The Warrior

Wednesday, and I finished the first draft of my short story yesterday. It’s quite dark, and I quite love it, but it needs some serious polishing and editing. I changed my mind about the ending while i was writing it, you see, and that changes some things back at the beginning. I want to have that finished by the end of the weekend, as well as another story I’ve worked on recently. Huzzah!

I am also thoroughly enjoying Krysten Ritter’s Bonfire. I do highly recommend it, even though I am not even halfway finished with it, it’s that engaging. Sure, the plot could go off the rails, but I rather like the main character and the story she is telling–both the crime itself as well as the main character’s story in confronting her past–is quite enjoyable.

This weekend, I have to work Saturday and we are going to a Christmas party that evening; Sunday we have tickets for The Last Jedi and I am very excited. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, of course, and I wisely chose to buy tickets in IMAX during the Saints game, so I am assuming the theater won’t be full. Hoping, at any rate, and since we live close to the Superdome the traffic will be going the other way in both instances as we head out to Harahan to see the movie. It’s a much more busy weekend for me than I would ordinarily prefer, but the next weekend is a four day weekend for Christmas and of course, the next is the three day weekend for New Year’s. So…not really having a full day at home this weekend isn’t going to be nearly as traumatizing as it could be.

Anyway, I am really happy with my story. I was asked to write a story for an anthology of crime stories inspired by the work of Joni Mitchell, and when I chose my song, read the lyrics and listened to it again, I really went down a rabbit hole and man, did it ever get dark. Really dark. But what was also fun about it was having to research malls in the early 1990’s; research can be a bit of a drag sometimes, but for me, most of the time it’s so much fun because it triggers a lot of memories, or inspires me even more if it’s from before my time. (note to self: do some research on Washington DC in the early 1950’s; I’ve written a story set during that time but I’ve never done the back-up research, which could be incredibly fun.) Usually, when I write a story that’s set during a time I lived through, I depend on my memory–which ain’t what it used to be, but priming the pump by looking up things on-line triggered memories; memories of stores and displays, the way malls smelled, the parking lots and so forth.

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

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Eyes Without a Face

Monday morning, and I’m not really too bummed about the end of a weekend and the start of a new work week. I had a relatively nice weekend; I did a lot of cleaning and did some writing and editing; I went to a wonderful Christmas party on Saturday night and got to spend time with people whose company I always enjoy; and I slept really well all weekend. I am not sluggish or tired this morning, either–although the morning is slipping through my fingers much faster than I would like it to. I have almost finished reading Donna Andrews’ How The Finch Stole Christmas,which is terrific (I’ve laughed out loud a couple of times), and I also started slowly reading Joan Didion’s Miami, which is also pretty amazing. As I may have mentioned the other day, I watched the documentary about her, The Center Will Not Hold, the other night, and it had some pretty interesting things to say about writing. And the way she uses language is most impressive; in Miami she used a great John James Audubon quote that I’m going to use to open Sunny Places Shady People, the Bouchercon anthology for St. Petersburg.

Which is cool.

I finished a short story this weekend–“Passin’ Time”–and writing that story (which the editor loved, which was a wonderful confidence booster for the weekend) also, along with a conversation I had with a friend about the Scotty book at the party Saturday night seems to have blew out the rust in my head and kicked me back into gear. I got some writing done this weekend, and it wasn’t hard, I didn’t have to make myself do it, and it didn’t feel like pulling teeth or ripping out hair, strand by strand. That doesn’t mean that other things are now going to be easier to write, or that I’ve jump-started my writing mode, but I can’t help but think things are going to go a lot more smoothly now than they have been. But…I feel  a lot more confident about it, and isn’t that really the most important thing? And when the writing finally starts flowing…it’s such a great feeling.

It’s hard to explain, but writing is so integral to who I am that when I am not writing it does affect my moods, and even my sleep (I slept so well last night!). I am looking forward to getting some more writing done tonight; I have a short story due by the end of December, have some stuff that needs to be edited, and of course, there’s always Scotty and the WIP, and the Scotty Bible to get done…so much work to do, but for the first time in a long time I’m not looking at it as a Sisyphean task but rather a challenge.

It’s interesting, but I think talking to my friends at the Christmas party on Saturday night, talking about books and writing and so forth–and New Orleans, how it has changed over the years since I first moved here–had something to do with that as well. It was while I was talking to my friend Susan that I realized this is what is wrong with the Scotty book and why it isn’t working; why you can’t get to serious work on it. You knew there was a big hole in the story and it didn’t make sense; you’ve basically just said so out loud….knowing that, you now need to either fix the hole in the plot or start over with a new one.

