book, but outside of that I’ve really done not a whole hell of a lot. Oh, I also paid the bills Wednesday morning. So, this whole week has been pretty much written off as a loss. I suppose it’s okay, but I kind of have a little bit of regret for not working a lot harder this week on my writing. I did some brainstorming on another couple of projects as well, but you know, that’s not quite the same as actually making serious progress and moving forward on projects.

I am up early this morning because i am meeting a friend for breakfast at District Donuts at eight; again, something that rarely happens. Maybe this week has been off because I’ve been doing things I don’t normally do? I had dinner with friends on Monday night; I am having breakfast with another friend this morning–that’s two social engagements in a week whereas I usually have absolutely none. And of course last Saturday Jean and I spoke at the library–so my routine has been a little off.

I can always find a reasonable excuse as to why I am not working.

But I am hopeful that today after work I can get some writing in–perhaps even finish the revision of Chapter Three that’s kind of stuck in place for the last two weeks–and do some more work on the other projects, in addition to getting some cleaning done. I also think I am going to try to  make it back to the gym this weekend, get my workouts started over again and try to keep making progress on those goals so by Decadence I can be in reasonably good shape again; not that I will be participating in any Decadence activities, but I always used Decadence and Mardi Gras as my exercise goal endpoints, and it always worked, so why get away from what worked before? After all, going back to how I used to do things with my writing has significantly paid off–other than the lack of getting anything done over the last two weeks. I had hoped to get this draft finished by the end of the month and I am still going to try to get there. You never know.

I also need to review and reread some of my short stories this weekend so I can get back on the submissions treadmill again.

Yay!

And now back to the spice mines.

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More More More

Monday morning, and I overslept a bit this morning. Not a good start to the week, but the week is also only a four day week, as Good Friday is a city holiday (one has to love Catholic New Orleans, doesn’t one?) and so it’s a short week for me. Perhaps not off to the best start, but it’s off to a start at any rate.

In other exciting news, some of my computer issues have been solved, My friend Stuart, whose company is exclusively Mac and therefore is a sort of non-Apple-employed genius genius, is in town and we spoke on the phone yesterday (we are having dinner tonight) and he explained to me what some of the issues I have been having might have been…and he was correct. I worked on correcting those issues yesterday, to a point, and now my desktop computer is operating a little more normally than it was–it’s certainly faster, and the program crashing issue, at least for the last twenty-four hours, has apparently corrected itself–or my actions have corrected it. We shall see how long this lasts, shan’t we?

I also managed to get back to work on the WIP yesterday. I only managed about 400 words, but it was work and it was progress and I am definitely counting that as moving forward. I also did some brainstorming on the potential new series I am considering writing, which was lovely. The more I think about this new series the more I like it. Hopefully, it will work out and turn into something truly terrific; one can hope, at any rate. We shall certainly see. The goal for this week is to get several chapters on the WIP done, and to get some more work done on the two proposals I am writing. I am excited about both, even though they are both new things that I hadn’t even thought about it two months ago–which is pushing other projects I want to write further back into the ethereal future–but there you have it. That is this writer’s life, and someday–someday–I hope to have written everything I want to write.

I also managed to get some serious cleaning done yesterday. I had a great night’s sleep Saturday night, and therefore yesterday had more energy than I was expecting to have/thought I would have/have had on a Sunday in quite some time. So the kitchen and the living room look really lovely; I am hoping to use the extra day this coming weekend to do some other, more serious cleaning (oy, my ceiling fans are filthy, and I don’t even want to discuss my kitchen windows). So, in other words, Sunday was a much more productive day than I’d thought it would be, and it turned out quite nicely–particularly after I didn’t get anything really accomplished on Saturday, other than finishing Steph Cha’s wonderful book, which I greatly enjoyed (more to come on that later). So…despite my late start to the day–which I am not letting discombobulate me at all, instead of stressing about being late I am going to just get the things done I need to get done before I leave the house this morning and let the day play out as it may.

