Oh Be My Love

Sunday morning and oh so much to do. I slept in this morning until eight thirty (oh dear! The vapors!), and feel a bit groggy but also rested and well, which is lovely. I think the panel yesterday went well–one never knows for sure, does one?–but I think the panelists were smart and entertaining and fun and informative; I certainly enjoyed listening to their answers to my borderline puerile questions. I also didn’t stick close to the topic–I never do, another reason I am a shitty moderator–but the most important thing is to stay out of the way of the panelists as they talk about their writing. Whether I succeeded or not remains to be seen; moderating isn’t my strength by any means, I loathe doing it, and it’s also not something I enjoy doing, for that matter.

Then again, that might just be more evidence of Imposter Syndrome. Who knows?

I also woke up to a cover reveal for the Magic is Murder anthology! Edited by the wonderful Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley, this lovely anthology includes my story “The Snow Globe,” which is another example of Gregalicious never letting a story idea die. This story began life as a Halloween story (original opening line: Satan had a great six-pack), was converted to a Christmas story (opening line: Santa had a great six-pack–only had to move the n!) and finally found a home. Thanks to the Terrific Trio for all their help with my story, and I am, as always, excited to see another short story of mine in print. Huzzah!

I need to add a caveat to my earlier “well-rested” sentence: my legs and hip joints ache from walking to the Monteleone and back two days in a row. My legs feel terribly tired, and my hip joints are very achy this morning–as evidenced just not when I got up to make another cup of coffee. I am sure it has something to do with the new shoes and needing new shoe inserts; it usually does–but it’s still rather annoying at the same time. I guess I am grateful it’s not my knees or ankles, but nevertheless, pretty aggravating. I have a lot to do today–I’ve already made a list of what needs to be done today–and I am probably going to spare some more wake-up time to reading Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity. I spent some time with it yesterday while taking breaks from everything I need to scratch off my to-do list, and I am really enjoying it. I am enjoying the feel and vibe of the comic book world and New York in the 1970’s; it would be really fun to see a Mad Men/The Deuce type show developed by Segura set in the comics world of this time. I spent some time last night unwinding over a couple of episodes of Young Justice, which I am also enjoying, and then watched two DC animated movies: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, both of which I deeply enjoyed; the lovely thing about the animated movies is they can actually use the entire cast of DC heroes and aren’t as limited as the television shows or live-action films by casting. I love seeing the DC heroes of my comic fandom days in action–Red Tornado, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, etc.–turning up in the animation; I’ve missed them as the movies focus on the bigger names and the television shows are also slightly limited by casting as well–they aren’t using first tier, like the movies, but what I would call Tier 1A. (Although I will gladly argue that the CW’s Superman and Lois is the best take on the characters since the Christopher Reeve Superman films.)

I also spent some time watching the World Figure Skating championships, which was delightful. Two American ice dance teams medaled (a rare occurrence), and I think this may be the first time in history that the US has gotten a medal in every discipline? I know we’ve not had a pairs champion since 1979 with Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia, and it’s been a while since we had a pairs medal of any kind. And our future looks bright with two up-and-comers in Men’s.

So, I had probably best gird my loins and venture into today’s spice mines. Paul will be home tomorrow (yay!) and I need to not only get the apartment not only under control, but everything else in my life, and I am feeling better about everything, really. I don’t know why I allow myself to get so wrapped up in despair and overwhelmed by everything I have to do; everyone has things to do and everyone has their own pace, and well, it just is what it is, you know?

And on that note, tis off to the spice mines with me. Y’all have a great Sunday, okay?

Give Out, But Don’t Give Up

Saturday morning. I slept really well last night, which was lovely. I was on a big emotional/adrenaline meltdown from teaching a workshop (more like lecturing) about sex writing. There was a nice sized crowd; I don’t think I’ve ever done a Saints and Sinners workshop with that many people there before and so naturally, had a massive case of Imposter Syndrome and then started talking. Nerves took over and I forgot a lot of things I wanted to say but somehow managed to stay on topic. Everyone listened politely and took notes–which was enormously flattering–so I hope I didn’t waste everyone’s time for an hour and fifteen minutes. But everyone was really lovely and kind and nice, some good questions were asked, and I may have snarked about some highly successful authors (cough E. L. James cough), but I think it went well overall. Afterwards, I walked home–it was a lovely sunny warm spring day, chilly in the shade but lovely in the sun–and will probably walk down there and back today for the panel I am moderating. Moderating panels, while also stressful, aren’t as bad as a workshop for me because there are other people there, and once I start asking writers questions about writing and books, well, the conversation tends to take flight from there which is all one can ask for, really.