And frankly, that isn’t too frightening.

And so, back to the spice mines. Here’s today’s Calvin Klein ad:

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Sunglasses at Night

Sunday morning. Last evening I went to a Christmas party and had an absolutely lovely time; but stayed much longer than was probably warranted and got home much later than I should have. But there were lots of laughter, and I got to hang out with friends that I don’t see nearly enough, and so overall, I would classify it as a win. I also slept beautifully and deeply and restfully after getting home, so that, too, was absolutely lovely.

Today I have to do a lot of writing; I finished a project yesterday, which was also lovely, and managed to get the cleaning of the downstairs finished. Today I will move to the upstairs, doing cleaning and organizing when I take breaks from the writing/editing I have to do. I also will read some more of Donna Andrews’ How the Finch Stole Christmas when I can; hopefully wrapping up reading it this evening as well. I’m not sure what I am going to read next; I am rather torn between a reread of George Baxt’s A Queer Kind of Death, Joan Didion’s Miami, Dashiell Hammett’s The Dain Curse (also a reread), or something else in the pile. I also haven’t done my annual reread of Rebecca, but I think I am going to save that for actual Christmas. There are also some other duMauriers lying around the apartment I haven’t read that I need to (The House on the Strand, The Progress of Julius, The Scapegoat), some Ross MacDonalds, many Margaret Millars, and so many other books by writers I adore and am way behind on–I still have Stephen Kings that are languishing on my shelves, unread–and of course, come January it’s going to be Short Story Month again.

I also have another short story to write that I keep forgetting about, which, of course, is insane. (Note to self: put post-it note up on computer.)

But the good news is I am finally feeling motivated again about writing; this past year hasn’t been, for me, a good one as far as writing is concerned. I had a long conversation with my friend Susan last night about the current Scotty and the problems I’m having with it–and of course, while talking about the problems out loud with her I solved the problem. (It really is amazing, isn’t it, how saying things out loud can make a difference and make you see what’s been missing? The same thing happened with the WIP when I was chatting about it with my friend Wendy in Toronto–as I spoke I could see in my head what I needed to add, and then she put her finger right on the problem and pointed it out just as I was coming to the realization, which confirmed that it was the correct one. Again, it’s all a matter of having the time to make these fixes, but now that I know whatI need to fix, well, that makes it all a lot easier.

I also finished post-it-noting Garden District Gothic yesterday while watching the first half of the SEC championship game, so the Scotty Bible also proceeds apace, which is also lovely.

So much I need to get done this month!

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines.

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Oh Sherrie

Wednesday morning. I just paid the bills, so the glow of seeing my post-electronic-paycheck-deposit swollen bank account has worn off more than a little bit, but hey, what can you do? Bills must be paid–the little mundanities of life, you know? Bills must be paid, floors must be cleaned, dishes must be washed, laundry must be folded, faces and scalps must be shaven, and so it goes, every morning, every few weeks, every month, every year, ad nauseum.

I slept fitfully last night but at least I feel rested this morning and not foggy; yesterday was one of those dreadful morns where I was tired and sluggish and wasn’t really able to shake it off, the kind of tired that aches. That was partly because, of course, of working in storage Monday and moving boxes around; my back muscles are still achy this morning and my legs feel a bit tired, but nothing that I can’t handle and nothing I can’t get through. I am, of course, behind on everything, but I am taking Paul to the airport tomorrow since I don’t have to go to work until later–he was surprised when I offered, but I had to remind him (and myself) that part of the reason I wouldn’t take him to the airport had everything to do with hating driving and not the drive itself; now that I have the new car and no longer hate driving…rides aren’t really an issue for me anymore.

It’s amazing what a difference a reliable, lovely new car can make in one’s life; which is something I have to remind myself of every time I make that substantial payment every month.

The MWA anthology deadline is Friday, and it’s kind of a relief to know that I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t make it. The second story, or even revising the first one, aren’t an option and I have some other things I need to get done that are more pressing. Having Paul gone means I’ll have a needy cat to deal with, but I will also be incredibly bored; and what better way to deal with boredom than getting things done?

Also, I am editing the St. Peterburg Bouchercon anthology, Sunny Places Shady People, and the submission call went out yesterday. Here’s the link: one click here and there you are!

And on that note, I am back to the spice mines.

Here’s today’s Calvin Klein ad.

