My Sweet Lord

Saturday, fucking finally.

This has been a not-good, no good week and here’s hoping it was an aberration and everything is going to reset right now and become something more resembling what passes for normality around here lately. Everything has been out of sync and/or messed up all week, and frankly it’s also kept me from getting anything done or making progress on any number of things I need to be making progress on, which as you can imagine is incredibly fucking annoying.

Jesus.

Today I am going to make a run to the mailbox and to drop off some books for the library sale, as well as do some other clean-up around here. I’ve decided the next book I am going to read is Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron (I am interviewing her next month for the book release at Blue Cypress Books in Riverbend) and I may as well get a jump on that, maybe come up with some questions for her ahead of time so I am not just winging it the night of–she definitely deserves to have a prepared interviewer, not the usual “I’ll make it up as I go” bullshit I always, inevitably fall back on whenever I have to do something of this sort. (Yes, that’s me: a thorough publishing professional.)

I slept deeply and well last night–I allowed myself to stay in bed until nearly eight o’clock–and as such I feel pretty rested and good this morning. I actually feel like I may even be able to get things accomplished this morning, which is a lovely change. I have to admit I’ve been concerned and worried about the depths and extent of my exhaustion lately, but this morning I feel good for the first time in a long while. Good thing, since the house is a disaster area; I am going to definitely be spending time on the Lost Apartment and the office area today cleaning and organizing and getting everything back under control around here. I am going to try to get that story written today, and some other odds and ends. With luck, I’ll be able to get it all out of the way and handled today before I run out of gas or the lazies set in; which is of course inevitable. But really, this mess is untenable, and I am more than a little annoyed I’ve allowed things to get to this point YET AGAIN. Yet I cannot deny that I was tired and worn out all week; it felt like I was sleeping well but obviously I must not have been, given how little I was able to get done all week.

C’est la vie, I suppose.

We finished watching Captive Audience on Hulu last night, about the tragedies of the Staynor family–perhaps best known as the I Know My First Name is Stephen story. We moved to the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, to be exact) when I was only nineteen; the story was still news even then, and I became fascinated by the story–a fascination that never went away and was only made more intense by Stephen’s tragic death at a very young age and even more intense by the fact his older brother became a serial killer, responsible for the Yosemite Murders. I had already moved away from the valley by then, but I’ve never stopped being fascinated by the story of the Stayner family and have always wanted to write about it–that horrific family dynamic of having one of your children stolen for seven years, and then having him return as an older, complete stranger. How does that affect the family dynamic? (Obviously, in this case, it turned one of them into a serial killer somehow.) How does the victim deal with returning to the family that isn’t what he remembers anymore, either? What’s it like to be the mom, the dad, the sisters, the neighbors? I recommend the docu-series–it’s in three parts–and it’s even more fascinating than I could have imagined; they also interviewed Stephen’s children. His daughter remembers him vaguely, his son not at all…and that’s an even greater tragedy. What is it like to lose your father when you are so young–traumatizing in and of itself–and then find out what he had been through? To find out an uncle you barely knew was responsible for the monstrous Yosemite Murders? There’s so much material there for fiction…I think about what Megan Abbott or Carol Goodman or Laura Lippman or any of our modern day great women writers could do with any bit of that story and can’t help but wonder about what might be. Maybe I’ll use it as the foundation for a book someday…but it’s one of those stories I always end up circling back to periodically, which makes me think it’s more likely to happen than any one of the great ideas that holds my attention for a day or two, write down or make a folder for, and then completely forget about.

Ah, being a creative. Always challenging.

I also want to, at some point this weekend, finish my blog post I’ve been writing about season 5 of Elité, and I also have another book review to write for here. Always, forever, so much to do at all times. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Saturday however you choose to spend it, Constant Reader.

Temptation Eyes

Thursday morning and I slept well again last night. Yesterday wasn’t a good day by any means of measurement; the less said about the day the better, methinks. I was mentally and physically exhausted when I got home from the office, so I basically collapsed into my easy chair and spent most of the evening until Paul got home trying to decide what I want to read next. I really couldn’t pick anything; but I suspect I am going to probably go for a Carol Goodman next–I may change my mind by the time I get home from work tonight, but that’s where I am at right now with everything,

People are starting to arrive and/or get excited about Malice Domestic, which is happening this weekend in Maryland. I had hoped to go to Malice, but the scheduling conflict with the Edgars and New York–I really couldn’t take that much time off from work–prevented my attendance. I had such a lovely time at Left Coast so I am already experiencing FOMO seeing everyone’s arrival posts. Have fun, everyone–and certainly wish good luck to everyone nominated for an Agatha Award this Saturday–lots of friends on those short lists, as always–I have so many talented friends!