I was very tired when I got home. I did some chores around here, settled in to input more edits (which I will hopefully finish once I get this done and posted), and then watched the World Championships for figure skating on Peacock, since you can replay broadcasts there. (I already knew the results, checking them on my phone, but it’s still nice to watch even though you know who’s going to win; the Internet destroyed spoiler-free figure skating broadcasts, alas) I then went to bed relatively early, and as I said, slept very well, which was nice. I’m a bit spacy and foggy still this morning, but that probably has more to do with me not eating much yesterday–adrenaline, public speaking, etc. tend to take away my appetite. (I often forget to eat at conferences and festivals, which is always a problem inevitably.) So I need to make sure I eat something this morning before I walk down because who knows if I’ll remember to eat later? I ate something yesterday morning, but when I got home I wasn’t hungry and thus didn’t eat anything the rest of the day…and I think all I had yesterday morning was a bagel with cream cheese.

Hopefully, when I am done with the panel today, I can walk back home and work on that short story (assuming I finish inputting edits this morning) that I need to get written and spend some more time with Alex Segura’s Secret Identity. I’m really enjoying the book, and several others have been added to my TBR pile that I really would like to sink my teeth into–and that’s not even taking into consideration the rest of the massive TBR pile. Heavy heaving sigh. And of course, going to Left Coast in a few weeks in Albuquerque will result in the accumulation of even more books for the TBR pile. Heavy heaving sigh. Maybe I’ll spend some time tomorrow pruning more books out of the apartment.

I also ran into Paul yesterday, and he didn’t seem to be the bundle of stress he usually is; but then again he’s always more relaxed once everything has started. I think he’s going to need about a week’s worth of sleep to recover from everything, but the suite they gave him at the Monteleone this year (usually it’s the Tennesee Williams Suite; this year he got the J. W. Monteleone Suite, which is even better than the usual) is amazing. An enormous living room, an enormous flat screen television, one and a half bathrooms (with a Jacuzzi tub in the full) and an enormous bedroom. It even has an office workspace. It also has a fantastic view of the river (I took some pictures). I kind of regretted not going down there to stay this year after seeing the room, but Scooter has been so lonely and needy with Paul gone that I’m kind of glad I come home so he’s not lonely. I do love my kitty.

So, on that note, I have about another three hours before I have to head down there for my panel, so I am going to sign out of here, get cleaned up, and dive headlong back into the edits. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I will talk to you tomorrow.

I’ll Try Something New

Yesterday was not only Work-at-Home Friday, but also one of the rare days where I never finished my blog entry for the day. I got up earlier than usual–part of my plan for days when I don’t have to go into the office early is to get up early anyway, with the weekend (like this morning) designated as sleep-in days where it doesn’t matter. I had to do a visit with a college fiction class–I’m not sure whether it was a writing class or a short fiction class, to be honest–over ZOOM about my story in Josh Pachter’s anthology The Beat of Black Wings, which was themed as crime stories based on Joni Mitchell songs. (My story was “The Silky Veils of Ardor”, for the record) That was nice, and then I did some condom packing before I had to go into the office for a meeting with the new head of my department at the office (another transition I have to get used to, not easy for someone who easily falls into routines and ruts) before returning home for some data entry work before Paul got home. I was drained last night from unusual Friday activities, so I just settled in to wait for him to come home while starting to watch this season of Real Housewives of Orange County (I’ve become ambivalent about these shows which I used to love; but that’s a topic for another time). Paul got home in time for the LSU-Alabama gymnastics meet (LSU won, GEAUX TIGERS!), after which we watched the season finale for Peacemaker (which was terrific) and then watched the first episode of Reacher, which we both loved (Alan Ritchson is perfect, an excellent cast, great production values, and good writing; what more can one ask for? We’re all in on Reacher). There were parades last night, but I was tired and worn out and I am also kind of iffy about parade attendance….but I do have at home COVID tests, so I can at least self-test if I do go to the parades before I go into the office as Typhoid Mary. There are parades all day today, starting at one.

So, this means St. Charles Avenue will be closed by noon, and I will be trapped inside my neighborhood essentially until King Arthur passes tomorrow.

Today I intend to work on stuff and clean the house. It feels cold and chilly in the Lost Apartment this morning, and it’s not as sunny as I would like for a day of parades (clouds everywhere) but by Wednesday it will be 81 degrees in New Orleans. Yikes! Talk about unseasonal weather…sure, sometimes we do have gorgeous and warm weather during Carnival–I remember any number of gorgeous weather Fat Tuesdays over the years–but it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had that kind of weather on the last weekend of Carnival, which means the corner will be INSANE for all the big parades. I didn’t go out there myself last night, but Paul walked up the parade route to come home from work and eventually detoured off St. Charles because it was so crowded and insane. He did go look at our corner to see how big the crowds were here–not too bad, certainly not as bad as further down river, but still more people than usual for the first weekend of parades with not terribly pleasant weather–but if it’s sunny and warm next weekend it will literally be insane out there.

