Drowned World/Substitute for Love

Saturday morning in the Lost Apartment and I finally slept well last night, and I even slept in for an extra two hours this morning. I could have easily (and gladly) stayed in bed for even longer, but I have too much to get done this weekend to allow myself to slovenly lay in bed for the entire morning, so once Scooter’s outrage about not being fed at six a.m. manifested itself into non-stop yowling, I got up and fed him. I feel very rested today, which is lovely. I was tired and dragging all day yesterday, and when I finished work I had things to get done. Paul and I ran out to Costco for a restocking (I hate that sometimes they have stuff and sometimes they don’t; they didn’t have several key things I always get when I go) and then I picked up the mail and a prescription. I need to get gas this weekend as well as make groceries, and the tires need to be aired up as well (the low pressure light came on in Alabama last weekend, but only one tire was low and it wasn’t officially low; it was simply lower than the other three tires), and there’s all kinds of other things I need to get done this weekend. I am editing a manuscript which needs to get finished this weekend; I’d like to do a little more work on my own manuscript; and I would absolutely love to finish reading Lori Roy’s brilliant Let Me Die in His Footsteps this weekend as well. It’s seem rather daunting when it’s put that way, but I am confident that not only can I get all of it completed but without driving myself insane, either.

Always a plus!

We watched The Boston Strangler film on Hulu last night (after an episode of Somebody Somewhere, which I am really growing fond of), and it was quite good. It focused on the two women reporters who figured out there was an actual serial killer and did all the pursuing of the case, all the while tweaking the police who were falling down on the job and forcing them to actually do their work. I wasn’t old enough when the killings were actually happening, but my dad had a copy of Gerold Frank’s The Boston Strangler and I did read that, as well as watched the Tony Curtis film version of the story when it was released to the television networks after its theatrical run. I don’t really remember much of reading the book, other than one landlady who was certain one of her tenants was the Strangler, and the story kept coming back to her and her suspicions. That always stayed with me over the years (what if your tenant/neighbor was a serial killer and you started to suspect? which became my story “The Carriage House”–yes, Virginia, that story gestated in my head for nearly fifty years before I wrote it) and to this day I still remember how chilling that was and how much I worried for the landlady. (It’s also the plot of the ancient Hitchcock film The Lodger, in which the landlady suspected her tenant was Jack the Ripper.)

I was thinking yesterday about the entry I wrote yesterday morning and the way I was/have been feeling for quite some time, and I realized that I’ve been a very passive participant in life; I’ve been kind of letting it happen to me for a while now rather than living my life actively. I don’t know if it’s exhaustion, both physical and emotional, or a reaction to trauma; or maybe, perhaps, even both. The last few years have been rough on everyone; I don’t think we’ll ever know the full extent of the trauma we all experienced as a result of that paradigm shift back in March of 2020; the shutdown, the battles over what was responsible and what was irresponsible; the insanity of the anti-vaxxer movement and everything else that was just plain wrong over the last few years. I suppose for some of us the trauma goes back even further, to the 2016 election. But it’s kind of true. I think I was very active in my own life and the pursuance of goals before 2016, and ever since 2016 I’ve just been kind of coasting along, letting things happen instead of making them. As a general rule I don’t like coasting through life; it was the recognition that was what I was doing in my early thirties that led to the big changes in my life, which was followed by the achieving goals I had always dreamed about, since I was a little boy.

But roadblocks and speed bumps encountered aside, I think had I been able to look ahead twenty-one years when my first book was released to see where I am today, I’d have been pleased and thrilled and more than a little bit smug about what I’d accomplished. A character trait I’ve never wanted to have is arrogance, and I am always afraid of sounding arrogant when talking about myself and my career. I never want to sound arrogant or smug (well, unless I am dealing with haters, in which case I love giving rein to smug condescending arrogance), but over forty novels? Over twenty anthologies? Over fifty short stories? Fifteen Lambda nominations, and seven Anthonys in total? Nominations for the Macavity, the Shirley Jackson, the Lefty, and the Agatha? How could I not be satisfied and proud of myself?

As I was making room for the Costco purchases once we got home, I was putting some things up in the storage attic and needed to move a box, so I looked inside of it to see what it was. Clippings and things from my career, it turned out–once I carried the box down the ladder to the laundry room I could see I’d written Career Memorabilia on it in Sharpie–and inside was all kinds of things. Back issues of Lambda Book Report from the days when I was either its editor or did some writing for them (or when they were reviewing my work), and back issues of Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, too, along with Insightoutbook catalogues (what a serious blast from the past). Of course I had to bring that box down and keep it for sorting through and scanning purposes (I am serious about cleaning shit out of the storage attic this year), and hilariously found the September 2000 issue of Lambda Book Report, with Michael Thomas Ford on the cover. (Peering inside, I saw that Paul actually was the one who interviewed him!) Scanning all of this stuff will be a huge undertaking, and I do actually hate the thought of throwing it all out once it’s done; I don’t know if Lambda ever archived the back issues or not, so this may be all that’s left of it out there. Same with Insightoutbooks; it was very important and crucial to queer publishing between 2000 and when it went under sometime around 2009 or 2010 (that may be wrong; I also found an issue of LBR from 2008 or 2009, and I would have sworn under oath that LBR stopped publishing a print edition long before that. (You see why I no longer trust my memory? Mnemosyne no longer comes to my aid anymore these days, which is most unfortunate–and yes, the reason the goddess of memory comes to mind is because of Carol Goodman’s marvelous The Ghost Orchid–more to come on that score.)