When Paul finally got home–he also had a shitty day–we watched White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie and Fitch–which was interesting, but really didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. It did remind me of their catalogues, which were essentially homoerotic porn–every gay man had a copy, it seemed–but I was never terribly interested in their clothes despite really liking their ads (I mean, come on–gorgeous practically naked young people? Sex sells, people.) and I don’t think I ever set foot in one of their stores. But the thing that kept striking me was seeing how much American culture has changed, and changed so dramatically, since the turn of the century. Nowadays you can’t imagine a company selling exclusion and “we’re just for the cool kids” and becoming successful; especially since it was clear the company’s standard for “cool kids” was nearly exclusively white. And then of course there were the sexual harassment/abuse charges against Bruce Weber, the photographer whose images helped create the look the company was going for and helped the company take off into the stratosphere–something I’ve always thought would make an interesting back story for a crime novel, to be honest; maybe someday that book will get written–but I didn’t really learn anything from the documentary that I didn’t already know, so while it was interesting, and yes, I enjoyed watching it…I guess I was expecting more? I’m always a little disappointed when I see a documentary but don’t get any new information about it. I will say I’d recommend it, if for no other reason than for people today to see how recently societal viewpoints about beauty standards and “pretty privilege” have shifted and changed–and the horrible fact that an enormous corporation could build its entire public image on a distorted, racist view of how beauty in our culture and society is defined without anyone even saying, “hey, wait a minute…”

And yes, I do get the irony of me writing that while posting blogs every day with photos of beautiful men showing off their bodies.

I still haven’t made as much progress on everything I have to get done as I would have liked this week and it’s already Thursday, which means, inevitably, that I will not be able to be a lazy slug this weekend and just lie around doing nothing while binge-watching television shows and/or reading. But I did make some progress yesterday, which was nice, and I just wish I wasn’t so damned tired when I got home last night from work. I will probably be tired when I get home tonight, but I need to put the dishes away from the dishwasher and finish a couple of loads of clothes that I started doing the other night. But I am excited for my trip next week, and looking forward to being in New York and seeing people again and just, in general, having a lovely time of things–even if it means getting up on the stage at the banquet and speaking for a moment or two. Yikes! But I have to get that story finished, I have to get my emails under control, and there are some other odds and ends I need to tie up before I leave town on Tuesday. Huzzah? Today already feels like a better day, and like it can be more productive, so fingers crossed that it will continue this way as it goes forward. I did sleep well again last night–I am afraid to celebrate the sleeping well contingent of my existence for fear of jinxing it–and maybe, just maybe, I am starting to get used to this schedule after all these years? (It certainly feels like it’s been years)

There are worse things, I suppose. And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. May your Thursday be lovely and charming and marvelously productive, Constant Reader. I will talk to you again tomorrow morning.

Signs

It feels very weird this morning to be getting up so early after having a work-at-home day yesterday. I slept really well last night–I did have a martini with a friend late afternoon yesterday, which was absolutely marvelous. Paul got home late last night–another grant, as always–and so after I got home after my martini (which are really quite marvelous drinks, frankly) I collapsed into my easy chair and started watching Young Justice again, after getting caught up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which has replaced The Daily Show as my source of news served up with a touch of humor. His piece on the buying and selling of our online data was superb–scary, yet superb.

But I entered data yesterday and made condom packs while watching some gay cultural history videos on Youtube, which I am enjoying. I’ve also been thinking a lot about writing and what I need to get done–thinking about it counts as writing, by the way, and if you don’t think so, don’t make me come for you BECAUSE OH FUCKING HELL YES IT DOES. I need to get to work on that story when I have time this week–it has to be finished before Edgar Week, which is coming up pretty quickly in the sideview mirror–and I want to start writing a first draft of a manuscript. I think I am going to push Chlorine back another month–sorry, Nikki–and try to get the first draft of another gay noir thriller written; whether or not I will remains to be seen, but I’d really like to get a first draft of the three books done over the next three months. Is it potentially overly ambitious? Of course it is, we’re talking writing, at minimum, at least one hundred and twenty thousand words in three months, but it’s also eminently do-able, as long as I stay focused and don’t allow other things to interfere or distract me; which is always an issue for me. (Look! a squirrel!) But I am starting to feel rested again… which is really nice. I have to go into the office again tomorrow–four days a week now–but at least I don’t have to get up at six to go in tomorrow. Yay? And I do think I am going to stay at home Monday of next week–decisions, decisions; which is the best day of the week for me to work from home, Monday or Friday? Heavy heaving sigh.

I hope to finish Catriona McPherson’s A Gingerbread House this evening; so I can be prepared to move on to the next one. Please don’t think I’m not enjoying this book–I am–simply because I’ve not finished it yet. It’s quite good, and you really should be reading Catriona’s work if you aren’t already, Constant Reader, and if you ever get the opportunity to listen to her speak, jump at it. She’s quite amusing, and her Scots accent is something I could listen to all day. Her Guest of Honor speech at the Lefty Awards banquet was quite epic and enjoyable; and she’s also a very talented (and hard working) writer. I’ve certainly enjoyed everything of hers that I’ve read….the good news is also that she’s incredibly prolific; at least two books a year. I hope I live long enough to retire because I hope that once I do, I can get caught up on all of the books I am so far behind on reading.