I had also intended to go to the gym yesterday but that never happened; as I said, when I got home from my meeting I was exhausted and it just didn’t seem like the smartest decision. I will probably go later this morning/early afternoon most likely; after getting some things done around here. I hate that I was so tired yesterday, but in retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised. Doing events where I have to be “on” are always debilitating to me and wear me out; even if it is on ZOOM and not in person. I don’t know why I always forget that…but it was a wonderful experience–those sorts of things always are, really, I just wish I weren’t so damned introverted and shy that putting forth the effort to not be introverted and shy is inevitably so exhausting. I really felt drained the rest of the day–I still have a bit of residual hangover this morning from it, despite not getting up until after eight. But I am having coffee and king cake–if caffeine and a plate full of sugar doesn’t revive me completely, it’s really a hopeless case–and hope to really kick it up a notch. I need to finish the first draft of “Condos for Sale or Rent”, and I would also like to start editing my manuscript. Reading would also be nice–I’ve not read a novel in a while, and I really do need to get back into the reading habit. I’m hoping we can watch more Reacher tonight…but I have to get a lot done today in order to watch and enjoy without guilt.

I’ve not commented on the Olympics in a few days, but seriously–I am so utterly appalled by the disgusting exhibit put on by the Russians, particularly when it comes to those young girls. The entire world got to see child abuse put on full display in all of its ugly callousness this week, and my heart breaks for all three of those girls, but especially poor Kamila. Shame on the Court of Arbitration for Sport– which really needs to be investigated itself and perhaps recalibrated–because what they did in allowing that poor girl to skate has psychologically damaged her for the rest of her life. I doubt seriously we will ever see or hear anything from or about her again after she returns to the hell her life will now be in Russia, and those disgusting abusers will not be punished and this torture and abuse of young girls will continue for the greater glory of Mother Russia. I refused to watch the ladies’ final, and I am now incredibly glad that I didn’t–I won’t even watch highlights (or lowlights, as it were) because I have no desire to see abused children suffer more. The CAS destroyed these Olympics, and perhaps it’s time for there to be serious consideration of ending the entire Olympic movement. If ever there was a time when the world needed to come together to celebrate athletic accomplishment, it was this year–and boy, were we ever let down. If this is what we are going to have to witness in future Olympics, count me out–and I am a lifelong fan.

And on that note, these dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, the floors aren’t going to vacuum themselves, and my stories aren’t going to write themselves, either. Have a lovely first Saturday of Carnival, Constant Reader, and I will shout at you again tomorrow.

The Beginning of the End

Turned out yesterday that I didn’t need to get up early after all; the person I was covering for didn’t need me to cover for him after all, and so was able to come home early and get back into my work-at-home duties, which was kind of nice, really. I had a lovely afternoon working at home, and then when my duties were completed I actually went to the gym and worked out again, and yes, it felt marvelous. Then I did some more work around the house as well as some work on an anthology I am co-editing, and all in all, , despite the bizarre hiccough with which the day started, it actually turned out fairly well, to be honest.

And what more can one ask of a Monday?

I slept deeply and well last night, and I don’t feel either tired or sore this morning; my muscles feel rested, stretched and pleasantly worked. My shoulder needs babying, of course, and I am resisting the counter-productive urge to throw myself full-force into the renewal of the workout program, which would inevitably lead to tired soreness and skipping workouts. I will go again tomorrow after work, hoping to get in a good workout but knowing it will most likely have to be abbreviated, since I’ll be getting there later than I did yesterday, but can go again on Friday morning, which will be lovely. The parades start up on Friday, which means any kind of errand I usually do on the weekends will have to be done on Monday; and I need to be all stocked up because my next time to run errands will be in the morning of Lundi Gras. It’s always interesting when you have to plan your life around parades and road closures. Paul of course worked all night last evening, so I was busy trying to get caught up on all the reporting about this latest Olympic figure skating scandal–I don’t see how either figure skating or the Olympics get past allowing a country to cheat by using performance-enhancing drugs and doing absolutely nothing about it. I think Russia should be entirely suspended from competition on the international level in every sport for at least three Olympic cycles–and the next violation is an outright ban for all eternity.

