Lowdown

I woke up to a major thunderstorm around seven this morning, and quite frankly, curled up under my blankets even more and went back to sleep. I didn’t wind up getting out of bed until after nine, which felt lovely and now I feel wide awake while well rested at the same time, which is actually quite nice. I need to run to the UPS Store today, pick up the mail and a prescription, stop by the bank, and make groceries at some point, but ugh, how horrible to do this in the rain. It’s supposed to rain here all day, alas. But that will certainly encourage me to get them done as quickly as possible so I can get home.

Today I need to also do some more cleaning around the house, and at some point I am going to close the browsers so I can focus on writing. I want to push through these revisions of these chapters of the WIP, and I’d also like to push through and get a strong revision of “And the Walls Came Down” done, so I can submit it to some markets this week. My short story for next week will be the “The Problem with Autofill,” which is a strong story but the ending needs to be altered and changed somewhat. I still like the concept of the story–it’s kind of a Sorry Wrong Number thing, only with email–but I’m still not sure how to make it work completely.  But I still persist in trying to make it work. I also would like to work some more on “Please Die Soon,” which I think is a terrific idea for a story, and I’ve done the requisite research to make it work, methinks. I really want to stick to this goal of either revising a short story or finishing an incomplete first draft of one every week.

Goals. Must stick to goals.

I survived Costco yesterday, my checking account less scathed than usual–although it easily could have become Sherman’s March to the Sea. Yet I was able to resist, and came very close to staying within the budget I set for the trip–and had I not bought two books off the book table (Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis; the Owens was nominated for an Edgar while the Davis won the Pulitzer Prize) I would have stayed under budget.

The book table is always my downfall.

And while I didn’t accomplish near as much as I probably should have yesterday, I did manage to get some chores done, some of them loathsome, so that’s a win for the end of the week, methinks. The key is what I can get done today and tomorrow…and my primary focus has to be on writing. Once I get the writing gears dusted off and oiled, I am hoping I will be able to get the first draft of the WIP finished by the end of May (there’s a three day holiday this month as well, which I am really looking forward to enjoying).

The Gulf itself looks interesting. Most American histories, of course, focus on the Atlantic colonies and the spread westward from there; there really isn’t anything taught about the history of the Gulf of Mexico–which, once Florida, Louisiana and Texas passed into American hands, basically became an enormous American lake–and I am very interested in becoming better acquainted with this history. It can, after all, only help, since most of my fiction work is focused on the Gulf states. The more Louisiana history I know, and read, the better I feel my fiction will become.

I think once I finish Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things my next book will be either Rachel Howzell Hall’s All the Way Down or Joseph Olshan’s Lambda nominated mystery, Black Diamond Fall. I’m greatly enjoying the Mason novel, and perhaps at some point today, once I’ve run the errands and done the cleaning and written all I need to write today, I might curl up in the easy chair with The Hidden Things and make some serious headway on it. I also have an article to write and another column to start planning for. And yes, it does all seem a bit overwhelming, but what I need to do is make a list and just start checking off boxes.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader.

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That’s the Way (I Like It)

Friday and we have made it to the end of the week, Constant Reader!

I am most pleased, and am even more pleased that I woke up before my alarm this morning. This, as you can imagine, doesn’t happen as often as I would like, and I was not only awake but functional, so I went ahead and got up. The kitchen is a mess this morning, primarily because I made dinner last night after cleaning when I got home yesterday afternoon, so I should probably do something about that before I leave for my half-day this morning. I am hoping to run to Costco after work today, and then come home to my usual Friday chores–primarily washing the bed linens–and perhaps getting back on track with writing. I really need to get back into the habit of writing some fiction every day. I do have other errands to run this weekend–making groceries being the most important of those–and I absolutely have to clean the Lost Apartment. I’ve not done the floors in forever, and the kitchen windows are filthy, absolutely filthy.

I also would love to finish reading Jamie Mason’s quite marvelous The Hidden Things this weekend. This is Jamie’s third novel; her first, Three Graves Full, was quite a stunning and brilliant debut, but I’ve been holding on to her second until she’d published another so I would always have one of her books that I’ve not read on deck. It really is quite odd that I do this; but I never want to run out of authors I enjoy’s books. (I’m still holding back on some Mary Stewarts, Daphne du Mauriers, and Charlotte Armstrongs)

I’ve also had a strong breakthrough on my short story “And the Walls Came Down,” which I reread this week, and think I can fashion with another revision into something quite marvelous. So, that’s also on the agenda for the weekend–and I’ve decided that each week I am picking one of my short stories for a reread and a final revise. At one story per week, it’s going to probably take me the rest of the  year to get them all done–I had no idea precisely how many short stories I have that are in some sort of progress–but at some point I am also going to have to finish the ones I’ve started and never finished the initial draft for–I also need to go through my journals and start digging out the short story ideas I’ve jotted down over the last year, because there were quite a few of those as well.