But I also did some cleaning up and filing around here while I was making dinner (ravioli) last night, so this morning the office doesn’t look as bad as it usually does on Saturday morning; the sink is filled with dirty dishes and there’s a load in the dishwasher to put away, but more of the things I generally wind up doing Saturday morning are already done, so there’s no excuse for me not to be highly productive today other than malaise and laziness.

And on that note, I am going to get these minor chores handled while I keep drinking coffee and my mind finishes awakenening.

Don’t Cry for Me Argentina

It won’t be easy, you’ll think it strange…

Work at home Friday for one Gregalicious, and yes, I feel marvelous after not having to get up to an alarm at the ungodly hour of six a.m. It doesn’t matter how many days, weeks, months or years I have to do that–I will never get used to it. I’ve had 9 to 5 jobs before and it didn’t matter. I never got used to getting up to the alarm, never failed to get tired or worn down during the course of the week, and was generally so tired by Friday all I could do was pray for the day to end. Why is this? I don’t know, but I have always been like this–even when I was a kid. I made some decent progress on the book last night–thank God–and hopefully will be able to do so tonight as well.

Last night I joined some colleagues and friends for a catch-up-we-don’t-see-each-other-enough ZOOM call, which was lovely. They taught me how to take my face off the screen (I don’t like looking at myself, which is why I’ve always hated doing ZOOM things) and I learned how to blur out my background so I don’t have to stress about open cabinet doors or a stray dirty dish or case of condoms in camera range (which is why I’ve always hated ZOOM things) and it was quite lovely. It was a nice cap on an odd day of weird energy. As always, I enjoyed my clients and there was cake again today (there’s been cake pretty much every day this week), but I felt like I wasn’t getting as much done as I usually can and like I was kind of drifting through the day, if that makes any bit of sense (USE YOUR WORDS, WRITER BOY). But after the call I got through another chapter, and I think I am over the hump now and can buckle down and get the damned thing finished at long last. I have a lot to do this weekend, and not much time for being lazy and recharging (my favorite things to do) my batteries.

But it’s going to take some more time. In fact, I am going to stop being so lethargic and talk to my editor today and let her know how behind this is and see what we can do. Avoidance always makes things worse, you know, and this is a lesson I learned a long time ago–which makes this regression back to a time when “avoidance” was my middle name puzzling, confusing, and worrisome. I used to evade responsibility at every opportunity; eventually I realized that stepping up and taking responsibility was better for me on every level. Maybe I tend to overdo that somewhat; I don’t need to take responsibility for everything as not everything is actually mu fault, but I have also found that taking responsibility like that gives everyone and everything the chance to deal and move on. And sometimes that’s the best thing to do; because things inevitably devolve to “who do we need to blame for this?” and that isn’t productive.

After working some, Paul and I got caught up on The Other Two, which isn’t as funny in its third season as it was in its earlier ones, and then spent some more time with Somebody Somewhere, which I really do like. Today I have work-at-home duties as well as chores to get done before I can curl up with today’s edits; this weekend I have other things to do so I have to put the book aside once I take responsibility for my failures to get this revision done in a timely manner and get this back on the road to its completion. This morning I feel more clear-headed than I have all week, but then of course I should have expected to be tired this week; last weekend I spent over eleven hours driving between Saturday and Sunday and of course, the weekend was an emotional drain. It’s actually been quite a week, frankly; between the emotional rollercoaster of the weekend to the madness of getting three Anthony nominations and of course, the constant struggle to get this book finished, it’s really not a surprise that I was drained and tired and fatigued in every way (emotional, intellectual, and physical) by the time Thursday came rolling around. I also realized this morning/last night that the way I’ve been revising this book hasn’t been the best way to do it; I’ve been doing something different in my approach and as such, feel like no progress is ever being made and that makes it even harder. I was trying to work from the manuscript draft, with everything in one document, as opposed to what I usually do, which is every chapter has its own file with the chapter number and draft number as the file name (example: Chapter 2-4 means fourth draft of chapter two) and I can get the enormous satisfaction of keeping track and getting things done; working in one document there is none of that, and I think not getting that serotonin blast from the illusion of getting things done and moving ahead is what has been holding me back. I am going to go back to the old way of doing things while cutting and pasting the new stuff into the long document and see if that speeds me back up.

Never change the ingrained habits of over twenty years, for therein lies the path to madness.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. May your Friday be as lovely as you are, Constant Reader, and I’ll clock back in tomorrow.

Little Star

Well, here we are on bleary-eyed Thursday morning and I am swilling coffee and hoping to wake up more. I slept very well, but this is the usual late-week battery running down kind of tired, the way I always feel by the end of the week. I was tired again when I got home from work yesterday, so didn’t get very much accomplished last evening. I have a sink full of dirty dishes I’ve been ignoring, a dishwasher full that needs to be put away, a load of laundry in the dryer and another full basket of clothes to launder as well. Heavy heaving sigh. I really just want to curl up into a ball and go back to sleep and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t exist, but it is not to be.