Oh my GOD, that TBR stack is terrifying.

I’m trying to decide what time to come into the office for my final in-the-office day of the week, There is something to be said for getting up early, coming in and getting it over with–as well as beating traffic on the way home, and coming in early means it’s easier to find a place to park, always a plus, you know. (There are few things I despise more than trying to find a place to park.) I am really looking forward to this weekend, to be honest; I keep finding more chores around the house and there’s also this strange mentality I have that I will actually write this weekend around everything else I have to do. Is it possible? Anything is possible, really. Is it likely? That remains to be seen.

It rained last night–heavily; we had some massive thunderstorms sometime during the night after I went to bed,. The thunder woke me up very briefly, and then I just went back to sleep. I don’t think there were any tornadoes or anything–my phone’s warning system certainly didn’t go off, or I slept through it, one or the other. But I am not seeing any doom-and-gloom on local news websites this morning, so I guess we dodged another one last night. It was humid AF yesterday–it’s amazing to me how every year, like clockwork, the humidity returns and every single time it catches me off guard. (To be fair, the real humidity doesn’t really clock in until late May, but the heat starts much sooner, and it’s already getting there.) I am not looking forward to the higher power bills of the dog days of summer (and why are they called that? Dog days? I mean, I know three dog night is an old Aussie saying for nights so cold you need three dogs in the bed to keep you warm, but where did ‘dog days of summer’ come from?) and the steaming humidity, but there are, indeed worse things. And I think our new system kept the bills down pretty well last summer, which was quite nice indeed. So, here’s to a sort of bearable summer if I don’t spend much time outside? Huzzah?

And on that note, it is off to the spice mines for me. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

This is Todd Sanfield, former fitness model who now has his own underwear/swimwear business! Check it out at https://www.toddsanfield.com/–he’s also the model for his website.

It’s So Hard For Me to Say Goodbye

That isn’t really true. At least not completely, at any rate. I have walked away from a lot of people in my life, nearly all of them toxic in one way or another (in some cases, multiple ways). It sometimes takes me much longer to get rid of toxic people than it might–I will inevitably always excuse behavior, because I always think I deserve on some level to be treated like garbage (thanks, homophobic world in which I grew up! Hugs and kisses!) and so I always take the blame whenever there’s an issue.

But I do inevitably wake up, the proverbial scales falling from my eyes, because that toxic behavior will eventually continue until I’ve been pushed too far, and then–you’re dead to me. Literally. I mean, when you’ve pushed me that far there’s really nothing to discuss, and your behavior has to be pretty heinous, repeatedly, for me to walk away. It also means you’ve probably apologized for that behavior several times before–but you don’t change that behavior, and I no longer want to deal with it.

In other words, when the aggravation you provide outweighs whatever pleasure I get from knowing you–and I’ve also reached the point where I no longer care what you think about me, or what you say about me to people we both know, it’s time for you to go. PAST time for you to go.

I slept very well last night, which was marvelous. I stayed in bed an extra hour after waking up this morning, napping on and off until the call of the coffee became simply too strong to ignore anymore. The coffee also really tastes good this morning, which is weird–it’s not like it could be stronger or anything, since I have a Keurig and every cup is theoretically the same, the only difference being the kind of roast or whatever I use–do you call different kinds of coffee flavors, even though they have flavored coffee? I actually like Starbucks brand, to be honest–their French and Italian roasts, Cafe Verona, and Sumatra, as well as Folger’s Black Silk, and some generic store brand darks aren’t bad, either. I usually alternate between them all morning so as to never get burned out on a taste I like. But for some reason–the rest? –the flavors are more noticeable this morning. I knew–or was pretty certain–I was going to sleep well because I got very tired at the office yesterday afternoon. I felt fine all day, but right around three o’clock I hit the wall and was very exhausted. I came straight home from the office, did some chores around the house, and then retired to my easy chair to watch some World War II documentaries on Youtube before switching over to Ukraine war coverage on MSNBC. The eerie similarities between this conflict and the start of World War II are, while not exact, still troubling: Russian takeover of Crimea=Nazi takeover of the Sudetenland (a brazen land grab the rest of Europe allowed to “keep peace”); the invasion of Ukraine=invasion of Poland (but it’s not going as well and as easy for Putin as it did for Hitler, obviously). The US armed and loaned money to the Allies for over two years before being drawn into the conflict; we are currently supplying and loaning money to Ukraine.

And while Putin and his “intelligence” clearly underestimated the resistance and will of the Ukrainian people, they also didn’t count on Volodymyr Zelenskyy becoming, in the face of one of the greatest crises any leader can face, the true heart and soul of his country. Talk about rising to the occasion! We all like to believe we would stand up in the face of such a crisis…but would we?