Paul and I watched the first season–there were only seven episodes–of a Netflix show called Bonding–which was actually quite funny at times and rather clever. The premise of the show is two former close friends from high school run into each other as adults; she is now a dominatrix and he’s an aspiring stand-up comedian who has too much stage fright to ever actually get up and do his act. He winds up working as her assistant, and they begin to bond and learn from each other while negotiating their own hang-ups and possible new relationships. I’m not entirely certain this is an accurate depiction of the BDSM community, or even of what a dom is like; but it was clever and cute and funny; and up till the last episode, we greatly enjoyed it. (The last episode got kind of weird.)

I also got some new books in the mail yesterday: They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall; Miracle Creek by Angie Kim; A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab; and Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok Banker. I’ve bumped Rachel’s book to the “on-deck” position on my TBR pile; so I am hopeful I can get Jamie’s book finished this weekend so I can dig into Rachel’s.

I am also bound and determined to get caught up on the WIP this weekend, so I can start writing new chapters next week.

Or…I might just be a slug and lay around and not do a goddamned thing all weekend. It happens.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines with me. Have a lovely Friday, everyone.

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Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

Hello, Tuesday! How you doing?

I managed another not-quite-a-thousand words yesterday on the WIP; which was lovely. I am still not writing as quickly as I used to–I think I am still a bit on the rusty side, naturally–but I am getting back into the swing of it. Today is the last day of April, and I’d intended to have the entire first draft finished by tomorrow. Instead, I am halfway through a rewrite of the first ten chapters, with fifteen more to write. Epic fail, perhaps? Or just the usual Greg can’t make a deadline to save his life nonsense?

TBF, I was sick twice in this last month, and that certainly didn’t help in the least.

I did finish reading Kellye Garrett’s Hollywood Homicide, and today I am moving on to Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things. Such a plethora of riches in my TBR pile, y’all. And I still have two Donna Andrews novels in there, too! I was also tired most of yesterday; not so much physically as mentally. I managed to get through the entire workday without feeling either sleepy or exhausted, and while I slept fairly decently last night, I did wake up a lot–usually an indication that I am going to be somewhat tired today. It’s another long day, but stranger things have happened, you know?

We got caught up on Veep as well last night, which is killing it in its final season. The show has always been funny, but this season is a bit more topical than usual…to the point I said, several times during the episode, “I can’t believe they’re doing this.”

Tomorrow is payday, and i really should start working on getting the bills paid. Yay. These are a few of my favorite things. *snark*

Okay, I paid some of the bills but also got a pleasant surprise: an electronic payment for the talk I did with Jean Redmann at the Jefferson Parish library a few Saturdays ago. I’d forgotten we were getting paid for that, so that was an incredibly pleasant surprise. Another pleasant surprise was checking Twitter (I know, right? A PLEASANT SURPRISE ON TWITTER are words I never thought I’d type.) and seeing, in a longer discussion about an article in The Writer about men writing strong women (don’t get me started) some love for my story “This Town” in Murder-a-Go-Go’s, and some love for me personally.

Aw. That’s always nice.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Deep Purple

It isn’t much, but I managed to get that bitch of a Chapter Four slogged through yesterday. It was almost like pulling teeth–and then when I was near the end, I remembered that the entire purpose of this chapter was to establish something near the beginning that will come up again later in the chapter and of course I forgot to put that thing in.

Heavy heaving sigh. And this, Constant Reader, is why writers drink.

To excess.

Regularly.

I am also still processing last night’s Game of Thrones. In all honesty, I didn’t really notice that the episode was almost too dark to see things; Game of Thrones has always, to me, been shot very dark so it wasn’t big enough of a change to be necessary. I simply thought I wasn’t able to see because there was literally, in some moments, so much to see and so much going on that my eyes and mind were kind of overwhelmed. It wasn’t until after the episode had ended and I went on social media to see what other people thought that I saw that so many people were complaining about how poorly lit the episode was. I’m also not sure how I felt about the episode itself; as I said, I am still processing it. I’m not sure that making the Great War the prelude to the Final War was necessarily the best way to go; surely it should have been done in reverse? I am not sure, but I guess we’ll see how these final three episodes play out.

Also interesting are the turns Veep is making this season–I honestly can’t believe how spot-on they are in satirizing our current situation and our last election.

I also read a lot more of Kellye Garrett’s debut novel, which I am hoping to get finished this week–either today or tomorrow. I am greatly enjoying this book, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. So…the Diversity Project, despite my slight misgivings about it, is actually doing some good for me.