Either sports are clean or they aren’t, and please stop pretending that this is merely an isolated incident involving one single skater. We all know it’s not, and they’ve basically got an abusive system in place that churns out these young women skaters–and God knows what all kinds of abuses these girls are subjected to by their coach and her program. It’s hard not to be cynical about the Olympics anymore; as much as I have enjoyed these games over the decades, maybe it’s time for them to go the way of everything else we’ve lost in the twenty-first century. Sure, it’s a shame to lose this massive world-wide exposure of the best humanity can offer in the world of sport and training, but if it’s simply going to devolve into doping and child abuse–like it hasn’t already–maybe it’s time to pull the fucking plug on this.

And if it’s the only way to get the Russians to stop fucking cheating, then pull the damned plug.

Sorry, but if I want to watch athletes with great bodies who use performance-enhancing drugs, I’ll tune into the WWE, not the Olympics.

I am in a really good mood this morning. I feel rested–really rested, which I suspect is a direct result of the gym visit last night–and feel like I can handle a lot of things that I generally don’t want to deal with because I am either tired or conflict-avoidant. I got a lot done last night while Paul worked–I feel a lot more confident about any number of things on my to-do list–and even though the month is suddenly over half over (in fairness, February is a short month) I still think I am on track to get everything finished that I want to get finished this month. Yay for Gregalicious!

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a happy Tuesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow on Pay-the-Bill Day redux.

Forever Came Today

Thursday, and the last day this week I have to get up so damned early. I was, however, delighted to wake up and find out that Nathan Chen had won the men’s gold in figure skating (YAY!)–I was watching, fell asleep in my chair, and couldn’t stay up to watch it all. (I’ll watch Nathan on Youtube sometime today–probably when I get home from work this afternoon.) Naturally, I am delighted for Nathan after his disappointment at Pyeongchang four years ago.

I am starting the recovery (or rather, further along in the process) from last weekend’s trip and the deadline crunches that nearly wiped me out; I am still trying to get caught up on my emails that have, well, festered in my inbox now for the last month or so–the deadly crunch of trying to get the book done–and I still have some other things that I left pending for quite some time that need to be handled as well. But I think I can get all that finished (or caught up) over the course of the next few days as well as the weekend, and I am looking forward to coming out of the weekend on Monday (four days in the office next week, sob) with a fairly clean slate and ready to get going on everything else. The weekend, with no writing that needs to be done, looms large; I am sure part of my chores this weekend will also include cleaning the Lost Apartment and doing some filing, since that’s also gotten completely out of control over the last few months as well. My primary goal is to get organized again–I’ve felt unorganized and unable to get caught up for several years now–and I feel like once that miracle occurs, I should be able to stay that way, or at least let it slide for a bit before getting back on track on the weekends.

That’s the plan, at any rate.

But I had another great night’s sleep last night, which felt marvelous. I do feel more rested and more together today than I have all week, which is odd–given that usually on my third early morning I am usually more tired than I have been all week–but I’ve been sleeping really well since I got home, and sleeping late on Saturday (I may have some car things to do tomorrow morning, which I am not terribly thrilled about, frankly, but I don’t ever want to buy another car and so I have to make this one last forever, even if it means getting up early on a day when I usually don’t have to) is going to be very appealing. Ah, well, nothing to do but bite the bullet and get up and go and get it over with (oil change, nail in tire). I can, at least, take a book with me tomorrow morning and utilize the time to read–and since I will be on the West Bank, I can make groceries over there and get lunch at Sonic before heading home to make condom packs and data entry. Yay for an exciting Friday!

And it wouldn’t hurt for me to start looking through my Chlorine file, to get a sense of what’s been written and what needs to be written and some of the inspirations–I’ve been snagging photos from old Physique-style magazines, as well as beefcake shots of hunky movie stars from the olden days of Paull Wilson and so forth from that same time period to use for help in creating my own world of marginally talented beautiful men who allowed gay men in positions of power in Hollywood to use their bodies to get ahead in the business–and am actually kind of looking forward to digging into it again, frankly. Writing a historical is, by its very nature, problematic–you have to research things, you have to remember or find out how things worked (could you direct dial a local number in Los Angeles in 1952?)–but I am going to push through the first draft, methinks, and then do the research painstakingly as I edit my way through the bitch once it’s finished. I have another story request for the end of this month (time is running out here) and another one that is due in early April; but both should be easier to put together than this one I just had to desperately finish at the last minute to get in on time. I think this year might be a good short story year for one Gregalicious; I think I have several stories in the pipeline that will be coming out this year–all of them remarkably different in subject matter, voice, and tone–which makes them all the more fun, don’t you think?

I also just got another book idea–seriously, it never ends in my head–and on that note, I think I will head into the spice mines.