The premiere of the penultimate season of Game of Thrones  last night was a bit slow, but it was also a set-up episode, setting the stage for the big finish of all the stories that are currently spinning out and coming to their inevitable end. We did get the big reveal about Jon Snow’s true parentage last night, which was incredibly cool, plus the scene of Jon and Dany riding the dragons (BIG hint, as only Targaryens can ride dragons), and I love how Sansa has turned into a Bad Boss Bitch. The evolution of Sansa as a character, from the wide-eyed innocent girl who dreamed of marrying and being a queen to the calculating, suspicious, trust-no-one Lady of Winterfell has been extraordinary, and bravo to Game of Thrones for this. Bravo.

We also watched the season finale of Schitt’s Creek over the weekend and it, too, was enormously satisfying. Watching Stevie on stage coming into her own as Sally in Cabaret singing “Maybe This Time” was one of those in-your-feels moments that the show does so remarkably well. Schitt’s Creek may be one of the best sitcoms in the history of television; it has rarely missed a beat, has always been funny, and no matter how crazy or insane situation develops in each episode, every character remains true to themselves even as they develop, change and grow. I told a friend the other day that the run of Schitt’s Creek has had some of the best character development and growth I’ve ever seen in a television comedy series, and it’s incredibly true. The fact that there is only one more season breaks my heart more than just a little bit–and while I may have been late to watching this show–well, this is indeed another case of better late than never.

I also hope to start reading the ARC of Alison Gaylin’s new novel, Never Look Back, this week, and am most excited about it.

And now back to the spice mines. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader.

3

Bohemian Rhapsody

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide no escape from reality.

I do love the song. I wasn’t an enormous fan of the movie–primarily because I wasn’t that interested in the trajectory of the bad so much as I was more interested in Freddie and his life–but it was a perfectly good movie about a rock band.

I did finish reading Steph Cha’s Follow Her Home yesterday and I highly recommend it. The writing is exceptionally done well, and her character, Juniper Song, is terrific. I have some other thoughts about the book in my head, but am going to wait until they fully form before I write about it more. But…while I am sure I would have eventually gotten around to reading Steph–I’ve met her and like her–I am glad that I made a point of moving her up in the TBR pile. As I said when I was talking about the Diversity Project the other day, it’s the unconscious bias against minority writers I am fighting against within my own head and within my own choices, and trying to retrain/rewire my brain to not automatically move toward white writers when selecting the next book to read–even if they are women, who are also historically undermined as ‘not as serious as the men’ by not just the industry but by society itself. (I am really itching to start reading Alison Gaylin’s Never Look Back.)

As I’ve mentioned, my reading has always skewed more toward women than men; as a child, I preferred Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden to the Hardy  Boys (although the Three Investigators are my absolute favorite kids’ series, and they were boys), to the point where I was forbidden to read books either by women or about women for a period of time–which quite naturally made me want to read them even more.

The absolute best way to get me to do something is to either forbid me from doing it, or telling me that I can’t do it. Forbidding me makes me want it all the more, and telling me I can’t do something makes me want to prove you wrong.

I am ridiculously excited that Game of Thrones returns tonight for its final season. I am going to be terribly sorry when the show is over; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride from the time Paul and I got the DVD’s from Netflix and starting binge-watching; loved it so much we paid for the HBO app subscription so we could watch it as it aired, once we were caught up. I do want to finish reading the books–I’ve only finished A Game of Thrones–and maybe if I get a long vacation on a beach somewhere, I can finish the entire series that has been published thus far. I really loved the book, and suspect I’ll feel the same way about the rest of the series. Yesterday I spent some time reacquainting myself with some of my favorite moments from the series over the years, thanks to said HBO app–the Battle of the Loot Train, the end of Ramsey Bolton, the trial of Littlefinger, the big reveal about Jon Snow’s parents, the Battle of Meereen, Daenarys conquering the Dothraki by killing all the Khals, Cersei’s revenge on the Sept–and was again, as always, blown away by the sheer scope and scale of the show, and how fucking fantastic it is from top to bottom. Game of Thrones, whether you love it or hate it, is always going to be considered one of the greatest television series of all time, up there with The Wire, The Sopranos,and The West Wing, and deservedly so. We truly are in a marvelous time for television programming.