Today is my work-at-home Friday. There is data to enter, condoms to pack, and chores to be done around the house. I need to finish editing a manuscript, I need to work on a short story and perhaps edit a few more, and of course there are the general weekend errands that need to be run. It’s kind of gray outside today, and the forecast is for really horrible weather later this evening–tornados and high winds and heavy rains–so tonight is going to be the perfect night to curl up with the new Alex Segura novel. I am saving it as a reward for getting everything done this weekend that I need to get done; although I will probably crack it open to get started tonight. Yay!

And on that note, tis time for me to head into the spice mines. Y’all have a great Friday, and I will talk to you again tomorrow.

Happy (Is a Bumpy Road)

I always try to give back however I can.

One of the reasons I do so much volunteer work is because I don’t have money to donate to causes I believe in. So, instead I give my time. I never say no to a charity anthology that wants a story, and I have done a ridiculous amount of volunteer work over the years. I don’t think I can remember, if I wanted to, how many charities I’ve given my time to since I started doing volunteer work. I’ve only had one job since 1999 that wasn’t working for a non-profit, so I’ve logged in a lot of hours working for non-profits as well. But the older I get the less energy I have, and I am trying to cut back on the stress in my life. I’ve been pretty successful–the insomnia is a lot less chronic than it used to be, for one example–and lately, I’ve felt a lot better both physically and emotionally than I have for a long time. I am currently pulling together the Bouchercon anthology for this year–the third time I’ve done the Bouchercon anthology but the first time I’ve had a co-editor, which has lessened the burden significantly–and this will probably be the last time I am going to do a Bouchercon anthology. I am kind of anthology editor-ed out; I think this will be my twenty-fourth go around editing an anthology and I really don’t want to do it again. It’s not an unpleasant task, really…I’ve got the organizational side of things so down-pat I don’t even have to really put much thought into it anymore, either. (It’s actually eerie how well I have the organizing of an anthology down to a science–but one should when it’s the twenty-fourth time you’re doing one. If not, you shouldn’t be doing it.)

I am almost finished editing the manuscript, which is great. Holes and discrepancies are vanishing, language is getting cleaned up, clunky sentences are being unclunked, and I feel much better over all about the book in general. I have to do some anthology work this weekend and I also have to start editing another manuscript that is due by the end of the month. I have a short story to write as well, and then I am going to try to spend April working on Chlorine while I try to plot the new Scotty, which is also starting to come together inside my mind. Doing this revision has helped me with my confidence and my imposter syndrome; I really felt like I’d lost the ability to write when I turned this book in. I wasn’t wrong about it needing work, but I was definitely wrong about losing the ability to write. Usually I have what I call the malaise when I finish a book–burn out is another way of putting it; but I don’t like the way writing a book burns me out sounds, frankly, because that makes it sound like I don’t enjoy it. And I do enjoy writing my books and stories. Sure I complain, but the complaining usually is rooted in the stress of the deadline and compounded by everything else I have to do.

I slept well last night, so well that I have a bit of a sleep hangover this morning that I hope the coffee will help with (it usually does). I am working at home today (yay for work-at-home Fridays!) and it does seem a bit gray outside. I’ve not looked at the temperatures yet or the weather forecast for the day. I won’t be going to the gym today because somehow at work on Wednesday I did something to the heel of my right foot; not entirely sure what exactly it was, but my heel has felt bruised ever since Wednesday afternoon; I think my shoe insert might have shifted and my heel was stepping on its edge, but it hurts and the later it gets in the day, the more it hurts. Walking to the gym isn’t an option for me today and driving just seems silly–especially since I shouldn’t really do any kind of leg exercise that involves my feet. So I am going to see how it goes over the weekend and try to stay off it as much as I can so that whatever I did to it will heal (my heel needs to heal!).

You also never really appreciate how important your heel is to walking until it hurts.

I was correct yesterday about being tired when I got home last night. I did the dishes and ran a load in the dishwasher, then repaired to my chair and watched news, alternating with documentaries (I delved back into the pool of French royalty, or French royalty adjacent, videos on Youtube last night. I’ve also been discovering a lot of gay royals in history lately, too. I really need to read a biography of Frederick the Great, and I’ve long been fascinated by the last of the Medici, Gian Gastone). I did go to bed early last night and slept later–I stayed in bed until seven, scandalous–and so when the coffee kicks in today I should be in a good place as far as getting things done and being productive today. I just wish my heel didn’t still hurt, which is enormously disappointing. One of the great joys of getting older is being more brittle and fragile, apparently. Still have to consider myself lucky, though–I could be a lot worse off physically…and it still freaks me out a bit when I remember that I am, in fact, sixty years old.