A Place in the Sun

Tuesday morning and I could have easily stayed in bed another three or four hours. I slept very well again last night–the alarm was quite vicious and cruel this morning–and I am blearily drinking coffee and hoping to wake up completely before getting in the shower. I have a lot of work to do this week–and so many emails that have piled up in the meantime that I am not certain I will ever get it under control–and so must sally forth into the week, regardless of how much I would rather just get back in bed and slip under the blankets and go back to sleep, really. My batteries need recharging in a serious way.

I wanted to stay up last night to watch the men’s Olympic figure skating–but by the time ten pm rolled around the skaters I wanted to watch and see–the top ones–still hadn’t gotten on the ice and I rather sadly went to bed. I was glad to see Nathan Chen broke the world record for points in the short program–and disappointed that two defending Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu had made a colossal mistake in his to wind up in eighth, with probably no shot at the podium. I wanted Nathan to win–still do–but I was looking forward to their showdown as two of the greatest male skaters of all time. AT least I can stay up later on Thursday to watch their free skates.

Man, I am still a shadow of my usual self this morning. I feel, I don’t know, removed from my day, somehow, if that makes sense? Like I’m experiencing my day from a distance? Hopefully the caffeine will kick into gear relatively soon because, as always, I am behind on everything.

I turned in the short story I had due yesterday this morning; it’s not, I fear, as good as it could be or could have been; I am not, despite the marvelous high I got over the course of the weekend about my writing and career, feeling terribly confident about the work I’ve recently turned in. Then again I am not the best judge of my own work, and while I am sort of hoping I am wrong, I don’t think I am this time, either. I like the title, and I like the concept behind the story; I am not sure it fires on every cylinder and I am also not sure that it necessarily works. But I don’t know that rereading it or looking it over today will do me any good; I am still a little fried from finishing the book and then traveling this past weekend. I also have to work in the office on Monday–so four days in the office next week (AIEEEEE) which means four days of six am waking up to an alarm, heavy heaving sigh.

I’ve also got to take the car into the dealership this weekend–I have a tire leaking air (again) and it’s due for an oil change, which means I’ll need to get up early either Friday or Saturday. But…I do have another story due at the end of this month, and another due at the end of the next–and at some point all these rewrites and revisions are going to hit my inbox. Heavy heaving sigh–but at least there’s no football to distract me all day Saturday and Sunday anymore–although I may tune into the Super Bowl to keep an eye on Joey B and Ja’Marr Chase (GEAUX TIGERS!).

And on that note, I am bringing this to an end and heading back into the spice mines. Here’s hoping for some more coherency tomorrow.

All I Know About You

Well, home again and back to reality. Sigh.

I had a lovely time this past weekend. I drove up to Birmingham Friday afternoon for Murder in the Magic City, a lovely event at the Homewood Library (this was my third visit in five years, I think) organized by Margaret Fenton, and the drove down to Wetumpka for Murder on the Menu, a fundraising event for the Wetumpka Public Library organized by Tammy Lynn. I always have a great time whenever I go, and there’s inevitably friends invited that I already know, and then I get to come home having made some new friends (and more books to be added to the TBR pile). For some reason, these two particular audiences respond very nicely to me–which is lovely, and in my post “just turned the book in” malaise, was exactly what I needed. Everyone is just so kind, and they buy and read my books and like them and they like to tell me how much they enjoy my books and when I am on stage; it’s just really, really, lovely.

Who doesn’t love being told they’re wonderful?

But as always I had trouble sleeping in the hotel–I did get some sleep, but not much–and so my own bed, after the slightly less than five hour drive (it would have been even less had there not be highway construction on I-10 at the Mississippi/Louisiana border that brought traffic to a screeching halt and when it started moving again, it was at a snail’s pace). I listened to Lisa Lutz’ The Passenger on the road coming and going (finished it right around that traffic slowdown, so while I was stopped I cued up Lisa Unger’s longer short story “All My Darkest Impulses,” which I didn’t finish by the time I got home), and it was amazing. I had read and loved her book The Swallows (which was fan-fucking-tastic; her latest is sitting on my end table next to my easy chair), so I thought “Everyone loved The Passenger, I should listen to it on this drive” and boy, am I glad I did. (There will be more on that later.) I also read a book called The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics by Bruce J. Schulman, which I greatly enjoyed (but didn’t always agree with) and there will be more on that later as well.