Friday I was even more ridiculously excited to see the first trailer for the ninth episode of Star Wars and to learn its title: The Rise of Skywalker. I really cannot wait to see this movie, and I suspect we are going to go see it on opening weekend this December if it kills me. It’s very strange to realize that Star Wars has been a part of my life for over forty years now…and while the second trilogy, episodes one through three, aren’t amongst my favorites (I’ve not rewatched them very much), I still have a big love for all things Star Wars, and frankly, Rogue One just might be my favorite Star Wars film of them all.

So, after a really good night’s sleep and waking up later than I usually do, I am going to clean this kitchen and then I am going to work for a while. I might go to the grocery store; we need a few things, but at the same time I should also be able to get the things we need on the way home from work tomorrow, if they are, in fact, so desperately needed. I think I’m going to do that–wait, I mean–because if I’ve learned anything from the Termite Genocide experience, it’s that I hoard food and really need to use the things I already have on hand rather than go out and buy new things to prepare.

I’m actually looking forward to working today, if you can believe that, Constant Reader. I am determined to get the next chapter of the WIP finished, and then I am going to work on these other two ideas I’ve had, and then I am going to spend a couple of hours with the Gaylin novel.

What a lovely Sunday this will turn out to be.

Have a terrific day, everyone–and in one week, it’s Easter!

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Misty Blue

Happy Saturday everyone! I just got home from doing an event at the Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional library, where I talked with Jean (J. M.) Redmann about characters and writing crime. It was quite fun–the Jean and Greg Traveling Dog and Pony Show always is–and the audience was quite lovely and engaged, which is always lovely. One never knows how those things are going to go, so it’s always lovely when things turn out nice.

I did some brainstorming and note-taking both yesterday and this morning, as a new series (HA! I am not telling you more than that) is starting to form in my mind. When the idea first came to me, I wasn’t sure if it was something I could tackle, or even if it was something I wanted to write…or even if I wanted to write it, if it was something I could write. But yesterday afternoon I decided to start writing some ideas down, and it suddenly started to come together in my head. I knew who my main character was and some of her back story; I began to build her world a little inside my head and in my journal, and I wrote some more about it today before the library event, which was also kind of lovely–I am so glad I started carrying journals around with me again last year! They really do come in handy, and I find just having one with me all the time is most helpful. I’ve done a lot of brainstorming in those journals since January 2018…I may spend some time today going back through them and retrieving stuff and ideas from them.

If you want to be a writer I highly recommend carrying a journal of some sort around with you.

I also read more of Steph Cha’s delightful Follow Her Home yesterday, and when I finish writing this I am going to repair to my easy chair and read some more of it–with my journal and a pen handily nearby. I should do some cleaning–the floors are revolting yet again, and the sink is full of dishes–but on the other hand I am also thinking having a day off is kind of a nice thing. Tomorrow is a free day–and the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones–and so I have all day tomorrow to clean and write and do things. I need to get back to work on the WIP, and I also want to keep not only making notes for this new series but there’s a stand alone idea I also want to work on. I’ve not yet written any stand-alone novels that weren’t classified as either young adult or “new adult”, this would be something for the “adult” audience, with no adjectives out in front. I am excited about both projects, but also recognize I need to get the first draft of this WIP finished this month so I can move on to revising a final draft of the other WIP. (There’s another WIP out there, as well…languishing in the drawer it’s been in for about five years now; someday.)

And on that note, I am heading over to my chair. Have a lovely Saturday everyone!

04

You Sexy Thing

I feel human this morning, which means I can go to work today! Hurray! Thank you, antibiotics and Claritin-D! Huzzah! Hurray!

It’s so lovely to feel normal (or at least what passes for it around here) again. The horrible thing about being sick is you can–or at least I do–often forget what it feels like to be healthy, and then wonder if you’re ever going to feel good again. My throat is still a little bit sore and my lungs still ache a bit from coughing so much, but other than that I am pretty damned good. So I can go to work today, do my half-day tomorrow, and then slide into the weekend. Ordinarily I’d take one more day off just to make sure I don’t relapse or something, but with the weekend so close…I think it’s okay to take the risk and go back to the office.