I did, in my tired stupor yesterday, did manage to watch this week’s Ted Lasso again and it was just as lovely and charming and delightful the second time around, and I did catch some things I’d missed the first time (my favorite was when Jan Maas said “statistically there should be more than one gay person on the team” and everyone looked at Jamie, who just smiles and says “I’m flattered”). This show is really such a delight; I am always in a much better mood after I watch it. The character development and story arcs have just been phenomenal, and the attention to every little detail is exceptional–the developing friendship between Jamie and Sam, for example; not a major story in the scheme of things, something extra and small on the side, yet also incredible for showing the character development of them both from the first and second seasons when Sam couldn’t stand Jamie and didn’t want him back on the team. We’ve also started watching an adorably funny show on HBO MAX called Somebody Somewhere, which is set in Manhattan, Kansas and focuses on the most endearing odd characters. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it at first–shows about oddballs are always iffy for me; I wanted to be sure we’re laughing with the characters rather than at them; otherwise it’s too mean-spirited for me, and this show is definitely not that. It’s kind of hard to describe; maybe as I watch more I’ll get it sorted in my head.

I’m hoping that I’ll get my act together this week–the jury is still out on that and it’s already Thursday–but now I am at that “I have so much to do and so little time to do it in so I will never get it done” paralysis that usually comes right before my brain snaps to attention and starts working at an insanely impossible speed. I don’t know why I always do this to myself, but it happens far too regularly for my liking and I really wish I could change my ways to not be like this anymore.

You’re sixty-two, Greg, or rather, almost sixty two (I always add a year to my age after New Year’s), what are the chances you’ll be able to change your methodology at this time in your life? Heavy heaving sigh. But one can always dream, can’t one? I am going to head straight home after work today because I have a ZOOM thing tonight with some friends and I need to clean the kitchen–or at least hide the dishes in the full sink…no wait, I remember! I learned how to blur the background so I don’t have to clean the kitchen! (But I do still need to clean the kitchen if I’m not too tired…)

Ah, well, such is life. And now into the spice mines….have a lovely Friday Eve, Constant Reader.

Beautiful Stranger

Wednesday and it’s Pay-the-Bills Day again; how does time pass so goddamned quickly?

We were in a flash flood advisory yesterday evening when I left the office, and on my way home I could see that at some point yesterday some of the streets I traverse every day had flooded at some point in the afternoon. I did get a little work done on the book yesterday, but was ultimately forced to surrender to fatigue and repaired to the chair. I was also still feeling some of the after-effects of the Anthony nominations being released on Monday–was still getting congratulatory posts and emails and messages, which I had to acknowledge; everyone is so kind and lovely. So many people are delighted and happy for me, which always comes as a surprise. I guess you never really outgrow the PTSD from being a queer kid?

But I also got to see this week’s Ted Lasso last night (they drop on Wednesdays, but we always can get it at 8 pm central on Tuesdays on Apple Plus) and it was maybe one of my top five episodes of the entire series. Yes, I’m partisan, and yes, I am prone to love anything well-done with gay themes and yes, I am also very highly critical of gay themes in film and television. Stop reading now if you want to avoid Ted Lasso spoilers. When it was revealed earlier in this final season that Colin was actually a deeply closeted gay player I got a bit excited. I’d wondered if the show would address homophobia in sports, and what’s it feels like to be a closeted gay professional athlete, and it was handled so beautifully. The scene with Trent Crimm and Colin talking about it in front of the Homomonument in Amsterdam was just brilliant, and then last week Colin’s friend Isaac grabbed his phone from him to delete nude photos (long story, but YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING) and of course saw his text conversation with his boyfriend. Isaac just gave him a disgusted look and walked away…and my heart broke a little bit for Colin. I know that feeling all too well–the friend who becomes a former friend once they find out or you come out to them (and yes, coming out is a process that goes on for your entire fucking life)–but it’s Ted Lasso–I knew this wouldn’t turn out badly, and it really didn’t. Yes, I am biased, but this episode is one of my favorites of the entire run of the series; everything was clicking and humming along the way it usually does–this season has felt a little uneven–and everyone was pitch perfect, from Roy to Ted to Keely to Rebecca to Higgins to even Nate, whose redemption arc I am enjoying. Yes, I was disappointed when he turned in Season 2, but I am delighted to see that he’s still the same Nate, still figuring things out but at heart a really good guy. And Roy’s growth and development–courtesy of a swift hard kick in the pants from Rebecca–is epic. The end game of the show is now in sight, and I think we’re all going to be delighted with the direction in which it’s going to go. I hope there’s a bit with Trent Crimm doing a book launch for his book on the season and Richmond and Ted’s philosophy of coaching. I cried a few times during last night’s episode, won’t lie–and I absolutely cannot wait to watch it again when I get home this evening. I have to run some errands on the way home–post office and prescriptions–but I am hoping I’ll get home and be able to have a lovely evening of writing before I wind up turning into a cat bed.