As always, I loved listening to other writers talking about writing and ideas and their own work; it’s always inspiring, and of course I was madly scribbling notes as ideas popped into my head while I listened (I also was getting ideas on the drive, like I always do)–titles and characters and thoughts about the story I have to finish writing today, “The Rosary of Broken Promises”–it’s due today; I’d hope to do some work on it over the weekend but I was so tired from not sleeping–not to mention how draining being “on” is for me (public appearances cause me a great deal of anxiety and there’s always nervousness and stress and worry)–that whenever I made it back to my room I just lay down on the bed and opened my book. When I got home last night, my easy chair felt so amazing–I watched some of the Olympic team figure skating event (the US got silver! USA! USA! USA!)–and unpacked and did the laundry and went to bed; oh how marvelous did my bed feel! I slept deeply and well and comfortably, and didn’t really want to get up this morning, to be honest. (Even now I am resisting the siren song of my bed and blankets; today may be a “sit in the chair and make condom packs” kind of work-at-home day while my batteries continue to recharge–or I may burn another vacation day; I haven’t really decided yet. I hate that trips require a recovery day for me now.) It’s always hard readjusting back to reality when I come home from a writing event, but it’s even harder from these two events because the audiences are so warm and kind and lovely to me that I kind of want to stay in that bubble for a little while longer, you know?

And now I have a gazillion emails to deal with, a house to get in order, day job duties to get done, and a story to write. Back to the daily grind, back to reality, back to my usual every day existence.

So, I need to head into the spice mines here. Have a lovely Monday, Constant Reader!

I Guess I’ll Always Love You

Sunday, Sunday.

Yesterday morning my all-in-one printer/scanner/copier bit the dust. It was fine, really; it was cheap and a stopgap when my last nice one died; and it was hard to find the ink for it. So, I went to Office Depot before starting my errands and bought a new one–fancier, to be sure–and it took me a while to get it set up and functioning properly–and then I had issues with my computer for a bit; which was particularly annoying because I was also working on my book–and Microsoft Word kept crashing; at one point my computer restarted all on its own because the crash was so bad. But it eventually worked itself out somehow, and I was able to get the work done that I needed to get done. Tomorrow will be trickier; I have one chapter to revise and another one to write from scratch and then edit/revise…and I think there’s going to have to be at least one more chapter after that as well. I should still be able to get it turned in on time, but it’s going to be a slog and a lot of work.

I also got a contract for a story for an anthology–the Anne Rice tribute thing, and my story is called “The Rosary of Broken Promises,” which was actually a better title for the story I was actually originally using it for, to be honest; but I think I came up with a good replacement title for the story I stole the title from, which is now called “When Wrens Make Prey”–which is part of the Shakespearean quote that includes the title Alistair MacLean made famous, Where Eagles Dare (it’s from Richard III, by the way, he typed pedantically, and no, I can’t quote Shakespeare from memory; I even had to look this up to see where I got it from just now). I also spent some time moving files around from the cloud to my back-up hard drive, so I have back-ups–it’s astounding how many duplicate files there are when I look for a file. I was looking for another file yesterday, my figure skating noir story, and it wasn’t on the back-up anywhere. (It is now, in case you were wondering.) I may have a home for that story, which was started a long time ago, and I also know what it wrong with it–and maybe, just maybe, how to fix it.

We’ve started watching Archive 81, which is really creepy, well done, and interesting. I’m not really sure where the story is going–we’re only three episodes in–but so far it’s really not looking all that great for our hero. Our hero is hired to go live on a creepy estate and restore video recordings that have been damaged in a fire, which he is an expert at doing, and as he watches the videos after he repairs them–they follow a young documentarian who moved into an apartment building with the idea of making an oral history film of the building; but the truth is, she is looking for the mother who abandoned her as a child and whose last known residence was this building–from where she disappeared entirely. It’s a terrific premise, and the way it is filmed is quite excellent; very high production values, and the mystery is also somehow tied to the main character’s father in some way; the missing woman who made the tapes was also a patient of his father.

I did manage to get a lot done yesterday, but today’s work is going to be ever so much harder than yesterday’s, frankly. I have one more chapter to revise, and as I mentioned before, I have to write at least two new ones to end the book before turning it in. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get both written today; I have some other chores and tasks to do today and tomorrow as well, and at some point I need to run to the grocery store. Heavy heaving sigh. It never ends around here, does it? But there’s nothing to do but buckle down and get to it, I suppose. It’s certainly not going to do itself–the bastards never do it themselves–and realistically, I do think I can get it all done over the course of the next few days. I slept deeply and well again last night–the bed was so warm and cozy and comfortable this morning that I didn’t want to get out from under the blankets. (Plus, I knew I had a lot to get done today on my plate, and therefore…yeah, didn’t really want to get up and start working.) But now I am up and swilling coffee, and I actually feel awake and energetic, so hopefully as long as I don’t lose any steam along the way I should be able to dive into everything and get some stuff done.

And on that note, tis time to head into the spice mines for the day. Have a lovely Sunday wherever you are, Constant Reader, and I hope you aren’t too cold or too buried in snow to enjoy your day. Talk to you tomorrow!

