Everything Changes

Tuesday, and this week progresses. Time is running out on my deadline for Royal Street Reveillon, so I really need to buckle down and get to work. No more excuses. I finished the revision of Chapter 16 yesterday and started Chapter 17; there are eight chapters to go, and nine days left in the month. This is utterly and completely do-able, of course; it’s a matter of making myself do it, quite frankly, and not allowing laziness or some other shiny object get in the way.

And trust me, Constant Reader, there are plenty of shiny objects in the life of one Gregalicious.

It’s gray and raining this morning in New Orleans; naturally, I didn’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to work at home again, or to simply go back to having an out-of-the-house part time job, like I used to have. It’s funny how I never seemed to have enough time during the day to get all the things done I needed to get done; but I suspect the truth was I always put things off because, since I didn’t particularly or especially need to budget my time, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to get the things done that I needed to get done….until I started running out of time; I do remember horrifying mornings when I glanced at the wall calendar and realized, oh no, the book is due next month and I’m not even half-way finished.

Obviously, for me, the ideal would be to get back to that place; where the at-most time spent away from the apartment during the day would be a maximum of twenty hours per week, not including errands or the gym. I like to dream that when and if I ever get into that position financially again, that’s when I’ll start working on ambitious writing projects that might take months or years to research; that I’ll continue writing the things I love to write and creating stories and characters that I enjoy, and the big and exciting books I want to write will get written.

Hope springs eternal.

But I also have to get past my tendency towards procrastination, which is exacerbated by my own laziness.

Ah, well.

I suppose I should get back to the spice mines.

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Wildside

Well, Monday has yet again rolled around, and I am staring down yet another work week.

The weather changed again yesterday–it was in the low sixties when I woke up–so there is hope now that perhaps fall has actually, finally, arrived in the Crescent City. I don’t mind the heat, but I do get weary of it by October–particularly when it’s late October and usually it starts cooling down in mid-September. I’m choosing not to look further ahead in the weather forecast; if it’s going to get unseasonably warm for us again, I’d rather not know ahead of time.

I got another short story rejection the other day; the masochism of being a writer is kind of like when you have an aching tooth and you can’t stop irritating it with your tongue. It was a lovely rejection–something I’ve noted lately from markets I’ve submitted to has been the return of the lovely, well-worded, take the sting out of it rejection emails. I no longer get angry or depressed or wounded when a story is rejected; as a long time anthology editor myself I know what the process is like and rejection doesn’t necessarily, if ever, mean you really suck at this do us all a favor and stop, okay? It is what it is. I continue to try to write the stories I want to write, say the things I want to say, figure out what it is I want to figure out, with each and every story I write. Sometimes the longer a story sits without being finished, or without being revised, is better. I had another couple of thoughts yesterday, for example, for “Never Kiss a Stranger” that I think are going to be key to making the story richer and deeper, more powerful to read, and hopefully connect with potential readers better. I’m glad I’m not rushing this story, but letting the characters and the time live with me a while is helping me to know them better and is turning the story into something much better than I’d originally envisioned for this tale.

And that’s a lovely, lovely feeling.

I opted not to watch the Saints game. The LSU game on Saturday evening was enough stress for me to voluntarily take on over the course of a single weekend; I chose to have s relaxing day of getting things done and cleaning up little chores I tend to put off; making the house more neat and tidy always helps clear the cobwebs from my brain and allows me to free-associate; I make lots of notes and also identify problems in stuff currently in progress that I hadn’t thought of or noted before.

(Okay, I did tune in for the last two minutes of the game. I mean, wow. Seriously, Saints? WOW. I swear, both the Saints and LSU will be the death of me this season.  A missed extra point sealed the win? Oh, my heart…

I am savoring my reread of ‘salem’s Lot, taking it slowly so I can get to know the characters and the setting all over again; enjoying how King builds his slow burn of a novel and sets everything up for the heart-pounding non-stop tension of the second half of the book.