I still can’t find any evidence on-line that The Postman Always Rings Twice was tried for obscenity and banned in Boston. I’ve not been able to find any mention of it yet in the Cain biography my friend Laura recommended to me, either.

And on that note, I am going to make another cup of coffee and head into the spice mines. There’s condoms to pack and data to enter and all kinds of chores around here to get done. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow morning.

Up the Ladder to the Roof

It’s a gray Saturday morning, and my body clock has definitely reset. I woke up just before six again, wide awake, but stayed in bed for another hour (just like yesterday). I don’t feel as energetic as I did yesterday, though; but I have things to dig through and work to do and lots of coffee on-hand for fueling. But that’s okay; I don’t have huge plans for the day. I am going to start doing some editing, I am going to work on my short story a bit, and i am going to spend some more time with Kellye Garrett’s Like A Sister, which will be my reward for getting the other stuff done. I need to go make groceries at some point this weekend, just haven’t decided which day to do that. I also need to go to the gym, maybe later today. There’s always organizing and cleaning to do, too.

In other words, another normal weekend around the Lost Apartment.

But that’s cool, I suppose. Trying to do normal things helps me deal with the over-all concern about the world burning to the ground around us, which sometimes makes doing anything feel completely pointless. (I do remember all the hesitation from people in December about trying not to get thrilled or be happy that 2021 was coming to an end; we all felt that way every December for several years only for the new year to be even worse than the one before. Looks, sadly, like those people were right.) It’s a weird place to be in for someone my age, or in my generation, or those of us who remember the world before the collapse of the Soviet Union. I’m sure many of them, like me, had forgotten what it was like to live under the daily threat of nuclear annihilation and the end of civilization as we’ve come to know it. But that’s what we did back then–we went about our daily lives with that worry in the back of our minds at all times. I remember the amazement and joy when the Berlin Wall came down, and Germany reunified; part of their punishment for causing World War II and uncountable war crimes was allowing the Russians to basically split the country, turning East Germany into a communist satellite state while West Germany became a democracy and joined NATO and the west–basically for protection from a Communist takeover. I don’t miss nuclear apocalyptic fiction and films; Neville Shute’s On the Beach was such a bleak read, and the television movie The Day After was also dark and hopeless. There was an abandoned nuclear missile base about two or three miles from my high school in Kansas (which I’ve always wanted to write about); I remember there was a PBS documentary that aired when I was in high school about nuclear war, which was also the first time it ever crossed my mind that Kansas, of all places, would be a strategic military target for the Russians (because of all the missile bases spread across the prairie), they even named the closest town to the abandoned base as a target (Bushong, Kansas, population 37 at the time). And of course, The Day After made that very clear, as it took place in Kansas City and environs. Testament is another bleak film about the aftermath of nuclear war; and I remember reading another book, War Day, by Whitley Strieber and someone else, set about twenty years after a nuclear war between the superpowers. We used to learn about all kinds of things, like the electromagnetic pulse (the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere which somehow–I don’t remember how it worked–rendered anything requiring electricity to cease working), often simplified to EMP. We were taught that iodine helped with radiation sickness, along with the grim knowledge that those killed instantly were the lucky ones. Apocalyptic and dystopian fiction used to be about the aftermath of nuclear war.

I didn’t realize how lovely it had been to be able to push those concerns completely out of my mind.

And what unique privilege it is, to be so consumed with worry over what may happen that might affect me and my life, while people are literally being slaughtered by the minute and large cities are being bombed and shelled ruthlessly and refugees are fleeing by the hundreds of thousands.

And there are other atrocities occurring around the world that aren’t being reported on, or covered as widely by the western media–primarily because the people being slaughtered or bombed aren’t white.

The great irony is that we consider our current civilization as the apex of humanity thus far–that civilization continues to evolve and grow less barbaric with the passage of time, while knowing that future generations will look back to our times and wonder what the fuck was wrong with them? How could they not see how fucked up the world was, and do something about it?

What is happening in Ukraine is just another chapter in the never-ending on-going series of books showing how incredibly inhumane humans are.

I don’t know what’s going to happen over there, and I worry that a peaceable resolution is not possible. I don’t see how Putin can possibly survive this, and he is a desperate thug with a massive Napoleon complex. I don’t know how many Ukrainians have to die before the rest of the world says enough. I don’t know how you get a madman with a nuclear arsenal to stop making war on civilians.

So, I just keep going. I get up every morning and have coffee. I check my emails, read some, delete some and reply to others. I check the news to see the latest from the front. I work on day job responsibilities and my writing and MWA business and edit. I do my dishes and clean my house and cook dinner and try to read to take my mind off the nightmares unfolding in the far corners of the world. I donate what I can to relief efforts. Little things, here and there, to cope with a reality that is incredibly worrisome and stressful and so overwhelming that I can’t allow myself to spend too much time going down that road–because I have the privilege to not have to be concerned about surviving today’s bombings. I have food and medicine and access to services. I have power and water and a working car. I have resources to draw upon. I am lucky.