I don’t feel tired today although I had a relatively restless night of sleep–sorta sleep as I call it, where your mind feels sharp the next day but physically you’re tired. I need to start stretching (and yes, I know I’ve been saying this for months) but it does help keep you nimble and loose; the aches and tiredness comes from tight muscles, and the best thing to do with tight muscles is stretch them. Maybe I should put that on the to-do list? I didn’t want to get up this morning–the bed was incredibly comfortable and I felt really relaxed–but I can look forward to not getting up to an alarm on Friday morning.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Thanks again, everyone, for all your kindnesses about the Anthony nominations; I still can’t believe it myself, you know? Three? Madness. Have a great Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I’ll check in with you again tomorrow.

Frozen

Yesterday started off really well for me. I woke up, felt a little groggy, brewed a cup of coffee while I washed my face and brushed my teeth (also checking my scalp for sunburn acquired on Sunday) and then sat down at my computer to touch the space bar to wake it up. The first thing I saw was a DM from my friend Kellye, saying, okay double nominee and, as always, replied with “wait what?” She replied, have you not checked your email since last night? so I went to my inbox and there it was: the Anthony Award finalists for San Diego 2023…and I was on it three times. THREE. In all honesty and modesty aside I figured/hoped/thought my best chance to score a nomination was for the 2022 Bouchercon anthology (what kind of monster do you have to be to edit the Bouchercon anthology and NOT get on the short-list for their awards?) but Best Humorous for A Streetcar Named Murder? Best Children’s/Young Adult for #shedeservedit? How absolutely lovely and kind and totally a surprise. It’s kind on unreal. Last year I was nominated twice, which was stunning in and of itself (losing both was no surprise, and seriously there is no shame in losing to Alan Orloff and Jess Lourey; two very talented, funny, and lovely people), but three? I know Shawn A. Cosby was nominated for three I think last year, too? That’s some good company to be in, let me tell you what. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am thrilled, and how delightful that Streetcar and #shedeservedit are getting some award love. The Anthony nominations announcement sort of derailed my day–but what a nice way to have your day derailed, right?–but I was able to get some things done.

I still can’t believe it. And if I didn’t say thanks or “heart” your congratulations on social media, my apologies. Thanks to everyone, really. It still doesn’t seem real; like always, it never does until I’ve actually not won the night they are presented, but like Paul said, “Three more opportunities to extend your losing streak!”

So, yeah, not much progress was made last night. I wasn’t tired when I got home, but I ran some errands and got home rather quickly–that was a surprise–but did some laundry and a load of dishes, but every time I tried to write anything I’d get more notifications and I am obsessive about thanking people; I never want anyone to think I don’t appreciate their being kind to me. And really, not bad for a queer writer, right? Granted, there’s not much queer about either Streetcar or the anthology, but I am still a queer writer no matter what it is I write, it will come from a queer societal perspective. That’s the thing, you know, about queer writers. Even if we aren’t writing about queer characters and themes, we cannot help but bring an outsider’s perspective towards everything we write, and while perhaps being on the outside colors our viewpoint, it also gives us the opportunity for a different perspective and the ability to sometimes see things a bit more clearly than our straight counterparts, who are all wrapped up in their straightness and their perceived straight world.

Obviously, I am still a bit aglow from the great big hug I just got from my colleagues–and still waiting for the correction email–but today I have to firmly reaffix nose to grindstone. I simply have too much to do to allow myself the ease of indulging in my exhaustion–although it is necessary sometimes for recharging purposes–but time is slipping through my fingers like quicksilver and I’ve got to get all this shit done. I must say, career-wise, this has been a good year so far. But I really am having a good year on the score; it just would be nice if my career wouldn’t only go well during times of trauma so I could enjoy the highs a little bit more? Oy.

But I did have another good night of sleep last night and I do feel rested for the moment–my legs are tired, though; I really need to start stretching daily–so we’ll see how the days goes. I’d like to finish reading my book (Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy, which is superb) at some point, and of course there are things to edit and emails to answer and things to write too–and I definitely need to make a to-do list as well as a Costco grocery list as well.

And on that note I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday Eve, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Rain

In a little bit I’ll be loading up the car and driving north.

We watched more of The Diplomat last night, and I must say, what a terrific show. Keri Russell is fantastic, the writing and production values are top natch, and the cast? Chef’s kiss, really. I also managed to get some work done on the book last evening, as well as doing some chores around the house on breaks from work-at-home duties. I laundered the bed linens, forgot to pick up my dry cleaning, and noted that the humidity has returned–the Formosan termite swarms won’t be far behind, either. There have already been sightings reported on social media, and yet it’s not yet Mother’s Day, which was usually the demarcation line of swarm season. The work on the house next door also looks like it may be winding down at long last, and while the house looks lovely, I still miss my crepe myrtles.

I slept very well last night, so we’ll see how I feel sleeping in a motel tonight. I don’t have much to do to get ready for the drive; my Carol Goodman audiobook is downloaded to my phone, and I just need to pack my shaving kit and a change of clothes to be ready to go, after showering and shaving. I also need to queue up the directions on my phone, too. It should be, all in all, a lovely drive. Mississippi, despite everything, is quite beautiful to drive through, as is Alabama (the entire South is beautiful, more’s the pity), and of course, I’ll probably be working through plot points in my own book while I listen to Carol’s read beautifully through my speakers.