I also feel well enough to go back to work today. Yesterday was still kind of iffy for me, but I decided to set the alarm for this morning and just see how I felt when it went off. I am awake–maybe not as rested as I might prefer, but I am awake and don’t feel like death, so I am also seeing that as a plus as well. My throat is still sore, but I am not sure why, and it isn’t affecting my voice at all, which is also a plus. I’m not really aware of it unless/until I swallow, but it’s still not very pleasant.

C’est la vie.

And on that note, I suppose I should get in the shower so I can head into the spice mines.

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Love to Love You Baby

Paul’s flight was delayed a bit, but he got home last night just after nine pm and all is right in the Lost Apartment. I have ceased to exist to Scooter except as a conduit for treats, food or water–he hasn’t even gotten out of bed yet this morning to demand food! I also woke up this morning feeling much much better than I have in days, which means I think I should be able to return to work tomorrow. Huzzah!

I’m sure it’s an utter coincidence that Paul’s return home cured me.

Yesterday I ran some errands over to the West Bank that simply couldn’t be put off until next weekend–and, I figured, it was better to try to get it over and done with while still feeling slightly unwell than wait until today when I might have relapsed–and so I have Paul’s birthday present ready to give to him when he wakes up, for yes, today is Paul’s birthday. He was honored with the Leadership Award from the Publishing Triangle on Thursday and today is his birthday, so he’s had quite a lovely long weekend of it. I also spent some time reading Kellye Garrett’s delightfully fun Hollywood Homicide yesterday, while I also did some odds and ends cleaning up around here. I still have some cleaning to do today, and I want to get that pesky chapter written once and for all today so I can move on to the next and try to get this entire pesky thing finished soon enough. I am behind, of course, as I always seem to be, but I am hoping/hopeful that I can get this first draft finished by the 15th of May. That’s basically two weeks, and there’s absolutely no reason I cannot be finished by then other than sheer, utter laziness.

Everyone who thinks I won’t be done by the 15th, raise your hand.

Bitches.

And so I shall spend this morning cleaning and working on the WIP. I suspect Paul, who was exhausted when he got home last night, will sleep till about noon–if not longer, which gives me a free morning to get all of this done. I am planning on going to the gym (I know, right?) around noonish/one, to get started again with my regular workouts and getting my body back into shape. We’ll see how it goes, but that is my plan at this moment–although there’s also a stray thought that I should go now, this morning, to get it over with and get my day kick-started, but no, I think I’ll spend the morning doing precisely what I said I was going to spend the morning doing. I need to get that fucking chapter finished, and maybe even get started on Chapter Five while I have Word open.

I also want to start doing something with all these short stories I have just lying around here in one form or another. Maybe after the gym I can read some of them, or something. They aren’t doing me any good sitting in my computer as files, that’s for certain.

And I also need to steel myself for tonight’s Game of Thrones. It’s certainly going to be a bloodbath, with characters whose lives I’ve been following since the very first season an eon ago certain to die tonight. Perhaps I should take a Xanax before watching? I also want to read some more of Kellye’s book, so I can move on to Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things, which is up next in queue….although I am very tempted by Marlon James’ latest, an epic fantasy set in Africa which is being called “an African Game of Thrones“, although I am certain that’s simply a marketing gimmick to try to appeal to George R. R. Martin’s fans, and fans of the show. Marlon is a terrific writer, and he won the Mann Booker a few years ago for his A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I’ve not read, but have wanted to for quite some time. My TBR queue is quite something, I have to say, and I am really looking forward to reading all the books in it at some point.

At some point.

There will never be enough time, will there, to read everything I want to read and write everything I want to write. I think that’s why I get so caught up in falling behind and the sense of time slipping through my fingers, which gets more intense the more I age, which is, of course, every fucking day.

And now back to the spice mines, my friends. It’s already ten and I’ve gotten nothing done other than writing this.

And that shall not stand.

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Dream Weaver

It’s Wednesday and the week is partially over; Paul departed for New York this morning and I am alone in the Lost Apartment with what I assumed would be a very needy kitty, but I haven’t see him anywhere yet since I got out of bed twenty minutes ago; he’s either sulking (he starts sulking/being needy once he sees the suitcases) or he’s completely forgotten about everything and is sleeping, thinking it’s just another normal middle of the week day.

The real test, of course, will be tonight.

I was terribly tired all day yesterday–another long day at the office–and as such was unable to get more than 700 words or so done. I am highly annoyed at how far behind on this manuscript I’ve fallen; but it’s fine, I suppose. I was so tired yesterday there were things I couldn’t remember if I had actually written and added to the manuscript already, or if I had just thought about writing them.