I was also thinking that October is here, and usually I pay tribute to the books and movies and short stories in the horror genre that I’ve enjoyed and have had some kind of influence on me, as both a reader and a writer. And here it is, with only ten days left in the month and I have yet to even acknowledge October and horror; despite having watched (and greatly enjoyed) The Haunting of Hill House this month.

This coming weekend is the bye week for LSU before the Alabama game, so I will be at loose ends on Saturday. I do want to watch the Georgia-Florida game–crucial to determine who will win the SEC East–but other than that, with no LSU game to watch I will most likely have to entertain myself in other ways on Saturday; which means perhaps going to the library at long last and finally getting a New Orleans Public Library card–something I’ve been intending to do for a very long time. The Latter Library on St. Charles is very close to my post office; I can simply make a quick detour there after picking up the mail on Saturday and get my card. The Latter Library is, if you are not acquainted with it, one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. It’s housed in an old St. Charles mansion, which supposedly is not only haunted but was at one time home to a silent screen star–but it also has an enormous plot of land., taking up an almost entire block of St. Charles.

And now, back to the spice mines. I have a lot to get done this week, as the end of October looms large on the horizon.

Have a great day, Constant Reader!

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Do I Have to Say the Words?

GEAUX TIGERS!

It wasn’t a pretty win by any means, but a win is a win–and LSU is now the only team to have beaten four teams that were ranked at the time of the game. With Ohio State’s stunning blow-out loss to Purdue, the Tigers should be ranked in the top four (probably number four) when the rankings come out..and also setting up a huge game against Number One ranked Alabama… look completely unbeatable. Regardless, this has been a wonderful dream season so far–particularly when you take into consideration everyone had LSU dead and buried before the season started. The defense looked amazing against Mississippi State last night; the offense moved the ball decently at times, but for the most part looked sluggish and off. But on a night when the offense wasn’t clicking, we still managed to beat a top 25 team 19-3.

Yes, this season has been joyous, for the most part.

I did all my chores and ran all my errands yesterday. I was too nervous about the game to get much else of anything done, other than random tasks that don’t require much thinking; filing, organizing, cleaning, dishes, putting groceries away, and so forth. I did some thinking about writing while my  hands were busy, which sort of counts, and I did look over the Scotty book. I do like getting organized and preparing my thoughts. I am going to try to get my revisions done this morning before the Saints game; knowing I will become completely useless afterwards. But at least I don’t spend as much time as I used to parked in front of the television, flipping back and forth between games I don’t care very much about.

That’s something, at any rate, isn’t it?

The Saints game isn’t until two this afternoon, so I have plenty of time to answer emails and do some editing/revising/cleaning in the meantime. This is actually kind of nice; I slept later than I’d intended this morning but again I feel amazingly rested, which is kind of nice; and I remain hopeful that I’ll be able to get everything done that I need to get done today. It would be lovely to get three chapters finished; but I’ll have to see how that goes as I start writing. I’d also like to get my floors done today, and maybe some more reading of Empire of Sin; I also need to mark up my old journal with sticky notes for ideas on works in progress so I don’t forget about those notes. I used to have such an amazing memory; it’s almost tragic how much my brain has slowed and how overloaded it has become in my late fifties. Tragedy, truly.