I just need to make sure I bring my Claritin with me–just in case.

But I also lost two days of productivity, and my mind was too foggy to even be able to focus on the book I am reading, Steph Cha’s wonderful Follow Her Home, which I hope to finish this weekend. I think next I am going to read my ARC of Alison Gaylin’s Never Look Back, and after that, possibly Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Homicide.

There’s so much good reading in my future!

I am also appearing at the East Jefferson Parish library, talking about creating characters, with J. M. Redmann; the event is free and open to the public, and here’s the schedule:

Fifth Annual JPL               

Mystery Readers / Writers Literary Festival

METAIRIE – Five local authors will make presentations at the Fifth Annual Mystery Readers / Writers Literary Festival at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, April 13, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie.

The festival is intended not just for mystery writers but for readers as well. This event is free of charge and open to the public. There is no registration.

9:30 to 10:45 a.m.

Farrah Rochon: “Using Psychology to Create Memorable Characters”

Farrah Rochon gives an interactive deep dive into creating characters using various methods rooted in psychology, including characterization with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey-Temperament Sorter, and how to apply them to fiction writing.

USA Today Bestselling author Farrah Rochon hails from a small town just west of New Orleans. She has garnered much acclaim for her Holmes Brothers, New York Sabers, Bayou Dreams and Moments in Maplesville series. The two-time RITA Award finalist has also been nominated for an Romance Times BookReviews Reviewers Choice Award, and in 2015 received the Emma Award for Author of the Year.

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Jean Redmann and Greg Herren:

 The central character in a mystery oftentimes will be a detective who eventually solves the mystery by logical deduction from facts presented to the reader. Through the years, Redmann and Herren have created dozens of characters in their mysteries, and they explain how to create logical, believable, complex characters that readers will love.

J.M. Redmann writes two mystery series, one featuring New Orleans PI Micky Knight, and as R. Jean Reid, the Nell McGraw series, about a Gulf Coast town newspaper editor. Her books have won First Place Awards in the ForeWord mystery category, as well as several Lambda Literary awards.The Intersection of Law and Desire was an Editor’s Choice of the San Francisco Chronicle and a recommended book by Maureen Corrigan of NPR’s Fresh Air. Redmann is an at-large board member for Mystery Writers of America.

Greg Herren is the author of more than 30 novels and has edited more than 20 anthologies. He has won numerous awards, including the Anthony and Lambda Literary Award (twice). His short story collection Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories was released on April 1, and his next novel Royal Street Reveillon will be released this September.

12:30 to 1:45 p.m.

O’Neil De Noux: “The Femme Fatale”

The evolution of this female siren, the femme fatale, in detective literature has a distinct development from the early days of the victim in Poe to the deadly archetype seen in the Chandler and Hammett novels and film noir. O’Neil De Noux explains the femme fatale architype and how it is used today.

O’Neil De Noux is a New Orleans writer with 40 books published, 400 short story sales and a screenplay produced. He writes crime fiction, historical fiction, children’s fiction, mainstream fiction, science-fiction, suspense, fantasy, horror, western, literary, young adult, religious, romance, humor and erotica. His fiction has received several awards, including the Shamus Award for Best Short Story, the Derringer Award for Best Novelette and the2011 Police Book of the Year. Two of his stories have appeared in the Best American Mystery Stories anthology (2013 and 2007). He is a past vice president of the Private Eye Writers of America.

2 to 3:30 p.m.

Writing Seminar with Adrian van Young

Van Young will focus on a number of items: (a) basic methods of characterization in fiction, briefly; (b) building unlikeable, as well as likeable characters (crucial to mystery fiction and crime); and (c) how to establish narrative unreliability, which he says is important in mystery writing, and goes hand-in-hand with the likeable/unlikeable dichotomy. To demonstrate these principles, he will focus on a combination of writing exercises and excerpts from published works.

Adrian Van Young is the author of The Man Who Noticed Everything, a collection of stories, and Shadows in Summerland, a novel. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in publications such as Lumina, The Collagist, Black Warrior Review, Conjunctions, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Slate, VICE, The Believer, and The New Yorker online. He received a Henfield Foundation Prize and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He teaches creative writing at Tulane, St. Martin’s Episcopal School and The New Orleans Writers Workshop.