I am not sure what time I will get back here tomorrow, but I assume it will be late, so I will be tired going into my work week. Maybe I should have taken Monday off? But even if I am tired, I should be able to drag my ass to the office. It’s my get-caught-up-on-things day at the office; and I generally am never there for eight hours. Since I am not client-facing on Mondays I am thinking I could probably manage the day despite being tired…and maybe being tired on Monday will help me sleep the rest of the week. I mean, I can dream, can’t I? And Lord, I am behind on everything. Hopefully getting this weekend out of the way will remove the cloud from my subconscious and I can move on ahead without the depressive lows or out-of-nowhere emotional collapses. Again, I can dream, can’t I?

So, when I get back tomorrow night I need to remember to make a list of everything that needs doing in the meantime–there’s a lot I have to do and get done, so I need to make certain that everything that needs doing is written down so I can remember to get to it. I have an eye appointment next Saturday, and I also need to figure out some things about getting the hearing aids and so forth. Heavy heaving sigh. It also looks kind of gray out there this morning; perhaps I should check the weather between here and there before I leave this morning. A thought, to be sure. Looks like rain both today and tomorrow–all the way there and all the way back, as well as here too. Yay, he typed in sarcasm font. That’ll make the drive ever so much easier.

But I don’t mind these lengthy drives, although I’d prefer to teleport wherever I need to be rather than drive or fly. It’s also unusual for me to be gone two consecutive weekends–although of course, after I went to the library events in Birmingham and Wetumpka I had to go to Kentucky the next weekend, and back to Alabama the next–three weekends in a row with me not home. The discovery of audiobooks for the drives changed everything, really. I also worked on cleaning up the piles of books, but haven’t bothered pruning much because I can’t get to the library sale to drop off books before next weekend at the earliest.

I don’t know if there will be an entry tomorrow morning or if it will have to wait until I get home, or Monday morning, one or the other. (And I just realized of course it’s raining today; it’s Jazzfest and it always rains on one of those weekends.)

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader–not sure when I’ll be back. SO hang in there, okay? You got this.

Erotica

Work at home Friday, woo-hoo! The excitement really never stops, does it? Ah, well.

Yesterday was a pleasant enough day, despite my complete exhaustion by the time the afternoon rolled around. I was fine in the morning, focused and getting things done, but once I went back to seeing clients after my lunch break, I was physically and mentally fatigued. I also had to pick up the mail on my way home–the traffic wasn’t nearly as terrible as it had been the day before; I do NOT know what that was all about, nor do I want to know, frankly. I came home, did some things, and then collapsed into my easy chair. We started watching that new HBO MAX show about the Watergate burglars starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux (and if you would have told me in 1989 that Woody from Cheers would become one of our best character actors, I wouldn’t have stopped laughing until 1992), but while it’s exceptionally well done, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy aren’t the kind of people I want to know better or see anything about as the lead characters of anything. It was eerie how well they reproduced suburban life in that period (also having Cersei Lannister playing Mrs. Hunt was an interesting twist), but again…I couldn’t get a sense of whether this was parody or striving for accuracy (which shows how insane Hunt and Liddy both are/were), so after one episode we tapped out and switched over to The Diplomat, which is amazing. I fell asleep during the second episode (I’ll rewatch it to get caught up at some point) because I was, simply stated, completely exhausted from a week of working and not sleeping well and emotional upset, I suppose. Last night I slept like a rock–completely dead to the world all night, and even slept for nearly ten hours before rising this morning rested and refreshed. It is quite lovely, frankly, and I feel terrific for the first time all week. Of course tomorrow I have to drive to Alabama (and back again on Sunday) but I have already selected Carol Goodman’s The Ghost Orchid to listen to on the ride to and fro, and I am kind of excited at the chance to listen to yet another brilliant book by one of my current favorite authors.

I’ve not had a chance to pick up Lori Roy’s brilliant Let Me Die in His Footsteps, which I was reading on the way home from Malice last Sunday and loving every word. Despite the fact she has two Edgars and another nomination from her first three books (which is pretty amazing on every level), I think her more recent work is even better than her earlier work. This book is also pretty fantastic, and I can see why it did win the Best Novel Edgar. Roy has a very hypnotic writing style, and is a master of voice; this story is told by two very different and very distinct voices with an alternating dual time-line, which is also something I love, love, love. The pity is that when I finally do finish this book, there will only be one Lori Roy novel left that I’ve not read, When She Comes Home, and I’ll have to hold onto that one until she publishes another book unless I want to (sigh) finish her entire published canon thus far.

I dread the day when I run out of Carol Goodman novels to read, for example.

It’s been a tough week, and I think that its my subconscious dealing with the issues of what this weekend means, really. Over the course of my life I’ve become really good at compartmentalizing my life into different rooms in my brain and shutting and locking the door on things, thinking I can’t deal with that now, I’ll deal with it later but some things are too big to be locked away, and they seep out through the cracks around the door in its frame and drag like a heavy stone at my being and emotions. I hit a major wall when I got home from work on Wednesday; I just got overwhelmed out of nowhere with grief and collapsed into my easy chair for some purring cat therapy. I also find that my moods can easily be shifted with essentially a snap of the fingers this week. I am unused to this kind of grief, and periodically wonder–with a sense of dread and horror–how much worse this will be when I lose Dad, as he is the only parent I have left. I know I am lucky. I had my mom for nearly sixty-two years; most people don’t get that long with one parent, let alone two. How much harder would this have been to deal with when I was younger and more immature?