My World Is Empty Without You

So, the HVAC guys came yesterday to fix our heat. We got a new system last year after the old one finally died just before the Fat Tuesday Freeze (the coldest I’ve ever been in my life, and I lived in Minneapolis for a winter), but we’d never needed to ever use the heating aspect of it once it was installed; the weather changed in mid-February and it wasn’t needed again. When it got cold last week, I turned it on, it ran for a bit, then kind of coughed and stopped working. Within an hour of them getting it running yesterday, the house was not only bearable but temperate. The old system never warmed the downstairs and inevitably turned the upstairs into a sauna; this one actually moderates the temperature based on the floors so that doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t even need to wear my slippers because the floor isn’t too cold for stockinged feet. This morning it is thirty-seven degrees outside but I am not wearing layers or slippers inside the Lost Apartment this morning and it’s kind of lovely.

As I said to Paul last night as we started watching the final season of Ozark, “clearly, we’ve needed a new system since we moved in here, and this is how everyone survives the cold spells in New Orleans.”

I had often wondered, frankly. I’ve even written about it, convinced that heating these old houses in New Orleans wasn’t truly possible…and now I know I was wrong, all along.

Which is kind of embarrassing, really.

It’s weird to be sitting here at my desk, shivering and cold. It’s also nice.

As always, this is a Saturday where I must get lots done. I am behind still on the book, and of course the place is a disaster area and I have to run errands out in the cold at some point–which I am really not looking forward to. Tomorrow I have a goal of going to the gym and working out again for the first time in months; this should be interesting but I also know it’s going to feel amazing to be going to the gym fairly regularly again; fingers crossed, right? And now that it’s no longer cold in the apartment, I have no excuse for not getting anything done; when it’s cold I am too cold to function and all I want to do is huddle in my easy chair under a blanket. Well, don’t have that excuse anymore in a temperate indoor climate, do I? Which is a good thing. I didn’t have any it’s warm here in the bed and cold out there thoughts about getting up this morning–I still stayed in bed longer than I probably should have, but what can you do? Lazy’s going to lazy, I am afraid, but the fewer excuses I can give myself, the better.

I heard about a new anthology I am excited to submit a story for, particularly because I already have a story ready for it. I don’t remember what I originally wrote the story for, but it was for a submission call but I cannot remember which anthology it was for; it wasn’t taken, and I’ve played with the story off and on over the years. Now that I know it’s got a potential home, once this book is finished and turned in, I can get back to it and put the kind of detail into it that will make it sing and stand out; it’s a bit ghoulish, really; but I really liked the story and its potential; I had always intended to get back to it, maybe for my next short story collection (This Town and Other Stories; not sure when that will eventually see the light of day, but I am getting a lot of stories into print and once this current book is finished will be sending out more to other markets and hopefully getting some more traction with the stories, as well as writing others to fill it out. I am actually very excited about getting this collection together this year, frankly).

I also saw the final draft of the cover for A Streetcar Named Murder, which had a mistake on it, which is why I am not sharing it with you, Constant Reader; I should have the final cover design early next week and I cannot wait to share it. It’s gorgeous and perfect and I love it. Now I just have to finish writing it…

And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Will check in with you tomorrow and let you know how the day went, Constant Reader. Have a great Saturday yourself, okay?

When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes

As I mentioned yesterday–these blog post titles taken from the Supremes discography sometimes feel a bit off as I do some Blatant Self-Promotion about my new soon-to-be-released novel #shedeservedit.

I got my first ignorant comment on one of those blog posts yesterday; someone posted a link to a video about “toxic femininity” and how it’s “as bad if not worse” than “toxic masculinity.” Needless to say, I not only didn’t approve the comment but marked it as spam and blocked the user from commenting/reading my blog. For those of you who are new here–I don’t engage with trolls, not do I permit them the energy or the oxygen of allowing their ignorance to be seen by anyone here. This is my blog and I pay for it; therefore I will curate the content here and if you want to troll me, well, it’s just going to earn you a comment marked as spam and get you blocked, so don’t waste your time or energy on me. You may, of course–I cannot stop you, but I won’t engage with you nor will I allow Constant Reader to see your ignorance, so there you have it.

I wrote yesterday, and it felt good to get another chapter down. I only have two more to go and the revisions, and I have to say, pantsing this thing on a tight deadline hasn’t been the easiest way to write this book, but it’s working. I’ve got the plot all worked out now, who the killer is and why, and now all I have to do is cram the resolution into the last two chapters and we are finished, done, ready to go off to the editor with prayers that she likes what I’ve done and doesn’t require a complete overhaul, which is also entirely possible and within the realm of probability–one of the reasons, frankly, that I’ve not signed. a contract to dive straight away into another book when this one is finished; I thought it best to leave my time free just in case. (I am going to start working on Chlorine and Mississsippi River Mischief while waiting for my edits; there’s always something to write, after all–I can also work on the revisions of the novellas in the meantime as well.)