For more information regarding this presentation, contact Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the library, at 504-889-8143 orwcsmith@jefferson.lib.la.us.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines.

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I’d Really Love to See You Tonight

I never used to have trouble with my sinuses, or allergies, or any of that; at least that I recall. But I would think I would remember having these horrible headaches, that reach down into my jaw, or the constant dripping and coughing and the fevers and the eyes burning and all that comes with sinus infections or allergies. I think it was sometime after 2001 that it happened the first time; the weather changed and spring sprung and suddenly I was feverish and coughing and my nose was running and a friend told me it was sinus-related; and that the best way to deal with it was taking stinging nettles. I thought it was weird, but on my way home I stopped at Walgreens and bought a bottle of stinging nettles in capsule form. I took two and within half an hour all of my symptoms were gone.

Like the whole thing had been a figment of my imagination.

The nettles worked so well that I started taking them every day even if I didn’t sense symptoms; along with my multi-vitamins and my workout supplements and other vitamins and fish oil and so forth, I took two capsules of nettles. It worked for years, but as time passed and I grew older, the nettles stopped being effective and I switched to Claritin-D, which is the only thing since the nettles that I’ve found that helps. But you can break Claritin-D down into something approximating crystal meth (I don’t know how it works or how you do it; I’ve never watched Breaking Bad) and so now the government keeps track of how much you can buy; you have to present ID and if its too soon after the last time you bought some…they won’t sell it to you. I’ve never quite been able to figure out how the limit works–I suppose I could research it on-line–but the bottom line of it is I treat my Claritin-D like gold. I won’t even let Paul have one, in case I need one and I’m out and it’s too soon to buy more. I used to try to buy some every time I pick up prescriptions to stockpile it so I will always have it when I need it; I’ve slacked off on that and this recent sinus infection has reminded me of the importance of having stock.

So, much as I would simply like to take a Claritin-D every day during the spring, I can’t because one-a-day is above the government monthly allowance. So, when my sinuses start reacting and we have heavy weather like we did over the weekend, because I am worried I might run out of it sometime when I really need it, I don’t take it preemptively and wind up with yet another sinus infection. So, note to self: when I can, I am going to buy more. And I am going to put a bottle of stinging nettles on the list, too. It can’t hurt to take it every day, supplementing with a Claritin-D as needed.

It’s also insane that anything I can get with a prescription doesn’t work as well. In all seriousness, make it a prescription medication again. Wouldn’t usage being easier to track and people using it to make drugs be easier to stop if there has to be a prescription filed in order for it to be obtained for use?

I don’t know, just spitballing here.

In case you couldn’t tell, Constant Reader, I still feel lousy and I am feeling pretty damned crabby over the whole thing. I had to use two days of sick time  and probably two days of being productive in other ways by being sick. Heavy heaving sigh.

I actually feel worse this morning than I did yesterday; my hope is this will all clear up somehow before tomorrow so I can go back to work and stop using sick time. My sinuses feel okay today, so that’s something; but it’s the rest that needs to clear up. My joints ache, I’m still feverish, and I had to get up in the middle of the night to throw up–yeah, that was lovely. I am going to be eating chicken soup today for lunch; I tend to not eat when I am sick, which makes me even weaker.

Again, lovely.

But I did get to read some more of Steph Cha’s Follow Her Home yesterday between bouts of dozing off and feeling sick; I’d read until I couldn’t focus and then put it aside. I might just curl up in my easy chair today with a blanket and watch movies; Bonnie & Clyde, All the President’s Men, and Deliverance are all available to stream from Netflix, and I’ve been wanting to see them all again. I’ve never seen Bonnie & Clyde in the theatrical cut, only seeing the badly butchered edited for television version, and since reading Mark Harris’ brilliant Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of New Hollywood I’ve been wanting to see all five films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar for 1967–some again, some for the first time (I’ve never seen In the Heat of the Night, which won). Maybe if I can’t focus on reading…

And on that note, back to the spice mines.

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