But that is the kind of thing I always dismiss when it comes to mind–the path of regret is one of futility, wasted time and energy and emotion. You cannot change anything, so what is the point of trying to figure out or thinking about how different things might have been had you chosen A instead of B at this point, or D instead of Y then? The ripple effect of every choice we make reaches people we don’t know in ways we’ll never know, so maybe different choices made by me could have resulted in horrible things happening to other people, and why on earth would I wish bad things for people I don’t even know? That sounds terrible, frankly, and nothing I would ever want.

In some ways, this morning I am kind of looking forward to the drive north. I mean, yes, the destination is grim and sad, but it’s a beautiful drive; I have a great novel to listen to, and I really am looking forward to seeing my father. I want to get a good look at him, you know, and listen to him and see how he is doing. It’s so hard to tell via email or text, you know? Nothing like having eyes on someone for a proper assessment. I’ve decided to go up there this summer for a while, keep him company and spend some more time with him. (And yes, hateful little voice inside my head, I am very aware that I should have been doing this when Mom was alive. No sense in regrets, but I don’t want to feel this way when I lose Dad, so…changes in mentality and thinking are necessary going forward. I do wish it were easier to get up there than it is, though. I don’t think anyone can fault me for thinking that, either.)

Ah well, I have work-at-home duties to take care of as well as chores, so I am going to bring this to a close and head into the spice mines. I’ll check in with you again tomorrow before I leave, Constant Reader, and have a lovely day.

You’ll See

And somehow, here we are at Thursday again. It is kind of annoying and irritating how quickly time is slipping through my fingers; but then this was a short work week because I was off on Monday. I’ve felt a bit out of sorts and off-balance this week, which I think is because of the Malice come-down plus knowing that I have to go to Alabama this weekend. It’s hard for me to focus and get settled with that journey ahead of me, and while I am not necessarily dreading it, I also know it’s going to be emotionally draining and exhausting so there’s some trepidation, to be sure. It’s also Mother’s Day the next weekend, so that’s going to probably be a bit rough (note to self: text your sister). Yay?

But in cool news, the anthology This Fresh Hell now has a release date of June and can be ordered here: https://improbablepress.com/products/this-fresh-hell

(Apologies, for some reason I can’t substitute text for links anymore. Fucking updates.)

Anyway, this anthology has my story “Solace in a Dying Hour” in it, and this is a story I am really proud of. It’s one where I went to rural Louisiana/bayou country yet again, which also meant navigating stereotypes, tropes, and clich├ęs. I had originally intended to write a story about the grunch (a mythical creature sighted occasionally out in old New Orleans East, but I think his old stomping grounds now are neighborhoods) but in looking up information about that particular Louisiana legend I stumbled over a bunch more that I’d never heard of, and one in particular–le feu follet–really struck my fancy. These are fairy lights seen out in the swamp or along a bayou, kind of like a will-o’-the-wisp. Usually no larger than a candle flame, these lights have been said to be many things, but the definition I went with–the souls of the unshriven dead, come to claim other souls–worked for what I was trying to do, and the more I thought about it, the more the story began to come together in my mind. I think it’s a lovely piece of writing, frankly, and it really must be if I am going to say it publicly. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to, and I had some expert editorial help from Katya de Becerra and Narrelle M. Harris (who worked with me on my Sherlock story; I really love working with Narrelle) that made it even better than I thought it could be while still remaining what I wanted the story to be; their input was invaluable. Good editors, y’all, are worth their weight in gold. As you can imagine, I am very excited about the story and the anthology.

I slept decently last night; I was again very tired when I got home. It took me an hour because of traffic–I stopped at the Rouses’s in the CBD on the way home, but was only there for fifteen minutes. I left the office at straight-up four thirty and got home after five thirty. It was the worst I’ve seen traffic in the CBD since before the pandemic. Not sure what there was about yesterday that brought horrendous pre-pandemic traffic back to New Orleans, but here we are, right? Heavy sigh. Tonight I am going to swing uptown on my way home to get the mail, so hopefully Claiborne traffic won’t be hellish tonight. And tomorrow is my work-at-homeday, before getting up Saturday and driving north. It was odd; yesterday morning on the way to work the traffic was also heavy. It’s been a hot minute, but I always used to drive here before the pandemic at off times so I never had to deal with traffic very much. I am beginning to think my working in the evenings is a thing of the past I may never see again, doomed to a life of getting up at six a.m. Monday thru Thursday for the rest of my working life. That sounds incredibly tiresome, doesn’t it? But I imagine I’ll be tired all of next week, too, and won’t get caught up on rest until the following weekend. Not loving this, for sure.