Yesterday, in the afternoon lull before the LSU game, rather than reading something new I took down my hardcover copy of Stephen King’s ‘salem’s Lot, which is one of my favorite novels of all time, and dipped into it again from the beginning. If The Stand is my favorite King novel–of several to choose from; if pressed I name it as my favorite but it’s on a pretty equal par with several others, including Christine, Carrie, The Dead Zone, It, Misery, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Talisman, and Firestarter, to name just a few–‘salem’s Lot also holds a special place in my heart for any number of reasons. For one, it’s a book I bought solely because of the name of the author–the first time I did this with King, and from this one on I anxiously awaited the new King novel every year–because I’d never read anything remotely like Carrie before, and I was curious to see what he would do in this new book. I was living in Kansas when it was released in paperback; I actually saw in the grocery store line at Safeway with my mother and I asked if I could have it. She said yes in this instance–I always was asking for a book whenever we were anywhere shopping; whenever we went to malls she would send me into a bookstore while she shopped; the most exciting thing my mother could ever say to me was You can have a book–and I started reading it in the car on the way home. I remember it was a Saturday; I  remember retiring to my room with a bag of taco-flavored Doritos (also a treat; my mom would either get me a bag of those or barbecue Fritos whenever she went to the grocery store and I would spend the afternoon methodically eating the entire bag while reading in my bed), and starting to read. Living in Kansas I had no idea what books were about–there were no book reviews in the Emporia Gazette, the only paper we had access to–and so I could only go by the blurb on the back of the book or on the first page inside the front cover. I had no idea what was going on in this little town in Maine until King revealed it halfway through the book. Also, when you bear in mind that Jerusalem’s Lot’s population at the beginning of the book was just over a thousand and I was living in a small town with a population just under a thousand; it was raining that day and as I read, the rain turned into a thunderstorm that seemed to last for hours; and right at the time King revealed that the secret supernatural thing going on was vampires the wind blew a tree branch against the screen of the window directly next to my bed–well, you can see why I may have uttered a half-scream and dropped the book. I remember my heart was racing and I was breathing hard; I had to go wash my face and take some deep breaths before I could pick up the book, find my lost page, and finish reading it. I stayed up until three in the morning finishing the book. ‘salem’s Lot has always had a place in my heart as the first book I ever read that truly terrified me; I’d read horror fiction before but I’d never had such a major physical reaction of sheer terror and shock as I had in that book. (I had also barreled through Carrie in one day, but it didn’t terrify me so much as suck me into a fast-moving train of a story about a horrible tragedy; I’d never read anything like it before–and this would prove to be the case with so many of King’s novels for me.) Reading ‘salem’s Lot made me a King fan for life; a Constant Reader, if you will. Eventually, other distractions and changes in my life also changed my King fandom; I don’t always necessarily buy his new novel the day it is released and put everything else on hold as I read it in a day or two, shutting everything else in the world out. (I just, for example, bought The Outsider yesterday; I still don’t have a copy of Sleeping Beauties, and I’ve never finished reading The Dark Tower series, haven’t read Bronco Billy or The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon or Black House or Doctor Sleep or 11/22/63 or End of Watch yet; I know, I am a terrible King fan.)

But one of the things I loved the best about King–one of the reasons I always felt, back in the days when he was dismissed as simply another hack genre writer–was the way he depicted small towns and the people who populate them; Jerusalem’s Lot was the first of his great small towns, to be followed by Castle Rock and later, Derry. King’s small town, and the people who populate them, are so realistic, so real, so these are my next door neighbors, that I’ve always loved his work and characters and their reality, their realness. This is why his horror works so well–the reader is invested emotionally with his characters–which is also one of the reasons why my least-favorite King novel, The Tommyknockers, is my least favorite. (I also want to revisit that novel at some point; just as I want to reread Pet Sematary again. Both are amongst the few earlier King novels that I’ve only read once and never went back to; I used to reread King all the time.) This is also, I think, why Netflix’ adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House was so powerful, and why I enjoyed it so much: so much was done with character and their relationships with each other that I became vested; I cared what happened to the Crains.

And isn’t that, ultimately, what makes any work resonate with the reader? The ability to identify with, and care about, the characters?

I am really looking forward to continuing my return visit to Jerusalem’s Lot.