I create. I write novels, fictions which may or may not have any meaning, trifles that can serve as a distraction from the worries and cares of a burning world over which I have little to no control. I have always been hesitant to use the word art when it comes to my writing; I’ve always felt that it isn’t for me to decide whether my work is art or I am an artist. But literature is a form of art, so therefore by extension my work is art and I am an artist; whether good or bad, important or forgettable is for others to discuss, debate and decide. But one of the foundations of civilization is art; art can survive the centuries and epochs and tell future generations stories about the times in which we live, to give them context for our civilization and our country and what we do and how we live. Fiction can educate and distract; it can provide a needed distraction and escape from the horrors of reality and provide comfort and joy in times of stress and terror. I have always escaped into books, and as a writer, I can also now escape into worlds and characters of my own creation. Reading and writing have always been my escapes; and now, more than ever, those kinds of escapes are necessary.

So, writers–we need to keep creating even as the world burns. There is always a need for beauty and truth, especially in times like these. And with electronic books–our words can now last for eternity, forever–or at least as long as civilization as we know it exists. I have no crystal ball; I do not have visions–although there have been times I’ve felt like Cassandra screaming on the walls of Troy, ignored and mocked as she tells them their future and of their folly. I do not know how this will all turn out, I do not know where we will be tomorrow or the next day. But as long as I have the ability to do so, I will keep working. I will keep making to-do lists and crossing off the tasks as I complete them. I will go on, living my life and doing whatever small thing I can do to try to keep the light burning. I will always try to make sense of the senseless, and I will always keep going.

No matter how dark the world might seem, no matter how much suffering we have to witness.

And on that somber note, I am going to dive into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and hope you and all your loved ones are safe and secure, and continue to be.

You’ve Been So Wonderful To Me

Wednesday morning and hope today is better and there is more energy to be had for me today. Yesterday was a drag, in a lot of ways; I was mentally awake but also physically and intellectually drained, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t. The one-two punch of turning in a book one week and a short story less than a week later bracketed around a out of town trip combined to kick my ass. I didn’t want to get up again this morning–I don’t think I will ever hear an alarm and cheerfully sit up, stretch and get up, fully awake and ready to go, once in my life. Which is fine, of course; some of us simply aren’t meant to be wrenched from sleep every morning before we are ready to get up. But I don’t feel as drained this morning as I did yesterday–which is a good sign as the sun rises over the West Bank (don’t ask. tl;dr: “West Bank” means west bank of the river, which doesn’t flow perfectly north and south). I was exhausted when I got off work last night; so exhausted that I couldn’t do much of anything other than watch Youtube documentaries about the Hapsburgs while Scooter purred in my lap. I am hoping (hopeful) that I will not be so tired today, and will be able to get some things done tonight when I get home.

I am very tired of being too tired to read, too.

I do have another story (!) to finish by the end of the month, but I think perhaps the best thing to do this week is let my creative batteries recharge so next week I can dive back into my writing. And yes, I am well aware that this could simply be my deeply engrained subconscious desire to be lazy justifying and excusing not doing any writing this week–but like I said, I am very tired and drained; and I don’t think this is subconscious so much as it is conscious. Parade season looms, and while I know we’ve been planning on skipping what will, for the most part, be a super-spreader event (crowds of people catching things thrown from strangers? No one masked? ) I cannot help but feel that it will be hard to NOT heed the siren song of the marching bands and walk to the corner “just to see.” I really did miss Parade Season last year; I love Carnival every year even as it exasperates and aggravates me at the same time. And I want to write more about Carnival…there’s another Scotty Carnival book in my head somewhere, and there’s the potential new series, too. And short stories! So many potential short stories…I think my creative batteries may be getting some charge stored up in them again, after all.

Huzzah!

It’s nice to start feeling like myself again–whenever the exhaustive malaise sets in, I always worry that this time it might be permanent which, of course, is an absolutely terrifying thought. I wonder if I will ever stop worrying about the ability or desire or need to write going away; I suppose once it finally does, if it ever does, that will be when I can be fairly certain that the end is drawing near. Well, there’s a cheery thought for a Wednesday morning, wasn’t it?

So, I have some clean-up stuff to do with another project this week–I should be finished with that part already, but what can I say? I’ve gotten far behind on everything while I was in “finish the book” mode; as I inevitably do, and of course playing catch-up is not my favorite thing to do–my emails alone are a Sisyphean task–but I am hoping if I can get everything on track this week and over this weekend, next week I can get back to possibly writing and getting organized for what I want to get done for the rest of this year. It’s kind of a surprise that it’s so late in the month already (Valentine’s Day is Monday!) and March is already looming, so I’ve really got to get my act together and start getting things in order. A Greg at rest can no longer stay at rest, no matter how much I want that to happen…and on that note, perhaps it is time for me to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Hump Day, Constant Reader! Talk to you again tomorrow.

Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart

Saturday!

I slept very well last night. I got my day job work done during the day, I got two more chapters revised and edited last night, and Paul and I watched the latest episode of Servant last night (which is very bizarre and we are no longer sure we are following it, but it’s well produced and well acted, so it’s always interesting to watch), and then I watched a short National Geographic documentary about the Renaissance Popes (an episode from their series Pope), which was interesting–but it didn’t cover much more ground than Barbara Tuchman covered in her section on them in March of Folly.

Today dawns bright and sunny with a gorgeous, cloudless pigeon’s egg sky out there. I have some emails I have to do this morning, and I have to run some errands (prescriptions, mail) this morning (I am saving groceries for tomorrow). I also have to buy a new all-in-one printer as my latest one lost wifi capabilities yesterday for some reason, ergo rendering it utterly useless for my needs (just as well, I had just run out of ink and needed to buy more; money saved by the death of the printer) so when I go run my errands, the last thing I will do is swing by Office Depot on St. Charles to purchase a new one. I think they have a decent one at a reasonable price in stock; if they don’t, I’ll have to check either Best Buy or Target, neither of which is an option I particularly want to indulge myself in at the moment. Although a trip to the West Bank would also mean I could get lunch at Sonic, so…decisions, decisions. (Paul and I were, in fact, just last night talking about how we don’t really eat fast food at all anymore–he stopped at McDonalds on his way home from getting his hair cut in the Quarter yesterday) I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost last year, alas; not sure how that happened, precisely, but have no doubt that there’s a connection to me not going to the gym in months, for sure. Once this book is done….or at least under more control, at any rate…maybe on Monday afternoon when I am finished with my work-at-home duties. I am hoping to get three chapters of the book done today, which means I have to write/revise and polish the final two chapters over the next few days as well as go through and polish and tweak (hence the need for a printer) before finally turning it in and diving into the Bouchercon anthology work, which needs to be concluded by the end of February. I also have a short story due in early February–and next weekend I am going to Alabama for the Murder in the Magic City/Murder on the Menu weekend in Birmingham and Wetumpka. (Note to self: get an audiobook for the drive.)

So much to do, so little time, so little opportunity for procrastination, laziness and pushing things off until tomorrow, right?

Heavy heaving sigh.

But there’s also cleaning to do around here, filing as always, and some book organization is also needed. I am not feeling particularly overwhelmed in any sense this morning, which is always a really good thing, and I feel confident that I can get everything finished that I need to get finished as well as get a jump on future things that need to get finished. I am really looking forward to spending some time every week getting rid of paper files, too–you have no idea how much I am looking forward to that; realistically, there’s no reason for me to keep paper files on anything unless it’s something I am currently working on; otherwise it can remain electronic; and realistically, I can donate a back-up hard drive to an archive mush easier than I can sort and organized paper files…and if they don’t want that, well, then that’s the end of that, you know.

And I still will have gotten rid of all the fucking paper files.

So, win-win?

And on that note tis time for me to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader!

Everything is Good About You

Friday morning and all is quiet in the Lost Apartment.

It’s in the thirties here this morning and very gray outside, which is not typical unless it’s raining. Rain is in the forecast today–yesterday’s dramatic thirty degree temperature drop was supposed to be the result of rain but we never really got much, in all honesty–but it also doesn’t feel as cold as it should at this temperature, if that makes any sense? The last time it was in the 30’s here a week or so ago it was bitterly cold inside the Lost Apartment, but it’s not that bad today. Maybe because I knew it was coming so I layered when I got up this morning and turned on the space heater next to my desk? (Our heat is still not working.) Regardless, I don’t feel as miserable today as I did the last time it was this cold, so I am taking that as a win.

Paul has been buried with work trying to get the programs for the festivals finished, so I’ve been at loose ends in the evenings this week. I’ve been very fatigued every night, and with Scooter sleeping in my lap (not affection, he’s cold–don’t get me wrong, he is affectionate, but I can tell when body heat is the driving factor in his affection; it has to do with how he cuddles when he’s cold), I’ve found myself dozing off in my chair while I watch some documentary about history (last night, I learned how and why Hanover and Great Britain went their own separate ways; about Queen Barbara Radziwill of Poland; how Catherine de Medici earned her horrible reputation and was it deserved; and how the curse of the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar is often given credit for the extinction of the main line of the Capetian royal family in France–some of these things I already had some knowledge of, but it’s always nice to learn more. Sometimes these documentaries are intended for people with absolutely no knowledge of history or the time period being discussed; I find that ones that originated with the BBC, National Geographic, or the Youtube channel Kings and Generals often have interesting little nuggets of information I didn’t know before; I was just thinking last night how much more interesting French history is than English–no offense to the English, of course; the French are just more all over the place). Barbara Radziwill was an important player in the sixteenth century, which was what sucked me into that video; as Constant Reader is already aware, I’ve always wanted to write a popular history of the sixteenth century by examining all of the powerful women of that century; it was one of the few times in history when women rose to power regularly and across Europe, and naturally the title would be The Monstrous Regiment of Women, taken from the misogynistic tome by John Knox and about that very thing: women in power.