But in other weird developments, I discovered that Tuscaloosa–where I will be turning north to head to the home country–has WHATABURGER. It is almost sad how excited finding that out made me; I am definitely scheduling my trip to stop there for lunch on my way up. How cool is that? Usually when I drive north I tend to stop at Hardee’s, since we don’t have them in New Orleans and they’re basically Carl’s Jr, which I loved when I lived in California (and yes, I know the family that owns them is homophobic right-wing trash) so I always see that as a bit of a ‘treat’ for me when I go on long drives. I do love fast food hamburgers, although the old classics (McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s) all are kind of disgusting to me now. Give me Whataburger, Five Guys, or Sonic. (I am starting to not like Hardee’s; the last few times it was just kind of meh)

Fascinating stuff, am I right?

What can I say? I’m a little bleary this morning, so maybe it’s best to head into the spice mines and be done with it. Talk to you tomorrow, Constant Reader!

Secret

Well, it’s back to the office with me today. It seems like it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been to work; last Wednesday seems like it was a very long time ago. I am going to be undoubtedly terribly behind on everything once I get there, but that’s the hard-knock life I suppose. I didn’t sleep great last night, and I am a little tired this morning–groggy–but hopeful the coffee will take care of that. I didn’t want to get up either, and now that I am up I am uninspired to do anything. I think I might be a little stressed about everything I have to get done this month but there’s naught to do but place nose on grindstone and move forward.

I had my hearing test yesterday and it’s official; I am hard of hearing. When I am speaking to someone one on one with no ambient noise, I only hear 80% of what people are saying to me. Start adding ambient noise and the percentage of hearing drops dramatically; basically she told me what I already knew: I cannot hear in restaurants and bars. Apparently operating through insurance to get the hearing aids I clearly need is going to require effort, as well. (I also had a co-pay at the office, which was odd; the deductible was paid off earlier this year and he’s in network–so I need to look into that as well. Fucking insurance shouldn’t be this difficult.) I wasn’t thrilled to get this diagnosis, but at the same time was kind of like well, at least it’s not my imagination or something I am doing on purpose. I have an eye appointment a week from Saturday, too, so yes, getting new appointments and taking care of basic maintenance all over the place. I also have a dental appointment at some point too; I stopped procrastinating about everything and tried to get it all taken care of in one day, calling and making appointments all over the place. It was most impressive for me, especially given how much I hate doing that sort of thing.

It was a beautiful day in New Orleans yesterday; eighty-eight degrees but not humid at all, which is heavenly. To me, that just feels pleasantly warm and comfortable; it’s amazing what a difference dry air makes in this case. I did manage to get all of my errands done, the laundry taken care of, and other chores around the house. I was tired most of the day, despite the good night’s sleep I had Sunday, and last night Paul and I finished watching The Watchful Eye, so you don’t have to. It’s not very good; the plot is full of holes, the writing and acting are kind of bad, and the dialogue is outright laughable at times, but it was entertaining enough in that train wreck kind of way that can be fun to watch at times. I started reading Lori Roy’s marvelous Let Me Die in His Footsteps on the flight home Sunday, and I really need to get back to it because it really is remarkable.

God, I have so much to do! The mind literally reels. And this weekend I have to go meet Dad in Alabama, and of course it’s also Mother’s Day, which is going to make it that much more difficult to deal with. It’s not an ordeal by any means; it’s a relatively easy drive and I have a Carol Goodman to listen to in the car both directions, but it’s going to be emotionally draining and means my weekend is gone and cannot be used to get caught up. Yay. But I just need to buckle down this week, ignore the cat’s whining when I get home, and focus focus focus on getting the manuscript revised as well as start editing another one. Heavy heaving sigh. But if I can make it through May…everything should be out of the way at the end of the month and so I can spring into June with nothing due anywhere, which would be absolutely lovely and am not quite sure on how I will process that? LOL. It’s not like I don’t have a million things in progress that need to be finished, either.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

I’ll Remember

Monday morning and I got home from Malice Domestic yesterday afternoon after a rather odd but interesting time at the airport–more on that later. I was very tired–exhausted would not be hyperbole–but also very glad I was home. I had a lovely, wonderful, splendid time; the only regrets I have are that there were times when I was tired and had to go rest in my room for a while and take a break rather than spend that time catching up with old friends while getting to know the new ones. I had trouble sleeping the entire trip, which was unfortunate; even going two days without having any Coke didn’t do the trick (and once it didn’t work, why continue depriving myself?). But what a marvelous, friendly event Malice Domestic turned out to be this year! I also got to thank some people in person for their kindnesses over the last year which was also lovely. I read Ellen Byron’s marvelous Wined and Died in New Orleans on the trip up, so didn’t mind the flight delay or the rush hour traffic my cab from the airport was unfortunately timed to cross paths with. But because of the delay I went for a long time without eating–nothing from my yogurt before I left for the airport until about eight o’clock that evening–so my blood sugar dropped and I never really caught up on it over the course of the weekend. That and the no sleep resulted in a very tired Gregalicious who arrived at the Lost Apartment much later than scheduled–which was yet another life lesson.