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Everything About You

Saturday morning. A good night’s sleep had me up earlier than I would have thought this morning, but I feel rested and good; I was exhausted last night for some reason; Friday, perhaps? I don’t know. But I feel good this morning, I only have one errand to run–which is the grocery store, and I’ll try to get that out of the way momentarily–and some cleaning and organizing needs to be done. I also need to do some writing and editing today; yesterday I was too tired to work on the Scotty revision when I got home, so I need to get caught up on that today.

GEAUX TIGERS!

LSU plays their fifth ranked opponent today, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs roll into Tiger Stadium tonight ranked 22nd in the country. They have some nice wins under their belt, and some losses to quality teams–last week they surprised Auburn–and so this is by no means going to be an easy game for LSU. There could be a let down after last week’s huge, physical win over Georgia; Mississippi State is going to come in hungry; and LSU has to be careful not to be over-confident, must stay focused, and try not to look ahead to the big Alabama game in two weeks–which won’t be as important should LSU lose to Mississippi State. I will undoubtedly be extremely tense during the game, but am going to try my best not to get overwrought and overly involved in the game. It’s supposed to be fun to watch for Christ’s sake.

I also have some reading to do, and some editing that needs to get done, and an author interview I need to get started. My intent is to clean out my email inbox before leaving for the grocery store, as well as get some morning cleaning done here in the kitchen/office. My day job is moving at the end of this month, and I will no longer, in the new building, have my own office; I shall be in a cubicle like everyone else–and so have had to empty the bookcases in my office as well as take down all the pictures from my walls. I do not have the wall-space here in the Lost Apartment to adorn my walls with these pictures–mostly of our trip to Italy–and I’ve been trying to squeeze the books in wherever I can, which for obvious reasons has not been easy to do.

I’m still reading Empire of Sin, and am hoping to get further along in that this weekend as well; it may be in my lap during the game tonight. My reading has slowed down dramatically; and I still haven’t done a blog entry about Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls. Maybe later today.

I finished watching season three of The Man in the High Castle last night, and by far and away, this third season is the best of the show so far. It is interesting to me how well they’ve done with the character of John Smith, an American who fought against the Axis during the lost war and has switched sides, climbing the ladder in the American nazi hierarchy and also being groomed for leadership by Himmler himself. Underplayed beautifully by Rufus Sewell, the personal journey of this monster has sort of humanized him–which is, in and of itself, terrifying; this man is a monster and the antithesis of a patriotic American; everything a true American patriot would despise–and yet, those personal problems and tragedies and little heartbreaks in his family life make him almost win the audience’s sympathies…then he does something monstrous and you remember, there are no good Nazis. This show, and its message, are particularly real and powerful and important, given these times in which we live.

In the early 1990’s, I has an idea for a dystopian series of novels, built around the collapse of the American republic and the rise of a totalitarian state in its place; which I was going to call There Comes a Tide. I have all my notes and ideas in a folder somewhere, which means I might take a look at them sometime soon and see if it’s something I want to write in the next year or so. I have a y/a on deck to write after I finish the Scotty revision, and I am also going to be working on the WIP in the meantime as well; I kind of wanted to try writing a cozy after the first of the year and I also have a noir I want to write, in addition to a paranormal suspense thriller I’ve been toying with the last few months. There’s simply never enough time to write everything I want to write, and all the procrastination doesn’t help.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I’ve also decided to pull a long story from my collection and replace it with two shorter stories; the longer story will probably go up as a Kindle single at some point, and I also am in the midst of another long story that will probably turn into a Kindle single as well: “Never Kiss a Stranger.” I’ve recognized that story needs to be longer but it’s not enough of a story to be a novel…and there’s always Kindle single.

And now, back to the spice mines. I need to wash the bed linens, put some dishes away, get these floors cleaned, organize and file….and stop procrastinating.

Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader!

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Friday I’m in Love

Well, Constant Reader, we did it. We’ve made it through yet another week of work, and the weekend looms, with big games on deck for both the Saints and LSU.