There’s always something…

Today’s BSP is going to focus on writing about small towns, rather than what I’ve been covering (toxic masculinity). The first book I remember reading about a small town that really stands out to me–as an examination of small town dynamics, rather than merely a setting for the story–was Ellery Queen’s Calamity Town, which was, if you are an Ellery Queen fan, the first Wrightsville story. There were several of these novels–the second, I believe, was The Murderer is a Fox–and I enjoyed them all; Queen clearly loved writing about Wrightsville, since he kept returning to the scene of the crimes, as it were, but the best, the true standout for me, was the first: Calamity Town. This book–published well over a decade before Grace Metalious scandalized the world with Peyton Place–also covers the same territory as Peyton Place: scandal and hypocrisy and the paralyzing power of gossip in small town America. Calamity Town remains a favorite mystery novel of mine to this day; I should reread it. It’s plot is ingenious and entirely rooted in human psychology, and it also contains one of the best and most clever misdirections in crime fiction history. It was Calamity Town that made me first start thinking about how small town society is actually a microcosm of American society as a whole, all encapsulated in a small package, and also that made me realize, for the first time, how claustrophobic small towns can be; where everyone knows everyone and you can’t really do anything without someone knowing; and how secrets kept can become very damaging over time. Queen is, at first, struck by the apple-pie Americana of Wrightville…and then he begins peeling back the layers.

Peyton Place, which I found to be far less scandalous than either General Hospital or All My Children by the time I got a copy at a secondhand bookstore in Emporia when I was seventeen or eighteen, also showed me again how claustrophobic small town life could be. Sure, there’s some bad to the point of laughable writing in the book (“your nipples are hard as diamonds”, anyone?) but other than those brief moments, overall it’s a very well-constructed book and a damning indictment on the hypocrisy of American small towns. I also read Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street around the same time for an American Literature class (I still think we should have read Elmer Gantry instead, or It Can’t Happen Here, but I was not in charge of the syllabus), which is also about the falseness of keeping up appearances and worrying what the neighbors think. I find it interesting that “small town American values” are frequently–particularly by conservatives–pointed out as what is the backbone of our country and so on and so forth (part of the entire “cities are BAD” thing we have had going on culturally for decades, if not centuries), but when that veil is peeled back, there is just as much rot and decay as in any “wicked” city. As I pointed out on Susan Larson’s radio show the other day, the vast majority of the soaps were originally set in very small towns, rather than urban centers.

Nobody does small towns quite like Stephen King, and the first time he really addressed small town life was in ‘salem’s Lot–although it can be argued he did a masterwork on small town life with Needful Things–and it was in his tale of small town Maine being overrun by vampires, he also did an incredible job of painting the town, it’s working class citizens and the minutiae of their lives; how circumstances trapped some of them and killed their dreams–and how others never had any dreams to be killed in the first place. The way he interweaves the lives of his small town characters, their relationships and histories and how everything is interconnected is masterful; has anyone ever done a critical analysis of King’s work with small towns? It also falls into this group; what King does with Derry is just as exceptional as his work on Castle Rock and Jerusalem’s Lot in the other works.

I based Liberty Center on Emporia, Kansas, geographically; my town is loosely laid out the same way Emporia is; there’s a small college there, as in Emporia, and there’s a meat packing plant on one side of town that reeks of death and stale blood on the south side of town, and of course, the waterfall on the river on the way out of town heading south and the park that goes with it. Other than that, it’s memory and invention; I’ve not set foot in Emporia in nearly forty years and have no plans to ever do so again. (Likewise, when I write about my fictionalized county in Alabama–it’s loosely based on where my family is from, but I haven’t been there in thirty years and will most likely never go visit again, so it’s all memory and invention for me.) I don’t know if I will write another novel about Kansas–I have some other ideas, of course, don’t I always–but it seems weird to create another fictional small city so similar to Liberty Center, but at the same time it seems even weirder to set another book there after having already done so (although i should probably revisit Sara sometime and see how I did it–and what I called the towns in Kahola County–before deciding one way or the other).

Heavy sigh.

Today I need to write another chapter, and I also need to work on revising a short story as well as writing a promotional article–and of course, there’s the horror that is my email inbox which needs to be dealt with this week once and for all (it’s all relative; answering everything and emptying it out inevitably means generating more emails there; my email responses will trigger emails in response which turns it into a Sisyphean task without end), and today is the men’s US figure skating championships, which naturally I plan to watch so I need to get my writing done before then, don’t I?

So on that note, I head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday, Constant Reader.