I did manage to work on the book last night, which was nice–I was starting to worry about it, frankly–and I did get some other work done that needed doing. Today I am data entering for the day job most of the day, as I shiver a bit and try to figure out if I actually want to leave the house today (I am leaning towards not, frankly) before digging back into the manuscript. I also need to consult my to-do list to make sure I am following it despite not looking at it–and I suspect I will be horribly disappointed in myself when I finally get to it and see how there’s nothing to be crossed off from it. Heavy heaving sigh. But avoiding the list is also avoiding the tasks, so the list must be faced.

So many things must be faced this morning. My email inbox is getting more under control, so that’s always a pleasant thing and a big surprise, but there are emails that need responses that I haven’t gotten to yet–which just reminded me I had a DM on Facebook I need to reply to; please don’t ever contact me there if you want a response because I get a lot of junk DM’s there and so things tend to get pushed down and not get answered unless I remember to go looking for it (that is today’s PSA of how to reach me and get a response).

I also managed to proof my story “This Thing of Darkness” for Cupid Shot Me, which will release on Valentine’s Day (natch). It’s always lovely to get another short story out there for people to read; I love short stories and I love writing them–I do find them much harder to do than writing novels, for example–and it’s also an excellent editorial exercise for me: why is this story not working? Sometimes I can figure it out, sometimes I can’t. I just got asked this morning about writing for another anthology, which I even already have a story ready for; which means I need to take it out and reread and revise it. Yay!

And on that note, tis time to return to the spice mines. That data ain’t gonna enter itself, alas. Talk to you tomorrow, Constant Reader, and have a wonderful Friday.

Moonlight and Kisses

Thursday and I have the day off for a doctor’s appointment later. I slept very well last night–wasn’t sure how that would go, actually–and feel more rested and centered today than I have. I think I actually know what day it is today (I did keep thinking yesterday was Tuesday all day), and it’s not cold today, which is odd. New Orleans weather bipolarity at its best–it’s going to rain today and the rain is going to bring very cold weather behind it. Tomorrow is supposed to be very cold–30’s!–and I am, naturally, dreading it.

I have to work today of course; the to-do list progress belies the success of me making to-do lists, and so today must buckle down and get work done. The house is, as always on a Thursday, a horrific mess that belies, at a glance, that anyone has ever cleaned here; there’s a stack of filing to be done; and of course I haven’t even unpacked my backpack from yesterday. When I got home from work last night I was very tired and so just dropped off the backpack where I always do (next to the two shelf bookcase next to my desk) and unpacked my lunch bag and just kind of settled in for the night. I had also fully intended to start rereading Joseph Hansen last night, but my brain was fatigued and I couldn’t focus, so naturally I went down a Youtube wormhole–seriously, having access to Youtube on my television hasn’t been the best thing to develop for me technologically lately; it’s become yet another way for me to waste time and distract myself, but I also know that when my brain is fatigued as it was yesterday it’s useless to try to make it do anything, whether it’s read or write or anything productive. My mind also generally tends to wander when I am watching these videos–and they are slightly entertaining on some levels–and so sometimes I solve problems with things I am writing or dealing with in regular every day life while I am mindlessly, brainlessly watching a video about how Naples and Sicily had one of the most enlightened cultures of the Middle Ages during the Norman rule of the region in the twelfth century, and how they integrated Greek, Arab, and European culture and education into one, fusing them into a very enlightened society with equality for all and freedom of religion.

Plus, education by osmosis. I’d known that already, of course, but not in great detail and it was interesting to me intellectually. (The post Roman Empire history of Italy is actually incredibly interesting.)

Anyway, today I am going to try to get dug out from under my emails (knowing, of course, that emails always beget emails) as well as work on the book; I also have some housekeeping to manage on the Bouchercon anthology front–that, while incredibly tedious, needs to be done–and of course, a sink full of dishes and loads of laundry to tackle. Yesterday was pay-the-bills-day, and I of course only paid the immediately due rather than everything that falls due before the next Pay-the-Bills Day, so at some point over the course of this weekend–so much work to do–I need to go ahead and get those out of the way as well. (It’s always so depressing.) But I feel like, daunting as everything may seem, that I can get it all done if I focus on the job at hand and start working my way down the list, everything will get done and it’s much easier, after all, to focus on one task and disregard the others until you can give them your full attention. That has always worked before, and has always put me in good stead.

And so, on that note I am heading back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader, and I will catch you on the other side.