The weather change has come at long last; with cooler temperatures, and now when I wake up early in the morning, it’s still dark outside. I dislike immensely rising when it’s still dark–or at least murky–outside; it feels like I am getting up in the middle of the night, and rightly or wrongly, my body rebels against that. One has to hate that.

Last night I finished revising Chapter 15, which puts me at three-fifths of the way finished with the revision. Once you’re over that midway hump, it always seems to go much faster. I do think I’ll be able to get this finished by the end of the month and turned in, which is lovely, after which I can focus on Bury Me in Satin as well as deconstructing the WIP. I am itching to get back to that as well as get started on the new y/a, so that makes the revising of Royal Street Reveillon even more tedious for me. I’m also gathering all kinds of research materials I’m going to need to get through relatively soon, so I can get started on those projects as soon as I finish with Scotty.

I am really liking the idea of putting together a collection called Monsters of New Orleans. I’ve done very little horror; and a lot of what I do write probably wouldn’t be considered true horror, but like mystery there are many shades of horror. I do have some stories already that would fit into this collection, but the point is also to fictionalize true stories as well–and there are many murderers and ghosts and horrible people in the city’s history to write about…and putting a modern, fictional spin on them would be all kinds of awesome.

So much to write, so much to read, so little time.

I’m still working my way through Empire of Sin, which is really terrific.  I am now at the part of the book where jazz is being born in New Orleans; and in all honesty, it’s really interesting to me. This surprises me. I like jazz, but I don’t love jazz; and I’ve never written about the New Orleans music scene primarily because I don’t know much about it and it’s a kind of music–jazz–that’s never resonated with me. I also fully accept that this probably makes me seem like a barbarian or a philistine to some; this is also perfectly fine with me. But if I am going to write about a gay prostitute in the days of Storyville, this is stuff I need to know…and I should probably start listening to the music, so I can get a grasp of how it sounds and how it makes people feel.

I am also almost finished with The Man in the High Castle; I’ll probably finish watching Season 3 tonight. It brings up a lot of interesting questions.

And now, back to the spice mines.

Have a lovely Friday.

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Beauty and the Beast

Thursday and the work week approaches its end.

Yesterday was Payday, or rather, Pay the Bills Day, which is always an odious chore. Ironically, the one bill I never mind paying is my car payment; don’t get me wrong, I deeply hate making that payment every month, but I love having a newer car (I guess I can’t really call it new anymore) with all of the lovely bells and whistles and the ability to not worry every time I get in the car if it’s going to break down–not that I don’t always worry about that, it’s just not as present as it was in the Buick.

I have to say, American Horror Story has been a rollercoaster for me to watch over its many seasons; some seasons–“Murder House,” “Cult”–are fantastic, others a little disappointing, others such an enormous mess that I never bothered to finish watching. This season, “Apocalypse,” has been teetering on the edge of probably one more episode and I’m done. The storytelling has just been all over the map; the performances have been entertaining, and the first episode’s opening was pretty intense…but most of the time I’ve just been sitting in my easy chair, rolling my eyes and saying really? This makes no sense. But this week…they returned to “Murder House,” along with Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, and most importantly, JESSICA FUCKING LANGE, and the episode was amazing. It also firmly reestablished in my mind that 1) “Murder House” was, by far and away, the best season of the show; and 2) I don’t care what you have to pay her, Jessica Lange is worth every penny and needs to come back once and for all. If she doesn’t get an Emmy for last night’s episode, they need to stop giving them out. Period. The episode was also directed by Sarah Paulson, had some extraordinarily beautiful shots, and wrapped up so much of the “Murder House” story…it may have been my favorite episode of American Horror Story ever.

My own writing continues apace; I worked on the Scotty revision a bit more last night, and I am also thinking about how to structure the final revision of the WIP; I also tried to work a bit on my short story “A Little More Jazz for the Axeman,” which is going to be the lead off story in Monsters of New Orleans. I still plan on writing Bury Me in Satin next; my mind is currently swimming in ideas and thoughts and plans. The fact that my sleep schedule has become somewhat consistent at long last is an enormous help in that regard; it makes a huge difference when you feel rested every day.