Ah, Scooter just howled at me, so he’s around–he must have just gone back to sleep after Paul left (I didn’t even hear his alarm, that’s how deeply I was asleep) and didn’t hear me get up. Scooter was supposedly two years old when we rescued him, which would make him round eleven now; sometimes I wonder about his hearing, but then he’s a cat and they have had millenia of experience ignoring humans calling them, so there’s that. How would one tell if a cat is losing its hearing?

So, while Paul is in New York getting the Leadership Award from the Publishing Triangle tomorrow night, I’ll be here in New Orleans trying to get caught up on my WIP, and trying to cross off all the other things on my to-do lists. He’s coming home Saturday afternoon, so it’s not like he’s going to be gone for a long time, but that gives me some quiet downtime–although, to be honest, other than watching our shows together in the evening, he’s spending a lot of his home time upstairs working on his own writing projects on his computer, which pleases me.

I am feeling more ambitious about my work these days, which is part of the reason being too tired to work much the last two days has been so aggravating. I am getting good work done, but I guess I also need to remember as I get older that the days of cranking out anywhere from three to five thousand words in a day, several days in a row, are probably not as likely as they used to be and I need to stop holding myself to that standard..which is self-defeating. Any work done is a step forward–perhaps not as big a step as I might prefer, but it’s still a step and a step ahead is better than not taking a step–just like with working out: three times a week optimal; two times better than one; and one is better than none. I need to get back to the gym; perhaps this weekend I can just go ahead and carve out the time. I think my writing work comes easier when I am working on my body as well; the two are so intertwined that perhaps part of the lost feeling I’ve had with my writing and my career over the last two years has had something to do with the fact that I don’t go to the gym anymore. I fret about the loss of time, but also need to realize that it’s not a loss of time; getting my body into better condition and shape is an improvement on my health, will probably help me sleep better, and increase my energy so I don’t tire as easily.

And I really do want to feel better.

And on that note, I need to dive back into the spice mines so I can get some writing done before I head to work this morning. Happy Wednesday, Constant Reader!

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Moonlight Feels Right

And just like that, it’s now Tuesday.

Yesterday, rather than my long day, I only had to put in seven hours rather than eleven. (I work half-days on Friday, but it was a holiday so got paid for eight, which meant four hours had to go from somewhere; Monday was the easiest choice for the testing schedule) I worked on the WIP and faced up to the fact that the reason I didn’t work on it Sunday was because the next chapter to revise (Chapter Four, to be exact) really needs to begin with a nightmare and the main character being woken up from it by a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. Heavy sigh. I was resistant to writing the nightmare scene  because it felt lazy to me; I’ve done the woken-from-a-nightmare-by-a-thunderstorm in several books now, and it’s kind of become a trope in my works that have a touch of the paranormal to them–I think I even did this in The Orion Mask, which didn’t have anything of the paranormal to it.

I hate being aware of tropes in my own work…my own personal tropes?

I am sure this has something to do with getting a D on a story for that wretched writing instructor (the one who told me I’d never be published) that included a dream; take that, asshole professor who has never published anything; another novel by me in print with a dream sequence.

But in this case, the nightmare is necessary foreshadowing, not just lazy writing (or so I am convincing myself, at any rate). I need to create a mood in the book, and the nightmare plays into this feeling that something just isn’t right at my main character’s grandmother’s house. I’ve also worried that the story is too similar to Lake Thirteen, that I might be repeating myself, but I think that is also part of writing another ghost story. I’ve already written one, and so there’s always going to be the fear that I am just retelling the same story again. It isn’t quite the same story, but there are enough similarities that I delayed writing this book for a very long time because I simply assumed they were too much alike. But that’s also the challenge of writing this one, and why I decided to go ahead and write it: for the challenge of writing another ghost story without repeating the same story and scenes.

I suppose once I finish writing this draft I should probably reread Lake Thirteen just to be on the safe side. It’s been years since I wrote and published that particular book and so it’s entirely possible my creative mind could be taking shortcuts. But this is a more complicated and complex book than Lake Thirteen; it’s also a lot more ambitious. I am trying something with the voice I’ve never done before–first person present tense–and that is, in and of itself, hard to keep track of and it’s very easy to slip into past tense, which is my usual go-to. Again, trying to challenge myself with this voice and character and tense; we shall see how it works out, I suppose.

Thirty-odd books and a ridiculous amount of short stories later, and it never gets any easier. Oh, the self-doubt and constant evaluation of my abilities as a writer…it never goes away, and it’s something I’m trying really hard to work around and ignore. I think part of the reason I am so bad about self-promotion is tied not only into the entire concept of modesty that I was raised to believe in but the self-doubt and self-deprecation that comes along with who I am as a person.

It’s a wonder I’m not in a strait-jacket.

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

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