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Hold Me Now

Happy Thanksgiving! We have our deep dish pizza in the refrigerator, which we will be heating up later when our friend Lisa comes over to watch some movies; which is what we do every year for Thanksgiving. (Lisa is the one who introduced us to each other.) Today I am going to take a day off from writing and stressing; no news, no worries. Paul is going in to the office tomorrow, so I’ll have tomorrow to do some writing and editing and so forth and I also have Monday off as well. He’s departing to visit his mom for a week one week from today as well. So, yes, today is the day where I am not going to be stressed about anything and just relax and enjoy the day. I’ll probably spend Saturday doing copy edits and working on the Scotty Bible (which means, going through the books with post-it notes to mark pages with references to regular characters so I can check for continuity).

I finished reading Adam Sternbergh’s The Blinds last night, and it is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year; it’s a remarkable concept, and Sternbergh delivers on it completely. It’s just exceptional. I’m going to review it here, but I am going to let my thoughts on it brew for another couple of days or so. I also started reading Ivy Pochoda’s Wonder Valley last night, and while I am only a few chapters in, it’s already blowing me away. This is some extraordinary writing and character development, people. I have Ivy’s earlier books in my enormous TBR pile, but I wanted to read this one and review it since it’s more current; her books will be moving up in the TBR pile now. I’ve now read some amazing books back to back; If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin, Sunburn by Laura Lippman, The Wife by Alafair Burke, and now The Blinds, and as I said, the Pochoda is also exceptional; I’ll be reviewing the others here closer to their release dates.

Glad I am not judging any awards this year or next. Whoa.

After abandoning the other short story I started working on another one. I wrote its first draft about thirty years ago, and of course, it’s terrible, but I liked the main character and I liked the setting, which are about the only things I am keeping for the story. I have, over the years, realized that the story is actually a great noir set up, so I am revising it accordingly, and while the story was originally about unrequited gay desire…I am changing it to something darker. The gay desire will still be there, but it’s just going to be a lot darker. This draft is just to get the story down; after which I will do another draft to deepen the characters, and then another to make the story itself stronger and more horrific/shocking, and then once more for language. This was the problem with the other story; I couldn’t get the story down and it was taking forever. (Although I am now itching to take another run at it, if you can believe that. Lord.)

And on that note I am going back to the spice mines. I need to get this place looking more ship-shape before Lisa arrives, and I have a shit ton of filing and organizing to do.

Here’s something I have always been thankful for: Calvin Klein underwear ads.

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Time after Time

Saturday morning! I have to work today, and then am going to make groceries on the way home from the office–and I am going to go to the gym before the LSU-Tennessee game tonight. Yes, I’m going to do it, and I am going to lift weights–easing myself into it, with one set of fifteen with low weights and doing a full body workout; just like I did when I first started back in 1994. I am actually looking forward to it. (Right? Who am I, and what have I done with Gregalicious?)

I have a lot to do over the next few weeks, but I am embracing it rather than fearing it. I have to get a short story finished this weekend, and maybe some chapters written; and I am also going to work on the Scotty Bible a bit. I also need to clean the house a bit, and I am going to play with the structure of the WIP yet again. I do have moments when I think that maybe, with all the revisions and problems I’m having with it, that maybe that means I should simply give up on it–but I am being stubborn, and I do think there’s a really amazing novel in there, and if I keep tinkering away at it I’ll eventually get to it. I’m not used to having to work so hard on a book, but I also think hard work and pushing myself isn’t a bad thing, either.

I also need to copy edit the hell out of the manuscripts for Bourbon Street Blues and Jackson Square Jazz.

So much to do. This is why, I think, I don’t get as much done as I should; I get overwhelmed simply thinking about everything I have to do. But I need to get past that, and of course, the best way to do that is to make a to-do list; which I am going to do as soon as I finish this. There’s also a city election today, so I need to walk to my polling place and take care of that as well before I head to to the office.

I got caught up on Riverdale last night–I was three episodes behind–and wow, did this show ever take a turn for the dark. I really do like the show; it started out as a kind of cross between your typical teen CW drama and Pretty Little Liars, only using the canon Archie Andrews/Riverdale characters, but this update is pretty incredible. The kids are dealing with serious issues that modern day teens have to deal with (although I doubt many of them have to deal with serial killers or murder or incest or….), and the young cast is incredibly appealing–and their character arcs actually make sense. I also love that Madchen Amick from Twin Peaks plays Betty’s mother Alice–ALICE COOPER (I giggle every time someone says it)–and that she’s kind of a villain. I also love that Molly Ringwald occasionally guest stars as Archie’s mother.

We also got caught up on The Exorcist last night, and I have to say, Season 2 is way better than Season 1. The episode we saw last night took the story down an even darker path than it was on originally, and the addition of Alicia Witt to the cast was a genius touch. Nice job, The Exorcist!

Okay, so it’s time for me to tackle the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and see you tomorrow.

Here’s your daily hunk:

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