I’m also looking forward, with a little trepidation, to LSU’s game with Mississippi State on Saturday evening. One of the lovely things I’ve noted about switching from cable to Hulu Streaming Live TV is that I don’t spend all day Saturday in my easy chair watching college football games all day; I literally used to spend the entire day with my eyes glued to the television watching games that don’t matter to me in the least, usually, to be fair to myself, while I was reading a book or scribbling notes. I don’t do that anymore; not that Hulu TV isn’t easy to negotiate–it is, just in a different way than cable was–but the beauty of Hulu TV is that what tyranny cable television had left on me has been broken; case in point–last night’s American Horror Story episode. It is one of the few shows that Paul and I would make a point of watching live as it aired; Paul had a board meeting last night and didn’t get home until about nine fifteen; fifteen minutes after it had started. But because Hulu TV sort of works as a kind of DVR, I could queue it up and it started at the beginning. This is marvelous, and now it’s weird to think that we ever scheduled our lives around the airdate and time of some television show. This means I don’t ever have to rush home from work, or think rats, can’t stop at Rouses on the way home because our show is starting.

This was amazingly helpful during this last season of Real Housewives of New York.

And now I am going to jump back into the spice mines for a bit before I head into the office. Have a lovely Thursday, Constant Reader!

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I Can’t Dance

Wednesday morning, and we have reached the halfway point of the work week; the weekend looms on the horizon, and I am trying to figure out how to maximize my time this coming weekend so I can still relax as well as get everything done that needs to get done–not always a possibility, often a challenge. But definitely worth trying, you know? I’ve been sleeping well and getting good sleep, and waking up relatively early every morning; around sevenish. The revision continues to flow nicely out of my keyboard, and I may even be able to finish this on time, by November 1, the way I’d hoped and planned.

Yesterday it was announced that Midnight Ink, a top small press for crime fiction with an impressive stable of authors and history of awards and quality novels, was shuttering after the summer of 2019. This was, of course, a huge surprise that sent shock waves throughout the crime fiction world. I’d always, personally, kind of hoped that someday something I wrote would find a home there; I liked, admired, and respected Terri Bischoff enormously as an editor and wanted to work with her. I hope some other imprint or publishing line recognizes Terri’s talents and acumen, snapping her right up so she can continue doing the great work she’s been doing.

I’ve had two publishers shut down out from under me in my career thus far, and both situations made me aware of how tenuous this business can be. Both were sudden, and only in the first case was there any announcement or notification; in the second case, they simply stopped paying me even though they continued selling my books for several years. In fact, they never paid me the final portion of the advance for Murder in the Garden District, although they certainly published it, sold subsidiary rights, and sold copies of it for years. I sent registered letters, tried to get the Author’s Guild involved, but they simply pretended I didn’t exist and continued making money from me for several years without paying me a cent that was owed to me. I repeatedly asked for my rights back–no response, because why be professional when you’re robbing someone?

But I bounced back from both disappointments, and while it’s always a gut punch, once you get past the shock and horror and oh my God what am I going to do my career is over nightmares, you just dust yourself off, and figure out what to do next. I’m fairly certain all the talent at Midnight Ink that just got cut loose will wind up somewhere; I only wish I had the money and time to start my own publishing company to pick up all this talent and keep their series going.

Interestingly enough, when Alyson stopped paying me and I was kind of at loose ends with the Chanse series, I considered writing a new series and pitching it to Midnight Ink all those years ago. I always kind of had a bit of regret that I never went ahead and did a pitch to them, and now I will have to scratch that off my publishing bucket list.

And now, back to the spice mines. I have some research reading to do for the WIP, as well as some planning to do, and of course, there’s the constant need to revise the Scotty.

Have a lovely day, everyone.

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