On my way to the airport in a Lyft (wonderful, friendly driver named Tyrone who got a 25% tip), just as he dropped me off Southwest texted me of a half hour delay on my flight. No worries–I got to the airport about two hours before the flight, so…an extra half hour, no big deal. Of course, it’s Washington National…small, cramped, overcrowded, and not many options for food once you’re past security. And then it seem like every half hour there was another text with another hour delay. Tired and uncomfortable, I started getting annoyed. But as the delays continued to pile up–along with gate changes, which meant moving and trying to find another place to sit–I moved from irritation to acceptance to amusement, along with a lot of empathy for the airline employees. While they never said what the problem was, I’d assumed it was weather–but now this morning, I am beginning to think it was a mechanical issue. The last text I got extending the delay to make it another two and a half hours after the airport was followed shortly thereafter by another text changing the gate and now moving the flight up from its previous 3:45 departure (originally scheduled for 12:45) to 2:00 pm, which clearly meant they’d exchanged an aircraft and crew for the original one I was supposed to be on. So, that was cool, and the flight was two-thirds empty, so I got an entire row to myself just as I did on the way up to DC. I also hadn’t eaten, and there was nowhere to eat during the delay other than a pizza place (and I wasn’t in the mood for pizza) so was starving by the time I retrieved my bag and car and headed for home. I stopped and got Paul and I dinner–I knew there wouldn’t be anything in the Lost Apartment to eat–and then came home, exhausted and happy to be back home. I love conferences; I love seeing my people and my friends and making new ones and discovering new books and writers to enjoy. My Agatha nominees panel was marvelous, and excellently moderated by Alan Orloff. I was fun being on a panel with Elizabeth Bunce again (and her Myrtle series is marvelous; check it out) and Frances Schoonmaker was an absolute delight. We also somehow all three wound up wearing red and black to the banquet, which was a delightful surprise. I got to sit next to Valona Jones (aka Maggie Toussaint) at the table–she’s lovely– as was everyone else at my table. Didn’t win–so, as per my post the other day, it now seems real to me, and I got my nominees’ certificate which I am going to proudly hang somewhere in the my office space. But there’s also no disgrace in losing to Nancy Springer and Enola Holmes, either. I got to talk about my book, which was nice-when you’re as prolific as I am, sometimes conferences fall in such a way that I’ve had two out since the last conference, so sometimes I don’t get to talk about a book that I’ve written anywhere publicly other than here and social media. I also loved the questions Alan asked us on the panel; I’m thinking I may answer them at length on here because they were that great kind of question that you could literally spend an hour talking about instead of just the limited time we had for the panel. (I was also thinking I should maybe talk more about the book again? I don’t know. It was lovely. I had a lot of people tell me they’d read it and even more telling me it was a great title…so maybe I should talk about it some more? I don’t know.) I got to sit next to Mariah Fredericks at the signing, so I got to meet and talk to her a bit and she’s delightful (her latest, The Lindbergh Nanny, sounds amazing). I am glad I got to spend some time with friends, too–there was lots of laughter, which was wonderful–and I never got over-served, which was also a first for me at a mystery conference! Maybe that was why I couldn’t sleep? Nah, definitely not that. I also got to talk about being banned for the first time in years; for one thing, it’s hard to believe it happened eighteen years ago and now everyone is dealing with the shit I dealt with back then, too….so it occurs to me that in light of the return of the banning, I should probably write about it again from the perspective of how things are now. I also was thinking I should write about how much I love Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels after going to the appreciation panel; she helped found Malice, which always puts Malice into a special place in my heart already because I loved her work.

Anyway, I got home while it was still light out, unloaded my suitcase into the washing machine and got that started; put my dress clothes in a pile to take to the dry cleaner’s; and then spent the evening relaxing with Paul and Scooter while we watched Ghosted (the new Chris Evans/Ana de Armas action/adventure rom-com which was actually kind of cute and fun–the two stars are likable and charming and have good chemistry) and then more episodes of The Watchful Eye, which is quite strange and oddly entertaining. We’ll probably finish off the series tonight. I do have a lot to do today–I took the day off, and am very glad I did, as I was exhausted and OMG, I slept so good; there’s nothing like your own bed, seriously–and then we’ll need to find something new, although I think there are some shows we watch dropping new seasons this month. I have to get the mail, pick up a prescription, gas up the car, have a doctor’s appointment, need to get groceries, and have a ZOOM meeting tonight. I also have to dig back into the book; I am so horribly behind on this revision it’s not even funny. ANd it’s May already. Jesus. I also started reading Lori Roy’s marvelous Edgar winning Let Me Die in His Footsteps from 2015; Constant Reader, it is quite wonderful and I honestly can’t wait to finish reading it. Lori Roy is one of my favorite current authors, and doesn’t get nearly the attention she should. (She’s also one of those rare authors who hit the ultimate dual–Edgars for Best First Novel and later for Best Novel.) The kitchen is a mess, as always, but I’m glad I spent some time before the trip trying to get that shit caught up because it isn’t nearly as bad as it could be (and was).

And now I have a day to get caught up on life after being in my author bubble for a few days to ease my reentry into my regular life. I won’t get to be AUTHOR again until Bouchercon in San Diego. But that’s okay, you know. I like the balance of the two different parts of my life, and there’s nothing like working in an STI clinic to keep you not only humble but grounded in the real world.

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely day, Constant Reader, and thanks again to everyone at Malice Domestic for a simply marvelous weekend.